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Saturday, 17 April 2004

I am a RANDOM BRUTAL LOVE MASTER


Topic: LondonLifer

Rarely does an online personality test freak me out so consistently as the one that decided I am a RANDOM BRUTAL LOVE MASTER.

I mean come on, would a RANDOM BRUTAL LOVE MASTER have a blog? And if they did, wouldn't there be frequent and disturbing recurrences of a vaulting horse, or horribly grown up versions of Cat's Cradle?

Brrrrrrrr.

The Sudden Departure
Random Brutal Love Master (RBLMf)

Sweet. Dear. Loving. At Gate 18. Final call.

You are The Sudden Departure.

You've been in a lot of serious relationships. More than a few have ended ugly. Uglily. Whatever. Our guess is that you're a really fantastic girl who doesn't really know what she wants, and you've broken a few hearts as a result. You fall for people easily, and you enjoy the feeling of falling in love, but once you're there, either boredom or the old "grass is greener" syndrome sets in. The mind wanders, and with it goes the flesh. And then the toiletries.

Your exact opposite:
The Intern (Deliberate / Gentle / Sex / Dreamer)

We know you're not the classic "love 'em and leave 'em" type, at least not in a purely sexual sense. You have too many serious bonding tendencies for that. But even though you're theoretically looking to settle down, you don't settle long on one person. "Serial monogamist" is probably something you hear a lot. "Emotionally loose" is another way to put it. To the poor girls eating your dust and sniffing your panties, it doesn't really make much difference. Of course, it's not really your fault that people get hurt. You have every right to move on when you choose.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Intern, The Maid of Honor

CONSIDER: The Sudden Departure, someone just like you


Of course the reason I'm so fucked off about this is that they just might have a nugget of a nucleus of a thing, there. The bastards.
I blame wiffle wiffle, who tricked me into experiencing this horror.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:43 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 17 April 2004 3:06 PM BST
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drug free


Topic: Belle de Jour

And I wonder if anyone else at the greasy spoon cafe where I'm meeting Krystal in an effort to impose a sleep pattern can tell that I've not washed, not slept last night, that I was in the middle of watching Frida in bed with the sound turned down, and now I want to be inlove with Alfred Molina, that I've not combed my hair, which is a bloody mistake when there's that much Dax in it from last night's booze fest, that my mouth still tastes of last night's Thai even though I cleaned my teeth till they bled four damn times, that I've gained about a stone in the last month and my clothes feel all wrong, that my tits aren't usually this big, that my look of intense annoyance is because coming off the pills I've been taking makes you grind your teeth, as well as manic, insomniac and more than a little too introspective?
Is late spring too early to wear shades?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:02 AM BST
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Thursday, 15 April 2004

You


Now Playing: Nancy Sinatra: 'Bang Bang'
Topic: Lactose Incompetent


Remember the night I should have left you? The moon was full, the thick, impenetrable, enduring Nile was swirling darkly beneath us, the sky seemed wider than was possible.
And although the day had been warmer than a Christmas Eve should ever be, the night was cold enough to see your breath? You led me down below the railings, the deck furniture, the bright eyed quietly leering captain smoking silently in the corner of the cabin, down into the bowels of the ship.
You led me to believe you wanted me to.
Beyond the loud crassness of a holidaymaker's lounge with 'acts' put on to persuade us all we liked each other's company. Beyond the permanent attempts to perform, for baksheesh, for responses, for gratitude.
To a room where the only sight line was the window, the river bank, the black oily palms moving in the distance, and the moon reflected from the Nile's surface onto the ceiling above the bed.

You turned and looked at me. You gestured. You kissed me deeply, inhaled the perfume oils bartered for in the nostril distending filth of the souk of a port now left far behind.
You led me further towards you, waited till I gulped for your mouth again.
You pulled back. I leaned in.
You pulled away again.
I thought you were joking, this was part of a game to make me want you. Somewhere something slipped into the water with a small splash.

Bringing your arms up to my chest, you shoved.
You thrust me onto the floor, away, in fury, a snarl curling and distorting your features.
'Do you see? Do you like it? That's what it's like to be rejected. That's how it feels.'

You turned away from me, to the window where the pitch sky still seemed lighter than the dark terrors of the riverbank.
The ship moved slightly, the sickening lurches and shifts that take time to adjust to. You laughed, nastily.
Laughed at my shock. Laughed at how I still wanted you.

That was when I should have left you, you know?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:54 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 15 April 2004 6:00 PM BST
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That Girl Got Juice You Know


Now Playing: Dizzee Rascal vs Vitalic
Topic: Eurotrash

I have certain friends, who, when I talk to them, I grow. Growing as in becoming wiser. In the sense that I learn about myself, I understand more about the world, I work things out, and god knows it always takes me a long sodding time to work anything out. Everything I say to them gets reflected back, but wiser. Of course, this happens with all your friends, that's what truly good friends are for - but some people, it happens every single time we meet. They're Derby, Krystal, and mostly, Duch.
When Derby left London for good, I remember one of the last things she said to me was an instruction 'stay in touch with Krystal. She's growing faster than any of us.'
So, anyway, I now have nearly two and a half weeks of unblogged stuff I've been avoiding catching up on here (because for some reason I still want this place to be a diary for me before it dies, of what happened in the year that I blogged it all), not really having made sense of any of it.
I don't like it when I don't write in a diary style - without those moments, the blog feels like it's become a radio show, just so much babbling into the ether.
Last night I went and learnt ten tons about myself with Krystal, and a lot of things have clicked into place.
Bsides which, I blame her entirely for making me drink again, it wasn't as if I walked into the cafe, sank into the lumpy leather sofa and ordered the waiter to bring me a cocktail instantly, either. Oh no.

