Bush of Goats

Life's too short for empty slog. ans.

A faltering false start


Cough, splutter… that’s plaster dust. Don’t worry about it.

Hi! I see the last thing I wrote here was over two years ago now which is a shocking lapse. But I have been busy you see…

I see the subject of said last post was the nature of the true hero, as embodied in Captain America. I think I watched it on a laptop in a hotel in Basingstoke, just before I started really ripping the house to pieces (There is a gallery of images here, should you be curious: House & Garden) A lot of it is now finished (a lot of it hasn’t yet been started, but I’m over the 50% mark), but while it was happening I was also working pretty much permanently in Basingstoke, for The AA as a copywriter for their web, email and print. And writing screenplays on the 5 hour daily commute (the hotel proved impractical).

Doing the blogging (the kids still call it that, right?) was not way up my list of tasks.

Now, the Golden Goose which was the AA (AAgg – double gold!) has been rendered sadly lifeless, and I find myself yet again having not kept up, as it were.

I hope to find time to finish the new work folio site, at the address, copywritermarc ‘dot’ com before too long. Although this may prove to be another mouth-cheque my ass has insufficient funds to cash.

BUT if you would like to talk about something to do with work, you may find me on twitter at @bushofgoats, or via email on marc.copywriter@gmail.com




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Captain America


Captain America (IMDB)

Superhero movies are a ten a penny these days, and this slice of franchise partly-entertained me one evening in a hotel in Basingstoke before Christmas.


Essentially, the second half conforms to the genre: action, explosions, travel, resolution of secondary plots with mechanised predictability, and a respected thespian cutting loose as the baddie.

But what really got me hooked was the great character relationship between the professor and the scrawny hero-in-waiting, who asks, ‘why me?’

The professor explains that only he, of all the candidates, knows what weakness is like. ‘They’re all bullies; they will take their new power for granted.’

That’s such a great set up and I would have loved to see it explored in greater depth. While I don’t know the history of the Avengers, and maybe that’s the role he goes on to take amongst their ranks, this seemed much richer and more fertile territory than that which the film went on to bulldoze its way through. I guess the rights and privileges of inherited benefit are difficult to discuss when Hugo Weaving is peeling his face off opposite you, and there’s a multiplex queue behind you. But what a great iconic debate for the Captain of America: from weakness to strength in one bound. (Which reminds me, I must remember to check out Chronicle)

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day 14 – a song that no one would expect you to love

A Sort of Homecoming – U2

Note: the laborious task of ripping, copmressing and uploading an MP3 version has proved to be not only illegal (who knew?!?!1?) but too much effort, frankly. This is a link to Spotify. Other streaming musical services are available. 

It’s a hard one this. Primarily, because I have an uncontrollable urge to deny any kind of characterisation whatsoever. I think it displays an ageing middle-class rebel’s frustration and childishness in a particularly harsh and naked light, and I am therefore  proud of it. The very idea of a song no one would expect me to love gives me a kneejerk reaction (yeah, yeah. Just like all the other individuals).

Anyway, what about particularly this song by U2 is it that I refuse to acknowledge might betray some characteristic of me, by not being expected of me?

In one  of the many strange twists of the universe, I’ve ended up being friends-with-someone who works with U2. If I’d told my teenage self of this situation, he’d unquestionably be impressed. (And immediately try to cover it up by saying ‘I knew you were gonna say that’). For a while, from Under A Blood Red Sky’ through to ‘Joshua Tree’, I was mad for U2. The live aid performance that everyone remembers of them gave me a sense of intense pride in my band (a major win over my friend Kieran. He  liked Dire Straits; whose turgid pastel-hued performance earlier in the day had barely raised a murmur.)

The Rattle and Hum stuff kind of left me behind a bit and then we went off in different directions, but for that period, they were the sparky locals upstarts who became bigger than Jesus under my patronage (not me alone, obv.).

Perhaps that’s what it is. U2 are frowned upon now by many in the alternative musical landscape for selling out. I do struggle with that a bit. Success in rock music these days is a product of hard work. Take it from me (or more accurately, my friend) ‘life on the road with U2 is work. They have a great life, and its creative work, but you gotta work hard to succeed.’ You wouldn’t believe how many millions their current world tour has earned them. That’s what hard work gets you.

But ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ comes from a wet 1980s which offered little to working class men from Dublin. It lumbers out of a foggy bank, asynchronous booming drums bouncing off corrugated sheets of guitar. ‘B’ (that’s what they call him on the road’) lyrics fret, ‘… you know it’s time to go, through the sleet and driving snow, across the fields of morning, light in the distance.’  It sounds like a storm brewing.

But then the verse tension dissolves into the euphoric chorus’ eulogy of doing.

I guess that’s what’s unexpected about this being U2. Success doesn’t change the fact they wrote powerful, impassioned hymns to energy.

