Thursday, December 29, 2005

Blog of Funk, 2005



Several times this year I have experienced the true joy of blogging. It exists, blog heaven, that blissful state where art and communication fuse and enter the technosphere in some synchronous near-spiritual way. I am not the only one to make it my meditation, my shaman, my drug of choice, my salvation, my funky dance. There are millions of us, many far more pretentious than even me.

I get about 23,000 visitors a month. This includes about seven thousand actual readers, and a small but dedicated group of subscribers. I think. Even allowing for traffic generator "pimping" - how I love that phrase - Blog of Funk is doing quite well, internet traffic-wise, getting a steady trickle from directories and other reciprocally linked blogs, but what fascinates me is the ever-increasing traffic from search engines - the new dumb mind of the world, stumbling along, asking questions and arriving at Blog of Funk, and various of my dubious scrivenings. Looking at the logs, Toblerone does the best, followed by "Bonking" Boris Johnson, followed by These Boots Are Made For Walking. Portland Road does quite well, as do Adrian's Haunted Trousers. Fish, Sex and Sleep is a constant runner.

At the end of 2004, my writing was a random mix of personal reflection, autobiographical anecdote, speculation, ranting and imagery, and I decided to tidy it up and find more focus. During 2005 I stuck mostly to the plan of one theme per month. Some of the time I knew definitely what the theme for the month was ahead of time - Valentine's Day in Feb and the UK Election April/May, for e.g. were obvious - but the rest of the time, I followed the curves of the year and responded by writing myself through it.

The bad months of 2005 were also my most personally productive - August and September were awful, but blogging - specifically, writing fiction - saved me. I wrote two short stories during that time, which effort lifted my game, and as person I survived somehow (yes it was that bad) some days only because of the dirty "d" word - discipline - that writing has provided me.

So, this was Blog of Funk, 2005:

December, I was on the MONEY

November, I was scared SICK

October 2005, I was MARKING TIME

September 2005, I MADE IT ALL UP

August 2005, I considered CREATURES

July 2005, was I being CURIOUS?

June 2005 I diced with DEATH

May 2005 I was UNWINDING

April 2005 I covered POLITICS

March 2005 I wrote about LYRICS

February 2005 I explored PLACES

January 2005 I examined LOVE

I won't be repeating the 2005 Blog of Funk writing regime, but I do recommend it to any blogger. It's rewarding in itself as a writing framework to stimulate invention and deepen your take on a subject. It's a great way to increase your readership, and have a dialogue with your readers. It's fun - people are still playing the love song game.

My other life also contains writing - songs, not prose, not fiction, and my songwriting has also gone well this year. I think i owe that partly to my concentration on the blog. I am going to release songs next year, and this should be a lot more fun.

For me the best aspect of 2005 has without a doubt been the connection with readers. I have a sense of profound gratitude bordering on love for the people who really do like my writing and who have been continually reading me for months. Astonishing loyalty, I marveled at some point this year - they are STILL reading my work and liking it! So, thanks! Good for the self-esteem. It keeps me going. It's a great experience when a new reader finds the blog, likes it, starts reading the archives and makes comments; suddenly responses to things I wrote months back are arriving in my morning email. How cool is that? It keeps me in touch with my travelling mind.

So many of you are great in your own blogness, fabulously intelligent, witty, kind and fulsome people, relinquent and stamfastic in your incredibude, and I sincerely thank you all for your comments, which have caused many a delighted laugh, several wry smiles, some musings, a rash, one upset stomach, and two periods of several days of serious concern about the wellbeing of people I have never met.

I want to meet you all and drink endless nectar toasts to our good selves, to the wood elves, and to the horny, funky spirit of everything upliftingly glorious.

May the Funk bless all who sail in you.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's Great When You Stop

"It's great when you stop" is the comedy reason given when the question is asked, "Why are you banging your head on the wall?"

This question can of course be translated to various other self-inflictions of pain, including:

"Why are you removing your fingers and replacing them with sausages?"

"Why are you slamming your testicles/tits in the door?"

"Why are you chewing on your own tongue?"

I did this two days ago. It wouldn't have been so bad but I bit upon a previous tongue wound which I caused a couple of weeks ago, and which did not stop bleeding for two hours. Obviously I had bitten through a major-ish blood vessel just beneath the surface of the skin. Ice cubes eventually lessened the bleeding that time, but I was very uncomfortable and hot or cold food was completely out for two days. This time, the nice home I was staying had NO ICE!!!!! I couldn't believe it - no ice?? but this is Christmas, I sputtered, spraying red over the kitchen, where I had just done all of the washing up that wouldn't fit into the dishwasher - don't you guys all require ice with various of the sophisticated seasonal alcoholic contraptions that you neck with family and friends from dawn to bedtime? Apparently not. So I had to walk a mile to the nearest pub. Twenty minutes later I entered The Cock with a sore, still bleeding tongue, walked the three paces to the bar, "Good evening mate," I attempted, "Got any ice? I bit my tongue!" and poked out the red, sore body part which charmingly dripped once, red, onto the bar.