Will I stop procrastinating and write about what's happened to me lately? Or will I write some more crap about cooking chickens?
Lessee.

In the meantime, if you're not reading Countin Flowers today, up there in my top blogs section, you should be.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:54 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 15 April 2004 5:33 PM BST
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Wednesday, 14 April 2004

Whether You Like It or Not...


Now Playing: 21 Grams on repeat play . . .
Topic: Vic Jameson

I've been watching movies, and you're going to have to put up with me while I wax knowledgeable here.

21 Grams
I have a whole new crop of 'Oh yeah, who is that guy' moments, all from the one film. (don't knock it; previous members of this category include former supporting actors like Oscar winning Chris Cooper) The majestic 21 Grams, which I've been watching again and again, is not a patch on my favourite film of the century, Amores Perros, but is better plotted than Memento, better acted than Mystic River, better cinematography than Ali or City of God, and it contains a ton of those really great supporting actors whose moment hasn't yet come, may never come, but know how to actually act, as opposed to hogging the starlight.
Clea DuVall, the sexy butch one from 'But I'm a Cheerleader', Melissa Leo, the sexy butch one from Homicide (sensing a theme here?), a cameo from Danny Huston, whose marvellous lead turn in IvansXTC made it my best film of 02. There's minor roles also from great background actors like John Rubinstein (an old fave as evil lawyer Linwood from Angel), and British actor Eddie Marsan, who is in the crowd shots of absolutely every movie ever (oh I dunno, Gangs of New York, Gangster Number 1, This Year's Love, etc). Even the dreadful Sean Penn actually put in a powerful, restrained performance, in contrast to the shoddy sub-Pacino mugging of Mystic River.
Anyway, it's lovely. If you can, watch it twice. The opening shot, of Penn and Watts in bed, is beautifully framed, in a way that Sofia Coppola can only dream about.

The Godfather II
Easily my favourite of the trilogy. I love Coppola's direction of the opening and closing sequences of I, but the book Puzo wrote was about Michael, about how an all-American boy can travel so far from his identity to become a Sicilian crime lord, and this section of the trilogy focuses on that in a way the other two films don't quite achieve. Every shot of De Niro as the elder Corleone, building his empire in New York, contains a reference to the damnation that awaits Michael - the traders, the shots of money pinned to poles to honour the community festival, the religious reverence for the Madonna. Underestimated is Diane Keaton's portrayal of the American wife, Kay, the second best, the pale American imitation of the first wife, the emigre at sea in the Sicilian world. Caught between religion and feigning ignorance, she's a Lady Macbeth; when she understands the reason all the Corleone women spend their days in church is to pray for their husband's sins to be forgiven, her world splits, and she rejects the vision of America Michael is coming to represent. The pathos of the scene where Michael cuts first Freddy Corleone, then her from her family's life forever is beautifully done: his eyes betray his knowledge that his role imprisons him.
Coppola's finest feature here is in controlling his lead actors, though; Pacino and De Niro can be such terrible old hams, these days - was Al even awake during Scent of a Woman? - but he managed to draw incredibly miniaturised, understated, controlled performances from men who were at that time unknowns.
I'm biased; I had to read Puzo as background reading to studying Old English texts like the Battle of Maldon, Beowulf, Wulf and Eadwacer - and never forgot the tension in Michael's emergence as a mephistophelic force in the novels. I also first saw the trilogy all in one day, nicking the video box set from a flatmate and not emerging from the duvet on the sofa till the whole damn tale was told. Gorgeous.

Young Adam
This seems like a typical Scottish fart burner of a boring romp through the exciting nightlife of postwar barge living at first, until you realise its sources. It's based on a story by a Beat writer, Alexander Trocchi, the countercultural ideas-pusher behind sigma, "the smack addled icon of Beat literature", and once you know that, the sex every four minutes suddenly seems less of an excuse to show Ewan McGregor's increasingly generous arse, and more of a violent, intoxicated, murderous fuck you to the conservative society he wrote about never belonging to. Like both the films above, it veered deep into the territory of guilt: guilt at the monster you can unwittingly, carelessly become in life.

Tigerland
Now that I've confessed my obsessive poring over certain supporting actor's career histories, you just know I'm going to fuss excessively over Clifton Collins jr in this one, don't you?
It's refreshing to see a latino actor not imprisoned within the guido-gangster roles he had to make his name in (look him up on imdb and see how many of his roles adhere unerringly to monikers like Cesar, Loco, Nando, Nino, Ramon), and Clifton (formerly Clifton Gonzales Gonzales) sets the screen drippily awash with his teary eyed, badly written monologues on the idyll that is life as a smalltown butcher, but holds us still, eyes fixed on the screen through his group scenes when he transmits acerbically the fear and insecurity of anyone who's been promoted too early, of anyone stupid enough to assume their own merit then have it proven the hard way their position is merely fall guy.
Colin Farrell was why I watched the movie in the first place though (which overall, was an overdramatic hysterical pile of llama-toss); you have to support your European boys made good in Hollywood, after all. But mostly, I'm intrigued by him: he's blink and you'll miss it blandness personified in Minority Report, snoozing through a bigscreen role where the source material offered up the chance to brood and menace with much more impact. The Recruit (Pacino, again, ruining it again) was so bad I had to switch the thing off - a pretty rare move for me. But Phone Booth - amazing. Clearly more of a one-act play than a viable movie, he *held* it together in a way that most Hollywood product couldn't dream of. (And I swear his character reminds me of the real life Boz.)
Similarly, Tigerland shows someone in control of his material. What's with that? Why can't he just be always good or always shit? Or even mostly mediocre? I forgive Tom Cruise for it, after all.

