Canine Graffiti by Mike Jenkins

 Some loopy boy wrote 'FUCK OFF'
in firm felt-tip on the white back
of a nippy-as-a-ferret Jack Russell.

Senior staff spotted it while it shat
in the midst of a modern dance
formation – leotards snapped!

(When they weren't busy piercing ears
with sharp instructions, or spiking hair
with swift backhand cuffs,

they did have time to snoop on lessons
which exceeded the statutory decibel rate.)
They set off in pursuit of the errant dog,

skilfully hurdling its poop in the process.
They chased it into Mathematics
where it caused havoc by lifting a leg

45° towards the blackboard's right-angle.
Then through the Audio-Visual concepts room,
across the film of Henry V, making Olivier's horse

rear and throw the bewildered actor.
It hid behind a smoke-screen in the bogs,
sniffed out bunkers in the coal-bunker.

For hours it disappeared and Senior Staff
suspected a trendy English teacher
of using it as an aid to creative writing.

Finally it was duly discovered
by Lizzie Locust (Biology), necking
with a stuffed stoat in the store-cupboard.

Now you can see the distraught Headmistress
scrubbing form bell to bell in her office,
a small dog held down by burly, sweating prefects.


by Mike Jenkins
from Invisible Times

Additional information: Just in case some of the words don’t make sense because they’re British words, or slang and euphemisms specific to the South Wales Welsh-English speaking region, here’s a quick breakdown of some of them:

Loopy: strange, odd, crazy, affected, etc.

Felt-tip: a marker pen, usually a cheap one meant for kids but it can mean the bigger ones too.

Nippy: to do something in a fast, quick, spritely, etc, manner e.g. ‘I’m nipping over to the shops do you want anything?’

Shat: the past tense of the verb ‘to shit’. It’s not a proper word as far as I’m aware and ‘shit’ is more or less used as it’s own quasi-infinitive in most cases i.e. ‘he shit himself [yesterday]’, ‘he has [just now] shit himself’, ‘he will shit himself [if he eats that]’.

Backhand cuffs: backhand hand motions or in this case backhand slaps to pupils or backhanded admonishment due to frustration at not locating the dog yet. That thing where teachers take out their frustrations by speaking passive aggressively towards pupils out of a sense of personal frustration (when it’s nothing to do with said pupils) as I’m sure we have all seen in our schooldays.

Snoop: spy, eavesdrop, etc.

In the bogs: the ‘bogs’ are the toilets… because, at least in my experience, there would be mysterious pools of water on the floor by about 10AM each school day and you could never be certain if they were sink water shaken off of hands or bodily fluids… the smoke screen in the bogs being that it’s where pupils would go to hide when smoking as is no doubt universally the case.

Bunkers: ‘bunking off’, ‘doing a bunk’, etc is the act of not attending class. Skipping class, skiving, but it can also mean playing truant as well though here it’s just the former. The play on words being that people skipping class are in a room intended for storing coal thus both are commonly referred to as ‘bunkers’.

Store – cupboard: A room where school equipment is stored behind a locked door. Usually a small antechamber between two classrooms or a smallroom leading from one classroom like an en suite bathroom but filled with shalves of old textbooks, random items and a prime location for pupils or members of staff to neck on with each other.

Necking: to ‘neck on’ etc involved kissing but implies a more salacious aspect such as groping, french kissing, fondling, etc. Usually done in a place intended to give some privacy but usually easily discovered such as behind the bike sheds or in a storeroom cupboard. ‘Necking on’ being a term often ascribed to teenagers at a party experimenting with such aspects of intimacy.

Prefects: In my experience sixth formers doing something for their school leavers certificate to have extra ‘good citizen’ points when applying for university. Not the Head Boy or Head Girl but given tasks by staff and running or representing various matters for the student body. Compare them to the ‘student council’ in anime for a more commonly known version of this type. I guess though on the whole it’s just teacher’s pets, the (within the school) social elite or those who are already prone to social climbing and a lust for power even at this early an age.

