This blog is dedicated to Agua Marina, a mermaid from Barcelona who floated mysteriously to Tyneside via the Russell Group current. The gods had given her a hole in the heart. It was incredible. She could have been an X Man. (But she decided to do medicine instead as although the unemployment rate for doctors in Spain is high, it is not as high as it is for X-Men)
My Father (Messidor 2011)
Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia. A series of experiences with a crystal pendulum had led me to conclude that beings from another star were in telepathic contact with me. I know what you're thinking. Crystals. Don't get me wrong. I hate all that wibbly-wobbly stuff myself. My favourite on this is Sir Patrick Moore, whose BBC TV programme for amateur astronomers "The Sky At Night", has been going since 1957. With his ill-fitting suit, bushy eyebrows and unkempt hair, he is the archetypal eccentric boffin. He is also a fantastic materialist scientist of the old school. Whenever he mentions the word "astrology", his lip quivers with a repressed contempt that is very satisfying for those of us who remember Linda Goodman's "Sun Signs". But the events that I experienced were logical and scientifically plausible. Put it this way: it works just as well with any weight on the end of a bit of string.
It was my father who introduced me to The Sky At Night, in the early nineteen-sixties. It was an optimistic era. Moore often used to point out that amateur astronomers were still contributing to original astronomical research. There was a tribute to this in my Open University Astronomy coursebook on variable stars. It is a page of the records of the Association of Amateur Variable Star Observers,showing the variation in luminosity of a variable star over a period of about a hundred years. (I know. They should have got out more.). The luminosity is constant for a period of weeks then there is sudden flare-up which persists for a similar period. Then there is a rapid decline in brightness back to the baseline level. It looks like a quantum function: the classic Dirac delta wave. (I know. I should get out more.)
But of course since the War, the professionals have taken over in astronomy like they have done in everything else. There's some provincial resistance. I attended a lecture here at the Newcastle Astronomical Society a few years ago and they were still arguing about the existence of polarised light. That's why I have to get to Paris. It's so provincial here in Newcastle. It was a mistake to try and live here,
Incidentally, I'm not frightened of the aliens that are in telepathic contact with me. There's a recent British science-fiction movie called "Attack The Block!" that follows the usual route of having aliens that appear to be somewhere between dogs and monkeys on the evolutionary scale and yet who have somehow perfected the art of interstellar travel. I think it's probably reasonable to conclude that if they have achieved star travel, they will be morally more evolved too. Possibly even world government and global social security.
How does the crystal work? Well you CAN try it at home. Put any weight on any bit of string and ask it questions. It swings clockwise for yes, anti-clockwise for no. Eventually, you might,as I did, ask if you're speaking to aliens. You may then, as I did, feel the aliens moving your arm that is moving your hand that is moving the crystal so that you realise they are acting through your brain. You may then hear, as I did, a chorus of voices, saying "Can you hear us, Mick?". You may then ..er..are you still with me?
The contact is 24/7/365. At first I tried to convince everyone I was right. I told my friends, the medical authorities, my wife, the girl I was trying to get off with, everyone. As a result, I found myself living on incapacity benefit on a South London housing estate. Funnily enough, the aliens in "Attack The Block!" invade a South London housing estate. Indeed, when the aliens invaded, I was the only person in the cinema who cheered.
Anyway, 20 years later and I'm still not a George King Aetherius Society-style guru with millions of adoring female fans. At the time the aliens introduced themselves to me, I was a writer. I had specifically become a writer for the profound reason that it would be a good chat-up line for girls at parties To put it bluntly, telling them you're a ufo contactee, doesn't have the same effect. Not that I can even go out and look for a girl, here in Newcastle. It may be a party city for some but for me, within five minutes I'm being confronted by the Bigg Market Hairy Palms Brigade, on their night out in the "Toon", looking like the Andrew Weatherall remix of "Deliverance". Even on the rare occasions I thought I was in with a chance of pulling, I'm looking over my shoulder for the boyfriend. I'm now 59 and on my own. Well, la vie en couple. It's a bit of a cliché anyway, isn't it?
In Paris it's different. I can be an exiled contactee there and who knows what might happen. I reckon that if Cheryl Cole can make it in the US, I can make it in Paris. True, I'm not young and beautiful like Cheryl Cole but I'm a bloke so that doesn't matter. Admittedly, the recent arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn over allegations of a New York chambermaid set me back but he's been released now.
But what's all this quixotic talk about getting to Paris as if I was some sort of upmarket version of Pinter's "The Caretaker"? I've been on incapacity benefit for twenty years and haven't got two mung beans to rub together. Well, I've had a stroke of luck. My father has died. That sounds terrible and I did love my dad but I've inherited some money,
He died just before last Christmas. One of his favourite jokes was the one about the patient who goes to see the doctor and the doctor tells them they are fine but not to start reading any long novels. I wonder if the last time my dad saw his doctor, the doctor told him he was fine but not to buy any Christmas presents.
Alright. How much did I inherit? A million? A hundred million with which I can buy a yacht and hang out with Bono and Sting?
Messidor, Vesce, L'Appartement a Paris.
Funnily enough, one of my biggest enemies is a News International journalist. Pat Kane. Some time back in the early mid-nineties, in his Times or maybe it was Sunday Times TV review, he referred to what he called "the gentle but flaky world of the ufo contactee". It wasn't just that we were mistaken, we had practically committed a fashion error. Before he had been a TV columnist, Kane had been a vocalist in a pop band. Like Bono. Or Sting. It's all about image you see? The image of the contactee is that of a community care patient. Indeed that is what I am. Because I honestly believe beings from another star are in telepathic contact with me, I get incapacity benefit. It's not as if I had to hold up a bible and swear that I believed that extraterrestrials were in telepathic contact with me. That was simply the diagnosis of the psychiatrists at the Institute of Psychiatry in Camberwell. To back them up, they had a scan of my brain that showed the asymmetry in the basal ganglia of my brain which is characteristic of 99% of schizophrenics.
