Monday, January 30, 2006

fuzzy wuzzy doodle all the day

Modesta, Modesta,
The moment I saw you, I knew I adored you,
Naked and drunk as I was,

Your dirty brown hair and the fire in your eye,
Candid cool stare and the bruise on your thigh,
Have altered the clay of my life.

See me, ignore me, turn your slim neck and walk by,
I cannot forget you, regret you, respect you,
But please, with me, just once will you lie?

Add a verse if you like, the metre is all over the place anyway and if I carry on I’m just going to get dirty…..

I feel like this today, fuzzy, and a little wild. (Yes, I wake up to this head every day).

Is January a time for retrospection, a time to take stock, see if one is going in the right direction –any direction? I think that perhaps it’s linked to the dreaded “New Year’s Resolution” syndrome, the great anal-centric, annual self-experiment of ‘what is wrong with my life’, and how will I break the mould this year?

I’m told I should have goals. A smug man on the tv told me. He says if I write my goals down and concentrate on them, I am more likely to achieve them. I told him to “fuck off” and changed channels. A victory of positive action over positive thought.

Part of my reluctance to indulge in this is that, in truth, I’m ashamed of my goals. I’d like to move….

No really, that’s it.

Today I looked at a house in Devizes, in Wiltshire. A run down old cottage with an acre of land in the middle of nowhere, and my heart leapt, it’s a refuge, a hermitage, perfect. The only trouble being that the act of moving there would render me immediately unemployed and consequently unable to afford to live there…which is a bit of a rudimentary spanner in a well formulated plan?

Anyway, let me tell you about Friday night, it’s more exciting. A girl paid me some attention.

Ah “Fish”, I can hear you say, “again?”. “Tch, tch, you Lothario”, how well you know me. Yes of course it’s always happening to me I am, after all, physically and spiritually magnetic – as I walk through crowded rooms cruet, knives and forks, pens and paper clips detach themselves from people’s hands and stick to my forehead. Yes, there’s a queue of delightful women holding £20 notes waiting in line to spend just a few moments with me…which is just about where I stumble, full of regret and backward glances, out of my dream and into cold reality each morning.

Truth is I’m a tic. Like Suskind’s horrid creation in his book “Perfume”, I can lie low and survive on the barest minimum of contact, for years, and years….and years. I’ve actually noticed a correlation between the amount of time I spend with someone I love, and the amount of time I will spend in ‘hibernation’ when she is no longer there. My recovery period generally equates to one and a half years for each year I spent with that special someone. Which is a bit of a bugger really because on that scale, I am equidistant between the end and the beginning of another ridiculous fragment of this debacle I call a “love life”.

But I digress. Friday night in the pub. It was local pub, with friends, a busy night, a “school disco” theme, hot, sweaty, loud and full of people I know a little, to nod at and say “hi” to. We stood in a group, laughing and joking and dancing together, getting drunk and having fun. And then, at the bar while I’m buying drinks, the girl beside me said “hello”. She’s small and pretty, with her hair in pigtails with pencilled freckles. She seems to know me, and we laugh and joke for a few moments, until my drinks arrive.

I took them back to my friends and we carried on as we were. But now I have a little lump in my throat. She was pretty, I liked her, and I can see her talking to her friends.

Now, this is the difference, I walked back, and asked her if she knew me, and how, and she explained…and the difference being that it was wonderful, not forced. For the rest of the evening we laughed and joked, danced together and with our respective friends and…this is going to sound rather stupid I know, but she touched me. She played with my hair, at one point when I was at the bar she came and put her arms around me from behind. It seemed unconscious, just fun, but I could feel small breasts and her tummy against my back, achingly warm and intensely tactile through our two cotton ‘school’ shirts.

Silly I know, no big deal. Much, much later we sat in the bar as it began to clear, she sat on the table behind me as I chatted to a friend, and massaged my shoulders, seemingly without thought….I asked her to stop, and when she asked why I said “because I could get used to it”.