A Life by R.S. Thomas

Lived long; much fear, less

courage. Bottom in love’s school

of his class; time’s reasons

too far back to be known.

Good on his knees, yeilding,

vertical, to petty temptations.

A mouth thoughts escaped

from unfledged. Where two

were company, he the unwanted

third. A Narcissus tortured

by the whisperers behind

the mirror. Visionary only

in his perception of an horizon

beyond the horizon. Doubtful

of God, too pusillanimous

to deny him. Saving his face

in verse from the humiliations prose

inflicted on him. One of life’s

conscientious objectors, conceding

nothing to the propaganda of death

but a compulsion to volunteer.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)

 

Once it was the Colour of Saying by Dylan Thomas

Once it was the colour of saying

Soaked my table the uglier side of a hill

With a capsized field where a school sat still

And a black and white patch of girls grew playing;

The gentle seaslides of saying I must undo

That all the charmingly drowned arise to cockcrow and kill.

When I whistled with mitching boys through a reservoir park

Where at night we stoned the cold and cuckoo

Lovers in the dirt of their leafy beds,

The shade of their trees was a word of many shades

And a lamp of lightning for the poor in the dark;

Now my saying shall be my undoing,

And every stone I wind off like a reel.

 

by Dylan Thomas


Fun Facts: ‘Mitching’ is Skivving, bunking, skipping school.

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weight it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weigh it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps copying my work, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Go and sit in the hall, dear.

Go and sit in the sink.

Take your books on the roof, my lamb.

Do whatever you think.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Keep it in your hand, dear.

Hide it up your vest.

Swallow it if you like, love.

Do what you think best.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.

Run away to sea.

Do whatever you can, my flower.

But don’t ask me!

 

by Allan Ahlberg

Just Supposing by Eric Finney

Supposing…

A sinister spacecraft came down on the field,

And a hatch in the saucer slid back and revealed –

A nightmare of Martians, all grey and green streaks,

And they each had three legs and three eyes and three beaks!

Then, wobbling weirdly, one came right across

And in Martian demanded to speak to the boss.

So we led him in school, to the headmaster’s door,

And we knocked, and he opened, and then when he saw –

His eyeballs fell out with a plop on the floor!

 

Or supposing…

A crack opened up in the soccer field grass,

And rapidly grew to a yawning crevasse,

And the school was engulfed in the awful abyss:

The goalposts, the classrooms, the teachers – all this

Went helplessly into that opening jaw,

All hurting down towards earth’s fiery core,

And everything burned to a crisp – except me,

I escaped from the furnace. But how? Let me see…

I felt the inferno; came close to heart-failure!

But I fell through the world and came out in Australia!

 

by Eric Finney

Zonky Zizzibug by Brian Patten

I’ve just appeared in this classroom

I did not use the door.

I have just materialized

Through the classroom floor.

 

Do not call me a liar.

Do not call me a cheat.

No, teacher cannot see me,

Sitting in this seat.

 

My name is Zonky Zizzibug.

I don’t know why you laugh.

This book is not a comic,

It’s an extra-terrestial graph.

 

I don’t care what you say.

Oh please don’t be a bore!

I did just materialize.

I did not use the door.

 

I have an anti-matter,

Anti-gravity device.

I also have a pill

For turning schoolboys into mice.

 

Do not call me a liar.

Do not call me a cheat.

You are not imagining things.

Do not blame the heat.

 

I have been to Venus.

I have been to Mars.

I’ve even been to Uranus.

And several other stars.

 

Of course my blood is green!

The aerial on my head?

Oh that’s just something

That stops me being dead.

 

How dare you laugh and scoff!

Shush. Everyone will hear.

Look, now teacher’s giving you

A very funny stare.

 

I won’t say I’m Zonky zizzibug.

I am going to go away.

I’m only allowed to play on earth

for a single day.

 

I’m going to drift round the classroom.

I’m going to float up in the air.

Then I’m going back off home

Because laughing is not fair.

 

I won’t become visible.

