Wednesday, 29 January 2014

One Rainy Morning's Realisations

A bloodcurdling schoolchild’s scream rams itself through the walls waking you up with a start, and outside all you can hear is rain; not an auspicious first morning thought admittedly plus the where-the-hell-am-I feeling puts you off kilter. Ergh. I had such a dumb day yesterday. Looked after a stranger’s child for money, met and had tea with a Jehova’s Witness, had an interview in a room that was named after a mountain and then drank in a Spoons for about five hours with the money from the kid. The little girl didn’t pass me over any money, we just ran around and threw trains down flights of stairs and danced and read like there was no tomorrow, I watched her eat for one hour whilst listening to Radio 2 - what a boring racket - every other word was Ed Balls or RBS, yawn. Her mum was very pretty, she seemed surprised that I had entertained the child so thoroughly but it’s no big deal, I don’t particularly like children so the only way to tolerate them is to pretend they’re just a fun adult with no inhibitions, like a well-meaning wasted person. Just clap and dance around and sometimes throw stuff and roll around on the floor and she’ll be well in to it. 

When reading her Winnie The Pooh on Tigger’s adventures which featured a storm (they had to save Piglet from it and Tigger bounced until everything got better), I unconsciously kept slipping up on the little boy’s name, calling him Christopher Owens instead of Robinson. Christopher Owens is the lead singer of the late low-fi beach grunge band, Girls, which I technically loved between the ages of 20-22 more than my parents. He unfortunately was addicted to too many prescription drugs after that is his heroine addiction subsided, and is currently dependent of some chemical substitute for LSD and not making any good music. The first album though was so pop in a good way and made you want to sing out loud the chorus in anthemic drunken slurry versions and at the gigs he did look like Jesus. Often he wore a crown of white roses and always had strong backdrop lighting which shone through his flimsy clothing and emblazoned his boney physique, honestly, he looked like some rag bone American lost child angel (he did probably have a Messiah Complex) and girls and boys alike loved him. Christopher Robinson not so much, but then again he was a creation of that infamous Walt who really loved Jesus and ideas of second-comings and anti-Semitism. If there’s a theory out there for Bambi being Jesus (the stag is the Lord and his mother gets shot, I don’t know why that’s too relevant for the Bible, maybe the way Mary gets dismissed after the whole virgin conception miracle) then I can’t see why the wholesome young spirited child Christopher Robinson, always saving his imaginary friends isn’t some nod to old Jesu. 

Now in the pub mulling it over this sequence of events occur:

‘Just call her’ says a mate.

‘No. We’ve only had four text messages in total it’s no time to call her. Anyways it’s late.’ He replies.

‘It’s only ten o’clock she’s not some elderly OAP and she texted you yesterday and you haven’t replied so just get on calling her otherwise she’ll think you’re not interested.’ Takes a swig of his manly pint.

‘But I don’t want to.’ He’s languishing in his watery beer.

‘Give me your phone.’

‘No don’t take it’, after saying this he gives it to me to protect when I was comfortably watching not getting involved, and now I have manlier-than-thou lunging at me, oh the unnecessary stress. Thankfully he knocks a pint over and says fuck you and forgets entirely about the phone. I give it back and order is for the time being restored. 


Epilogue: Until I wake up the following day borderline confused, trying to pick out reality from the dreams I was just having really desperate for a wee but knowing that I’ll have to deal with the lack of toilet paper if I emerge from under the covers. January. 



Sunday, 26 January 2014

Cardigan Doctor


‘How do you like my cardigan?’ he asks with a surreptitious furrow; ‘It’s nice’ she replies although she fucking hates it. ‘I think it looks like porridge’ he goes, and she grins like an idiot. Batting her overly large eyelids and letting her gaze fall over the interior of this place, she soaks it in and feels slightly repulsed, but why, she couldn’t tell you. The inevitability might be it. She loves the outdoors and yet everything of interest in the city is placed indoors, for the comfort of the viewer she muses. Everything rests on something else and has its place in the categories of man, which we assembled to make order of our shambolic lives. 

‘Do you want another drink?’