The barman flashed a smile and said, "Ouch!" sympathetically, handed me a pint glass full of cubes, picked up the cleaning spray and wiped the bar. I grimaced and mumbled a grateful "thanks", sat down, stuck the first of three ice cubes in my mouth, and looked around. The pub, lavishly decorated in red, green, silver and gold, with a tree half the size of the bar and artificial snow sprayed everywhere from the front windows to the lavatories, contained five people - the barman, a dark-haired, phlegmatic but friendly chap of about 30, the barmaid - blonde, young, attractive and bored, who sat and stared at a small television and studiously ignored everybody - a middle-aged, very red-faced, very inebriate couple drinking large G&Ts, whose clothing was unselfconsciously late 1970s, punk-chic gone middle-class, and who looked like they lived at the bar. They were conversing incoherently with each other and waving their arms around every so often. They looked at me briefly when I appeared, and lost their thread; then, refusing to be distracted, they turned back to their endless, unresolvable argument.

In the corner, clutching a pint, sat an old guy dressed in a huge winter coat, flappy hat and furry boots, even though the place had a roaring fire and was tropically hot - which brings me on to my last question, but not yet - don't you love these recursive sentences? - and as I sat there, on Christmas Day, patiently sucking ice cubes, waiting for my tongue to stop leaking blood, I contemplated the irony of how I, the only completely sober guy in the place, was nursing a classic 'drunken' injury... and how my self-inflicted wound had caused me to walk into a pub, stick my tongue out at the barman, and thus receive sympathy, aid, and assistance.

Healing underway, I walked back calmly in the dusk of Christmas Day, my tongue starting to mend, reminding myself to CHEW MORE CAREFULLY IN FUTURE. I passed a line of young women, dressed up in next to nothing, trip-tripping in high-heels on their way to the pub I had just left, and as I passed them I found a question forming in my mind - I said we'd get to it, right? - and this was:

"Why are you shivering in sub-zero conditions dressed in soft, permeable summer clothing with half an acre of flesh showing?"

And as they tottered onwards, laughing, drunk, happy and safe, I couldn't work out if it is optimism, pessimism, or accident that keeps any of us going anywhere.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Mistletoad

I am staying in St Albans with a family containing children. They are the cousins of GGF. This is a first - I seem to be being slowly introduced to some sort of conventional life and there is no knowing where this may lead.

The weather is beautiful and I made sure I went out early, alone and frolicked in the midday sun. Nobody was about. For over thirty minutes, I heard no car, no airplane. I took pictures and felt happy in the silent woods.

I have really enjoyed exploring various avenues of monetary possibility over the last month - I didn't make much, about ten dollars - and with this flippant fun, the year draws to a close. I feel a sense of satisfaction that I set myself the task of changing theme and staying more-or-less on topic each month. My sense is that it grew me as a writer and occasionally, as a blogger. I am still astonished that Five helped one of my fellow constituents vote in the UK national elections. I am thrilled that I managed to write two short stories, and greatly flattered by the kind responses I received for my efforts.

However it is also fair to say that I have a few times ignored two of Mr Saraiva's Seven Golden Rules for Success by completely wandering off usual topic, namely, numbers one and two, which are: Give the people what they want, and, Don't give them what they don't want. You are the people - I think I can tell from my log files as well as the comments what went down (and is still going down) the best with readers. So, coz I is funky, determined to please, and skillful - as any lover will testify - I will endeavour to provide more of what people want in 2006.

I will not continue with my theme-per-month annual theme however, as I think it has served its purpose. And now, I must run to the table as they are serving the porpoise.

Mmmmm! How I love the flavour of intelligent sea mammal with a chestnut stuffing...

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Seasonal Message From My Dentist

Subject: I ll raise ya!

Seasons greettings Sir!

Very funny!! I cannot believe my very own fingers have
made it to the tinter web!!

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year!!

Good luck!

C


And still four more days left to bid on my tooth!

Thanks very much to ME Strauss for the kind donation for my Christmas Pictures.

In fact delightful though this is, including two sales of Ozzie Rozzie, I have raised less than ten quid after more than three weeks of cash-oriented blogging.

I should take heart from the Nizlopi JCB boys who released their now successful 2005 Christmas single in 2002.

Of course, the i-chav range of products, which is still in development, I fully expect to make me a millionaire by 2007.

That's too long to wait.

Hmmm. Maybe I should re-think my approach.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jim Driver Wants My Tooth

Pleased to see that Jim Driver has bid 28 pence (50 cents) for my tooth...

Today is the shortest day - tonight is the longest night - and I am on holiday, like a good pagan. See you next (solar) year!

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Monday, December 19, 2005

More Free Christmas Pictures



Here we go, spirit of something or other seasonal, help yourself to more pictures, donate something, tell your mum.

Oh, and why not bid on my tooth while you're at it.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Midwinter Madness At The ICA

The days are so short now, it feels like the world is ending, and yet there is a fantastic beauty to this time which I adore. People who live further towards the equator will never quite understand the poledwellers' manic activity, as we bustle about busily ignoring the fact that daylight vanishes before our eyes, determining to set things in order before it gets really cold.

