Tuesday, August 26, 2008

readers digest

flash fiction in 500 words. harder than it looks, even harder to make it any good. still not happy with it but i'm learning, i'm learning. enjoy.

'I'm sick. I sleep all the time these days and when I'm not working I lie down, I read comics, writing letters I won't send, eating food dry and raw because I forget to cook and thinking, thinking, thinking.

I've stopped reading the newspapers - there was a story the other week about a fortune telling fish. Apparently this miracle fish was predicting flash floods and minor earthquakes in the lowland provinces of Japan and the local people had become torn between worshipping it as a piscine deity and grilling it over hot coals. At first it depressed me that this fish had warranted more column inches then say, the rising crime rate or the economic downturn but then I figured, what the hell, let the fish have it's glory. It's just my mood these days. I think it'll pass.

I don't watch the tee-vee anymore either. The batteries for the remote control gave up four months ago and I haven't got round to replacing them. This suits me fine. I've heard its beginning to eat itself, television, digesting and regurgitating ideas into slickly produced pools. Soon there won't be any programming, just a long shot of the same image being replayed over and over again.

So I'll just keep on writing my letters. I have a pile of them now, all to my brother.

He's dead, my brother, he died saving another kid who was drowning in six feet of water. Six feet man, can you believe that? Some people are that tall and then some, it isn't much. The kid survived, it was my brother who went under. The papers called him a hero and the mayor gave my grieving parents a medal - a posthumous award, which made about as much sense to me as banana skin shoes. He didn't need it, we didn't need it, so it sat growing dust on the mantelpiece for years until my father put it in a drawer and we forgot about it.
My parents still get letters from the kid he saved - isn't there an old Chinese proverb which says 'if you save a life you are responsible for it forever'? The letters are growing more infrequent as the time passes and pretty soon they'll stop altogether, but right now he wants them to know that he's graduated in law from UCL, has started training as a barrister with a firm in London, how it's all down to Tom, all down to Tom, your brave son brave Tom.

They're the letters I do send. The letters to my brother are the ones I can't. The ones in which I tell him I'm sorry for wading out into that murky water, with it's lethal shelf which falls away beneath your slow moving feet. I want to tell him that some days my mouth still fills with the blind, mineral taste of the river and I feel like I might choke on it. I want to tell him but I can't. '

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

showing your age in put downs

A short while ago I was heading home from work when a van pulled up alongside me and the passenger leaned out the window.

“Excuse me love,” he asked, “can you tell us how to get to the Level ?”

I began to tell him, secretly impressing myself with the succinctness of my directions. It was only when I looked up that I realised he wasn’t listening. He leered forward, until he was halfway through the open window.

“What are the chances of me and you…..” here he made some gesture with his arm. I’m still not sure what he wanted. It was either to give me an uppercut or fist me. I really couldn’t be sure.

I peeled off my sunglasses and squinted at him. I’d been to see Mudhoney in London the previous night and consequently ached all over. I hadn’t slept and had the beginnings of a fearful hangover. I shook my head sadly and replied,

“Don’t be ridiculous mate, you look like Corey Haim.”

As they pulled away I caught the driver laughing. Corey just looked at me blankly.

Unfortunately they hit a snarl of traffic up ahead which rather ruined their exit, but also meant I had to walk past them. Again.
Corey was already leaning out of the window – I’d already called my friend Sweetman for support but despite the fact that I was on the phone, he blared out,

“Oi! Love! Oi, you in the tight dress ! Oi!”

"What ?” I asked sweetly, but I with a heavy heart I realised I already knew what he was going to ask me.

“Who’s this Carrie Haim ?”

“Corey.” I corrected him, “From the Lost Boys ?”

“The who ?”

I gasped. Surely everyone has heard of the Lost Boys, right ? It’s one of my favouritest films. Then I looked closer. This kid was no older than twenty-two, twenty three at the most.

Jesus Christ. He had NO IDEA what I was talking about.
I’m not sure what had disturbed me more – the fact that I was being propositioned by a chubby man-child or the fact that I’d slapped an 80’s diss on him. I shook my head sadly. Imagine never knowing the Lost Boys.

Monday, August 11, 2008

a fully paid up member of the Hsktskt Faction

I received an email the other day from someone asking me why I’d be so sorely neglecting the blog recently.

In truth I’ve had an awesomely busy* couple of months, have had some fairly seismic changes to make** and on top of which have had to write *** the synopsis to THE NOVEL which is proving to be a task on a scale with poking yourself repeatedly in the eye with a sharpened pencil in terms of sheer enjoyment.

In order to glean some insight in how to make this seemingly impossible task slightly less hellish I had a brief scout on the internet for synopsis writing aids.

Eventually I found one. Initially it started off well – she had a clear-cut and concise list of detailed instructions in how to begin, including a list of do and do not which I thought was pretty invaluable.

