Longer-term followers of The Mortal Bath may recall mention of horticultural activity.

Sunday in the garden, a nice ritual in a number of aspects. Eventually the physical event of tending the plants took on a greater importance than any need to communicate it to the wider world.

Part of that is the unbearable crunchiness of it, the perception of so-called virtue so-called signalling, all that. At core was a question for which I was unable to generate a satisfactory response. (The question of course being “Who gives a fuck?”)

I’d often devote mental space to extrapolation while in between the rows. Composing, contemplating the long-term potential of collating the posts into a modestly successful series of books, the delivery service, a large scale permaculture campaign, the inevitable backlash and ensuing midlife crisis in which I purchased a fleet of leather jackets and a battered motorcycle to make a road movie round the Horn of Africa with Ewan McGregor.

I would giggle softly to myself as I returned to the present to hoick a clump of cat shit into the hedge with the hoe.

“Yeah, but, acorns, man!”

“No, definitely a cat.”

Anyway, Green Parent magazine/ rise and fall fantasias aside, there’s such a lot to be said for digging, edging, preparing, planting, weeding, growing, picking and eating. There is a lot to be said about it as well, but, like those writers spending endless hours polishing their process posts, it’s likely as useful left unuttered.

Last year we grew radishes, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onions, leeks, beans, broccoli, rocket and turnips. This is in a space about 6x7m.

We also had tomatoes and cucumbers in grow bags along the wall under the kitchen window, mint in a metal tub (mint loves to take over) and borage in poly pots. A hop plant did well for itself until it got overrun with aphids… the ladybirds we introduced quickly got too fat to keep up with the little green varmints. We had a disappointing elderberry crop for the same reason.

Mostly, though, we had tasty, tasty veg.

The great thing about gardening is that it’s an annual lesson in planning being only part of the schedule. The science of it is fairly predictable, but it’s all subject to uncontrollable variables.

This was last month… I mean, I’m only writing this because it’s chucking it down with rain outside, again.

This weekend, though, fair being foul or no, we’re potting up and planting what we can. The excitement of the new season is upon us. The bird is on the wing. Pan’s pipes do warble native woodnotes wild. There’s a bustle in the hedgerow.

Although, to be honest, that is more likely to be next door’s cat.

Flipping through the vinyl section of one of the fundraising shops in town this fine Friday, feeling the final flashes of the Easter furlough fading, I found myself transfixed as I footered.

Her fascinating face…

babsbabsbabsbabsbabsbabsbabs

today’s entry is going to be made using voice recognition typing type software and I’m going to further complicated by recording this will help Max and Ruby is on DVD in the background

I used to work in transcription about ten years ago and this kind of software would have been a bit of a godsend however even at the time it was clear that we meaning them human right as would be needed in an editorial capacity because if you read the original transcript of this it would be obvious that people would really get what you were talking about but id be a bit messy

and so it actually reading back this is exceeded my expectations even with the Wind somebody’s talking in the background and a crunchy of carrot for my little one who’s watching the DVD

here’s an idea – singing bluebird earrings are on offer at $4

the Lobster wants to share your birthday cake mix

downstairs after us a real episode the DVD has started skipping because of damage that the DS I’ll continue my dictation yeah writing for a living I had a lot of shortcuts on my keyboard and it was quite a useful

facility one that turn a hard job easy

something I’ve noticed about this dictation software is that it tends to just stop working in the middle of the sentence if you pause or hesitate apparently so you can have to go on a bit of a roll and hope that you’re not going to run out of things to say in the middle of saying them which is I realised pretty much really how I write

the function of this seems to be helpful if you were driving she can do a verbal notes but if you’re having Cris keep stopping to press record again because he keeps stopping while you’re doing it then that’s going to be a bit of an inconvenience and probably something that you might get pulled over and arrested for

also it appears to be introducing a narrative into my notes in that this character Cris is now the person responsible mm maybe that’s what I should call my dictation software note to self for all of the mistakes that I make

I mean considering that I’m actually talking quite quickly, and I keep forgetting to do much punctuation comma this device is coped admirably to be honest

https://youtu.be/DPCO85TSVlA

I can’t get the YouTube app to embed that properly but that is somewhat predictively penetration with don’t dictate oh yeah.

My basic point here is that news media seems to have become a cartoon, yet it is the viewer who is standing in thin air, holding a hand-lettered sign reading “Have mercy”.