Our eldest is just starting to do cross country running. When she’s in her PE kit, her arms and legs fidgeting about as she gets ready to burn up the enrgy in her, I hear this. Arms and legs beset by a life of their own, and the happiness on her face as she runs. Simple pleasures.

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Death and Taxis

The train sat at the station for 10 minutes before we heard anything.

“Is there a doctor on board the train please!? If there is a doctor aboard the train, please could they make their way to the buffet car, please?”
It sounded so serious, I considered pretending – especially when it became apparent there was no actual doctor on the 18.33 from Paddington. The member of staff rattled past a few minutes later and was told by a keen young man behind me that although he wasn’t a doctor, ‘he did have some first-aid training.’

Whoever this courageous beaver was, everyone was most  reassured to see him rubbing the back of the ailing passenger as they puked into the toilet at the end of the carriage.

The puking man was helped from the train to sit against the palisade fence of the station and to puke some more onto the lose macadam. The keen young man and the assistant train deputy management executive  took turns to lay embarrassed napkins over the vomit at the victim’s side.

An ambulance had been called, we were reassured. The train continued to wait. Paramedics came and asked questions while more napkins saved us from seeing what had been inside the man.

Bored, I wondered to an unobtrusive vantage point to hear him confess to having eaten a ‘chicken sandwich’ and, ‘a bag of crisps’.

I’m no expert, but the chicken sandwich seemed guiliter than the crisps.

But worse was to come.

It emerged that the man was actually called Derrick, and he WAS NOT a passenger, he was THE TRAIN MANAGER!

Alas, Derrick’s totemic status proved too powerful for us to go on: the train was evacuated that we might all stand alongside Derrick on the platform. The deputy management executive assstant conversed theatrically with her colleagues, and the now empty train was taken to a quiet siding and put out of its misery.

At this point I should confess to being approximately 9 units of alcohol to the good.

And so when the deputy assisant train information and buffet dispensary assisant walked for the third time to hover near the ailing Derrick and his growing coterire  of emergency staff, I lost my temper and pointed out how preposterous the situation was. I was asked by the flabbergasted dispensary assistant train manager’s ancilliary walking unit, whether, ‘O my god, are you being serious?’

I agreed, that yes; I was indeed being serious, and thank fuck this wasn’t a real crisis. I explained that whilst I felt some sympathy for Derrick, it seemed a little unnecessary for us all to leave the train and stand alongside him AND WATCH HIM HAVE HIS STOMACH CONTENTS VEILED BY PAPER FROM THE BUFFET CAR COUNTER-TOP NAPKIN DISPENSING UNIT (luckily I shouted that last bit in my head, but you can see where this is going).

So horrified by my evident heaterlessness, the assistant deputy ancilliary dispensation walking operative was reduced to tutting and huffing at my awfullness. A fellow traveller, also so moved by my heartlessness, pointed out that, ‘actually mate (he was antipodeaen) it was the train manager?’ Perhaps in Australia the vomit of minor officials is a delicacy? Who knows.

I think that had I been .5 of a unit closer to the good, I would have shouted what was on my mind, at all concerned. The following transcript should be taken under advisement:

“Are you fucking kidding? You think this is a crisis? Let me describe a crisis: How about the mother of two children I just left on a train  platform not disimilar to this, whose husband has terminal cancer and who is still managing to keep going, despite the financial and psychological burden of losing the man she loves? You think Derrick’s habit of eating past their sell by date chicken sandwiches is a good enough reason for her to shut everything down? I’ll call and let her know! Shall we all just GIVE THE FUCK  UP because Derrick can’t keep his snout out of the discount food bin? YOU THINK THIS IS A CRISIS? DOUBLE FUCK YOU, LADY, IF MY 62.50 RETURN PLUS 15.50 UPGRADE BECAUSE I MISSED THE SUPER OFF-PEAK TRAIN DOESN’T ENTITLE ME TO BE ANNOYED MY SERVICE WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF A FUCKING TUMMY UPSET”


Meanwhile, the apocalypse ground on. The tannoy recording  told us we were IN FACT being delayed by disruption to an earlier service.  Derrick’s chicken sandwich, apparently forming part of some sacrament (Those crazy Aussies!)

The electronic bulletin board (brought in to replace a human in the late 90s) was so beside itself at Derrick’s plight, it had resorted to flashing ascii characters at us all, babbling in tongues and serving only to heighten the sense of a society in freefall.

Eventually, the next train came. I got on. I planned this all out. I sucked down another couple of units and disembarked at my alloted station without further incident. I got into my usual cab and managed a grunt to Chris, my regular driver.

We’d turned off the main road before I asked how he was feeling (Chris was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer and was now ‘one down’ so to speak.)

“Well, I’ve got it in the other ball now – but they ain’t takin’ it out yet ‘cos they gotta check out all me Testosterone and Oestregen levels.”