Then she gave an example of how to begin using this novel;

“Begin your synopsis with an opening paragraph that presents a clear, brief view of your protagonist, his/her world, and the situation he/she is in when the novel opens. For instance;

"When the Allied League of Worlds withdraws from the Pmoc Quadrant to pursue the enemy Hsktskt Faction, Lieutenant Jadaira (Dair) mu T'resa and her squadron of SEAL (surgically enhanced/altered lifeform) pilots remain behind to provide planetary patrol. They have to; the aquatic pilots can't survive away from their native underwater environment on Kevarzangia Two for more than brief periods. Mainly they deal with remnant ordinance and space traps left behind by both sides, and which are hazards to the influx of refugees fleeing the war."
–BioRescue by S.L. Viehl ”

What ? WHAT ? Does anyone understand the premise to BioRescue ? My eyes have literally stopped recognising that paragraph as the English Language.

**been a bit bummed out
*** rewrite, rewrite and then fucking write again

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lyrics for Simple Kids

Learning lessons from song lyrics part I.

“She's a beautiful smile, she's a gleam in your eye
Dresses like a princess, playing games in your mind
Falling out of her top, runs a hand through her hair
Playing so hard to get, cause she knows that you care”

Right. Well from the start this girl sounds like a nightmare – ‘dresses like a princess’ ?
Which one ? Diana, the People’s Public Princess of Hearts™ ? Sleeping Beauty ? Princess Anne ?

And what’s this about ‘falling out of her top’ ? Call me a puritan but the last time I lost my dignity enough to fall out of my top was after two bottles of thunderbird and a litre of martini when I was fifteen. Wasn’t a good look then, can’t be a good look now.
However, this ties in nicely with the line,
‘Playing so hard to get’
If sitting there with your tits out can be considered playing hard to get - rather than say, not phoning for a day or two - then yes, she certainly knows how to be elusive.

I don’t need an excuse to hate Mika, even the sight of his trousers hinder my breathing, but he deserves to be sealed in a box and kicked off the end of the pier for this one surely;

‘Walks in to the room
Feels like a big balloon
I said,
'Hey girl you are beautiful'
Diet coke and a pizza please
Diet coke I'm on my knees
Screaming 'Big girl you are beautiful'.

Feels like a ‘BIG BALLOON’ ? What does that even mean ? This is meant to be a call to arms for larger women and in the first two lines he reduces it to a song which is the aural equivalent of slapstick. Bad slapstick. Like the Chuckle Brothers pitching their sinister brand of two man comedy in your living room. Expect to hear this being belted out by hen parties and numbskulls until the end of time.

This is my favourite;

‘I like the way you, act all surprised,
I like the way you, sing along,
I like the way you, always get it wrong,
I like the way you, clap your hands,
I like the way you, love to dance,
I like the way you, put your hands up in the air,
I like the way you, shake your hair,
I like the way you, like to touch,
I like the way you, stare so much,’

Now read it again. Try to imagine this woman he likes so much doing all those things, simultaneously. That’s not attractive, that’s a simpleton. That’s someone with no apparent control over their primary body functions.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

just a quickie, then

A few years ago I was spending a family Christmas at my sister’s. I’d had a shower, and as I was getting dressed I noticed a hand cream on the shelf – Aveda’s Hand Relief.
Ha, ha, ha. I thought to myself. That’ll make my mum giggle.
Still laughing I walked into the kitchen and exclaimed,
“That hand cream’s name is hilarious!”

Looking round I saw my sister’s other family was there – her future mother in law - an incredibly nice looking woman – a bit like a cross between Hattie Wainthrop and Jessica Fletcher. Not the type who might fall about laughing were I to point out that my mum’s hand cream sounds like the sort of thing you’d get from a hooker round the back of a skip.

My sister; “What’s hilarious ?”
Me; “Oh…nothing.”
My sister; “Yes there is. you said something about hand cream ?”
Me; “No, no I don’t think I did.”
My Mum; “Yes you did. You said the name of it was funny”

I swear she was trying not to laugh.

Me; “Yes, I did say that, but thinking about it, it’s not funny at all.”

I looked, not for the first time in my life, a bit of a idiot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

asses all areas.

A friend of mine recently asked me how I decided what I wrote about in my blog. Actually, those weren’t her actual words, her actual words were;
‘What the fuck makes you think your life is so interesting that other people will want to read about it ?’

Which I prefer.

It’s a good point though – I don’t imagine my life to be any more compelling then say, yours or theirs, and I’d have to be a completely complacent numbskull to think otherwise. Similarly, ‘writing about things’ is no more specialised than keeping a diary or telling an anecdote – it’s just in the telling of – which is a more complicated and pertinently pretentious way of saying;
‘It’s the words you use’.

