Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

My Photo
Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Posted @ 20:03International News - Special Edition

Today, in a far desert land, a man was hung by the neck until he was dead. The man was guilty of many crimes including hanging his political opponents by the neck until they were dead. He was a bad man for doing this. The West, for all its posturing and hand-washing, is good for doing the same. Such is the lesson of the day.

The man would have been able to live out his natural life if he'd been called Augusto Pinochet or Manuel Noriega: and he would have received ample funds and support from the West to carry out executions stay in power.

Well, what a lovely start to the New Year. Makes us all so pure and clean and free from any stain of sin.

There may be a minuscule quantity of sarcasm in the above which the astute reader will be able to spot with sufficient assiduousness.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Posted @ 23:24A Project For 2007

I've mentioned Tom Cruise & Mel Gibson before in these musings. It has become apparent that even the sort of negative comments that I (and others) have come out with in the past
This picture is of Lily the cat sat on my lap; it has nothing to do with this posting. It's much nicer to think of Lily than of Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson.
year, act only to prolong the agony. These two beings are the very antithesis of the phrase "normal human being". They seem to spend far too long in the news, in the films, in the world. They are not only irritating, they are unnecessary.

So, I propose a project for us all to follow for 2007: ignore and boycott them completely. And I this should apply even to this blog: you should only read this posting in 2006 and 2008, you may not read it in 2007.

Some of the necessary actions are:

  • Put every copy of every film featuring them (on any medium) in a box and hide it somewhere that you won't remember.
  • Do not attend any presentations of their films.
  • Ignore all documentaries, news items and films of theirs shown on TV.
  • Burn any pages in your daily newspapers which feature them.
  • Report anyone on the internet discussing them (positively or negatively) for offensive content.
  • Try and forget their names altogether.

Come on chaps & chapesses, let's make 2007 Tom Cruise & Mel Gibson free!


This blog will also be extending the boycott to Ricky Gervais.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Posted @ 05:15Music for the ears of the discerning

I've put up a lot a links about my music recently. Sitting here after a lovely Christmas Day (thanks to Mark W (and his mother, Pauline), Tina, Ian O and Rob L), I've been drinking whisky and listening to stuff on MySpace by my friends & family and I thought I'd give them all a plug. Rather than introduce favourites, I've listed them in alphabetical order (links are on both the images and the names). When you've got the time, take the time and listen. And enjoy.

Adrian Byron Burns
Adrian played at the Tap & Spile on my 50th birthday (for which, I am immensely grateful and, of which, I am immensely proud). It wasn't the first time he'd been to Grimsby, but it was the first time I'd heard him. He is a great bear of a man, with warm generosity and a quiet humour — originally from Washington, DC, USA — who now lives in Hull. He is a wonderful performer, a brilliant musician and a really nice guy.
Claude Bourbon
Claude is superb. I remember hearing him play Ravel's Bolero alone on the guitar at the Tap & Spile and being zapped into another world. I remember a certain keyboard and accordion player deciding that, after hearing Claude, guitar players did have their points. Claude spent some time in Lausanne, Switzerland, where I worked for a time; we talk about this connection from time to time. A quiet, unassuming man who plays excellent guitar (even if he does use strange tunings and inspires Rob L to mess about with such things). Merci, Claude, pour ta musique.
fingers flynn
Fingers is, I'm proud to say, my brother. He's the only reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place (so you can all blame him when I make a rotten noise). He (sort of) forced me to play bass riffs sometime, a long, long time ago. And then I began to get the hang of it... ...eventually, a bit. Everything from blues to rock, played with consummate skill. Lives in London, but that's his only fault.
Helian Keys
Ian and Helen make music like no-one else. Helen tinkles away on the ivories rather well (that's a complement for which I expect no retribution, Helen) and Ian delivers a rock/folk vocal of immense power. Watching them perform live (particularly Chimes At Midnight which, for some unaccountable reason, they haven't recorded for mass listening) is a pure delight. People I'm proud and humble to call friends.
Simon & Sue are a husband and wife team — one of two such pairings featured here (see The Twanglers, below). Their voices pair as well as their lives and they deliver beautiful tunes. Simon seems to have suffered little from his stint with Broadsword (sorry, Fil, just a joke). When I first met these guys they were a nervous couple at the Tap's acoustic nights. Now? Well, they've come a long way.
Another family member. My nephew, Jean-Luc — my sister, Shirley C's, youngest — is the drummer. Yes, I know, we've got a drummer in the family, but that's the sort of black sheep every family has to live with (only joking Jelly, honest). Well, it's better than having a bass player (heh, heh, giggle, giggle, Mark). These guys are all in their early teens but sound like they've been playing since the birth of rock 'n' roll. I'm very jealous. And very happy for them. And very proud.
Silence is, mostly, my nephew, George (son of fingers flynn). George is the youngest singer/songwriter/guitarist featured here, but he is somewhat advanced in his years in this regard. He's got time to bloom that others, such as I, have not. Just listen without prejudice, as they say. Worth more than 10 minutes of your time.
Si Nicholls (and Boddington)
Si travels and performs with his guitar and his dog, Boddington. Si wouldn't deny that the dog is the real star of the show. Except for the bits where Si is a really good guitarist and entertaining performer. But, in the end, it's Boddy who pulls in the crowds. Except for the bits where Si makes you laugh and tap your feet and marvel at his talents. [Is this OK, Si? Do I get a backstage pass next time? Boddy, sorry I had to say those nice things about Si, but he does have the speaking voice after all.]
The Twanglers
The other husband and wife team. Jen is lovely and plays whistle and sings much, much better than she believes. But what do I say about Tim that I haven't said to his face with added profanity? Two years ago, Tim was a nervous performer who didn't think that anyone wanted to hear hin play guitar, let alone listen to his songs. He is now a confident and assured performer, writing songs to make you smile and tear your heart strings. His guitar playing's come a long way, too. But, his sense of direction and appreciation of the subtleties of geography are still appalling.