The League of Extra Ordinary Gentlemen [deliberately spaced]
Poor Alan Moore. What bullshit. Speaking of how Hollywood can ruin a young actor, pushing him into freefall in a shower of overpriced shit, what the fuck is the brilliant Stuart Townsend doing in this? Do they suck their brains out at the US border or something? He came from the disturbingly horrific Resurrection Man via shagging an ex supermodel, playing a fucking pixie, and now this? Sheesh.
Only remarkable for again proving what I know to be true about Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge's wicked Duke, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula in the upcoming Van Helsing) - he is genius, he is godlike, he needs to be the next Bond.
I'll brook no argument on that one.

Underworld
Starring the impeccable Kate Beckinsale (who played the dominatrix in Cold Comfort Farm, also soon to show up in Van Helsing) in very very tight rubber. You don't need much other reason to watch this movie, but actually, she and her ex, the luminously talented Michael Sheen save the film. It's obviously informed by the eye of a comic book enthusiast, but its plot is twuntery to the point of effrontery.
Beckinsale and Sheen play it straight, deadly serious, though, to the last minute, and save the damn thing, make you cheer for it.
Oh, and Bill Nighy's a vampire. But then we always suspected he was, didn't we?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:15 AM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 April 2004 3:45 AM BST
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Tuesday, 13 April 2004

Bollocks


Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:06 PM BST
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Monday, 12 April 2004

Oh how I love a spiracy of a bank holiday
morning
late afternoon
evening


Mood:  mischievious
Topic: Vic Jameson

I wanted to post this as a comment in the Book Club Blog, home of the most well researched who-is-BdJ-'spiracy about, but the daemonic java pop ups will not let a heathen pass, so I'll put it here.

Reading the Cardigan archives, (an early progenitor of the brilliant Dean Allen's Textism blog), I was struck by how muchly Belle de Jour in her heyday reads as if she ticked off the categories on this cliche list, written way back in the dawning of a new century, 2001:

CHECKLIST FOR THE FIRST-TIME NOVELIST
* * *
Everyone feels uncertainty about major decisions made in the course of his or her life. Is your book a lengthy exercise in self-reassurance and rationalization?

Is your book a resume of your cultural tastes, and/or desirability to potential sexual partners?

Are the sex scenes there for no other reason than that it was fun to write them?

Was the book written to aggravate someone who once rejected you, or spurned your advances?

Is there an alarming frequency of social situations, such as at bars, parties or media events?

Are we introduced to your characters only by that which they consume, by their jobs, their hobbies, their hipness?

Is the protagonist plainly and transparently you?
* * *
If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, by all means consider undertaking a career in the exciting and fast-paced world of online marketing.

Source
All of which points away from the Lisa Hilton theory, nuh?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:16 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 12 April 2004 7:31 PM BST
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Sunday, 11 April 2004

Nanna Knuckles


Now Playing: Rachmaninov, which is perhaps making the chicken assume a greater sense of importance than it should . . .
Topic: LondonLifer

Shyah, right, I can do this.

Simplest Roast Chicken


1 5-6lb chicken,wing tips removed

I read Devil in a Blue Dress, I know that wing tips are a jazzy type of men's shoe.
S'okay, my chicken came with feet ready removed, thank christ (oooh, topical!), no need to worry about footwear.


1 lemon -- halved
4 whole garlic cloves

I may have some of those things. I may have forgotten to use any of them, but the at the time, breaking into the Easter Egg early seemed more tempting than looking up a recipe. So yeah, they're still in the bowl, glowering uselessly at me. Oopsy.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (optional)
Kosher salt to taste

Kosher salt? Is that, like blessed, or something? I don't even have a salt mill, I just hurl lumps of rock salt at things and remember to check before I swallow.

Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup homemade or canned chicken broth -- water,
fruit juice or wine, for deglazing

I'm not really sure what that is, but I once did a paint effect in bright red on my bathroom wall, and it ran down the tiles something dreadful. I had to paint them white when I moved out. I'm sure this experience will prove useful.


1. Place oven rack on second level from bottom. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

I really hope that's the same as 200 degrees. For the simple reason that 200 degrees is the temperature I cook everything, apart from toast. Can't be that different from a pizza.

2. Remove the fat from the tail and crop end of the chicken.

Remove the what? You mean where the chopped off head goes? Fuck off, I'm not touching that. I'm pretending this chicken never had a head, and you can't make me do otherwise.

3. Discard the neck and giblets or freeze for making chicken stock later. Reserve chicken livers for another use.

No you didn't. Rip its flakey neck flaps out?
The fuck you ... the neck?
Ohhh, you think I bought a chicken with it's bits intact. Cool, my no neck chicken is not the norm. Okay.
Shit, I hope there was nothing in a plastic baggy inside it.
I did think of checking, but it seemed rude to stick my hand in and see. I looked, but it was dark up there.


4. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon, garlic and butter, if using. Season the cavity and skin with salt and pepper.

No bloody way am I putting anything up there. I picked the thing up and it felt like a dead woman's tit, I'm not putting my fingers inside it.
Oh shit, what if that ruins it? Maybe you need stuff inside to make it moist. Ack, it's only been in for an hour - that might make it less like raping a corpse to do it. Um. I'll try. Ready for a shafting, mister lemon?
What if my fingers get burnt? Stuff your hand up a half cooked hot chicken's arse, Vanessa. God, cooking is so prosaic.

