Sunday, February 27, 2005

Streatham Common

On a balcony, 7 floors up. A summer's day, t-shirt weather. Huge white clouds move meaningfully across the blue pan of hot sky, and the sun is everywhere. Enormous trees move their heads like moshers in a pit of suburbia, rocking with the warm wind, which undermines the ease of this glorious day with it's gentle threat of change.

In the room I had just left, 10 or so young people and a woman in her 50s were coming up on LSD. Attempts to roll joints were being hopelessly abandoned and everyone was hopelessly abandoning themselves to the drug as the rushes got stronger and the trip took hold. We knew this stuff was strong, but this was something we had never experienced, proper two-hundred-and-fifty-mikes-a-tab hippy-strength acid. We were not strong hippies. We were teenagers in the post-punk era, listening to My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Public Image, Magazine and the Blockheads, attempting to score in Brixton, avoiding the race riots, the burning cars, the lines of police. There was a street of condemned houses in Clapham, which had been taken over, cleaned up and squatted, and we had worked out you could get stuff there. So we went there and gawped at the crazy interiors, spirals and acid faces on the walls, large parts of buildings knocked through so that the inhabitants of this temporary community were no longer boxed into small units but instead could walk the length of the terrace without stepping into the street. We found the strange long-haired time-warped inhabitants concerned that we knew what we were taking, and easy to do business with.

We knew this was different acid by it's look. Dolphins we were told. It was exquisitely made, in foot-square perforated sheets for easy distribution, and the print across the whole sheet was truly alluring, gold and blue with flecks of crimson, long Japanese-style flowing lines on white paper. Half a one will do it, we were told. It probably came from Richard Kemp, the man behind the Operation Julie case, who supplied the best LSD in Britain for several years, until the enlightened chemist's laboratory in Wales was finally busted. I think we paid a fiver a tab. They must have made a huge amount from us and all the other customers who trickled surreptitiously in off the main road, looking mostly for a smoke and sometimes for something more enervating, hash, weed, coke or trips, anything that wasn't beer or smack.

C's flat was a cool place, his Mum smoked pot, knew that we were safe, and was even interested in joining us on this trip. So we divided it up, and with that strange feeling of premonition, headed to Streatham and necked our acid.

My mates all got going on LSD a year before I did. I was happy to play Mama, stay up with them, get stoned, make tea, talk them out of doing stupid things, and tell them that, although they were indeed technically insane now, they would be alright in the morning, which was only a few hours away. I was used to the odd behaviour acid could produce in perfectly normal people, and also in the imaginative bunch of excitable curious friends I hung out with. About a month previously I had taken a weak 50-mike dose of acid and had experienced the irresistable rushing waves of coming up, some pleasantly strange hallucinations, and later, gloriously erotic experimental sex with my girlfriend. I had also been reading Huxley, Castaneda, Ginsberg, Baudelaire, Lilly, and anthropological textbooks from the library for years, so I knew about mind-altering drugs and the cultural roles they played, the risks, and the reasons for taking them. My own resistance had been that I was afraid I would freak out with my girlfriend, or that she would freak out with me. We'd both enjoyed the small trip, so we were up for another one. Nothing prepared us for this though.

As the room descended into chaos, it became clear that C's Mum was not going to last. She was entranced by the music - J. J. Cale - which she was hearing with an expression of delight spreading across her plump Polish face - but then obsessed by a minor spillage of tea on her carpet. She went into the kitchen and got a towel, and proceeded to gently tread the damp into the cloth, but she could no longer tell whether her efforts were at all effective. Then she experienced the mild dampness as soaking wet, and decided to get out of her trousers. As she realised that we all had a different view of events, and saw no problem with the floor or her trousers, she became very confused, a look of dismay hit her, and she had a moment of panic. She looked just like a pink pig, squealing in turn with pleasure and fear. She wasn't coping with the total derangement of her senses very well at all. She retired into her bedroom, and started to cope with the past 50 years of bottled-up grief, pain and disappointment as it welled up uncontrollably, just like the impossibly large tea stain on the carpet had done.

The living room walls were by now running with thick green lime juice cordial. Lovely, I thought, fluid walls. It was an easy trick, really, based on the underlying pattern of the wallpaper. I sat opposite me, big acid grin stretching his glowing face, and said, "It's great isn't it? But it's very DARK isn't it?"

He repeated this several times, and as he did, his costume developed until he was dressed in full gothic devil-vampire, with arching hooked epaulettes, black and red cloak, and a skull-like face. Fascinating, I thought, he just says "DARK" and dark he goes. I wasn't unnerved by this - after all, I knew I was tripping - but I decided that maybe I didn't want to go that way myself, so I exited, and I found myself on the balcony.

I walked the couple of feet to the rail, and looked down the few floors to the grass beneath which seemed soft, spongey and incredibly lush. With mild surprise I realised how easy it would be for someone to be convinced that it would be safe to land on, even from his height, but I also noticed that I had no inclination to jump and smiled at the thought. This is how people think they can fly. It really did look very soft though, and very close. I looked back into the room, where people were laughing and trying to communicate and spouting nonsense and enjoying the music. It felt nice to be out here. There was some washing hanging up on a small line, wooden clothes pegs. I squeezed one and took it off the line, marvelling at the tensile strength of the steel which kept the peg closed. It pinged from my fingers and fell to the balcony floor, so I dropped down on my haunches to pick it up.

Arriving suddenly at floor height, I realised I had left my consciousness above me, in the space my head had been occupying. This was such an odd feeling I stayed down for a few seconds, experiencing the feeling of me three feet displaced. I stood up again, holding the peg, but I didn't return to being me. In fact, now I thought of it, I couldn't remember who I was.

This is the place I forgot who I was.

Strangely unworried, I knew I couldn't return to the living room without remembering who I was, because, otherwise, how would I know to make the right response? What sort of thing would the person I had forgotten I was say in such a situation? I had no idea. Or if I did have an idea, I didn't know what it was, because I didn't know where "I" was. Fantastic.

