Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jehovah's Witnesses & Dandies

A couple of well-meaning Jehovah's Witnesses (are there any other kind?) rang our doorbell the other week. I was sorely tempted to invite them in for a free stress test, but instead smiled broadly and said, "No thank you, I'm Catholic," hoping that would scare them off. They looked a bit defeated, but took it on the chin and left saying, "Well, we're happy to hear that god is a part of your household," before heading on to our neighbours.

Our neighbours are Russian, as is their housekeeper, who as it happens, doesn't speak a word of English. As a result she invites pretty much anyone into their entrance hall before wandering off to find her employers. I'd be very interested to know what transpired when our highly coiffed, if somewhat frightening, neighbour descended her staircase to find those two modest ladies in her house brandishing the written word.

Sebastian Horsley's long-awaited book,
Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorized Autobiography, is now available in paperback. He's a regular character at the poetry evenings I attend at Home House, and is known for his penchant for drugs and prostitutes, and writing about it in expletive-filled articles in the Erotic Review. Or at least he used to write for the Erotic Review before being fired, and writing an equally expletive filled, violent, and shocking piece about his feelings for the editor. Which, to her credit, she apparently published.

Sebastian was recently denied entry into the USA, to attend his book tour over there, on the grounds of moral turpitude. Seriously, he was held at the airport in New York, questioned, and then turned back. I believe the last person this happened to upon entry to the USA was John Lennon. So at least Sebastian stands in good company. Here's a video of him being interviewed by a Canadian radio station following the USA airport debacle.

He's a bit of a puzzle. The first time I heard him read I disliked him. He has a strange, slightly nasal, bored way of speaking, with a distinct public school varnish. He read his work as though he were bored with it, and with us the listeners, and it was full of the f word (you've heard the one about the use of profanity revealing a lack of imagination and poor vocabulary?), and what I perceived as a violent sexual attitude towards women. He also struck me as terribly pretentious - a fake sort of person who affects a controversial personality to disguise just how shallow they really are.

The only redeeming quality to him was that when you took away the expletives, and that annoying reading voice, and listened, well, his writing was actually very good. Literary poetry and brilliant word play, but at the same time direct, fast paced, and gritty. I wanted to hear more, which is why when I got home that evening I went onto Amazon to buy his book, only to discover that it had not yet been published.

On another occasion I decided to brave the man in person. I say brave because someone who is so depraved, or at least says he is, can be kind of daunting. In person he was actually delightfully polite in an old school sort of way, a bit shy and self deprecating, and interested in what I had to say. I mention the latter because a truly shallow vessel seldom gives a shit about what you think, and has a way of droning on about themselves which becomes tiresome very quickly. He, on the other hand, struck me as an intelligent person, and there's clearly a lot of creative substance to back up the bullshit. I imagine some of the front is very much a front, but beneath all the ponce and pomp, he is indeed an interesting and complex man, and more so, a talented writer. His book, which I am reading now, is very very good actually. Extremely well written and a compulsive read. There are some good reviews here (scroll down).

Photo of Sebastian Horsley by Rob Greig via timeout

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