Edit: I can't do it. I got it out, and I tried. Well, in the sense that I looked at its hole with dawning horror.
It will have to remain stuffed with a rapidly melting plastic bag full of sub edible offal, no lemon required. Firstly, it's hot, and I'm a wimp, secondly it's clammy, white, dead, and clammy, and I'm a wimp, thirdly, it's an arsehole. I ain't going to go there.

No chicken skin rubbing either - raw chicken skin always reminds me of my granny's fingers while she baked. Last time I saw her, she was in a coffin, and rubbing salt into this chicken's clammy flesh would just confuse the hell out of me. No. The answer is no. Hear me?


5. Place the chicken in a 12-by-8-by-1 1/2-inch roasting pan, breast-side up.

Like I said, I'm growing some cat grass in the roasting pan, inside a drawer in the living room. I'll have to use the grill pan. The rented flat grill pan. Ew. Some scrubbing required. Who knows whose sausages have been squirting onto that thing?

6. Put in the oven legs first and roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

The dead chicken wrapping said two hours. Shit. Which is true? Sarah said to baste it every ten minutes. For two hours? I'd never get any bathing done. And it's been a few days, I need a wash.
It's done one hour, so far, and it looks pretty raw to me. No bloody juices. I wonder if humans have juices? Well, apart from the obvious ones. Eww.

Does handling raw flesh always make you think about sex and corpses all at the same time? Butchers must be fucked in the head if that's true. Yeeuch.


7. After the first 10 minutes, move the chicken with a wooden spatula to keep it from sticking.

I tell you, it's an hour later and it's not even that warm, let alone sticking.

8. Remove the chicken to a platter by placing a large wooden spoon into the tail end -

Now I know you are kidding me...

- and balancing the chicken with a kitchen spoon pressed against the crop end.

You mean balance the entire chicken against two wooden spoons? Oh come on, you are having a bubble.

As you lift the chicken, tilt it over the roasting pan so that all the juices run out of the cavity and into the pan. Pour off excess fat from the pan and put the pan on top of the stove. Add the stock or other liquid and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Okay, but I bought a pint of fresh chicken gravy in a microwaveable placcy jar.
I guess I'll just chuck it in if the 'vigorously boiled excess fat' looks too much like the plastic surgeons waste bin in Fight Club.


9. Let reduce by half. Serve the sauce over the chicken or, for crisp skin, in a sauce boat.

So where was the deglazing? What was the damn deglazing?

The Washington Post 12/20/95,from "Roasting: A Simple Art"

Says you.

Makes 4 servings

Or two day's meals if youre a total fucking glutton like me. I may need an emergency second Easter Egg, now.

Note from author Barbara Kafka: "If there is no lemon, garlic or butter on hand, Kafka says, roast the chicken without them. Or play.

I vote play. I have cats, I have string. Shall we play chase, or shall I just truss them now for boiling?

Use peeled shallots or a small onion, quartered. Add a couple of sage leaves or orange wedges.

Yah, yah, yah, I threw all sorts of weird vegetable shit in there with it.
One carrot looks like it's had a bad encounter with some anthrax, but otherwise the whole thing remains resolutely uncooked.


To avoid a smoky kitchen, be sure your oven is clean before you start and use the right-size pan."

Oh. I just opened windows. Can't I just open windows?



That was no.fucking.use.at.all - why is my chicken still raw? Will it ever stop reminding me of my dead nanna's knuckles?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:42 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 6:09 PM BST
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Barely Restrained Greed


Topic: Eurotrash

It's four in the morning. Can I eat my Easter egg now, or do I have to sleep first?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:18 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 4:21 AM BST
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Saturday, 10 April 2004

Safe


Topic: Casino Avenue

I believe that where you feel safe in the world is very much an instinctual thing, and rarely corresponds to actual risk.
I once sweet talked a bus driver, who'd finished his route, into going a little further and dropping me at my east end home, rather than cross the five lane junction. It was only idleness or at least weariness that prompted me to ask, and I was pretty surprised he'd agreed. It soon dawned on me that he thought I'd requested an extension to my journey because I was frightened.
'How can you stand to live somewhere so dangerous?' he asked, as he drove me home in a gigantic red juggernaut (police cars and ambulances aside, the most dangerous vehicle on the roads, if you ask me).
'Aren't you scared? I would never walk around safely in an area like this.'

Fact is, my presence in the area was one of the effects of yuppification. Too mediocre to own expensive things*, I was always going to be bobbing on the surface of any 'ghetto', and never going to be a target for violence like the never-mixing black, asian, and working class white congregations were.
[* I'd like to identify with the moneyed classes of St Katharine's Docks, Wapping, Canary Wharf, etc, but reality intrudes: the one time I was burgled, the police officer consoled me with the words 'with all due respect madam, there's nothing in your flat that anyone would want to steal']

A friend who'd grown up in the slightly more violent area of Whitechapel had been stabbed in the street there a few years back. Yet he regarded my area as too violent to hang out in. Having seen a daylight stabbing in Whitechapel myself, I thought the reverse to be true, but was disabused: 'Bow's more dangerous than Whitechapel, because the violence is under the surface there,' he assured me.
I deduced that personal safety must be something nebulous; I'd never felt unsafe in Bow; ergo it wasn't unsafe.
Compare and contrast to Bromley by Bow where I was once conned into getting into a strange van and had to plead to be let out, where I've glimpsed dancing figures around forty foot bonfires in the centre of what were meant to be tennis courts, where the local authority housing is infested with rats and children are covered in open cuts and scars, where the yuppies in the local private gated community actually run to the local station in the mornings, resolutely staring ahead, away from the cars with broken windows. I'd rather be boiled in oil than wander around there alone after dark, but the yuppie flats there are selling like, um, hot flats, whereas mine markets as more of a sort of stodgy, unwanted tapioca pudding. (dead metaphor alert)

