Ep. 41: Ali J. Prince — Scry Me A River

Ridiculously long and enjoyable interview with Ali J. Prince

53 min readFeb 3, 2021
Ali J. Prince “Alimentary My Dearest Canal”

Sorry for the delay, dearly beloved. I had to get through this thing called life! Some raucous rapscallions were knocking on heaven’s door asking for a Q & A from last week’s pod which we recorded in the back of an abandoned record shop in Battersea. Luckily for us all, an angel named Ayesha has made this happen.

I’ve always found something spectral about Battersea. The settlement is in the Domesday book of 1086 as Patricesy (middle English) The brick work in much of the area is so old, if it weren’t for the vape shops and LED full colour digital billboards, it could almost be Blake’s London. It’s also within the neighborhood of Ali J Prince as well as within the opening titles of her favorite film — Alan Parker’s nineteen-seventy-one cult evocation, Melody — a wonderfully touching tale about adolescent love, rebellion and the grotesquerie of adults who exist in a perpetual state of perplexing misery.

There has, for a while now, been a rather pervasive and perhaps undeserved mystique surrounding Ali, and what little has been written only adds weight to the folklore of a synesthete flower urchin/Ophelia figure, rambling around south London scribbling love letters to dandelions.

I say perhaps undeserved because I find her to be logical, talkative and self-effacing. The only chink in her shining armor is how hard to track down she is. Elusive as a politician’s shame, she tends to disappear for months if not years on end.

Her under the underground following is, these days, made up of a who’s who of horse thieves, pirates and supermarket screechers. The wandering wanderer’s weirdo’s weirdos. I’m slightly nervous, as the last time we interviewed her, I described the experience thus:

“ Enchantingly curious and unassumingly charming, you nonetheless feel that if you lean to far into the railings of Ali’s psyche, you could tip off the edge of the world, but she makes it look so damn good over there”

I ask her about Chicken Shop Mermaid — a prize winning book which, to the embarrassment of the literary establishment, turned out to be an act of satirical sabotage full of obvious clues about her disdain for the kind of books that keep winning literary contests, Digital Scum — a dystopian tale of neo-Luddite rebellion, and Gristle to the Mill — a complete collection of short stories and drawings.

Despite the generously donated time, we barely touched on her recent resurrection as front-woman for nomadic musical project Psychic Circus, described variously as a work of bewildering covenant, venomous tantrum and the beguiling death throes of serpentine honey! (Calm down, dears!)

I find her outside sharing a bag of crisps with a very loud man and discussing St Martin’s drop-in centre — a place she used to frequent. Her raw-boned limbs are wrapped in threadbare jeans and what looks like a grey school jumper. Her hair is the most insanely enormous cloud of golden-brown frizz. If I didn’t know her, I could have easily been prompted to phone social services mistaking her for a ‘high risk’ truanting teen.

Her website is run by friend and cohort in cahoots, Violet Martinez, who shared the mic for much missed mischief on the Bulgarian Children’s Hospital Tapes. They can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ALIJPRINCE

We discuss how as the post-covid screws tighten and the forth industrial revolution scolds our wincing eyeballs with Tik Tok videos to distract from a digital data nightmare — where every thought is harvested to monitor and sell us back to ourselves — Ali’s shunning of tyrannical technological tethering seems like a good way to go — if somewhat tricky for someone with such an arsenal of originality to share.

I particularly loved this meeting and will do, I’m sure, for years to come. It was the middle of covid lock-down — now, widely questioned by even the most die-hard, rule-following authoritarians — not very surprisingly, Ali was full of questions herself and in the midst of name-calling, hysteria and propaganda, I found her to be clear-headed, considerate and most of all, very, very human.

MK: Thank you for taking some downtime out of your lock-down to be downtown with us! What would you have been doing otherwise?

AJP: I need to make a miniature cockerel but I lost a black feather I had. So I had some free time.

MK: I want to ask . . . and at the same time . . . I want to keep wondering.

You know that I have a reason for requesting your presence.

AJP: Is it because Paul O’Grady was busy?

{Interruption as some teenagers bang on the glass and then want to come in}

MK: As is the case with many lunatics, your base has its fair share of obsessives.

AJP: I think that’s a little harsh, how do you mean? Like Judy Garland or something like that?

MK: Exactly like that. I see you very much as a tragic gay icon.

AJP: Do you think that Joe Biden is the tragic gay icon Melania could’ve been?

MK: Seriously. Do you know why I’ve asked you here today?

AJP: Covid delirium.

MK: Is that a thing?

AJP: Trousers is another. Covid trousers is when you invite me back twice and covert trousers are what nudists wear.

MK: Being run over by a bus and dying of old age, that’s covert Covid. That didn’t take long!

AJP: Long Covid.

MK: Long Covid’s got Short Covid, my Leopard’s got Covid!

AJP: It’s a TV, TV star!

MK: Ah! Yes! You have got the beat, daddio!

AJP: That song was dedicated to disenfranchised pencils.

MK: Well, I hope they appreciate it.

AJP: I don’t too.

MK: It’s a timely testament and a powerful message that will heal the world and lame the sick. Um, you foresaw this lock-down/vaccine/online thing in 2017 and that’s . . . well, it’s not nothing. You wrote this, Neo-Luddite?

AJP: Someone called it that and I thought, that’s okay.

MK: So, you don’t mind Digital Scum being touted as a Neo-Luddite book?

AJP: There’s as much confusion about who Luddites were as there is about technology, in a way.

MK: They weren’t even inherently opposed to machinery, right?

AJP: They weren’t opposed to, or inept at using technology but attacked manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labour practices.

MK: A familiar theme throughout our glorious history! I think more men were deployed to the Midlands and the North than were fighting Napoleon in Spain!

AJP: Disproportionately so. They’d tried to bargain with the factory owners for minimum prices, a textile tax to support workers pensions, but no luck. When they got to their wits end, they started smashing and breaking machines, saying, this is all we got left! We’re going to destroy the means by which you produce this dislocation in our lives!

Luddites were much maligned. Some of them had to dress as women.

MK: “Had to” dress as women. . .

AJP: “The machines made me wear this ravishing cyclamen bonnet!”

MK: You wrote a highly prophetic book. Take the compliment. I keep going back to it because the themes keep becoming more and more relevant. The novel is epic and my favourite of last year.

AJP: I appreciate it very much but I do think any Luddite in a lounge suit could have predicted it.

MK: Shh, you’re ruining my eerie introduction . . . you wrote a story where kids are all given a vaccine after rebelling against online life. Speaking of which, I’ve known you online for a while and in real life a little bit.


MK: Yeah, IRL as the kids say. I feel like someone’s decrepit old granddad

AJP: There’s plenty of erotic granddads

MK: There’s really not.

AJP: Captain Tom? He was a cult leader — that’s what someone said last week. If he hadn’t died, he’d have had us all drinking spiked Ovaltine singing one last God Save The Queen!

MK: [Laughs} That’s the most British image I’ve ever had to entertain and it shall haunt me. I’m trapped within a tea stained prison. I’ve been kettled!

AJP: You’ve got Captain Tom’s Cabin Fever

MK: I’ve forgotten what I was about to say! You’ve off-centred me already!

Um, oh yeah, you have an air of fate about you.

AJP: But, to know that would mean you have an air of fate about you, too wouldn’t it? In fact, even more so you.

MK: You’re going to be the most difficult interview. Something my air of fate should have known.

AJP: It’s good to have fey nights about you, for protection from sprites.

MK: You’ve just cracked a Faberge egg of nostalgia from granddad's amnesiac old brain.

AJP: Playground, wasn’t it. You’d say fey nights and no one could get you. A fairy folklore thing. Lovely, really, that children did that. Or do that.

MK: I can smell the rice pudding. You just took me right back.

AJP: It works too. It’s the only reason I haven’t had Corona Virus. I’ve been saying fey nights all year.

MK: Well quite, précisément. I forgot the intro. Thank you for speaking to us on the Byzantine, Tyneside, Maritime podcast or whatever we’re called now.

AJP: Why do you keep changing the name? You in trouble, Micky? The mob after you, Micky?

MK: I wish it were anything as exciting.

AJP: Are you sure? Maybe Sonny Barger put a hit on you.

MK: Is he still alive?

AJP: Mick Jagger?

MK: Sonny?

AJP: He had an authorised biography didn’t he? They called it Hell’s Angel – after a year of brainstorming they settled on cryptic wordplay.