And she smiled because she thought I was joking.

I think I may be improving. In my previous incarnation as a born again single man I was much more “needy”. I had to remind myself that I ‘could’, if I wanted to, and I think in my selfishness that I hurt people.

But somehow this seems like another extreme.

Does anyone know how long it takes before your virginity grows back?

there's more

Judging from the number and nature of some of the comments on my last post, it touched a nerve.

I was invited by one person, Rick, to follow him back to his ‘home’ where he had expanded on what I had written. I’m very glad that I did, and if it something that genuinely interests you then I would urge you to pay him a visit. I’m grateful to him because he reminded me that at some point in our lives we all need to take stock, we all have choice….but I’ll let you read what he says.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

the opiate of the masses?

I think, in fact I know, that the little diatribe I am about to embark on will probably upset some people who read it. I don’t want to apologise, it’s how I feel, but neither do I wish to offend people arbitrarily. I was simply shocked, and it all came flooding back after reading recent posts by Sandra and Melissa

If you’ve been reading this jibber waffle for a while you might remember that I spent three weeks last year fulfilling an ambition, which was to cross the northern United States by car. I went to a friend’s wedding in Toronto and then dropped down through the Great Lakes and drove from Michigan to Oregon, avoiding the freeways - and all the way back.

You’d better believe it was tedious in the extreme at times, and full of days where travelling seemed to be the objective rather reaching anywhere in particular. But I’m lucky in that respect, I’m generally too thick to get bored and I take a particular pleasure in ‘crumbs’ of comfort, a rest stop, a song on the radio, a cold beer in the evening and the eventual, obligatory “you’re not from these parts are you buddy”.

Some states are relentless in their ‘sameness’. Miles upon hundreds of miles across Wisconsin through dense forest. Great oceans of pasture under limitless skies following a shimmering ribbon of road through North Dakota. At times I felt dwarfed by the scenery, like a dust mote feathered along by the same breeze that bent the corn, vastly alone, wonderfully free of any compulsion to be do anything but go on.

I listened to the radio, it was fascinating, so very local, obviously speaking to the community in their own language about their interests. I listened to music shows, talk shows, discussions on farming, a wonderful phone in where people described items that they had for sale including hay bailers, horses, tractors, just about anything you could imagine. On a couple of occasions I spotted buildings on high spots in the landscape with enormous ariels beside them and it dawned on me that I was actually looking at where the program I was listening to was being broadcast from. I could have knocked on the door and said hello. This is intriguing because we have nothing like that in the UK.

There is a vast tract across the central northern States where it is possible, without making any real effort, to travel for an entire day without seeing another solitary soul. In almost inverse proportion to the dwindling proportion I found myself tuning in to more and more ‘Christian’ radio. Quite often it was the only thing I could find to listen to. And I enjoyed it! I missed my Radio 4, I missed my Archers, and the afternoon play, and ‘Women’s Hour’ - it won’t mean much to you, but it’s good quality, spoken radio.

There’s a calming quality to the well trained human voice, and many of the speakers on the radio were excellent presenters. I listened, rapt, to bible stories and experts unravelling the messages hidden in the arcane language of the gospels. I listened because they were knowledgeable, and unwrapped their messages slowly like expert story tellers, modern day evangelistic jongleurs .

One day I found myself listening to a program hosted by a young couple, they were conducting a phone in and helping people with practical problems in a matter of fact, common sense way. It was very sensible and good radio too, albeit all of the advice was liberally sprinkled with Christian virtue, each to their own. And it was obvious that they were speaking to their own too, this was community radio, and these people were good, solid country folk, the salt of the earth.

And then a young lady called in to the show. She was nervous, and evidently she found it very difficult to say what the true nature of her problem was. In retrospect I can’t still can’t comprehend the courage it must have taken for her to pick up the phone and dial, and in front of such a small community that some listeners must have had a very good idea who she was - slowly, painfully reveal the nature of her problem.