I won’t float down from the shelf.

I do not care if teacher

Thinks you are talking to yourself.

 

by Brian Patten

Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)

Occult girl Misa Kuroi goes to a new high school to prevent the summoning of the devil by a mysterious cult. She makes no effort to hide she is a witch. Everyone in the school loves the occult thus she becomes very popular despite the fact her only line in the entire film could be ‘I am a witch’ in the manner of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy and nothing of her characterisation would be lost…

She is what would be later considered a Mary Sue. Really she has no personality but as usual this is explained as her being ‘tacit’ or ‘stoic’ or some other excuse for ‘blank slate of acharacter the audience can project themselves onto. She is just used as a familiar ‘attractive’ face to connect a series of individual stories that wouldn’t be able to stand on their own in the minds of those the writer answers to.
Really the truth is they’ve just hired someone for her looks who cannot act a.k.a. Kamika Yoshino a gravure idol (i.e. lots of videos and photoshoots of her posing in her bra and knickers). The logic the aundience must accept: She is pretty therefore she is the good guy. End of discussion… Always… In every film, book or story that has mass appeal because that what the punters want.
In the manga apparently she has a cloak, sword and a funky looking pentagram belt. Sadly that’s a bit too exciting for this film and would have driven the budget up by another 1000 yen (£6.40/$8.91) almost doubling the budget!

Eko Eko Azarak 19

All the students in this school, who already know way too much about the occult, have figured out the mystery before Misa’s arrival! The series of recent murders (the last of which opens this film in a lazy rehash of the priest’s death from ‘The Omen’) are all at georgraphical sites which, when connected, form a giant pentagram meant to summon the devil and that their high school is the nexus!

With these sort of deduction skills maybe we don’t need the Scooby gang, let alone ‘Occult Girl Misa: Magical Soldier of Indifference’, to come to the rescue…

The skinny boy/tool of the devil is apparently handsome, in that androgynous way the Japanese have loved ever since the Heian era, and due to this seems excused for being overly aggressive and shouting at the female characters constantly. This is something I often see in films – as long as a guy is handsome it is acceptable for him to treat women like dirt and not be judged for it. Although he is not the protagonist I often see this behaviour in Japanese films set in high schools.

The girls in this film seem to just let themselves be killed under the pretence of ‘oh but he’s so handsome and I have a crush on him. He would never do something like this!’ Cue the girl tripping over her own feet and being stabbed or bludgeoned to death. In fairness he was possessed but nonetheless you would think common sense, even in horror films, would suggest they run away from him. They, of course, don’t run nor do they fight back to defend themselves and thus all are posthumously given Darwin awards.

The lesbian teacher and the student she is grooming are pointless side characters used for fan service. They serve as examples of social deviants and, yes, both die. However not before the teacher is revealed as a cult member (shocking don’t you agree! Adults in teen focused dramas are not trustworthy!) and the groomed student is sacrificed to the devil.

My favourite moment of theirs is when the class are doing a test and the teacher takes the student outside for some frisky time. I watched this thinking ‘everyone would notice that and in reality would have been gossiping about the pair long before they became this blatant about it’. When will the girl do the test? Perhaps hitting sensei’s G-spot gets you an A grade?

Kuroi’s new best friend (Miho Kanno) walks up to her saying ‘wow you’re so cool’ at the start and hangs around her most of the film to basically tell anyone unfamiliar with the manga (i.e. basically all foreigners but also people with a life in Japan) that this is the heroine of the story and she is so fantastic and so stoic that it makes everyone fall in love with her instantly for being so undeniably cool. This goes on for most of the film with her playing the sidekick role overreacting to everything.

Guess what? She is the big bad villain of the piece. This wasn’t a surprise really as, by this point in the film, everyone else in the school was dead. What I found hilarious during the film is that all the cult members, when hooded, have deep baritone masculine voiceovers but as soon as the hoods are lowered it’s young women with those high pitch voices that Japanese apparently find ‘cute’. I guess the male voices were to hide the revelation that the cult was comprised of women? Hilarious nonetheless in how inane it was when revealed.

