"I've started worrying about vibes. I've been caught out by an idea I thought I was too rational to have. People hate bad vibes and I'm worried I'm infected. I used to use the word vibe ironically, but now I just use it.

"I touch wood. I first did it I thought about my parents dying. Which sounds weird, but they will, eventually, but probably not now. I just hadn't thought about it before, and when I did, it was such a horrible thought that I touched wood, just for something to make me feel like I had some sort of control. Even writing it has made me touch wood (n.b. it doesn't have to be wood, can just be anything solid touching the ground). It was a Pascal's wager of superstition, i.e. may as well, what's the harm? etc. But now I need it. I get panicky. I'm touching it for everything now. All the vibes.

"Why do you think I'm writing this? To dispel them. The vibes. I feel like I am a totem for badness, and that's no good. I have things to do, people to meet, impressions to create. People smell bad vibe a mile off. they see it coming. Wavy lines coming off the person like heat. But it isn't heat. It's vibe. Bad vibe.

"I think it's worked. I feel better. Only time will tell. Tomorrow is another day. Another day for vibe to decide how it will play me. Stay positive. Positive thoughts = positive vibe."


Minnesota Declaration

Truth and fact in documentary cinema


1. By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.

2. One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. "For me," he says, "there should be only one single law: the bad guys should go to jail." Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.

3. Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.

 4. Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.

5. There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.

6. Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures amid ancient ruins of facts.

7. Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.

8. Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, the former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: "You can´t legislate stupidity."

9. The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.

10. The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn´t call, doesn´t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don´t you listen to the Song of Life.

11. We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.

12. Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species - including man - crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota April 30, 1999 Werner Herzog

[Taken from]


I've been having strange dreams. Here are three dreams I have had:

  1.  I am the 'King of Slow Jams' i.e. I am the best person at writing and recording 'Slow Jam' R&B songs. Detail - the radio presenter talking about me says that I have brought my 'unique British style' to this most American of genres.
  2. I am a 'young British Asian male' who has a 'passion for acting'. I have to 'choose between acting and [unspecified thing which signals commitment to politicised Islam]'. I do not inhabit the body of the 'young British Asian male' during this dream. The action in the dream doesn't happen as such, more, it just is a single momentary state. I 'choose acting', which in the dream is the 'right things to do'. Seems like my sub-conscious is a neo-liberal racist, i.e. it hopes people 'choose' culture/lifestyle (which it sees as progressive and positive) over religion/politics/historic association (which it sees as regressive/negative).
  3. I am standing in New Cross, with my head tipped to the side. Hot earwax is pouring out of my right ear. Molten yellow slime, giving way to more solid chunks which splatter and start to solidify as they hit the ground, in the manner of candle wax. There are passers by, but they 'don't care'. Within the dream context I am most dismayed by the attitude of the residents of New Cross, their 'lack of pride' in their streets - all this while I am jettisoning what by now must be litres of wax on 'their' pavements.

The Black Circle

A pub in the hinterland between Beckton and Upney - The Black Circle. Saw this poster in the window.







Liverpool Street

I was having blood taken and I passed out. I normally do this thing where I tell the doctor or nurse that I once passed out when I was having my blood taken but that if I tell them then it is fine and I won't pass out. This time it didn't work and I slumped forward in my chair, dropped my phone and the doctor had to catch me. Apparently I was out for about ten seconds, shaking and groaning. When I woke up from what felt like the eternal repetition of hell I could hear myself growling, intoning, 'fuck, fuck fuck'. My contact lenses had come out and my eyes had rolled back in my head. I was shivering and sweating and couldn't see.

I don't remember what happened but I must have sorted myself out and left because when I started thinking straight again I was staring intently at people out of the window at MacDonald's in Liverpool Street station. These notes were on my phone, which was in my hand.


Male intern with man tits (long sleeve shirt under short sleeve shirt) 'sent out' for coffees (5) on cardboard tray from MacDonald's.

'Chunky' but pretty girl in 'well tailored' coat, waiting with headphones.

Bored/anxious looking 'mum' with school group on kids' 'first trip' to London.

Builders drinking fizzy drinks and smoking, leaning on a 'find the Fabergé egg' podium (w/ huge golden egg mounted upon it).

Thin, smoking, coffee drinking girl self-consciously meets 'bigger' friend/colleague.

Essex male looks self-conscious about amount of gel in hair, 'even on this side of town'. Curses 'pretentious wankers' who make him feel self conscious when ever he leaves Essex.

Big middle aged woman walks towards MacDonald's. It 'is hard to not go there everyday'.

Northern man with wheelie bag tries to take a 'quick picture' of 'The Gherkin'.

Older, cultural woman walks quickly and texts. She 'comes to London all the time'.

Black Totem

'All the skin is falling off my lips, I have deep wounds in my back and arms.'


I've been walking with artist Laura Oldfield Ford. She knows the city in ways that I don't. We decided to walk along the river, and down to Deptford, where she will be making work in the summer.

We walked towards the river from Whitechapel and Laura told me about a boy she knew who was being sentenced for getting involved in the riots. Four years for burglary, for wandering into a booted out shop. He wore a hood, but his shoes gave him away on the cctv - purple brogues.


After Tower Bridge we turned east, into the reconfigured landscape of mid-height residential blocks. Waterside hutches with port-hole windows. Everywhere we walked we saw these banners.


The font on the banners faked an analogue look, fuzzy at the edges like an under-inked screenprint. 80s activist font. Stolen aesthetics for nimbys.