Sydenham on a dark boozy Saturday night feels dangerous. There are gangs of loudly chatting youths in dark driveways and alleys, who deliberately exaggerate their gestures as you pass. Cars hurtle up and down the hill at improbable speeds, and traffic signs become more of a guideline than legally binding. People bundle out of kebab shops and offies running or shouting, and you try not to look too closely to find out why.
Most of the streets are deserted, but the Chariot cafe on the high street has a different middle aged couple (feasting on coke and roast chicken dinner) in the window seat every weekend. It's tempting to sneer, but hell, they're the ones eating a large meal, with someone, looking perfectly happy under neon strip lighting with a wipe clean menu to peruse, and you're beyond the glass walking slightly too fast as you pass, huddled under a hat that looks white when you nervously glance at the CCTV screen, so who's the idiot?
The lady who owns the beauticians is alone there every night, sat at the nail bar, over bleached hair looking vulnerable in the last bright circle of light. She looks nervously at an open doorway in the rear of the shop as you pass, where a bulky tattoed line of defence may or may not emerge.
You begin to notice the cars, slowing as they come level to you, that have passed three times now, and that out of the two middle aged women on the street, one's slack face holds dark pinpricks of wasted, unseeing eyes, and the other: is she leaving the late night grocer, or is she being thrown out? She has the smooth cheeks and the too attentive posture of the mad. That leaves you, and the kids at the crossing with the cans and the plastic bags. And the car that you might have seen before, turning in the street ahead.

Safety's a purely nebulous, instinctive thing. I feel safe here, but I have bars on the windows, a video entry phone, casement locks, and I draw all the curtains when I leave.
It seems unnecessary to me, right now, but it would take just one incident for those bars to feel more like they're penning me in than keeping others out.
So I'm holed up in my beige basement, and I'm not going out tomorrow. I have a roast to cook (never done that before), I have the entire series of Roots to watch (never done that before), and I'm not so sarcastic about jatb's apocaplyptic theories to actually go looking for trouble (she pointed out that after 9/11, 3/11, tomorrow's 4/11, it's a big religious festival, this is London; come off it, I've seen enough horror movies to know when not to push my luck).
It's me, a dead bird, and Alex Haley from hereonin.
"When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand, nor is there anything you can pick up" Omora Kinte

Happy Easter.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:28 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 3:52 AM BST
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Friday, 9 April 2004

Silhouettes of Birdsong


How many plates of baked beans does it take to recover from a night on the tiles? They're probably scouring my insides, right now, stinking my gut up with rancid tomato flavouring.

I'm sat staring out of a nearly open window, looking at a pink Good Friday sunset, while birds twitter grumpily at little or no bread thrown out into the garden, and I have to squint to see whether the buds on the tallest tree are leaves uncurling, or blossom. It's the first Easter in five years that I haven't been looking out of a window in East London watching the white hawthorn blossoms emerge as the pink cherry tree blossoms begin to fall and create pink candy floss drifts in the street outside.

I finished the book I'm reading. Time for another volume to open.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:05 PM BST
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Thursday, 8 April 2004

Blogcrushes


Now Playing: Damien Rice - 'I Remember'.
Topic: Empty Fridge Light

I know, I'm really fucking saaaaaaaaad, but do you ever get blogcrushes?
You know, where you think a blog's fab, and you wish you could write so well, then it goes a bit further, and you wish you could be their friend, then you wish you could marry them, then wish you could somehow magically be them, then capture them and keep them in a cage, but you wouldn't be cruel, you'd build them a wheel, and you'd watch them run around and around and around on it, then just want their life, because goddammit, it might help you to write better about your own?
And then you check on their blog as regularly as you can, and worry that you're showing up too manically in their referrals list, and if they one day happen to post up a picture, you go 'ahh, I knew they'd look like that'?
I think the key factor is, have you ever wondered what it would be like to hang out with the person who wrote what you're reading?
No? Oh. Just me then.

Blogcrushes I have had, typically, anally, obsessively, in the order in which I had them:
Eurotrash.
SarahSpace.
Muscle 68.
Light From An Empty Fridge.
Emma's Words.
Paul.
Colin Gregory Palmer.
No Boys.
Glitter For All.
There, that's scared a few off, hey?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:51 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:00 PM BST
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Wednesday, 7 April 2004

It's like a catalogue of hare brained idiocy


Topic: Lactose Incompetent

One of the things I did wrong lately, one of the things that was silly in the extreme, silly like going for a toddle around the outside of the Blackpool Tower viewing platform, was to ask Tybalt to cat-sit a few weekends for me.
Everyone said it was a bad idea - I mean absolutely everyone, even my mother, I mean, god, the minute I get a bed she hasn't slept in, a pan she hasn't burnt, a bathroom her wiry hair hasn't infected, I invite her over for more? It so clearly was a bad idea that I just stopped mentioning it to people, so they wouldn't tell me yet again what a bad idea it was.
I kind of had reasons for doing it. I think. My beigeious palace in Pengeitude has been such a blessed retreat from reality, so free from association or character or harm that to a degree, I thought nothing could kill that, I could never walk into this flat and worry that my sins were made flesh in the attic.
Tybalt has been residing rent free with a succession of friends since last July, and having benefitted in some ways from the near perma-isolation that wound licking in Penge implies, I felt it a charity to offer some of the benefits around.

