Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I'm FREE!!!!!

Yay to Paul for providing the lyrics to the song which has been running through my head for the last two days -- the "I'm FREE!!!!" song from TOMMY. You know, the one with Roger Daltrey running barefoot on the spot with the sea green-screened in behind him and almost as much silly hand-flappy action as Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner (though nobody else could be quite that hand-flappy, I'm sure). Anyhoo, yes, this is the music that's been running through my head since leaving work on Thursday, going to the pub in Paisley with mates from the job, drinking heavily to celebrate me leaving, getting train home to Glasgow, and arriving home to find an answerphone message about more pubbing. So, of course, I headed straight back out, arriving at Stravaigin somewhat squiffy. Managed to soak up a little of the alcohol with the huge chunks of potato that are Stravaigin's chips, only to swamp the chips in more alcohol. This of course means that I began my first day as a professional "man of letters"* with a hangover, firmly establishing how I mean to go on.

Cool thing was, as I groaned and muttered to myself, trying to work up the willpower to drag my scrawny arse out of bed and down to the cornershop for a bottle of Irn Bru and a packet of Anadin Extra, I heard the unmistakeable thunk of a book-heavy item of mail -- not the US Vellum, of course, but A Pour of Rain, the book I ordered from Amazon ages ago as research material for the historical section of my Gilgamesh retelling. Hoorah! And what came through the post along with it was me first royalties statement. (Not that there was a check or anything, mind; got to pay off that advance first. But still...) It all seemed rather like a sign from the Powers That Be, you know, a perfectly-timed message of symbolic support. Synchronicity or what?

I even managed to get some work done, to be all disciplined and writery, like, if only for a few hours before heading into town to hook up with a mate from work for a few glasses of the vino tinto before my official leaving do in the trendy tapas place, Cafe Andaluz. Bumped into Mags and Claire there, which was cool as that meant someone to stand outside and smoke with. Ended up the evening with a few of us heading off to National Pop League, the monthly indie night at the Woodside Social Club. I was sure Mags and Claire were going to meet us there but given my level of drunkenness by that point clearly I got me wires crossed. Hmmm. I may have to apologise for any rudeness of text messages sent to enquire as to their whereabouts.

Anyhoo... so, yes, it's official. As The Who put it so well: I'm FREE!!!!!

*Though I don't know which letters yet... I mean, I don't even know who's in charge of allocating them... though I'm hoping to get "Z", because "Z" is a way cool letter, not like "Q" which is just an embarassment.


Blogger Paul F Cockburn said...

Z? Surely you jest, Sir! Z's a dull, boring, word - zzz! If it hadn't been for a few stray Greek words making their way into common Roman usage, "zeta" would've been dropped from the Latin alphabet altogether! (That's why it's stuck on at the end, after all!)

Q: now, there's a fine, questioning letter with a history going back to the Phonenician for "monkey" - "ooph" or "gogh" I believe - and it's still doing sterling work (its tail gently cradling the oh-so-vulnerable "u" that generally follows it) when representing a voiceless labiovelar stop in modern English. Not only that, but graphically speaking, it's given typographers plenty of fun over the years!

Can this intolerable bigotry be based on the letter's innocent linkage with some old computing language that people stopped developing in the Nineties? Or is it down to its highjacking by an increasingly annoying guest character in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (and "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager", but thankfully not "Enterprise")?

I'm more of an "F" man myself... ;-)

Least that probably started out as an Egyptian hieroglyphic snake!

7:20 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

What's with this outrageous "Z-ism"? Poor old "Z" gets usurped constantly by that slatternly "S" in such words as "is" or "was" (or "as" for that matter!), where the sound is clearly voiced as opposed to voiceless. "S" has no business being in those words. "S" is just being greedy. And as if that's not enough, now you characterise "Z" as some sort of Johnny-come-lately hanger-on who doesn't really belong in the alphabet at all! "Z", that voiced alveolar fricative has his place in the alphabet... if we'd only let him fulfil it. But, oh no! What do we do? We give all the common everyday words to "S" and leave "Z" with words like "zephyr" and "zither" and "zepellin" so everyone will think he's a weirdo. It's prejudice, I say, outright prejudice. And, hey, if it's tails we're talking about, what about his poor wee Scottish cousin, the yogh, who's been ousted entirely, leaving "Z" to valiantly fight his corner in such names as "Menzies" -- much to everyone's confusion. Mark my words; it won't be long before that's spelled "Mensies" and nobody knows why it's pronounced "mingis". Or are you going to argue the nationalist case of British English "standardisation" versus American English "standardization" (or whatever), which is clearly the sort of reactionary linguistic insularity that belongs in France, goddamnit. Queen's English, my arse; the language belongs to the unruly mob.

And as for "Q"? A patently superfluous letter who has "U" tag along behind him just to distract us from his utter pointlessness. Oh, there might be some small distinction between "Q" and "K" in Afro-Asiatic languages of the past and present, but in English? No, "Q" and his cohort "U" are just nicking the space which rightfully belongs to "K" and "W". "Q" is just a flouncy arabesque of a letter, fat and pompous with a swishy tail -- a pampered, over-fed, Persian cat of a letter -- who's given preferential treatment over gruff and guttural good old "K" just because he looks more "important". A baroque queen of airs and graces quite incommensurate with his utility. Feh. A pox on the affectations of "Q"!

I would agree, however, that "F" is a fine letter indeed. I'll give you that. Fuck yeah.

11:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh, the sweet irony of a lad of the Isles defending the letter "z," as if the whole bloody lot of ya didn't need us colonials (as in products of coloniZation) to point the way. As one who loves to editorialize, criticize and even ostracize upon occasion, I cannot let this pass. (From someone who's a fond abuser of the french effete em-dash dialog indicator, no less. Why, if I were a Scot, i'd be ashamed of yer need to bahstahdize the native tongue with all dem furren words and affectations.)


7:06 pm  
Blogger Paul F Cockburn said...

You have a point there about the use of "S" in place of "Z"... Maybe it's partly just down to the aesthetics of imperialism. The earliest Roman form of "S" was quite angular; almost a reverse image of "Z", in fact, which those the Romans made their own by softening it into the smooth curves we know today, with the original Greek "Z" remaining angular and therefore ill-used.

Would that also be why we still have curvy "Q" in such use when the rather brutal looking "K" and "W" would do? Call me shallow, but I'd rather look at a "Queen" on the page than a "Kween"

Dear God... we're arguing about letters...

7:09 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Minz: Oh, how tempting it is to make some comment about "talking mince", a common Scottish idiom which seems so... relevant...


Paul: "K" does indeed have a certain brusque and sharp-edged savagery to it, but I find that no-nonsense simplicity refreshing in its lack of pomp.

12:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog. I will keep reading. Please take the time to visit my blog about Free Guitar Lesson

5:40 am  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home