She was young, in her late teens, perhaps early twenties. She was devout, and was following a path that would save her immortal soul. She believed - and for my part I felt strangely warmed by her belief, even though I don’t share, because she was so incredibly sincere. Eventually and with much hesitation and some tears and with a low voice of shame she revealed the crux of her conundrum. She was attracted to other women. She knew this, although she had done nothing about it. She didn’t mean just in a physical way, but emotionally too, sex she said was not the issue, but companionship, the strength that comes from knowing that you love someone and are loved in return.

She thought it was wrong, un Christian, but she couldn’t deny what she knew to be true about her own sexuality, and because it was so important, her faith in apparent conflict with her mind and body, she NEEDED to know - was it possible to be who she was and still go to heaven.

The couple on the radio listened stolidly to her, coaxing and gentling her when she hesitated until eventually she revealed the nature of her ‘problem’. Then they asked her if she was sure, whether it was perhaps “just a phase”, a period of temptation, something she might speak to a trusted confidante about in a Christian environment, perhaps her pastor or her parents.

The girl replied to these suggestion quietly, almost timidly, that she was sure, that this was her nature.

And then they conferred. The young couple on the radio effectively went off air to deliberate for an unfeasibly long time - until eventually they returned to pass verdict. “No” they said, “impossible” to be a homosexual and a good Christian. There is no compromise, the path is the path, my way or the highway.

The girl was distressed, distraught, reduced to tears, and left the air sobbing thank you and so sorry in equal measure .

I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO ANGRY IN MY LIFE. I stopped the car and got out, I felt physically sick, my stomach knotted. I wanted to find them and rail at them, “how fucking dare you!”, I wanted to slap them and take an axe to their buttons and slides and telephones to stop them from perpetrating such sanctimonious, well meaning, bloody evil ever again. To send a good girl in every way, away to make a choice that would condemn her to such loneliness and guilt for the rest of her life….

After that I spent most of my time driving in silence.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

dimples on wheels

I know it's boring, and I know it's lazy....and I do have things I want to write about. Deep, meaningful, contemplative, soul-searching conversations I want to explore with you.

But at the moment I feel as limp as a wet Spaniel's ear. So far this evening I have arrived home late from work, walked the dogs, emptied the washing machine, changed the bed and refilled the washing machine, cleaned the carpet of some particularly nasty spluff and splunder that was formerly attached to Charlie's feet, showered, cooked dinner (to the consistency of a comet), thrown it away and started again....and given the dust on the blinds a look so fierce that Paddington Bear would have winced.

And it takes 30 seconds to scan a photo.

So, do you think I like my new skates? DO YOU?!!!!!

what's in a name?

I don’t want to be unduly vulgar, but this is particularly funny to us Brits (well at least sewer rats like me) as “fanny” has a different connotation here.

“Fanny Batter” being a lady’s erm, front bottom’s own natural, organic moisturiser.

Monday, January 23, 2006

my family - and other species

My family is not like your family.

Trust me, while your family was mingling, merging and developing the DNA that finally culminated in the spectacular human that is you, my family took a different road.

Eschewing Darwin's principles for a parallel path, my antecedents were happy to lay fallow for epoch after epoch whilst the rest of humanity developed. We didn’t follow you out of the sea when crawled ashore and gulped in your first breath of sulphurous air. We hung back and goggled at you with large, uncurious eyes.

When you climbed trees, we hid under rocks and burrowed holes in the shale.

When you stood upright, we curled into foetal balls in the undergrowth and licked our bottoms.

You led and we followed, very, very slowly.

Until eventually, in the soot and smoky splume of the industrial revolution we finally found our place in the species. In the mills and work houses and the steam and cherry red glow of industry, in the monotony and the back breaking labour, we caught you up, even overtook you – because we were dim witted, and we’d do anything for a turnip and a glass of beer.