I looked across Streatham Common, the trees still bobbing their dread-heads in summer wind, and the white clouds dwarfing the skin of the world. We were so very small, and the universe so immense. I actually could sense the scale of the universe, which when you think about it, is so big, it defies comprehension. You can't be doing this and, say, doing a job, or shopping, or even conversing. Then I remembered who I was. I was Deek. I experienced a profound moment of truth then which gave me great pleasure. I liked being Deek, he was alright. I can do Deek. I can be him. Not such a bum trip, being Deek. Grinning, holding the peg, I walked back into the living room, and calmly announced that I had become myself on the balcony.

I don't recall my announcement having any particular effect on the madness which was splendidly unfolding. I realised everyone was pretty far gone. I saw that there was a rocking chair free, and some headphones attached to the stereo next to it, so I made my way to that comfort zone, and listened to King Crimson's Frame by Frame eyes closed... I could feel the music coming up the wires into the headphones get converted into audio and then pass through my ears into my brain and I watched my subconscious mind map itself before me, saw endless unfolding images, peeling and dissolving one into another... there were such a lot of smiling magazine faces, beautiful models with teeth and eyes and hair... it seemed that all the conditioning I had ever been exposed to was being revealed to me... as the album played on, Fripp's hypnotically yearning emotion in The Sheltering Sky caught me, and I let go completely into the trip and the ecstasy of synaesthetic realisation.

In the midst of this, I knew that Being and Time were indistinguishable; to exist WAS time. Time depending upon existence. I knew this applied to me. I wondered if it also applied to rocks, to the inorganic matter of the planet. I suspected it did. I knew that change was the only constant, that time itself is fluid energy, it's linear track merely the result of limited comprehension. I had never read Heidegger, or Sartre, or Robbe-Grillet. I had never watched Empire State Building by Warhol. I had never walked all day and all night and all day again until the walk became the man became the journey became everything and nothing and all was just pure existence. But I had finally seen who I was, and accepted myself, and so this was the beginning of me, aged 19.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Breakfast in Paradise




Mmmmmm. This is the place I had a power-breakfast with DB this morning, which consisted of 1 egg, beans, 2 toast, 3 hash browns, mushrooms and tomato. That was the last breakfast of my 42nd year. Will they let me extend my mid-life crisis do you think? It's really proving most enjoyable, especially the breakfasts.

There must be a hundred cafés up and down the Holloway Road, but only 3 or 4 I will eat in. There's a café just south of Paradise which I won't name but which I will not enter, despite the charm of it's proprietor, the good mix of customers and the pleasant enough North London metropolitan ambience. Twice I've got the most appalling food-poisoning from that place, once running in bowel-panic from a business meeting, sweat suddenly pouring down my face, grabbing desperately at pants while trying to find nearest available lavatory. Never again.

Paradise is clean, well-attended, and like all cafés around here must be to survive, excellent value, offering a good meal for under 4 quid. You can buy a beer there, good tea and coffee, and a wonderful variety of grilled, fried, roasted and casseroled dishes, with a few choice sweets, mostly of the warm and filling kind, and often involving custard.

I haven't told anyone but I've been entertaining fantasies about the waitress, mostly of the warm and filling kind, and often involving custard.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Portland Road


Hot. Dirty. Tired. Hyper. Headache. Sore feet. Hungry. Not much to look forward to except the long trek up to Norwood Junction and then catching the always packed 196 red Routemaster bus outside Stanley Tech, which then ground it's way up the long 1-in-5 slope of South Norwood Hill to home and a uniform-free existence.

My first Secondary School had a good reputation, despite once being known as the Portland Road Pigsty. It was renamed South Norwood High School and a disciplinarian headmaster Mr Wickson was installed. To a certain extent this worked, but not without the active assistance of a cadre of hip and swinging teachers who somehow infiltrated the system and usurped our expectations of the institution by surprising us with culture.

This is the place I first read Samuel Beckett, playing Lucky in Waiting for Godot at age 12.

Some days I used to carry home 3 bags - a heavy one full of books, a larger one full of sports kit, plus a trombone in a case. It was agony, endlessly changing hands, moving thin shoulderstraps about on bony shoulders to minimise bruising. I learnt to stagger the journey by visiting first the nearby bakery, where I would normally be able to afford a slice of bread pudding. This stodgy concoction of old bread, fat, sugar, raisins and spice, would energise me to make the rest of the journey up Portland Road to the bus stop.

South Norwood was a poorer area than Upper Norwood, although for that reason, many of the state school kids lived in their own homes in the relatively affordable pre-war terraced streets. I intensely disliked the smell of my friend's houses, and could not stand the sense of depressing confinement in the architecture that seemed to squash all their expectations. Narrow hallways, rank plaster, and too many layers of gloss. Food smells that never left soft furnishings. The unmistakable smell of a damp inaccessible cellar. These houses were the lid going down on a coffin containing a still-moving body. There were some richer kids of course, living in the nicer streets, but many of these exited one by one as they swotted for the few available scholarships in the Borough, or their parents got them into fee-paying schools.

Those of us that stayed were a proper comprehensive mixture of accents and backgrounds and cultures. There was a group of us whose journey was north at the end of the day, and being formed only from this accident of geography, we had little in common, but it served us to share this leg of the plod home.

As we neared Norwood Junction, the group became steadily smaller, boys having peeled off homewards along the route at regular intervals. On the left before the rail bridge was a cafe which would let us in. Sometimes there were bigger boys in there, best avoided. But it was always worth a look, in case the pinball machine was free.

This is the place I learned to play pinball.

I was good, to my great pleasure and surprise, racking up big scores, keeping the ball back, carefully using the twin flippers to ding and dong and thwunk and whirr and kerchug-kerchug-kerchug and smack loudly sometimes on the top glass, and REPLAY, and never did I lose a game to TILT. You really didn't need to shake the table, this was just bravado to show off. I was a pale looking kid carrying too many books with my tie still on and knotted thin and shoes which were polished at least twice a week, and I would get a cup of tea and wait 15 minutes to see whether I could get a game. I was late home one day and got into trouble after a spectacular half-hour session when I maxed out the table high score and paid no more than 10 pence for the privilege. I felt nervous with the big kids breathing down my neck but I was on a roll and would not be moved, and they knew this and while I was winning, I was inviolable.