At the time the aliens made contact, I had a job as an Agency residential senior social worker and was a regular writer with cult BBC radio satire show, "Week Ending". I had just written a sketch for Week Ending that had been used instead of one by Rob Newman and Dave Baddiel. Around that time, my American contactee counterpart "Simply Fred" had just won the "Boston All-Comers" comedy competition. Jim Carrey had been one of the other comics in the competition. Then one night, simply Fred had been driving along the freeway when he was, he claims, abducted by a spaceship. It ruined his career. No-one would book him as a comedian any more. I could claim millions in compensation. (As long as I don't have to have Jim Carrey's eyebrows.)
I'm finally getting used to Paris. Mind you, just before coming, I saw a French movie called "Les Petits Mouchoirs" in which a complacent Parisian late-night scooter rider is timing his ride to coincide with the green light through a series of lights in central Paris till at the last one, he is hit sideways-on by a forty ton truck. So natually, I'm still feeling nervous about crossing the road.
The hardest thing about being a contactee is being right. As I joked to a BBC executive about 18 years ago: "I've got the Apocalypse inside my head. But I try not to complain too much." In fact my progress to acceptance through the years is to realise that people are not going to believe me. It has been a ritual, moral re-purification based on the fact that people are dimwits. Think not? Look at the car! If cyclists should be made to pass road safety tests, shouldn't motorists be made to watch Jean-Luc Godard's "Le Weekend"? In the movie, Godard depicts the consequences of Paris going to the countryside for the weekend. It gets stuck in a traffic queue. This queue gets longer and longer during the movie as the drama turns more and more into a tableau vivante, the tableau vivante that is a traffic queue. Ipso Facto, most people are not intelligent enough to realise that cars cause traffic jams. Why should I worry if some people think I'm a couple of eigenvalues short of the full eigenfunction?
There is another reason why I had to go to France. The fact is, I am no longer welcome in England. Not because I'm a loony. It's worse than that. I am that most hated minority of all. Perhaps you can guess which. Maybe I should just tell you. I'm a New Labour supporter. After 13 years in which we introduced the minimum wage, reduced hospital waiting times to a maximum of eigteen weeks, banned cluster bombs, tripled development aid, established the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement,etc, the media turned on us. The trouble is, the majority of people don't understand Gordon Brown. And the reason they don't understand him is he's an intellectual.
Being an intellectual is almost as bad as being a contactee. I suppose it's a bit like the recent movie "The Adjustment Bureau" with Matt Damon, in which a shadowy extraterrestrial agency called The Adjustment Bureau intervenes in Matt Damon's fate. So that's just like me and my aliens, except it's real life and my aliens don't actually make any adjustments.
The last time I saw my father, he described his neuropathy. His motor nervous system no longer controlled his foot. In the event, it seems he fell over and banged his head on the corner of his stairlift. It's funny. Just a few minutes ago, Roger McGough on Jarvis Cocker's show on BBC Six radio, expressed surprise that a song had been written about Stockton. (The Shadows. "Stars Fell On Stockton.) Dad lived in Stockton. His stairs were the steepest I've ever climbed. They made the ones in Kidnapped look like an airport travelator. The stairlift sometimes would get stuck half-way, gently blowing in the breeze. Orson Welles would appear out of the shadows and talk about the stair-lift company's hidden account in Zurich.
Stockton was where I lived as a child. Towns ending in "ton" are supposed to be associated with ley lines. And I don't know whether you knew this but Stockton ends in "ton". I was brought up by my grandmother. My mother had rejected me. I remember, as I grew up, looking at my mother and wondering: "Who is that woman?". I'm just like John Lennon. His mother lived in the next street and he thought she was his auntie. In fact, the only difference between me and John Lennon is that my mother carried on living in the same house.
Sorry about that. I know it's sacrilege to compare yourself to John Lennon. Maybe I should just compare myself to Jesus.
Long hair. Wore a nightie. But Jesus is probably not an appropriate comparison. That was an ancient, primitive time of wars, famines and plagues. Just like Africa.
Chalemie: Ange Foudou
This is Ange Foudou. I met him on the campsite last year. He lives there during his Paris summer season. He performs on the street in St Michel, Les Champs Elysees and other tourist hotspots. He's been doing it for over 20 years. I cannot reveal any of his jokes. They are copyright-protected. He's on the street, in and amongst the punters. It's kind of like Michael McIntyre in the round although of course Michael McIntyre is himself in the round.
I have already revealed one of Ange's jokes. Look carefully at the photos. Guessed yet? It's the little pump-operated trumpet he sounds from time to time. Marc Riley uses a similar device on his show on BBC Sixmusic to cover rude words. Riley is my second favourite musician after Mark E Smith. They were both in a band called The Fall. Mark E Smith is still in the band. Marc Riley isn't. This is because it was Mark E Smith's band. Mark E Smith is on record as saying that he and his grandmother on comb would consitute The Fall. So Marc Riley has rebuilt his career as a DJ.
I've got a room in a flat just off the bottom of Ave de Wagram in the room of a guy, Thomas, who's going to Argentina. I'm here till September and I've got a part-time job dogsitting Thomas' Belgian Shepherd dog, Paco. I got the job quite easily. I suppose in the future there'll be criminal records checks for animal abuse.
From Stockton, we moved to Welwyn Garden City, in the South-East of England. There's not that much difference between the South and the North. Just the money. The school I'd gone to in Stockton was one of the original Victorian "Board" schools. The teacher boomed down at you from a high dais. In Welwyn it was a new school with a progressive ethos. At its heart was the one thing that characterises progressive education: the syllabus was about two years behind.
I feel the need to write an e-mail to Thomas and luckily I have thought of something to say. You see Thomas feeds Paco croquettes. They're very similar to the "I ams" that my dad gave to his cat. My dad was a scientist and the system is very scientific. The animal gets all the nutritional requirements but only eats when she's hungry. I then contrasted that with the example of my sister who gives her dog a treat every time he barks.
Two or so years later we moved up North again to Consett, Co. Durham. At the time it was a big steel town but the steel works closed and everyone became cab drivers. The town was later famously depicted in a TV advert for Phileas Phogg tortilla chips as having its own airport. I sometimes wonder if somewhere in the galaxy there's an advert that depicts Planet Earth as having its own spaceport. I can certainly imagine the aliens looking at us through their their telescopes and saying to each other: "Blimey! They must all be cab drivers".
