The Harlot’s House

February 25, 2016

We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the Harlot’s house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musician play
The ‘Treues Liebes Herz’, of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille,

Then took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clock-work puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible Marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then turning to my love I said,
‘The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.’

But she, she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in;
Love passed into the house of Lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl,

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn with silver-sandaled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.

Oscar Wilde



February 25, 2016


It is usual that the moment you write for publication—I mean one of course—one stiffens in exactly the same way one does when one is being photographed. The simplest way to overcome this is to write it to someone, like me. Write it as a letter aimed at one person. This removes the vague terror of addressing the large and faceless audience and it also, you will find, will give a sense of freedom and a lack of self-consciousness.

Now let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock—the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone’s experience which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

John Ernst Steinbeck
Steinbeck: A Life in Letters

Change the child…

February 25, 2016

Jérôme Zonder

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.

Carl Gustav Jung
The Integration of the Personality (1939)

A little night reading..

February 25, 2016


Ah, not exactly a PC title, boys and girls, no, but you can purchase this book under the safer, later title of The Doll’s Bad News! From the cover:

“When a curvaceous, beautiful girl walks into your office, strips, and offers you a 6,000 retainer to help her out of the trouble she’s in, it’s hard to refuse. Especially if you’re private eye Dave Fenner, the man who busted the notorious Blandish case. But by the time Dave had been beaten half to death and been forced to shoot his way out of a load of unhealthy situations, he realised that chivalry – even if it was paid for a hard cash – was no way to stay alive.

Only one man could satisfy Glorie Leadler’s craving for love and affection. And though this golden-haired bit of feminine dynamite could have had a dozen men at her feet for the asking, it was a solitary Asian who made her heart beat fast. When jealous rivals tore that midnight love from Glorie’s arms, her over-heated emotions burst forth in a volcano of love-stricken vengeance that rocked Florida and left a mark on many men’s souls.”

So hardboiled the pan must have run dry. Even the cops keep out of Dave Fenner’s way. Very topical in many ways: people smuggling – the 12 Chinamen of the naughty title refers to the number of people who can fit in a boat from Cuba to the States; once in the United States the passengers (who are all chained together so they can easily be thrown overboard if the boat is intercepted by the US Coast Guard) are “sold” as slave labour to various concerns around the country.

Be warned: it is a product of its time, and misogyny and racism abound. It is also very, very violent!


Diary Extract

February 25, 2016

Diary_Dan Dos Santos Portfolio

22nd Feb

And so Mr Cameron announces, “A reformed EU…” I must have misheard, mustn’t I? It’s a bit like Gordon Brown saying he had “twenty-four hours to save the world!” You can never, NEVER reform the unreformable.

So, our Prime Minister has reached a deal that…“Protects the city of London” Did I mishear yet again? No, I didn’t. He’s got an agreement that’ll stop UK firms being forced to relocate into Europe, ensuring British businesses do not face “discrimination” for being outside the eurozone.

A seven year “emergency break” on migrants’ in-work benefits for four years when there are “exceptional” levels of migration (how do you define exceptional, I wonder?).

Child benefit for the children of EU migrants living overseas will now be paid at a rate based on the cost of living in their home country – applicable immediately for new arrivals and from 2020 for the 34,000 existing claimants. In the scheme of things the cost of this is peanuts when compared to overall UK budgetary spend; it’s penny pinching and frankly embarrassing.

Ever-closer union will “not apply to the United Kingdom”, meaning Britain “can never be forced into political integration”. A really minging agreement that will please a few of the little Englander’s, I s’pose, but not many. Ultimately, I suspect, it’ll prove worthless.

Not exactly what was promised in the Conservative Manifesto, is it? But dear old Mr Cameron has said it again:

“The British people must now decide whether to stay in this reformed European Union or to leave. This will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the destiny of our country.”

The EU has NOT been reformed. Any “reform” would require an EU-wide referendum. No EU leader in his or her right mind would countenance such an action at this point in time…it’d be far too risky with so many euro-skeptic people in the mix…In Spain, Greece, Ireland and now even Germany.

Instead the UK government has protected (once again) the banks and financial services industry from any nasty EU legislation, or so they hope! We won’t have to join the Euro, but one day we might anyway because it makes life so much easier for firms selling and buying goods within the EU. No political integration – but Europe will still be our lawmakers, will still control our fishing and agricultural legislation, for example. Business will still be wrapped up in miles of red tape, courtesy of the gnomes of Stasbourg…

Actually, nothing very much will change. It’s a shite deal, and if you were really looking for reform, you’ll feel very disappointed. This whole sad fiasco smells very dodgy indeed to my sensitive nose.

24th February

Morning ablutions. I have a “toilet book” which I read each morning while sitting on the loo. At the moment it is Brian W Aldiss’ “Billion Year Spree” (I have his updated version “Trillion Year Spree somewhere, but can’t find it just now; so I’ve gone with the earlier version). Aldiss’ prose is quite fine, and this is a wonderful book for a bowel movement. Unlike “My Life” by Leon Trotsky which it replaces. I found Trotsky quite constipating. Not a good book for the toilet at all.

Conversation (Last Saturday)

She said to me, ‘What was that?’

Glancing up from my drink, I said, ‘Sorry, pet?’

‘What did you just say to me, Peedeel?’

‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘I didn’t speak.’

Frowning at me, she said, ‘You think I’m hearing things, do you?’ She turned to L as she returned to the table from the washroom. ‘I know he thinks I’m a little mad,’ she said. ‘I know he does. Now he’s trying to convince me I’m hearing voices…’

‘No, I don’t think you’re mad,’ I said. ‘I’ve never ever said anything of the sort. I just didn’t speak, is all. I was miles away, yeah. Off with the fairies.’

‘But I heard you.’

‘You couldn’t have. I didn’t speak.’

‘So I’m hearing things, am I? Hallucinating? Is that what you’re accusing me of?’

‘Christsake. I’m not “accusing” you of anything. If I spoke out loud, I wasn’t conscious of doing so. I was daydreaming. I’m not aware of having spoken…but perhaps I did. Perhaps that’s what you heard.’

‘Okay. So what did you say…?’
On reading “The Bell” by Iris Murdoch:

Realistic novel but overflowing with symbols. Including the bell of the title, of course. Inscribed: Ego Vox Sum Amoris. Gabriel vocor. – “I am the voice of love. I am named Gabriel. Which is the central theme of the novel. The bell, however, has drowned in the lake, situated in the grounds of a convent. Its drowning was miraculous…and this bell is central to so many complex problems, not least of which is the character of Michael Meade’s conflict between his homosexual tendencies and his desire to become…yes, you guessed it…a priest!

The main question of the novel: how should you best live as a spiritual being is ineffectually answered by Michael Mead and James Tayper Pace (both lay preachers) in separate sermons, but is nailed down by the Abbess whose advice is: We should all learn to love one another.

Intensely poetic, well constructed novel of ideas and emotions. Highly recommended.