I went to the ICA last night to the opening of two exhibitions. Vasulka Lab 1969 - 2005 was particularly fun. Us early birds witnessed the drama of Mr Vasulka knob-twiddling in the gallery, crouching by his apparatus, trying to get his cameras to spin, propellor-like, around a Dr Who silver globe. I realised I was watching a great man at work - several people were photographing him, and so I joined in.

After five minutes, fascinating though this was, I felt guilty obtaining gratuitous images of him struggling and failing to make his device go, and I had no wish to further humiliate the man at his moment of technical hitch by recording more of it for posterity. Lucy Mutton and I wandered off into the other room, which was dark and contained something that was working, a robotic camera on a pillar in the middle of the space. It looked initially to me like a cyborg lingam, training its lazer sight upon target screens surrounding it like religious icons, and steadily ignoring us merely human intruders.




I felt that we would be assimilated before we left the building - after all, as any trekkie knows, the borg are merciless. It was all squares, circles and diamonds, and it reminded me of retro club visuals from the early 1970s - not as much fun as watching the cutting edge emigre artist with a svelte white goatee twiddle his knobs, so went back to the other room.

Eventually, Woody gave up, and the nice ICA techie plugged in a replacement power supply which although it trailed messily across the floor and slightly spoiled the aesthetic, actually powered the thing and off it went, round and round and round, the cameras pointing in line at the globe in the middle, sending images to the monitors. More squares and circles. With both rooms' mechanisms now in motion, everybody breathed a sigh of relief and began to enjoy themselves. The optics were delightful, the globes on the monitors endlessly recycling the changing room in a dreamlike sideways melting movement - a lovely piece, we thought. Woody and friend spontaneously sang what sounded like a Czech religious song to inaugurate the show. What an interesting crowd, we observed. Once again, I was in the right place. How do I manage to do this so often? Being an ICA member helps...

I stood in front of the monitor, watching a black and white optical effect that made me faintly seasick, and deemed it a fabulous success. Seriously, wonderful. Cutting edge in 1968, and damn funky now. Here's the video I made with my phone.

At the exhibition, Lucy and I were discussing my bad tooth, and she mis-heard me and thought I said I was selling my tooth on Ebay. Hang on, I thought, that's a good idea isn't it? That way, I can raise the money to pay the dentist! So, starting tomorrow, my tooth is on sale for one week only, ends Christmas day, item number 5647684509.

Here's how it looks:



Guess I had better make a selling-my-tooth-on-ebay blog.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Blog of Funk Kwithmuth Giveaway

I take lots and lots and lots of pictures, a few of which end up on my Moblog and some I put here. It's fun to share, of course. I get nice comments, and this warms my heart.



Now we all know that it is foolishness to attempt to make money from blogging, or indeed, from most of the web. You cannot charge people for content that they already get for free. But, since I really do need to raise some money (see sob story below) I have decided to act in the spirit of Kwithmuth, and give away lots of my pictures, and just ask for donations in return. This is a much friendlier and more funky approach to the entire moolah episode than the whole i-chav project - although I am still convinced that pots of cash are just waiting to be made. However, spirit of goodwill, we all love internet freebies, let's not cheapen this relationship, etc., etc., please browse my first Kwithmuth Giveaway Gallery.

I am very good with money. Part of my work entails spending other people's money, at which I am excellent. I work well within tight budgets, producing high quality work for a lot less that many of my well-paid peers.

However, it must also be said that I am very good at spending my own money, and like the rest of Britain and the "developed" world, not particularly good at saving it. It must also be said that my personal incentives for making money are not great, either. I grew up in a culture proclaiming two things simultaneously - that money=power+choice, and that the love of money is the root of all evil (Timothy 6:10). I have seen what the lust for money brings out in people and it is not nice and it is not funky. I have to remind myself regularly that getting more money is a good idea.

Now I have to come clean about my phobia. I hate dentists. I didn't visit a dentist for 26 years. After all that time, I needed one filling, and some basic preventative work. However, that was the year before last. I tried to go for a check up last year at some point, and when I exited Queensway tube, realised I was in the middle of a migraine attack - blurred, wobbly zig-zag lined vision, and a throbber down the left side of the head.

What Tim did not say was that the love of money is the root canal of all evil. This year, the filled tooth had rotted further and I needed urgent root canal in August, and the very professional, highly skilled dentist winced as he looked into my gaping open mouth (and you thought that the little Deekster icon was an illustration!) and with one raised eyebrow wrote off the future for my upper left molar.

He filled it with cement, and told me to go see my regular dentist and be prepared to say goodbye to my tooth.

I like that tooth! It's been there for 34 years, feels like it belongs there, and I am kind of attached to it.

