Triumph and the fountains of Rome!

I’m keeping to four posts a week, at the moment. I looked back a couple of years, back in this blog, and found I was doing seven posts a week.

They tended to be shorter, because I’d write something, get carried away as I always do, and it would turn out longer than I’d expected. So I’d chop it into two or three parts, and run them on three successive days. 

But now I’m writing a novel, and I’m keeping at it because I want to finish it soon. There are five parts, and the final part is expected to be relatively short. I’m on Part 5 now, and I can smell the finish line. I feel triumphant!

I’d like to do more discussion pieces, think pieces, for this blog.

But at the moment I can’t think of anything but Rome and a rich Scots girl, who paints but seems only able to sell her art to men who fancy her, and how she breaks through to a wider audience. I can’t afford to do any thinking except about how to make that sexier and funnier.

I just wrote a scene (for Part 4) in which the hero fetches his beautiful but mildly drunk girlfriend out of Trevi Fountain. It adds absolutely nothing to the plot, I think, but it belongs in the book just the same. 

In honour of that scene, here are some photos of girls in Roman fountains.

The top two are from a news story that said Romans were “outraged” to  find pretty underdressed girls in a fountain. Bullshit, I have to say. Possibly a couple of lemon-sucking Romans somewhere went all crinkly-mouthed about it, but Romans in general are overwhelmingly pro-pretty girl.They even seem to like underdressed, wet girls. Go figure.

Don’t let the Murdoch press (or Dacre press in this instance) tell you otherwise. In fact, don’t let them tell you anything. 

Here’s one I prepared earlier.

Whipping your way through Pompeii

I went to Napoli a few days back. The first two days I did nothing except lie in bed and cough and shiver. Ate breakfast cereal for dinner the second day because all the shops and restaurants had closed when I woke up. Anyway, I was determined to get to Pompeii, so I stayed an extra night and headed out on the third day. 

I could probably say something thoughtful about the flagellation scene at the Villa deii Misterii, but right now I don’t have the nodes. Or the lobes. My brain hurts already: I’m not going to try to think. 

Anyway, here’s a loving couple engaged in an apparent spanking, taken from the wall of the underground baths. 

When your lover (or slave; it’s hard to tell in Roman art) complains the water’s cold…

The really fascinating image from Pompeii, that I should really write about, when I’m not so fucking sick, is this one. (This was an incredibly awkward picture to take, by the way.)

Many think the woman being whipped in the first scene is the woman dancing in joy in the second. That’s certainly my take.

For now, it’s time to have breakfast, pack my bag and head to the airport.

Dublin and pain

I’m in Dublin. I had an idea, after my father died earlier this year, that I should go to Ireland, to see where I came from, at least genetically.

Statues commemorating the Irish Potato Fame. The starving, beside the Liffey, in Dublin

Both of my parents were of almost entirely Irish stock. Though the people who were my ancestors left Ireland during or shortly after the Famine, they continued to marry other Irish expatriots over the next several generations. Although there’s the occasional Welshman or Scot in my traceable ancestry, it’s basically all Irish men and women.

I’ve always been grateful to my ancestors for leaving. Ireland is still disfigured by the Catholic Church, essentially a corporation for the enabling and protection of child rapists, and for the torture and enslavement of women, the Magdalene Laundires episode being only one example of this.

I’d been in Dublin for about six minutes when I encountered a march of young women demonstrating for the repeal of Ireland’s stupid, cruel and life-threatening ban on abortion.

I make a lousy nationalist. If I’d been living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, I’d always have voted to be part of the United Kingdom. Not out of nationalism: I’d don’t give a fuck what Cromwell did to the Irish three hundred-odd years ago. Or the Elizabethans before that. (Both sides seem to have forgotten the Scots invasion, and the land theft, famine and massacres under Robert the Bruce’s brother Edward, because that doesn’t fit the narrative.) 

I’d have voted to be in the UK because I didn’t want to have the cops, directed by the church, tell me what I’m allowed to buy in a bookshop. I’d have wanted to be able to buy contraception, which you could then do in the UK but not Eire. I’d want a woman to be able to get an abortion if she has an unwanted pregnancy. Fuck nationalism: I only care about human rights. 

So it was sobering to be reminded that Eire’s abortion law is still the one dictated by the Church. Rapists, torturers, murderers and their enablers, still claiming moral authority. Sooner that’s dumped into history’s Dead Joke Box the better. 

Anyway, the pain I cause is consensual, intended to help, to lead to pleasure and other kinds of growth, and never to cause harm. Ireland is full of the traces of the domination of an organisation that seeks no consent, and is entirely indifferent to the pain, suffering, harm and death it causes.

 

By the way, I’m thinking about pain because after Eroticon, and after seeing Gretel off on the place back to her native land, I went to Dublin and got a cold. My head hurts. Really hurts. My bones feel like I’ve been beaten up, apparently in my sleep, by the secret police. I need to cough all the time, and it hurts like hell to cough. I’ve got chills. God, I’d love a hot flush. 

On the other hand, I’m outside a pub on Talbot Street, drinking coke and watching pretty girls go by. So … silver linings, that’s what you have to look out for. 

