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The result of my DNA test
taken in the hope of finding out something about my father.



poems of the month

orpheus in soho

a seriously sexy man


measuring my face

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard


the rich man and the leper






the maxims of michel de montaigne

revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history




the three bears

three albanian tales

a little creation story


lazarus the leper




metamorphotos NEW LINK


Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland and the phallic continuum

irish cross-pillars

irish sweathouses

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths



we are all





I would have boiled his sperm in a twisted spoon.

I dreamed one night that my mother was Neanderthal and my father Denisovan (closely related hominid from eastern Eurasia). Lovely dream. After all, a recent study found that less than 10% of our genome is distinctive to Homo sapiens.

Papa, alas, was not Paul Robeson!
The reality turns out to be as dull as a dirty sheet.

There was a huge list of distant relatives on my mother's side, the closest of them sharing only 4% of my DNA, and the only one registered on the site that I knew (my mother's cousin's son) shared only 2%. He lives in Northern Ireland. My mother's brother's children (born in Coventry) do not feature at all, nor does my other surviving cousin, son of my mother's sister.

The only person listed on my father's side shared a considerable 17% of my DNA, and called himself iantococks.

On investigation, I found this surname does not exist. But Tocock without the s is an extensive family, mainly in southern England, mainly in north Hampshire and around Reading in Berkshire. I was born near Reading, in a posh maternity hospital, as you will have read on the previous page.

My percentage of shared DNA falls between these two extremes. On Googling the family name Tocock I found that there is a website devoted to two extensive family trees. This turned out to be a red herring in a cul-de-sac.

At the bottom of the selection of DNA matches shown at the top of this page is a Thomas Cocks... Two entries above him is a Luke Fleming, who is a "shared DNA match"...

But, to get back to the circumstances of my conception. My mother wrote in her posthumous letter to me:

I was bored [in Belfast] and miserable after my wonderful year in Canada. There were no entertainments, there was the black-out - and when I met some RAF officers whom I found glamorous, resting between "ops", I was delighted. I went to dances and parties, and eventually became infatuated with one particular pilot - tall, handsome, fun-loving, extravert (longish, narrow face, like yours), bright eyes, always bubbly and with a Mephistophelian cast of countenance, really. I offered no resistance because I was simply curious. Although I was 32 I didn't know what "it" was all about. I was totally naive..."

At the time of my conception, however, she was 33. And there was indeed an RAF Squadron based at Sydenham in Belfast (now the site of the Belfast city airport) and a half-hour's walk from where my mother lived. This was not the squadron which was based at Aldergrove, north of Belfast, and which was sent to the Mediterranean in 1941.

It was only on hearing stories of people who shared DNA on commercial banks that I started wondering if I might find something out about this dashing RAF pilot who gave my mother her first and only sexual experience - at a party. Maybe not against a wall, but probably not anywhere salubrious.

Following my joining, I received a kind letter out of the Californian blue telling me that 'iantococks' is an Ian Cocks whose mother was Amy Pirie, and shares maternal grandparents with me. An Alexander Herbert Pirie had two children, one of whom was Ian's mother and the other, apparently, was my father, Alexander Norman Pirie. This surname may be an anglicisation of the French surname Poirier (pear-tree). Pears can be made into perry, which is also a British surname.

Among the officers listed as active in Belfast in 1940-41 then was Flying Officer A.N. Pirie.

Born in Edmonton, Middlesex on 23 Jan 1915 to Alexander Herbert Pirie and Hetty Cribb,
Alexander Norman Pirie married Dorothy Dowson.
Died May 1996 in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England.

Huntingdon is not so far from Newmarket, Bury-St-Edmonds and Mildenhall airfield, where my mother spent four happy years as a Meteorological Officer in the WAAF.
She passed on to me an interest in meteorology.

However, this is not the most interesting piece of information. On investigating Ian Cocks' ancestors via a very dubious gadget or facility called ThruLines®, I found Scandinavian ancestry.

