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This charming man

On 27th June, a long long time ago, in a hospital far far away, Karl's world turned inside out and upside down and he was born. Setting a pattern which took medical science and immense willpower to break, he fell asleep halfway through.

A manual-working-class upbringing was followed by a upper-middle-class university education, leaving Karl bi-cultural and universally alienated. The first of his family line to gain a qualification, Karl applied to the University of Cambridge on a bet. He completed three degrees, despite being asked to leave twice by college authorities. Karl has worked in a police station (leaving by mutual consent), handed out leaflets at an underground station (three hours until sunstroke), changed lightbulbs (two hours, no sunstroke), conducted telephone surveys, desktop-published economic reports, and traded futures and options for merchant banks. Manchester United was his first religion and, their red, black and green kits may have shaped his politics. He follows the Tao... or it follows him, wielding a big stick. His favourite fiction is by Oscar Wilde and Milan Kundera; favourite movies are Casablanca, Ronin and Rush; and favourite songs are ‘Death of the author’ by The Fans,  'Partner' by Precedent and 'How soon is now' by The Smiths. Karl enjoys writing haiku and boxing (not at the same time). He currently lives in and near Sydney.

A friend writes:

Not everyone knows the real Karl. Some might consider him a dynamic figure, having seen him playing martial hop-scotch, but he won Big Brother in Albania a record three times in a row and has been the subject of seven silent documentaries, two of them in colour. It is also little known that when bored he builds model ocean liners, preferring the unusual but highly accurate 1:1 scale.

To relax he enjoys urban hang-gliding and on Monday evenings repairs electrical appliances free of charge to let off steam. Socially, Karl woos women with his sensuous triangle playing. He has won five commissions to redesign escalators to make them less efficient and pilots unicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed. All talk, though, of his time in a hut in Brighton is a hideous lie .... the events took place in Bournemouth and are the subject of legal restrictions.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of mineral water, Karl once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of army ants. He plays bass violin; was scouted by Manchester United for the position of junior groundsman; translates ethnic slurs for Swedish refugees; writes three-volume haikus; and manages time inefficiently. I personally have watched him tread water for three days in a row ... there is no sight more stirring, nothing more dignified.

Morally in the black, Karl is an abstract artist, a chipboard analyst and ruthless bookie. There are few as good at administering a polite knee-capping. In 2014 critics world-wide swooned over his original line of corduroy nightwear. Last summer Karl toured North-East Indonesia with a travelling centrifugal-force demonstration. Children trust Karl implicitly ... but not explicitly.

In sports, Karl has a golf handicap of -1 and can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly inaccuracy. He seems to know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket ... any supermarket, anywhere. Karl is still banned from re-entering Sweden for breaching their moral codes of sexual conduct. More famously, in 2012 he represented the United Kingdom at Olympic Tai Chi, taking a world record 3 months to complete his moves.

Karl sleeps only one hour a night, in a wooden chair, eyes open, a small child in his arms and a dog-eared copy of the 'Tao te ching' lying face down on the carpet. While on holiday in Bolivia, he successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a local bakery. The laws of physics do not appear to apply to Karl, enabling him to breed prize-winning calamari. In short, he dodges, he prances, he balances, he weaves and his teeth are kept clean. On weekends, to relax, he participates in full-contact feng shui.

As for his intellectual work.... I have no idea - I didn’t even realise he was involved in that kind of thing. The very idea!



Karl writes:

I’d like to thank with everything I have Sarah, Alex, and my mother Rosemarie. At different moments in time and in different ways they have provided me with crucial support, encouragement and kindness that I am eternally grateful for.

Big love and hugs to my sister Helen, her husband Kelvin and their gorgeous children Kim (and her son, Ethan), Alex, Abbie and Kieran, as well as to Tony for being such a good husband to my Mum (despite being a Wolverine). My loving thanks also to my best friends Ian, Jim and Sue.

Gargantuan slices of gratitude go to Basil Bernstein, Pierre Bourdieu, Geoff Whitty, Brian Davies, J.R. Martin, Susan Hood, Frances Christie, Michael Grenfell, John Evans, Brian Barrett, Mary Macken-Horarik, Geoff Williams, Alan Sadovnik, Leesa Wheelahan, Sally Power, Peter Freebody, Brad Shipway, and the many others who have given me intellectual encouragement. I can’t thank them enough.

Through all the years when I was working alone, without funding, supervision, colleagues or support, Rob Moore always believed in the value of my work - thank you, mate. We were lucky to enjoy the most amazing intellectual connection - we were "like two peas in a horrible, horrible pod". I miss Rob every single day. He was like an elder brother.

Over the past few years my life has been immeasurably improved by Jim Martin, a colleague and best friend whose open-minded discipline is an exemplary model of what it means to be an intellectual. I am incredibly lucky to know Jim.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who’s been positive and who together make this a field activity rather than an individual endeavour. A big shout out to the South African crew – especially Sioux McKenna, Chrissie Boughey, Chris Winberg, Lee Ruszynak, Karin Wolff, Cecilia Jacobs and Siya Sabata – for their boundless energy. Thanks to Eddie and his team in Shanghai for introducing LCT to China. A generous round of applause to everyone who leads and attends the Sydney Roundtable - what fantastic, collegial, generous spirits they all are. "There ain't no party like an S-Club party", so thanks to the other members: Jodie, Elena, Saul, Yaegan, Patrick, Kirstin and Mathew. The PEAK team are truly miners at the coalface of meaning – they are wonderful to work with. This includes J.R. Martin, S.K. Howard, Elena Lambrinos, Y.J. Doran, and Jodie L. Martin.

LCT seems to attract smart, decent people who care more about ideas than egos – I am very lucky to be a part of it all.  So many people at gigs have been supportive in so many ways - hugs to them all. Lastly, thanks to all the postgraduate students I've met whose problems have been such a wonderful spur to thought.

‘The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do’ ... so a semi-thanks to everyone who said it could not be done, should not be done, will not be done, or who try to stop it being done. You stoke the fires!