I'm sorry I couldn't include more people here but quite a number of my musical friends have either neglected to set up a MySpace account or haven't got around to uploading any music. When they do, we'll have another edition of this series.

Oh, and finally, I'd like to thank Beth in Ohio for the lovely Christmas E-Card, the nice comments about my songs, her "BS blog" (her words — excuse me, Beth) and the, slightly, more serious "In The Details"; my regular readers will find regular visits to both sites worth their while.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Posted @ 21:16Season's Greeting To All Our Readers

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst"
Are full of passionate intensity.

W B Yeats; The Second Coming

...for those interested, I've recorded a version of my song "the ballad of fergus flynn" (which I've played at various acoustic sessions and open mic. nights over the past year). This will be available only for the festive season. Cheers!

Sorry, peoples, the song is now no longer available. The festive season is over.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Posted @ 23:55International News I

This is a new excursion for this blog, which has usually consigned its view to the domestic, even the parochial (but certainly the provincial). This has had nothing to do with any restricted vision on behalf of the author, it's just that the international scene is a bit further away and there's loads of stuff going on in the space in between. Especially ludicrous behaviour. Anyway, in the spirit of the season, let's expand our horizons and consider the world outside. Well, as far as the USA, anyway.

George W Bush Makes Embarrassing Gaffe

And nobody is in the least surprised.

Iraq Government Overthrown: Country In A Mess

Forces led by the US, invaded Iraq and brought down the government. Once this was done they realised that they didn't know what to do next. After playing a fruitless game of "Hunt the weapons of mass destruction" for a while, they decided that a new government might be a good idea. In the meantime, the country was totally destabilised and sunk into civil war. This is known as "Building Democracy In Iraq".

It was expected by many that simply capturing and hanging Saddam Hussain would solve all Iraq's problems, but this has proven not to be the case. Political leaders in the West have now decided that all the remaining problems are the Iraqis' own fault and they should be left to get on with killing each other.

Nice Person Wants To Be President

You can hear some of the Daily Show interview and read about it at the Huffington Post: Who Needs "Meet The Press?" Tom Vilsack Has "The Daily Show".The Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack (Democrat), has announced his candidacy for the presidency of the USA in the 2008 election. In a recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (broadcast in the UK on More4 on 19/12/2006), he came across as a nice person with a sense of humour who had a good grasp of the international situation. He was pleasant without being over-fawning and seemed at ease making fun of both politics and himself.

He has no chance.