Meet my great, great, great "Aunt" Gunther. Who arrived on a schooner from St Petersburg, coincidentally at precisely the same time as news of Arch Duke Ferdinand's murder broke in Great Britain. My uncle Ginge (short for Gingivitis) was immediately taken by her monocle and moustache, although as you can see from the photo she lost these when they settled down to a life of domestic propriety in Salford.

On the left is another great, great, great Aunt, Dyptheria (right), and her friend, Mrs Mildew.

They were never seen without their coats and hats. Dyptheria was sewn into her underwear on her fifteenth birthday and never left it until the day she died. Apparently Aunt Dyptheria and Mrs Mildew were very much like a crusading army, in as much as you could smell them coming for three miles.

It's a little known fact but Aunt Mildew was instrumental in women being granted the right to vote in the UK. Contrary to popular belief Emily Davison did not selflessly throw herself before the Queen's horse in the that fateful Derby in 1913. She was in fact hurled bodily out of the crowd by Aunt Dyptheria who had bet a large sum on the second favourite. She was heard to mutter "suffrage my arse" as poor Emily was trampled to death.

My mother was kidnapped and held captive with a troupe of circus monkeys in a caravan in Wales until she agreed to marry my father. My mother is the rather obvious human in the photograph.

This is my mother, who was undeniably the most beautiful woman of her generation, in body and spirit.
With my brother, who was born a chubby, cissy, bastard (and I'm using that word as it is described in the Oxford English Dictionary).

And this is the consequence of the havoc wreaked on that that chubby child by scarlet fever, measles, rickets, whooping cough, cholera, dysentry and poor dental care.

My father (third from the left), is seen here regaling his army chums with tales of our magnificent house in the country, the stables, lands and servants....

But not about our bath time antics.

My mother would always hold my hand when we crossed the road.....but often she would leave me in the middle.

One poor man ran me over three times, (how we laughed!) but I always got nice presents when I was in hospital.

And we could afford nice new clothes with the insurance money.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

what you can do with a box brownie

A little while ago I wrote this

And finally I've managed to go through the contents, not the letters though...please don't think this is too odd, but I have a favourite place, and I've bought a little wooden chest, and, well, given the letters a decent burial with all of the gravitas I could muster.

But - would you like to see some of the contents of the box? I've been toying with the idea of buying a scanner, I just need an ickle 'push'...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a rat's tale

This dreadful image is brought to you courtesy of Karla of the Babble fame. Who suggested that I shouldn't mutilate my hair, but arrange in 21 little pig tails.

I didn't have hair clips, and I'm too bloody mean to buy any, so I stole some paper clips from the office.

Et voila! A 21 rat-tail salute.

Who's next?

"Charlie, oh Charlie, com'here boy...."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

don't get mad, get even

I'm the middle one of three brothers, twenty two years apart in total and my older brother and I are the only surviving members of our family.

Having a brother who is ten years older than you is more like having an uncle when you are young. It doesn't matter how old I become, while he's still around I will always be "our kid".

When we were younger, considerably younger, before he had left home, I was, variously, a pain in the backside for him, an idiot confidente, and a toy.

He would put me in goal and blast a football at me from short range. At his behest I once jumped out of his bedroom window into the garden hedge below, "just to see what would happen". He sat me on my tricycle and pushed it down the stairs....he had no need for an action man while I was around.

At sixteen my brother was a weasel faced, long haired, acne-ridden, stick insect - I do him no injustice - with colossal lapels so big he couldn't ride a bicycle (see, I can spell it if I try) for fear of taking off like ET. (I idolised him). For some strange reason he had several girlfriends, I don't remember them having golden Labradors with harnesses, or leaving white sticks in the hall with the umbrellas, so I have to presume that they were mentally deficient rather than blind. And he would confide in me (!), comparing and contrasting physical features and personalities, Melissa apparently had big breasts, but wouldn't let you touch them, Sandra would but she wasn't as good a kisser as Beverly, but Caroline had shown him her lilly behind the bike sheds in school. I was six, I found the whole thing bewildering and abhorrent, for all I knew girls kept bad tempered gerbils in their shorts, (and I'm still not convinced that some of them don't).

