Wednesday, November 28, 2007

hanks in pants

Three, maybe four years ago my friends and I - our name was legion and we are many, if you like - decided to spend Christmas in our flat, and aim out going to see our families. There were fifteen of us on Christmas day, all chipping in money for drinks and food, which were both bountiful, and with one of us - thank you Meade - doing the cooking.
Over the seasonal period our over indulgence led to most of us sat on our collective arses eating and drinking our way towards cardiac arrests and watching ALL the Christmas fayre tee-vee had to offer, which mainly consisted of old Tom Hanks movies designed for the young, or the female or the stupid, or in some cases all three.
It would appear that Tom Hanks has it written into some draconian contract somewhere that every single one of his movies has to feature at least one scene of him in pants. So it was that in Turner and Hooch Hanks wrestles with a dog in pants. (Hanks, not the dog, that would be weird). In Big, he is seen strolling around in nothing but pants. Ever watched Castaway ? End to end loincloth. I've never watched it all the way through but I'll bet money Sleepless in Seattle features a 'heartwarming' scene whereby Hanks vacuously reprimands his young son while one or the other are in pants. Saving Private Ryan only ever led to the phrase 'Hanks in Pants with Tanks' and as for Apollo 13, I really can't comment, mainly because we got bored and put on some music.
It's a hell of a game, look out for it, and every time Hanks strolls onto the screen in his pants for seemingly no apparent reason - The Burbs - please do award yourself a point. Go on, you deserve it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"you, madam, need some discipline"

I have things to do, but being a procrastinator of almost epic magnificence I'm finding excuses to put off doing them all.
Like writing this piffle for example.
My apathy always reaches new dizzy lows in the winter, as the darkness begins to surround us a little more tightly in the mornings and the evenings and the weather mutates into one long wet, bone numbing day. At least that's the excuse I'm giving, that's what I'm telling myself as I flick through endless channels of even more endless vapidity without lifting my head from the arm of the sofa. Free Willy ? Yeah, I'll watch ten minutes of that until the One Hundred Greatest Pop Songs starts on TMF. Reckon I can get a good hour of that in before it's time for the Antiques Roadshow. And I'll eat at some point. I guess.
Meanwhile, here are the things I ought to be doing;
(a) Cleaning out the goldfish. They have taken to swimming against the glass of their bowl and occasionally flicking the surface with their tails trying to alert me to the squalor of their faintly orange tinted water. I know it's cruel. I know that the edges of that tank should not be furred up with algae. I know I should be able to see them through the glass and the murk. I know all this and I will do it.
Once I've done this.
(b) Get dressed. It's four thirty in the afternoon. I'm still in my night attire and while on someone else that phrase may sound sexy and alluring - "I'm only wearing a very thin, very short nightdress," - that, I can assure you, is not the case with me. Until someone makes a fetish film called 'Chicks in Oversized Tee-shirts and Knee High Socks with Bad Hair' that is. Then I'm your girl.
(c) Eat. Unless I can reach it from a prone position on the sofa, it's not going in my mouth. I've discovered I can slide a bowl of Maltesers towards my groping hand using my foot - thank you, dance classes, I knew you weren't in vain - and I can look pitifully at whoever comes into the room.
"Are you going to the kitchen ?" I ask in a lost little girl voice, "if you are can you please bring me in an apple/sandwich/full roast dinner with all the trimmings ?"
(d) Finish the short story I started a week ago. Deadlines are my nemesis. They come steaming towards you, blundering past everything else you've put off doing for weeks, announcing themselves in a thunderous voice that you were meant to have taken notice of five weeks previously. If a deadline had a voice it would sound like Brian Blessed. This is true.