With this in mind, and in order to keep things simple so that my weekend addled brain doesn’t collapse under the weight of it’s own sleep deprived synapses and because even just typing these few lines has given me the kind of bewildered expression more commonly seen on my face when trying to solve a mathematical problem (and here I mean any mathematical problem - from equations and fractions and algebra to
deterministic finite automata string searches.) I’m going to save writing a ‘proper’ blog till tomorrow or at the latest, next week.

Sooooooooo, coming up soon - Tina as a transformer made of cardboard, what Finch had to say when we watched Battles together and why you should never, never assume that your friends think the way you dress is cool.

p.s – Something for you to watch instead - this band have made my year – I’m in love with their singer. I’m in love with the way their sound is that of sunshine seen through slowly melting honey. I was so in love with their Glastonbury performance that I saw them twice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

jeff bridges is aces

This post, incidentally has nothing to do with Jeff Bridges. I just really, really like him.

I’ve done a few things in my time that I’ve regretted but this weekend was the first time I’ve regretted not doing something I might later regret.
Ever woken up the morning after the night before with that small beast of dread curled tight in your stomach and an anxious clawing in your throat ?
‘What the hell was I doing last night ?’ you think dramatically as you search the room and your phone and your body for clues.

This is how I woke up ten o’clock on Saturday morning, having crawled into bed only three hours previously. Realising I (a) wasn’t in my own bed and (b) wasn’t alone I felt those first familiar shreds of sober self-doubt.
‘What the hell have I been up to ?’ I thought, before realising I was not only fully dressed but, as far as I could make out, non-violated. As I rolled over I discovered – in the punishing daylight – that I was in bed with an impossibly handsome man and clearly, nothing had occurred.
“Damnit.” I thought, hunting for my coat.
(Incidentally, if anyone wants to know what wakes Mikey up in the mornings the answer is nothing and no-one – not my phone ringing, not me searching for my coat, not my crashing into a bookcase. Nothing.)

It was only as I was walking home that the events of the previous night slowly filtered back to me. I had a flash of someone’s lounge, and music and lots of people I’d never met.
‘A party !’ I groaned, ‘Oh God, a party, what the hell did I do at the party ?’

Uh, nothing, as it turns out. I think I secured myself a seat, drank some cans and talked to some people. Nothing too outrageous, unless you count ranting at Doogle, and no-one counts that, not even Doogle. Briefly, I tried to remember if I’d danced, but not unless you count a brief running man which was out in the garden for no-one to see.
‘Oh.’ I thought, slightly disappointed.
Then I reached the probing fingers of my memory a little further back.
‘The pub!’ I recalled, ‘Jesus, what was I saying to that fella in the pub ?’
I remembered his face, slack jawed, eyes a little glazed with boredom. Could picture his downing his drink in lethargic despair as I’d talked and talked.

Then I realised I’d been talking about my trip to America, which I’ve been doing enough to bore my closest friends, let alone someone I’d only just met. Nothing too terrible there.

By the time I’d got home I was slightly annoyed that I hadn’t taken more advantage of my drunkenness and sleep deprivation to do something I might have, even only slightly, regretted. There’s no point spending all that money and going to all that effort only to domesticate what, I’m sure, are my wilder urges.
Next time I’m dancing like an idiot, caining shots and stumbling over in public. Only then will I awake the next day feeling rightly regretful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

i just wanted to make your ears smile

Anybody remember mixtapes ?
Well done. You’re either as old as I am or older, which makes me feel better.

They were complicated, mixtapes. A friend of mine is making one for me at the moment and he has this to say on the subject;

‘doing this for girls is hard work... "will she like this one? hang on...she might take that the wrong way....don't put that on there she'll think you are stalking her"”

Here’s hoping he’s going for some obscure tracklistings;

track 1 - Without You by Air Supply
track 2 - So Fucking What ? by the Anti Nowhere League


track 1 - Song to the Siren - This Mortal Coil
track 2 - Too Drunk to Fuck - Dead Kennedys
track 3 – Hallelujah - Geoff Buckley

Chuck ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis anywhere into that mix and you’ve got yourself a situation, buddy.

I was recently looking through a bag of ‘stuff’ from my past – a vipers nest of old tapes, photos, and assorted clutter and came across a mixtape from my ex-boyfriend who was both my first love and one of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt. He’d designed the cover himself and being a bit of an arty sort had drawn a picture of the two of us together. It was a strange mix of songs, culled I think, mainly from his dad’s record collection, and now if I ever hear Procol Haram’s Whiter Shade of Pale even now, fifteen years later, I’m transported to the wooded lane by his house with the taste of strawberry bubblegum on my lips and tongue and long licks of tall grass brushing the palms of my hands.

