Sunday, 30 October 2011

a bit of short fiction this time: ‘Dried, Chewy Squid Snacks’ (Inspired by traditional Korean bar food; written May 2008)


Dried, chewy, squid snacks; fermented and rotting vegetative matter; trapped strands of meat; ground peanuts. The inside of someone’s mouth is a place most people never want to see in too much close detail.

Why dentistry? His father was a surgeon; his mother a psychiatrist; his older sister had bagged gynaecology. One could say, his options in life had all chomped shut a long time ago.

No matter how far we are from what we would really like to be doing; no matter the mundanity of our work we must all look to find some meaning in what we do.

So, looking into his patients' mouths he no longer thought of the people they were part of. Instead the mouth was a degenerate, alien world; the saliva an ocean tide rising up the cliff edges of teeth; the tongue a writhing mollusc that had been disturbed inside its shell.

Lying in the bathtub at the end of the day, he found it difficult to shut out his work. The cold enamel sides reminded him of huge teeth which trapped him inside a cave's salivatory depths.

For instance, one night, a couple of hours after his usual bath, with a couple of
glasses of single-malt whiskey warming his breath, whilst kissing Sandra, (34, Human Resources Manager of 'Wimpy' South Western Division), he imagined his tongue not as his tongue, but as a solo muscular embodiment of himself slipping inside of Sandra’s mouth.

He was unequivocal about it, not prepared to miss anything as he clinically and systematically explored her every crack and possible cavity. The plaque along the ridges of her teeth aided his grip as he climbed, slipped and slid in a fantasy of dental rock-climbing.

Until, he remembered what he was really doing and pulled out of Sandra’s mouth so suddenly he almost bit her, prematurely ejaculating the only explanation he could, (and not for the first time)-

‘I’m sorry, it’s not you; it’s your teeth.’

Thursday, 27 October 2011

plenty more _________ in the sea


Now I was up until the wee hours trying to finish this other piece, 'What you sayin' Bertrand?' I was doing so well but at 4am I had to give in and go to sleep and now I've got more pressing matters to discuss before I get back to Bertrand.

As some of you may know, over the last eighteen months, being unfortunately afflicted with singledom, I had been trying my hand at spinning the horrific wheel that is ONLINE DATING. I had intended to devote more time at some point to describing my experience on the three different sites I tried, on and off and on and off again (mostly off) for about ten months. Whilst the "highlight" of my year of Internet dating (slash, year of five dates) was probably being stood up by a man I thought was going to be a sexy Irish musician (INSTANTLY THE WARNING BELLS SHOULD HAVE BEEN RINGING), but actually was just a bit of a douche, ON THE WAY to the date, which was supposed to be AT THE ZOO. (Oh, and "Isn't the zoo a bit expensive?" I had said before we agreed to go. Oh no! Don't worry, he had an UNLIMITED MEMBERSHIP CARD! To the Zoo! Go figure.) ON A SNOW DAY IN LONDON (when the transport is all buggered up and even the animals are sensible enough to know they should just stay inside their enclosures) so I had already  battled adverse weather and transport conditions whilst trying to look all sexy-first-date-cute in my winter woollens for several hours before I finally managed to get on a tube in South London and received a text from him saying, "... have you left yet?" ("Yes I've left, I told you hours ago I was leaving!") But unfortunately, "something had come up", even though the date had only been arranged two hours earlier and it had all been his strange idea in the first place. The words 'lucky' and 'escape' spring to mind.