So we reach the denouement. The possessed boy is dead – how I can’t remember but considering how the murders were done via ‘no handsome-kun you’re too handsome to be evil! Then the victim girl falls over squealing before being killed by him (also squealing in her death throws) and he then wanders off, covered in blood, to find the next girl to kill’ I really couldn’t care less how he came to his end.

Teenage cult leader-chan has revealed herself and has finalised the ceremony to summon the devil. Misa can do nothing to stop it and is unceremoniously turned to ash. Yes the hero who didn’t very little just got killed. But this is based on a Japanese shonen manga so there will be some insane way she comes back.

Cult-chan summons the devil. The CGI, for the time, is admittedly really impressive as the devil looms over the school… and then Cult-chan face gets her face ripped off immediately and her innards fly up into the sky. Why? She couldn’t contain the power? The devil decided ‘nope don’t like look of your face’ and ‘tore up’ the contract via her flesh? Who knows… who cares? The devil disappears unceremoniously bringing and end to proceedings.

Disaster is avoided without the protagonist actively doing anything. If she hadn’t turned up it would have ended up exactly the same way. Misa gets resurrected by some hair she kept in the locket she wears. It was been featured earlier in the film but considering what a deus ex-machina it was I omitted mentioning it before so you could get a sense of how out of leftfield this comes.

Misa melodramatically cries over the loss of her new best friend/devil summoning Cult-chan who was the only person who could understand her. Music plays and the next thing we see is Misa walking off to the next school to solve the next occult incident at a new school…

Misa your so cool in that ‘I just happened to be there and survive despite everything going on’ way. Men want her, women want to be her…


 

Review: 90s Japanese film fodder starring a Gravure Idol. It’s hilarious in how bad it is. Give it a watch just to see how low budget it is. The effects for the devil were admittedly the stand out bit where most of the budget must have gone.

Did I watch this without subtitles? Damn right! Did I miss any subtleties? Well probably the cookie cutter character archetypes and some details that would be forgotten ten minutes later but this is as generic as it gets so no, no, I didn’t. If anything it improved the experience – especially when I made it move at double the speed.

I had known of this film’s existance for two decades and never got around to watching it. It was amusing but low budget, as many Japanese films tend to be as they are more of a ‘television series’ watching kind of nation. Go in expecting little of the film and you will enjoy. Go in expecting something with the budget of an American film and you will be sorely disappointed. Just remember this was based on an old manga which inevitably was popular during the 1970s occult fad Japan had during that decade and everything will be okay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eko_Eko_Azarak:_Wizard_of_Darkness

 

Oh and some fun news if you want more of Misa’s adventures but updated: There was a recent TV series and at least a few of the early episodes are available on YouTube if you decide to look them up.


 

Not what you were expecting? Well it was hopefully fun to read this more irreverent kind of review…

Comment, like or follow – all welcome.

That Friday Feeling: Walking Home From Work

The walk home from school, university, or work always had some musical accompaniment for me. Not with an actual music playing device but more some ear worm or song that had been repeatedly demanding my attention at the time. I suppose you could say, in a movie going way, a song track of my life but that seems quite a trite concept… and yet here I am posting about such a thing. It’s changed over time how I felt with each step in life but here is a haphazard guess at what the key tone was at each point in life when making that triumphant beginning to the weekend. I recalled this advert and so it inspired this post:

These songs don’t necessarily represent themselves, as some would be quite anachronistic in that sense, but rather the frame of mind I was in when leaving ‘work’ on Friday and taking that walk home to begin the weekend.