She flicks back in to the conversation and tries to make sense of it all in a split second, refuse or say yes and carry it off, it all seems a bit pointless now. But whatever is happening she is in it and one can’t pause the game and resume it later, as much as one would like the option to. A nod suffices. God he bores her. Everyone does who wants to get her drunk. What a chore for the little girl in women’s curves who amuses men like a glow worm in a jar, their interest like her life is always short lived. Cackles of laughter spill over from a nearby table of hyenas in low cut tops with cleavage dripping out like clotted cream. From the corner of her eye she sees once-dapper-in-their-youth but now past it middle aged fathers becoming blotchy and making sideways glances at her own jumpered physique. Maybe the cardigan on him isn’t that bad. Returning with the drinks he squeezes up to her non-menacingly and asks a bunch of questions, and whilst he does so she sips the drink and decides to have sex with him. 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

English Fiction

Well, have you ever had to try and find the funny in a non-funny situation? Like a break-up or a divorce or a death of a pet? No? That’s only human. If someone close to you dies I’ll wholeheartedly admit nothing is funny about that. But what if somebody told you, let’s say the teacher of your fictional English class inside your head, that you now have to write a 250 word descriptive story seeing the funny side of things. I know you may want to punch them in them nose, but this teacher is fictional and for some subconscious reason you have to complete their assignment. 

Dreams are always a lucid way to tap into negative emotions. Like the dream of being shot and seeing yourself slowly dying from a loss of blood on the floor. Or, falling without impact hones in on an acute terror. Or, dreams of extreme violence committed by oneself. How about dreams of helplessness, such as seeing something odd like a demon or an ex or Lady Gaga and having no power to do anything about the situation. In some ways dreams offer your psyche an outlet because for once you’re at a loss of control - of what to think or even do. In dreams you’re in moral free-fall. 

You get to see life play itself out and take all sorts of odd directions, like to lead a dinosaur on a leash out of the London Underground system via escalator, or to see Paganism flourish as the main religion of choice in school children. Dreams are funny. Also, if something awful happens in a dream like you have shot a few people, you don’t seem to be racked with the same emotional guilt you get when your conscious. If the brain believes that this is real (because often it can’t distinguish that you’re in a dream state) then why does your moral sensors not go off and make you incapacitated from your actions. Somehow in dreams, your actions, your feelings and your judgments are dissociated from one another - making weird things possible. Fucking a cat for one, you could fuck a cat in a dream and not feel like you’ve done something wrong but something strange. That’s the sort of disassociation that dreams offer. On one hand they free you, on the other hand they scare you.

What’s funny about a break-up is that you have this empty time. Time you used to spend on the other person now has to be reallocated to other tasks, and things you were putting off can finally take precedent like cleaning your room or going to the bank. You feel less hungry because when people suffer emotional loss or grief they have less energy in them requiring them to feel satiated, I guess you’d call it emptiness, and when you feel empty you don’t really want to get full-up either. That would appear contradictory. You fill up silence by putting on Radio 4 and listening to the dramas of the outside world rather than of your inner soul, and creepily you look forward to the shoddy recordings of the Archers on Sunday. You always want to take a cigarette break which turns your insides yellow, yet benefacting you with that sparse amount of time living in the outdoors, even if it’s raining. Everything sucks a bit but is also tinged with a melancholic beauty that only people close to death, or those rejected by some institution or dismissed by a lover can pitiably reflect upon. Life is a hoot, especially when life is being a bit pathetic.  



Saturday, 18 January 2014

Girlfriends


Does the girl who secretly wishes she was gay so she wouldn’t have to feel like making up excuses for her odd behaviour suffer from a mental illness? Man I wish so much I was in to girls and their cute smiles and small frames. I’d take them out on fantastic dates to places that felt like lost gems of the city, impoverished parts of town with an independent book store café that turns in to a bar at night and has a roof garden with a view that says to her, I can be knowing, arty, dangerous and poignant – what sort of other date place or dude could offer you that? I’d smoke a roll-up cigarette offer her a ¾ profile view of my strangely beautifully lit face in the dusk air, then we’d go back inside and I’d compliment her some more and buy her cake.