Anyway, I thought I had given up on the dating for good.. it wasn't just the messages like:

Hi im writing this cos ya know how it is looking over folks . But ya know they do that hole lol thing . Well i really did . Looked at ya pics very cute. Ya know the hole thing ya style an that . Look as you can see i do have kids but im not looking for no baby mummy. I totally know the washing matchine. Im just sayin you look good an if ya did fancy that beer sometime . Yell me up. ;)

The worst thing was just being totally on edge for weeks if you did think you had found someone you liked and you would begin exchanging tentative messages, all the time just wanting to meet, until eventually you would... the problem with that then is that you invest so much of your time in something that could have been decided very quickly had you just met at a party. The problem with the British (and maybe lots of other Europeans- I cannot confirm nor deny) is that we just don't really do dating. Compared to the Americans, for example, we just don't small talk in that way either. It's like you need a personal reference from a mutual friend before you can so much as begin to talk at ease with someone you've never met before. Single? Want a new boyfriend or girlfriend? The best you can hope for is to scour your existing friends, colleagues or mutual friends of theirs and wait for a drunken opportunity to present itself. That's how it works here and although not a very dignified method for the earlier part of my twenties it had been working just fine.

So anyway, I thought I was over online dating for good. It was just another social networking procrastination disorder taking over my life and encouraging me to buy expensive jumpers that I thought would make me look 'cute but indieish' to impress the Creative Media Professionals I was meeting on GraniardSalemates. Then in the kitchen- in on my own- on Tuesday night I cracked. I LOGGED BACK IN. Before I knew it I was scrolling through pictures of men in the area... within minutes I had re-filled my previously deleted profile, zhoom zhoom, uploaded 9 different pictures of me designed to appeal to any tastes! Cute and indie, I can do! Sultry, I can do! Nature-loving, I can do! I could go on but, oh no, basically, I've done it again... and in record time: I have a date on Friday night. It all seemed so easy, "blah blah blah, you're new to town, let's meet up for a drink", "blah blah blah, YES". YES?! What do you mean 'YES'? I actually have to go through with it? Now for the hard part.... What do I ask him? How do I act? What do we talk about when we've run out of small talk? What if he's weird? What if I seem too keen? What if I use too many big words?

Life. So hard. All advice appreciated....

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

news in brief



*Just because my posts tend to be very infrequent, more than 1,000 words long, largely negative and highly repetitive doesn’t make this a “rant blog”. I would say that generally my arguments are too tangential and badly made to be referred to as "rants" but I’ll take this as a compliment, so thanks. Like I've been saying all along, just keep this a 'lol' free zone and no one needs to get ranted at.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

He’ll Get His Curmuffins*

Dear Readers,
Hark! For there is trouble going down in the blogosphere, and no mistake. I am afraid that, yet again, my extensive research project, "Comparisons of the representations of the mythical figures 'Shawty' and 'Lorelei' in Hip-Hop, R&B and Folk" has been tossed aside to write about a dangerous incidence of 'umbrage'. I tried to tackle this as politely as I could, thinking initially this post could be just about malapropisms but unfortunately I think I may need to meet head-on the aforementioned 'umbrage' that was 'taken' by one of my highly vigilant (some might say, TOO vigilant) followers. Apparently, (ha! as if!) in my last post I wrote about my decision to monetise my blog using AdSense, saying:
"here’s hoping none of my three followers take umbrance with this"
which really IS quite ironic, as I never wrote that. And besides I have four followers now. In fact, I think you’ll find that if you look back I never wrote any such thing. I urge you all to go and check. Obviously, I wouldn’t have written such a thing, as “umbrance” is not a real word and I only know words that are real. Like 'spoon' and 'zygote', two examples I use often in common-parlance. Obviously, now you might say, “ooh, but couldn’t you have just gone and changed it to make it look as if you never had made such a mistake, thus making yourself good?” Well, again, obviously the answer is NO, as I have never knowingly done, nor would I do, anything to make myself look good. Going back and changing the nonsenical malaprop “umbrance” to the correct word, or even, just changing it to some other wholly wrong or inappropriate hodge-podge in order to create a sense of bathos would just be totally out of character, (*cross my heart, hope to die, throw my collection of Stewart Lee DVDS on a bonfire*).
At the risk of further isolating my loyal and first-cyber-born follower who is probably already rather at the end of his tether with my time-consuming (albeit impeccably well-written) monologues about how I haven’t got much to say but I’d like to analyse why I think that is, so as to invent something to say, interspersed with topless pictures of Michael Fassbanger (sic); I would just like to invite the rest of my extensive following to consider for a moment the reliability of a man who writes under the pseudonym “Finnginn”. Yes! Finnginn! Very cutesy and asinine you might at first think. Perhaps he just really likes the name Finn, perhaps he likes gin, perhaps he likes the Finnish story of the Moomins and picked the next consonant in the alphabet to create a rhyme with ‘Finn’. Tosh! There is something much more insidious at play here. FINNGINN- if that is your real name, which it’s evidently not- I would like to know what you are trying to achieve by choosing a username which rhymes so blatantly with the old-fashioned oft-mispronounced forename ‘St John’? You haven't got away with it that easily, you see, as I have realised that this is a flimsily disguised reference to the literary character St John Eyre Rivers, the clergyman and cousin of Jane Eyre, the heroine of the eponymously titled novel, a film remake of which was released only last month, a fact which could barely have passed your scrupulous eye. And, who, pray-tell, starred in the lead role as Rochester?? None other than MICHAEL FASSBANGER (sic) himself! A clever Moriarty-like dig, indeed, Mr Finnginn, but I'm steadily gaining on you, whatever that might mean. And don’t bother trying to explain away the coincidence by saying you’ve "had that username for years and that it's got nothing to do with you or your strange obsession with a mediocre actor you actually knew nothing about until only a few months ago". I suppose you’ll be saying next that you had that moniker in mind when I was still nothing but a drunken twinkle in my daddy’s wandering weegie eye! You'll be saying that this nom de plume was invented by your own father who named the twinkles in his own eyes 'Finn' and 'Ginn' and that I wrote this whole piece as an excuse to post another gratuitous picture of Fassbanger (sic).
This, dear readers, is the sort of bare-faced cheek that I really take umbrance with.
* A.Pirie.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What I _____ about when I ______ about _____ing