Continuing down the rabbit-hole on ThruLines®, I get a different lineage:

Salpetersjudar in Swedish means Saltpetre-Jew, presumably a Jew who made saltpetre. So I might be just a teeny-weeny bit Jewish, though it seems pretty unlikely that Sweden at that time included Norway and Finland.

Saltpetre is used in glass-making. Glass-making came out of Venice, where the original Ghetto was established...but I am taking this ancestry 'with a large pinch of salt'.


This beautiful maternity hospital, in Wokingham, Berkshire, is where I was born. How did my mother come to or choose to go there ?

It is a bizarre coincidence that several of the extensive clan of Tococks (no relation to Ian Cocks alias iantococks) have been living and/or marrying in the Reading area (one actually in Wokingham) for several generations.

The question remains, however : where was I between being born in the above manor house/hostel and being adopted in 1942 by my mother and transported to her mother and sister in Belfast. She had, as already mentioned, joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and was not de-mobilised until at least September 1945, so most of my first five years of life were spent without her, one of them in a place unknown with people unknown.

My mother was born in the same year as Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippa Longstocking books. Astrid, too, had to go to another but nearby country (from Southern Sweden to Denmark) to have her first child – in the only Danish hospital that did not require the name of the inseminator.

Presumably that "missing year" caused some sort of lacuna in my consciousness, for I remember only once asking about my father when I was very young, and just being told that he was a pilot killed in the war. That seemed to satisfy my curiosity until I reached my 80th year, though at the age of 40 I had officially requested the identity of my parents, and was none the wiser about my father (Father Unknown). But – I was genuinely surprised, though definitely not shocked to learn – my mother turned out to be the woman whom I had always referred to as my "Aunt" Mattie (Martha), with no notion that she was my mother, despite the striking physical similarities between us, especially the spathulate thumbs.

My 81-year old spathulate thumb with striations caused by age.

To most people this lack of curiosity would seem astonishing. Did some event in my childhood quash my curiosity about families ? If so, was it a trauma I underwent during my first year ? If so, did this trauma permanently mark me not just as a solitary, an outsider, but a person who has remembered very little of his past at any given time, and didn't even give any thought to remembering until he was well past seventy ? I think so.

On reflection, I see my past as a series of boxes in a life-long Daze which must have arisen from the blank first year spent somewhere which might or might not have been a cosy home. Each daze-box was defined and to a large extent sealed by encounters and normal childhood events such as going to school, change of school, leaving school, pleasant or traumatic holidays and so on. After that there were Denmark, dogs, megaliths, Jim, Gregorio, Paris, Malcolm and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, to name but a few already mentioned in this tedious typescript. Each daze-box had a different atmosphere, a different haze of unawareness and partial awareness. I am now in the last of my hazy-mazy daze-boxes, and, with declining faculties, pondering uselessly on why I have lived as I have lived. . .and what happened during that first unaccounted-for year, after which I was plonked down as an oddity in a family where all emotions were suppressed or unfelt. My occasional tantrums must have been very shocking. Most of them were at the dinner-table, because there were so few things that I would put in my mouth apart from toast, porridge, milk puddings, stewed fruit: baby food ?

I must always have been thought of as Mattie's wee (spoilt, left-handed) bastard, and the 'unconscious awareness' of this must also have contributed to my hazy sense of separateness. On the other hand I don't think I was the only boy who, in a18-month religious phase, prayed (in his warm bed) to God every night to take him from this world of conformity, anxiety and stress.

Although she was easily dominated by men, Mattie was not 'the marrying type'. She valued her independence, and didn't 'want to wash a man's dirty socks and underwear for the rest of her life'. She washed a goodly amount of mine, however. One reason for adopting me might have been a desire for maternal fulfilment that did not involve intimacy with and dreary laundry-service to a man.