“News” has always been subject to partisan adaptation, but in recent years there has been a lurch towards more and more overt manipulation and propaganda.

I don’t mean all that made-up stuff on Facebook. Which, by the way, appears even MORE made-up the more I see that one screen grab that proves Russia was trying to make fools out of America in the Presidential election. The Satan arm-wrestling Jesus one? I’ve never seen it in any other form except that one screen grab. Anyway.

The problem of the use by Trump (et al) of the term “fake news” is that what is frequently termed “the mainstream media” (MSM) (which I take it refers to traditionally reputable reporting outlets like newspapers, their online versions, BBC, ITV, Sky News, and the US equivalents) are, indeed, now perhaps more than ever, offering clearly biased versions of events, or frequently just making shit up.

It is a pantomime so painfully laboured that it is unclear for whom the entertainment is intended.

It could be argued that with the presentation of some issues in the news cycle being so blatantly one-sided and manipulative, there must be some other aim to the parade of bogus views, faked outrage and nose-leading opinion pieces masquerading as reporting.

Distractive media, one might call it, existing purely to have everyone looking at something else while some particularly egregious scheme is effected.

In the UK, for one example, we have Katie Hopkins, whose utterances I greet with a shrug when I hear about them. Her provocations are such a contrivance that I cannot expend any energy on them.

For another example, follow @geoffreyjewdas on Twitter and work backwards to the BBC’s latest round of character assassination concerning Jeremy Corbyn.

The Salisbury “chemical weapons” thing.

It is documented fact that eccentric multimillionaires attempt to control the discourse. Their reaction to a loss of monopoly, through individuals being able to access information directly, with millions simply not trusting them n’more, seems to have been to insist that their broadcasting organs present increasingly quixotic and offensively skewed information.

There’s a sense of acceleration about it too, an increasingly frantic scramble towards the base, which appears also to be a mode manufactured deliberately.

Yet with cackhanded obviousness, brazen wrongness. This seems more about attempts – and I mean comically slapdash attempts – to control people’s perceptions of events in a way that suggests our overlords don’t care who knows they’re trying to do it, or that they think no one can tell. Only, is it because “they” – The Man – think it’s safe to just do what they like, or that they want everyone to think that?

It calls to mind a real-world version of Facebook’s walled garden. A place where individual stories can’t change individuals’ decisions, but the overall backdrop can manipulate the way those events are interpreted. Only the backdrop here is apparently one of those Wile E. Coyote works, painted over a canyon wall, through which Roadrunner disappears, and from which emerges a truck, with horn blaring.

Viewed from outside the cartoon, it is funny in its preposterousness. Inside the world of the cartoon, from the point of view of the Coyote, it is an affront to reason, one that might legitimately prompt another hand-lettered sign saying “What the fuck is going on?”

One benefit of a more attentive approach to time and media management is the sudden release of seemingly days of spare time. Using an app to block other apps has been helping to create a habit of putting down the phone and starting something else instead. Pens, paper, making music, and a return to reading.

Earlier this year I started making space on shelves, thinning a book collection. Most of the volumes were already in a stack of boxes in an attic space, with the remainder in piles two deep on the upper shelves. The lower reaches have been annexed, now a junkyard jumble of jigsaws, card games, noisemaking toys, pebble collections.

The aesthetic improvement of the remaining rows of double-stacked books took the form of boxing to donate – mostly to St Michael’s Hospice shop – and boxing to keep, until some ill-defined event horizon beyond which the Book Collection might be returned to the shelves in all its glory.

The process culminated in a kind of at least half-engineered Damascene instance, where I was sat looking round the room at the books now on shelves, knowing that it was all the ones I hadn’t read… Some of which have been with me round the block at least twice.

It prompted a reforming bibliophile’s reevaluation of the amount of rubbish one carries around (metaphorical interpretation also available, in fact I think I have the hardback version of that as well…)

I also commenced a reading programme. So far this year I’ve gone through:

I Will Never Write My Memoirs – Grace Jones

Nina Simone:The Biography – David Brun-Lambert

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (on ereader)

Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd

The Atrocity Archive – Charles Stross

Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny

The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin

Neuromancer – William Gibson

All Tomorrow’s Parties -William Gibson

The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson

Make Room! Make Room! – Harry Harrison

Some of these have been well worth the wait. No doubt some will not. Still, y’know… the books all represent something that resonated, at least once, on some frequency or other. There’s a connection, I mean, although with what is perhaps another matter. It feels like a relationship I understand a bit better, anyway.