That was three months ago. I really should have had it out by now, as although painless it is doubtless continuing to decay and erode, but like I said, I am phobic. My choices as outlined by my kindly dentist - who although I like him, I nonetheless remain entirely antipathetic and untrusting towards - are as follows:


  • extract the tooth leaving a gap - I don't want a hole in my teeth!

  • extract the tooth and have a bridge - but that messes up the perfectly good teeth either side

  • extract the tooth and have a denture - ugh!

  • extract the tooth and have an implant - at a cost of £3,000



As hard as I work, I do not have £3,000 to spend on my gorgeous smile. In fact, I have nothing put aside for the purpose of repair. Therefore, necessity obliges me to take my health, and my dental fund, seriously.

Of course, if I raise enough, I will also be able to visit a psychologist to rid me of my phobia.

That's my sob story over with. Now, be so good as to browse my first Kwithmuth Giveaway Gallery, think of my poor tooth, and for the sake of my health, donate!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Full Moon Ate My Blog

At 12 midnight, it will be here in the UK if we can see it, the brightest overhead moon for a quarter of a century. The angles are right, it seems, for this optical extravaganza.

The moon is making me edgy. I managed to lose my blog template. It took me an hour and a quarter to get it back.

I was putting this PayPal donate button on the right sidebar.






Blogger completely refused to display anything below it. Or so I thought. Then I saw that somehow, the whole blogger template had disappeared below the button I had just inserted.

All my links, buttons, everything, gone. Cue hasty search for blog template - last saved to hard disk Nov 5th. After a few attempts where blogger point blank refused to save the re-edited version, I changed it differently, saved that, then re-applied the template minus the button. It republished, finally.

I hate it when that happens.

I'll come back to the reason for the donate button later. It's a nice idea, or so I thought when I wasn't feeling so annoyed and upset. It's out of all proportion, that will be me, the loony.

I need a massage and a cup of tea, and I know just where to get them.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blog of Funk Christmas Giveaway

Much as I am enjoying the speculative nature of selling comic goods as part of a trend, there is a serious side to why I have chosen this month to write about financial resources, since this is not the Blog of Fuck Off and Die, that is a different and extremely unfunky blog, written by someone else. This month is not about capitalism, although a bit of healthy pre-christmas trading is never a bad thing. We all look forward to winter break - seems like we need it more than any other. It really is a chance to spend time with family. It can be joyous or it can be hell.

Personally, since I left home 24 years ago I always opted out, refused most invitations, and spent time doing what I wanted for a few days. A week to myself, blessed time to answer to nobody and do whatever I choose. How beautiful it is to be not depended upon, not asked to solve problems, not having to dry my shoulder of someone else's tears, again. Not having to utter a word. A retreat, just by going nowhere. Jesus God I sound like such a martyr. I hate even the sight of the word. It looks like zephyr and myrrh. Soon there will be more, myrrrh, then myrrrrh and then myrrrrrh as wordsmiths start to expand existing words to claim new semantic space in the commercial semantic web.

It is one of the ways I stay sane, opting out. I am so busy with people, I need to find the balance. I need to let my mind relax. I often go for days without saying a word.

One of the reasons I write so much is as a result of all this solitary time.

Not that I haven't had some bloody amazing christmas, romantic, insane, magical, sexy, breathtakingly gorgeous winter holidays with other people... just that I have also had them totally on my own. This year, I will be mostly going for a couple of days to stay with GGF's relatives three miles from the place which on Sunday morning just exploded, miraculously - Halleluya! - killing nobody. And they say God does nothing!

Yes yes yes baby jesus presents mincepies stockings tinsel kwithmuth la la happy family bollocks

I don't do cards. I have done, and enjoyed it, but now I cannot be arsed to contribute to the annual mound of trash. I ask for no presents, I give only to those closest, if I can be bothered.

Think of the tremendous psychological, necessary freedom that I am afforded by this. The expectations that I need not carry. The brussel sprouts I will not turn into methane.

Christmas, we love it carols mistletoe vodka fireplaces snogging chocolates advent calendars..

You see, my house was built of cards. Quite literally. My father made a substantial part of his living from turning artists original illustrations into colour reproductions. He was a lithographic retoucher. My childhood double-glazing was these immense sheets of plastic film from his work, all taped up around the place, because we were hellish cold, and we were in cheap council housing with no improvements on the horizon. All around our tall three storey stairs and in the hallway and behind the sofa were sheets of card and paper and film, red sellotape, and sable brushes.

Being a fairly good illustrator by the age of fifteen, my semi-doting parents asked me whether I couldn't possibly make some cash from painting sweet bunnies. I tried but it was no use, I was into MAD magazine, Monty Python's Gilliam, psychedelic art, Heath Robinson and DC mags.



You can understand my parents dismay.

Secondarily, on a serious personal note, I have to pay the taxman very soon, and I am not anticipating this with anything other than creeping dread. Anyway, fellow victims, my cheerful self enjoying the festive conviviality, I am also serious about selling some things. But, scam my fabulous funky loveable readers with cheap crap? Never. Never. Never.

Only best kwality crap-o-la for you on dis Blog.

