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sumbloke

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  1. I am so happy to have this reason to delurk! TGO and Eggman's stories were among the first that really got me sucked into on-line gay fiction and I've been back and back to them over - well let's face it, it's now years! I'm very glad that you are back and I want to thank you once again for some magnificent and affecting stories. I was a gay teen musician when I first read about Prez and Keith and the rest and now I just have to get out the axe and bang out something...I think like a Hurricane will do it :). Hoorah for the Eggman! It's good isn't it that we have our "classics", One Life, For the Love of Pete, Quarry Tales, What We Are, Storm Nation and so many more. Peace and loving kindness Yak
  2. Well, I'm an immigrant in most places: my grandparents immigrated to the UK and now I've emigrated to France (as it happens I was always a French citizen as well but that's irrelevant), but I'm not a Muslim and I have a white face (so when I'm at Heathrow I guess I dilute the brownness a bit). It is interesting - and essential - to compare the perceptions of immigration to the statistics. Research shows that people vastly overestimate the numbers of incomers to the UK each year and astonishingly believe - for example - that the UK is the destination of 25% of asylum seekers! (it's around 3% at the most conservative count). There are plenty of countries that admit more immigrants and asylum seekers than the UK and immigration is not always a net gain: more UK citizens emigrate to Spain that Spaniards come to the UK. When the United Kingdom started to relinquish its colonies (but not its dominions alas) and the commonwealth was formed, citizens of commonwealth countries (at least some of them) were granted the right to British Citizenship. The people of the ex-colonies gave their lives in two world wars that had little to do with them; they came at Britain's call after the war to help rebuild our economy when we were in pretty dire straits. They arrived to a country where pubs and restaurants posted signs saying "No blacks, no Irish" and they took on the jobs that in a the post war boom that developed few native British people found attractive. My grandfather wasn't part of that migration but he arrived as a child and saw his father - a man who had owned land and had a university education - happily take an honest labouring job to support his family in their new home. Of course, many people distinguish these respectable immigrants from later waves and there may be some justification, but the response to social problems that are linked to immigration is never subtle: it's always a panic that eventually mentions white skin and a swamped culture. Like many UK citizens, I've emigrated. I enjoy the privileges of my new home - heavily subsidized education and medical care; social services that work to alleviate absolute poverty; decent transport infrastructure (again subsidized) and a pension scheme that it's true sometimes strains the French economy. I pay taxes and I claim my entitlements in my new country as a right. The social problems that are associated with immigration are not simply caused by feckless radicals who come to Europe and abuse our hospitatlity - they are the result also of a failure of European countries to live up to their ideals and to tolerate racism and foster segregated societies (witness the absurd asylum seeker dispersal programs that have had such disastrous effects). France has done no better. The majority of immigrants to the UK come to work and make lives for themselves and their families. In the case of Asylum seekers that is often made impossible: they are legally denied the right to work. The problems that are faced are actually not so much with recent incomers (despte the grumbling about Poles and so on) but are associated with established communities form the ex-Commonwealth countries - most of whom are British second, third and fourth generation immigrants. If we don't ask how this has happened we are going to be in big trouble. Why do young Britons of Pakistani origin appear to reject the values of British society? Why do African and Afro-Carribean Britons seem to seeth with loathing for British institutions (let's face it, the Police some to mind)? We might not like the answer, but part of it at least is that we failed to make assimilation a reality just as much as the immigrants did: we tolerated discrimination and racism and as a community we still do far too much. You can't build a wall around Europe and you can't send "them" home - this is their home. No amount of anger or hand wringing will do. We have to play our part and ensure that there is no justice to claims of discrimination or oppression if we want to confront hostility in immigrant communities. And, not just at home - Britain (and France) have a case to answer for their role in the situation in the countries of origins of immigrants and if we retreat into denial then we have no answer to the very hard questions that are put to us by young people of Pakistani or African or Chinese (for example) origin. I find the idea of a white, English UK sad and frightening. It can only mean a world of closed borders and cultural isolation. The vision of white working class Britons conned by the British National Party into believing that xenophobia is the answer to our social problems (including an economic crisis that has nothing to do with immigrants and everything to do with the mismanagement of our economy) fills me with despair. The way to combat the influence of mad mullahs and their terrorist disciples is to assert ever more strongly the equality of all British people before the law and the community of interests of everyone in our society. Any other response plays into the hands of ant-democratic extremists of whatever colour. I'm obliged now to go away and look up the offical UK Border Agency statistics on immigration to the UK, I looked at them not long ago and I wasn't surprised but I suspect that many people will be. The scarifying over numbers of immigrants is on a par with the panic about banning "baa baa blacksheep". Disinformation that is always refuted but never dies away. Jakob.