  Prologue

Now I just want to make sure everyone here is still vaguely aware of what’s going on.
I’m just checking, because I know some of you need a little help with these kinds of things and I don’t want anyone telling me later that they hadn’t been fully apprised of the situation, y'know just as we're about to catch the ONE train that leaves from the station every hour to get to that place that only opens for thirty minutes every Tuesday, except it's two minutes until the train comes and you haven't had a wee or bought your ticket or remembered your sandwiches or your anorak or asked permission and now you want me to hold you over the platform so you can take a piss with my one arm wrapped around your waist  so you don't fall over and the other arm holding an umbrella over you 'cos it's whazzing with rain, whilst cradling a mobile to my ear so I can call your mum and check it's all okay. That would be a bit annoying, as I don’t have much time to keep re-capping and explaining everything, even though the Primary School metaphor is just yet another self-indulgently Primary School metaphor that's wearing a bit thin and you're all wondering when I might use some of my "better" school-based jokes, at least the ones that involve Show & Tell or are totally made up like the one about the Vietnamese boy with special needs and lactose intolerance but in actual fact although I'm  unemployed, my schedule is so ram-packed with eating jam on toast and staring into space, I'm still too busy for you.
So in case you weren’t following here’s a recap:
·      This is a blog that is essentially an infrequent record of the tangential ramblings of my mind. I like to keep you on your toes by using things you might not be familiar with, like “footnotes”, y’know just to sorta show off and be all literary and Jorge Louis Borges on your asses (yeah, how d'you like those Forking Babels?) but then I’ll analyse the footnotes themselves so excessively and self-consciously that I’ll make you feel a little uncomfortable for even daring to think I was a pretentious knob. Which you are still in your rights to feel. If there was a face that was all like "sad-face" but like, self-pitying sad-face I could maybe use it now but essentially I don't really care what you think so just like stop tabbing between Facebook and some random google-searches you've got open and concentrate.
·      Sometimes I might throw all of the above right back atcha all in your faces, like, and just put up something literary but again, it’ll probably be so horrifically pretentiously literary and long you won’t want to read it, so feel free to ignore those too.
·      Ultimately, if I had to hard-boil my remit (no one’s making me do this but it’s been a few days since the prolific bi-posting which occurred on the 11th October and I feel the dizzying popularity of those posts- I do check the stats y’know- just left me reeling like some sort of crazed child star Drew Barrymore post E.T. Or something. Emphasis on the ‘or something’), anyway, footnotes, brackets, wedgies, cold-weather, neuroses, spell-checks, unsettling neutrino-news aside, I guess I’m trying, tentatively to be a little funny or at least a little interesting. So just be patient with me.
·      If you don’t ever, ever, ever find my posts remotely amusing that’s fine. Whatever you do, though (this is where the re-cap is most important), WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t you ever, EVER, ever, DARE, to ‘LOL’ on my blog. Because if you do, I’ll ensure you never use the Internet again. Probably by maiming you with a copy of Borges' 'Labyrinths' or something. *Ways and means- I’ve got ‘em.*
If you’re still not following very well I would advise you to attend one of my surgeries, which are open by public demand. Entry is free provided you bring Supermalt and don't question my choice of Motown or Electroey-Indie. To conclude, I was going to mention here a quote from Stewart Lee but instead I thought I might finish off with two companion quotes/pieces of advice:
The first I overheard from an elderly man at The Alexandra public house on Friday: “I won’t hear a word said against Ray Mears because that would be blasphemy”.
The second is from a Lee “Scratch” Perry song and I think it goes some way to put two fingers up at anyone who tries to say he’s losing the plot: “Curly Locks/your father is a pork chop.”
 Ray Mears + Lee "Scratch" Perry= [Insert your answers here]
Right so, we’re all up to speed.