Toulouse has grilled me over sparkling water and pasta about my motives. I did worry about my motives a little at the time, too. The first time it happened, I worried it might be me missing her. Of course I miss her, you can't spend nine years with someone then be alone all the time without at least missing company. Yeah, a little, sorta. But not really. I'm better without that relationship, even if it pains me to go through the things it was stopping me from seeing/being.
Although it panicked me that she might think it was a way of trying to get back together again. Nuh-uh. Not in the slightest. I'm very happy to have her here when I'm not - if I had to be present, here, with her, though, it would be a whole different story, and one I'd find very difficult indeed to cope with or endure.

In fact, since I moved here, I've experienced repeated nightmares about Tybalt. They started off being nightmares that she was here with me. That's it. Just present. That was enough to make me wake with every muscle clenched in horror, daring myself to turn my head and see if the pillow next to me was occupied.
It took me a while to remember where that nightmare came from; in fact it was a physical memory. The feeling of straining everything taut in an attempt to get out of bed without waking someone.

Explaining that to Toulouse, he knew what I meant, the avoidance of intimacy: but it was more than that. The absolute certainty that should you err, should you hit the wire and wake her, you were going to be made to regret it - that something you do, say, wear, look, be will be wrong, will be wicked, will be an affront, and you'll be told, told, told about it. Repeatedly.
Since I've split up with Tybalt, I haven't once had that feeling of being a bit player in a narrative that's no longer your own; where every action you choose is only further evidence of your innate wickedness. I'm free to be my own author, now, to have more motives than one. Returning to that state would be imprisonment in a nightmare.

Then the nightmares morphed into arguments. Not relived ones, because we didn't have arguments - she refused to. She would refuse to reply, then go to sleep.
Myself, I'm more of a drama queen that that - I get so wound up by arguments that I simply cannot, could not sleep; I have to sort it out then, there, deal with it, make a scene, make up - but Tybalt would lie down, feeling like shit, probably, then sleep until it seemed unimportant again.
That was the sort of argument I had in my sleep.

Those days, I'd wake up to the beige nothingness, the blank forgiveness of walls that have never had things hurled against them, by me, at least, and feel incredibly calm inside to be away from it.

I think that was the beginning of the rage.

Still, the house is unsold, and contact has to be made, to deal with agents, with solicitors, with financial negotiations, bills, and after all, can I not be civilised? Meeting to discuss the money arrangements, I was reassured - sure, I wouldn't have said no to a hug, but frankly I'd hug Genghis Khan at the moment, that's what reduced intimacy does to you - but I wasn't attracted. I didn't miss her physically. And, despite the obvious attempts to impress me, she was happy to play along in her part as one of the civilised few who could engineer a 'polite' break up.
Her attitude to the split had been to throw herself into her social life, to go out every night, to forget herself in other people. She usually smelled bad, had grey circles of hangover under her eyes, was tired, unable to summon energy, but stumbling out to another assignation all the same.

So, despite everything, I invited her to stay over, three weekends, while I was away. A chance to escape the mania of partying all the time?
I am a little worried it's partly revenge. I could see Toulouse was too. He bought tea and patisserie, and grilled me further about it.

Thinking honestly, there may have been an element of bragging that I'd landed on my feet. The emphasis being my. I may have been making myself ill in an apartment with no heating, losing my coat, losing my marbles, too, and unable to find enough cash to even feed myself at times, but I hadn't relied on anyone else. I know, also, that this will always be true. I will always, no matter what, source pride in being competent, no matter what it costs, in not asking others for help.
Which is somewhat unfortunate; one of the lightbulb moments I had this year was that people like to help. Duh.
Moreso, though, it was, I believe, an attempt to make her stop using people. She's taking too long to get her life going again. The 'victim' role is wearing thin.
I know full well that the wearisome plaint of 'Vanessa robbed me of my home, my money, my livelihood' is little more than mere drama - she has plenty of sources of money which she keeps fairly quiet to others about - the same amount I had. I wouldn't have been able to pay a deposit on a new flat without it.
She's no longer unemployed and wondering what to do with her life - she's earning a bloody decent wage in central London. Her continued reliance on other's charity shocks me, surprises me, and to a degree, if I'm honest with myself, I possibly wanted to offer use of my flat to her in order to shame her into acting with more honour.
There was an element also of that, in using the bloody animals to do it. She's very strident that I continue to pay for insurance for the cats she's dumped on me. I like having them (mostly because who else is delighted to see me when I get home?) but I've also stopped panicking if they go missing or escape. Could solve a lot of burdens, that...
But she demands that I pay #30 a month to insure them. One was very ill two years ago, and when we totted up the combined cost of her blood being rushed to California for testing, her kidney dialysis, etc (all the luxuries the NHS would probably never fork out for mere humans), it added up to around #1300.
There were huge coupley rows about it. I put my foot down and suggested we allow the cat to die. She put her more effective foot down and demanded it live.
It's probably the price of running a hospital for a month in some godforsaken shanty town. A figure so humiliating that I mostly don't tell it. The horror of having paid, even via insurance, a sum that large to save not a human, but a damn cat, was not lost on me. If they're my cats, then they're mine to die. They will not be insured, or taken to the vets. They will live their term, and if their time comes, they will expire face down in the food bowl, and be taken to the dump in a bin bag, while I go get a new one. Not to sound too callous, but they're not humans, they're replaceable.
This burden of responsibility disturbs Tybalt, and partly I may have wanted to throw guilt over it in her face by inviting her to stay here.

