Imperial troops have entered the base.

King of Pain – dirty little notes header image 1

A Letter from Winter

April 24th, 2014 · all hail the king, words

Dear xxxx,

Every time I undertake a journey, shortly before I depart to the airport, the train station or the local bus depot, there’s this moment of dread. I suddenly want to abandon everything, sit down and wait until the scheduled departure time of my flight, train or bus has passed, sending the vehicle off into the void without me, freeing me of the responsibility of travel.

Maybe it was this dread that made me stay in Berlin. It would have been easy to join you: just throw enough shirts and shaving gel for a few days in a bag and hop into your Volvo. And we would have been on our way to your parents in Tours in France and their smelly ash-covered cheese and their castles swarming with busloads of Chinese tourists. We would have left the concrete-and-brick island of Berlin and have your car take us through the flat and empty fields of Brandenburg and under the whirls of the wind turbines near Magdeburg. Then on through the dark heart of Germany on to the band of light on the Rhine that is Cologne, the surface of the Autobahn going vrashoom vrashoom vrashoom beneath our feet and the floor pan. From Cologne via that old Imperial city of Aachen or Aix-la-Chapelle or Aken we’d enter Belgium at dusk, the eerie orange band of the Autobahn lights pushing us past Liege and Mons towards the border of France, and maybe there would be frost on the ground in the Picardy, like a shroud for the old battlefields near Cambrai and the Somme. At dawn we would pass Compiegne, where Hitler once danced, and with the light of the winter sun we would rush along the grey band of the Boulevard Peripherique in Paris, catching a red-eyed glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as we avoid crashing into motor scooters and angry Parisians in Japanese cars. And after that it would just be two hours more, straight down to the Loire, where English knights once set fire to peasant farms, not knowing they would fight a hundred years.

But I decided to stay, and you’re gone now. I wish you godspeed.



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Why I Hate Spring

April 6th, 2014 · all hail the king, words

Spring is like someone stroking your hair saying there there, it’s all going to end well in sunlight and with bumblebees. But it’s not, the world is going to the dogs and everyone is going to die, sooner or later.

It comes with my chosen profession that I have a preference for spending my days indoors, staring at computer screens and book pages. And after every winter, when it suddenly gets lighter and warmer I raise my head from the screen and look out of my window, and there they are: the spring idiots. Sitting on benches and walls, their faces turned to the sun with their eyes closed, like man-sized lizards who have just spent six months in a cabin in the Arctic with no sunlight at all. But they did not, and winter in Central Europe was too short and it’s getting too warm too soon and the premier minister of Iceland is talking about the benefits of global warming. The lizard spring idiots on the wall with their tucked up skinny jeans and their moccachinos are looking after girls in short dresses and somehow believe that humanity is still part of the cycle of nature with spring awakening and everything. I look at my screen again. I’ve always been an autumn person, I guess.

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A thought

March 17th, 2014 · words

There are more than 200 dead mountaineers lying around the routes to the summit of Mount Everest. Their bodies will never be recovered.

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On Travelling

March 4th, 2014 · all hail the king, webstuff, words

This is how you should travel: on the bus down Müllerstrasse towards the Hauptbahnhof through a golden Berlin almost-spring morning, with the TV tower glistening through the haze of the early day. At the station you will get on the grey-red train from Austria and soon roll past the fields and woods and moors and lakes of Brandenburg and Saxonia and grey depressing towns named Heideblick and Elsterwalde. You will drive through the hills of the Elbe valley dotted with castles and dilapidated shacks and pensioners walking their sausage dogs. At one point there will be a deer running parallel with your train window for a while, and you will curse nature for being so pathetic and corny.

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Art and music (and death and sex) (in Dublin)

February 25th, 2014 · webstuff

If you happen to be in Dublin next weekend, I can highly recommend the exhibition of a friend of mine: Lydia Banks. Lydia’s sensual visual art combines the themes of sex and death and the occasional superhero (which all good art should, in my opinion).

The launch event for the upcoming exhibition on Sunday 2nd of March will be hosted by La Dolce Vita wine bar in Temple Bar. Lydia’s artworks will be on display and for sale (for sale!), Latin Jazz trio Coleco will be providing the soundtrack, and there will be free Italian aperitivos courtesy of La Dolce Vita, because Italian food goes well with sex. And death.

RSVP here, and for more information or to contact Lydia Banks visit:

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The Lone Policeman

January 29th, 2014 · Fiction

I’ve decided to publish a few more fiction pieces on here this year. Here’s the first one, inspired by this photo by Robert Capa:

Robert Capa: Collaborator woman who had a German soldier’s child, Chartres, 18 August 1944 © International Center of Photography

And then they had pulled the woman from her apartment. He had tried to bring some order to the crowd on Place St. Marguerite, but he was just one lone policeman, and neither the fighters of the Resistance with their steel helmets and half-empty wine bottles nor the American soldiers on their halftrack on the side of the square and their empty wine bottles had been willing to help.

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Today I wrote a one-sentence-story on a typewriter and took a photo of it so I could post it on the internet.

January 25th, 2014 · all hail the king, webstuff, words

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Some days I like Berlin

January 12th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Today, I walked past the haggling and munching tourists at the flea market in Mauerpark along the former death strip of the Berlin Wall to a quiet and green war grave for German soldiers in a former forest that is now a park, with dogs playing in the meadow opposite and a group of Medieval re-enactors in chain mail and armour rehearsing rattling sword play nearby. There also was a large Soviet war memorial on the other side of the road, a large cenotaph remembering the 13,200 Red Army soldiers laid to rest here who died in the Battle of Berlin with red marble and shiny bronze tablets and quotes by Josef Stalin, and coming from the war I stopped in a small cafe for tea where you can buy every single piece of the furniture and even the crockery you’re eating from if you like it.

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Christmas Is About Eating (Children)

December 21st, 2013 · Uncategorized

I had planned to write a lengthy post about the bloodstained heathen origins of Christmas as a proper sendoff for this year’s last post. But then I decided to just write a short post about my favourite Icelandic Christmas monster, inspired by this image by Icelandic artist Thrandur:

This is Grýla. She is one of the female trolls who live in the Icelandic highlands. For Christmas she makes a trip down to the towns and cities, searching for naughty children. She returns to her cave with a bag stuffed full of crying kids, whom she boils alive and then devours whole. She has 13 sons, the Yule Lads (Iceland’s 13 Santas – yes, they have 13, not just the one), who also do their bit to harass Icelandic families in the 13 days up to Christmas – they are a little better behaved than their mother, and leave gifts in shoes. Grýla is in a perpetual bad mood, mainly because she is always hungry. And it’s not only children who attract her- her first two husbands bored her so much she ate them too. The ogress is accompanied by the massive Yule Cat, which also has a taste for children—those who don’t get any new pieces of clothing before Christmas fall prey to it.

There you have it. Christmas is mostly about eating children, I guess. But to make up for those of you who prefer a single Santa without troll mother, here’s a short video based on Neil Gaimain’s poem ‘Nicholas was’. Happy holidays. I’m off to eat something now.

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Is Capitalism really shite?

December 12th, 2013 · Uncategorized


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