Chapter 1
So I actually began keeping a blog four years ago as I thought it might help me as a way back into Creative Writing after the horrific demoralising experience of having to share my work with Chemistry Undergrads with no writing experience whatsoever who for some… reason.... ($$$?$$$/////bhjghjg) had been allowed onto a so-called pr&st!gious writing course at a well-known Un!versity in the East of England, but I could never actually bring myself to make any of my blog posts public. After moving to Norfolk in July this year I realised I had a choice. Either keep busy by any means possible, even if it meant forcing the chaotic ramblings of my mind onto anyone who was reading (there in lies the beauty of the Internet… the most consensual of all the media… no one’s really forcing you to read my drivel, there are no ad-breaks, no pop-corn investment, no voice of Liz Kershaw unless you actually want it, and so as long as you allow me to keep taking advantage of your minds, I think I will), OR just give in and join the gang of ex Blue Peter presenters that like to hang around outside the Wild Man. It was *literally* (never use that word lightly), as simple as that. Now, for the discipline element. That’s the real problem. However, there are three things I have discovered which have been helping to motivate me:
1. Running (See Murakami - if you’re interested that is. I’m not implying that you don’t understand what running actually is, I'm just saying that there's a correlation between being focused for a creative activity and taking exercise. Geddit? There's nothing to get.)
2. Knowing that people are reading. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t commenting or enjoying but as long as they are reading I will continue to be motivated. (There aren’t any direct references for this, other than that I am vain and enjoy attention). The profligacy of the 11th October and resulting reaction had me so excited I was awake until five in the morning listening to the three songs by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros that I like on repeat. I was feeling so confident I perhaps sold-out too soon and have now allowed Ad-Sense (here’s hoping none of my three followers take umbongo with this) to post ads on my blog. Who knows but in a year's time I may have made 20p from these drunken (more often not, drunken, to my chagrin) ramblings.
3. As above, but specifically: PEER PRESSURE, (thanks Finnginn). As I said above, being as I am now a highly successful blogger with a high number of (three) followers and an approximate number of 350 hits to my blog, so it has been difficult at times to keep up with demand but basically that's why I'm writing this nonsense.
Right, all of that being said, I’ll move on to writing my next post as I’ve got a lot to catch up on and that post about the representation of ‘Shawty’, in Hip-Hop and R&B and my philosophical piece entitled “What you sayin, Bertrand?” aren’t going to write themselves.
*Oh, and in case I misfired the proverbial love custard with my picture of Fassbanger (sic) in my previous post, here are two pictures which I believe we can ALL enjoy (yes, they are the thinking-human's-totty Lord Byron and Stewart Lee! ... Unfortunately I've scoured Plenty of Fish and OkCupid and no such 21st century amalgamation seems to exist in East Anglia, or if they do, they don't want to reply to my propositions). 