  3. Is it really any surprise? Since the people of South Africa came together to dismantle apartheid they have been a beacon of shining possibility: not of achievement but of what could be. First among the nations of the world they expanded the liberty of the Code Napoleon and guaranteed the legal rights of queer citizens. Graeme, we would expect no less of a nation whose cricket captain bore your name. Yak
  4. Radio cricket! Only in England (and (ex)-dominions...)! When I was a kid there was no Greek at school (I know this is odd but it's background, honest). The rental units arranged some private lessons for me with a local Anglican Cleric. He was a great bloke and I actually enjoyed myself. But he had one habit that threw me completely. During the season he would listen to cricket on the radio while we read Thrasymachus (the text book). Not the scores but blow by blow commentary and live sound. Every so often he'd start excitedly out of his chair and shout "Did you see that? Oh well played!" The odd thing is that cricket's relatively relaxed tempo makes the live commentary much less silly than it is for some sports. (Having said that it's not very relaxing being the target of fast bodyline bowling...) Yak
  5. The answer has been given but fortuitously I've been writing about this very issue recently. This won't help anyone else but it will help me to vent a bit :) My contention is that might is not just the past tense of may but the subjunctive mood. It looks like the past tense because for English modals the past tense and the subjunctive are often lookalikes. Consider He is a friend of mine so he won't betray me He was a friend of mine so he didn't betray me If he were a friend of mine, he wouldn't betray me The distinction in the second and third examples demonstrates that were is not the past tense: that's was. Since the difference in context is that two is real (realis in grammar) and three is mere possibility (irrealis in grammar), I say that three is subjunctive. Typically the subjunctive mood in grammar is reserved for matters of "epistemic doubt" (since that just means doubt about knowing, I have to ask, what other kind of doubt is there?). The present tense of may is used in English to express permission and possibility. If I ever asked my mother "Can I go to Chris's house?" she was wont to reply "I should think you can, you have legs to walk but the question is may you. Thanks mum, it was tedious but at least I learned the difference. The past tense of may is used to express the subjunctive: possibility about which there is doubt. Will he betray me? He might. So grammatically it's the past tense of may and semantically it's the subjunctive. Normal service will soon be resumed. Yak
  6. I have a confession to make. Although I own Hayes' two earlier collections of stories This Thing Called Courage and Now Batting for Boston I have left them sitting on the shelf unread since I bought them. Happily, I got hold of A Map of the Harbor Islands a week ago and plunged right into it. Now I will read the others. First, without wanting to be pious, this is a serious book. I don't mean it's not funny, heartwarming, intriguing (and also sad, affecting and painful) but that it is quite straightforwardly a serious literary effort. It's not entirely successful on that front, but then how many novels are? Second, this book is seriously blubberworthy at times. I came close to putting it down because I didn't think I could take the pain. This is the story of Petey and Danny, two boys growing up in Irish South Boston. Hayes' talent for place and character puts the reader right in the midst of things from the outset. I have no idea what South Boston is like nor much about its Irish culture, but Hayes' evocation of the that world is rich enough for you to live it with his characters. The story starts with Petey and Danny as boys and as they grow up contrasts Petey's fey, otherworldly tale-telling outsider character with Danny's more everyday guy's guy persona. It's very much to Hayes' credit that Danny isn't a caricature foil to Petey. Their low key adventures become progressively stranger after Petey has an accident that seems to push him over the border from different to strange - but as we find out, Petey didn't go anywhere he didn't want to go and however hard his life becomes, it seems that it's at least partly a life of his choosing. It isn't a spoiler to tell you that one of the boys comes out to the other and the story continues as their struggle to come to terms with that fact and their friendship. There are awkward moments for the boys and their friends; there's a painful tragedy unveiled that explains to Danny some of the doubt and tension he has felt around him growing up; there's a marriage that you might think should never have been except that it produces a child who gets to frame the story for us. I found myself almost shouting at Danny as the story developed - I got frustrated and wanted to slap him around the head and knock some sense into him, but Hayes' doesn't hurry things and the story is all the better and more believable for that. I want to tell you all about this book but it would be better to persuade you to read it. It moved me to tears; it made me laugh; it almost made me pray. There are one or two moments of narrative weakness where we have to strain - just a little - to follow Hayes, but it's worth it many times over. I don't know if this is Hayes' first novel length work but if it is, it's extraordinary. Reading this will remind you how shallow so much mainstream prize winning, critic pleasing fiction actually is. It's fun - heartrending, tear jerking fun. Read it! Birdy! Jakob