But, having your own front door allows you dangerous levels of control. Having an invisible enemy allows you dangerous levels of bile, too. I would return from a weekend to find at first, a shampoo bottle turned slightly to the side. Embarrassed that I was so anal about my surroundings I could even tell such a thing, I'd turn it back, irritated.
Then she ate my food. Left some other food in the cupboard - overly expensive, unhealthy stuff I'd never eat. Phoned Hamburg for an hour.
Drank everything I'd left in the fridge. Left hairs clogging up the drains. Used my T shirt for pyjamas. Left rubbish kicking about on the kitchen floor. Fed my cats things that make them vomit a day later. Annoyed me.
And I don't even want to think about the bed.

Last weekend, I made it clear to her that I didn't need her to cat sit, that it was an offer for her benefit, not mine. Hell, I have neighbours with cats, friends living nearby, colleagues nearby, and a clockwork cat feeding device.
Without any evidence whatsoever I *knew* she would have been stressing loudly how much of a trial it had become, and making it out to be a favour she was doing to me already. Hell, she's put it about to everybody that I forced her to dump me, so I'm brooking no doubts about whether she'd have painted it as a martyrish favour.
She still wanted to cat sit. I made it clear that I needed the keys back before the next weekend, as Martin needed somewhere to stay after the pub that Thursday, and without spare keys, he'd be locked into the flat, and have ended up travelling 120 miles back to London in order to look at a beige wall in Penge all day. She agreed that Thursday would be a convenient day to return the keys - especially since I was working in central London that day anyway - she could travel one tube stop and drop them off.

Or so you'd think.
Last week became the week that Tybalt wouldn't give me my keys back. The keys to my new flat, not the one we co-own, the keys to the flat that I go hungry trying to pay for because she's too fucking stingy to contribute.
It was too difficult for her to give me the keys back before 10am. It was too difficult to give me the keys back between 10.30 and twelve. What I really needed, she advised, was a spare set of keys.
After twelve? After six? Later? Come to the pub and meet us, with my keys, I suggested? Sigh.
To be honest, she counselled, I'd do better to go get some new keys cut.

I did ring jatb, and check; am I psychotic? Am I unreasonable to feel this fury? No.
Refusing to give me my keys = Wrong Move.

Eventually, by eight o clock in the evening, Tybalt rang, and offered to give me my keys back. If I left the pub now, and the friends I rarely see, travel a half hour to Waterloo and back, then she'd interrupt her busy social life long enough to reach into her bag and hand me some keys.

Fuck that.

So, like everyone ever always did tell me anyway, it was a bad idea.
Like the estimable Ian F says, she's not my friend, stop pretending that you can achieve that.
Like Toulouse says, I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have invited her into my house.

But you know what? The stupid ideas keep coming. Duch asked me if it was alright if she invited Tybalt to her party last Saturday. Said that she'd invite someone else if it was going to make me uncomfortable. And I said yes, invite her - why should my moods infect Duch's celebrations? Another stupid idea.
And then I stayed frozen, flanked by Duch and Toulouse, the other side of Tybalt all evening, accepted my damn keys without a word, didn't shout at her or create a scene, didn't drag her across the dinner table by her stupid hair, didn't make a fuss. Just kept my eyes and myself away from her pusillanimous self regard. Another stupid move.
Sat there in my jeans and shirt, hair akimbo, teetotal, rained upon, chatted loudly with anyone I could. Ignored her: her diamante outfit, her drinking, her smoking, her not making conversation with anyone but the people she's known for twenty years. I decided: she's never coming into this house again.

I tried to work out where this rage is coming from, and why it won't let me go. I stopped myself from crying on the way home, and I felt okay the next morning. Then Toulouse took me out to lunch and I cried all day.
Like an idiot. About nothing.
Another stupid move.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:05 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:49 AM BST
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Camouflage



I'll try a meme, then, to fit in. Am I A Bloke?

1. Have You Ever Had Sex in A Public Place?
Yes. (1)

2. Have You Ever Totalled A Car?
Yes.. (1)

3. Have You Ever Slept Rough?
Yes. (1)

4. Ever Stared Death In The Face?

Yes. (1)

5. Have You Ever Seen Pornography That Made You Feel Sick?
Yes. (1)

6. Have You Ever Fired A Gun?
No, but I held a loaded one to my English teacher's head in sixth form once. It felt wrong. (Does that count as 1/2?)

7. Have You Ever Slept With A Woman Heavier Than You?
Yes. (1)

8. Can You Draw A Horse?
Yes. (1)

A total of 7.5 - pretty much a bloke. That makes me equally as blokey as Mackenzie Crook and Tilesey, more blokey than Bastard Mark and exactly as blokey as Elsie.

Panic over, then. At ease.



This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:15 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:54 AM BST
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interim


Mood:  accident prone
Topic: Casino Avenue

Um, sorry. I will blog today. Honest.

I know it's half two in the afternoon, but I've been busy, I've been crapper on every possible front than anyone will ever believe (involving the bright idea of blogging in the visitor's books of aristocratic houses, and culminating in me wandering, bedraggled, into museums in central London and asking the security chap to listen to my story and find me a sister), and I only just woke up, an all.

Although, after all my pontificating about blogs, community, netiquette, cliques and honesty, some things have made me laugh. The hordes of cliquey comments on here, for one (yay).
That fabulous blog I found that's been going for two weeks, and likes to blog which blogs have been getting shit lately and are evicted from his favourites, for two. I quote from Jessica Asche, Will You Marry Me:

Have you noticed that when a blogger gets a book deal, their blog instantly sucks?