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I-Chav Trolley Key Ring

I have fallen in love. I've been looking at stuff I can get branded, and there is a lot of it. A bit expensive this first one, as it would cost me £250 minimum, but what a perfect item to sport the I-CHAV brand.

Trolley Keyring
Product Description:

Ideal for shopping trolly - locker etc.. Coin enameled on both sides in one colour. Prices based on nickel finish. Add 4p each for brass finish.

This next item has the benefits of being affordable, pocket-sized, useful, and it definitely has chavtastic allure - a lighter, with a light!

How many times have you lost something in a confined dark space - a lump of hash in a car, perhaps, or a sex toy under the bed, or even your cigarettes in a fuel-filled tanker - and not been able to use the FLAME as a searchlight? Here you have the perfect answer!

My final item for you this morning on the Blog of Funk shopping channel - and this one, I wouldn't mind for myself, so it fulfills the requirements for a less-than-shit fun gift item - a USB FlashPen!

I have emailed the company for prices. FIngers crossed they have them in stock.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I-Chav: My Retail Destiny?

I've been tagging some of my blog posts, and making discoveries as I do so. From that esteemed e-publication, The Register: iPod shuffle voted top 'Chav Gadget'

I knew it was the case, but this timely confirmation has given my retail sails more wind. Chav Ahoy!

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Brazilians Love Tasty Arab Nosh

In Brazil, Arab food is a big hit, despite the fact that immigrant Arab population is low at 7%. This BBC feature tells of the success of the Habib's chain.

The GGF is from Palestine and I have to admit, the food I have eaten since we began to love has been the most delicious, varied and nourishing of any cuisine I have ever eaten. It borrows from everywhere, yet has a certain palette which is its own. It is fragrant and makes you enjoy the act of eating. It manages spicy, sweet and sour flavours in beautiful balance. Olives, figs, yoghurt and herbs. I like Palestinian food for the same reasons I like Greek and Turkish food, but it has some things of its own. Maqlubeh Bitunjan is a good example of a uniquely Palestinian dish - "aubergine upside-down"; a layer of meat, chicken or lamb flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon and allspice, then a layer of aubergine, then rice, all slow cooked in a big pot.

Habib's, which sports various different format eateries, was started by the enterprising Portuguese emigre Mr Saraiva - clearly a man I need to learn from - who

"took over the bakery, during what he describes as "the most difficult time of my life".

"In that padaria, I learned to be a businessman," he said, in an interview with the BBC News website.

"After that, I had other businesses that I built up and sold in order to continue studying. In one of those businesses, I got to know an Arab cook - an old man of 70, retired - who came to me to ask for work.

"So I learned Arabic cuisine from him. Then I realised that Arabic restaurants in Brazil were very traditional places, not aimed at the majority of the population, and I saw there was a niche there ready to be discovered."

There is definitely money to be made by following his formula. So here is (free!)

"Mr Saraiva's Formula For Success"

  • give them what they want

  • don't give them what they don't want

  • vary the format

  • keep the standards high

  • keep the prices low

  • treat customers with respect

  • listen to the voice of experience


  • I'm going to print that out big and put it on the wall.

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    Friday, December 09, 2005

    My Blog Is Worth $18,629.82


    My blog is worth $18,629.82.
    How much is your blog worth?



    $18,629.82 apparently.

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    Useful Dollars, Chav Pounds

    It's very confusing, this making money lark. I appear to have sold two downloads of Ozzie Rozzie - HUZZAH! which is great, and which starts to make a dent in the set up costs for the month's money-making enterprises, albeit a mere $4 US income out of about $135 laid out. Confusing because at least one person has told me they bought a book, but I cannot see that transaction on Lulu yet. Confusing also because I keep mixing up pounds and dollars. But, I have not yet started to develop the real cash-producing scheme, the i-chav range of products.

    I-CHAV is destined to initially carry three products - a small, easily affordable fun wearable fashion item retailing for under three quid; a slightly more expensive but more "real" item, which will probably be about five quid; and a really nice piece of electronics that in fact you wouldn't mind receiving as a present, despite (or in fact, because of) the i-chav brand being prominent, for about twenty quid. My savvy London street knowledge tells me that these items will sell.

    Thing is about this whole chav business - it's big business. I went for a stroll a few weeks ago, as I often do, down Chapel Street market in Islington. It's an old market, it has the best fresh vegetables in the borough, vendors selling nuts, fish and cheese, and stall after stall of batteries, handbags, cheap jewellery, clothes, shoes, and all the unmentionable tasteless tat that people part with their loose change for on a daily basis. The amount of accessories that people buy to tart up their main accessories, i.e. their mobile phone, their MP3 players, is enormous. In a crowded market, I stood gazing, enraptured at the possibilities for ironic, comics addition to this accessory fever. Thus, i-chav was born.

    It's this BOTTOM level of commerce that interests me, and all because of the lovely George.

