Vague ramblings

Aberfan: how bright their frail deeds.

Posted in Life, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 21 October, 2016

Aberfan – 50 years ago today – is the earliest memory to which I can put a specific date.

I don’t know if I can truly remember the World Cup final in the same year, because the key imagery has been shown so many times I can’t sort real memory from received memory. But Aberfan is fused in my mind by a single image from TV news, a rescue worker (in my 6-year-old head a soldier, but more likely a policeman or a Welsh miner) giving a young girl a hot drink in one of those enamel tin mugs.

The treatment of the victims’ families was a disgrace and shows that callous indifference by the Establishment knows no party allegiance, but an appalled nation responded with a kindness and generosity that seems to belong to an earlier era. In this – of all miserable years – the British people, I think, would do well to remember how bloody marvellous they can be.

Ask any émigré of Welsh descent where they want to go when visiting the Old Country, and Aberfan is high on the list – as it was with my Canadian relatives – as a place to pay their respects. The pits are all gone now, along with the lethal slag heaps, but the memory remains.

Anyone who has ever read accounts of the disaster will appreciate how touched by genius this Karl Jenkins tribute is. The quiet morning, the unmistakable Welsh accent of the hymn. And then, and then…

Tip: it does not end when you think it does:

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Days of Iron

Posted in Life, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 10 May, 2016

Profoundly envious of those making the trip tonight. Bugger depression for fucking me up so badly that I had to sacrifice the season ticket to stay afloat.

A few years ago I wrote this, as part of a  paying gig for one of WHU’s advisers. I was there for that goal:

It was football as poetry. At 3:10pm on Saturday 23 March 2000 Marc Vivian Foe played the ball out to Trevor Sinclair on the right wing. Sinclair’s lofted ball to the far side of the penalty box should have been straightforward for any reasonable player to trap and lay back into the box, for the advancing Frederick Kanoute.

Paolo Di Canio is not a reasonable footballer.

As the ball made its 35-yard flight, Di Canio slipped past the retreating Wimbledon defenders, never taking his eye of it. Near the far edge of the box, about twelve yards from the touchline, he leapt into the air, adjusting his balance constantly – while in the air – and struck the ball on the volley with the outside of his right foot. It flew just inside the far post. To Hammers fans it will always be “That goal”. More than 25,000 of them gasped in astonishment, before exploding into wild cheering.

It’s that gasp, as people tried to work out what they had just seen, that those who were there remember.

Anyway this is lovely and the best of many videos from people exorcising their sadness:

And this is wonderful, via David Squires at the Guardian: Designing Herbie The Hammer, and other stories.

Cloud Atlas: book, film and the art of zooming

Posted in Ace Writers, Fiction by Ian Cundell on 23 January, 2014

In 1977 Charles and Ray Eames created a short film called The Power of Ten, surely the most viewed short film in history. We start with a couple picnicking in a park, zoom out to the very edges of the universe and then back to the building blocks of matter. It was shown at schools all over the world and as a staple BBC test transmission in the days before all-day TV. Watch it – it is all kinds of wonderful.

I would be moderately surprised if, somewhere in the back of his mind, David Mitchell was not influenced by this icon of the short film art when crafting Cloud Atlas(1). Here be spoilers. (more…)

Ho! Ho! Ho? Heil! Heil! Heil! more like

Posted in Various meats by Ian Cundell on 20 December, 2013

Christmas approaches – indeed it starts earlier every year, such that before long we will face a year long Yule rule. And rule is the operative word, for we are held in thrall by a conspiracy of silence. The filthy truth about Santa Claus is hidden under a veneer of jollity but now it is time to expose the scandal: Santa is a fascist and has even tricked us into celebrating the fact. The evidence is damning.

It is hidden in the words of an ostensibly jolly song celebrating the imminent arrival of Santa, but make no bones about it, Santa Claus is Coming to Town is Santa’s Fascist manifesto, with codas designed to appeal to the most depraved in our society. Let’s look at the evidence.

You better watch out

Shameless, isn’t it?

You better not cry

The traditional appeal to Fascist ideas of strength is nailed early

Better not pout

Dissent is to be crushed

I’m telling you why

What happens to the Christmas message? No hint that we are in this together. I am telling you the score

Santa Claus is coming to town

Be afraid!