In Consett, I was educated at the Grammar school. The school had been founded by the Victorian steel company. They wanted the school motto to be "Out of Iron comes forth Steel", in Latin. Unfortunately, no-one had realised that the Romans hadn't invented steel so the motto became "E Ferro Ferrum Temperatum", which translates as "Out of Iron comes forth Tempered Iron".
I should talk to you about the aliens really. After all, I do claim they are in telepathic contact with me. The trouble is, there's not a lot I can say. When they made contact, I didn't want to go down the voices route, in case I was actually mad. So we came up with this compromise where they nod my head for yes or shake it for no. At least I hope it's that way round. You might have gathered by now that I'm a bit of a pushover. Anyway, such conversations as we do have, such as "Do you use element 114 as saucer fuel?" and "Is it really orange?" quickly dry up. To be frank, I don't know whether the aliens I'm in contact with are the greys, the whites or the sky-blue pinks. In fact, I think I am kept informed on a need-not-to-know basis. I know what you're thinking: a loony tourist in Paris. So let's be clear about one thing: I won't be visiting the grave of Jim Morrison.
Today, the clouds are just thinning enough to let a little sun through. I still have the cold which I got on the campsite and aggravated going to the Stade de France with Damien. But apparently, staying out of bed and not looking after your cold properly is the new rock and roll. I'm stuck with Paco, though, Monday to Wednesday/Thursday. "Walkies". I did manage to see a play the other day at the Theatre Dejazet. It was on the cover of Pariscope. The play was about Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist probably better-known for being the mistress of Diego Rivera. Mind you what with the spectacle of Rupert Murdoch and his, as Yahoo! blogger Ian Dunt put it, "absurdly" pretty wife at the Commons yesterday, today is a bad day for all blokes looking for big careers and lots of trophy mistresses. Maybe I should just forget all my plans to "make it" in Paris.
I hope the weather has improved by tomorrow. I was planning on going to the Latin Quarter.
I think you've probably gathered by now all this contactee, community care patient story is just a smokescreeen. And then I joke that the reason why I'm an outcast is that I'm a New Labour supporter. But the truth is I'm afraid something you will find utterly vile. I am that pathetic, disgusting, sad case that society deplores above all others: the person without a "significant other". Irrespective of anything else, there are technical problems when it comes to the pursuit of one. For example, in my experience, you can be talking to a girl wondering if she's got a boyfriend and at that moment he could be merely a yard away. It's like trying to find a house. Rarely a case of vacant posession.
But of course I remember what Dave Baddiel said all those years ago. I'd been living with my girlfriend for years. He joked that it was your second night with your new girlfriend and already you were bored of sex with her. I can vividly remember him saying it. So why did I carry on living with my girlfriend for years after that?
It's been raining for over a week now and according to the BBC Weather Forecast, today it will be thunderstorms, tomorrow light rain, Saturday light rain shower and Sunday white cloud. Finally, on Monday it's predicted to be a sunny day. I feel like there's something I don't know about Paris that I'm supposed to. The reason why THEY all go on holiday. But it will be such a relief! A glorious sunny day! And to think that only two weeks ago I was hiding from it between 11 and 5 to minimise my sunburn. And anyway, in case any of you are thinking "who is this pretentious geezer who's using his dad's money to pretend he's a writer in the Latin Quarter whilst actually living in the 17th arrondissement?", just ask yourselves this: how would you like to be a ufo contactee and get less credit than a railway station train announcer?
The sun comes out in the afternoon just as a message on Facebook announces the opening of Paris Plages. A 1 kilometre stretch of sand along the Seine. The idea, as my Lonely Planet guide says, is a reference to the old sixties political slogan: "sur les paves, les plages". Till recently, as a new Paris arrival, I was thinking that I was going to get off with Marion Cotillard, who I'd seen in the movie "Les Petits Mouchoirs". In the movie, they all go on a beach holiday and I guess the truth is I'm just going to have to make do with Paris Plages.
I met one of my female neighbours this morning. I guess you know you're in Paris when you meet a girl wearing high heels giving her dog its "walkies". Mind you, it was just a little poodle. It's a scary thought that there could be out there, on the streets of Paris, girls in four-inch heels walking Dobermans, Pit-Bulls, Rottweilers, etc.
I say Paris. Alright. It's true. I'm not living in the Latin Quarter, where all the great writers lived. I couldn't afford it. I just hope it doesn't make my writing worse. Anyway, I intend to visit the Latin Quarter on Sunday which is the first predicted sunny day in Paris according to the BBC website forecast. Or maybe I should visit my friend Ange, the clown at the Bois de Boulogne campsite. I hope he's still there. I've noticed that to walk to the Bois de Boulogne, I pass through the 17th to the 16th arrondissement. Ange performs in St Michel but is an anarchist. He hates the bourgeoisie; although because he's a comedian that means people like Woody Allen. Mind you, he's also an Arab, or to give him his full title a Kabil. He's the most philosophical Arab I've ever met. His show is a meditation on the human condition as funny as Aristophanes but I have to admit he probably hates Woody Allen because he's a Jew.
Ange has been doing his act on the street for twenty years. He's an "unknown" busking for coppers, living pretty much as a nomad. But when he commands his stage at the junction of Rue de La Harpe and Rue Saint-Severin in St. Michel, he is as good as anyone I've seen on any stage anywhere. As part of his anarchist anti-bourgeois, "anti-mondialisation" views, I don't think he approves of me writing about him. So let me at least show him the respect he deserves for not selling out to the Establishment! Forget the Latin Quarter on Sunday! I'm going to go and see Ange instead. (I can go to the Latin Quarter on Monday.)
Don't get me wrong. I know about Hawkwind: that two of them have been on a saucer for years. Allegedly. Apparently, we're "Time Captives". Britain's leading physicist believes in Plato's idea that the world is just the shadow on the wall of a cave: spacetime is just a projection from a larger-dimensional space. When I say Britain's leading physicist, I mean of course Professor Roger Penrose of Oxford University. There is also the well known physicist, Professor Brian Cox, ex-pop-singer, whose new TV series on the Universe has made him a celebrity. (For those of you who don't know him, imagine a cross between Patrick Moore and Liam Gallagher.)