Postscript (1 hour later)

Al Gore — should he stand (and, to hear an argument in favour of this, go here) — would suffer from the same problem. He is intelligent and articulate and apparently free from the overbearing constraints of big business and partisan politics. He has a sense of humour. He is pleasant and amusing. He talks in proper sentences. He is prepared to explain the processes of government. With the example of the last two US presidential elections where the electorate fell behind a person with almost exactly opposite attributes, I can't see Gore getting there.

Maybe the US electorate will take pleasure in proving my cynicism unfounded.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Posted @ 16:40Teleportation Made Easy

It is with a complete lack of modesty that I announce that I have discovered a safe and easy method of teleportation; from now on human beings will be able to move from one place to another instantaneously without any memory of an intervening journey. Whilst there are, as will be explained, certain side-effects to the process at the present time, they should not be insurmountable. In keeping with my belief that certain discoveries are of such import to the human race, I give this knowledge freely to the world without expecting or demanding any reward (apart from vast quantities of cash).

If anyone would doubt the truth of my discovery, I would like to present my first-hand evidence for this momentous process. Those who know me will be aware that I am not prone to sensational pronouncements or exaggerated claims. My evidence is unencumbered by any emotional attachment to my own part in the discovery of this phenomenon.

The first teleportation of a human being happened in the early hours of Sunday morning (it is proposed that 17th December become "Teleportation Day", recognised as a holiday throughout the world, where everyone donates their day's income to a worthy cause — my bank balance). I bade my goodbyes to the people who remained at the party, thanking the hostess for a wonderful evening, and headed for the door. I woke up, sometime later, at home, with no memory of any journey whatsoever. The only explanation: teleportation. With the methods I have discovered, the world will be free from its dependence upon oil and gas for transportation and there will be no more need for dry sandwiches and tepid coffee in waiting rooms.

How, I know you are thinking, is this marvellous mode of transport achieved? The method is simple, but there are, I can vouchsafe, a couple of minor side-effects. These side-effects are not serious and should easily be eliminated by further research.

The most important ingredient is ice-cold vodka and slices of lemon — with beer and wine in a supporting role. The transportee needs to consume a number of these before attempting the process. The exact size of the measures and the precise number of measures to consume have yet to be quantified, but, for now, "very large" and "lots" will do. The only — and, I stress, minor — side-effects are sleeping for twelve hours afterwards and a thumping headache. These are, no doubt, a result of the de-materialisation process and necessary re-materialisation. A good meal, several cups of tea and coffee, plus a good night's sleep, will render the transportee back to normal health.

I leave it to my readers to further experiment with this method and discover a method of neutralising the side-effects.


There is, unfortunately, no time to mention the impending invasion of the world by mutant cushions, one of which attacked Ian O on Saturday night. Fortunately, it wasn't one of the large, poisonous kind (as Mark W was kind enough to point out).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Posted @ 12:22Headlines 2014 II

For information on the source of these stories see "Headlnes 2014 I", my post earlier in the year.

It's the way of the world...

Statue of "Great Humanitarian" Unveiled

There were scenes of jubilation in Trafalgar Square today, when the long-awaited statue of General Augusto Pinochet was unveiled and dedicated. In the citation, read by Lady Thatcher looking radiant in the traditional black robes of Vlad the Impaler, honoured the man as a "great humanitarian, someone who spoke out for privileged and powerful human beings everywhere and strove endlessly to ensure that such people should be allowed to maim, torture and imprison anyone they wanted, without the unnecessary interference of bleeding-heart liberals who see such activities as some sort of crime".

The ceremony, which took place after sunset out of respect for Lady Thatcher's medical condition, was attended by many other blood-sucking vampires international politicians who dreamed of being dictators knew him in life. A crowd of 1 well-wisher watched as the 20-metre statue, carved from the bones of Chilean dissidents (as Lady Thatcher so elegantly put it, "it serves them right"), was unveiled amidst the spotlights which will illuminate it 24 hours a day.

The new statue completes Lady Thatcher's long-standing project to honour the great leaders of the 20th century — Adolph Hitler, Augusto Pinochet and Margaret Thatcher — with statues in London's premier square.