    George grew up after WW2 in the East End of London in dire poverty. A bright and able lad, he left school at 14 having been working since the age of 10. He was in several black and white Euston films as a child actor, but there was no way he could afford to attend drama school. Instead, financial, social and family circumstances determined his future which was to take an active and starring role in any and every street scam going, from selling invisible commodities such as piles of bricks (there was a lot of this after the war) to hawking dodgy stuff - by which I mean stolen, dangerous or fake goods - off the back of a truck to passers by, in markets and main shopping streets everywhere that they could before the police turfed them off or pulled them.

    George had an amazing knack of knowing exactly what people would pay for the shit he flogged them, and yet, he was not a greedy man. Necessity started him off and continued to drive him. In his late fifties when I came to know him, he was running a "pound shop" in Peterborough called "Madhouse" which, stuck in the middle of a faceless concrete mall, brought a little cheap diversion. It was full of useful things as much as useless ones - electrical plugs, extension leads, needles and thread, mothballs, Taiwanese training shoes, incense, self-assemble paint-it-yourself garden furniture, East European soft metal screwdriver sets with multi-coloured non-standard size rawlplugs, flashing reindeer antennae and battery-powered earmuffs - all sold at truly knock down prices. It was cheaper than Woolworths and a lot more fun.

    I was so impressed by the way he understood the buying patterns of his customers. He knew retail inside out, he understood the small, medium and large purchases people make, and the different rationale for the scale of expenditure. He would agonize over paying the rent on the shops he ran, sometimes sailing so near to going bust in a famine period, but his staff were always paid, and he was incredibly generous to everybody. Then he would return from London or Birmingham with a Luton van full of fluffy pink plastic footballs, or maybe nutcrackers which sang "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly", grinning like a child whilst he showed us his next product line and predicted millions. His judgement, variable like the retail world he inhabited, was not always guaranteed to bring results, but he did very well often enough so have a perenially cheerful attitude to his failures. So, the pissing green elf garden crazy water fountain sold not a lot; but the Arsenal arse-scratchers sold out. The luminous hairy jogging pants didn't cover a single leg; but the coolbox with FM radio (perfect for those quiet picnics) went like hot cakes. Friday to Monday, he would tell me proudly, he'd shifted the lot and made five grand.

    George never belittled or condescended to his customers, even as he wore Armani suits and ate lobster. He knew that you have to give people choice, even if you know they are going to buy the cheapest thing in the shop. He knew that even if something is shit, if it has humour, if it lifts the mood by diverting from the daily nonsense, people will gladly give you money, and begrudge you none of it.

    With this philosophy in mind, the i-chav brand has been born. Now I need to select my products and build my shop.

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    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Ozzie Rozzie In Print



    I decided to start with something I had prepared earlier (see previous post) and this morning I published Ozzie Rozzie on Lulu.com, which seems upon inspection a lot better than Café Press, although agonisingly slow. I set up my "storefront" there - http://www.lulu.com/funk/

    However, at a cost of $35 I bought ISBN number 1-4116-6420-5 to make the book into real product and get it into Amazon, which means that I am now down over 100 US dollars. Still, this is all part of my drive to increase (read: begin) profits , and thus I hope worth it in the long run.

    Lulu offers the chance to upload preview files, so I recorded some of chapter one and uploaded it as an MP3.

    Buy Ozzie Rozzie on Lulu How exciting!

    Despite this brave foray into self-publishing, in which I took the advice of Realgem, Karma and Liz, there are limits. I'm certainly not going to charge anyone to read anything published on Blog of Funk. That would not be funky. I am thrilled just to have readers. I put search facilities in early on, so that people could search the blog and read laterally if they wanted. Technorati seems quite good, I kind of like their take on things slightly more than some of the Megatechalithic corporations.

    I should really tag my pages rather than try to squeeze bucks out of blog readers! Still, it's not as if I don't have a plan. It's been an enjoyable and memorable day - the day I got my first ISBN, and the day my PPL Application Pack arrived.

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    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Tarting Up

    The Funk Boys have been tarting the place up to make it look a lot more Kwithmuthy and in keeping with the dark season of Fatwallet.

    What do you think? Personally I prefer it to the old "fridge magnet" livery. It's a lot more funky. I get the impression they may have been studying key word usage...

    Meanwhile, I've been looking at Amazon and I'm going to test it out.

    Funky Music Imports





    I think the boxes look ugly - although they look better than Google Adwords which destroy countless websites. Mind you that's as much to do with careless coding and home-made design. In ten years the internet has become an enormous car boot sale...

    On a more serious note, I have applied to PPL for my ISRC codes, so that I can properly license and keep track of digital downloads, as I do fully intend to pick up some of the slack in the Deekster household by properly organising some online commerce.

    144 PDF downloads of Ozzie Rozzie went to computer hard drives after I wrote that short story in October. I wonder whether any of those people who downloaded the PDF for free would have paid for the story? Maybe some, but I would certainly also have lost more than a few readers.