So one imagines that the beings that are in telepathic contact with me must be highly-evolved technically. I sometimes fancy I'm being looked after by a much more advanced kind of health system for example. (Although I've not yet had the nerve to go into my local surgery and say: "Suck my d**k, NHS Doctor!")
So with my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook in hand, I set off last night to find "Le Clown Bar". Lonely Planet describes it as being themed on the idea of the evil clown. I reckon it might be interesting to see, especially in the context of my acquaintanceship with Ange, the clown who performs in St Michel. When I get there, it's closed down. For a moment I hang around, almost as if I am hoping Ange will turn up, sound his little trumpet and everything will be alright again. But he doesn't so, nil desperandum, e ferro ferrum temperatum and all that, I look in my Lonely Planet guidbook for another place to eat. (As I was by now becoming quite hungry). Eventually I wound up in another place recommended by Lonely Planet, Le Bistrot Florentin. (Only it's now called Le Bistrot Toscana). 60 euros. For a handful of fettucine. They plastered me with wine. I was drunk when I headed over to the nearest bar. (I'd tell you the name but by the time you're reading this, it will probably be called something else). I remember I was served by a cute waitress. But after I'd finished my drink, I decided it was time I started walking to clear my head. I set off in what I thought was the direction of chez moi but went in the wrong direction. So guess where I finally wound up! Pere Lachaise. Not the cemetery but the metro station. But that's bad enough, isn't it?
Alright. Cards on the table: the most difficult aspect of being a ufo contactee is being one of those "The End Is Nigh" guys. They used to walk about the streets wearing sandwich boards or carrying placards saying "The End Is Nigh". (Maybe they still do but these days, with all the health and safety implications, etc, it probably has to say "The End Might Be Nigh".)
One vivid memory of Consett Grammar School was LGM - 1. You know how they say you can remember where you were the day J.F. Kennedy was shot. I can remember where I was when they announced the discovery of LGM - 1. I was in the biology lab at school. It was in 1968. An astronomer had spotted what appeared to be a very regular radio pulse coming from the same point in space. It had been nicknamed it "LGM - 1" because of its obvious "extraterrestrials trying to communicate" connitations. (LGM: "Little Green Man".). I'm pretty sure that in the Biology class, with our charismatic teacher Mr. Reekie being a rigorous materialist reductionist, we all felt a more mundane explanation would be found. It turned out to be a rotating neutron star. But if only for a moment, we were genuinely excited that it could just possibly be an alien beacon. And in fact, we were all such geeks that I think we were still pretty pleased when it turned out to be just a rotating neutron star. There was a big fuss afterwards because the astronomer who discovered the pulse, Jocelyn Bell was a woman but it was her male boss who got the credit. Mind you, Bell, now Bell-Burnell, has no right to complain. According to Wikipedia, she's a Quaker and they are not allowed to have personal vanity.
I remember the old apartment in Newcastle. Looking through the window into the courtyard as the leaf guy blew the leaves. I'm so glad I came to Paris. I look through the window into the courtyard as the leaf guy blows the leaves.
I'm definitely out of my comfort zone, here in Paris. In Newcastle I was on incapacity benefit, housing benefit, council tax benefit. It practically got to the stage where I worried that if the aliens landed, I would lose my benefits. Let's face it: I'm probably the guy the Norwegian wanted to kill.
Ten out of ten to the manufacturers of Paco's "croquettes". I don't know what they feed him in the countryside but when he comes back, his faeces are very sloppy. Not at all what you want as an operatif sac-sanitaire. Paco's croquettes have been developed by a team of scientists and by the time they get to you, they're practically croquettes again.
I went to see Ange yesterday. His name is Ange. It's written on his carte d'identite. And it must be true because he's Algerian. I'm quite surprised I'm friends with him really considering Jean-Paul Sartre said about the Arab wars of Independence, "killing a European is like killing two birds with one stone". But of course, I'm not really friends with him. He's a clown. His act is based on "being friendly" with everyone. I'm like the little girl in St Michel the other night who, although at first shy, got more and more cheeky until Ange couldn't (quite) get rid of her.
It's O.K. I'm safe in here! It was a very scary experience getting here but I made it. Where am I? My flat in Newcastle. Last night was Friday night and I had to make it from the Central Sation past Thank F It's Friday to my flat. As I've said, at night, Newcastle turns into Jurassic Park. At the top of the steps leaving the station was a girl wearing not much more than a slip. What do you do? Smile? Is there a boyfriend a couple of yards away? Anyway, after a few more such close encounters with raptors I made it back to the flat.
Like the mammals in Jurassic Park, I survive by finding a place to hide. Paris. So I've decided to go to the dole office on Monday and sign off. My flight back to Paris is Monday night. How much money do I have left? Well if I squint through one eye at my online account, it looks like 24,000. I've paid my rent for the flat in Paris till the end of August. Time to look for a job in Paris as a cleaner. If anyone asks, it's "for the novel". If anyone else asks, it's different from George Orwell.
I went for couple of walks in Newcastle yesterday, which was Saturday. During the day. There are still plenty of neanderthals and raptors roaming the streets but they are more quiescent during the day. They just lumber along with their palms facing backwards. (Although you can tell it wouldn't take much to rouse them.) On alternate Saturdays they all walk in the same direction. It's the Newcastle match. My first trip was to Tesco's where I as usual, I used the self-service till although, because I've been using Franprix in Paris where they only have guys on the till, I found myself absent-mindedly at the self-service till for a while waiting for the machine to scan my purchases for me.
Later I went to Windows. That's not the Microsoft software product but J.G. Windows, Newcastle's famous music shop in the Parisian heart of Newcastle: in an arcade whose name I forget. The first place on the way in is a shop/cafe selling espresso, croissants and baguettes. Windows itself is an old-fashioned Emporium. On the ground floor are a range of keyboards: from the 61 key Casio "Piaggero" which I bought yesterday to concert grands. Upstairs there are violins, saxophones, trumpets, banjos, guitars,assorted percussion, every instrument you can think of. There was even a Siberian nose flute. O.K. There wasn't a Siberian nose flute. Also, on the ground floor there is a department of the kind that you rarely see any more: a record department. The guy who sold me the keyboard suggested I buy a sustain pedal as well but I said no. I've already got a sustain pedal and if I bought another one, I might get known as a pedalphile.