This is the place I lost my heraldry project, totally forgot it in my belated run for the bus.

In the summer, after school, sometimes we would head to the swimming pool, which was slap-bang opposite on the other side of Portland Road. This was a joy. Public near-nakedness, water, dares and bets. We would splash through the stinky footbath and stay in the big pool until our lips were blue with cold. Every 40 minutes, to keep congestion down and allow every member of the Great British Public to have a swim, there was a mass-ejection of one particular colour armband. "Will ladies and gentlemen with BLUE armbands please leave the pool" ... "Will ladies and gentlemen with RED armbands please leave the pool" ... cue hasty swapping/hiding of armbands plus innocent denials if the lifeguards caught on.

One time we ended up playing with a group of girls, some from our co-educational school, some from elsewhere, all of us either just on the edge of or just into puberty, in a game of tunnel-of-legs. The girls formed a line down the shallow end, we boys took the biggest breath we could, dove down and swimwriggled belly to the floor, squinting in the cloudy piss-and-chlorine mixture to find our way to the end of the tunnel and the next breath. Over and over again we extended the line, and the girls reached down and pulled us through their lengthening legs to encourage our exploits. After the 7th or 8th time, I emerged with a gasp, victorious and grinning, only to suddenly jackknife in the water, spasming in an incredible and unexpected way. What a feeling, wowowowowow, what the fuck was that? I was completely surprised. This was not something I could explain, and although later I attempted to re-create it, it wasn't until a few months later that I was able to.

This is the place I had my first orgasm.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Does Dark Matter?

Today I read a series of techniques someone had come across in a book about how to make short internet articles grab the attention. Apparently (and keep this strictly to yourself) it's A GOOD IDEA to ask a question as a title. Well I never.

Regular readers know this is not the place for that kind of approach.

Scientists continue to surprise and delight us with their observations about the nature of the universe, and the discoveries in the field of dark matter got me thinking. I quote from Auntie:

"Dr Robert Minchin, of Cardiff University, said: "From its speed, we realised that VIRGOHI21 was a thousand times more massive than could be accounted for by the observed hydrogen atoms alone.

"If it were an ordinary galaxy, then it should be quite bright and would be visible with a good amateur telescope."

The astronomers say it is hard to study the universe's dark, hidden objects because of the Earth's proximity to the Sun.

They liken it to looking out at the darkest night from a well-lit room - it is easy to make out street lights but not trees, hedges and mountains.

Astronomers say it marks an important breakthrough because, according to cosmological models,
dark matter is five times more abundant than the ordinary (baryonic) matter that makes up everything we can see and touch.

Another of the Cardiff team, Dr Jon Davies, added: "The Universe has all sorts of secrets still to reveal to us, but this shows that we are beginning to understand how to look at it in the right way. It's a really exciting discovery."

Now that is funky. What is this place we call everything?

Many thanks to Eric Tralfalmadorian, Utah Anti-Darwin Press, February 1892, for his invaluable help in this post.

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Bed

Once upon a time when Britain was an island next to Europe, and foreign holidays and habits were the province of the rich, nightly we shivered as a nation beneath sheets and blankets. Duvets, or as they were then called, "continental quilts" were alien bed inventions. But to us in Olde Englande, they were mystifying.

How can they sleep with just a single cover? Would they not be very cold? Ah you see, on the continent, it is always hot and smells of garlic, and they do not suffer our bitterly harsh island weather. But then, how on earth do they adjust the temperature of the bed downwards in the heat without a multitude of layers? Ah you see, they have a special bed-tool called a TOG. With their TOGs they can vary the temperature of the Duvet, so that in the 45 degree winter heat, they are able to remain relaxingly cool.

But, (and here was the big one) if they sleep beneath this big single floating cover, how do they tuck themselves in? How do they not wake up in the middle of the night bereft of covers and exposed to the night air and blood-sucking malarial mosquitos? How do they not fall off the bed in their sleep and break their necks only to wake up paralysed?

Eventually we had the decimalisation of currency, yoghurts in every corner shop, brie available all year round, and duvets on every bed. Before then, we had cotton sheets and itchy woollen blankets, tucked in hard under the mattress, and we slept comfortably swaddled and crushed, dreaming of nuclear war.

Growing up in the cold war, knowing the exact location of the 19 Soviet missiles permanently pointing at me, I had regular vivid dreams of the end of the world. They included sirens, the sky flashing and darkening, the descent into shelters, contaminated food and water, radiation sickness. I knew about radiation, I knew about fall out, and I knew what the lyrics to Hard Rain's Gonna Fall were all about, although I preferred Bryan Ferry's version, being more of the glam era than the hippy. When I was 11, I was still in the choir at church, though it was well past it's sell-by date for me. To take part properly and drink wine, you had to be confirmed. I wanted the wine, so I got confirmed. There was no pressure, this wasn't a Catholic church, I just wanted the wine. I was stealing it already anyway. Plus, you got to add a new name upon confirmation, if you wanted. My sister added my mother's name. Touching. I stuck it out long enough to hear the Bishop of Croydon publicly bless me "Radioactive" which he did without batting a diocesal eyelid. My parents, who were then giving me valium, assumed it was a fad, possibly designed to humiliate them. What they didn't know was, I was palming the valium, and starting to come out of the mental and emotional fog. It was an act of existential self-realisation. I added Radioactive by deed poll when I was 18.

Back to bed. I was 7 or 8. I would wake up in terror. The world had ended, civilisation was a thing of the past. I could feel the house listening. I knew there were unspeakable horrors nearby, malevolently mouthing my name, hungry for my soul. I didn't move a muscle in case they knew I was awake and decided to kill me there and then. It often took me 20 minutes to summon up the strength of will to get out of bed. It would either be a calculated leap and run, or else a stealthy silent-as-possible creep. There was only one destination - Mum's bed. However tired and troubled she was, she never excluded a scared child. My Dad patiently indulged her. Sometimes she would briefly wake to assess how we were, more often than not she would just let us in next to her. I don't know how often I arrived in the night, wide-eyed, heart beating fast, scared out of my wits, but I never remember being sent away.