The mixtape is the past and the future people, and sticks in your mind even when you’ve long forgotten why ‘Love is a Battlefield’ meant anything to either of you. I suggest you make one for those you love today….they’ll thank you for it, I promise.

Monday, June 02, 2008

woefully mis-cast miscreants

I love vampires. I love comics. I love films. So imagine, if you possibly can, the sheer scale of my excitement when I found the film ’30 days of night’.

It had it all – asinine, aesthetically pleasing leads which lent the whole gory thing an air of flawlessness, as though the actors had been picked from the rejects of a Gillette commercial. This is no bad thing, as none of us want to see some boss-eyed harridan looming into the lens like a seahag at a porthole.

Blood guts and gore splattered hither and thither to such a degree that at one point it felt as though both of my eyes had ruptured and I was staring at the world through an oozing, scarlet screen.

Night vision – as the title suggests, most of the film is rendered in near darkness and shot on what appeared to be cutting-edge-o-matic cameras, the sort of MTV friendly cinema scope which, to my aged eyes was so bloody modern I nearly recoiled in fear. It’s all very well when music promos make me feel as though the future is accelerating into the distance without me but when films do it it makes me want to doctor my birth certificate by about ten years.

That aside, the film was going well, I’d settled into my friend’s ridiculously comfortable leather sofa, opened a can and kicked off my shoes. It was a shame then that they choose to cast a clone of Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys as the head vampire, Marlow. Much to my chagrin I found I kept hearing bursts of ‘West End Girls’ every time he swaggered, swathed or slithered onto the screen. It got to the point where I couldn’t look for laughing.

This got me thinking about other roles in films which could, and should, be remade with woefully mis-cast leads. The best we came up with was This is England with little Jimmy Krankie as Shaun, or Schindlers List with Kris Marshall as Oskar Schindler. If anyone can come up with any better ones let me know, I’m intrigued.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh King, My King

I walked into the book shop yesterday afternoon with a long list of books I’d been meaning to read for a while.
“Hi, “ I said, distinctly aware of how loud my voice sounded, “Do you have ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon ?”
He nodded.
“How about ‘Philosophies of the Boudoir’ by the Marquis de Sade ?”
”Good choice.” He replied.
“Thanks. And uh….“The Stars, My Destination.” By Alfred Bester’
“Yep. Anything else ?”
I lowered my voice, “‘Tommyknockers’ by Stephen King ?”
He looked at me as though I’d just asked for child porn.

Admittedly it’s not his best book, but come on.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

venus flytrapped

If you're the kind of person who - like me - finds a small pearl of fascination in the strangest places then you may enjoy this. If you're not, move on, this won't be fun for you.
I once tested my threshold of bad taste in a sex shop in Prague. My boyfriend at the time and I had wandered inadvertently into the 'back room' and found ourselves in a sea of flesh, scat, pregnancy porn and something too awful to describe with used sanitary products. It took me ten minutes to get out of there and that was nothing to do with being unable to find the exit. That slippery dark part of me, the one which tells me to look away if I stumble across a live autopsy on Channel 4, was fascinated.
One DVD in particular - 'Elastic Arseholes' - had to be turned one way and then the other to figure out exactly what was going on. If it hadn't been for the title I'm not sure I would have known which way up to hold it.
Incidentally, we left that one on the shelf. We took home 'Apocalypse Climax' instead. Don't ask.

What's that ? Ah, okay, moving on....

While I'd never describe myself as green-fingered I have managed to keep most of my plants alive, at least for a few months. On our kitchen windowsill we have a Venus Flytrap. Aside from being incredible to look at they are also immensely fun, and, in my mind at least, are the most evil and barbaric of carnivorous plants. The tiny fronds close together at alarming speed to form a fleshy purse which traps the stranded insect inside. Days later they open to reveal a husk of fly or mosquito, drained dry and useless.
Usually they do. Except one day the insects (or in this case opiliones) fought back.
Walking around the kitchen in my usual early morning stupor I rinsed out a cup and then set it aside, forgetting entirely why I had done so. It was only the kettle boiling which reminded me.
Ah, tea. Of course.
I noticed the Venus Flytrap out of the corner of my eye and moved toward it, noticing as I did so that one of it's pods had closed. On closer inspection I found it had caught a spider, a wingless daddy long legs, the body contained inside, the legs poking out through the hinged blades.

And, dear reader, those legs were still moving.