  7. Thank you for spotting that Des and my apologies to Paul Brians!
  8. Very thorough list of common errors of usage.
  9. Thank you Jason - you got it better than I could have hoped. I shouldn't but I will - I take full responsibility for commenting on my own work in the worst possible way. I saw the best youth of my generation, laid low not by guns but by desperation. Howl by Ginsberg. And still my flag flies black and red and rainbow freak flag honouring our dead. The black and red flag - the anarchists - avanti populo - the Italian communist song. "I'm gonna wave my freak flag high" Hendrix noddint to David Crosby talking about long hair. I heard the news today, O! Boy! John Lennon Another lad dead in good old Manchester. And though the news was as always sordid, I could only wonder if the gun's the worst. Lennon was writing about the death of one of the Guiness family iirc who died in a car accident. I never hated all the chavs; the trash; the scum. It's easy being good when life is full of sun. And when I preach the world to come, I try to keep in mind the awful gun. Kids live lives now blighted by such hate; no trust, no hope, no future their estate. And Guardian readers tut and wonder why - I can't explain but even so, I'll try. We create a world with no good end. We offer bread and circuses and then panem et circenses - the Latin metaphor for the way the Roman boss class ruled over the plebs. off to fight our terror for the fittest and back to grinding poverty the rest. The communists used to say "not a penny for the bosses taxes, not a boy for the bosses war!" We asked them to be human; to join our human race but pulled the ladder out from under them. And when they failed to thank us for our meager grace, we called them ogres, beasts, barely men. Deeds quite impossible - they knew something the old masters. The reference is to Auden - August 1968 - which I think should be read with Roy Fuller's poem Translation and then to Auden's Musee des Beaux Arts Don't be surprised, or shocked or awed Shock and awe needs no explanation. when the object of your abject charity bites back the hand that feeds those cheap scraps sauced up with CCTV and terror law. We like our poor just like the old bosses liked theirs. Cap in hand fawning at the back door. But when like lions they rise from slumber Red Shelly, the Mask of Anarch confused and angry lacking any lead we call our dogs out to keep our homestead safe - build walls around our palaces; put guards before the gates. And when we stand convicted what will mitigate? Cain, where is your brother? Sorry mate, at home his ASBO keeps him there but there's crack ASBO = anti social behaviour order - a British legal measure to persecute the disorderly working classes. and beer and satellite TV. Jerry, Montel, Sally Jesse Rafael serve up for entertainment white trash hell. And we wonder how the hell it came to this. Well, to be young in this fair dawn just isn't bliss. Wordsworth on the French Revolution. Spare a copper mister? Dunno, are you cute? And do you steal? And are you polite? No mister, but I read Emma Goldman before you closed the library down. She wanted roses and dancing and for a quid I'll be your clown. I don't have her dignity nor a knife - least not for you. So give and pass on where you can't love and I'll take my desperation back home. The Anarchist thinker and agitator Emma Goldman criticized the orthodox socialists saying that if she couldn't dance it wasn't her revolution and that she wanted roses as well as gold. She also said that every hobo and bum should arm themself with a knife and wait in hiding in the doorways of the rich... Tonight my little brother then my mum then dad then best mate - arrested? Murdered? Do we care? Look at my face, am I bothered? But don't sleep - don't close your eyes. The tigers . Pure projection about the violence in Britain - who's next if you're one of the excluded white trash? But don't sleep because we are tigers and lions. A poem should need no explanation and a poet would be ashamed to offer one but on this topic at least I have no shame and anyway, I'm no poet. Peace and loving kindness, Yak
  10. But you can just fill a tube full of TP and blow it out of canon... And anyway Beast, we don't need you copying Driver, we need more Jimmy - I worry about him every night so please if you can, tell us how it goes with him wearing that 44 football jersey.