In the big bed, I was safe, and slowly would calm down. Very often, I would fall asleep and wake up 30 minutes later incredibly hot. Then I would edge carefully away from Mum until I was lying off the bed, around the side of the mattress, where the sheets and blankets were tucked in like a sail. Here I would sleep until morning, free from fear, suspended a couple of feet above the bedroom floor, in my coccoon of English bedding.

This was my place of maximum safety.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

College Green



I knew my address as a rhyme. It was find-my-way home mantra, in case I strayed too far from home turf.

"six-teen college-green,
ess-ee nine-teen"


All of us children would chant it, asserting that we had all committed our home address to memory and could thus be trusted to wander off and find the way back should we become lost. It was our licence to roam.

College Green was a pleasant post-war council estate built in the enormous grounds of the Edwardian College for the Blind, which had once existed at the crest of that part of the hill, until being reduced to rubble by Nazi bombs in the 1940s. The large perfectly flat space where the college had been set into the steep side of the hill was now a lorry park for articulated vehicles, littered with skeletal shopping trolleys and smashed bottles.

Trees were thick and leafy, all the way up the narrow path to the brow of the hill, where Crystal Palace's shops and pubs maintained a steady buzz of human activity within the slightly dilapidated Victorian triangle which had been built for the great exhibition of 1851.

This prime land, looking down on London's tall towers to the North, and across Surrey heathland to the South, enjoying a prevailing breeze from the coast which kept the air clean and fresh, was covered with a glorious variety of lime, lilac, birch and sycamore against privet and holly, with pre-war planting adjacent to empty plots of wild growth, and some areas fenced off and untended since the war, full of nettles and elder and rusting corrugated iron; but although almost all the old wrought-iron railings and gates had been systematically removed and melted down as part of the war effort, the place still retained some of it's secluded grandeur.

Much-needed cheap modern council housing was kindly situated in this little dip in the crown of Crystal Palace Hill. College Green Estate was built in around a natural bowl in an incomplete G shape, along paths which followed the wonky natural contours. A single small grey concrete block of flats rose in the middle of the bowl, it's top below the line of the hill, and this was incongruously approached by a straight avenue of mature horse chestnuts, plane and oak. Here also was a small park with a modern playground, including a wonderfully tall and fast slide, a sick-making roundabout, two lines of proper swings with long, strong steel chains, and a vicious Witches Hat which was capable of braining a child.

This is the place I learned to ride a bicycle without stabilisers.

I ventured out, through what was once probably a rear exit for the gardeners, into Harold Road, and there was the rest of the world, and the rest of my life.

When we moved from College Green, I was 5, but we stayed in this area until I was 14. We kept on moving to various estates around the hill, 5 children crammed with Mum and Dad into inadequate space. I explored the entirety of this hill, all it's slopes from Sydenham to Thornton Heath, from Anerley to Crown Point, down South Norwood Hill to the swimming baths, and all the way to Addiscombe, on my bike.

Addiscombe is the place I was born.

We moved to College Green when I was 2 years old, so it's the first home I remember.

Coming out of College Green, the streets surrounded a large Recreation Ground, which we called the Rec.

This is the place I ran for my life with the dog, and sought shelter in my ex-piano teacher's house as the man grabbed hold of me and tried to pull me out to beat me.

Two thirds of the Rec was surrounded by neat 30s black and white fronted semi-detached houses with pampas and coloured stone (i.e. posh) paved fronts. My end was Harold Road, the other Hermitage Road, leading up to the Convent. At the Harold Road end stood an avenue of stately, somewhat delapidated, red brick 4 storey, 12 bedroom Victorian mansions, with gardens of cedar and fruit trees, verandas and wisteria. The splendid Rec boasted enormous London plane trees, the ubiquitous horse chestnuts, and little copses of silver birch led through a formal garden to tennis courts. There was a gentle slope downhill to where Rockmount School and St Margaret's faced the park, and a line of large beech trees which were so healthy they drenched the streets in nuts every September. Mature elm trees bisected the park further down opposite the school. They were dying, one by one sprayed with the fatal white X, felled and removed, victims of Dutch Elm disease.

The playing fields part of the Rec weren't the flattest in the Borough of Croydon, being on the top of a wonky hill, but they had proper goalposts, marked out full-sized pitches, lots and lots of grass, a park-keeper's hut covered in grafitti, and were a pretty safe bet for a decent bit of park life at any age, or time of day.

This is the place I accidentally kicked Andy Marks in the balls during a game of school football, and heard a teacher use a swear word for the first time in my life.

If I turned left up Harold Road, the way led up to Spa Woods, and on the brow of dangerously steep Spa Hill was Tivoli Lodge.

This was the place my Nana and Grandad used to live, and where Aunty Barbara now lived, Tivoli Lodge, opposite the Beaulah Spa pub, backing onto Spa Woods.

This is the place my Mother came out one childhood morning after a heavy fall of snow to find that one of the circular rose gardens had disappeared. The enormous hole was several feet across and very deep. It was the old water source for the Spa, long since disused, which had drawn Victorians in the 1890s for it's health giving properties, and artists like Sisely to paint the views across London and Surrey. The roses had been standing in just 2ft of earth on some wooden boards. It took the debris from three air-raid shelters to fill it and make it safe.

If I turned left again and made the arduous journey up to the very top of this part of the hill, then I got to Beaulieu Heights. This was pushing it, strange territory, on the edge of South Norwood Hill, which kept on going down 380ft until you hit flatland. Beaulieu Heights was scary and dark, steep and amazing, right underneath the huge ITV television mast. You could hide and not be found. You could bomb people with acorns. You could actually get lost there.