When I was in school: The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

The walk would be about 15 minutes long. The weekend was an organic part of the week and as I had enjoyed time in school so came the time when school was set aside and endless hours enjoying life replaced classes. Certain days would be ‘bad’ because of certain classes occurring on those days. Not that I had any which I disliked as much as just the timing of them. For example Physical Education ending first period or fourth, with us only having five minutes between classes to get from one location to the next across the school’s horseshoe shape campus (along the single narrow pathways between the Upper and Lower School campuses, overfilled by 1000+ pupils at a time) was always bad as the teachers never gave a fair amount of time to change back out of the schools PE uniform (usually the school’s rugby jersey with shorts and trainers). Home Technology (Home Ec for any American readers) at the end of the day and being held back to clean the equipment because I was one of the few not to go home on the bus was also bad the once or twice I got made to do this which was unfair. But it was all organic. Just as we flowed from discussing works of literature to performing science experiments to speaking foreign languages from one hour to the next so the working school week drifting melodically into the weekend was a natural state and everything was good. Yes even with the weekly melodrama of being an adolescent life was good. So many things happening in so short a time life seemed to last forever. Though I spent no time with anyone outside school time It was a welcome break in which to recharge my batteries. Overstimulation numbs me and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I was in University: Redline OST – RedLine Day (featuring Rob Laufer)

I am cheating a bit by ignoring my first year of university. And the second to an extent too. None the less the lecture would end and I would begin the twenty five minute walk to the bus station going past the rugby grounds, Patti Pavilion with its garden, the prison, numerous hotels and (depending on the route) the theatre or a large Tesco next to the dual carriageway to arrive at the central bus station. Due to the timing I either had to stay waiting at the appropriate area for fifty minutes for the bus so I could be the first o or go around the shopping centre right by it for a while. Sometimes I waited and sometimes I went for a look around the shops. On the rare occasion I got to the bus in time and got a seat thus saving an hour. As I walked out of the university via the dual carriageway entrance, or out of Singleton Park, I would be daydreaming of fantastical things and laughing to myself full of joy. Life was good and the bus trip provided over forty five minutes of quiet reflection watching the scenes of South Wales fly by. Nothing could get me down and I didn’t mind that I never made friends as I didn’t stay on campus or in any halls of residence like many of the others.

However this ends the period of life when ‘that Friday feeling’ was always part of the week.

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Excerpt from Invictus by William Ernest Henley

When I was unemployed but occasionally going out still: Nouvelle Vague – Making Plans For Nigel (Cover)

One day merged into the next so there was no true ‘end of the work week’ during these times. This was the first period of unemployment after university before getting the first job. There was a sense of sweet melancholia about the entire period. The walk home took about fifteen minutes. I was unemployed but so were many other people immediately after finishing university. You were looking for that first chance to make your stake in the world. Even if you were just one of the faceless number, as long as you had people you liked working with, then everything was manageable. Life was full of potential it was just a question of where it would take you. Times were a little daunting but everything was a silver lining and a step towards finding your place in the sun. This cover probably applies to nowadays while the original by XTC applies to Friday’s at the end of an intense week where things have had to be done with little margin for error so it felt like there was a set scheme to how things progressed.

Walking home from Work (the first job):  Mr Loco – Hombre Religioso

Simply getting the job was enough. The walk home took about fifteen minutes uphill. The people were nice although they all treated me as ‘the kid’. Things were steady and fun with a few conversations during the work hours and nothing stressful. High workload. Training people in using a newly integrated system. It was a learning experience and I enjoyed it. Except… I never felt a part of it as I was temporary. Eventually my contract covering maternity leave of two employees came to an end and there was no place available to me due to the economic down turn a month earlier… but I had faith it would all be okay.

Second period of unemployment due to the economic downturn in 2008: Rule of Rose OST – A Love Suicide