    In any case, Ozzie Rozie wasn't written to make money. It was totally rewarding just to write fifteen thousand words of fiction and I recommend you do the same. While I did so, I inhabited the world I had created, which seemed to coexist and live alongside me and within me. I also proved something to myself by having the idea last year and following it through, which was that I could extend the form of the blog, exploring various different states, routes and ideas by changing tack once a month, and that people would appreciate it, and so they have done. But after I looked at the logs it occurred to me that I should really sell some of my work via the net, either by digital download, or even creating actual physical products that people can pick up, fondle and enjoy. Like books, CDs, that kind of thing. Now there's a bloody obvious thought.

    That's been one of the fun things this year, picking themes that relate to key aspects of my real life activity. I have found it generally helpful, and once, life saving.

    I may just release a Kwithmuth single.

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    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Hard Graft For Small Wonga

    My favourite story of childhood enterprise was told to me by a man I have had the pleasure of working with recently. He gave me the reason why he had been expelled from a well-known British public (=private) school.

    "I was fifteen. I'd call a cab from school which would take me the couple of miles into town, to Victoria Wine. The cabbie would go in and buy me a few bottles and take me back to school. Then I'd decant them and water the booze down and sell it to the other boys. When the headmaster expelled me he made a point of saying that my behaviour was disgraceful not only for the flagrant disregard for the rules, but also that I was exploiting my colleagues..."

    I laughed heartily at this and advised him to put it on his curriculum vitae.

    Anybody that has managed to make a career out of being creative - parcticularly writing - is supposed to have had a range of jobs staggering in its variety. As art's muses pay no heed to impoverishment, the creative path has inevitable twists and turns which demand sacrifice at the altar of reality. We all have to do something to make a living while the world discovers our genius, right? I went to see Factotum - a man who preforms many jobs (sic) at the weekend, an excellent film (note to self: I really must start reviewing these things) based on the stories of Charles Bukowski. What really stuck in my mind, apart from the drunkenness and the sex and the Norwegian cinematographic take on America, was the part where Chinaski the impoverished writer (Charlie's alter-ego) talks about his writing. Whenever he doubted himself, he would read another writer, which would confirm to him that his only real contest was with himself.

    Watching the fictitious Chinaski walk out on job after job reminded me of the times when I was doing jobs with no creative aspect to them whatsoever, and how unbearable was that period. My not-too-long list of shit-proving-my-committment-to-my-art-jobs includes: working in a burger bar in Oxford Street in London's West End in August - I could never get the combined smell of burnt meat, tobacco and sugar out of my nose, nails and hair... but I saved up to go to Greece, affording my first (£300!) aeroplane flight; working in a Kiddicraft factory making plastic toys - this was levened by the proximity of several friends - we used to weld plastic limbs to torsos together in unlikely, possibly lethal combinations for our amusement, slipping them into the 'quality controlled' piles of boxes destined for Early Learning Centres; painting and decorating (not too bad); plumbing (average); busking (variable); and working at the Tate Gallery, London.

    This last shit job was actually OK, but it was still shit. The grandeur of the institution hid much pettiness, back-stabbing and gossip, to which I made certain I added prior to leaving, by parting with my long-term girlfriend and getting it together with someone I was selling tickets alongside. It was good in that it started at 10am, had regular long-ish tea breaks, and staff bohemianism was tolerated so long as the posters were rolled neatly and the punters were adequately serviced and charmed.

    Still it drove me mad to sit in the same place hour after hour, whatever the the reading it afforded, and the wages were poor. Staff would become listless, bored and randy. I once discussed masturbation with three female colleagues, who all frankly admitted that it was an option which at least staved off terminal mental stupor. I would thereafter inspect their delicate complexions more closely for post-orgasm capilliary swelling after their return from 'toilet breaks'.

    I will never win the competition for the worst shit job, because I always (like Chinaski/Bukowski) ran out of patience before it killed me. Even at the glorious part-time job at the Tate Culture Factory - which though I malign it, served me well for four years during the period after college when I was getting my music career together - I walked out on, one hot afternoon, when I was smitten with an awful crush on a crazy art girl and in a sexual/romantic fever which would not be denied.

    Possibly the worst shit job I ever had was working at Texas Homecare shifting large plastic bags of peat - Gro-Bags - in the yard, in the rain, one freezing April. As often as I loaded the cold, wet, filthy, slippery bags onto the trolley and wheeled them into the store, they would sell out, so as a newbie I was on this job all day, every day. The back-breakingly heavy bags would often split, creating rivers of slimy mud down the aisles, which of course I had to clear up. If I stopped to clean, the bags would sell out and customers and staff would gang up on me in groups demanding to know how long before more bags. I have never been more exhausted in my entire life. Crawling home soaked through, I ate my food with a desperation born of utter nutritional depletion, and promptly fell asleep in my disgusting, steaming clothes, only to dream about shifting trolley-loads of wet Gro-Bags.

    After (and during) the Tate, I worked for various Market Research companies, on the telephone. This was incredibly boring but it had benefits. One was that you did not need to be seen by your interviewee, so you could look terrible and still perform your job. It used to attract out of work actors, and transexuals saving up for the next stage, whom we would politely address as 'Sarah' in the tea room, but who in their cubicles referred to themselves as 'Simon' in their undisguisable deep, manly voices.