I wonder if she actually knew my father's surname...or, for that matter, his real first name. Presumably Flying Officer Pirie did not know (and might not have cared) that he had impregnated her. Both my mother and I regretted it. Because of me her life was a chain of trials and perplexities. Did my father even remember her ? Even if his name had been on my birth certificate, how would I have followed it up in the days before Netscape and Google ? Would I have wanted to ? Pointless to speculate how he would have reacted to a letter from me.

The problem with genealogical trees, of course, is that they do not record dalliances, illicit unions and illegitimate children. Thus they are idealised. And when consanguinities are considered, half-siblings often are not. There is also a whiff of racism.

An even more glaring deficiency is that they are patrilinear, and it is only through mitochondrial DNA that the female line can be traced...back to our disastrous beginnings in Africa.

23rd September 2022.


For a generation only forty years earlier than my mother's, infanticide was a common solution to unwanted children in Ireland and across Europe. There was a famous case of Jane Boyd, a servant dismissed from her job in Dundonald (where Mattie was born), whose grandmother killed the newborn with a spade and buried it in her Holywood (county Down) garden. None of those implicated was charged with murder, but with conspiracy to conceal a birth, for which the punishmeent was prison with hard labour. It is quite possible that Jane Boyd was impregnated by a male of the household in which she cleaned grates and washed floors.

When the Weir family grave at Dundondald churchyard was opened to receive my mother in 1998, the undocumented remains of a baby were found and reported only to me. My grandmother had been a midwife. Whose was the child ?

Mattie and her mother must have been very grateful to have been able to deal with her pregnancy and my birth as elegantly as they did, even if it meant a "missing year" from my life, and five years of Mattie's separation from me (and I from her) while she was in the WAAF. I have no recollection of her (presumably rare) visits, nor of her permanent re-appearance in my life (and re-instatement at Dundonald Primary school) in 1945 or 1946.

We know now of the dreadful fates dished out to girls (some of them impregnated by priests) in the Irish Republic: humiliated and often malnourished teenageers who had to work as slaves in nun-run laundries for the rest of their miserable lives, their babies confiscated and starved to death, or sold as orphans to childless Catholic Americans. Right up until the nineteen-seventies at least. We know very little about boys (or perhaps even babies)sodomised by priests all over Catholic Europe, especially in France and Poland.

In the Georgian SSR maternity units did a brisk trade in babies who, their mothers were told, died shortly after birth...but ended up as purchases all over the USSR. This trade continued after the fragmentation of the Soviet Union.



Etheridge Knight

(who, alas for me, but fortubately for him, was not queer)




Anthony Weir



"Marrezi, turp
turp dhe mëkate
per jeten e tërbuar..."


Shame and rage
greed and pain:
life is a gaoler
bejewelled and vain.

Life made misery.
Life made Man.
In wastes of desire
the grotesque can-can. faliu ligjes sime,
bindu i çmendur endërrtar...

'Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich...?'
How can it possibly matter in which language
what medium I am unread ?
Or, even if read, not understood ?
My comfort the warmth and the words of the dead,
the greatest intimacy our grief beyond time
and its terror and hatred and bitterness.

Along the valley of death I've always been walking
and listening to the blood-pools talking,
bones and bonfires everywhere,
black and blue and red in the air.
Poisoned the water, bitter the rain.
Life itself is in love with pain.

Our comfort-manufactured metal hearts dissolve in rust
so that 'Old myths renew as passionate as dusk.'

...të shpirtit, në një kend,
lindi një shqetësim
që çeli varrin tënd...

If 99% of the ever-expanding Universe is unknowable
Dark Matter (The True God)
and an infinitesimal percentage of the remaining 1% is the
living matter we are so intent on corrupting and destroying,
the whole of life is the tiniest blemish
on the otherwise marvellous Universe,
no matter how many billions of synapses are in my brain,
no matter that life itself is in love with pain.


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