  11. I saw the best youth of my generation, laid low not by guns but by desperation. And still my flag flies black and red and rainbow freak flag honouring our dead. I heard the news today, O! Boy! Another lad dead in good old Manchester. And though the news was as always sordid, I could only wonder if the gun's the worst. I never hated all the chavs; the trash; the scum. It's easy being good when life is full of sun. And when I preach the world to come, I try to keep in mind the awful gun. Kids live lives now blighted by such hate; no trust, no hope, no future their estate. And Guardian readers tut and wonder why - I can't explain but even so, I'll try. We create a world with no good end. We offer bread and circuses and then off to fight our terror for the fittest and back to grinding poverty the rest. We asked them to be human; to join our human race but pulled the ladder out from under them. And when they failed to thank us for our meager grace, we called them ogres, beasts, barely men. Deeds quite impossible - they knew something the old masters. Don't be surprised, or shocked or awed when the object of your abject charity bites back the hand that feeds those cheap scraps sauced up with CCTV and terror law. We like our poor just like the old bosses liked theirs. Cap in hand fawning at the back door. But when like lions they rise from slumber confused and angry lacking any lead we call our dogs out to keep our homestead safe - build walls around our palaces; put guards before the gates. And when we stand convicted what will mitigate? Cain, where is your brother? Sorry mate, at home his ASBO keeps him there but there's crack and beer and satellite TV. Jerry, Montel, Sally Jesse Rafael serve up for entertainment white trash hell. And we wonder how the hell it came to this. Well, to be young in this fair dawn just isn't bliss. Spare a copper mister? Dunno, are you cute? And do you steal? And are you polite? No mister, but I read Emma Goldman before you closed the library down. She wanted roses and dancing and for a quid I'll be your clown. I don't have her dignity nor a knife - least not for you. So give and pass on where you can't love and I'll take my desperation back home. Tonight my little brother then my mum then dad then best mate - arrested? Murdered? Do we care? Look at my face, am I bothered? But don't sleep - don't close your eyes. The tigers .
  12. OK, have a look at William The word localisation comes to mind. Still, it will be worth reading. Yak
  13. So many of my favourite clich?s have already been listed. So if I may veer irritatingly away from the original topic, I'd first like to point to instances of proving the rule where clich?s are concerned. One of my very favourite stories is Karla's Carrots and Celery. It's a sweet story to begin with and one of the lovely things about it is that her narrator has a plausible voice and credible diction. In general Karla can write dialogue you can imagine people speaking, which is a very rare talent in net.fiction. If in the early stages of the story there are discernible clich?s then I'd wage money that Karla is the originator at least some of the time. But then, as the story matures one of my most favourite clich?s rears its ugly head (tu quoque sumbloke): sudden death of parental units and (although hardly mentioned) hence inheritance. But as other people have said the manner in which Karla handles this is far from hackneyed. It's not done as a cheap resolution to a narrative problem (awkward parents getting in the way of teen romance and avoidance of boring grown up stuff like careers etc) but rather to force the nature of the relationships between the main characters into sharper relief and in this way to darken the lens on what would otherwise be pretty idyllic. The development of the story after the trauma is compelling and heart rending. Of course, what I'm really saying is that this has nothing to do with clich?! Oh! Oh! I just thought of one that nobody mentioned! The gay kid is a martial arts expert! He's 14 and has been doing taekwonjitsudo since he was three and is a 29th dan black belt who studies with his inscrutable Okinawan sensei...come on, admit it - you recognise this one! [personal rant]Now, I'm all for liberality in juding net.fiction. Generally where I can't love I prefer to pass on by, but please if anyone out there is going to dust this one off for one more time, could you at least find out something about martial arts first? If someone wrote a story about baseball and explained how the quarterback on the second line scored a home run just before the face-off, you'd be hard put to keep reading. If you are going to write about anything, make sure you have some basic knowledge first! It grates achingly to read nonsense about martial arts. Ok, I'm guilty of a similar sin. I wrote a story set in a country (the US) I'd never visited that prompted people to write to me explaining in great detail that my setting was utterly unrecognisable to them![/personal rant] Now that I've started, I'm tempted to rant on relentlessly off topic, especially about ludicrous dialogue. Listen up people! If you are going to have dialogue between teenagers then try this: abandon your hard-won grammatical knowledge about the conjoined pronouns "you and I" and instead write by default "me and you". Since, in my estimation 90% of of the time 90 % of writers who write "you and I" use it where they should in fact have written "me and you", you'll be getting it right more often. Hypercorrection in dialogue is cringe-making. People in real life don't speak in the register of formal writing. Teenagers don't say "we can exit this way", they say "we can get out over here". Anyway, enough of my judgmental rambling. Peace OUT!
  14. I agree with the principle you state - no state run faith schools, but I'm not sure that the reality of UK vs US is as you say it is. Even without official sanction, I have heard that there can be enormous religious pressure brought to bear on students in US schools. Of course, I was lucky - I was in the French system. ;-). You want to apply a religious qualification for teachers in state schools? I think I'm opposed to that! I don't believe in regulating people's thought. The standard shouldn't be what people believe but how they behave! Who would you trust to conduct the inquisition into prospective teachers' beliefs? The *government*? I wouldn't! Yak
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