“Oh Chris, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“S’OK, I am a bit cut up though. Me Mum died this mornin’ at her hospice. She had a load of cancer. They called me on the school run.”

“Oh Christ, you couldn’t be there?”

“Well, I saw ‘er last week and she looked so awful, I didn’t wanna see her again.”

Death, it seems, affects us all differently.

Chicken sandwiches, too.


My paracetomol and I should now like to apologize to the train assistant, my cab driver, my friends and Australians everywhere.

Names have been changed.

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Mixtape: Roadskill

Pronounce as you like, take whatever meaning/individual files you want.




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Top Gear

The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory. That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy. A writer or any artist has the sometimes joyful duty to transform all that into symbols. These symbols could be colors, forms or sounds. For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry. The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. Your are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed. This revelation can appear anytime. A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams. Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one. You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.

Not my words, but the words of Jorge Luis Borges.

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Playing a game of Limbo

My Xbox 360 has sat under all the TVs in our new house, but for the first time since we moved here nearly three years ago, I’ve recently found the time and the inclination to play it. My first act was to finish a game I bought from the arcade 18 months ago, but never really had the time for. But now I’ve played it and finished it and loved it.

Limbo is an independent production from Copenhagen and does game play just as I like it. Simple, with repetition in small part, not overly long, a plot you only really get to understand in the blank empty spaces as you try to figure out how the latest little block & weight puzzle needs solving, and perhaps most importantly, a really quick reload. Control is simple (back, forward, jump, action) and the manner of executions hilariously macabre: your little 8 year old boy is impaled by hidden spiders, crushed by blocks, drowned by dirty water and best of all, minced by circular saws. Luckily, all that horror and gore is depicted in a Jan Pienkowski-esque silhouette, adding to the fairytale feel.

Despite the youth of the protagonist, this is a very adult game (asides from the deaths) as you are given no real eexplanation for what is happening, or why. You must trust its worth it and do without the clodden hoofed exposition most games seem to think it is their duty to impart. best of all might be the ending, which tells you something – there’s a girl – but tells you nothing really. Seriously: she looks up; not even at you. I had feared the gloom would lift and it would be revealed as some kind of Nyan-Cat Mario-Land, but developers PlayDead held their nerve. I await their next production with much interest.



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Day 13: A song that is a guilty pleasure

The Boy is Mine – Brandy & Monica

My old friend Adam and I used to disagree vehemently over this. It came out around the time he left – as it proved, permanently for the Southern Hemisphere – and I did him a minidisc mix (ha! remember minidisc? No, me neither) which contained not only several false starts of it, but a complex set of gags about it using the editable track title function of said format.

How guilty do I feel? well, obviously not *that* guilty: it’s a great song. What is there to feel guilty about? If I wanted to have some actual guilt, I should prolly pick something by Screwdriver, or Wagner, or Tomorrow Belongs To Me (although the Cabaret scene is amazing), so there’s no pleasure part.

In my quest for guilt, I suppose there’s a not-so-subtle undercurrent of masculine infidelity, but the video puts the lie to that, with Mekhi Phifer getting the door slammed in his face at the end. He might have been slippin’ it both ways for an undisclosed period of time, but Brandi and Monica have come to an understanding and he gets a double rejection. (You can read a brilliantly deadpan promo synopsis and all the other details here.)

What occurs ot me now, writing this is that whenever I hear this, I end up thinking about a clip I once accidentally saw of R Kelly, dressed in a business suit, wearing earrings and lifting a pair of baby seats (containing babies) out of the back of a Ferrari. I’ve tried to find the promo it came from to check it is actually two babies, but after wading through the confused ego of R Kelly for twenty minutes, I can take no more. It’s a brilliantly lazy shorthand for half a dozen aspirational mores – ‘Hey, chicks, dig me – I’m professional, successful, caring and busy’ –  but it seems my subconscious has made the connection for me, whereby a pair of innocents are used only as ciphers in a male control fantasy.

OK, now I feel guilty.

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Day 10: A song that makes you fall asleep

Tears in Rain – Vangelis (Blade Runner OST)

I first saw Blade Runner with the flu. I kept drifting off into sleep, leaving fragments of dialogue and 80s synth washes dotted around my fevered dreams. Then ten years after that, The Rutger Hauer snippet kept cropping up in ambient mixes, triggering in me the woozy sensations all over.

I still struggle to stay awake through the film, but that’s mostly for pleasure nowadays.

You may or may not know/care that the film and the soundtrack have been reversioned several times (5 versions of the film, going on 40 releases of the OST), but you should be able to get everything you ever possibly could from it here.

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Things I should be doing

Things I should be doing today include writing a pitch, moving the downstairs cooker and laying the stones around the chicken yard.

Things I shouldn’t be doing include dicking about making mix tapes. But seeing as I have…

Harsh Words In Savage Times 

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