Alright. No more bullshitting. You know what I really am now. Don't you? The real vile truth beneath all the talk of being a contactee in Paris, etc. Well, why not? I might as well say it: I probably am schizophrenic.
My brain scan for example shows the imbalance in the mesolimbic pathways of my brain which is considered to be the "signature" of schizophrenia. My mother was possibly schizophrenic. She certainly fitted Fromm-Reichmann's description of the "schizophrenogenic mother"; "cold, rejecting, domineering". My own NHS psychiatrists have always refuted Fromm-Reichmann's theory as out-dated. My current psychiatrist conceded that anyway, it would not have been helpful in the context of therapy if mothers were accused of being "schizophrenogenic". But what I find amazing is that after 20 years of believing in Fromm-Reichmann's theory, I found out today that the theory of the schizophrenogenic mother was developed not by Erich Fromm-Reichmann but by his wife, Frieda.
Hartwell (1.) says: "The tension over women's changing position vis-a-vis American men created a strain in the relation between the sexes in the larger culture during the historical period in which one segment of the psychiatric community espoused the schizophrenogenic mother concept.". My mother certainly experienced that strain: she was a typical example of a beautiful, intelligent young woman who suddenly finds she has to spend the rest of her life chained to a kitchen sink.
(1.) Hartwell, Carol Eadie, "The schizophrenogenic mother concept in American psychiatry", Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, Vol 59(3), August 1996, 274-297.
C'est Encore Thermidor? (Oui. C'est Brebis.)
Jessie and Laura are currently filming a feminist take on biker movies. The bikes are pushbikes.
Paco was supplied by Algorithms R Us.
The "Nouvelle Vague" can sometimes behave like a particle.
So I've e-mailed my psychiatrist's secretary. I've explained to her that I'm not going to attend my appointment with my psychiatrist on Wednesday, as I have inherited £27,000 from my father's estate and have moved to Paris. Now remember: this is an e-mail from a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Really it could signify the onset of a breakdown. So I don't want to cast aspersions on the reliability of the NHS but the reply is an auto-office reply, saying she won't be back till Thursday.
I heard a piece on Radio Four this morning about how Ian Mckellen has taken on the role of a Mafia gang leader in a play at the Chichester Festival. The critic made a joke about actors only needing sports cars, country houses and young, pretty mistresses
On the subject of my mother, let me just put in a word of defence for the NHS nurses! My mother, as I have said was an oppressed female. While she was married to my father, one of her "protests" was to lie in bed till 11 in the morning. But when my father left, that all changed. She started staying in bed all day. Feminists won't be surprised to hear that it was my sister who "went back home" to look after her. I cannot say how surprised they'll be that by then my mother had already married again. So while he worked all day to supply the housekeeping, my sister was expected to be the housemaid. Feminists, again, may not be surprised to hear that my sister also worked all day to supply the housekeeping. Eventually, as my mother became "frailer", she acquired a little bell with which she could ring for my sister, downstairs. So the reason why I say I want to defend NHS nurses is that when my mother became genuinely frail and spending most of her time in hospital, she could work the buzzer with the best of them.
I had a run-in with some boy-racers today. As I say,I'm 59 and have never really been a boy-racer. In fact, I never even learned to drive. I remember a few years ago hearing Muriel Gray, ex-presenter of TV pop music show "The Tube" saying in a radio interview that she thought it was pathetic that a man could get to the age of 40 and not know how to drive. But that's women for you.
On Radio Four's Today programme there was a report on research that shows that some Zebra finches are homosexuals and nest together, displaying typical behaviour such as "nuzzling". I'm not surprised. Nuzzling is something Paco likes to do. 24/7. How I hate my mammalian origins!
I guess it's time you knew the truth about me. I was one of that group of people society hates more than any other: I was a social worker. Anyway, the essential role of all social workers is the teaching of independent living skills. The elimination of "nuzzling".
A related report on the same programme was into research by the Institute of Psychiatry, in Camberwell, London. It was the Institute of Psychiatry who diagnosed me as schizophrenic 20 years ago. I was subject of a case meeting of 30 or so psychiatrists and described my experience. A Canadian psychiatrist asked me why, if the aliens wanted the world to know they existed, they didn't just put up neon lights in the sky.
The Institute of Psychiatry research showed that people who had been abused in childhood were more likely to suffer from depression in adulthood. Speaking as someone who never once "nuzzled" my mother, I can confirm that I have suffered from depression. Mind you, my depression is partly caused by the fact that I'm a ufo contactee but that has been diagnosed as schizophrenia by the Institute of Psychiatry.
I got an e-mail from my current psychiatrist in Newcastle today, formally releasing me from NHS care. In the letter, "formally" is spelt "formerly" but I don't want to sound ungrateful. He has sent me a letter also, introducing me to a French doctor should I feel the need for treatment. I'm not sure how much you can trust the French medical profession. I think they might all be like Sganarelle in Moliere's "Le Medecin Malgre Lui" I've already had a pharmacist try to con me out of twelve euros. I wanted something for a cold and he produced two packets. One was paracetamol and the other was made out of Sargasso Sea algae or something. Altogether it was 14 euros. All I wanted was paracetamol but to avoid arguments I took the paracetamol and said I didn't need the Sargasso Sea algae. He put a sour look on his face then told me the cost was now two euros.
Ufo sceptics are like the English Defence League. Except they're a Planetary Defence League. They don't hate aliens. They just don't believe they exist. And not all members of the Planetary Defence League are hard-core. There's the moderates. They are perfectly prepared to accept the existence of extraterrestrial life-forms except they think they'll probably be just some sort of primordial slime; certainly not as advanced as us. Let's just hope for the sakes of the members of the Planetary Defence League, when the aliens do land, it won't be a case of this time round, the victims imposing the Final Solution.