Friday, 17 January 2014

London Campus


Unsure now if university prepares any individual for life out there in the real world. It definitely nurtures the soul though, some take away from it being part of an orchestra, a student protest, a club night; and I bet most of the kids from UCL have done one of the above. They are The Cool students - caring about not caring but actually really deeply caring about image and ideas. And what’s wrong with that? It might not lead directly to money but it’ll help them engineer a false identity, one they can use as their public face in a world that’s commandeered by Internet. I stood there in the middle and watched them gather and disperse. I had flyers in my pockets to hand out (‘trying to hit the student demographic yeah, they like free things’) negating me as a threat and I was surprised by what I saw. Beautiful creatures in the rapture of youth making tiny decisions which won’t affect the outcome of anything (but they think it will and that’s what matters). Is it naivety, is it young priority, or is it actually that they’ve been taught to believe the world takes them seriously. They don’t. Or at least I don’t think it does. Jealous but happy for them, I laugh like I’d imagine a dog laughs when he’s been unclipped from his collar and scamper off to find some food.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


New Year, New Me Allusions


First of all the title is bollocks. I’m still me, the same one from last year and previous years.

(The reason for the writing hiatus, that's what I wanted to write about here.)

In the light of New Year I can see now there’s a lot of work to be done. The world is a scary weird and collective place, and the city makes this very apparent, but that’s too much of a tangent. I have been trying for the last few weeks and days to organise a plan, and failing still to do that, I have turned back to writing. What a game plan.

Today was the first day of one of my jobs (!) I should have others in the pipeline but maybe the Fates won’t look favourably on those. I was doing a full day of postering on the streets of London, North London, well actually Camden. But man did I dig those rubber booted heels into the ground and tread on every pavement stone of the Camden Borough (surprisingly vast). Postering for one of the great comedy clubs, The Great comedy club in my opinion of London, which showcases new and undercooked talent; those who are mottled with angst and hatred and paucity of esteem.

I realised whilst doing the job solo, like some crazy bitch ninja with hidden agendas, that a lot of people are mad. Or mad stuff happens a lot. And by mad, you don’t really know if that person/thing is good or bad. Just uncategorisable.

On a double-decker bus, and a guy with his sodden beige hood up (it's been raining and apparently we Brits don’t use umbrellas, steadfastly walking through rain like some poignant rugby anthem) is singing in a strained squeal, ‘Country hooolm take me hoooooolm to a place we haaaave goooone’. I’m not going to be the one who jumps in to say it should be country roads but what’s more odd is you can’t tell if he’s sad or happy. Everyone else averts their eyes and the bus steams up with condensation. I came across a thirteen year old smoking a cigarette as if it was his last, or like he needed a big hit of something stronger but all he had left was that damn cigarette so it would have to do. He had a hood (but not up) too. A perfectly normal man walked through London Underground barriers carrying a suitcase and I subsequently saw the barriers slam shut on to his case, locking it in to position, and then I watched him having to kick it back through the gate at unbeknownst commuters who were trying to go forward. It was like a jammed pinball machine. The man kept kicking and the people kept shuffling forward then aside. He could still be there for all I know living out a minor Sisyphian struggle.

There was a record shop dedicated to heavy metal. When I opened the doors the volume of the noise from within (a din) is all I can recollect. Metal din crashed past me onto the street and probably sledgehammered some Neil Young lovers across the skull, and rightly so. A little poodle with dreadlocks came wagging its tail up to me, sniffed my boots and then went away and came back again until I left the premises with one less poster, confused. A woman yelled in to her unsuspecting husband’s face on the street, ‘That man over there - that one getting in to his car - he’s off of X Factor. Tim, Tom, I can’t remember but it’s him, it’s definitely him!’ The boy-husband couldn’t care less and neither could the blank-faced baby in the pram. The dad gave this knowing look to his kid in the basket; a look of understanding, commiseration and love all encapsulated in to the shake of a head which said, ‘Let her have her fun’. There is a newsagent off the main street of Camden where you can buy a sheep, a whole one at that, for £2.99. That surprised me. I’m guessing it’s a carcass but if it was alive what would you do with it in Camden anyway?