The second period of unemployment seemed to drag with no real purpose. In a house. In a room. Sign on. Repeat. There was no money to go do things and be alive. The rest of the world moved on but stagnation eventually set in. Something broke permanently now. The walk home took thirty five minutes. It was melancholy but unlike the first time now there were many others out of work and they had years of experience where I could only offer potential. Employers changed from wanting the potential of individuals to invest in and no long on the television did you hear constantly the vocal complains of middle aged people about how they were being overlooked for younger employment opportunities. No, now it was the ‘safe bet’ employers wanted. Employees with commitments already tying them down and more malleable to walking the line no matter the demands made on them. But there were moments of hope. It was more about the recruitment agencies petty attitudes at this time than employers being logical. With so many out of work they could treat you how they liked and if they didn’t like the cut of your jib it was a quick, unchallengeable, letter to the job centre and you had no benefits to live on. Many lived in fear. I find recruitment agencies to be filled with the cruellest bottom feeders of society but that is a story for another time. In short give up on your dreams, don’t even work on them in your personal time. You owe the world your life. You owe your ‘betters’ your life. You owe it to agressive people. You owe it to people willing to use violence. You are a cog in the machine and should accept you will never make anything of yourself. Anyone will be able to take your job and you should be thankful we are hear to put up with you and helping you find a job by supervising your activities to make sure you are not just slobbing about only applying for over 15 jobs a week… I mean how lazy are you? If you are unemployed you are scum and are treated as such.

Except you are not. But they will ‘break you down to build you up’… except by the point its time to build you back up the time limit has already expired. It is an industry meant to help people but instead it is populated by people kicking you when you are already down. One day one of the worst one’s I had the displeasure of having to deal with ( and who stopped me getting a job ironically) was stood outside the job centre and clicked her fingers at me as if to beckon a dog. Another kept telling me how it was a temporary job until she got on her training course in September as if to imply how easy it was to get a job by rubbing it in my face she had one. It is ironic an industry meant to alleviate pressures on social services in fact has generated far worse consequences through poor implementation and sub-contracting to third party private groups looking to make profit not provide a service to the individual. People don’t fear unemployment but the people they will have to deal with so I suppose it is a further irony that in fact the recruitment agencies are achieving what the Government wants if not by the method they wish it to be done in.

Walking home from work now: The Divine Comedy – The Booklovers

I don’t really have music playing in the back of my head walking home some days. The walk is twenty five minutes long. In fact it was the exact same walk as when I was unemployed but there is some purpose to it now as the weekend is finite. It’s more about making sense of thing now. There are other obligations now and not enough time to fulfil them all. Time management and prioritising what needs to be done versus what I would like to be done. I ultimately don’t feel there is a choice in anything as I put others ahead of myself though it is not acknowledged. The chorus is something I often quote to myself. I don’t know if it makes things better but there is hope in its lyrics. The greatest evil of Pandora’s box left behind when all the others had fled. The song is in the context (along with the album it is from) of a couple spending a day together and discussing their views (which in the case of this song is them discussing authors) and joking around.

Alternate ‘Friday’s walk home from work’ songs:

  •  Nobuo Uematsu- Terra’s Theme (with lyrics) from Final Fantasy VI:

Actually this is the song that often goes through my mind. When a lot has gone on but I look forward to resting in the knowledge the next week will be better. On such Fridays I probably dont have any plans and know not much will happen. Life is a journey and while this moment might not be all thrills and spills it is nonetheless one step closer to something good. one step further on the grand quest of life.

  • Jamie Lidell – Compass

When there is something to go home for. Unlike Terra’s theme getting home was the point and not just a stop gap to the next life event. Its hopeful yet a little melancholic because even looking forward there is a mild fear that when you arrive it may no long be yours… a beautiful song.

  • Jose Gonzalez – Far Away

This is perhaps the closest to a daily song although in a positive way. Tired from the day but going home to rest and repeat the same tasks tomorrow. A steady ongoing rhythm of life.

  • Mr Bungle – Pink Cigarette

… because there needs to be a joke entry as the ‘just-had-a-bad-day’ song in the mix too just for completeness sake. I like the song but definitely it would be worrying to be singing this to yourself walking home.


So what have we learned? I used to play a few classic computer games and am aware of anime. That I apparently don’t just live for the weekend, as some do, but for the next event however far away it might seem in hope. Really this tells you nothing specifically yet gives you a vague sense of everything all at the same time doesn’t it?

Next time… food or drink… Ooh wait no! Something else hopefully!