The Super Sewer they refer to is to supplement the ageing Victorian system of the northern and southern outfall sewers, designed by Joseph Bazalgette. At the moment, whenever there is a high volume of rainfall, raw sewage is forced back up out of the sewers, and into the Thames. Untreated effluent, bobbing in the water. Downriver from these flats, of course, but not too far.

The choice is between a forever polluted Thames, or several years of discomfort for those living along the proposed route of the Super Sewer - 24 hour drilling, dust clouds, a year round stench. Of course, you'd have to wonder why a council allowed new housing to be built alongside the proposed route for the Super Sewer in the first place. The solution to a housing crisis; an infrastructure crisis.


We stopped by an empty square, one of those regulated public places, in between two blocks of luxury flats. There was a huge concrete obelisk in the middle of the square, covered in black paint. It looked like someone had thrown a few big pots of emulsion at it, coated it from top to bottom. As we approached, we could see that the paint was still wet. A violent, basic attempt at graffiti. A black totem.

While we were marvelling at the sight of the defaced obelisk, a tradesman approached us, heading towards the block of flats on our right. "Nice day to look at the river. Go and look at the river." We turned and smiled but recognised the tone. We moved on.


Further down the Thames path, still inside the developed area, but with patches of fenced off rubble and bare land starting to encroach upon the regeneration, we found this black circle.

The same person who covered the obelisk? The paint was dry and it looked older. A budget magic circle.

And then this shelter.

A place for public drinking. Near the water, sheltered but visible. A dome under which to perform for passing crowds. This was a place for real ritual to occur.

As I was taking this photo, a helicopter came up the river, and then stopped in front of us, hovering low above the water. We played out an absurd staring contest with the muzzle of the machine, and then we turned and walked away, heard it lift up from the water and head towards the city.


Finally we crossed the line, no more regeneration. Raw streets. Track marks of tarmac along the road where cables had been laid, pipes fixed. But no attempt at coverage. No cosmetic overlay.

We found a boarded up estate pub covered with nationalist graffiti.

And next to it, a rusting crane, from when these were working docks.

Like the body of a giant, propped up on concrete stilts. Covered in pigeon bafflers and bird shit. Rusting. A spider hulk.

Everything was out of date here, even the heritage.


We got into a tower block and went up to the 24th floor, looked south from the fire escape. Picked out blocks of uni-coloured homogeneous new builds and a KFC that looked like a self-storage playschool.

Then we went back downstairs and found a pub.


Deal or No Deal was on the telly.

A game with rules so meaningless that it doesn't actually need to be played. The results could be read out, it would save everyone the trouble of having to watch it. But gaming theories abound. Noel's "cosmic ordering" within such an environment is a beautiful synecdoche of human reasoning - nonsense versus chaos.

There are tales of the superstitious contestants not changing their clothes for weeks while they stay at the production warehouse waiting for their chance to play, or cadres forming - with 'bad energy' contestants being shunned by the group. There were even rumours of a ritual sacrifice, but they were quickly buried by Endemol with court orders and lawyer's letters. But, still, those contestants implicated were cut from the final edits of the season, costing the company hundreds of thousands of pounds for re-filming missing episodes. Even the people who made Big Brother weren't going to stand for black magic vibes rubbing off on the positive energies of Noel and his followers.

We spoke about how Deal (she calls it this, just the one word, no need for further expansion) is the perfect program to be on the telly in day-pubs. They should market it as an entire channel for commercial Sky subscriptions, edit it seamlessly - no ad breaks, and no end, just the constant expression of meaningless theories about how to win the game, whilst the real game carries on outside, beyond the walls of the studio/pub. A perfect analogy to day drinking. Wistful and hopeful, bathed in impotence. With success and failure defined by the context, which in reality means just gradations of the same feeling. Aimlessness pared down to a room with no clock faces, and the possibility of salvation offered up but never received.


Once we got into Deptford proper, Laura told me about a Vietnamese restaurant she had been to the week before. She had gone to the bathroom, and as she walked down the stairs, she was met with a thick fug of tobacco smoke, and the anachronistic sound of MTV from the early 90s. Songs you wouldn't hear now outside of local radio. A group of Vietnamese men were slouched on sofas, fucked, wailing at the music that blared from multiple flat screen TVs hanging off the walls. Not singing, but crying out at the melodies. Flat eyes and gumpted mouths yelling hoarse.


We had a drink at an estate pub. No punters, just two Mums and their kids running the place, watching Sky News with the volume right up. I tried to get a pint, but the Mum that poured it made uncertain noises about the possibility of draught lager, and when she pulled the tap, the beer came out soft and milky, like calcium sick. It was yellow and white like an infected eye. She offered it to me, unsure as to whether this was what I wanted, and I said maybe I would have a bottle of Becks.

I went to the toilet

Ad hoc porthole windows where ventilation fans had been knocked out by forward thinking punters. DIY regeneration.


We wandered around the Peckham arcade, and then headed back towards town. I kept talking about the black totem that we had seen earlier. We spoke of tagging as instinctive street behaviour, or OCD nihilism - like tamed dogs pissing. The only possible tattoo would be inking in a section of your body black. Imageless image. Maybe this was the final stage of graffiti - just painting things out to remove them from the visual landscape.

We were walking a slightly different route, but we ended up back on the river, almost at the obelisk. It was starting to get dark, but across the water we could see a bare patch of grass, a green mound amongst the development, and on the mound we could see a wooden cross. Painted black.