This is the place I felt my first breast.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Dark Recesses of My Entrance Hall

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My Place



This is the place where taught myself to sing and where I wrote most of my songs

This is the place where I lay sick and exhausted and told the woman I loved to leave me (she did)

This is the place I grew 18 huge plants

This is the place I threw an I Ching reading that told me to stop (I did)

This is the place where I realised in the early morning of September 12th 2002 that my life was taking me in the opposite direction to the way it should be going and decided to change

This is the place I lost my rhythm and found it again

This is the place where I made a video for £25 that was seen by 10 million people

This is the place from where big funky basslines originate

This is the place I fell to the ground with a howl of anguish, believing my girlfriend had committed suicide (she hadn't)

This is the place I played a lot of Zilch

This is the place Y turned up, laid on the floor, and stayed for a week

This is the place A trashed

This is the place H left her long black hair which remained years after she had died

This is the place I got so high I thought the hairs on my head were pulling me vertically upwards (they weren't)

This is the place where plants thrive

This is the place where I watched a couple in the park outside make love on a bench

This is the place I lived for 20 years

This is the place where afternoon shadows and the trees make poetry of light

This is the place I just left



Normal service will resume soon...

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Gap Between The Walls

I knew it was going to get dark and that the temperature would fall. I didn't give in to it but I felt the panic rising. Like I couldn't do.

I was exhausted. Numerous attempts to escape defeated by the sheer physical impossibility.

I was ten years old, and one bored Saturday summer's afternoon I had fallen down between two walls, one redbrick Victorian wall, one post-war concrete and brick. It was the period just before my Grandmother died. I was exploring up towards where the new buildings, including the 60s redbrick estate I was on, abutted the old remaining Victorian buildings, left after Nazi bombs rained down on this corner of South East England.

It was the back of a derelict site, the 16ft chicken wire and cheap metal fence no match for a 10 year old monkey boy. Over in less than 30 secs, the place was full of old tires, mattresses, the stink of human urine and rats. Fascinating. Decidedly off-limits.

I jumped onto the high wall at the back, the only remains of the building that had once stood here, the rest of the site now foundations prepared, waiting for development, a blank stretch of white concrete with weeds. Running along the top, I quickly got out of sight of the road and possibly nosy adults, and I entered a more secret world, where foxes ran, and there was some mature bomb-plot Buddleia which arched over my small body as I slinked along the top of the wall to the corner of the plot.

I found myself looking down the space between two walls. Wow. It was deep, dark at the bottom, quite cold even on a warm day. Fabulous. I peered down, remembering Gollum, looking at what was down there. A surprising clean white bicycle mudguard (recent addition) - a lot of bottles.. an interesting bit of audio equipment... and some full-colour pages of a very explicit sex magazine.. Now, I figured, it's an hour from teatime, when I would have to be back, maybe I have time to try and salvage some of this.

The gap between the walls was about as much as I could squeeze my slender frame into, maybe a foot and a half across, or less, and I reckoned I could chimney it, pushing my feet against the wall and carefully edging down to retrieve some choice objects.

I manoevred myself to the point where I had my arse on the ledge of the old wall, and prepared to descend into the abyss. It was pretty nerve-racking, but breathing steadily and balancing carefully I slowly wriggled downwards, pushing against the two walls, until I was at the point where my head was below the edge. It was a place the sun never saw, cold, especially after being on a bike in the sun all balmy afternoon. I could see my breath in the air as I pushed hard against both walls.

I descended. below the edge it got quite damp, and as I got nearer the bottom, I started to slip. My heart began to race, and then I looked down and realised that at the very bottom of the space now a few feet below me was a bunch of twisted rusting metal shards, the remains of some left-over fence posts, rising upwards to greet me like a dozen metal snakes tongues.

I froze and stopped descending, realising that I was being extremely stupid, and looked up. Top was ten feet above, and I was tired, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, the taste of acid in my mouth, limbs suddenly aching and shaking. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. This was not as easy as I had anticipated. I decided to abandon the mission.

Very very slowly I started to transfer the weight to my knees and arch my back to push up. I straightaway skidded vertically downwards as part of the surface of the wall came with me, showering my head in filth. I spat, choking and desperately flung out my hands and feet and miraculously stopped a foot or so above the metal spikes. I was really trapped. Bugger, bugger, fucking bugger.

I just wasn't going to be able to get out. It really hit me. I grew very still. I didn't have the physical strength to get out. I was eventually going to lose my ability to hold on and fall all the way down, be horribly injured, and then die. I was looking forward to Life. Damn.

My spirits plummeted. I was 5 minutes from home, but they would never find me here. I had to escape. I could shout but nobody would hear me from the road. I was trapped, and I would die here, to be found years later, a skeleton. Nobody would ever know where I had gone or why. I felt the agony of separation.

I was physically really tired, had been already pretty knackered before I ventured this way. I could only just about turn my head, by looking up and dragging my chin in a sem-circle. My neck was cricked and it really hurt. One of my nails had ripped when I skidded and fell and I was bleeding from both elbows and one knee. My ribs hurt from being dragged across brickwork. I had pulled muscles all over the place, and my chest was still thumping. I stank of something old and dead. Aside from the slippery surface and lack of foot and hand holds, the problem was that the gap was just too narrow to get enough leverage, a severe miscalculation.

I felt foolish and humiliated. I really didn't want to die there. It must be possible to get out of this. I looked up again, and took stock, and tried to be calm. I knew I couldn't afford to fall to the bottom of the gap, but there must be way out of here. Up was out of the question, maybe I could find a way out at either end.

I steadied my breathing and looked at my options. One way disappeared in to a mess of dark foliage sprouting upwards into the light, which meant possible handholds, but I couldn't see myself pulling my way out using that, it was puny, it would just snap. Like me. The other way was to the right-angle where the two walls met the even taller wall at the back of the plot. I could see some rough unfinished bricks that way that I maybe would be able to use as leverage, so I started to move inch by painful inch sideways, desperate to avoid falling lower down.

It took forever. You read that, don't you, but what really does take forever? In that time, which was the end of an afternoon, an hour or perhaps two, I watched my family attend my own funeral. I watched all my hopes and dreams vanish, like I had. I waved goodbye to my friends. My Mum. Nana and Grandad. My brothers and sister. The dog. The budgie. I pushed on and fought not to let the terrors eat my energy. It was as much as I could do to stop myself from falling further, and I was attempting a transverse move worthy of the Matterhorn.