A high achieving friend told me once that procrastination was just another word for laziness. I don't agree, and the moment I'm out of my vegetative state of inertia I'll argue the point with her, but not just yet. Five more minutes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Committing Piscine Genocide

I know, I know, I'm unstoppable. But you know how it is when you have an uneventful Sunday night of doing very little in a warm place, wrapped up snug and womblike in front of a movie until you think, I'll just chip off to bed with Catch bastard 22, the book which never ends, and in doing so you take off your clothes and hang them on a clothes rail which lurches unexpectedly and fatally to the left, tilting over in horrific slow motion and smashing into your goldfish bowl which splinters open like a cracked nut with a terrific smash, spilling out a cascade of water and the audible fleshy thump of two piscine bodies hitting the floor where they flop about for a bit and then lie still while all around them is water, water everywhere and you, frozen barefoot in just your underwear can't move for the broken glass and can only watch them flail while water spreads out towards you like slow moving lava in a dark shadow and by the time, five minutes later you get round to picking them up by their tails and the bloody things are still alive and squirm in your hand so you squeal like a girl and shove them in a bucket of water while for the next three quarters of a cocking hour you are on your hands and knees for all the wrong reasons mopping up stale water and then you think to yourself 'Bollocks to this it's half past twelve, I'm going to get a beer.'

You know those kinds of nights ?

I fucking do.

small town blues

A little while back Philip J and I were discussing Small Town Mentality Syndrome. Having grown up in a city the size of a monopoly board I am well versed in the mechanics of gossip and rumour and the constant vigilance of the small townee. On more than one occasion as a teenager I'd arrive home to find that my parents knew more about what I'd been up to that night than was entirely comfortable, particularly as my good times revolved around spar cider, poppers and french kissing the local youth round the back of the cathedral.
Don't get me wrong, I like to gossip as much as the next lass, but there is something sinister and almost bleak about being the subject of the bitchery and snipery that sustains the Small Town Mentality.I'm known for my terrible judgement of both people and situations and therefore found myself against the better judgement of every single person I knew, on a flight to Asia to marry a total idiot. My friends tried to stop me. The regulars in the pub I was running tried to stop me. My own mother offered me money to not go. But I knew what I was doing, I was in love.

So when, four weeks and many tears later I arrived unwed back in Brighton, tanned and skinnier than when I'd left but feeling like a catastrophic failure and abysmally alone, it came as no surprise at all to find that everyone knew. Everyone. Even complete strangers came up to me in the pub;
"Ah, we knew it wouldn't work out. He was no good for you. We all thought so. Boys a fool if he doesn't want you etc"
"Who are you ?"
"Ah. We saw your picture in the shop there."
"What ?"
Turns out my flatmate Simon had put a poster up of me in the town centre with the words;
'LOST. A friend and a flatmate, last seen running away to Thailand with her head in the clouds'
because he knew, like everyone else it seemed, that it was never going to work out. Just like everyone had said. A few people had joked about taking bets on how long it would be before I came home - at least I think they were joking. The point being that the fact that it hadn't worked out made for very good story indeed, especially when you consider that the boy involved flew back to England before me threatening to kill a man I'd once had a fling with. Oh, how that paid off in gossip gold. It's all there, broken hearts, shotgun weddings, bikinis, threats to kill, if it didn't sound so fictional I'd write a book about it.

Back to the conversation. Philip had made a good point in that when you live in a small town with not much happening except the events of other people's lives you tend to get 'a running commentary' on your activities from others.
In this case I was meeting a friend who had moved away from Brighton recently and was only in town for the afternoon. We had about an hour and a half together before she had to go, which was time enough for a pint. Sitting in the beer garden I hadn't even taken my jacket off when I was hit with the question bullets flying out of her face.
" You're not going to tell about this man you've met than?"
"Which one ?"
"I hear you haven't written anything for a while because you've been drinking too much."
"Pardon ?"
"Is it true that you're getting dressed up as Led Zeppelin on the night of the tribute concert and performing the entirety of 'Physical Graffiti' in your kitchen and that you and Lisa have fallen out because you both wanted to be Jimmy Page?"
"That's not strictly true, no -"
"You still not sleeping I hear ?"
"Jesus - "
"Someone told me you were some kind of ultra vixen with a torture dungeon in your basement and a cache of weapons in the loft."
"Yeah, I suppose."

Turns out she was being fed this information through the many and various mouths of my acquaintances, and as she no longer lived in town she had specifically asked that any news was reported back to her with the speed and inaccuracy of a tabloid reporter. Which I could have been annoyed about. I could have pulled her up and told her that if she wanted to know about what I was doing all she had to do was ask and I'd tell her. But after years of living in a tiny, snub-nosed town I have developed the ability to shrug off all my gossip and laugh in the face of all the scandalous rumours. Particularly the one currently doing the rounds about me at the moment. I'm sure you'll hear about it soon. Just not from me.