Prosecution Halted

In other news, the Attorney General has announced that the prosecution of all the companies involved in the so-called "bodies for cash" case because further action would be detrimental to the wider-public good and national and international security. Scotland Yard's Murder Squad have been investigating allegations that several large companies had been paying members of the British and other, unspecified, foreign governments for large numbers of human corpses which were used to provide replacement organs for senior business and political figures. It was furher alleged that the bodies had been derived from the wholesale mass-slaughter of civilians and not, as the companies' supporters claim, natural wastage.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Attorney General said that, despite rumours to the contrary, the decision to halt the investigation had nothing to do with supposed threats by the companies to move their business elsewhere in the world and drop biological weapons on most of Britain. The decision was, he said, taken entirely on the sane and rational grounds that further investigation would harm the security of Great Britain and the international community as a whole and make it impossible for him to get a new heart.

A spokesman for the companies involved welcomed the withdrawal of the investigation, saying, "this investigation was never in the interests of the companies, its withdrawal will allow them to get back to carrying out their day-to-day activities of ignoring the rule of law completely and doing what the hell they like".

related news: "Dictator Slays Millions In Last-Minute Push To Be Time's Man Of The Year"
and "'National interest' halts arms corruption inquiry"
and "Congratulations are in order"
At least one of the above stories is true.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Posted @ 22:30Cold Wednesday Reading

Just some observations and referrals for people with minds (the rest can enjoy them, too).

Can Scientists Be Funny?

Apart from simply creating preposterous practical jokes (most practical jokes are not jokes at all but subtle forms of torture, revenge or sadism — often all three — rather like Ricky Gervais), scientists are usually associated with lack of humour. Often bearing the brunt of humour (and condemnation) as "people playing god", they are characterised as serious-minded souls whose idea of a good time is reciting the Periodic Table backwards. Leaving aside Tom Leherer's (a mathematician in "real life") brilliant rendition of the Periodic Table (forwards, unfortunately), do they ever laugh?

Well, of course they do. They enjoy a laugh as much as everyone does except fans of Canon & Ball. For example, you should read "Uncommon Scents" in Scientific American and giggle. I did.

If you don't get some of the references, that's OK. If you get none of them, you are seriously lacking in your education.

Wrong & Right

Staying with science thing (there's not enough proper science about), another article in Scientific American caught my eye — "engaged my interest" would be more anatomically correct but more pompous — in amongst all the other stuff that was damn interesting.

In the all-pervading claptrap that surrounds the so-called debate of Evolution versus Creationism ("Intelligent Design" is just Creationism packaged in a shiny, consumer-friendly wrapper for the chattering classes), "Wronger Than Wrong" manages to shed a scintillating light on the weasel-words that surround the subject; particularly the "Just A Theory" (so-called) argument.

If this posting seems a little more agressive in tone than some of my previous ones, that's because it is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Posted @ 01:00New Song

'before i fell' cover art

I've recorded a new song. I may have mentioned some of the trials and tribulations of the process before. Anyway, the (almost) final result can be heard by clicking on the image to the right.

You can download a copy (and, if so inclined, read the lyrics) if you like and stick it in your computer or MP3-player (of whatever brand). Well, you can if you're using Internet Explorer; the folks at MySpace seem to have an aversion to things working properly with Firefox.

Thanks. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Posted @ 18:00[blank]

Since there have been no suggestions for a title for this post (see "Anniversary 2", below), I have created the picture on the left to summarise all that I'm giving thanks for.

Happy 2nd anniversary to my blog, from me.The song, So Long, which I recorded last year (with Mark W, Helen B & Laura S) is now available on-line again. You can listen to it on the fireball x l flynn MySpace site. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Posted @ 17:00Anniversary 2

This weekend (Sunday, to be precise; you can read my first few posts here) will be the 2nd anniversary of this blog. I admit that it's not been consistent (neither in quality, quantity nor frequency), but I've tried to keep things going and my readers (moderately) entertained (and, I've been heartened and pleased by all the comments (however inane or badly punned, Ian) that I've received). So, to celebrate, I'm asking my readers to set me a challenge.