He’s making a list

His secret police is on the case…

And checking it twice;

…with traditional Fascist thoroughness

Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice

In order to judge you

Santa Claus is coming to town

To rule you

He sees you when you’re sleeping

See how the Fascists appeal to the most base elements of our society? When are our children most vulnerable? Yes! When they sleep.

He knows when you’re awake

But even if you are alert, the Fascists know where you live!

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

Yeah! And we know what their idea of ‘good’ is don’t we? Put it this way, it will involve a white Christmas.

So be good for goodness sake!

Conform! Fit in! Be afraid to be different! March to the beat of the Fascist orthodoxy…

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why

The rhetoric is endless!

Santa Claus is coming to town

To control you

Santa Claus is coming to town

To crush you under foot. Forever.

Now click here to learn the real reason Bruce Springsteen is called “The Boss”.

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Chillin’ like a villain…

Posted in That which is cool, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 6 September, 2013

Since I have nothing of particular insight to say about anything right now, enjoy this. Bet you can’t get all the way through this without giggling like an idiot…

Posted in Musing, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 26 March, 2013

Interesting post from a friend’s son, and discussion with me playing the role of cantankerous git.

Owen Riddall

Boris Bashing – The Bike Crash Interview

Eddie Mair’s recent interview ( of Boris Johnson has caused quite a stir. It has been claimed that Johnson was ‘mauled’ and ‘monstered’ by his ‘splendid’ interviewer. And it is true that Mair had the mayor flustered, perhaps more so than we’ve ever seen him before. Normally so smooth under the fire of the press, Johnson seemed to break: he even asked to change subject on more than one occasion.

It is clear that Mair was able to overcome the Johnson charm, and that is an achievement in itself, of sorts, since not many have been able to do what he did. But what was the point?

Mair’s intention seems to have been to prove that Boris is a ‘nasty piece of work’. He provided three pieces of evidence to suggest malice in Boris’ character: firstly, that Boris fabricated a quote while working…

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A splash of Ink (colour: Red)

Posted in Ace Writers, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 11 February, 2013

When, a few years ago, I first heard a reading by Julie Mayhew  (at the behest of Jenny Barden if I recall correctly), it was screamingly obvious that here was a special talent. It wasn’t just the confident reading, born of her other life as an actress. There was (and is) a fearlessness in use of imagery, a boldness in following her lead (and deeply fractured) character’s thoughts to their conclusion and the audacity to realise that a tale of a fractured person needs telling in a fractured way.

And then there was the prose. It would be a cheat to pull out an extract, so next time you are in WH Smith or Waterstones just read the first page (The Recipe), let yourself be seduced then buy the damned book. It is marvellous.

Of course there was a lot more to do than deliver great writing. My chums Jenny Barden and Jonathan Pinnock, also tasted the joy of publication in the last year or so, and like them Julie understood the need for sheer hard graft and the iron will never to give up. As someone once said, “The harder I work the luckier I get”.

For reasons best known to themselves (probably a high fever), all three of the above were kind enough to include me in their acknowledgements. If I have been some small help in getting three hugely diverse tales into print, then that is wonderful, but it is quite extraordinarily gratifying to be acknowledged by people you admire and take inspiration from.

Now get out an buy the books.


Mandy does The Net

Posted in Business, Life, Various meats by Ian Cundell on 24 December, 2009

Ace comic, actress and writer Mandy Knight has gone and got a website. Blimey.

He is here!

Posted in Ace Writers, Business by Ian Cundell on 7 May, 2008
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Moments of perfection

Posted in Ace Writers, Music, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 2 January, 2008

There are few immutable truths in the arts. Until recently, in fact, I thought there was only one: that pop music reached its moment of perfection, never to be surpassed, when Martha & The Muffins released Echo Beach. There has, of course, been much fine pop music before and since (the entire body of work by Squeeze springs to mind), but nothing has, or will, touch the completeness of Ontario’s finest export. That, to me, was the only truth in the arts.

Then I read Terminal Misunderstanding by the late Evan Hunter (better known to many as Ed McBain) and think I have found another one.


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