    The frustration got to me, though, even in this easy shit job, hours of repetition, suffering casual rudeness from punters and managers, constantly being reminded that you are at the very bottom of the pile. One afternoon I had a minor argument with my girlfriend who was also working there. She was bored and negative and giving me one of several hard times, and so I petulantly smashed the two cups I held in my hands together, watching the shiny pottery shards enter my skin and produce steady streams of blood. This convenient if stupidly risky 'accident' got us both out of there, I mused later, as I sat in casualty, red bandages around my hands, waiting to be cleaned up. At least I wasn't still on the phones being told to fuck off by some snotty arsehole with time to be abusive.

    I'm not defending this craziness, I'm just recalling how demented dead-end shit jobs have caused me to feel in the past.

    Though I am aware that long years of hard work have steadily transformed my lifestyle for the better, I still consider myself just barely above the bottom level of society. Enough money to buy a curry? I am rich. No red bills for a few months? A golden era. I still identify with the billions of labourers, cleaners, technicians, drivers, food, retail, industrial and factory workers who will never have the opportunities that I have enjoyed, nor ever get an opportunity to stop working for the man and start working for themselves.

    Thanks very much to Indigobusiness for the Santa picture.

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    Monday, December 05, 2005

    I, Chav




    I have some experience in web commerce. Almost a year ago, I put up the Blog of Funk shop at Café Press. Here in my carefully put together product range, you can buy the You Mug $12.99, the NICE NICE NICE AND STILL FUNKY T-Shirt $14.99, the Tosser shorts $99.99, and the Funky Tart's Wank top, $15.99. For these frankly immodest prices, you can deck yourself with the fantastic Deek Deekster logo - you know, that little shouty guy with the orange-and-white striped vest on who hangs around my internet profiles.

    I admit that I have not exactly promoted this site, but after twelve months I have made precisely zilch. This may have something to do with the fact that the prices are inflated beyond the attractive, or it may be that everyone knows Café Press is basically overpriced vanity gear for people who write blogs at the weekend. Ahem.

    With this in mind, I spent some time and money over the last few days, developing my new brand. I have been hunting for new products, something timely, something funky, something fun, that, within only a few short weeks, should start to turn a profit.

    Now for those of you despairing that I am abandoning writing the every day story of the smell of sex (which regular readers will know actually means every day I can find time to write which actually averages at around 5 days / 2,000 words a week) - fear not. For if you look back to February (links to the right) you will remember that I was similarly engaged with Love, and that this provided me with plenty word fuel, enough to wax as lyrical as a church candle. Plus, I have been very serious during some of these months - especially last month - and so I feel it is my social duty to lighten the tone a tad as we in the Great Soon-To-Be-Frozen-And-Uninhabitable North enter the final three weeks of the solar year.

    Looking carefully at Blog of Funk's logs, I noticed that I get lots of people arriving at pages I have written containing certain key words and phrases. For example, the word "chav". I wrote a piece called "Hanging Chav" in October last year, and many people looking for the origin of the word have ended up here. It occured to me that this was a precious marketing opportunity and that I should therefore initiate a chav product range.

    I promptly registered "i-chav.com" and "i-chav.co.uk" and "ichav.co.uk". ICHAV.COM was gone and for sale. I thought about it for a couple of days, and I made them an not-too-high offer which I am happy they accepted. Therefore I am now the proud owner of the iCHAV Brand (still working on the logo) and you, dear reader, are with me on the road to Fortune, and who knows, maybe even its bastard twin sister, Fame.



    My first activity has meant a cash outlay. Still, you got to spend before you spit, as nobody says but me, speculate before you expectorate.

    Day Two: Balance = -£75.00

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    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    I Love You With All My Bursting Heart Of Flame

    December, and the great festival of KWITHMUTH is upon us. Uncountable adverts for pointless crap signal the Great Winter Sale, along with sleigh bells to shatter the eardrums, tinsel with which to strangle the cat, office wags to chunder mightily upon, and the inexorable draining of physical, emotional and financial resources. This month, the final episode in my year-long attempt to stick to one theme per month, I have decided to embrace rather than resist this celebration of Mammon.

    My starting point is that fact that FUNK gets around 20,000+ visitors a month, none of which translates into any income at all, at least, not directly. And yet we are leading the way in this brave new world of citizen-driven media - blogs, podcasts, live streams, audio and video downloads, all free for the past two years. Free! And me with a London lifestyle, rapidly emptying pockets and sundry hangers on to support. So, without I hope alienating the entire loyal readership (you!) and with able assistance from the Funk Boys, I am going to start to get the cash registers ringing like Santa's piles upon a cold wooden sledge. My tender words of love to you are all the more meaningful, since I am relying on you (and your friends!) to provide at least a trickle of the enormous wealth I am going to generate from now and into 2006.

    So I have set up my Pay Pal account, and off we go.

    Day One: Balance = £0.00

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