Horrible as it was, I watched until my tea went cold. And I continued to watch periodically for three more days.
Three long days that spider was being slowly digested by plant juices, and each time that I thought,
"Ah, it's out of it's misery"
one of those legs would twitch again. The worst thing is.....part of me couldn't not watch.
After five or so days the Flytrap slowly opened again to reveal nothing left but a small sphere of spun silk, no bigger than a pea. All that was left of the spider's struggle to grip onto life. No husk, no arachnid corpse. Just that delicate ball of white fibre.
Days later the plant itself began to wither and die, growing black from the neck up. I heard somewhere that Daddy Long Legs are one of the most venomous creatures on the British Isles, and we are saved only from their fatal bite from the size of their fangs, which are too small to convey the poison. Whether this is true or not is debatable. All I know is that not long after, the Venus Flytrap was nothing more then a few stubs of plant and broken leaves.
If I was more high brow, or worse, reckoned myself more high brow, I would tie this in with a moving and thought provoking metaphor, tying this story to life, or love, or sex, or all of the above. I'm not going to do that. Mainly because it would be clich├ęd, but also because you're all intelligent people, and you'll draw your own conclusions.

Besides, try and tell me you wouldn't have watched as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

i've never seen scarface either.

Hands up all of you who are 'into' dance music. Buffoons, all of you. It's witless, soulless trash.

That was me just under ten years ago. I think we've established how fickle I can be but for those of you reading this for the first time I am the crown Princess of the backtrack. I used to hate reggae too, and would whine and writhe in my seat every time my boyfriend lent over to play Lee Scratch Perry, finally sliding noisily to the floor in protest as he stared at me passively.
Now I'm sat here listening to the Orbital practically dancing my way out of the seat and across the room, occasionally breaking off typing to do some kind of nu-rave hand gesture. But that's just me, I am closer to forty than twenty these days.

I'm the same with any popular (for 'popular', read 'good') television series - Father Ted, The Mighty Boosh, Shameless, The Wire, Futurama, Spaced, Flight of the Conchords - I 've let them all sail past me and into the horizon of my interest before I'll realise that hey, this is quite good actually. I'm the twat always slavishly parroting the catchphrases long after any self-respecting individual stopped, if that is, they ever started at all, which is unlikely. That won't stop me though, this is all new stuff to me.
Actually I've just seen that I've listed The Wire there, and I've still yet to see that. That's how behind the times I am - I've come around full circle and am existing in a self-created paradox where I've actually seen the things I claim to have missed.
Such is my studied dis-interest I'm impressed I managed to be present at my own birth.

Feck! Drink! Arse ! Girls!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

i fell over myself

I fell over myself trying to please you and you just stepped right over me and carried on walking.
"I'll be back for you," you'd told me, over your shoulder, "you just wait there."
I did, I waited, and time seemed to pass, and always you were on the edge of my peripheral vision, too far away to touch. After some time I started to get up, and brush myself down. I was surprised how much it hurt.

This is what I was doing when you came back,
"What are you doing ?" you said, sounding shocked, "I told you to wait for me."I barely looked at you.
"Hey!" you demanded, sounding petulant and antagonistic, "I told you I'd come back. Here I am."

But by then I was on my feet, and already you seemed smaller, and less important. If I move away you become less of me. Once it felt like it was us against the world, and now the idea of us was crystallised in a tiny fraction of a fossilised past.

I fell over myself trying to please you and you walked all over me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

not millions of fun.

The past is a foreign country. Someone brought this clumsy phrase up at me at the weekend - much like my friend Odge regurgitated a packet of sweets called 'Millions of Fun' during a trip to Cornwall and thus;
"And were they Millions of Fun, Odge ?"
"Fuck, no."
(Check for yourselves, they've actually changed the name of the sweets to just 'Millions'. I suspect the 'Fun' was reported to trading standards, because a mouthful of acidic syrupy goo could never be called 'Fun', unless excessive enjoyment tastes of sugary bile.)
Where the hell was I ?

Oh yes. The past is a foreign country. Not one you'd like to visit either, no matter how good the memories. If the past was a foreign country it would be called Memoralia and would be a hazy, indistinct blob on the end of a more self-important country (namely the Present) and would make you cringe if you were to ever have to look back through photographs of that particular holiday.
"What the HELL was I wearing ?"

"No idea Daise, do you want me to burn this one too ?"
"Yes please."