Slowly I edged, making impossible stretches. I constantly thought I was not going to make it. False moves provoked real fear, and by the time I reached the end wall, which must have taken the best part of an hour, I was exhausted, bruised, knees and elbows bleeding, panting, soaked through with cold sweat, shivering. Using the 45-degree angle I gradually climbed out, and once my head and chest were over the edge again, and I knew I was really safe, and I was going to be alright, I just lay there, knowing I had this time cheated death, waiting to recover the strength to get back to my bike, stashed in the bushes.

I made up some shit about having an accident on the bike, got some maternal sympathy, and never told a soul.

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Under The Swing

Dry, silky earth, fine, full of sand. Light in colour, trickles through small grubby four year old fingers. Good for making tracks with toy cars, you can smooth over the new roads when the surface is busy and start all over again.

Under the swing where scuffing feet had pulverised the ground and removed the grass, I sang as I drew in the dirt with the wheels of my favourite, the three-wheeled bubblecar. It was my favourite because it made three lines in the dust instead of two, and it was red. I always moved it in reverse, engine forwards, because this was the age of streamlining. Rockets and submarines and cars and speedboats and space vehicles that had to move through the atmosphere all obeyed this principle, so Messerschmitt surely put the sharp end first?

Laying propped up on an elbow, head on one side to better observe the car's progress, I maintained a steady oral drone which developed into music and back to my version of industrial noise. I found I could make a good sound by singing through my front teeth, which when kept close together, would buzz. This dental vibration also had the effect of making my head feel pretty strange, and more so after an hour or so in the sun.

In the long afternoons, under the swing, I was totally and utterly happy. I was doing the two things that I have been doing ever since in one way or another, singing and drawing. I didn't know about Native Americans, how they sang themselves into trance and made elaborate geometric shapes representing their cosmology in sand. I didn't know about synaesthesia, Kandinsky or the Theosophists. I didn't know about Rolf Harris. I didn't know what time it was or how long I had been there. I didn't want anyone or anything else, I was satisfied. I didn't want anything more than to stay under the swing for the rest of the day, and the next day, if the weather was fine, to come back.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Kyoto Coal Scam

Here's a poem I wrote I'd like to share with you.

Kyoto.
Huzzah!


I fear this corrupt leadership will cost us the planet. I like the planet. It's a pretty funky place. Fuck them and their corporate greed and super-sized arrogance.

That's the place I am at right now.

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Places



After one month on love, I always intended to write next about something more tangible, or at least, around a subject which I can demonstrate visually rather than merely describe in words. Also, taking an anti-stance on a subject is OK given the need to resist cultural hegemonies wherever we find them, but it's frankly tiring and one risks becoming a revolutionary bore.

This month, I will mostly be taking as inspiration - places.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Any Great Pleasure

Can't say that it gave me any great pleasure but in retrospect, last night I did something of which I am extremely proud. I was watching my team, Crystal Palace get beaten 5-1 by the mighty Arsenal. I was cold, tired and feeling poorly before we went and sat in the chilly seats at the Clock End. Highbury was full of people in expensive coats, not like proper football at all. G&T soccer set.

I watched my team play well for 30 minutes, then in ten minutes we went 3-0 down. Killed the game stone dead for me. I was with my gooner mate, who graciously had got me a ticket down the front with him. I was watching my team getting hammered, or rather, shot to pieces, being the Arsenal. At half time, the team went in dazed.

I turned and said, sorry mate, I'm off. This is not for me. I couldn't sit there passively with all these gooners celebrating my team's demise. I didn't even stay for the inevitable Andy Johnson goal (penalty) which came later in the second half.

The well-managed streets were deserted as I passed police vans, motorbikes, a burger van, generator running and ablaze with light, asian guy inside waiting for the crowd's return, listening to the radio echoing loudly as it bounced from tower block to terrace. I walked on up to the very top of Highbury Hill, and I heard the home crowd cheering more goals as I started the 15 minute journey home in cold, blowy, dry winter's night weather.

I thought, fuck that for a laugh. It was Valentine's night. My gorgeous girlfriend having spent the day seeing her ex-boyfriend, would be home. There was a beautiful crescent moon and clouds scudded dramatically across it. I immediately felt better, and went to the off license and bought a bottle of cava and took it home to where my gorgeous girlfriend was pleased to see me early. It was romantic. I had been slightly jealous, I told her. We kissed and sipped champagne, and that felt a lot better. Football, fucking football.

Cupid's revenge is that he rescued me from football. Nice one you fat bastard.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day Massacred

Well, we made it. Here we are, unscathed, we resisted the hype, forswore consumer love, and now it's time to reveal our secret weapon, our magical avian protector, the water-born prophylactic of myth who has accompanied us through the past month leading up to this dread day.

The Deadly Duckling, our very own anti-Cupid talisman will be about tonight, scouting for cherubs and bringing them down in a hail of lead, Al Capone-style, protecting the innocent, saving hearts from being broken.
Don't be fooled by the cute exterior - this is merely a clever yellow camouflage to enable effortless entry into those candlelit haunts, bars, restaurants, dancehalls and diners where the susceptible - that's YOU and ME and ALL OF US - remain unaware of the evil cherub's proximity. Yes there will be arrows tonight - but there will also be the ratatatatatat! of reality knocking on the window, locking the bathroom door, and insisting that dreams and illusions stay right where we want them - in the safe world of glossy magazines and Mills and Boon pulp fiction and Hollywood trash and TV mayhem.

Meanwhile... here's the internet date profile we created for HB:
I am being assisted by the Valentine Resistance Movement in my quest to find a date. This means I am rejecting the nonsense spread around on behalf of that chubby myopic winged archer, who tells us to buy champagne and roses and rush around like a desperado looking for pink fluffyness. While the crazy people get stressed out by this, instead I am looking for a real woman who I can relax and laugh and enjoy life and see the world with. Originally from Norway, I have a good life in London and would like to meet a woman of similar age with similar attitudes. I'm pretty healthy but can be persuaded otherwise when the time is right and the moon is bright and the jeans are not too tight. I play good grooves on my Rickenbacker, currently practising my funk riffs and anticipating your message of interest. Love, Bass_Player

.... which seems to be working so far. He he he he! and on a Monday too.