MK: Well, they didn’t want it to get mixed up with a Nigella Lawson cookbook in the amazon categories. What would you have called it?

AJP: Bad to the Bone, Ride like the Fiend, Satan’s Son

MK: Did he have a hit out on Jagger?

AJP: That’s one of the things I don’t know. One of my mum’s jokes: “Between us, me and my brother know everything, go on, ask me something” *you ask something difficult* “That’s one of the things my brother knows!” That’s the kind of silly humour I grew up around.

My dad’s favorite poem was this thing about two dead men getting up to fight. Do you know it?

MK: I’m sure I would have remembered it.

AJP: I see said the blind man, and got up on no legs and walked away.

He’d say things like that to me all the time, when I was three, four years old. I don’t know who wrote it. I don’t think anyone does.

MK: I start to see the landscape which shaped your young mind.

AJP: Yes, and it means I have clearer memories of him than I might have had, because I knew it was nonsense and I knew it was funny.

MK: Let me look that up now, in my high tech research lab

AJP: It’s really old. The poem.

MK: Is this it? [clears throat}

Ladies and gentleman skinny and stout
I’ll tell you a tale I know nothing about
The admission is free so pay at the door
Now pull out a chair and sit on the floor

On one bright day in the middle of the night
Two dead boys got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other

The blind man came to see fair play
The mute man came to shout hooray
The deaf policeman heard the noise
And came to stop those two dead boys

He lived on the corner in the middle of the block
In a two story house on a vacant lot
A man with no legs came walking by
And kicked the lawman in his thigh

He crashed through a wall without making a sound
Into a dry creek bed and suddenly drowned
A long black hearse came to cart him away
But he ran for his life and is still gone today

I watched from the corner of the table
The only eyewitness to facts of my fable
If you doubt my lies are true
Just ask the blind man, he saw it too

It’s by unknown – ah, I know him! and Ali is failing to disguise the fact she’s sniffling.

AJP: This poem is my entire life so far. Well, obviously it’s not. But it is!

MK: And your dad would say this to you?

AJP: Lines of it, maybe more than once I have a vague memory which I may have exaggerated, when they fitted into the situation a bit.

MK: What was your 2020 like, then? Shall we get the covidelephant out of the reindeer room?

AJP: Reindeer?

MK: I keep doing that. I should have also said on the phone. I’ve gone mad.

AJP: Ah. Mad, like a leopard.

MK: Yes. A leopard with Covid. So, reindeer, room, year, what was it like? Did you find God? Any of your enemies die? Have you started an online chicken box boutique?

AJP: Anyone who likes absurdity was in their covidelephant element. Anyone who thought everything was insane already was a fish in mortar because beliefs became manifest.

That most people would rather trust the government than break bread with their neighbours. That nothing makes sense. Like that poem. God is an absurdist.

MK: Do you believe God and Absurdism can co-exist? My staunch Catholic auntie would have your guts for garters.

AJP: I do love that expression. I believe an absurdist can believe in a God, just as they can believe in any other value they wish, so long as they don’t make the mistake of believing that they are definitely correct. Absurd does not mean “devoid of meaning,” but instead means “wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate.” To be uncertain that even the idea that everything is uncertain is certain. And to still be happy living with this uncertainty.

MK: This is definitely the feeling that I get from you! It’s quite rare, actually. You’re happy with uncertainty?

AJP: A fractal, sensory art show of myriad complexities formed from an absent depth of stillness. The swirling miasma.

MK: Speaking of swirling miasma. I love how you didn’t mention whether or not you had or didn’t have the virus. As though you’re sort of above or below all that sort of mundanity.

AJP: Well no one mentions bats anymore. Or antibodies.

MK: I think we can all assume that Covid 19 from a bat did not cometh! What are your thoughts about Corona Virus? I like to start with the uncontroversial questions.

AJP: No one knows! That is the truth isn’t it. Well, someone might know. Someone in a lab somewhere or perhaps, some behavioural psychologists with our best interests at heart.

Unless we have spies, how can we know? Because some celebrities sang Imagine? Because a doctor chosen by Sky news had a furrowed brow? Because Uncle Frank had a really bad bout of something? We need to stop needing to pretend we know. I think.

There’s talk of how societal confusion produces conspiracy but it also produces draconian adherence to the diktat. And nobody likes draconian diktats. They hide all the nice biscuits and don’t call their mums on their birthdays.

MK: Even I’ve been stunned by media’s shameless shilling for their investors, and it’s been my thing for more decades than I care to remember.

You pointed out that we don’t think anything could be wrong because The One Show is still on and there’s still teabags! Tyranny doesn’t come in an App! was a work of art!

AJP: The pro-establishment stance is rigidly unimaginative and produces it’s natural counterpart in rigid opposition. The shaming and exiling at the mere sniff of a shadow of a shell of resistance is fanatical given that the companies inventing these remedies have varying track records of putting ethics ahead of profits. Then there’s the liability – lack of – and pressure to placate shareholders.

MK: Ali actually said that nodding at me in slow motion like a mobster.

AJP: Like Sonny putting a hit on Mick Jagger, too.

MK: He could do with a hit! I wasn't impressed with his lock-down surprise, were you?

AJP: I thought it was funny.

MK: It wasn’t supposed to be funny.

AJP: That’s why it was funny.

MK: Ah, you’re biased. And a Philistine!

AJP: I’ve never even been to the Middle-East

MK: I mean, it’s no wonder people think things are psyops

AJP: More like Cyclops. One eye between them.

MK: Just when all that occupy stuff was hotting up. We are the ninety-nine percent! All of a sudden . . . Incel Insurrection!

AJP: The Birth of A – gitation!

MK: Organic, Shamanic, or . . .

AJP: Satanic, Mechanic.

MK: Don’t you wish you were in New York watching Rocky Horror!

AJP: Do you know, Micky, I do!

MK: Which brings us to mad scientists! The vaccine. Shall we?

AJP: I think what isn’t being said is it’s not the chemistry of the vaccine, about which we have no knowledge, not really. Do you know? Could be glycerin.

It’s the ident of the vaccine, which has become an object of worship that most are critical of. COVID-19 is Satan – the nemesis of order, of consumption, of a population comatose by technology. The vaccine shall all restore!

The ident vaccine is a lucky talisman against all the existential and moral ills of our time. Against chaos and astrology and chicken bones and full moons.

It’s invoked like a shaman’s chant, shaken in our faces like a mojo bag. A shepherd to take us from one world to the next, an exorcism and a blood initiation.

MK: Someone get me a whiskey, please?

AJP: Jumped upon was anyone mentioning thalidomide but it’s real. It happened. Then the Alabama syphilis experiments, it goes on. There’s a disconnect around being able to imagine that you could live through a time of lies and corruption because we were born into bright primary colours and machine washable leggings and Bill Bailey and nothing bad could happen in a primary-colour-Bill-Bailey-world.

A rare precious thing is a person who sits under a tree and relies upon their own brain. Now especially. I don’t want to be hyperbolic but I think the Rubicon has been crossed and a vast number of humans are semi-animated approximations of an online avatar. I shall say that they’re in a ghettoised digital asylum. There’s more time and effort put into the tech tunnel version of themselves, the medium is the message and the medium is binary.

MK: I know it’s culturally insensitive but it just struck me, you do resemble Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth.

AJP: Why is that culturally insensitive? Oh, because he’s from Salford not the Middle East. Well it’s a compliment I don’t deserve. His hair was captivating in that production. I could never retain that wave in the fluctuating humidity.

MK: And that’s why you’ll never be the son of God.

Are you frustrated at the amount of people hanging on to government directives as it becomes clearer and clearer that investors are informing policy for profit?

AJP: Of course they want to push chronic disease and make money from synthetic remedies which will need another remedy. Is this controversial? It’s hard, especially for people who’ve worked in these sectors for a long time. Would you rather re-think your entire existence. Well, asking the wrong person because you’re a freak.

MK: [Sings] I’m gonna wave my freak flag high!

AJP: You’ll have someone’s eye out.

MK: Said the . . . Bishop to the Bishop?

AJP: Why’s a Bishop waving a flag?

MK: You’re being deliberately obtuse.

AJP: Said the equilateral triangle to the other triangle.

MK: Nurse! Um, what do you think about vaccine mandates for children, against the scientists advice which has been the argument until now: No, no, we hate the government! Fuck the Tories etc! We’re following the science!

AJP: Well, how many vaccines are there?

MK: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Astra-Zaneca, the Cuban one, Novavax, the Chinese one.

AJP: And these are not vaccines in any definition of the original meaning. But, meanings change and argument ensues.

Unfortunately, the truther movement as it piously and hubristically calls itself is similarly ragged, entrenched as it is in eggshell walking dogma, too.

The science people are compelled to use whatever’s new. Must be good, it’s NEW! The same way that they’ve modified tomato plants to stop them shedding. Mice raised in a sterilised lab are dysfunctional. They’re anxious, schizophrenic. I don’t blame them.

The cleaning of crops has created the same godless paranoia in the earth as in humans. We need to go back into Plato’s cave and talk to beetles.

MK: Bagsy John!

AJP: There never seems to be any contemplation or weighing up of the pluses and minuses. All that messy nature stuff! It must be controlled.

Hay fever is so high in London because they plant male tress which shed less. Saves on the sweeping up but now you’ve got a new problem – hay-fever. The impulse for humans to do things just because it’s there! Because they had an idea!

A child will put a rock in its mouth because they had a rock, a mouth, and a thought. It’s not people’s fault if they’re born into insanity. Sinister can exist without the person knowing that’s what they are, though. In fact, almost always. Self-aware evil becomes something else, wizardry! And yet, couldn’t happen here! As in, couldn’t happen in MY timeline. Tyranny lives in the past, it wears jackboots not flip flops. I’m a good girl, I am.

I see it as much a cultural paradigm as an infliction and imposition. It is not just elites orchestrating it, impact investors divvying up the globe. Its culture, its entropy of our species, sliding down the collapsing empire in silk slippers, well, big comedy animal slippers and onesies and sleeve tattoos and pathologically over-diagnosing human traits. It’s the Freudian death drive.

MK: How do you do that. You said what I’ve been feeling.

AJP: I’m aware of what it is to be unaware. And even saying that is quite unaware I shall suggest.

MK: Yeah. Anyone got a vaccine? I feel like I’ve just had by chakras put in a spin cycle.

AJP: Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?


MK: It’s only when you gave that phenomenal reply I realised. It’s like when people say they don't believe in climate change. Believe in it?

AJP: When people say “Do you believe in climate change?” that is nonsense grammar, really, like “I’ve got mental health!” Believe in the corporate abuse of it? Believe that a panel of gurning celebrities with a carbon footprint greater than Godzilla are real cut up about it!? That we need green technology showcased on the poorest people in the world and eventually washing up on the shore of Grenfell. The poor have to be virtuous. Or are expected to be a testing ground for whatever the latest billionaire wants to do for philanthropy or to give his wife a hobby or whatever.

Climate change is an eschatological weapon used by billionaires to put all the responsibility on us instead of multinationals. There were already disputes over water, precious metals and tellurium substrate at that level.

However, if you’re skeptical about the corporatisation of climate change but accepting money from think tanks who are accepting money from oil and pharmaceutical companies, call me cynical –

MK: Oi! Cynical!

AJP: – but I’m going to think you might also be a bit of a Matthew Fraud. You know what I mean? I might get the idea you have a motive for not believing in climate change and it’s not about green tech experiments on Africans carried out by western companies who form a hap-hazardous company and give it an African name to make it sound homegrown! Jumanji was one!

MK: Their hearts may not be entirely in it! It may be more the steady trickle of funds from Tufton Street. Funny how Tufton Street is almost an anagram of astro turf.

AJP: Jesus is an anagram of Grapefruit if you change all the letters.

MK: My Irish Grandmother doesn’t think Climate Change is a thing because of her belief in God. He wouldn’t make that mistake!

AJP: Yes, that’s another reason for some.

It’s not about hands on dirty work, cleaning out rivers, animal care. It’s about tech companies. How to work with the situation not what maybe needs reassessing.

If you want an environmental job you’re better off being a gardener because the work with nature, positions are to do with digitalising the ocean and things like that. There’s this thing called grammar fields and human weather.

I’m interested in the idea of numbers fighting with letters for dominion. I am writing a song called ‘Drag queen migrant in a small boat’

MK: That’s topical if not in any way marketable. Why aren’t more people coming at it from that angle? The anti-climate change people are always portrayed as heartless boomers who just like big cars and chemicals.

AJP: The truth doesn’t drive traffic, though, Diesel or otherwise. The truth doesn’t get a thread of responders to join in. It’s usually nuanced. Nobody knows if the Queen is part reptile. She’s probably not, but she may as well be.

MK: Do you think people who think the Queen is part reptile are mad?

AJP: Some will be mad, and then, some people who sit on Birdcage walk in a Union Jack deck chair and a Union Jack waistcoat with Union Jack arms and legs and a Union Jack dog and Union Jack hopes and dreams because a Union Jack royal baby has been born — well, some of them are mad.

MK: I’d say all.

AJP: Mad as hairnets.

MK: “The messaging is so confusing” is something being said a lot about Covid.

AJP: I can find footage of full hospitals, I can find footage of empty hospitals, I can find evidence that the empty hospital footage is from a trusted source. And, I can find evidence that it’s from an untrustworthy source.

How do I know who’s deciding what’s a trusted source? And are they a trusted source? It could expand and contract forever looping endlessly, dependent on what the observer wants to see, their propensity, penchants and preconceptions.

Nothing’s real. That’s a hard thing to face. But I can live with it without creating a stupid story or believing someone else’s stupid story. The brain craves order. There’s no investigative journalism anymore where the truth can be found in those newspaper magnifying glass things in the library.

MK: The Insider!

AJP: But, in a deep fake world, even that character’s evidence could be debunked!

MK: The fact checker recently changed the PCR test inventor guy’s assertion that it’s ability to detect viruses is dubious from “false” to “misleading”

The Reuters article actually tried to correct the conspiracy theory around testing, but just made it sound worse. This test, It picks up viral material, right, and enlarges it so much that it is meaningless.

AJP: Yes. Scientists are Priests with scriptures which we must not try to decipher. Neil Postman said all information is no information. But then Clint Eastwood said round these parts, a man’s life can often depend upon a mere scrap of information!

MK: High Planes Drifter?

AJP: No, Josey Wales, maybe.

I think there is a middle-class fear of being thought of as unsophisticated. It’s a melancholy thing.

MK: Is that was it is? Like the line in your book about people in Bromley trying to make a two-bedroom semi into Buckingham palace. Not stopping with the renovations until the house gets the idea it’s better than the homeowners and starts talking about them.

AJP: Oh yes! A Bird House for Imogen! I enjoyed writing that very much.

{Interruption as an elderly neighbor recognises Ali through the window and they catch up on neighborly news}

MK: I’ve been surprised at the desperation with which various talking heads have tried to keep the culture war alive during this whole Covid thing. The same articles about toxic pop songs or whatever. Cancelled pancakes.

AJP: Yeah, there was a really good article the other day about all the things they never mention. The fact that the word faggot in Fairy Tale of New York seems really important but the banned Pogues song about the Birmingham six doesn’t get a look in. I suppose an argument is that the Christmas one is part of their Christmas tradition. Anyone talking about a lunatic in Oregon wanting people called Lesley to give reparations to houseplants but not criticizing tech and ID cards is aiding and abetting all the other things they criticize. It’s whining about a leak in the roof when the council are demolishing the house tomorrow. That’s why it’s a fraudulent rebellion, it still wants a system it’s just arguing over territory rights. It never comes for leadership itself. Or, they’re paid agitators. Fiddling the books while Rome burns.

MK: That’s one of the reasons we started recording our own conversations, no matter how small the audience.

I was being sent twenty links a week of the Joe Rogan stuff and they all seemed incredibly conformist. Trying to find ways to navigate the world the way it is, adjusting to it with various ‘life hacks’ instead of questioning the entire landscape.

AJP: Twenty links is a lot! That’s a lot of J.R truth bombs. Yes, I’m more interested in psychokinesis. But I am outside of the zeitgeist.

Another elephant in another womb is I think many people are completely aware of all this but won’t admit it’s a sacrifice they’re up for. Admitting you LOVE the idea of cyber smart cities and 24 hour Apps and a little AI bot helping you make a nutritionally balanced breakfast isn’t cool because they’re still in love with pictures of Steve McQueen and Ollie Reed saying “look at this badass” Corporations try to incorporate counter-culture into their brands now but it can never, ever work.

MK: Your song ‘You write a thesis, I psychokinesis’ was voted number one by listeners on rock n roll Wednesday radio. I loved that. Is this why you have a Nokia 3210 and a Sony Walkman.

AJP: You can’t meme your way out of this one, you have to put down the zeitgeist and walk away or admit to being a corporate whore.

MK: That would make a great meme! Do you think all sides are paid. As Johnny Rotten so prophetically exclaimed in his nineteen-seventy-seven tribute to Her Majesty the Queen?

AJP: We know it’s been done before. It was certainly done in Russia. The Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy describes seven tools: diplomacy, natural gas, intelligence, military, cyber, media and public diplomacy, and the Russian Orthodox Church. About 50 tools of state power are grouped into seven elements: political conflict, culture and governance, economics etc. All very predictable, in fact, sometimes you want organisations to be frauds to be fronts, there’s hope in that, if Jack Whitehall turned out to be an agent of the state it would make a lot of sense otherwise we have to know that these journalists, politicians, comedians really are that planks of wood, wood chip woodpecker barely sentient culture voids, I mean please let them all be holograms.

MK: Well, they’re hollow and they’re on Instagram.

AJP: Another underestimated line from a film is Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan reading Rosanna Arquette’s diary: “it’s gotta be a cover, nobody’s life could be this boring!”

MK: I liked it when the MP in your book doesn’t know who’s blackmailing him – even people from his own party. Along with the sperm/egg theory. The sperm dressing up as the egg because it’s never going to get to the egg on time.

AJP: Yes, that’s one I’ve been asked to explain a few times! I sometimes think of the government like a repugnant lover who doesn’t understand why you have your suitcase packed. “I gave you Nano technology! I gave you £50 a week and a comedy programme to watch where they recite Plato on roller skates drunk and to the tune of Yah Mo Be There.

They’re Bette Davis and we’re Joan Crawford in a wheelchair right now.

MK: “You won’t be needing this telephone” was that a good impression?

AJP: I’ve always said you have the strong lesbian energy of Orson Welles in a bathrobe.

MK: [Laughing}

AJP: Then, when it looks like you’re really going, they convince you you’re going to die out there without them. “You think I’m bad? The man down the road wants to kill you and if he doesn’t want to kill you, I’ll arm him and tell him you want to kill him! Better stay here. I’ve made a picture window for you with a horizon painted on it.”

MK: That’s a spot on, bare bones brutal analogy.

AJP: But, there’s each individual and then there’s the pulsating force it becomes, the mood that the movement takes on. A combination of all their idiosyncrasies, fears, misinformation. . .panic.

MK: That’s why it’s hard to pin down and fight. It has so many faces and factions and contradictions. It’s really trying to fight mist. Like the information about Covid.

AJP: It might be that it’s much more complicated than anyone cares to entertain, because, again — it doesn’t make a short and punchy line that will elicit interaction.

The short-term desire for instantaneous feedback overrides the impulse to do long, boring homework and ensures we stay here in meme land. Luckily for everyone, I’m here and I’m thinking!!

MK: Uh oh. Desperately Seeking Reason!

AJP: She’s so pretty in that film. She has such a silent movie face.

MK: I wish she had a silent movie voice.

AJP: Oh she had to happen. People forget she was an arty boomer in body paint at high school because of all the rubber bracelets and punk urchin stuff. We all revert to type – our piss-in-the-wind opinions.

MK: How do you mean, more complicated?

AJP: The accusation is always that you don’t believe every word of this? Then you have a New World Order, Armageddon mindset based on your own authoritarian tendencies.

MK: The convenient tin foil hat remark.

AJP: Yes. But they’re like parents with Munchausen’s. They (the amorphous they) are stuck in this system where they are in charge and it’s never worked because we’re not ants, we’re human beings.

There are times when it didn’t work in a slightly better way with a better soundtrack and sometimes I think that’s the best we can hope for, to live through a time with the best moving scenery.

England has a fey kind of Stockholm syndrome in a way. We can’t imagine life beyond this. On the one hand, there’s mass distrust of leaders but I think hating the government is part of this identity and would leave a void. As far as science and medicine goes – this convenient cognitive dissonance that they’re separate from corporate corruption, this vague idea that we’ve never had it so good is solipsism. I must be in the best of times, because it’s me. That any taking of stock-holm, means living in mud, with polio and child sacrifices in wicker cages. And, that would only be on feast days.

MK: If an ox flies past the church spire and it bleeds milk?

AJP: It quickly split into Brexit and Remain, again. Michael Finnegan beginagain! They would probably say they can’t give these individuals airtime, the impact investment researchers etc, because it would give their research credence, and because, well. . . saving lives. Although for every three deaths there’s been two resulting from covid protocols. I suspect this is a conservative figure.

It’s enough to drive anyone who likes logic insane, genuinely insane not interestingly and mystically insane. Clawing eyeballs and arranging tins on the kitchen floor to send a message to Enil and Enki insane.

The Syphilis Alabama experiment was a conspiracy theory. Until it wasn’t. It’s how brains work. Imagine, a third of the world thinks all dissent is based on lies. Another third thinks all official messaging is lies. Then, there’s the last third.

MK: Here I am, stuck in the middle with you! Ya luney!

AJP: Some conspiracy theories are spoiler alerts. Hur hur hur Joe Rogan cigar.

MK: I’ll have one sent in shortly, Monica Lewinsky!

AJP: Club Topicana jokes are… old.

MK: It is 24/7 propaganda. How many media companies are there at the top? Three? Four?

AJP: Isn’t it in the UK, three control eighty-three percent: News UK, Daily Mail Group and Reach. They have abandoned all pretense at impartiality. Media has become a shocking exhibit of intellectual bigotry and thought coercion

MK: Politicians’ opportunities to disseminate disinformation directly to the public, bypassing the media’s gate-keeping and their editorial scrutiny, have increased with the rise of social media.

Did you know that the military were working on something similar to Facebook just before it launched. Why do you think that is?

AJP: But it began with the Cipher Bureau, in 1919 and you could say it sort of raises a more existential question: Could we have been caught out like that if we weren’t vain? Isn’t social media Narcissus’s lake and humans fell into it? Although, once the brain begins to literally change, which it is (there’s a great book called The New Brain by the author of Beethoven’s brain which explains this) then it becomes who we are, not a pathology.

Where does exploitation and manipulation meet human flaws? It’s not easy. We’re messy. It’s why I think the Baby Jane analogy is a good one, although Joan Crawford manages to hold on to her faculties! If that situation had gone on for years, she’d be insane — if there were other people being held hostage, Joan Crawford may have turned on them, bargained, accepted a deputy role in the tyrannical psycho drama of Jane’s mind in order to survive.

MK: Jesus Christ! Do you find common cause with the trads. Because of your cyber skepticism.

AJP: In a way. I just don’t find the online world interesting at all.

MK: And you can’t compare a 60-year-old with a lifetime of un-digital memories for whom it’s a recent novelty to a child strangled in the cot by electro-smog and emojis.

AJP: It is just not something that I find in any way erotic or compelling.

MK: The talking about how much they love god, online all the time. Isn’t that just virtue signalling, too? Something they’re heavily critical of.

AJP: But, my feelings may be because of how I was raised. It’s not the worst thing in the world, though. Though, posting about God turns him into a static ghost in the machine when he should be alive. Rattle away. The empty can rattles the most, although, it’s not empty then is it. If it’s rattling.

MK: “The sound of your voice must soothe you. Hearing only what you want to hear!”

AJP: “You you’re smothered in tragedy. And you’re up to save the world!”

BOTH SING: “My friend of misery!!!”

MK: Oh, man I miss gigs. Has social distancing and lockdown affected human interaction irreversibly?

AJP: Should reversing anything be the goal, though. What gains, then? It has to be better. There’s this government sponsored, post office, Blue Peter, good citizen Sainsburys version of a person they promote.

It has never allowed for anomalies and whim and all the things that make us worth exploiting. I thought that about support bubbles. Number 40 can visit number 28? What if you only like the mad uncle or the dog? What if you have an argument. What if you’ve been finding the eccentric woman at number 5 interesting lately but it’s just started to slip into annoyance?

MK: Yeah. Her insistence on watching Taskmaster broke the last camel’s straw.

Are we being collectively gas lit by leaders?

AJP: The expression gas-lighting is really having it’s moment on the stove and occasionally I think it’s appropriate. If we knew we were being gaslit, we wouldn’t be gaslit. I don't think there is one ultimate truth when the curtain lifts and all is revealed. Everything is always moving. The greatest sin in this realm might be light-hearted frolics in another realm. Keeping the ten pence you were given in change by mistake might make the angels cry in another.

It really is about getting back to the garden. Whatever that looks like for you. The mind is it’s own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell etc! Yes, we are stardust! We are so beautifully messed up. But, we are beautiful.

MK: Would you say we’re the white wing dove, sings a song sounds like she’s singing!

AJP: Another mis-heard lyric. I thought it was one-winged. And they’d never get back to the garden, because they’d be flying in a circle.

MK: That, Miss Prince, is something I can neither dispute nor prove. Dimensions and realms you discuss a lot. We’ll get onto that also if that's okay.

It’s one of my favorite things that you talk about and that I try to understand. Um, that scenario of the household bubbles is how you can tell it’s algorithm generated, a computer model. Isn’t it really just about investors. They’re under pressure, because of investors.

AJP: They have to use the products they have contracts with. Grenfell, again. Donors. Private developers. I know I’m not saying anything maverick or epiphany inducing. Someone said the other day, you can’t fight someone who thinks they’re saving the world. I think there’s truth in that. “It’s for your own good” Vaccines in mosquitos?

We should start re-reading Ira Levin and Christopher Marlow: “glutted now with learning’s golden gifts.

MK: The world has historically been divided into two camps on morality.

AJP: Sid James and Hattie Jacques.

MK: Carry On Corpuscularianism!

AJP: Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau represent the most famous, opposing views. As you know, Aristotle argued that morality is something we learn. And that we are born as ‘amoral’ creatures. As you also know, Sigmund Freud considered new-borns a moral blank slate. As usual, one extreme or another – to quiet the brain, to create a steady path. This fear of Thursday being different to Monday!

The archetype of the mad scientist has a lot of validity. I mean, they don’t say “the mad plumber” “the mad shop assistant” “the mad piano teacher” do they!

MK: They haven’t met my Misses when she used to knock off after three hours overtime at Tesco

AJP: If they were financially in bed with local farmers growing food that builds our immune systems, they’d be promoting and propagandising that. But, they’re messing around with bees to make them immune to pesticides. Then, they’ll find out that messes with them too, and they’ll make money from devising something which deals with that. It’s like the old woman who swallowed a fly.

MK: I don’t know why. . . she did that . . .Conspiracy theories have certainly gone mainstream.

AJP: Something else that’s generally spoken about in yes or no, black or white, this or that, terms. Because some make connections which aren’t there and some are just entertainment, speculation – doesn’t mean there’s not truth between the lines, hidden in the cracks.

So-called leaders have had conspiracy theories about the filthy masses for thousands of years. They’ve measured skulls, separated families, lied, experimented, locked up, isolated, poisoned (prohibition alcohol) spied on – what’s that if not conspiracy theory? Conspiracy theories about what’s gong on with the dirty peasants. It’s just, when someone with wispy grey hair in a suit with a degree in human sciences does it, it’s brilliant! It’s psychology! or data mapping. And when your cousin Linda makes a few connections on her Samsung – the poor dear is mentally fragile and messing in waters she really shouldn’t. I wonder if the current obsession with ‘conspiracy theorists’ is sometimes a prison break thing. Rattling knives and forks, I mean, I eventually got sent to a school for problematic people. For mal-adjusted teens. Sort of what would have been an approved school. This was after they made me put triangles in triangle-shaped holes in Denmark Hill.

MK: Sexy! And unsurprising!

AJP: It really wasn’t. But build upon that tired cliché if it makes you happy, Micky.

MK: I shall!

AJP: Did you know Barbara Windsor was thirty-two in Carry On Camping?

MK: You know all the right trivia!

AJP: . . . She was born on August 8th.

MK: Okay Rainman.

AJP: And every now and then, at school, someone would make a run for it. Get on the train back to East Ham or whatever and that would be the obsession. The message would change too, over the following days, the feeling.

You got to see the whole gamut of human behaviour in this microcosm of humanity made of 14-year-old girls. I ran away once, too, it was my first experience of knowing everything’s already happened. I almost hit the ground at London Bridge station with a déjà vu.

MK: Has this interview happened before?

AJP: Yeah. No doubt. It’s a Polaroid still and we’re making it dance right now because we decided we wanted to. I’m dancing like this. . . (Dances)

MK: That’s. . . Really disturbing.

AJP: Again!

MK: Aha!

AJP: . . . and, people would quietly be rooting for them, the escapees; “Yes! Have a McDonalds and a spliff for me” And others would be berating them: “They’ve made it worse for everyone with their behaviour” but even the beraters had a curiosity.

They were caught in a glamour – the original meaning of a glamour. They were secretly wondering if they’d have the guts to do it. What was it like, on the outside. What was it like to be the villain. People’s obsessions, even if they’re negative, often exemplify who they really are.

Charlie the cat in the box existing because billy the bee has its beady, beagle eye on it.

MK: Beraters gonna berate! That’s a good point, about them fanning the flames of conspiracy by obviously blacking out descent. Someone should put that to them. Incentivize them platforming alternate ideas.

AJP: Good luck.

MK: I loved your song, by the way, “5G BAT” That was a thing of joy and a beauty forever. Inspired.

AJP: It literally was inspired, on the spot. I got a child’s toy keyboard for Christmas so I wrote a topical song for a change.

MK: It’s very . . . special.

AJP: My favorite bit is the end. It was accidentally almost a tune. Frank Zappa, was what my friend’s music teacher said. Did you know Frank Zappa hated the Beatles?

MK: I did. Thought they were manufactured fluff. I disagree but I’m biased. Norwegian Wood was the first thing I ever learned to play. What do you think?

AJP: I like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles bore me a bit.

MK: Did you see Mick’s return to stage in Carolina?

AJP: Yes. So few can carry off a Scarlet blouse with such cavalier insouciance.

MK: I don’t know how you can choose them over the Fab Four.

AJP: I know it’s sacrilege to a Beatles fan! I like Hey Bulldog but that’s because I thought the words were “You can’t alter me” instead of “You can talk to me”

I was 12-years-old and in all that trouble I just told you about at school and I remember hearing it on some golden oldie show and thinking, “Yeah! You can’t alter me, either!”

MK: [LAUGHS} That’s the only tune you like?

AJP: Oh, Helter Skelter. You see it’s the up-tempo ones. And that’s why I prefer The Stones,

MK: I have noticed younger people liking what you say because it gives a bit of hope. As if, “there’s more? more than woke or anti-woke? Culture war?”

AJP: Well, what I think is that they use the word ‘war’ for the same reason they say ‘downLOAD’ and ‘SURFING’ and ‘SITE’ and ‘Go to the TOOLS LAB’ [laughs uncontrollably for several minutes} admin enthusiasts. Typists. It’s compensatory. God bless them. Heaven help them.

It is hilarious in the most blood stagnatingly awful way.

You could write a thousand word thesis covering inarguable points about how online posturing, especially about how tough you are, is oxymoronic. And you will just get a laughing emoji back. Like, “Hey, I’m winning, here with my cartoon yellow face and cartoon sunglasses being cool here in my cartoon internet house”

Can you imagine telling an eighteen-year-old from 1940 smoking his last cigarette in a trench about a cancelled tweet?

And, seeing people defend it because they’re in denial about how silly it is? It’s a distraction which works because we’re distract-able. Which came first, the chicken or the chicken handcuffs – feet cuffs? Claw cuffs. Which came first the chicken’s vanity that made him want claw bracelets or the claw bracelets?

MK: It’s a Socratic dilemma I should have covered by now.

AJP: People get angry and then someone will tell them to go outside and see the sun – as if they themselves are not inside on their cobalt time thief that children inhaled toxic dust to mine. Intoxicating for both, I suppose.

Have you noticed how much culture has stood still since the internet. If you look at the huge disparity between 1955 and 1975. Then, look at 2001 — 2021. The clothes, the music.

When everything comes top down, there’s no pockets of innovation. They took culture and put a baseball cap and a puffer jacket on it and said we’ve reached a plateau now. The scientists keep studying it, though.

Neuro-imaging studies of offline social behaviors have demonstrated that thinking about others’ thoughts, feelings, and intentions reliably recruits a network of brain regions, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, bilateral temporoparietal junction anterior temporal lobes inferior frontal gyri and posterior cingulate cortex praecuneus.

They directly linked activity in these regions to sharing information and receiving other’s shared information These regions, implicated in offline information sharing and receipt, probably also help us to process the social thoughts and behaviors elicited by social media.

I really did agree with Evgeny Morozov who said “Contrary to the Utopian rhetoric of social media enthusiasts, the Internet often makes the jump from deliberation to participation even more difficult, thwarting collective action under the heavy pressure of never-ending internal debate.” And I’m right to agree because his name is an anagram of Mooneye Vgrvoz.

MK: . . . Which adds up to 7/7/7 equaling fish.

AJP: Fish is Eddie Izzard’s punchline, he’ll sue you, he’s like that.

MK: I’m ready, Eddie.

AJP: These grey men never stop rooting around in our heads. From MK Ultra to deciding little Johnny’s got oppositional defiance disorder because he clenches his fists.

Social media gave researchers a grave new tool which can harness the data for insight into society, as well as the neural processes supporting our social motives and behaviors, and build on the small handful of current endeavors in this domain. Perhaps they really believed everyone would use the freedom and archives and leisure to become their own David Bowie, some Avant-garde beautiful bohemian artist and that idea turned on the Xrs now in charge.

They didn’t factor in all the people who would sit still in a cockroach takeaway box with 57 billion images of Ariana Grande on their hard-drive playing second sims or fortnites or whatever it is.

Also, what it’s done, is you don’t need to turn yourself into anything anymore anyway, because you can consume that kind of stimulation online. Sexual arousal, nostalgic blueprints of cool. It’s all a takeaway menu. An Amazon wish list. Identity, is the crisis can’t you see?

MK: Love me a bit of Spex! We can play out with that one if you like!

AJP: Delighted. Talking about Nostradamus, she was light years ahead. Really into space and stuff.

MK: May she rest in punk. The law of projection is really a thing.

AJP: They’re starting with the man in the mirror and they’re not asking him to change his ways.

MK: Uh, you could say they’re showing how funky strong is their fight, and it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right?

AJP: I just tried to scream but terror took the sound before I made it

MK: Ah, Wacko Jacko! What a wordsmith!

AJP: He certainly was something which is a word.

MK: Accusing the culture war of being a distraction is often touted (in the manosphere) as a desire to end debate.

AJP: But that’s by people who enjoy it for itself, who are in their 4chan element and never wanted to get the stupidity out of the way and get back to rock ‘n’ roll. For many, this *is* their rock ‘n’ roll, it’s reasonable when you realise that’s what it’s really about.

MK: Are you interested in off-grid living.

AJP: Why, have you got some land in Drogheda you want rid of?

MK: Yeah, well, I say ‘land’ – it’s a carpark behind a sink estate.

AJP: Perfect for raising chickens in long dresses and they look so elegant in long dresses. I will name it Stone Hen — ge. Until I have enough money to live without money I’m still in the game, but the game is dull and even the villains have no good lines or trilby hats. Tomb Raider Gen Xrs who’s 90s fantasy was playing sonic the hedgehog with Gillian Anderson in a smart town cyber grid!

They’re the ones in office now aren’t they. It was bound to look like this. Dropping their Ts over Rooibos Teas. It’s an experiment with freedom because they saw how the other systems failed. If you have a reasonable amount to live on, you can spend all day on your chosen medication watching old episodes of Mr. Ed whilst saving up to have plastic surgery to look like. . . Mr. Ed!

That’s your freedom. Do what thou wilt! But, the other side to that is tracking and tracing so that you don’t do anything outside your house which might interfere with Mrs. Jenkins down the roads freedom, who’s on a salt and meat only diet and has planted herself in her front garden because she believes she’s a fern. You’re free, free to be addicted. Free to follow any whim through to its illogical conclusion.

But, when interacting with others, you have less freedom and also, your free choices are being made based on what you’ve seen around you. You spend all day seeking confirmation bias about how a particular group are the source of all ills because you’re dissatisfied with the world outside. No strong family ties, no regularity, no picnic on the lawn or egg and spoon race.

MK: No first of spring, no songs to sing?

AJP: I’m just living for the city!

MK: What a singer! Are brains craving order more than ever before? Because of the chaos?

AJP: I need a narrative to explain the lack of narrative.

MK: Wait – the gen-x-o-philes

AJP: Exactly! Bravo! Now you’re getting it!

MK: Phew! I’m just about keeping up. I was worried.

AJP: I’m just a steel town girl on a Saturday night

MK: Ah! I was forced to watch that the other night!

AJP: Forced were you.

MK: Um, if the culture war is planted with party apparatchiks, there is still a war of words, then, a media war, a dispute over sensibilities?

AJP: I think people are hurting and it’s about quality of life. We forget human fragility is often deep down about obsessing over who’s having a better party and if we’re not invited, we’ll pull their pigtails or call the fire brigade to get their attention.

What’s fascinating is, they’ve proven that children are mostly inclined to want to help and be kind towards others – more so when they act instinctively and don’t think about it too long. Faster, more intuitive decisions created higher levels of cooperation. Slower, more reflective decisions made people act more selfishly.

“Evil comes at leisure like the disease. Good comes in a hurry like the doctor.

What does that say about the “experts” who spent their lives analysing, measuring, fretting, organising. . . We should not confuse an act with our nature. That wars exist doesn’t mean that humans are predisposed to violence.

An education man, Alfie Kohn said, every society has made pottery, but that doesn’t mean we have a pottery-making gene.

Animals, food, love, fun, air – it seems so easy to be happy but I suppose, when powerful people who think they’re very clever start trying to help us be happy based on their personalities and idiosyncrasies . . . we end up living within a scaffold built by their propensities! And we compensate in various ways. Mine is by doing this dance (dances) I’m Isadora Duncan you see.

MK: More like, uh, I’m trying to think of someone named Duncan who would make this sentence funny.

AJP: My mum had a football pools collector named Duncan. That’s quite funny. He wore dark glasses.

MK: More like your mum’s football pools collector, Duncan!

AJP: Ha Ha Ha.

MK: This thing of red pilling and black pilling or whatever . . . is it organic or is it being done to people, are they manipulated? Do you think? Sorry to use an expression Elon Musk now uses! Did you know he put his car in space?

AJP: Yes. I am flawed. I’m very flawed. So very, very, very flawed. But I’m not put my car in space, flawed.

MK: There’s plenty of concern about the proliferation of privately owned satellites in space, and controversy in astronomical circles about the impact low-orbiting satellites have on the night sky itself.

AJP: And wildlife. God’s not happy. That’s his artwork they’re scribbling over. That’s what I think.

MK: Yes, astronomers are warning of unforeseen consequences for stargazing and for the protection of nocturnal wildlife. Yes, lunatic. Colonising Mars. Is that what he means by red-pilling? Is he talking about mars?

AJP: I don’t know. But to answer. Yes, in any direction it’s a thing because of the brain liking order. Mine doesn’t. I don’t think I’m very good at answering questions because I think I can be a confusing person. I’m confused with myself, myself, God knows what it’s like for any other poor wretched lamb.

MK: We’ve recently done a few pods about cults and I suppose that’s the same thing. They just didn’t call it that in the 70s. Which was the golden era of cults.

AJP: There was a woman on daytime TV who had thousands of pounds of surgery to look like a caricature an artist had drawn of her on holiday. Fascinating! It’s clear to me, she had a kind of depression. “Everything will be all right as soon as *this* happens”

But, it didn’t happen in a vacuum, did it. Who would she have been in the 15th century? How much of you is you and how much is what gets imprinted upon you? We all do it in different degrees, no matter how free and self actualised we think we are. . . as soon as my hair is the perfect colour, as soon as culture is more conservative or liberal, as soon as spring comes, as soon as Trump’s gone, as soon as I have a leopard tattooed on my ribs.

MK: Well, you were homeless and in and out of hostels and you left school at 15?

AJP: Yes. Oh, I thought you said Gormless. It’s your accent.

MK: Ho ho. I ask because I always have this wonderfully refreshing feeling from your . . . commentary? If I may call it that?

AJP: Oh, how rancid. I want to be Isadora Duncan.

MK: Did you know she died from getting one of her scarves trapped in a car door.

AJP: Yes. A haberdashery hazard. A drapery depravity.

MK: Quite tragic. Uh, yes . . . you have a kind of anchor, a barometer by which to measure everything for nonsense!

AJP: Yeah, another microcosm. I was educated in a Petri dish.

MK: Better than being educated by Petri Hoskin

AJP: Is she still around? I heard some LBC the other day in a studio reception. I was thinking that ninety percent of LBC presenters are AI. They can’t be real. At least seven of them have the same voice.

MK: I know you have a love hate thing with talk radio.

AJP: Imagine what it could be. My first memory of feeling like a separate human in the world was in my bedroom with a radio listening to callers and seeing the night sky outside full of lights and people and houses and flats and thoughts. The starry night air. Magical celestial airwaves. There was spontaneity and prank calls. Really quite beautiful.

MK: There is still that in other countries. Have you heard of radio garden?

AJP: Someone sent me something about it the other day.

MK: I really recommend it. I’m just tuning into US rock shows at the moment. Van Halen all the way.

AJP: My sister and I had this dream of putting a transmitter on the church roof.

MK: You really should start your own show. It’s absolutely easy. You would be a delight. Inertia is setting in. And, the human voice, conversation, cannot be matched by comments sections!

Online addiction is narrowing communication in many ways because we end up plateauing at the lowest common denominator contrary to what is always promised.

AJP: So many things are a completely understandable inability to ride out the chaos and complexity of the modern world. Pattern seeking gives your brain the illusion there’s a set of Pokémon to collect and at the end, you get a prize. The dissonance must be resolved. A feeling of relief or attainment or something. We are survivors so we feel good when momentum is increasing, resistance overcome and we’re on a road with a destination in sight. Whereas everything is constantly moving so the secret might be to do what’s right despite the political landscape.

Hope that at least a slither of your particular life will have external conditions conducive to getting as close to an authentic expression of the star seed eternal essence of who you are and that you can use that moment to ride it out into subsequent conditions with the knowledge that you have at least a shred of a template of what was really you.

Then, you’re better insulated against getting kidnapped by a zeitgeist which will drive you to seek patterns.

MK: How do we do what’s right? No pressure!

AJP: More or less ignore the zeitgeist because Father Damien’s work with lepers is an eternal good.

MK: That’s a high bar you’re setting.

AJP: David Loy said: “If you want to hurt someone, it is important to demonise them first – in other words, fit them into your good-versus-evil story. That is why the first casualty of all wars is truth.”

They did an experiment, there‘s a book called Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, they found that babies can judge good and bad – even before they learn to walk or speak. They got them to watch a short play where one shape tried to climb a hill!

MK: A shape?

AJP: Yes, these were babies. They weren’t going to show them a complex collage of subliminal neuro coding – although that’s probably been done! A second shape wanted to help the climber, while a third one tried to stop it from succeeding. Guess what happened?

MK: I don’t dare!

AJP: The babies were asked to choose one figure. Infants were much more likely to select the ‘helper’ over the ‘pusher.’ They preferred the good over the evil.

There’s something inside human beings, something transcendent and eternal and gentle in the way that only strength can be gentle and a trillion roadblocks attack it every day.

The most dangerous time is when you start to see the way out. All the pettiness will kidnap you. Break on through to the other side.

MK: Are media pundits going to hell? I want them to go to hell.

AJP: Many are stuck in an arrested development and it really shows. It’s not their fault. Some never even went into the working world and I wonder if they’re trying to recreate some kind of St Trinians Prozac to ease middle-age. Get off my shroud. Some of us got that out of our systems a long time ago.

It’s join the dots, this fits with this and this and this. Until they have a pretty picture which calms the chaotic brain. Hell is its own special Travelodge.

MK: Speaking of which, you’ve had an incredible amount of jobs!

AJP: I tried to make a list the other day. Um, receptions, retail, couriering and leaflets, packing, make-up, cashier, modelling wedding dresses, call centres, and construction, transcription, and gardening and cleaning and painting and deliveries and packing china, stables and general animal care.

MK: I know you love the shelter. Has lock-down affected the situation much?

AJP: Yes, heart-breaking. People adopted early on. They were suddenly at home and wanted company. Then, they bring them back. But, we’re all so very fragile. I think that's probably why we’re here.

MK: It’s so often the people who question themselves who actually have things worth hearing. Better for encouraging originality. To be outside the groups and at odds with fashion. William Blake hated the science people. Someone said to me the other day that nowadays they’d put Blake on anti-psychotic medication.

AJP: You’re swimming in the dark with a shark when you dip into anything mental health because you’ll be accused of wanting people to kill themselves. Another thing which isn’t simple. We’re being corrected to fit in with the world instead of thinking, my state of mind is a perfectly rational response to my experiences and surroundings, it’s that which needs to change and I’m going to do it. That’s expecting everyone to be a trailblazing maverick. If everybody was a trailblazing maverick, who would the trailblazing mavericks be? I suppose the bar would shift until we got back to the garden and make friends with the snake and realise that we are the snake and we’re learning how to shed our skin.

MK: My friend Dan who’s one of the kindest people in the world has pretty much been assigned Satan status for arguing against the mass medication of humanity, and this was by mostly those freedom of speech warriors. The one’s who go insane when they remake an eighties film with women in it.

AJP: They both want to be the accepted hegemony and that is of not very much interest to me. *Sings* You gotta serve somebody

MK: Way-Hey! I might make this lyric thing a feature. I need a bell like quiz masters have.

AJP: Take one from a hotel reception. There’ll be a queue all the way to the moon because no one will know there’s anyone there.

MK: This is the sort of activity that got you sent to St Trinians and I will not encourage it. Besides, as you said, Satan, God, Travelodge guests – all gotta be served. Online discourse is so often each side calling out the other for hypocrisy.,

AJP: That’s a very pleasing mental ski lodge to retreat into and have a spa weekend. Some end up dying there, nailed into a gloomy cupboard with that decaying woman from The Shining.

MK: My colleague and busybody, Adrian asked you the other day if you thought things were worse for women now or in the seventies.

AJP: I thought really carefully about that. I wanted to be exact. You’d have to speak to women who were around then, though, but, you know, define better?

A little bit in nineteen-eighty-four which doesn’t get much of a mention is that there’s an entire government unit dedicated to the production of the most degrading pornography imaginable — yet, outwardly, even wearing lipstick is prohibited. There’s this external aesthetic that they’re pretty much genderless, which probably fans the flames of the market for the antithesis of that. In fantasy form. Simulations. Revenge. Extremes.

You have to have felt emotionally hurt to do that. It’s like wearing a huge sign explaining who you are. Some comedian used to have a joke about that – about women should be grateful when men shout at them in public because it’s nature’s way of showing them who’s a sickly flower. You know, how everything has patterns on it to warn or attract or repel. It’s very compelling to be the girl who says “There’s too much fuss about it all, I like a bit of molestation, it’s character building” Everyone claps and tells you you’re refreshing and intelligent.

MK: They were being generous calling them sickly flowers. It’s sometimes a pathology.

AJP: Yes, but what’s behind the pathology? The action is making them feel better because they feel unhappy. I never use words like sexism or misogyny. Leave that to academics. I cut to the chase and say “coward”. I’m a survivalist and I will protect who needs protecting and people who don’t have that instinct are weak so in a perverse way I have an instinct to protect them too.

They made three women look like men and sent them out for the day. The one thing that stood out for them (vicar!) was being ignored. They enjoyed it, though. The freedom, but then – cheap holidays in other people’s misery.

MK: How many more lyrics are we going to crowbar in?

We’ve been encouraged to turn everything into a pathology I suppose. Perhaps there is just good and evil.

AJP: The most vehemently anti-political correctness person will often scream until they’re sick if you come for them about mental health. “Don’t take away my mental illness”

Eugenics is another one, and AI, crypto, gaming, pornography, abortion. They really get their Janet Reger knickers in a twist about that one. And the women get upset, too.

MK: Boom, tish! You have a line in the poem ‘Beep’ which has been compared to Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ let me get it right:

“Will you print my opinion if I take a side, with Turning Point, Antifa, UKIP or Pride”

Has your experience been that these kind of affiliations are a short cut to assured publication?

AJP: It definitely is. I have emails to prove it. I’d rather self publish, write on a dock leaf and throw it out of the window if I have to. Sketch patterns in mud.

I don’t need them because I’ve always worked. I will have my words and my way of looking at the world in my head and that’s enough. You can’t alter me. I really don’t buy much. I can live on milk and fruit, Beatrice Dalle did it in the early days.

MK: She also ate the ear off a corpse.

AJP: Who hasn’t?

I don’t want to change people’s minds. If they start to think what I think, I’ll worry I must be wrong.

What is it with people obsessing about drilling their angle into the public psyche? How can they be so sure theirs is the best one? I’m pretty sure mine isn’t the best one. The funniest angle is always the truest.

MK: Funny equals true?

AJP: Yes. Funny that comes from your very core, bones and blood and electric circles in the dark. Funny that feels like an out-of-body experience. Not a little laugh because the panel show man made a political quip you agree with at the time.

MK: Why are you sure your angle isn’t the right one? It seems pretty coherent to me.

AJP: Because I’m still a little too agitated and un — evolved. I mean, I’m trying, but part of that is knowing I’m not there. There are people who are totally about selfless dedication to physically, PHYSICALLY doing things everyday to make life better. And those people are more worth listening to than me.

They’re the people who don’t get heard because, one — they’re not sensational, two — they’re too busy putting their beliefs into practice to be on a podcast tour.

I want to smell of bonfire, sleep in a tent with snips and snails and have dirt on my face. Rise out of filthy flames and see my future in the clouds. Screaming angels take me now.

I don’t want to throw Venus under the succubus.

Below the law. A great disadvantage point to see everything through a crack in the roof. Through the dark pastly. Through the bottom of a half pint glass, it’s nasty.

MK: Okay, most predictable question. Have you always written? And, I’ll, ask who Janet Reger is, later.

AJP: I can’t remember. I have always read, though.

There’s someone in the family tree named James Dean Swift. Imagine that being your name. You’d have to be brooding and funny at the same time.

MK: Not an easy task. Eddie Izzard does it. Oh no, wait. I meant to say “Eddie Izzard is the opposite of both of those things. Don’t you love a surrealist in a beret?

AJP: I don’t know much about him. Is he surreal.

MK: Saying fish is very surreal.

AJP: Not if you’re a fish.

MK: You we’re going to tell us who Janet Reger is?

AJP: She made underwear in the eighties, I think. It’s their era isn’t it. She made nice stuff, a bit too much peach. Stuff one of Terry’s girlfriends would be wearing in Minder before she got murdered by a wrong-un.

MK: Something chiffon, and fuscia.

AJP: There is no fuscia in England’s dreaming.

MK: That’s it, ladies and gentlemen and indeterminates, hur, hur, hur. That’s why she’s here. How long have you been writing? Is it a compulsion, I imagine it’s a compulsion with you for some reason.

AJP: I can’t say I was born with a pen and a stream of wry observations, but then, I remembered recently, I found a little diary from when I was about ten years old and it wasn’t mine, it was a small appointments book, a little leather thing I found in my mum’s room and I had begun writing a diary, the dates didn’t match the days of the week, of course, something I liked because, you know, time isn’t real.

MK: I’ll pick that up later.

AJP: But I found this little thing and it was all fabricated, I was writing a diary about a pretend life. A very exciting life.

There were two gangs, a girl gang and a boy gang and the two leaders would plot and plan these high street fights and the build up would be the diary entries, that was the main thing, the arranging of the fights, and then they would have a love hate thing, these two gang leaders. I suppose that was creative writing wasn’t it?

MK: It definitely is.

AJP: A nice detail was I’d filled out the address section at the back with invented venues. Places I would have liked to have existed. Night clubs which were also book shops by day. Friendly drug dealers who had kittens and extensive music collections.

You can see the morphing into adolescence. Drugs but also. . . kittens.

MK: Was it escapism, was life tough at home? Or just mundane.

AJP: No, it was just wanting to edit life, cut to the good scenes and draw them out. I was cutting to the haste.

MK: Was it a happy childhood?

AJP: Until my dad died when I was seven, pretty idyllic, yes. Obviously, it left a dent. A cavern, there’s no word large enough, really.

MK: How do you think it affected you, your old man just going like that.

AJP: I’ve got no way of knowing, because I don’t know how I would have been if he hadn’t died. He died and that’s that.

MK: Were you close?

AJP: How close are people with a parent from birth to seven? I don’t know. He was my dad, he did dad stuff. I miss him every day of my life.

MK: Who are your favorite writers?

AJP: I don’t really have them, it’s like when people name whole albums they like, how can they like all the tracks?

I like individual works. I’m reading The Sandcastle — Iris Murdoch. I love The Technological Society — Jacques Ellul, Codex Seraphinianus, Cold Comfort Farm. Carson McCullers –

MK: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even know if Carson McCullers is a man or a woman.

AJP: She wrote this:

“But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes.”

Or: “Maybe when people longed for a thing that bad the longing made them trust in anything that might give it to them.”

Or “We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

Isn’t that true?

MK: It really is.

AJP: A good thing about being non-academic is I found them all myself. So, you know, I must really love them. I don’t have this well-rounded toe-dipping-in experience where you have to learn by piecemeal, spoon-fed excerpts of an accepted syllabus. Antonin Artaud, Flannery O’conner. Of course don’t forget the great poets: Ian Dury, John. Cooper Clarke and Morrissey. I have my older sister to thank for my early exposure.

MK: Did you find much encouragement at school? From teachers?

AJP: Not really. Benjamin Zephaniah came to our school once and read the line “I once knew a turkey called turkey” and I laughed uncontrollably. I had to be moved to the back. He left an approved school at 13 so things like that tend to be important to know – that these scenarios exist. And that he refused an OBE.

MK: Things seem to have gone from bad to worse in the arts as far as nepotistic colonisation goes.

AJP: I asked my mum when I was about 12, what class are we? She replied without looking up from her magazine: “the underclass.” I was happy with that. Almost like being aristocracy – away from all the others. It’s now known as Precariat or Feral class.

It’s the reason why so many things I can just skate over the top of. It cuts out a lot of stupid, boring, pampered ridiculousness. Yes, I am very precarious.

MK: After being homeless, a lot of things must seem really silly.

AJP: Nothing can ever really get to me after things like this. There is no inherent virtue in poverty, though. I hate the romanticisation of it. This Jack Monroe weirdness. It did make me find online spats ludicrous, though. Artificial plants.

MK: There once was an Ali Cat called Ali Cat!

AJP: Yes.

MK: But it’s become normal. They read tweets out on the news. Is there any argument that it’s a form of egalitarianism?

AJP: But they choose them on purpose. It’s not a cross section. That would terrify people. It’s not real.

MK: What’s your experience been of the publishing industry?

AJP: I think there’s a lot of embarrassment that something as wild as thoughts, as poetry as imagination – which by definition should be untamed, wild, dangerous, maybe, unhinged perhaps — is run by people named Pippa and Olivia with too many teeth and penguin earrings and performative corporate counterfeit counter culture. So, they try very hard to compensate but it’s still their idea of compensating. It might alleviate some of that guilt, too. Generally. I’m talking very generally.

The arrogance and brow mopping from agents is ludicrous.

“If we haven't replied within twelve weeks, assume we have moved on or you used Arial font. We’re unbelievably busy and we have to delete works of genius every day as we’re so very, very busy.”

You’re not in a coal mine, my dearest darling, you seem to be mostly in Brick Lane at a launch with a delicate looking man in a scarlet fedora. That’s why I started writing these kind of parodies.

MK: Like Chicken Shop Mermaid?

AJP: Yes, I wrote that out of frustration. I thought of the title first. This is the kind of book which wins literary competitions.

MK: You have your finger on the pulmonary! I love the synaesthesia stuff. It actually helped my nephew, too. He has it very similar to you. Numbers, letters, names.

AJP: Someone told me it’s synaesthesia. I don’t know. That the name Steven is cold and white and blue and rides a bike on a Monday. France is on a plate and deep fried, Maria lives above a restaurant and has a blue polka dot skirt. I’d pushed it to the back on my mind. I thought “this is not a useful skill”

The number four is a boy and is the same as chocolate smarties and a dart board. Seeing all the months of the year around you in a circle with personalities, attitudes and correlations.

I used to ask people, “Is the number six male or female?” What an annoying bastard.

MK: And do they answer?

AJP: Sometimes. Those are my favorite conversations. Barbara being like blackberry jam. October is sensible and a little sad and is catching a train to get its toaster repaired. It’s becoming fashionable, though. Find me another special way of being delicate and self-absorbed.

MK: You could be neuro — diverse? That’s popping up now in the what’s hot columns. I can actually see that now you mention it. The Barbara one. Probably not helpful, though.

AJP: Yes, the letter J is dark purple and lives in a kind of floatation tank.

MK: What would you do if you didn’t have to think about money, at all?

AJP: Look after animals. Have a bit of land and take care of them. Or a boat. I don’t understand why more people aren’t obsessed with animals. They’re like us . . . but not us. You could live to be five-hundred and still not meet them all.

MK: You want to be Noah!

AJP: Noah don’t!

MK: Ali J. Prince, you’re a delight and a conundrum and I want you on every episode until the one winged dove gets back to the garden centre.

To be continued . . .





SPORADIC NOMADIC PODCAST: Scouring illusory time and space to bring makers of trouble . . . into your bubble! https://soundcloud.com/artofthecovenant