Monthly Archives: June 2010

But I can’t help it…

But it's not just me. People you've heard of also like it.

My greatest, most heinous crime, according to Word’s spellchecker, is starting sentences with the word “but”.

I’ve been proof reading the latest draft (Final draft? Ha ha ha. Hysterical laughter. Who knows. Could Be.) of my novel Blackwatertown. The spell checker does not like my colloquialisms, Ulster dialect vocabulary or my “ands”. We argue most frequently over my tendency to start sentences with “but”. The thing is, sometimes “however” just doesn’t cut it.

Doesn’t – that’s (or should I say, that is) another thing it hates. Abbreviations. To which I answer: Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

What does “but” signify? Excitement, surprise, radical change, a hairpin bend, a switchback, a light step, confusion, uncertainty, drama.

“However”, m’lud,  speaks of the stilted stentorian speechifying of the courtroom. It’s – sorry – it is studied, predictable, predicted, slow-moving, ponderous.

Moe: Hello, Moe’s Travern- birthplace of the Rob Roy.
Bart: Is Seymour there? Last name, Butts.
Moe: Just a sec. (calling out) Hey, is there a Butts here? Seymour Butts? Hey, everybody, I wanna Seymour Butts.
Moe (catching on): Hey, wait a minute. Listen, you little scum-sucking pus-bucket. When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna pull out your eyeballs with a corkscrew.

Anyway, by rights of cultural heritage, I should be ending sentences with but. You know what I mean like but? How would you like that spellchecker?

In Belfast, the word “but” has extra-dictionary duties. It’s standard punctuation to mark the end of a phrase or sentence. It conveys the added message that whatever fact has been conveyed, we all know how little reliance can be placed on official truth. Boiled down to its simplest, you have the phrases “Yes but” and “No but”. It becomes unconscious after a while.

So houl’ yer whisht spellchecker, and let me get on with it.

(Whew. That was difficult. See what I did there? I didn’t start any sentence with “but”. But I’m exhausted now. Know what I mean like but?)

28 Comments

Filed under My Writing

Second Act Drama

Ivor Jefferson, drama teacher Wandsworth Prison.

I went out looking for drama, and watched a woman’s life hang in the balance just inches from my face. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under art, life

Just finish the damn book… OK, OK, I’ve written it.

Finnish. (Bear with me, my proofreading is slow.)

Blackwatertown the book and Blackwatertown the blog have both come good this week.

A while ago Kerry View told me to hurry up and “finish the damn book. I promised to get it!”

Just the other day  Tony Schaab asked, “Is your novel completely written?”

The answer is – Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under blogs, My Writing

That gorilla has stolen my coat hanger…

David Mach's Silver Streak (coat hangers)

It’s step back, jaw-droppingly, massively impressive. It makes your twisty metal art mobiles and car aerial replacements seem, frankly, pathetic. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under art

Will he hurt us?

In need of a happiness boost? Is life’s hourglass aggravating you? Don’t call computer/life support – they’ll only tell you to switch it off and on again. Three happy things await below the hourglass. As usual the joke is at the bottom…


Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under life, Music

An old Sikh joke…

For most of us religion begins not as a matter of belief, but from the accident of birth and subsequent upbringing. Some make positive decisions to be born again, or to convert. Others drift off to something vaguer or all the way to none-of-the-above.

If I could choose, starting from scratch, all cultural and racial baggage to one side, the Sikhs might be the boys for me. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Influences, life