If, after all this preparation and Valentine's Day inoculation, the stars tonight seem suddenly to twinkle extra sharp, and you catch your breath without quite yet knowing why, your heart skips a beat and then races, your pupils dilate, and your ears sense an almost-inaudible flutter of wings as you acknowledge a sudden pain, which is yet unlike pain, inasmuch as the world it takes you to forgives and allows all injury for the sake of love, take yourself in hand, wash your face with cold water, have a shot of cognac, and run your mind around this little ditty:
O Love, O pure deep love,
be here, be now.
Be all; worlds dissolve
into your stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you
brighter than cold stars:
Make me your servant,
your breath, your core.

-Rumi

From Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions by Sir John Templeton, © 1999

UPDATE: My Valentine's Day Moblog Image (see right column) has just been selected as Editor's Pick at TEXTAMERICA.COM which should help to bring Cupid within firing range....

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Cupid Carnage


Many thanks to all who voted in the HB Love Poll. Results are that he is going to be Honest, but with some potential put-offs removed. One of those put-offs to be removed will be the fact that he has taken his instructions from total strangers on the internet. I can't quite believe that 4 people want him to pretend to be a magical sexylovebeast from another dimension, but there you are, common sense prevailed.

I have been working my butt off this month trying to stay this side of solvent and sane, continuing my theme of Cupid=Stupid, resisting the annual Valentine's Day Nightmare, and somehow attempting to examine the reality of love and the myths and expectations that surround it. Next Tuesday my personal quest will be over, left lying tattered in the ruins of empty champagne bottles, bruised egos, wounded hearts and unwanted pregnancies, and this means I shall thankfully be able to move onto my second topic of the year, which I shall reveal in due course, oh my, oh gosh, how the tension is killing me.

I went to Holland Park yesterday, and I took these pictures.









Try to keep your food down, you'll be doing everyone a favour.

Now I'm off to arouse HB, inspect the hair cut, and get him a date for Monday. Wish me luck.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

IKEA CHAV SOFA RIOT

Amazing. Read this!

NB: Cupid=Stupid. An equation we need to recall. But this is too amazing not to post!
Technorati tag:

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Top Hole

The HB Love Survey has gone very well, and we will be acting upon the decision of the voters. HB is preparing himself for his date by getting a hair cut.

Meanwhile I got this REAL email from one of my most intelligent friends - she's the second this month - which just goes to show that Cupid is Out There, And He's Firing:

Hey sweetie,

How's everything going? I hope all is well in London.

I've been meaning to call, but time has been getting away from me. I was in Bolivia last week, and it was ok, but the big news is that I have a new man in my life, or I don't really 'have' him. It's a fantastic story. Everyone got fucking loaded at my department Christmas party, and then a bunch of people went to my friend Keirkegaard's house for an afterparty. Some of us got stoned and I ended up hooking up with a guy who works in my department. It was one of those things where we knew who the other was, but didn't really know each other. Anyway, he's really fucking cool, and we went for tea a couple times and drinking once. Things went well, but we both got really loaded and he put me in a cab. We had been talking a bit, but since then nothing else happened. Anyway, I got back from Papua New Guinea saturday late afternoon and he called that evening to invite me to a small, impromptu housewarming party, so we went and I spent the night with him. It was amazing and he's amazing and we're both very very happy with each other. We just went for a liquid lunch (ended up drinking all afternoon together) and talked a little. Neither of us wants a boyfriend-girlfriend thing...we're both sick of being in relationships and enjoy being single, but we are pretty smitten with each other and after having the discussion, ended up making out in the bar and he asked me to spend his birthday weekend next month in new york with him. I've no idea what's going to happen with this, but I do like him very much, and am really giddy about it. Apparently he likes me a lot too, or so he says.

I had to share my excitement. Everything else is going just peachy.


Love,
Simone De Beauvoir


NB: Names and places have been changed to protect the afflicted

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Things Are Looking Up

What can I say? Things are indeed looking towards heaven. I've seen them, things, in the street, their upturned faces scanning the clouds above for signs. Signs of improvement, hope, rain. Signs of the umbrella they lost in the gale. Signs of the kite they lost when the string snapped. Signs of a payrise, signs that death is not the end. Signs saying, "What Are You Looking Up For?"

"HB" as I have previously mentioned is the short-form monicker for The Horniest Bass Player in Christendom and this being the last leg of my Valentine Resistance Movement Month, I have made it my mission to assist him in his lovelorn quest to restore his love life.

I said I would be asking for your help, and so I am. Help. "HB" and I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance. Scroll down and give us your advice.










How Should "HB" Present Himself Via Internet Dating To Get His Perfect Valentine's Day Date?
Total honesty, with nothing hidden
Honest, with some potential put-offs removed
Mostly honest, with some creative enhancements
Some honesty (e.g. male, single), with a liberal sprinkle of glam
Minimum honesty, mostly a torrid tissue of fabrications designed to big the guy up
Pretend to be a member of the Norwegian Royal Family
Pretend to be a magical sexylovebeast from another dimension


  

Free polls from Pollhost.com

We are pledged to obey.

