March 2012

Just posted to TBM: breaking news of startling, phartling discovery.

This week on Trapped By Monsters – now, apparently, one of Tesco Magazine’s Top 10 Kids’ Book Blogs – your fearless correspondent uncovers an elaborate hoax on humans by Tokyo’s monster population.

Vernal Equinox Day in Shinjuku Gyoen:

A perfect time and place, it seems, for brisk, coat-clad picnics near the early blossom…

…photographing trees…

…and trying to look like you’ve grown horns.

Whenever I die, it will be as a happier (if deafer) man than twenty-four hours ago…

…because I have seen Guitar Wolf live.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my head feels like a bomb exploded in it: I’m going to lie down for a while. ;D

It’s been a fine first week back here in Tokyo. My adventures so far have included a first encounter with kabuki at The National Theatre of Japan, catching a bit of last weekend’s Peace on Earth tsunami memorial festival in Hibiya Park

…and meeting these dudes:

But mostly, as on my previous visit, my life here looks like this:

I’m now over forty thousand words into the first draft of my latest book. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, right now I seem to get a lot more writing done here in Tokyo than I have been doing lately at home in London. That’s good, because this is going to be a big story, there’s a lot of work to do – and best of all, I’m enjoying it.

Life is good and I am very lucky. HEE HEE HEE HEE!

Truly we live in a Sci-Fi age. I’m surprised by how good this Vox mini preamp sounds through headphones – but I’m astonished and delighted by the satisfyingly nasty racket I can make with it through portable speakers!

This afternoon I’m going back to Japan. And this time I’m taking an electric guitar. πŸ˜€

Meanwhile, this week on TBM a T-Rex nails the central challenge in writing thrilling fiction.

This week on Trapped By Monsters I recommend Embassytown by China Mieville.

On Tuesday I was invited to a very special occasion, namely the official opening of the all-new Dalston C.L.R. James Library in my home borough of Hackney, London.

It was a packed and glittering affair.

A big crowd had turned out to celebrate, for two reasons. First, because the library is a wonderful, beautifully-designed building providing facilities including public computers, meeting rooms, study areas and community-accessible archives (the latter with space for a projected twenty-five years’ worth of expansion!) Second, because this library was opening when so many all over the rest of the UK are being forced to close.

Hackney Council deserves a lot of credit for Dalston C.L.R. James Library – and a lot of other local authorities deserve blame for the closures. But today, World Book Day 2012, the biggest burden of guilt for the sorry state of so much of the rest of the country’s public library services should be laid on the shoulders of the UK’s current government.

Libraries are centres for knowledge, thought and self-development. If this country is ever going to recover economically – into something other than just a City of London-dominated, tax-dodger-friendly clearing-house for shady deals by the world’s super-rich – then we need libraries. Public libraries are as important as schools: perhaps, given their power to help whole populations and not “just” school-age people and their carers, they’re even more important. The people of Hackney know this, as is obvious from Dalston C.L.R. James’ massive popularity since it opened its doors, even before it was opened officially.

Now: will the politicians of our Parliament be able to overcome their shortsighted, nest-feathering, bickering, self-aggrandizing ways enough to recognise the importance of public libraries too, and act accordingly? Or will the so-called ‘Culture Secretary’ and his ilk continue to stand by making excuses and blaming others while so many of these vital facilities all over the UK are being forced to close their doors?

From the library opening party I headed straight off to see this:

The Fantasist tackles its subject – mental illness – with music, puppetry and physical theatre, plus great writing, enormous imagination, sensitivity and style. It’s at Blue Elephant Theatre until March 17th. It’s touching, funny and terrifying and it’s the best thing on stage in London right now. Do yourself a favour and catch it if you can.