I look out of "my" window and see the infinite sky. It puts my earthly pre-occupations in context. But then I did have a horrible experience this afternoon. I went to view a room with a view to rent. It started off alright. Eglise de Pantin. I had a coffee in a friendly bar called the Victor Hugo. But the room in the apartment smelt. The whole appartment smelt. The landlady smelt. It really was disgusting. No self-respecting person would have lived there. So I sat down to discuss the rent. (Well, I told you I was a pushover didn't I?) Luckily she seemed to take this an opportunity to push her luck. "Of course, because of your lack of residence documents you will have to pay six months in advance". Although I had been prepared to overlook the smell of the apartment, I couldn't ignore the smell of a rat. So I "politely" declined the invitation and left.
I must look out today for plums, millet and puffballs. I might be able to ascertain what day this is in the French Republican Calender from which one is in peak condition.
What is Justin Webb's problem? It's the second time I've heard the BBC Radio Four "Today" programme presenter go off on one. The first time was about one of the early twentieth century quantum physicists who did tours on cruise ships but was hopeless at chatting up the "flapper" girls. For Webb the key fact about him was not his contribution to fundamental science but this inadequacy with air-heads. Then today there was a report on research that shows that "pleasant" men get paid less than unpleasant men. Webb commented that although employers were not consciously aware of doing this, "they weren't complaining". Has Webb discovered some "anorak" has been having an affair with his "significant other"?
So Bangor University was where I had my wild youth. Don't get the wrong idea. By the age of 20, I was already a dad-dancer
I walked over to the American Church In Paris and back again today. It's straight up Ave de Wagram and third, I think it is, left at the Arc de Triumphe. Then down Ave de Marceau to the Pont d'Alma. I didn't spot a single plum, puffball or millet plant. (Anyway, Mick Green from the future (April 2012) has just come back to do some editing and tells me today is actually Ecluse. So maybe that's why I didn't see any plums, puffballs or millet plants.) The American Church in Paris is where I found my current apartment and hopefully is where I will find the next one. Anyway, so I've got a new room viewing on Friday. I don't want to stereotype people but particularly after yesterday, it's such a relief to know they have wi-fi.
The "A" (advanced) level secondary school exam results are out today. Yet again there is the annual debate about whether the syllabus is dumbing down and yet again I think of the A level maths course I did in the 1990s which was almost exactly the same syllabus as the "O" (ordinary) level I did in 1968.
I walked down to Chatelet Les Halles today via Les Champs Elysees. I didn't see any six-row barley. But Mick Green my editor, who is actually me from the future (April 22nd 2012) tells me that's because today is Carline in the French Republican Calendar, not Escourgeon. Mind you, I didn't see any Carline thistle either.
Paco has a rubber ball but it's not fun playing with him with it because it gets covered in his saliva.
My "co-locataire" in Thomas's apartment is Damien. He works as a stock market trader. "Socialism was an empty bottle", he told me today. "A good idea but an empty botttle". It's true that while I was on incapacity benefit the scariest thing was filling in your housing benefit form. So I hope I dont wind up the equivalent of the French finance whizzkid, Jerome Kerviel, who became very successful by, as Damien explained to me, hiding his losses. I could find myself living in one of those "Quechua" tents you see on Avenue de Wagram whilst telling everyone I was living in a nice apartment in Montmartre.
So what distinguishes this blog from all the other autobiographies of ufo contactees? (Well for one thing, sorry this is Mick Green from the future here, it's the only one, according to a Google search that has this title. And if someone comes along and uses the same title, I'll be able to claim, like Cervantes at the start of the second volume of Don Quixote that they are copies. Sorry! Carry on Mick Green from the past! Thanks, Mick Green from the future!) So, whatever you believe about aliens, when it comes to books about aliens, They Are Out There. And unlike Cervantes with "Don Quixote", I can't claim the other books are copies. The other problem I have is that the aliens have not given me the one thing I need from them: messages. Most of the other books about aliens have got messages from the aliens: such as "when Andromeda is in the ascendant and the great Spirit, Dithlicnococus has assembled the three hundred and fifty-three, then shall the New Age begin". I get absolutely nothing from them. Maybe that's the message. Nothing. Like in the 60s TV series "Bewitched" where witch Samantha's warlock uncle Dr Bombay, who always travels with his "nurse", covers up the embarrassing silence which often follows one of his jokes with the comment: "Nothing!"
The Quechua tent had been removed from Ave de Wagram this morning. The rough sleeper was still there. It was as if they had removed the tent and just left him.
According to Penrose and Hameroff, the brain is a quantum computer. Free will comes from the fact that the quantum function has infinite degrees of freedom.
So it's back to the search for a flat. Or is it my identity I'm looking for? Maybe I should be content being a humble contactee. Anyway, time to go. Put the kettle on, have a cup of tea. Critical Path Analysis. My dad introduced me to it. A book he brought home from work. When you make a cup of tea you don't get out the cups and tea-bags etc. then put the kettle on. You put the kettle on, then while the kettle is heating you use the time to get out the cups and tea-bags etc. You can apply the same principle to any industrial process, however small or large. Damn! I spent so long writing this that my cup of tea is stewed.
I've just been to view a room in Aubervilliers, which is just outside the 20 arrondissements of central Paris. The streets were littered with debris and people from the third world.
I have to explain that because I may have misinterpreted the uncertainties given in Wikipedia for the correspondence between the French Republican calendar and the Gregorian, today might not be Reglisse but anything between Sucrion and Pasteque.
I heard on BBC Radio Four's Today programme today that scientists have come up with a new method of counting the number of species. They went round with an egg-cup. Under the old method,counting individual members, they had only a vague estimate of between 3 million and 100 million species. Now they know there's just seventeen species. The new method is based on counting from the top of the hierarchy down: the six kingdoms, the many phyla, classes, orders, genuses and families. They found that there are now only 4 kingdoms, 2 phyla, 3 orders, 1 genus and 2 families. One surprising fact the researchers discovered was that despite there now being only 17 species, the consumption of natural resources has not significantly declined. This is because one of the species is the human race.