I distinctly remember entering 2 separate picture framing shops, and the conversation in both shops going exactly the same:

Picture Framer*: You can put it up where you like

Me: Thanks. You don’t mind how it looks? I mean, having to deal with pictures and walls every day

Picture Framer: No

Long pause

Me: So… Do you make your own picture frames?

Picture Framer: No

*Both had distinctly non-London accents, like either Welsh or Scouse or both.

Reminds me, there was a real indie aesthetic moment when I entered the room at the start of the day to pick up my load of posters. The whitewashed space was filled with five or six post-adolescent pre-adulthood types, the boys far to thin and tall to not be wearing socks and the girls looking like sexy grandmas, myself included, but we all had a take on it like “denim gran” or “prefab nana” and so on.

Me: (Feigned nonchalance in her voice) So like what do you all do?

Everyone: [Mumbles or shuffles about not making eye contact with said speaker]

Me: (Turning to the beautiful bearded boy) What do you do?

Boy: Photography.     What do you do?

Me: I don’t know

Boy: Good.     (After some thought) That’s cool

At around 4pm I made a detour under a bridge and down a canal. I had just walked in and out of a pub called The Constitution where inside time stood still, even the people in the there looked liked faded photographs, I couldn’t remember seeing any of them move. The area used to be known as Somers Town but now it’s just a forgotten throw of London inbetween the Google developments at Kings Cross and Koko in Camden. I curtailed my wander along the canalside when I helped an arts student from Central St. Martin’s write out a word in the water with string. It was an experimental graphic design project with the aim to write messages in nature, or something, and she’d used a ball of string to write out in cursive lettering the word “Wander”. Carefully manoeuvring the string in the shallows of the pondwater and fishing out a Drum Tobacco packet with a twig, I asked her coyly if the word she’d chosen to use Wander was in fact meant to mean Wonder, as in the wonderment of nature? ‘Or actually did you mean to write wander like an amble through the woods?’ There was a pregnant pause that ensued as she clicked away on her analogue camera pointing the retro piece at the reflections in the murky green. ‘I don’t really think the meaning of the word matters’, is what she said and I just smiled and changed the topic. We exchanged numbers after that and I trundled back to the city thinking of ways to claim housing benefits.



Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Inspiration Twice


Inspiration sometimes comes from nowhere. By that I mean nowhere expected, otherwise you would have searched for it there, wouldn’t you? On a plane again, only seven days since the last one I sat down in and already the world looks a different shape. Perhaps not a whole shape but at least a different surface – no maybe, a different material. Who knows? I forget there are so many other ways for things to change other than shape, that’s probably my Formalist education seeping in and overriding any common sense. Things can be different by being of a different age, being made of a different material, having an altered density or being in a state of decay or flux. Things just seem different.

When I sat on the dusty grey seat of the airport waiting lounge, I wished for time to stop. Since my youth (can I call it that if I’m still in it?) I have often wished for time to stop. I’ve thought, if I could only possess a small remote control for reality that had a pause button, right next to the fast-forward, re-wind and stop buttons plus the record, well then life would be grand. When I was revising for my final examinations at university I wanted to press pause for as long as it took me to read about thirty books. It would have helped but been unnecessary, in the end.

A distinct memory I have of when time stood still, or that is, time gave me an opportunity to look at it passing from an outsider’s perspective actually occurred to me in my final exam. The final final examination, that is the last exam I ever took at university anyways. It was a paper on Southern African Hunter-Gatherers and it was a subject I’d enjoyed but couldn’t see taking any further. It was the last question on the paper, and the stupendous clock with the overly-large beige face and italicised roman numerals that squiggled laughed down at me. The hands moved with the passage of time and I saw it all for what it was which was an exam, one part of life that I would never repeat (like with the rest of life) but this moment particularly made itself visible because it was so blatant, and in that banal. I was mid-sentence, ‘As watering-holes are integral to the survival of a tribe when one became unusable due to an ecological factor such as drought, the social –‘