What I'd like you to do is to give me (via comments to this posting) a title for a post which I'll have to write over the weekend and must post by midnight on Sunday. The title should be a maximum of 13 words (a purely arbitrary number, which I will enforce rigidly unless it amuses me to ignore it), in English and make some sort of sense. I'll view all the entries and select at least one to use (my choice). I'll let the list run up to around 18:00 on Sunday (I won't be too strict on the deadline). That gives you two-and-a-half clear drinking days to think of something really convoluted to perplex me with.

Cheers, and thanks in advance.

It would be nice if you identify yourself when posting a suggestion, but that's not compulsory.
P.S. This year's Darwin Awards are out and the catalogue of human stupidity has been swollen yet again. You can read about it here

This challenge is now closed

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Posted @ 22:00Recording Alone I

WARNING: This post is probably a bit of self-indulgent whining. Sorry.

I'm in the process of recording a new song. It's nearly finished. The trouble is, it's a very lonely and, I sometimes think, self-indulgent process. Compared to doing it in a studio with other musicians and recording people, it smacks a little of masturbation — not that I've anything against masturbation; it is, after all, as Woody Allen once observed, "sex with someone you love". The real trouble is all the fiddling you have to do and all the fiddling you think you ought to do. What I mean is...

You start out with all the best intentions, particularly about not taking forever over what should be a relatively simple task. After all, you read about how, say, The Band had the luxury of spending 2 days in the studio rehearsing and recording The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and you realise that you've taken considerably more than 2 days; fantastically more than 2 days; excessively more than 2 days. That's not luxury, that's indulgence.

And then, by the time you've listened to it 5,000-or-so times, it becomes absolutely impossible to judge how it will sound to someone listening to it for the first time. Will it sound like someone massaging their own ego (another, appropriate, euphemism for masturbation)? Will it sound like just another lame rant of angst? Is the tune as good as you think? Will anyone spot the slightly dodgy attack on the bass string in the last chorus? Why does my voice always sound like I've got a cold? Have I still got a cold? Why don't I just go out for a beer instead? Why did I go out for a beer instead? Should I talk about it and bore the pants off people? Why did I talk about it and bore the pants off people? Am I boring the pants off people now?

All of which will, I hope, not come as a surprise to any of my loyal readers who've attempted such projects. But it still doesn't answer any of the questions.

Of course there's still the problem of the neighbours hearing you sing — apparently unaccompanied — the second verse 47 times with liberal, loud and frequent swearings after every faux pas and mumbled enunciation. I'm glad I haven't got neighbours who do it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Posted @ 22:01What is sleep?

Those readers who are — together with Flann O'Brien and myself — students of the great De Selby, will be aware of his definition of sleep as a fainting fit brought about by the black air which accumulates in the atmosphere throughout the day (and which, naturally, causes us to perceive that illusory condition known to poets, scientists and other misguided persons, as "night"). It has also been intimated to me, by certain female-type persons, that sleep is what men do after sex instead of talking. However, there must be more to it than that.

Sleep happens almost without thinking except when you think about it. I have been told that tiredness brings about sleep, but I can think of many occasions — last night springs to mind — when tiredness existed but sleep did not. The proximate cause of this most recent fleeing of the condition of sleepiness was that I had realised the long gap since my last post to this blog and was attempting to compose, in my head, an extremely amusing piece about people in a pub on Friday night. Sleep singularly failed to arrive when tiredness gripped my body and I spent almost the entire night awake. (The amusing piece about people in a pub on Friday night was rendered unamusing — and non-existent — by the stunning realisation that I could remember nothing of the amusing anecdotes and witticisms that were exchanged nor a single detail of the cross-dressing bondage incident with the lemming and the banana: maybe the consumption of alcoholic beverages had something to do with this strange amnesia.)

Quite the opposite occurs when I am wide-awake but want to watch, say, Torchwood on TV, I fall asleep (despite the good bits in between the excellent bits). I can also successfully fall asleep during boring TV programmes and films (Natural Born Killers is one of my favourite sophoriphics). But that doesn't count. What stuns me (but not enough to send me to sleep just now; even though I'm tired) is that interesting, amusing or entertaining stuff can send me to sleep without me contributing any personal effort whatsoever.

I have, over the years, thought of asking my doctor about this to see if it's very common. Perhaps a really interesting article could be written for New Scientist or something. Maybe it would be interesting enough to send me to sleep.