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

MOL meets LOL meets STFU


Well surprise, surprise! I bet you weren't expecting to see me back again so soon. I think the tidal wave of two comments on the Facebook link of my last post might have gone to my head. So I’ve been doing some more research into this whole M.O.L issue (that’s the “Meaning of Life” for any highly-unlikely-but-we-live-in-hope-new-readers of my blog. You might think I’ve been spending a lot of time on this but, trust me, I still probably spend more time on pointless "mamazon" (sic, but deliberate, ed.) virtual window shopping searches where I trawl for goods, like some sort of frustrated web 2.0 capitalist masturbation, occasionally putting items in my basket or on my wishlist but generally never buying. It’s definitely up-there with some of the best procrastination disorders), and I’ve come up with these three pieces of evidence for the M.O.L jury:-
1.     Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia (watch)
3.     Will Self’s The Book of Dave (believe).
More on these later. Apparently, even my housemates have started to take my blogging a bit more seriously and are now beginning to show promising signs that they are living in fear that their every slip up is going to be recorded by me and used as the springboard for one of my eccentric rants. I am fucking flattered, I must say. Initially when GirlHousemate#1 expressed concern that I was using her as material (they didn’t mind when it was just me taking the piss out of hippies that don’t actually LIVE with us and they thought no one was reading it! Ha! I throw in their faces my audience of one follower and at least three others on Facebook!) I scoffed at the notion that I might be writing about her, ‘No, no, you don’t do anything that funny or worth writing about, to be honest,’ I said, but within seconds I had realised the potential and was noting in the text drafts of my phone accidental innuendo, such as, ‘ooh, I am tempted by one of your nut-cutlets,” and wondering if I might be heralding in a new era of more sinister blogging, except that any dirt I might have on them probably only scrapes the surface of the dirt they have on me… a difficult dilemma.
*UPDATE: There has been a 100% increase on the number of followers of this blog… that’s right we’re up to two followers! Oh and speaking of nut-cutlets, as a special celebration of this I have included below a photograph of Michael Fassbanger (sic) which I considerately screengrabbed (speaking of procrastination disorders, this is a new favourite medium), from the excellent but depressing film ‘Fish Tank’. Please use this photograph as you see fit to help you continue to ‘meditate’ on the meaning of life, a visual ‘om’, if you will.  I certainly have found this to be quite helpful. (I hope this isn’t going to isolate 50% of my readership too much, ed.)