Dropped from my bookmarks today: this and this and this and this.
Several others are in danger of being dropped soon.
(Me and tittybiscuit are both in decline, apparently, although unlike me, tittybiscuit actually made his links in the first place - but notice also that we both supercede Noam Chomsky in the list of doom; way to go, hon).
Now that's the sort of pisstaking honesty I like in a blog. Jessica Asche, marry me, not him.

What I particularly love about my new, hyper cool, hyper fun, hyper funky, site meter, though, is the musical live time alerts of who's reading the blog. And it turns out the Travelling Welshman is still with us after all. Coooee!

More later. We swearsssss.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:29 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:03 AM BST
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Monday, 5 April 2004

The Whimpering


Now Playing: Anything I can ever find anywhere by Sidsel Endreson
Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity

So much for sleeping early - I don't call 7am on the first day of my holiday any kind of a lie in.

I was going to blog about my feelings of unrequited rage, a post called 'The Loathing', which was largely about:

a. I don't like pretending to be nice all the time. I'm not fucking nice even some of the time. It gets wearing;
b. The spurious (and ultimately doomed) idea that blogs have to have manners about each other (as FM puts it, one of the killer apps of the web is libel);
c. The London Blogmeet. I mean, really. Capping the munbers unless you're 'Someone Important'? Pfft;
d. (mostly) Tybalt.

But jatb proofed it and inferred I'd gone over the top.

So I'll do some sort of diary post to cover the last week, and the events leading to the loathing instead. Later.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:51 AM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:57 AM BST
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Sunday, 4 April 2004

Three Pints of Coffee and a Packet of Chips


I'm going to bed early.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:14 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:17 AM BST
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Saturday, 3 April 2004

Cakey


Now Playing: Guys and Dolls

Topic: Vic Jameson
I'm addicted to cake at the moment. Cake and Easter eggs. Violent thanks to Martin for not telling me I had a chocolate cake goatee and tache all yesterday afternoon. Impressive. Particularly when I bumped into an ex colleague and asked for a job. I shall get you.
My local bakers is a Penge institution: Slatter's.

It used to be owned by a master baker who did all the cakes for The Generation Game - on the conveyor belt, in the icing-cakes-challenges.

The Beckenham branch was the HQ, and used to have signed photos of said competitive cakes alongside Bruce Forsyth. Little bit of Sarf East Lahndan history there.

This is my local Slatter's and it's just been refitted as 'The Cake Store'. It's all pink and bland, and stocked with cutesy pictures of children in a range of skin tones holding whisks with smudges on their noses.
Apparently, Mr Slatter's son, Kenny Slatter, has inherited the business, and wants to stamp his own image on the chain. Which apparently consists of making cakes that look like large tits for Peter Andre.

Still, the cakes are the same. Well, apart from their new 'saucy cake' range, I guess.

Actually, that looks right up Brucie's street.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:40 PM GMT
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Friday, 2 April 2004

The Sunny Side of the Street


Now Playing: The UK premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra and Bruch's Violin Concerto with Leila Josefowicz


Walking to work this morning, the road divided neatly into two.

I customarily cross the busy road at exactly the same spot each day, just *after* the sign for a 'Byron House' that reminds me of bad sex in my late teens. Coming up to the library traffic lights at the edge of Home Park, though, a lamp post heavily smashed into three crazily skewed pieces blocked my way. The jagged spike sticking into the road had a traffic cone jabbed onto the end to warn oncoming lorries of imminent decapitation, Omen-style. The other two segments of ruined street furniture were still connected, and had been neatly hooked over a seven foot garage fence, only posing a hazard to the poor carwash jockeys who'd have to open the fence later that day.
The pavement was slicked thickly with oil and broken glass, reflecting rainbows into a grim and drizzly morning, but there was no other sign of an accident. This lamp post was around twenty five feet high - whatever had managed to slice it cleanly into triple parts had to have been extremely heavy, and in extremely bad shape itself. But apart from the sheer angles of the lamp debris, there was little sign of the machinistic carnage that obviously occurred.

Continuing down past Home Park, I walked past another junction, this time having to step into the busy road to navigate the path railings that had been battered with enough force to pull loose from every pile bar one, and stay hanging horizontally in mid air at hip height across the footpath, still straining to be free from the last leg left embedded in concrete.

Again, no evidence of whatever had smacked into five inch thick steel with enough force to uproot it and bend its struts into a ninety five degree rictus.
But, plainly, at this point, you'd realise you were walking to work along the unlucky side of the road.

What if I were walking past the next lamp post to be mown down by juggernaut number three? I crossed early.

On the right hand side of the road, the clouds lifted slightly and the drizzle stopped at exactly the right moment to smell the wet rhodedendrons in heavy bloom over the church walls. The hawthorn trees by the older houses were beginning to put out their April blossom, and the pavement was fringed with beds that contained copious daffodils, and even some sickly looking clumps of pink clover.
The sun began to shine, but it being an early Friday morning I didn't think to look up and search for a rainbow.
Marching energetically to my last morning of genericjob before I go on leave at lunchtime, I felt glad I'd crossed the street. Things felt good.

But, as ever, the dreadful weight of a ponderously obvious metaphor slowed my stride, and I realised that life is both sides of the street, coexisting. The raining grey left with the historic cake makers, and the sunny, flowering side with the council flats that reminded me of bad sex.
I turned into the cake shop and bought a cream cake for each of my customers that morning. Heck, if I felt like that, so, probably, did they.


This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:03 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:22 AM BST
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Wednesday, 31 March 2004

"Not since I listened to the invasion of Iraq under the mistaken impression that it was the Archers have I been so content" - Radio 4 two seconds ago.


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This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:05 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 4:47 AM BST
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