As an ex-pat, obviously I still ocasionally feel homesick, so it's nice to be reminded of England from time to time. My recent favourite is seeing the way Nicholas Sarkozy has dressed himself in the same anti-Gaddaffi clothes as David Cameron. Damien told me that just a few years ago, Sarkozy was welcoming Gaddaffi to France as an ally. I remember even Gordon Brown was making conciliatory noises towards him.
Of course he may now be reviled as an evil dictator but I remember him at the start. He was a socialist in his own country and a passionate advocate of justice in the Third World. But like many socialist leaders before him, the people didn't go along with his vision so now he has been hunted down like a rat. And I don't just mean Gordon Brown. The same thing has happened to Colonel Gaddaffi.
Today is the first day of Rock en Seine. It's an indie rock festival. It's very much like a British indie rock festival. Most of the bands playing, such as The Jim Jones Revue are British but what makes it most of all like a British rock festival is that it has been raining.
I like dogs. When I was a child, I thought our dog was part of the family. But then I thought I was part of the family too. When you grow up, you realise you have no connection with anyone whatsoever. That's what's irritating about Paco. Most people keep their distance. But he is really clingy.
There's one good thing about being a contactee. It may be a delusion but I can contemplate the possible prospect of immortality.
That's the funny thing about sex. You can be sitting together after making love and you feel as if you are with Eve in the Garden of Eden. Then ten minutes later, she wishes you never existed.
It seems like I have a room in an appartment. Marie-Claude, I believe her name is, called me four times yesterday when I was at Rock En Seine. Not that I couldn't hear her for the music. I'm afraid that I'm an old guy who can't get used to the fact that you can carry a mobile around with you. (I guess that's why one of the suggestions on the whiteboard for ideas for making a better world in one of the tents at Rock en Seine was "Tuez Les Vieux".) When I was a kid, English phones were attached to a cord about a meter long which was attached the wall. American phones were different. I remember American sitcoms of the period, such as "I Love Lucy" which, because it was a more innocent era, was a sort of "Light Petting In The City". In those sitcoms the phones had cords that were so long that the characters could pick them up and walk around with them; even from room to room. It was like watching something unbelievable from a science fiction movie.
I had met Marie-Claude previously out at the apartment at Aubervilliers. She was on her own. It's in "les banlieux", on the outskirts of Paris. When I told Thomas's next door neighbour she simply rolled her eyes and said, with a phlegmatic tone, "C'est les banlieux. Paris c'est mieux". As you walk along the never-ending Rue de Landy, all that spreads before you is endless series of decaying buildings, sporadic car spare parts shops, rotting rubbish in the streets and a population from God knows where in the Third World. It's so Bohemian darling! The perfect place to write my book.
Marie-Claude has bought the apartment, so it is a business venture for her. So it's true. My father's money has turned me into a capitalist. As she said: "we have to trust each other." I realise I'm going to have to be very careful about the decisions I make from now on because if I fail , I'll have to go back to England and sign on again.
Sorry. The software won't allow me to have just a subtitle. Please ignore these sentences.
Bad news today. My project here in Paris might fail. Some extraterrestrial version of Alan Sugar will tell me: "You're fired!" (And of course, I'm a member of the Labour Party. So I'm hoping that, like Sir Alan, he's a Labour supporter.) But I had always counted on one thing that I felt would still be there for me, whatever happened. My room in Consett.
You may have heard of Consett. It was made famous by appearing in an advert for Phileas Phogg potato chips, in which it was depicted as having its own airport. It doesn't have an airport. It once had something much more impressive than that. It had a steel plant. No. Really. When you tell that to children in Consett they just look at you with disbelief. Although of course you don't tell them that. You don't talk to children if you don't want to get arrested. But if you did you'd explain how one day it just disappeared and they say how and you say because it was closed down by Margaret Thatcher.
I worked in the steel works in 1968 - the year the students in Paris were picking up the paving stones and throwing them at the police. (Thank heavens that didn't go on too long! I find those paving stones quite charming.) The protest generated the slogan "Sous les paves, la plage." Which is why today we have Paris Plages. (And bankers with obscene bonuses.)
There were a whole bunch of us Grammar School boys taken on as summer casual workers at the steel works in Consett in the summer of 1968. Like I say, that was the time the students were throwing paving stones at the police in Paris. I wish I could give you a flavour of those Bohemian times but I was still following the adventures of "Legge's Eleven" in "The Ranger" comic. Indeed, the only significant widening of the horizons of my life in that period was when The Ranger bought and incorporated "Look And Learn".
So how did I manage to lose my room in Consett? What perverse twist of fate could it be that has robbed me of my last chance of sanctuary? My nephew has moved into it.
I have two nephews. The other one is gay. I was very proud when he came out. He was the first gay in the family: a typical member of the new generation who are building the future. He's working in McDonald's. Both boys are amazingly like my Uncle Brian. (Except he wasn't actually my uncle.)
I have a brother. The father of my nephews. He's a bus driver. Sorry. Bus. That's those big vehicles that drive round the country all the day, a lot of the time practically empty and frequently stuck in car traffic. They have been driven practically to extinction by a three decade-long campaign against them by the BBC TV programme about cars, "Top Gear"
As I sat down as usual for my morning poo (I pride myself as being almost as regular as the Dalai Lama), I lowered my trousers and pants and just in time, before they touched the floor, I remembered, I was back in the Camping Bois de Boulogne. At the Camping there is always a pool of water on the floor around the toilet bowl. So if you let your pants and trousers touch the floor, they get a good soaking. Mind you, it was the same at the apartment near Wagram. Let’s face it: French toilets are literally pants.
I took refuge from the sun for a while yesterday in the churchyard of L’Eglise de St Medard in the Latin Quarter and found myself sitting next to a family of Roms (Gypsies). I felt uncomfortable about it but I suppose I’m going to have to get used to them, as the police have just moved them to Aubervilliers. You see, the French police have discovered the same solution to the homeless as the politicians have to the economic statistics: they shuffle them around. As a result, the homeless are starting to get settled. The tents in Ave de Wagram have tables and chairs and the Roms in L'Eglise St Medard yesterday had a box of fresh vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes and leeks and were discussing what they were going to have for dinner. At one point, the teenage daughter broke down in tears and stormed off. I managed to ascertain that she said she’d had enough of her parents complacent, bourgeois lifestyle and was going to run away from the churchyard.
