Tonguing Meaning 6: Mark E. Smith

Mark E. Smith: «Puerile Slurred-word Rigmarole» [.zip]

Here's one for all you aspiring authors out there…

As indicated by the recent lack of writerly activity on this here blog, Toilet Guppies has been grappling and wrestling with the written word, always losing. It simply won't do to keep penning the same old improvised blog fluff, rambling and inconsequential, so I turned to the Fall's Mark E. Smith and his «Guide to Writing Guide»:
  • Day 1: Hang around house all day, writing bits of useless information on bits of paper.
  • Day 2: Decide lack of inspiration due to too much isolation and non-fraternisation—go to pub! Have drinks.
  • Day 3: Get up and go to pub. Hold on in there as style is on its way. Through sheer boredom and drunkenness, talk to people in pub.
  • Day 4: By now, people in the pub should be continually getting on your nerves. Write things about them on backs of beermats.
  • Day 5: Go to pub. This is where true penmanship stamina comes into its own, as by now guilt, drunkenness, the people in the pub and the fact you're one of them should combine to enable you to write out of sheer vexation… to write out of sheer vexation.
  • Day 6: If possible, stay home. And write. If not, go to pub.
This really rather splendid advice was recorded for radio in 1983, when Smith's words were still somewhat intelligible—before his meth jaw had turned the inside of his mouth into a chewed-up pulp out of which slurred half-syllables of beer-slobber drop limply onto the floor, the meaning of his speech conveyed not by words but by its constantly sarcastic tone of voice. (Quite clever, really; who can tell whether you can still write, let alone review your stuff, if they can't understand a word of what you're saying?)

So if you, like Toilet Guppies, were disappointed by this year's dismal Fall album—which sounds as if it were backed by a band of random pub yobs playing amateur covers of '90s Rollins Band funk metal jams—have a listen to Mark E. Smith's hilarious but actually quite sensible guide to writing, as well as his ruminations on some of current civilisation's most exciting cities («Amsterdam», «London»), recitation of seemingly random newspaper clippings and, from sometime much later than 1983, a mysterious and eloquently scathing attack on artists who do what Smith himself is doing these days («I'm Bobby»):
Get ahead with your puerile, slurred-word rigmarole and put it out. On the lids, it's down, congealed both the rest of your post-nearly, half-realised, bird-like thoughts clogging the solo '70s or new intellectual skinhead morass!
Whether hilarious self-loathing, a parody of a critic or a cutting down to size of some imitator who remains anonymous (except that he's called Bobby-something), it takes one to know one and it's a fair cop—and a masterly written one, at that…

So, enjoy:
  1. Mark E. Smith's Guide to Writing Guide
  2. London
  3. Manchester
  4. «The rouge smeared on the aged profile of the local THF Cologne branch chairman»
  5. Village Bug
  6. Amsterdam
  7. «A piece I found in an international newspaper on the floor»
  8. I'm Bobby

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