I, however, tend to revisit Memoralia a lot. For a start, it's right next door. Secondly, the cost is very low - maybe the painful tug of a memory or two - thirdly, it's safe there. Because nothing which happens there can surprise you. Do you think this sounds a bit mad ? Really, don't. We all do it, each and every one of us, more then - on average - three times a day. Show me a person who exists solely in the present and I'll show you an imbecile. A song, a smell, even a colour can remind us of something, someone, sometime and then you're already right back there, fiddling around for your passport and maybe your currency. How long you stay is up to you, but be aware, it is not a country built for living in, only for visiting.
As I said, it's not a bad place, but it is captivating, and it's easy to stay there longer than you'd planned.
I once looked after a lady with no short-term memory. This meant that every fifteen minutes or less she would ask me what my name was or why I was in her house and what I was doing there, but yet she could tell me stories of her childhood, or how she met her husband, and the name of the ship he sailed on in World War II, but not whether she'd had breakfast that morning….and what was my name again ? Her knack for recounting incidents - however minor - which had occurred forty or fifty years previously bordered on uncanny - but there was no obvious cure or method with which to help her train her brain to living in the present. It is significant to note as well that I, as a crass, idiotic twenty-five year old grew frustrated with it, very quickly. Thinking back now I wish I could have supported her more, but I was young and stupid and not altogether patient enough to deal with it.
So, back to the past. There it is, spread gleaming and generous before you, as it sometimes can be, or wrapped in barbed wire with crows circling above, depending on which past it is that you're re-visiting. Just don't stay there too long. As my friend Odge would tell you it is not, in any way, Millions of Fun.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the mighty brain

I don’t often dedicate this blog to people, preferring instead to wang on pointlessly about myself, but this one is, I feel necessary.
If I were to be the patron saint of something – and now that the position of Patron Saint of Quality Footwear has been taken – I would be the Patron Saint of Getting People Wrong. I mis-judge everyone I meet, and couldn’t weigh up character if I had a gun to my head. The only way I can really work with this is to find myself defending people to my friends. That is usually a very good indicator that, once again, I have Got It Wrong.

There is one exception to this rule and that is Alex. No-one likes Alex – he is a rude, obnoxious bastard – not in a loveable rogue way – he actually is just rude and obnoxious. For years I defended him, stood up for him and stepped up to tell everyone that no, he is okay really, I know he just called you a terrible cunt yes, I heard him too, but really, he’s only joking.

A few years ago I went to a Reclaim the Streets march to protest against global multinationals and denounce capitalism as Babylon or something, it’s all a bit vague now.
Alex called me from his office in the City.
“Where are you ?”
“Penned into Oxford Circus by the police. Where are you ?”
“At my desk. In the warm. Earning a fortune.”

A week later I found he had set up a standing order to my bank in the name of ‘Satan’ paying the sum of £6.66 every month into my account. When I quizzed him about this he simply said,
“It was you who said money was the root of all evil.”

When I got my first place in Brighton Alex put the deposit down for me, and helped out with the rent because money and I had long since fallen out beyond repair. Typically he gave me the money with the line,
“I’m loaded. Even if you tripled your salary you wouldn’t earn as much as me. Don’t worry about paying it back.”

When I went to London recently he put me up at his, didn’t complain when I stayed in playing Resident Evil 4 on his playstation while he chipped off with his friends, and when I woke up in the morning there was a note on my pillow saying,
‘You need to shoot the chainsaw guys with the shotgun. It’s the only thing which works.”

There is more to our friendship than money and playstations obviously, although not much more. To me the boy is proof that sometimes, or maybe only really this once, I got someone just right.

Cheers, Alex.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Working for the Department of Wishful Thinking

I’m handing out some awards. You don’t need to bother putting on a frock or a suit, it’s not that kind of occasion. But you could at least have made some effort with your hair you scruffy git.

Award for Film I’ll Never Understand
Terry Gilliam for Tideland. I watched this last night. Like the fevered dream you’d have after knocking yourself unconscious with a copy of Alice in Wonderland in one hand and Deliverance in the other, I understood precisely four minutes of it, and that includes the credits.

Award for Cowardice Beyond Measure

The shopkeeper who, upon having a knife drawn on him and the contents of his till demanded by some Brighton thug, pointed at my friend who was also in the shop and said;
“She’s probably got more in her bag than I have in here. You should be robbing her, not me.”

Song Most Likely to Bowl Me Over Every Time
Summer Babe by Pavement. Every time.

Person I’m Most Likely to End up Hurting Physically
My boss. I don’t have a violent bone in my tiny body but he is the singular most frustrating and aggravating individual I’ve ever met, and I’ve known a few.
This is the order I would do it; Chinese burn, knuckle rap with a ruler, slap across the face, that thing where you bend their fingers back, Chinese burn again and a roundhouse to the head that would make Chuck Norris proud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

drunk and in charge

I'm not very good at many things. Pole vaulting. Computer programming. Concentrating.....Ooooooh look! A penny.
One thing I managed to excel at this weekend though was drinking. Or rather I didn't. I had enough to floor a horse I'm sure, but found myself having the swift kick of recollection the next day that leaves you simultaneously startled and confused.

Example 1

Speaking to my friend Gordon on the morning after the night before when I felt as though the inside of my head had been licked out by a hound.
"Emma said you'd been having a bit of a rough time at the moment. Why didn't you tell me ? You know we can talk about these things."
This much is true, so I thought back, with the slow careful progress of a tightrope walker.
"I know, I know" I intoned thinking, 'Who told Emma that ?'
"She said you'd poured your heart out to her in the pub after I left."