Now, better post this before the app block comes on…

Tomorrow: Current Affairs.

‘Ultimately,’ the reader read, ‘you see, he said, we run into a problem when we get to Z.’

Reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back can be decidedly problematic.
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It’s a tale of the Hat-sporting Cat coming back, to the house of Sally and Me (unnamed in the story, we never know why, a little like Marwood in Withnail and I) as they’re clearing up snow (all that snow’s GOT to go), but Cat turns the snow pink and it causes a stink… Then the Cat needs some help – all the help he can get – so he calls on some little cat friends who get set to defeat the pink snow… wait! Did I mention yet? These tiny felines – the whole purring set – are named for each letter of the alphabet

26 little cats, underneath Big Cat’s hat, all in hats of their own, bearing letters, letters printed on the gear on their heads, and they start off with A, B, and C, D and E, all the way through to X, and then Y, and then Z.

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The good Dr Seuss, when he wrote this, you see, made a lot of the rhymes depend on the Z not being said (as it is in my head) as a fine English Zed but instead – can it be? – an American Zee… Yes, zee! Really!

Well, it gets as confusing as confusing can be! You can read it both ways to a mere child of three, but the rhymes make no sense if it’s Zed and not Zee, which is tough when you’re learning to read phonically, and “zuh” is in fact what you say when you’ve read the letter that concludes the alphabet (Z)…

Shakespeare called it ‘zed’, anyway, and that’s that, for I trust him much more than that Cat, with his Hat full of minuscule moggies, with alphabet names, regardless of their pink stain removal fame, and their trick of being hidden like Babushka dollies, for the Big Cat to store and transport ’em with ease, and much more than Cats A, B, and C, through to E, F and G, M and N, and O, and P, and then – finally – that tiny beast we can’t see but imagine instead, touting the magical VOOM on his head – the invisible, infernal, most terminal ZED!

Returning to my A to Z Challenge Birthday Book theme, today is the day the world welcomed Edward Kennedy Ellington, better known as Duke Ellington, the inspirational band leader, composer, arranger and musician.

a-duke

Celebrating the fact, and taking the A to Z train to our penultimate stop, here are three Ellington compositions that all have a ‘Y’ component:

Black Butterfly:

A cast-iron Ellington classic, Black Beauty:

…and concluding with this vinyl delight from 1937, co-written with Rex Stewart. Sugar Hill Shim Sham, alternate title “You Ain’t in Harlem Now”:

Happy Birthday your Grace!

There is news that Prince died intestate, according to his sister, Tyka Nelson, who has quite reasonably filed papers stating she ‘does not know of the existence of a will’… Although even someone without special legal knowledge could note that that does not amount to the same thing as there not being a will, TMZ, etc.

Such events almost seem bound to happen in the music industry in such situations. I’d be very surprised if notorious music rights ownership maven Prince had not given his legacy some consideration, however.

While contemplating the circling of lawyers, relatives, and indeed the commentariat all looking for orts from the Paisley Park vaults, and trying hard to find a bit more W to go with the will aspect, I was tickled to discover that today’s Birthday Book quotation is from Will Shakespeare:

If money go before, all ways lie open.

Well, there we go, I thought.

Imagine my delight at returning home to discover that my esteemed father-in-law had dropped round and left a book he no longer requires and thought I might like to have.

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This is the 1968 revised edition of A Pictorial History of Jazz, compiled by Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer Jr. It’s as comprehensive a tome as any jazz-and-bibliophile might ever wish to get their grateful mitts on.

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For today’s A to Z Challenge purposes, page 251 is of particular interest:

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Featuring Sarah Vaughan, and Charlie Ventura.

The vestiges of the evening shall be devoted to a voyage of discovery through this venerable volume of virtuoso visuals!

Under-prepared… U get an ‘under’ themed playlist.

Unequivocal anti-fascist song from Derek Bowie & Tin Machine – ‘Under the God’

Up-tempo live version of ‘Got Me Under Pressure’ from ZZ Top, a mere 33 years ago:

Ultimately, though, we need to close with 10 minutes of FUNK. Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove