" Madam Miaow Says: May 2008

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Sharon Stone: karma cow tows



Buddhist convert Sharon Stone gets reincarnated as a moron as she declares that the Chinese earthquake which killed at least 68,000 people was "Karma" for not being "nice". So tens of thousands of innocent human beings died as some sort of punishment over Tibet? If this is what passes for cosmic justice in Sharon's worldview, she can stuff it.

Same goes for all the luvvies whose chief concern is their own spiritual wellbeing while not giving a toss for the 95 per cent of the Tibetan population who were slaves and serfs, owned body and soul by the political elite, including the Dalai Lama's own mother, who, touchingly, the sweet boy still reveres.

I'm reminded of the 1980s Buddhists who used to chant for Porsches and insist that the starving in Africa must have done something in a previous life to deserve their present fate . "Even the kids, the babies?" I used to ask. "Yes, especially the babies as they have more to learn."

There've been quite a few of these comments about "karma" popping up in the blogosphere from Dolly sympathisers. Nice! I hope the Dalai does himself a favour and distances himself from the barbarism on display from his disciples.

BTW, I wonder if it's karma that's led to Sharon being dropped by Dior and China banning her films. There are more things in heaven and earth ...

BBC on karma
Tibet: The Story of a feud Rob Gifford's BBC R4 report attempting to untangle the arguments.

Sharon Stone: karma cow tows



Buddhist convert Sharon Stone gets reincarnated as a moron as she declares that the Chinese earthquake which killed at least 68,000 people was "Karma" for not being "nice". So tens of thousands of innocent human beings died as some sort of punishment over Tibet? If this is what passes for cosmic justice in Sharon's worldview, she can stuff it.

Same goes for all the luvvies whose chief concern is their own spiritual wellbeing while not giving a toss for the 95 per cent of the Tibetan population who were slaves and serfs, owned body and soul by the political elite, including the Dalai Lama's own mother, who, touchingly, the sweet boy still reveres.

I'm reminded of the 1980s Buddhists who used to chant for Porsches and insist that the starving in Africa must have done something in a previous life to deserve their present fate . "Even the kids, the babies?" I used to ask. "Yes, especially the babies as they have more to learn."

There've been quite a few of these comments about "karma" popping up in the blogosphere from Dolly sympathisers. Nice! I hope the Dalai does himself a favour and distances himself from the barbarism on display from his disciples.

BTW, I wonder if it's karma that's led to Sharon being dropped by Dior and China banning her films. There are more things in heaven and earth ...

BBC on karma
Tibet: The Story of a feud Rob Gifford's BBC R4 report attempting to untangle the arguments.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Madam Miaow in Poet Mode: St Ives Arts Club



A little bit of political satire, laydees an' gennelmen, as Anna Chen reads "Under Deep Cover of the PTA" at the St Ives Arts Club Cafe Frug night during the May Literature Festival. More pix here

Madam Miaow in Poet Mode: St Ives Arts Club



A little bit of political satire, laydees an' gennelmen, as Anna Chen reads "Under Deep Cover of the PTA" at the St Ives Arts Club Cafe Frug night during the May Literature Festival. More pix here

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

St Ives arts week: Madam Miaow does poetry


Picture: L to R Bob Devereux, Rod Bullimore, Anna Chen, Kelvin Bowers at the Salthouse Gallery reading Sunday 11th May 2008


Home from St Ives at last with end-of-holiday blues. Still haven't unpacked due to to an overwhelming urge to get my holiday pix and videos sorted.

I would have posted the first video of the batch. It's of me reading some poetry in Norway Square at the first of the lunchtime open readings in Norways Square as part of Bob Devereux's literature festival: "Daddy Freud", "Poe" and "To Adonis At His Toilet".

Google has a problem so I'm including the YouTube link and hope to upload the video later.

St Ives arts week: Madam Miaow does poetry


Picture: L to R Bob Devereux, Rod Bullimore, Anna Chen, Kelvin Bowers at the Salthouse Gallery reading Sunday 11th May 2008


Home from St Ives at last with end-of-holiday blues. Still haven't unpacked due to to an overwhelming urge to get my holiday pix and videos sorted.

I would have posted the first video of the batch. It's of me reading some poetry in Norway Square at the first of the lunchtime open readings in Norways Square as part of Bob Devereux's literature festival: "Daddy Freud", "Poe" and "To Adonis At His Toilet".

Google has a problem so I'm including the YouTube link and hope to upload the video later.

Monday, 19 May 2008

China earthquake: aftermath


China begins three days of mourning a week after it's worst natural tragedy since the last major earthquake thirty years ago. Following the debacle in Burma where the authorities, usually so quick to crack down on dissent, are criminally slow to react to the estimated 100,000 deaths from the cyclone, the Chinese rescue effort has been admirably rapid and efficient. It also compares favourably with the way the US government dealt with Hurricane Katrina and lost New Orleans, so the attacks on the rescue operation from some quarters are grossly unfair.

However, while some structures withstood the massive 7.9 shocks, schools bore the brunt with thousands of children caught in the collapse. As one mother says, "It wasn't the earthquake that killed our children, it was the buildings."

Deepest sympathy.

Chengdu near epicentre in Sichuan province
CNN report
Live footage from a college dorm that survived the quake
Shocking Reuters report on harrowing rescue — Blood and Treasure
Interesting and informative discussion at British Chinese Online
Coco Wang Earthquake comic strips. Harrowing and moving, a graphic artist's snapshots of the tragedy.
Photos and school construction report

China earthquake: aftermath


China begins three days of mourning a week after it's worst natural tragedy since the last major earthquake thirty years ago. Following the debacle in Burma where the authorities, usually so quick to crack down on dissent, are criminally slow to react to the estimated 100,000 deaths from the cyclone, the Chinese rescue effort has been admirably rapid and efficient. It also compares favourably with the way the US government dealt with Hurricane Katrina and lost New Orleans, so the attacks on the rescue operation from some quarters are grossly unfair.

However, while some structures withstood the massive 7.9 shocks, schools bore the brunt with thousands of children caught in the collapse. As one mother says, "It wasn't the earthquake that killed our children, it was the buildings."

Deepest sympathy.

Chengdu near epicentre in Sichuan province
CNN report
Live footage from a college dorm that survived the quake
Shocking Reuters report on harrowing rescue — Blood and Treasure
Interesting and informative discussion at British Chinese Online
Coco Wang Earthquake comic strips. Harrowing and moving, a graphic artist's snapshots of the tragedy.
Photos and school construction report

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Madam Miaow on the radio: Chinese in Britain BBC Radio 4


Picture: The first documented Chinese in Britain, Shen Fu Tsong, a Jesuit convert who translated the Chinese books at the Bodleian Library in the 17th Century and whose portrait hung in the bedchamber of King James II

The first of the two omnibus repeats of my series, Chinese In Britain, went out last night on Radio 4 at 9pm. It was originally a ten-part series broadcast April/May 2007 and has now been edited into two hour-long episodes.

Next one is Friday 23rd May at 9pm.

You can listen for seven days at:
BBC Online

A fascinating story” - Chris Campling, The Times
Each episode sounded effortless only because it had been crafted with such supreme care” - Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph

Madam Miaow on the radio: Chinese in Britain BBC Radio 4


Picture: The first documented Chinese in Britain, Shen Fu Tsong, a Jesuit convert who translated the Chinese books at the Bodleian Library in the 17th Century and whose portrait hung in the bedchamber of King James II

The first of the two omnibus repeats of my series, Chinese In Britain, went out last night on Radio 4 at 9pm. It was originally a ten-part series broadcast April/May 2007 and has now been edited into two hour-long episodes.

Next one is Friday 23rd May at 9pm.

You can listen for seven days at:
BBC Online

A fascinating story” - Chris Campling, The Times
Each episode sounded effortless only because it had been crafted with such supreme care” - Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph

Saturday, 10 May 2008

St Ives arts week: Madam Miaow at play


Who'd have thought a dozen oysters and half a bottle of cava could have such devastating consequences? Either that or the clotted cream, the sun or the pasties (the Cornish kind you eat, not the ones you twirl, silly!).

Since Wednesday's molluscular treat this writer has been tethered to the, ahem, "facilities" by the state of her guts (shades of Chuck Palahniuk). As I'm only 20 paces from the beach that's not too much of a tragedy except that the incoming banks of cloud carried on a brisk Atlantic wind make it not as attractive a proposition as it was a few days ago when I was slapping on the factor 30 suncream. Let's look on the bright side, though. Nuthin' like a gastric upset or a tapeworm to trim the tum and mark a welcome return to one's summer sillhouette.

"I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." Or at least wrapped up in thermals and my padded waterproof faux berber jacket with hood. I'd look like something that fell off the back of the Countryside Alliance if it weren't for the fact that I don't exactly fit the profile. Fooled by the sun earlier in the week, I took a trepidatious paddle in the sea up to my knees and beat a hasty retreat, not because filmmaker Nick Broomfield was chasing me with a camera, but because my feet immediately grew numb with cold.

Only mad dogs and Englishmen swim in the early summer sea. You have to wait til September for the sea to heat up enough in these heah parts for any sane person to fully immerse. Unless you are an energy-frazzling toddler or a surfer. By the way, isn't it amazing how a black rubber wetsuit can turn the average fat-slob Brit into a god, sleeked down and held in in all the right places? (And bulging where needed.)

Today is the start of Bob Devereux's Literary festival, beginning at 12.30 with daily open readings in Norway Square and various other events at the Arts Club (Cafe Frug nights), the Mariners Gallery, and Bob's own wonderful Salthouse Gallery. I'm reading from The Chop House on Sunday with my mate Rod Bullimore who's reading from his Unfinished Novels — memories of dead teachers, and generally larking about for the duration.

More info on the festival here

More on St Ives courtesy of Steve McIntosh here

Just to keep you going until I get home and upload pix and videos, here's one I made last year of local musician Steve Jones performing Coconut Skins by Damien Rice.

Wish you were here ...


Steve Jones at last September's arts festival in The Salthouse Gallery

St Ives arts week: Madam Miaow at play


Who'd have thought a dozen oysters and half a bottle of cava could have such devastating consequences? Either that or the clotted cream, the sun or the pasties (the Cornish kind you eat, not the ones you twirl, silly!).

Since Wednesday's molluscular treat this writer has been tethered to the, ahem, "facilities" by the state of her guts (shades of Chuck Palahniuk). As I'm only 20 paces from the beach that's not too much of a tragedy except that the incoming banks of cloud carried on a brisk Atlantic wind make it not as attractive a proposition as it was a few days ago when I was slapping on the factor 30 suncream. Let's look on the bright side, though. Nuthin' like a gastric upset or a tapeworm to trim the tum and mark a welcome return to one's summer sillhouette.

"I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." Or at least wrapped up in thermals and my padded waterproof faux berber jacket with hood. I'd look like something that fell off the back of the Countryside Alliance if it weren't for the fact that I don't exactly fit the profile. Fooled by the sun earlier in the week, I took a trepidatious paddle in the sea up to my knees and beat a hasty retreat, not because filmmaker Nick Broomfield was chasing me with a camera, but because my feet immediately grew numb with cold.

Only mad dogs and Englishmen swim in the early summer sea. You have to wait til September for the sea to heat up enough in these heah parts for any sane person to fully immerse. Unless you are an energy-frazzling toddler or a surfer. By the way, isn't it amazing how a black rubber wetsuit can turn the average fat-slob Brit into a god, sleeked down and held in in all the right places? (And bulging where needed.)

Today is the start of Bob Devereux's Literary festival, beginning at 12.30 with daily open readings in Norway Square and various other events at the Arts Club (Cafe Frug nights), the Mariners Gallery, and Bob's own wonderful Salthouse Gallery. I'm reading from The Chop House on Sunday with my mate Rod Bullimore who's reading from his Unfinished Novels — memories of dead teachers, and generally larking about for the duration.

More info on the festival here

More on St Ives courtesy of Steve McIntosh here

Just to keep you going until I get home and upload pix and videos, here's one I made last year of local musician Steve Jones performing Coconut Skins by Damien Rice.

Wish you were here ...

video
Steve Jones at last September's arts festival in The Salthouse Gallery

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Madam Miaow reading: St Ives Literature Festival



Madam Miaow — AKA Anna Chen — reads from her autobiography, The Chop House, 8pm this Sunday 11th May at the Salthouse Gallery, St Ives, as part of the St Ives Literature Festival.

"Right now I'm trying to finish The Chop House, an autobiography about my upbringing by Chinese communists in Hackney from the Swinging Sixties, when I had Beatlemania screaming in one ear and Red Guards in the other, to life as an early punk when I hung out with various cultural reprobates and had my first catsuit made by Vivienne Westwood. My excuse for being in St Ives is that it gives me the opportunity to buckle up, knuckle down and get the damn book writ. But there's the beach, the Arts Club, the night life, my mates (old and new) and, of course, the literary festival ... "

More info here:

and here:

Madam Miaow reading: St Ives Literature Festival



Madam Miaow — AKA Anna Chen — reads from her autobiography, The Chop House, 8pm this Sunday 11th May at the Salthouse Gallery, St Ives, as part of the St Ives Literature Festival.

"Right now I'm trying to finish The Chop House, an autobiography about my upbringing by Chinese communists in Hackney from the Swinging Sixties, when I had Beatlemania screaming in one ear and Red Guards in the other, to life as an early punk when I hung out with various cultural reprobates and had my first catsuit made by Vivienne Westwood. My excuse for being in St Ives is that it gives me the opportunity to buckle up, knuckle down and get the damn book writ. But there's the beach, the Arts Club, the night life, my mates (old and new) and, of course, the literary festival ... "

More info here:

and here:

Sunday, 4 May 2008

How magic works: Penn & Teller and the Dalai Lama



Penn & Teller, experts in revealing how magic tricks are done, take on the Dalai Lama in their own inimitable style. Iconoclasm school: module 101.

See also Madam Miaow on Tibet or not Tibet: Shangrila-la land

How magic works: Penn & Teller and the Dalai Lama



Penn & Teller, experts in revealing how magic tricks are done, take on the Dalai Lama in their own inimitable style. Iconoclasm school: module 101.

See also Madam Miaow on Tibet or not Tibet: Shangrila-la land

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Keith Richards stole my last joint: guest post from Charles Shaar Murray


EXCLUSIVE TO MADAM MIAOW SAYS — KEEF ENCOUNTERS

It's 1975. The Stones have just released a fairly disappointing album, Black And Blue, and in my capacity as frontline hatchetman for the New Musical Express, I pen a feature-length review making this case at great length. Bearing in mind Mick Jagger's dictum that he doesn't care what they say about him on Page 25 as long as his picture is on the front of the magazine, we decide to make the drummer our cover boy with a headline reading 'The new album by CHARLIE WATTS and his fabulous Rolling Stones.' Ahhh, fun'n games ...

The following week, the Stones, touring for the first time with new guy Ron Wood, are playing in Frankfurt (note to US readers: this is a city in Germany famous for its sausages and its right-wing economists) and it is decided that I should attend on behalf of the NME. It is not a great performance: the highlights are Keef tripping over his own legs and falling over, being helped to his feet and regaining Homo Erectus status whilst still playing, and Mick J returning to the stage after Keef's outrageously sloppy rendition of his vocal feature on Happy to announce, in his broadest Mockney, 'Fank you Keef, that WOS GRATE!'

After the show, the company assemble in Mr Wood's hotel room for an impromptu reception. I am seated on a sofa swapping badinage with Mr Wood when I hear someone saying (in broad Mockney) 'I fought your review was BLAAAAAAAAHDY STOOPID.' I ignore him. He says it again. I continue to ignore him. Mr Jagger is not well pleased. I commence rolling a joint. This attracts a certain amount of attention. I am informed that, whilst various White Powders are in plentiful supply, there is a total weed famine, and that I am the only person in the room with any incendiary intoxicants.

Five of us journo types are summoned to join Mr Richards at a table. Stone-faced (no overt pun intended), he is chopping out a dozen lines of some unidentified White Powder on a small marble slab. Producing a high-denomination banknote and rolling it into a tight cylinder, he then proceeds – glaring at each of us in turn – to snort all twelve lines himself. I continue rolling the joint, a process which is taking me far longer than it should: partly because the German papers seem entirely devoid of adhesive, and partly because I am already fairly refreshed.

An ashen-faced PR guy appears at my elbow. 'Mick says that if you don't leave now,' he informs me, 'he'll have you thrown out.' Noting that Mr Wood doesn't appear to have much of a say in who can and cannot remain in what is, after all, HIS room, I gather up my almost-completed spliff and rise to my feet.

'OI.' sez Keef. 'He stays. He's the only fucka who's got a joint.'

I sit down again and finally complete the spliff. I'm just about to ignite it when the PR returns, and by now he's a whiter shade of chartreuse. His job may depend on getting me out of there before Mick turns round. I shrug and head for the door. Keef gets up and follows me. At the door I light the joint. Keef mutters, 'Look, never mind what 'E sez. What's your room number? There's a party later on in Billy Preston's room [late keyboard player, former Ray Charles sideman and shares with the equally late Nicky Hopkins the distinction of being one of the only keyb guys to have played and performed with both Beatles and Stones] and I'll give you a call later on.'

I scribble out my room number and hand him the spliff. The door slams in my face. I realise that Keith Richards, grandmaster of cool and idol of millions, has just ripped me off for my last joint.

Back in my room, I think 'fark dis,' and -- to quote an old Stones B-side -- back in the bed I started reading my book, and I take my phone right offa the hook.

Next morning, there's a note under my door, scribbled on a page from the tour program. 'Tried to call you. What happened?'

1979: Keef and Ron are touring the US as the New Barbarians, with Stanley Clarke on bass, Joseph 'Zigaboo' Modeliste from The Meters on drums, Bobby Keyes on tenor sax and Ian MacLagan on keys. I join them in Dallas. We conduct an amusing interview during which Keef boasts of having a better reggae collection than any of the punkrockaaas (not surprising since he has a house in Jamaica), and all the old stagers seem a trifle nervous about an up-and-coming new band called The Police. At a post-gig party in Keef's room, attended by several members of the Dallas Cowboys football team and their cheerleaders, Keef announces that he has a bag of primo weed in one of his suitcases, but passes out before he can find it. I then watch him snooze on the floor while a whole bunch of people he doesn't know ransack his luggage looking for weed, and reflect that being an iconic rock star occasionally has its downsides.

1984: release of another disappointing Stones album, Dirty Work. For some reason I have been hanging out with Jeff Beck, who's been invited to the launch party,so I tag along. Bump into Keef. He gives me a big hug.

'I'm flattered,' I tell him, 'but we've never been close. Why are you so glad to see me?'

'I'm glad to see anyone,' he tells me, 'who's still around.'

POSTSCRIPT, 2003: The Stones are on the Forty Licks tour, and I am dispatched to Amsterdam to interview Uncle Keef (by now mellowed into the Lovable Old Pirate we know today) for the London Evening Standard. Having both purchased and consumed rather too enthusiastically at one of the city's cannabis cafe, I have only just regained the power to speak a known human language when it is time for the interview.

Keef arrives in high spirits (no pun intended) waving a fresh bottle of Stolichnaya, accompanied by a minder with a tall glass, an ice bucket and several cans of orange Fanta. We conduct a lively interview, during which Keef makes a major theatrical show out of pouring his drinks. I tell him that I'm not crazy about carrying all my remaining weed back through customs, and offer it to him as a goodwill gift.

'Aha!' he chuckles, 'EMG!'

I say, 'Huh?'

"EMG,' he repeats. 'Everything must go!'

At the end of the interview (a brief interlude of Geek Chat is later spun off into a separate piece for Guitarist), he leaves, and I note that he has not only left behind the bag of weed, but the bottle of Stoly, most of which remains. Despite all the theatrics, he has doused his vodkas in so much orange fizz that his drinks barely qualified as alcopops.

I am reduced to the ancient trick of wrapping the bag of weed in a rolled-up pair of dirty socks when returning home. It works, mainly because I now look so old and respectable that Customs don't bother with me. Back home in London, I consider putting Keef's bottle of Stoly up on eBay as a Stones collectable ...

... and then I think 'fark dis,' and drink it.

by Charles Shaar Murray

Keith Richards stole my last joint: guest post from Charles Shaar Murray


EXCLUSIVE TO MADAM MIAOW SAYS — KEEF ENCOUNTERS

It's 1975. The Stones have just released a fairly disappointing album, Black And Blue, and in my capacity as frontline hatchetman for the New Musical Express, I pen a feature-length review making this case at great length. Bearing in mind Mick Jagger's dictum that he doesn't care what they say about him on Page 25 as long as his picture is on the front of the magazine, we decide to make the drummer our cover boy with a headline reading 'The new album by CHARLIE WATTS and his fabulous Rolling Stones.' Ahhh, fun'n games ...

The following week, the Stones, touring for the first time with new guy Ron Wood, are playing in Frankfurt (note to US readers: this is a city in Germany famous for its sausages and its right-wing economists) and it is decided that I should attend on behalf of the NME. It is not a great performance: the highlights are Keef tripping over his own legs and falling over, being helped to his feet and regaining Homo Erectus status whilst still playing, and Mick J returning to the stage after Keef's outrageously sloppy rendition of his vocal feature on Happy to announce, in his broadest Mockney, 'Fank you Keef, that WOS GRATE!'

After the show, the company assemble in Mr Wood's hotel room for an impromptu reception. I am seated on a sofa swapping badinage with Mr Wood when I hear someone saying (in broad Mockney) 'I fought your review was BLAAAAAAAAHDY STOOPID.' I ignore him. He says it again. I continue to ignore him. Mr Jagger is not well pleased. I commence rolling a joint. This attracts a certain amount of attention. I am informed that, whilst various White Powders are in plentiful supply, there is a total weed famine, and that I am the only person in the room with any incendiary intoxicants.

Five of us journo types are summoned to join Mr Richards at a table. Stone-faced (no overt pun intended), he is chopping out a dozen lines of some unidentified White Powder on a small marble slab. Producing a high-denomination banknote and rolling it into a tight cylinder, he then proceeds – glaring at each of us in turn – to snort all twelve lines himself. I continue rolling the joint, a process which is taking me far longer than it should: partly because the German papers seem entirely devoid of adhesive, and partly because I am already fairly refreshed.

An ashen-faced PR guy appears at my elbow. 'Mick says that if you don't leave now,' he informs me, 'he'll have you thrown out.' Noting that Mr Wood doesn't appear to have much of a say in who can and cannot remain in what is, after all, HIS room, I gather up my almost-completed spliff and rise to my feet.

'OI.' sez Keef. 'He stays. He's the only fucka who's got a joint.'

I sit down again and finally complete the spliff. I'm just about to ignite it when the PR returns, and by now he's a whiter shade of chartreuse. His job may depend on getting me out of there before Mick turns round. I shrug and head for the door. Keef gets up and follows me. At the door I light the joint. Keef mutters, 'Look, never mind what 'E sez. What's your room number? There's a party later on in Billy Preston's room [late keyboard player, former Ray Charles sideman and shares with the equally late Nicky Hopkins the distinction of being one of the only keyb guys to have played and performed with both Beatles and Stones] and I'll give you a call later on.'

I scribble out my room number and hand him the spliff. The door slams in my face. I realise that Keith Richards, grandmaster of cool and idol of millions, has just ripped me off for my last joint.

Back in my room, I think 'fark dis,' and -- to quote an old Stones B-side -- back in the bed I started reading my book, and I take my phone right offa the hook.

Next morning, there's a note under my door, scribbled on a page from the tour program. 'Tried to call you. What happened?'

1979: Keef and Ron are touring the US as the New Barbarians, with Stanley Clarke on bass, Joseph 'Zigaboo' Modeliste from The Meters on drums, Bobby Keyes on tenor sax and Ian MacLagan on keys. I join them in Dallas. We conduct an amusing interview during which Keef boasts of having a better reggae collection than any of the punkrockaaas (not surprising since he has a house in Jamaica), and all the old stagers seem a trifle nervous about an up-and-coming new band called The Police. At a post-gig party in Keef's room, attended by several members of the Dallas Cowboys football team and their cheerleaders, Keef announces that he has a bag of primo weed in one of his suitcases, but passes out before he can find it. I then watch him snooze on the floor while a whole bunch of people he doesn't know ransack his luggage looking for weed, and reflect that being an iconic rock star occasionally has its downsides.

1984: release of another disappointing Stones album, Dirty Work. For some reason I have been hanging out with Jeff Beck, who's been invited to the launch party,so I tag along. Bump into Keef. He gives me a big hug.

'I'm flattered,' I tell him, 'but we've never been close. Why are you so glad to see me?'

'I'm glad to see anyone,' he tells me, 'who's still around.'

POSTSCRIPT, 2003: The Stones are on the Forty Licks tour, and I am dispatched to Amsterdam to interview Uncle Keef (by now mellowed into the Lovable Old Pirate we know today) for the London Evening Standard. Having both purchased and consumed rather too enthusiastically at one of the city's cannabis cafe, I have only just regained the power to speak a known human language when it is time for the interview.

Keef arrives in high spirits (no pun intended) waving a fresh bottle of Stolichnaya, accompanied by a minder with a tall glass, an ice bucket and several cans of orange Fanta. We conduct a lively interview, during which Keef makes a major theatrical show out of pouring his drinks. I tell him that I'm not crazy about carrying all my remaining weed back through customs, and offer it to him as a goodwill gift.

'Aha!' he chuckles, 'EMG!'

I say, 'Huh?'

"EMG,' he repeats. 'Everything must go!'

At the end of the interview (a brief interlude of Geek Chat is later spun off into a separate piece for Guitarist), he leaves, and I note that he has not only left behind the bag of weed, but the bottle of Stoly, most of which remains. Despite all the theatrics, he has doused his vodkas in so much orange fizz that his drinks barely qualified as alcopops.

I am reduced to the ancient trick of wrapping the bag of weed in a rolled-up pair of dirty socks when returning home. It works, mainly because I now look so old and respectable that Customs don't bother with me. Back home in London, I consider putting Keef's bottle of Stoly up on eBay as a Stones collectable ...

... and then I think 'fark dis,' and drink it.

by Charles Shaar Murray

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