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Magical Mystery Bore


Today I am: Braving the tidal wave of vicious beech seed cases under foot; obsessing about the jingly jangling music of messianic show-off Edward Sharpe & his band of happy-clappy hipsters the Magnetic Zeros; spending time with my friend and her baby, forcing a buggy over Norwich cobblestones (counter-intuitively the bumpiness helps put him to sleep- I might need to try this sometime); not just running over prickly cases but running in prickly hot thunder-threatening weather, (4x round Eaton Park to hip-hop).
Always I am: Wondering W.I.T.M.O.L (What is the meaning of life?) (What am I aiming for? Without an aim is life meaningless?)
If you read my previous entry you’ll know, or you might have surmised that this question was on my mind. If you didn’t or you began but couldn’t be arsed to continue and instead chose to re-check you notifications on FakkaBooka by refreshing the browser repeatedly for twenty minutes then basically, I was just saying: “Looking for dad as life’s meaning may be indelibly caught up in the past… blah blah… looking to understand it so that I can make choices about the future... gargle, snort, blah blah.” So yes, I have been a-pondering, but try as I might, fun as I have had, T.M.O.L is continuously evading me.  Much like other unanswered questions, like, will I ever lose that 10lbs I am always circling around? Will I ever be disciplined or forever caught in the consumerist’s poorly lit changing room/circus mirror of life that tells me I don’t look good enough but crave sausage sandwiches like crack within 5 minutes of going for a 5 mile run, (and thus the cycle continues). The answer on this one has occurred to me many a time: Put all the energy I spend into ‘researching’ exercise techniques into actually doing more exercise and I might achieve my aim… or at least postpone the call of a sausage sandwich until the next day and go to the pub instead.
T.M.O.L is all about…. (Some thoughts thereon):
The traditional options (highly promoted by just about everyone under the age of 25, already in a relationship, anyone in the government, the media, anyone with children or anyone with anything to sell):-
·                   Love (most desired, but least favourable answer to the question, as if you’ve ever experienced it you’ll know love is much like an elusively delicious and extremely expensive hamburger that after being given a tip-off as to its whereabouts you chase after down a long motorway, wasting much of your time, all the while being confused by mixed reports from friends who tell you that said hamburger will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted/not to waste your time, until eventually on top of an aerial walkway, you reach the elusive hamburger, perhaps even take  a little bite out of it, or maybe not a bite but perhaps just taste a tiny amount of its sauce, before by some terrible fleeting accident the hamburger is knocked from your hands, falling into a stream of ongoing traffic which proceeds to pummel your beloved hamburger repeatedly, smashing it until none is left, leaving you alone with nothing except a few blurry photographs you had managed to take on your 5 megapixel camera phone and the confusion of whether you had ever really enjoyed the small taste of sauce that haunts your waking nights, while all your friends can say is that, it was only a hamburger and that, with time you’ll be able to buy another one, or at least until then make-do with occasional chicken nuggets or a Burger King. Just like that.)
·                   Procreation (See above… when you’re in love- not with a hamburger, obviously that would be taking a mixed metaphor way too far- when you’re in love, all you can do is imagine the bundle of joy you and your spouse may one day create, come what hardships, all other M.O.Ls are wiped away... but when you’re not in love you get upset trying to make a decision about what spread to have on your toast in the morning, you are perpetually in your overdraft and feeling sorry for yourself when you have to borrow money in order to buy another bottle of your favourite imported Jamaican beer, let alone feeling like you might be ready to bring another human being into the world and you visibly shudder when you see children in the street, remembering baby "Oscar-Diego" or one of your other imagined but never fully realised fantasy babies.)
The less traditional options:-
·                   None (why bother? Throwing oneself from the aerial walkway at 2am it is then!)
·                   None (have fun then! Have fun and possibly act like a bit of a tosser who doesn’t care!)
·                   None (create art then, lots of art and in between have fun, but unfortunately still care too much to act like a total tosser and still spend much of your time, not making art but accidentally falling in love, losing love, finding yourself on an aerial walkway pondering T.M.O.L at two in the morning, come full circle, breathe, and then resolve to create more art).
Those are the options, but quite frankly I’m not happy with any of them, and so frequently at the moment I come to the conclusion that I should maybe just put T.M.O.L on the ‘Save it for Later Board’  (something I was taught during my teacher training that you could ‘use’ for ideas that you didn’t actually want to use when you didn’t want to offend the child in question… cynical, mais non?). Putting T.M.O.L on the S.I.F.L.B basically means choosing to be a bum (something I’m aiming to do but with a dash of Streetcar crazy).
*Talking about the sausage sandwich Vs changing room mirror dichotomy makes me feel like I’ve gone a little into the Women’s Weekly/GRrraZzia territory of watered-down-feminist problems (the ‘juice drink’ equivalent of feminism as compared to the 100% freshly squeezed version), so I apologise but maybe it’s because I’ve just finished reading Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Be a Woman’. I know it ain’t cos this whole ‘meaning of life’ shiz is new to me, cos sista it ain’t! Y’know what I’m sayin’? Whoop! LOL.  Yeah, so. I thought ‘How to Be a Woman’ had its moments and on the whole I enjoyed it but probably I’m kinda glad I only paid for the kindle version as I’m not going to pretend that I have actually gleaned any useful leads on the Meaning of Life (as a Woman or Otherwise). Thinking back on the book I can’t actually think of much I could say I learnt, other than that ‘ooh, aren’t bras a bit uncomfortable,’ and that the author was pretty obese for a while but then she became a journalist, met the love of her life, had two kids and then continued to be a journalist but just a more successful and better-paid one who wrote a book with a few funny lines in it. Thanks for that, love. 
Anyway, I’m just dancing around some more ideas here, dancing away some time, if not dancing closer to any conclusion, but at least I just wrote 1000 words off the bat without any editing, so this whole creating thing might not be too bad after all, serving as it does- at the very least- to distract us, both as writers and readers, for a half an hour… distracting, distracting, wasting time... until it’s all over? And tomorrow I intend to put my musings of love, life, the universe and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros musical bible-study on pause and continue researching the mythical creature of ‘Shawty’ and her representation in Hip-Hop and R&B. Word.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Wasting Time Or, Beginning A Brief Memoir in the Style of Jorge Luis Borges but with a Dash More Reality and Just as Many Footnotes



