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.