Eroticon is (almost!) here! And I’m in London at last

Sorry to regular readers. I’ve been on the road going up through northern Italy, then Paris, and I’ve just arrived in London. I’ll probably write something about that later, but it’s hard to write much while you’re in transit. 

And though I have a lovely and loved travelling companion who speaks French and Italian, also Railway, immensely better than I do, it’s still hard work.  

I’ll do what I can in the next few days. In the meantime I’m tossing up between having a beer and going to sleep.

In the meantime, here’s “Roman Decadence” by Thomas Couture, in the Musée d’Orsay. I’m going to Eroticon’s meet and greet evening tomorrow, and I’m hoping it’s something like this.

In full flight

I’m cooling my heels in an airport transit lounge, on my way to the castle. I’ll be in my castle in 20 hours. 

Then my girl arrives in Rome the next day, so I’ll be with her (some might dispute that preposition) in about 40-odd hours. 

Wifi here is dodgy, so I’m not even going to try to post a pic, though I’m having a hilariously bad hair day.

 

Gretel in flight

I saw the beautiful and ethically based Gretel to the airport today. Me, I’m not beautiful, and I’m ethically base. Anyway, she’s now in the air over Antarctica, and I’m home, which is now Gretel-less.

I’ll be writing more often soon, about Gretel, and then getting back to the Raylene story.

For now, please indulge me in my current obsession for images of Leda and Zeus, the swan.

leda swan

Music is my aeroplane, and it’s circling over Copenhagen

Mile-high club. Disclosure: I'm not a member of that club, in the Clintonian sense

Mile-high club. Disclosure: I’m not a member of that club. Well, not in the Clintonian sense

I’m in an aeroplane, at the moment. And I’m not listening to the Chillies, despite the title. Actually, it’s the complete symphonies of Carl Neilsen on the headphones, since I’m heading to his part of the world.

Also, the quartets, songs and piano music of Edvard Grieg, since he’s a small composer but perfect, and he’s a local up here, too.

Also, Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar, some Kidney Thieves, and some Canadian music. Neil Young makes that easy, but there’s Mac DeMarco, Tragically Hip and some local bands. I don’t think I brought along any of William Shatner’s amazing vocal stylings, though.

I’m not a fan of Bachman Turner Overdrive, but “You ain’t seen nothing yet, b-b-b-b-b-baby” should be the Canadian national anthem. And for every other country on earth. It’d make the Olympics sound better for starters. (Except for women’s ice skating. Whoever wins, they should just play “Fever” when they get their medals.) And some Americana. Songs about murdered children wailing in the wind, that kind of thing, with banjo and fiddle. 

Anyway, all that’s not to boast about my music taste, because obviously my taste is rubbish. It’s just a guide to my state of mind. 

There Little Mermaid, in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid, in Copenhagen

Anyway, I’m flying, and I’ll soon be in Stockholm, where my adventures begin. 

As for this blog, I’ll continue the Raylene story until the point where everybody’s in the same room and Raylene’s demonstrating “how to be sexy while getting the cane”. There’s a lot of story to go after that point, but Raylene will just have to wait, bent over a table with three people watching her ass, until I get back. She’d like that.

Then there’ll probably be a series of shorter, one-off posts on this and that, as I go. I got my Russian visa, by the way, so that’s a relief. They didn’t even lose my passport. And I’m spending summer in the Arctic Circle, which I’m very enthusiastic about.

JointsUnless, of course, I get completely distracted in Copenhagen. Er, what were we talking about?

Anyway, that’s where in the world your blogger is, and how the blog will be until late July.

Posts will continue more or less as usual, in frequency, but most likely different from my usual style.

Wish you were here, every last one of you.

 

Visas and sex work in Russia

So, Russian bureaucracy is … frustrating. I don’t have my visa, and they took my passport, while they consider whether to issue me with my visa.

Russians and vodka.So if a Jerusalem Mortimer starts committing assassinations, etc, I’ll know it’s a Russian agent using his replica of my passport. Which will be a great consolation to me when I get arrested somewhere or put on a “no fly” list.

No wonder Russians turned to drink during the Stalin years, and haven’t weaned themselves off yet.

Mind you, Israel does that as well: taking the passports of tourists, or copying them, to be used by their agents when committing what Auden called “necessary murders”. I guess the US of A doesn’t need to: they have the resources to create their own fictitious passports.

My nationality is a country that doesn’t really have any enemies. So it’s useful to use our passports (or replicas) to commit state-sanctioned murders or espionage, because we are, by and large, innocent travellers who nobody minds, or pays much attention to. There are documented cases of this, some of which have led to open diplomatic rows: it happens. On the other hand, my country doesn’t really have any political, economic or military power, so there’s bugger all we can do about it. Beyond throwing the odd diplomatic tanty.  

Well, as Stanley Kubrick (oddly enough) said, “The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.” He wasn’t completely right about the small nations though: we get screwed, but we don’t get paid. 

Sex workers protesting against unjust laws, police harassment and lack of protection in Russia

Sex workers protesting against unjust laws, police harassment and lack of legal protection in Russia. The guy in front is a sympathiser, enacting the role of pimp.