"Emma was there ?"
"Yes. I left before her."

"You were there ?"
"Daisy." Gordon said, in tones reserved for the elderly. "We had dinner together."

Example 2.

Somehow we ended up staying in a friend's pub until late. I made a small and rather heartfelt speech about how much I respected and loved all my friends, and then had a protracted and badly concealed argument with one of them for deleting a text from my phone before I'd had a chance to read it.

Example 3.

Upon leaving the pub at about stupid-o-clock in the morning light, and having gained back possession of my phone, I received a mysterious message made all the more cryptic by it's content."What does it say ?" said Justin, lurching up the hill, with Tina under one arm.
"Something about posting me a cd, and glad I liked the music," I said, " Must be a mistake."

"That's Steve. My mate. You were just talking to him."
"When ?"
"In there. He was playing you some music on his i-pod."
"You mean Stuart, right ?"
"No, I mean Steve. You kept calling him Stuart. Then you gave him your address, so he could send you a c.d"
"My HOME address ? TO A STRANGER ?"
"You gave him AN address Daise. I've no idea which one it was."

It's still coming back to me, in waves. Seeing my old housemates, the skaters from Bath, in a pub in Bath, and marvelling at how they were there.

"I can't believe you're here !".
"We live here, Daisy, it's a small town."

Telling a very lovely girl that she should enter the Lovely Girl competition on Craggy Island. Fighting with a cat, and losing. I still have scratches up one arm. Begging Tina and Justin not to move to Bristol and then five minutes later listing all the reasons why they should.
What's worse is the things which aren't coming back to me. Sam looking bemused at something I'd said, which is still stubbornly refusing to surface in my mind. A raspberry beret. Standing out the back of the pub at four in the morning with some people I've never met before and talking....talking....talking....I've no idea what about. Odge always tells me this is the POINT of drink. It's true to some extent, but I feel for those in my company who aren't as drunk as me, which luckily rules out most of the people that weekend, including Stuart, or Steve, or whatever his name was.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Oh dear. At work, with quite an important client, listening to a news report about Kurt Westergaard – the Danish cartoonist who sparked a near jihad with a caricature of Mohammad.
The tone of the report was pretty grim, and at one point the newsreader said
“….there was a bounty on his head….”
At which point I quipped,
“….and coconut in his hair.”

The client stared me down, and I wished for a delorean.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the aquatic grim reaper of death

What do you know about goldfish ? Probably about as much as me which is why mine have met several nasty or protracted ends over the last few years.
I initially bought them because I like to watch them. Two shimmering flashes darting round a glass bowl, gills heaving, mouths puckered in that absurd way which goldfish have. I love being underwater, suspended in a weightless galaxy of silent, slow moving transition, no sound but the limber pace of your heartbeat and above, the distant crash of waves. Watching them gives me something of an echo of that. It's peaceful. The Chinese consider goldfish fortuitous, especially for money, and although I ate one a while back in Indonesia (it was pretty good, incidentally) both Indonesian and Malaysian peoples hold them in high regard in folklore and superstition.

But for a time I couldn't stop killing the bloody things. The fact was even immortalised in a song my friends recorded for me, the chorus being;
"Missus Daisy Pearce,
You kill your fish,
And that is wrong."

It seemed that no matter what I did, they all went belly up in the end. I'd wake up in the morning and the first thing to greet me was the sight of a bloated piscean body floating on the surface of it's tank or bowl. It really dented my mood first thing, which is never very good anyway. After a chat with the incredibly helpful man in our local pet shop I kept an eye out for illness - fish have a fantastic range of diseases - white spot, swim bladder, fin rot, pop eye - but the problem is that you can't have a goldfish put down, and to leave an ill fish swimming with all the others risks contaminating them. Treating the water was a preventative as opposed to a cure, and when I noticed the siamese fighter fish looking - literally - pretty green at the gills - I had only one thing I could do.

The best way to kill a tropical fish is apparently, to freeze it. It slips into a painless coma and dies. So after several moments of indecision that is exactly what I did, sealing it in a scoop of water in an airtight bag and shoving it in the deep freeze. Thinking I was 'doing the right thing' I told my housemates about it over a pint later that day.
Their jaws sagged.
"Daisy. For fucks sake."

They got used to it after a while, little baggies of deceased fishes turning up in the freezer, or in the bin. Meanwhile I despaired, I have a hell of a guilty conscience under normal circumstances and at this rate I was turning into the Aquatic Grim Reaper. I don't know how these last ones have survived - they've had a few near misses - I've dropped them, moved them from house to house and at one stage nearly boiled them alive, not to mention the Sweetman incident which we won't discuss - but somehow these hardy little bastards keep on going. My friends had their revenge on me as well, by telling me exactly how long goldfish can live for. Turns out it's not the two year maximum I initially thought it was. It's anything up to fifteen years. Fifteen years ? I don't know where I'll be in the next fifteen minutes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

stitch and bitch, baby.