When I placed my pen down and looked at that clock the hands were pointing at almost half-past three. If the clock had been digital it would have blinked 14:27. I waited for three whole minutes looking at that clock soaking in time, watching people scribble furiously or glance up at the window deep in thought or maybe anxiety. I didn’t meet anybody’s eye, which made me feel like I had the power over that moment, an outsider looking in. Time looks like it stands still when you’re not in amongst it, living it. I smiled back at the clock, and said to it inside my head, ‘At least I ended on the word “social”, which you have to admit was the point to take away from my degree, wasn’t it?’ and then some bellow of an archaic echo resounded through the room and I heard a majestic sigh and groan exhaled by all examinees including myself. How sweet those three minutes are in my memory; admittedly only made sweet with the filter of nostalgia which at this juncture in my life is as poignant as photoshop.

*

On a sidenote, I’m not even willing to consider if life is boring. Does that make me naïve or in a permanent state of denial and youthful angst and arrogance? Maybe life is the three B’s: boring, blatant and banal and everything we do, like flailing and crying and buying sofas, is trying to avert our attention away from it.

*

I sat in the airport waiting lounge on a dusty grey chair wanting to stop time. Then an announcement went bing-bong and called all passengers flying on this (my) particular flight to come and queue for boarding. I sat there and watched this pile of people line up and I became sort of grateful because travelling across time-zones is actually the only real way to pause time, or at least fuck with it in a way that isn’t human. Unnatural. I will in effect be pausing time now by boarding this plane, and I’ll wile away some hours up there that will be unaccounted for and therefore lost. I’ll meet a man who sits in a chair next to mine, and we’ll speak about philosophy and be able to converse in both languages and I’ll feel grateful for time gained and time lost. All in good sport.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Kojima San


An old Japanese couple sitting in a kotatsu. The woman called Kimiko is 80 years old, the man called Katsuji is 83 years old. The old man cannot swallow properly and is constantly in fits of coughs and then subdued silence. The old woman occasionally nods off to sleep and then is alert and awake.


Kimiko: Listen. Are you listening?

Katsuji: (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: Noisy house this

Katsuji: (coughs)

Kimiko: (nods off to sleep)

Silence

Katsuji: What happened?

Kimiko: (wakes up) What?

Katusji: What?

Kimiko: You get past 80 and you just don’t know

Katsuji: (coughs)

Kimiko: Listen. Kojima San died

Pause

Katsuji: Who? Kojima San.

Kimiko: She’s dead. Fell over.

Katusji: (coughs) I wonder…if at home…how old

Kimiko: The ambulance was there last night

Katusji: (coughs)

Kimiko: 83. When a person gets past 80 you just don’t know

There is a bowl of Japanese rice-crackers (mochi) in the middle of the table. Kimiko reaches her hand in and picks one out to eat

Kimiko: The mochi is hard

Katsuji: Give me some

In the same manner as before Kimiko reaches her hand in to the bowl and gives Katsuji a bit

Kimiko: Make sure you chew properly

Katsuji: (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: Chew properly

Katsuji: (continues coughing)

Kimiko: We’ve all got to chew properly now (nods off to sleep)

Silence

Katsuji: You can give the hard bits to the birds

In the silence that follows time is drawn out. The shallow breaths of sleep from Kimiko are barely audible but always there. As she gradually falls in to a heavier sleep Katsuji begins to clap, at first quietly, then getting louder. When the claps become loud enough he begins to sing an old Japanese enca song. A melancholic melody that cuts through the silence

Kimiko: (startles awake) What are you singing? Can’t you be quiet for a while?

Katusji: (ends his clapping then goes back to coughing)

Kimiko: The birds like to peck at these hard bits. Later, I’ll throw them out

Katsuji: Where did she fall?

Kimiko: The daughter was the first to find her. Unconscious

Pause

Kimiko: I don’t know. She was so lively, would sing and dance and things

Katusji: Don’t want to fall over past 80. You’ve used up all your chances

Kimiko: That’s right (nods off to sleep)

Katsuji: To recover

Silence

Katsuji: Make sure you watch your step (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: (wakes up) Noisy always noisy

The kettle on the stove begins to boil and makes a high pitched whistling sound. The two of them remain there for as long as it takes