Part I
If anyone needs me I’ll be at The Office (aka, the Eaton Cottage, Public House, a purveyor of Time Wasting[i] and fuzzy-headed navel gazing). It’s a cosy, provincial establishment in a cosy provincial ‘town’ (I write ‘town’ in an unabashed London-centric snobbish way as I absolutely, totally disregard its regal city status, it’s just not big enough in my opinion). But anyway, here I am supping on a pint of Jackal with an HB pencil and a notebook. My audience (a total of one official follower at present and one other, if anecdotal statistics are correct) have been asking for another entry.[ii]
I have some things on my mind. They’re not really ‘lollish’ matters and maybe they’re not for blogging but I think that one of the best ways to relieve pressure from a serious subject is to ‘make lol’ of it. Make lol of a problem in a tangential and free manner.[iii] Talk, write, ramble. Tangents are our conversational footnotes and they must be explored. Or some other wank. But yes, I have something on my mind quite serious. So serious that I’m not sure if it’s serious at all? You can see that I’m confused.
Question! (In the style of Destiny’s Child?[iv]). How do you make the following things funny? :-
1.     Mental illness
2.     Childhood trauma
3.     Poverty
I think I’ve probably made you feel slightly uncomfortable already. Personally, taking the mickey seems to be the only way I know how to talk about the topics that pain me most. Humour makes the muddy, the embarrassing, the upsetting things in life more accessible. It doesn’t solve our problems but it can be a good starting point to looking at them when we are in danger of being overwhelmed. It’s a defence mechanism clearly, but a good one, in my -and my therapist's- opinions[v]!
So, last year I wrote to the ‘Sabre-Toothed Mother’[vi] and asked her to write back to me with all the information she had about my DAD[vii]. This wasn’t altogether fruitful as by this point she’s as mad as a box of foxes[viii] and I don’t get much new information beyond the few sporadic bits and bobs I’ve gleaned in the 28 years previous (albeit at the best[ix] and most inappropriate of sporadic times).
Anyway, back to the point. 1982 and I was born. This much I know. Ok, I know a lot more than that but in between then and about 2008 what I had garnered about myself and where I came from seemed to be not only sparse but contradictory and unreliable… the more I was learning the more contradictory and unsettling things were becoming, less and less like something I could make a joke about and more like something that was just sitting very heavy and uncomfortable in my stomach.
For years I had been indoctrinated to believe that I shouldn’t care to know about that side of myself; conditioned not to ask questions about that topic and far worse.  Unfortunately now at the point when I was realising all of this the relationship between my mother and I had deteriorated to the point where we were barely speaking. People and situations around me were encouraging me to believe that if I wanted to look into things I should do it before it was too late.  So now I finally plucked up the courage to write to HER and waited with a cold, itchy fear to see what she might add to the list what I knew about my FATHER[x] (more or less in the order that I learnt it):-
1.     His name was Alan.
2.     He was from Scotland. From a place near a place marked on a children’s pictorial atlas with what I remembered as some sort of chequered black symbol (this may be wrong) but later when I was old enough to work these sort of things out, I went back and looked at the symbol my MUM had pointed out and saw that it was Glasgow.
3.     He had blonde hair and a red beard.
4.     He was short and stocky.
5.     He got into fights.
6.     He got into a fight outside a pub and was arrested.
7.     He had a brother who was stationed in the army in Northern Ireland.
8.     He was mentally ill and had paranoid thoughts.
9.   He was only 24. His birthday might have been in October.
10.   Some other stuff that’s so, like, bad I can’t even say.
11.   THEY[xi] sent him back to from whence he came… the place with a black and white symbol that I couldn’t remember, so that his family could look after him.
12.   He was from a tiny ex-mining village called Allanton, near Glasgow.
13.   He had two children before me.
To this she added:
14. His surname was Grey.[xii]
How is that as a list? It isn’t much but it could get me somewhere. The problem is I can’t make my mind up where I want to get to. In the search to answer questions I want answered, am in danger of messing up other people’s lives or just bringing myself more sadness? How important is it to know where we come from? We don’t need to know everything… but there seems to be an amount that is just enough to get us started, help us to be secure in the knowledge we come from somewhere.
So far, just a lot of questions resonating to the sound of silence. To be continued, obviously.