So we would sit on his bed and listen to his music, and try to find a solution to the turmoil in his bell bottomed trousers. (Which is probably why I have such an affinity for Bread, Cream - no it's not a recipe - the Animals, the Kinks, Rolling Stones et al, even though it's not my era).

Usually his door was locked, even when he was in the room. When I wasn't invited, then I simply wasn't welcome. Except one day, when I heard no music and tried the door and it opened. He wasn't there, he must have been out with a tape measure and note book, with a questionnaire, trying to optimise his sex life. Everything looked quite normal, a tip as usual, a bomb site of what would now be antique underwear and stripy tank tops, cuban heels and music magazines. The record player sat on his chest of drawers and all of his albums were actually stacked in the bottom of his wardrobe, open end inwards, I guessed so that the records wouldn't slip out. I was only six but quite capable of using the record player. If you are of a certain age you would recognize it immediately - a box 3 feet on each side with a hinged lid and carry handle, two-tone in cream and pink. You could stack around 12 singles on the spike, or play an individual LP and there was a penny attached to the arm with sticky tape to stop the needle from skipping.

I mooched around inside his wardrobe, not reading the album covers but picking out my favourites from the artwork on the sleeve, throwing them on the bed, not just one or two but a whole pile. It was odd, but some of them felt thicker than others, and finally when I'd finished ruining my brother's vinyl filing system I found out why. I sat on the bed and shook one of the records out of it's sleeve.

It fell on the bed, accompanied by a copy of Playboy. I shook another and another, and another, and each of the thicker album sleeves disgorged an album and a magazine until I had a whole jumble sale of porn on the bed. By today's standards they were extremely tame, semi naked ladies that would look quite at home on a shampoo commercial in these enlightened (?) times (oh god please, can't we go back to the time when we understood that the promise of a naked bottom is actually sexier than open heart gynaecology?). I was rapt. Not aroused of course, I had no idea what I was looking at for the most part, but I knew I shouldn't be looking at it. There was the occasional naked booby, and skimpy underwear that did nothing to dispel my theory about small furry animals nesting between girl’s thighs....and then our front door opened, and closed with a snick.

I did the only thing possible. I raced across the room, and out of my brother’s bedroom window, to the right hand side, and on to the kitchen roof, and then down the drainpipe into the garden.

As it turned out, I wasn't in any imminent danger. It was my father who had come home. I saw him through the window, pottering around by the kettle, and I waved at him from the garden....and then he went upstairs.

My brother's stash was erm..."confiscated" by my father, who no doubt hid it elsewhere.

Big brother never said anything to me. As far as I'm aware my father never said anything to him.

A few days later, I was standing shrieking in the kitchen while my father pulled a .22 feathered dart out my forehead with a pair of pliers. My brother had shot me right between the eyes while I stood against the shed door with an empty baked bean can on my head.

"Why on earth did you let him do it?", my father said.

"He had a gun!" I wailed.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

sing me a rainbow

I’ve got a thing about colour (yes c o l o u r).

A childlike delight in great swags of blues and reds, primary colours on the biggest canvasses I can find, my walls. It’s probably an indicator of a lack of sophistication on my behalf, or of nuance, style and subtlety, but I can’t do pastels. I have no affinity with lilac. Beige, rose, lavender and peach are anathema to me.

My decorating skills are as unsophisticated as my taste. The colour I’ve chosen goes on to the wall without preparation with a splish, splash, splosh. I can’t be bothered with fiddly bits, the corners, or staying in the lines. I’ve painted round wardrobes in the past just to hurry the moment where I can step back and enjoy the overall effect.

