Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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An Old Firm Match
So, I thought to myself, why rant here for nothing when I could be ranting in a national newspaper for money? Thus was born this contribution to the debate over the current constitutional crisis, in which I propose moving the capital of the UK from London to Glasgow in the event of a No vote in September.

Unfortunately, it was published on the Guardian site just as I was leaving to catch a coach to (ironically) London, where I spent yesterday evening at a fabulous concert given by my brother and the folksinger Chris Wood. It was a great evening, but one devoid of internet (bar 15 minutes at a cafe) so I wasn't able to keep up with the comments, of which there are now around 500. They divide between those that think I'm being serious (which I am) and those that think I'm joking (which I also am) - so, just what I would have hoped for, really. One thing that did surprise me was that some commenters appear to believe that the English don't habitually conflate the UK and England. I was glad to have it Engsplained that the innumerable occasions on which I'd observed this happening were all in my imagination, and if I were on Twitter I might be considering a #notallsassenachs tag.

They divide between those that think I'm being serious (which I am) and those that think I'm joking (which I also am) - so, just what I would have hoped for, really.

Congratulations!

The first comment thread I can read appears to be arguing that Parliament should move from city to city every five years after the fashion of medieval courts, so it's nice to know that Diana Wynne Jones accurately predicted the face of modern British politics.

a fabulous concert given by my brother and the folksinger Chris Wood.

That does sound wonderful. Are there going to be recordings?

I'm told there will be. When I know more, I'll post it.

There was a time when a lot of Scots conflated them too. RLS thought and wrote of himself as English. So did Conan Doyle.

!!! Should I know who your brother is ??? Because Chris Wood, I do know.

SOME English people do conflate - others don't. I suspect those that don't have Scots, Irish or Welsh roots. But everybody outside these islands does it pretty much all the time - even the occasional ambassador interviewed on Radio 4.

I like your hashtag idea and also the word Engsplain.

!!! Should I know who your brother is ???

Probably not - at least, in the sense that he's not really a folkie at all, but a modern classical composer. But he's all about the genre fusion, and he's worked with Chris Wood a few times (in this John Clare setting for example he wrote and is playing the piano accompaniment). This was their biggest collaboration by far, though - a half-hour piece for piano, violin (or fiddle, if you prefer), double bass, sax and flute that acted as a setting (this time more in the jeweller's sense) for four new songs by CW, which were interspersed through it - with Wood on electric guitar. It was fab.

...so it's nice to know that Diana Wynne Jones accurately predicted the face of modern British politics.

I love that book, and thought of it at once--but didn't Blest have an English King and a Scottish King, rather tensely at odds? And Gwyn ap Nudd? A suitable Merlin would be rather swell.

Wait, your brother plays with Chris Wood?

Nine

Wait, your brother plays with Chris Wood?

He has done - as here, where he is responsible for the piano part. Over the last few years he (my brother) has been increasingly involved in a band called Club Inegales, which fuses jazz improvisation, classical stuff, etc. They've worked with quite a few people in different media (a cartoonist a couple weeks ago, Will Self reading Kafka, several poets). Chris Wood's also been a guest - but this was a far more ambitious work - half an hour of music written for the house band and made to set off four new songs by CW, which were dispersed through it. One of them - "All the Noise is Coming from the Shallow End" - will I think be a classic: look out for it.

I had a pint with the two of them earlier, and we talked quite a bit about your friend Mr Carthy, whom CW regards as a mentor. A lovely evening.

I'm just trying to imagine how the attempt to get an offbeat op-ed in a national paper in the US would go. The mind boggles. Our national papers (NY Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal) are filled with decrepit old columnists long past their sell-by dates that only make one wonder why they still have national forums. Guest columns are rare and often stuffy. Regional papers, of which we have a lot of greater local importance, are not always much better. For decent commentary here, I turn to the blogs.

I'd actually heard of your brother, and even attended a concert with his music, before I connected with you online.

Comment is Free publishes columns more or less every hour, and anyone is free to pitch, so it's more like getting a superboosted blog spot than a traditional column. (But it's better than a blog spot, because they pay £90 a pop.)

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