[i] Don’t worry: Waste Time. (Aka, Wasting time is just what happens when you’re living your life. The sooner you realise it the more your time wasting will become productive and less restless). But waste time in an interesting manner. I might start capitalising the phrase ‘Waste Time’ as they did excessively in fiction in the 18th century, when the rules for capitalisation were not the same as now.

[ii] They might wish they hadn’t after this.
[iii] Speaking of tangents, I’ve just bumped into two old friends who are visiting the town they’ve just moved away from and that I have just moved back to. This sort of coincidence constantly puzzles me although more rational friends explain them away. I might have forgotten what my original point was, but the fun of tangents is that you’ll remember in the end. You just need to have faith. And patience.
[iv] Incidentally, Knowles never actually asks a direct question in the song, ‘Independent Women’. Instead she instructs the listener, ‘tell me what you think about me’, before offering up a list of the material goods she has bought, including: shoes (they’re on her feet), clothes (she’s wearing them), rocks (she’s rockin’ ’em), in a confused and old-fashioned feminist/capitalist mish-mash, {for more of her work in this genre see, ‘Say My Name’, ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)’}. I wonder if Beyonce has ever delivered her independent manifesto to Jay-Z in person? I would particularly like to know if she’s ever told him, ‘If I wanted the watch you're wearin'/ I'll buy it’ and even better, ‘When it's all over please get up and leave’. Overall the lyrics seem like slightly ill-advisable things to say to your boyfriend and quite reminiscent of Newman and Baddiel as the feuding professors on ‘The Mary Whitehouse Experience’ (‘you see that crust of bread’…)
[v] And my therapist’s too.
[vi] ™ Me, to N. Poole, circa 2010.
[vii] Difficult word to write but what's in a name, anyway? I guess this question is at the crux of this entire matter… except it’s not so much what’s in the name but what’s in the blood.
[viii] Not to be confused with a ‘fox in a box’, which apparently means a pretty young woman that dies on a gap year. Unless you read ‘gap year’ as spending the majority of your adult life herding cats on a council estate.
[ix] When I say best, obviously I mean worst. This is an example of what’s known as ‘sarcasm’, but it’s highly contextual so if you didn’t recognize it as sarcasm, DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.
[x] Maybe I’m just inserting footnotes for the sake of it now. Maybe I don’t have any faith in my reader. Was the font not exaggeration enough? Do I need to insert a footnote to exemplify my meaning too? Do I? It’s like I could have just gone to a party and enjoyed a few drinks and been a little extrovert, made a few people laugh, but no, I had to throw chemical enhancement into the mix and now I’m dancing on the table to prove my point! My point being: it’s a word loaded with a lot of meaning.
[xi] The difficult words are coming thick and fast now.
[xii] Before she proceeded to go into a maudlin two-page monologue.