In the pub toward the tail end of the summer Finch was bemoaning the fact that she had nothing to keep her occupied in the evenings. While her boyfriend went to bushcraft sessions and judo or whatever it is he does Finch found herself square-eyed at the goggle box, until the early hours. Finch has always been one for hobbies and craftwork (not Kraftwerk - her music taste to the best of my knowledge has never extended to pioneering German electronica, although it should) and so she was talking about taking up an evening class in order to make proper use of her free time. To me being in the pub was a proper use of my free time and I told her this to which Finch replied;
"Daisy, don't you want to do a bit more sometimes ?"
"Well then," I said, with barely concealed annoyance at her admittedly true comment, "why don't you get Tina to show you how to knit ? She's been doing it since she was a foetus."
Tina nodded eagerly,
"Sure. I'd be happy to."

"See ? You get to make things to wear and it's cheap." I said.
"Great !" Finch was talking over me, "We can meet every week and bring food and have a stitch and bitch. It'll be genius! Wednesday good for you Daise ?"
"What ? No, no, this is your thing, not mine."
"Ah go on go on go on go on go on." said Tina, who is Irish, although I may have made this bit up.
"Can we drink ?" me again. Finch and Tina shook their heads.
"You can't drink and knit. You balls it up, you'll be dropping stitches everywhere."With incredible restraint I smiled and said through gritted teeth,
"Sure! Sounds great ! Count me in !" Tina and Finch exchanged looks and I knew my voice had gone all squeaky.

A few weeks later we were due to meet at six-thirty which gave me time for a quick couple of pints with Odge and Sweetman. At quarter past I grudgingly got to my feet and picked up my wool and needles, muttering something about 'bastard knitting bastard club'. Odge made a noise which may have been a laugh but sounded more like a strangled curse. Sweetman requested that I knit them a roll of toilet paper which they could then wash and re-use. It was with a heavy heart that I walked out of the cosy bar into the brisk wind carrying needle sharp freezing rain.
But by the time I arrived at Tina's place she had cleared a space for us all in her lounge, put on a pot of coffee and (here is the killer part) had baked a fricking cake. She sat us down and got us started and then the conversation descended into the ribald hilarity I always find myself knee deep in when I'm with certain people and not only did I find myself enjoying it but carried on with the knitting when I got home. Then I started taking it to work, prompting people to peer at me incredulously and mutter 'loser' as they walked into my office.
Fuck them, I thought, I'm a knitter, and I'm proud.

There is no moral to this tale. Once I'd knitted myself a decent pair of arm warmers I gave up for a bit, and generally forgot all about it, except for one drunken mistake in Bristol over Christmas. But when Tina suggested earlier that we start hooking up again on Wednesdays I leapt at the chance - because it's all about the company you keep and the bind of the group that means whatever happens in knit club (still a bit too close to 'shit club' for my liking) stays in knit club. It's nothing to do with the fact that we're meeting in a pub. Oh no.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

three men and an idiot watching this rubbish

Over the festive period - a time when some of the worst films ever made get dragged out to clog up the schedules, usually late at night - I've found I have at least one more guilty pleasure than I first thought. I adore shit movies. Any old guff starring Jennifer Love Hewitt or - God forgive me - Steve Guttenburg and I'll be there poised for the opening credits on the couch like an especially predatory widow.
Especially if I'm hungover. Then I really will watch any old toss. I've sat through more Channel Five Family Movies than I am prepared to admit, lest I spontaneously combust with shame. On New Years Day I caught myself watching Three Men and a Little Lady with a twinge of pleasure, because there is nothing better than a bad sequel. My Girl 2, Piranhas 2 (they can fly), Dr Doolittle goes Apeshit or whatever it was called, The Exorcist: The Beginning - described in the Guardian Guide as 'an unnecessary prequel' - sounds aces, as does Jackie Chan's The Tuxedo ('a misfiring comedy'). However, in watching Chan flip about the screen as though he is made of rubber I miss 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', the multiple award winning, critically acclaimed western most often described as 'unmissable'. Unmissable perhaps, unless Chan happens to be on the other side.

The slowly dawning realisation that I would walk half a mile for a bad horror with lousy effects and a laughable plot but wouldn't lift the remote to watch 'a powerful and compelling drama' on the other side is something I'm only really half aware of.
There is more to it obviously - I have the attention span of a foetus and would only ever be described as 'highbrow' in an antonyms competition - but if I start telling you about that I miss watching 'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.'
Seriously, it's set on an island and everything.