I have writer’s block today. When I discovered it, I asked the aliens if they were still there. I wanted to check if I had “contactee’s block”. Writer’s block is bad enough but if after twenty years of trying to establish the truth that extraterrestrials are in telepathic contact with me, they suddenly broke the contact, it would be terrible. I know what would happen. Eventually, they would land and people would say: “Oh! They were never really in telepathic contact with him in the first place".
As I say, I'm a member of the Labour Party. I suppose I was at my most active politicaly in the late nineteen seventies, early eighties. I used to read the Guardian newspapaper. Well, I used to do the crossword. I also used to read the editorials sometimes but there's only so many times you can read an editorial that compares a government policy to "the curate's egg" (followed by an explanation that the reference was to an apocryphal occasion on which a curate was having tea with the bishop and when asked how his boiled egg was, he replied: "Good in parts"). I also used to read the rock reviews but they said things like: "Emerson, Lake and Palmer are the future of rock and roll". Mind you, as far as I can see, their rock reviews haven't changed much. The last time I read one it said that Blur were better than Frank Black.
There is a new production in Paris of Jean-Paul Sartres' play, "Huis Clos", in which three people are locked in a hotel room for eternity. In fact, there's at least three productions of the play on at the moment. I just hope it doesn't turn out that there's an infinite series of new productions on at the moment.
I was thinking about "Spuble-Dunnerisms" this morning. I won't tell you what they are. I'll leave it for you as a Guardian crossword clue. They were invented by my old school friend, Gerard "Rut" Rutter. He was my hero at the Grammar School. He was very clever, very funny and very friendly. I tracked him down not so long ago through Friends Re-United. It turned out he'd gone on to become a veterinary doctor, then had become demoralised with the veterinary service so had worked for thirteen years in Health and Safety. Then he had died. (Piste in Resse.)
I'm really worried about Aubervilliers tonight. Until I have the key in my hand, I won't believe I've got the room.
Let's face it: the young hate the old. I remember at Rock en Seine there was a tent with a whiteboard in it upon which festival-goers were invited to write their suggestions for a better future. One person had written: "Tuez les vieux!" (Kill the old people!). So I have to "make it" because clearly the only way to survive as an old man is to become a celebrity.
Belgium has had no government for over a year. I was talking to some Belgians on the campsite this morning and they said things were working pretty normally.
So, je me suis installe a Aubervilliers: The flat has a balcony. (Although it seems to me that all French flats have balconies, so it's a bit like a French person in England saying that the flat has a functioning toilet. Mind you, then the French would reply: "Really? That's so charming.");
I opened the balcony door. It's a French window. Although of course, since I'm in France, that's not surprising. I was about to step out onto the balcony when I remembered "El Lila". He was my ex-wife's best friend. He was a best friend with girls kind of guy. You think I'm useless with women? Julio made me look like Bruce Willis. Julio was his real name. My ex-mother-in-law had nicknamed him El Lila: I believe it is an old peasant term of mild abuse. I think him acquiring this nickname was the result of the occasion when he wandered onto the balcony of my ex-parents-in-laws' flat in Madrid. Unbeknownst to him, the blinds had slowly closed behind him and he had found himself locked outside. It was quite some time apparently before anyone heard him knocking to be let back in. He was an apprentice writer. He had received some patronage from the famous Carlos Saura. He could be famous himself now. But he died.
I haven't told you about Ange recently, have I? The clown who has perforned on the street in Paris for the past twenty years and has got some of the funniest gags I've ever seen? Well, he's still living on the campsite. The reason I haven't mentioned him is that we have been arguing. I mean I completely respect his work as a clown but he annoys me because he keeps on playing practical jokes on me. Anyway so I said some things to him that I regret and he hasn't spoken to me since. He doesn't return my sms messages and when I rang him, he cut me off. I hope he's just joking.
I am also involved in an argument with Newcastle Astronomical Society. Someone, I think a student, from Newcastle University's Astronomy department posted a message in the society's Yahoo Group inviting people to join a University "Skeptics Society", inspired by the late Carl Sagan. "The aliens don't exist." (Carl Sagan) "Carl Sagan doesn't exist". (The aliens)
Unsurprisingly there has been an enthusiastic response to skepticism from these Newcastle provincials. As I told you once before, they still don't believe in polarised light. So flying saucers etc is obviously way beyond consideration. Incidentally, while they may be provincial, it doesn't stop them from using the American spelling of "sceptic". I posted a comment about "The Planetary Defence League" and they have taken offence. Anyway, so if you're tired of looking at the pictures of the Universe's first proto-galaxies at the beginning of the Universe about 13 billion light years away-ago in the HubbleSite photo gallery, then take a look at the blurred dots of nearby galaxies the Newcastle Astronomical Society Yahoo group photo gallery!
After having been in the Third World suburb of Aubervilliers for a a day, I had to return to bourgeois Paris to pick up the rest of my stuff. It was the weekend and it's so bourgeois there, even the dog had gone to the countryside. After picking up my stuff, I headed back to Aubervilliers. It was a relief to get back to civilisation.
I'm really starting to feel at home in France now. In particular, this morning I found myself for a brief while just staring mindlessly at the television.
I have been thinking. Marie-Claude says she sees me as the 'gardien" of the apartment. I suppose that makes her my boss. How do I feel about having a woman boss?
Did I tell you I was married once? I wouldn't say there was a communication breakdown between us but when I was trying to write, she used to come in and do the hoovering.
I took my camera with me yesterday to take some pictures of the suburb of Paris where I'm now living. I knew there would be trouble. The making of human images is forbidden in Islam. One man came out of the Bar Alexandre and manhandled me. Luckily I managed to convince him I was only taking pictures of the building.
But of course the funny thing is after all I've been saying about the difference between bourgeois Paris and Aubervilliers, who's the first person I meet when I go to the laundrette? A trader. (Although to be fair he was a trader in Cassava.)
I'm an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. We are people who want to escape the Wheel of Karma but don't want to give up eating eggs and dairy products.