Speaking of Russian history, my first stop is Moscow. I understand my hotel is surrounded and besieged by sex workers, in a deployment based on the one the German army used in their encirclement of Leningrad just 76 years ago.

I wish them only well, because they have a rough time. Russia’s anti-prostitute laws are overseen by a Cabinet Minister who said sex workers are as bad as murderers. They risk theft, rape, violence and murder by police, customers and organised crime.

But I’m not a customer, for reasons I’ve set out elsewhere.

But if you’re interested in finding out more about the conditions sex workers face in Russia, here’s an interview with Irina Maslova, of the Silver Rose partnership of sex workers and supporters. She’s pretty damn impressive.

I’m going to be looking at architecture and art, mostly. I like those onion-shaped mosque things on the older buildings. And O Budgiegod, the art: a whole lot of stuff never seen in the West.

Mr Spank takes a short sharp trip to Lapland

laplaceThe dodgy headline for this post is from something the demented nurse said to Queenie, in Blackadder II.

It’s relevant because I’m off soon to the colder bits of Europe: Sweden, Denmark, Russia and so forth. While I’m in Sweden I’ll be going up to Lapland, in the Arctic Circle, and hanging out with reindeer, Laps, igloos, dog sleds and that kind of thing.

I don’t have any specific plans to take some poor freezing girl over my lap, in Lapland, but that’d be nominally neat and sweet.

So if I’m both charming and lucky I’ll tell you all about it. 

In five year’s time.

But today I’m off to the Russian Consulate, to get my visa for that leg of the journey. That’s virtually guaranteed to be a complete pain in the ass, because their bureaucracy doesn’t seem to have simplified, or sped up, since the demise of the late and unlamented Josef Stalin. Anyway, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Tomorrow.

images-11After that, I’ll write a bit more of Raylene’s story. It’s taken me twenty months, roughly, to write the first twenty hours of our acquaintance.

That makes me slower, as writers go, than Tristram Shandy, who took a year to write the story of the first day of his life. Bertie Russell pointed out that the more he wrote, the further he would get behind on his autobiographical project. Russell was making some mathematical point, but I’ve forgotten what it was.

Anyway, I was with Raylene for over a year, so at my current rate I wouldn’t finish telling her story until some time in the 25th century.

But my sweetheart will arrive when I get back from my travels, and this blog will take on a happy, satisfied tone. Maybe even smug, if I’m absurdly fortunate. I have teaching good behaviour in mind. Marking time till then, marking her from then.

Anyway, I’m heading into the Russian consulate. Wish me luck.

Carstairs and bollocks: filed-teeth fellatio in Lesotho

pelicanclubThe other day I dined at the Pelicans Club as Galahad Threepwood’s guest. Gally had left me briefly alone near the entrance, to pay out on a wager he’d taken with Rorke, the butler.

That showed the sporting spirit, but it was how I fell into the hands, or at least the ambit, of the Club Bore. 

The man attracted my attention with a flap of his newspaper and a fixed stare, so I did the polite thing and approached, extending my hand. His name was Carstairs, and in seconds I realised he was not only going to address me but actually tell me anecdotes. But the eye he cast on me was definitely glittering, and there’s no escape from that sort of thing.

His story was interrupted by the vacuum cleaner, which – or who  – was doing lengths of the carpet. Carstairs had taken a seat in the corner that let him monitor all arrivals and departures, but at that stage of the cleaning that meant that every pass of the vacuum cleaner began and ended at this feet. Carstairs simply spoke through the vacuum cleaner’s visitations, neither pausing nor raising his voice, and that and my own wandering attention mean that parts of the story are lost.

Carstairs’ story

Grace Jones in chains, and the 1970s. The Pelican Club is always in about 1928, and Carstairs' story seems to date from abut 1870. Pardon, but your timeslips are showing.

In chains and the 1970s. Pelican Club stories all happen in about 1913, while Carstairs’ story seems to date from about 1870. Pardon, but your timeslips are showing.

“Africa, of course, but one of the lusher parts … downpour, so stayed in a mokhoro … sort of round hut thing … girl chained to the table leg, never got the drift of why … not a stitch on her …  skin gleamed like a grand piano … 

“No, no, don’t mind telling you … nuzzled at my … undid my buttons with her … worried me a bit that she’d filed her teeth … but what can a man do, if a lady … unchained her afterwards … slapped her rump, and that made her frisky … 

“Absolutely true, old bean… not a bed; a sort of cot … collapsed but that didn’t stop us … then the hut fell over … sprawled in the mud …

“Crowd of angry chaps outside … supposed to stay a virgin, apparently … chased after me waving their mulamu … father stuck me to a tree … could see his point of view … hung there for eight days … only when I laughed.”

Gally rescued me at that point, and we went off to the dining room. Gally led the way like a dapper drum-major, but as he marched towards the roast lamb he threw a remark over his shoulder. “Oh, you must’t worry about Carstairs.”

I sighed. “Never been east of Callais in all his life, has he?”  

“Never been east of Soho, old egg.”