Nothing’s safe, there’s generally as much paint on me as there is on the walls. I’ve had purple hands, bright yellow hair and on one occasion a pillar box red dog when Charlie pushed the bathroom door open and fell sleep under the radiator in there. I had to literally tear him off the wall in the morning.

On a different note or a sloppy segue, I finally have a appointment to see the neurologist for my scan. February the 14th, how’s that for a Valentine’s day? Perhaps they’ll discover what the problem is – or perhaps I’ll take photo’s of my home and I won’t need surgery after all, just 20 gallons of insipid paint….

the living room

no, it's not a fire, it's my bed linen

the "parlour" (junk shop, reading room, falling asleep in a chair room)

the bathroom

and in the hall

by the fridge

Friday, January 13, 2006

hair today.....goon tomorrow

Do you recognise the feeling, yesterday your hair was fine, and today, suddenly it’s an unruly tangle of rat’s tails and jungle flora?

Time for some remodelling?

At moments like these does anyone else reach for the scissors and cut off the most obviously unkempt clumps?

I thought not…

Monday, January 09, 2006

I’m sorry if I’ve been a little reclusive recently…

I’m sitting curled up in the corner of the sofa at the moment, with a spaniel’s head for a slipper and a Charlie gently snoring on one of the cushions. About as close to spiritual equilibrium as it gets in our house.

Dog’s recuperative powers are amazing. Toff was up and about and being a thorough pain in the bot within days. I’m writing this so you don’t think that I’m an utter cad for going away at new year. I had intended, in fact booked, to bugger off to Riga for ten days, but of course I cancelled that, and took a flight to Spain, at short notice, instead.

I whiled away six unrepentant days of lazy, languid, unfocussed fuzziness in the villages of the Sierra Nevada. Avoiding company like a hermit, going local and being entirely self absorbed. It was marvellous.

On the whole I don’t really like people. It’s not a particularly endearing trait in someone who works at the client bridge in a publishing company – but I’m a jolly good liar and can put up with a lot for the money. Still, it’s so bloody good to get away from the yammering, gibbering crowd, the stupid faces and the bedlam for just a few days and immerse oneself up to the belly button in anonymity.

The photograph at the top is the Alhambra, the “Red Castle”, a Moorish palace in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada overlooking the city of Grenada. It’s an incredible mixture of Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque. It reeks of age and form and verse like metre, an architectural continuation of the golden stone of the hills. I’m NOT a romantic I swear. I’m a fish. But despite it’s antiquity and evident purpose as a fortress, my overwhelming impression was of tranquillity. Whatever else the Moors may have been, (and I simply mean that I don’t know), they had an appreciation of geometry and the trickle, burble of water.

The ambience wasn’t even spoilt by the ubiquitous American couple.

“Jeez, it’s big ain’t it honey”
“Yeah, I guess, but kinda run down you know?”
“Well the Spanish are awful lazy…”

Which probably had something to do with my appreciation of the bottled late summer that the Spaniards call Rioja. Without any allusion to wine-buffdom it’s my best friend. It’s September in a glass, fruit too long on the tree or vine, slightly rakish, heavy, round and decadent, blackberries beyond their initial sharpness, wood smoke, vanilla….a self satisfied, middle aged man of a wine, with a twinkle in his eye, who’s not too old to suggest an affair to a pretty Chianti.

The lifestyle is easy, it involves a long, long, late lunch, perhaps 3 hours worth. With a book, or simply watching the world go by, and then a nap, and a shower, and a few hours gentle nothingness, and then off out into the night at 11pm, for tapas and wine and bars and clubs, until 4 or 5 in the morning……and repeat. It really is very easy.

And the girls. I am now recovering from whiplash, and at least several hundred broken hearts.

And now, here, at home, did I mention, that we were evacuated tonight? Apparently someone just a few doors down from me had a headache, and a grenade. I expect it will be on the news tomorrow.

(Would someone like to marry me please, just in a social way. I’m no trouble at all really, and I’m sure I could find work?)

the green eyed god - jealousy is a terrible thing

all better