UPDATE: HB is fascinated by the poll and in a fever of anticipation. For those of you that don't get Patois, "gwaan" translates as "go on" - i.e. VOTE. "Seen" is, erm.. seen, i.e. have a look at the results without voting. If you leave a comment, please also vote.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What I Like Best About Being A Boy

by Deek Deekster, age 42 years and 49 weeks

Eating big cooked breakfasts
Speaking in a deep voice
Wearing comfortable shoes
Looking good unshaven
Not having babies
Pissing standing up
Listening to loud music then turning it up louder
Not caring who is looking at me even when I know I look shit
Going to bed when I want
Shouting at football on the TV
Earning more than girls
Drinking more than girls
Spending money in clubs and bars where there are girls
Conversations with nice girls who talk dirty
Getting high with girls and dancing flirtatiously
Having sex with nice girls who know how to nasty
Sharing a bed with a nice special girl who talks dirty, earns money, doesn't want babies, likes a good breakfast, knows how to nasty, lets me come to bed when I want, tells me I look good when I feel rough, dances when I turn the music up, wears comfortable shoes, doesn't shave, pisses with the door open, asks me who is winning, sits with me even though she doesn't care, and speaks to me in a voice I could listen to forever


Last night, I dreamt I was in a large old house, which was full of captives being made forced labour. There was a head man with long permed hair and a leather coat, he looked like a hippy Albanian. He was malevolent, sadistic, scary. There were green-uniformed guards with guns and cigarettes who sneered and mocked us. We were being kicked and punched and knocked to the floor again and again. This lasted for over an hour. Then we were split up and put to work. I was given an old mop, taken to a huge decrepit ballroom, ordered to clean the floor, and left alone. It wouldn't clean. My elbows ached where I had been kicked. I could feel my teeth were loose where I had fallen to the floor and blood was all over my face. I was terrified that the long-haired man would return and punish me for not having finished the floor, but I had no water, it was useless, the mop just spread dust and dirt. I worked and worked but the floor looked streaky, black and grey. With a sudden commotion that made my skin crawl the head man returned. I was petrified, started to stammer my excuses. For some reason he was pre-occupied and didn't seem to notice or care, swept past me and picked up a telephone, but the guard with him did notice and began to laugh at my efforts to make the place clean. I didn't matter whether it was clean or not, they just wanted to humiliate us with pointless tasks. The guard hit me with his rifle and knocked me over and insisted I return to the mopping. No water. I could feel my ribs aching and the blood on my chin. I got up and made my way to the other side of the hall away from the guard and the head man, and started once again with the futile cleaning; I had to get away. I would die soon if I stayed.

I woke up on my balcony, which is a public, shared space, naked from the waist down. It was freezing. I was still terrified, and confused. Didn't know where I was. Could still feel the blood on my face and my elbows ached from where they had been kicked. I stopped and looked around and realised where I was and what I was doing. The front door was open behind me. I went back in, shocked. 1.30am. I was distraught, heart racing. I sobbed. My girlfriend held me while I shivered and tried to calm down. I was scared to go back to sleep. It was very real. Eventually I slept.

After my parents split up, out went Dad #1, in came Dad #2. I was 5 years old, confused and hurt, and I used to have nightmares; this disturbed my parents so they drugged me with stupid doses of strong drugs on the advice of the stupid doctor. Locked into sleep, I couldn't wake up to get away from my awful dreams.

I didn't like very much about being a boy. Being a man, with a woman who loves me even though I am half-crazy some nights, beats it hands down.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Boing Boing

About now the daylight starts the long creep back.

I wake up at 6.30am (YES!) and I have to be out of bed dressed and active by 6.45am to make sense of the morning. Today it was light before 7am for the first time in 2 months. The mist was freezing cold and the sun came up pink and orange, making London look like a chocolate box. Tiny yellow crocuses have just opened, their heads startlingly bright against the dogshit citypark earth.

This is why they pick Feb 14th as V-Day.

Bright Light Increases Testosterone

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have found that the levels of a pituitary hormone that increases testosterone are enhanced after exposure to bright light in the early morning. The findings suggest that light exposure might serve some of the same functions for which people take testosterone and other androgens.

One of the study's authors, Daniel Kripke, M.D. UCSD professor of psychiatry, added "the study also supports data that bright light can trigger ovulation in women, which is also controlled by luteinizing hormone (LH), the pituitary hormone we studied."

The capitalists who own Cupid know all about this surge in Northern sexual interest and they capitalise on it. The question remains: can we wrest control of LOVE back from the tawdry commercial exploitative world? Can we restore some wisdom to the process of mating? Is romance dead, or does it just reek of that gakky cheap scent best left in the end-of-aisle baskets that produces unstoppable sneezing fits as it assails unsuspecting adenoids?

With only a week to go, I intend to find out.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Lovelorn, Horny, Belgium, Whatever

Lovelorn: (luvlôrn)
adj.
Bereft of love or one's lover.

Faithful reader, as your humble scribe has previously scriven, I live in proximity to the horniest bass player in Christendom. Actually I am not certain of this. It may be that the quotient of horn is exaggerated by the proximity of the horn; however, the fact of the horn is there for all to witness. Hereafter for the sake of brevity I shall refer to this character as HB.

HB is, as defined above, bereft, and this does not fit comfortably with his open minded and lustful young nature. HB was in love, and now his love has pissed off and gone elsewhere. As is often the case with young love, it's nothing more than getting together as teenagers and coming apart as adults. HB is from a European culture that allows men to have feelings, and sadly, HB's are still somewhat bruised. We might say that the drawing out of Cupid's arrow caused more wounding to occur and that, though the wound was not mortal, the scar tissue is still forming. Consequently, HB finds himself wrestling with a variety of impulses, many of which are shared by young men in similar positions everywhere.

The first stage is self-annihilation. The ego's sense of worthlessness engendered by the parting seeks to be numbed, but is in fact reinforced by subsequent behaviour, including daily alchohol drinking, a series of late nights leading to physical exhaustion, and the company of depressed Belgians and Norwegian absentee sailors. It's not big, and it's not clever. It leaves stains and costs money. Thankfully in HB's case, it was short-lived, and caused only a series of appalling hangovers and the inability to defecate without large doses of coffee. Alchoholic constipation is a small price to pay.

The second stage is whatever. This word has become an expression of apathy, carelessness, and lack of engagement with whatever is being stated. We can best define HB's Whatever state as existential boredom. One set of values has been lost and rejected, and no other has come to take it's place. Therefore life is lived in the state of ennui. Now HB has never read Camus or Sartre and frankly, lacks the motivation to do so. This is because he is in the very state described by these eminent French intellectuals, which just goes to show how useful they are. Whatever.

The third stage is boredom. This stage cannot be avoided or ignored, and should not be seen as a negative state. It is more like a not-yes, not-no mu state. It is the fallow state of the mind and the heart immediately preceding interest. In HB's case, he has stopped beating himself up, has re-engaged with the world, and is looking around once again to re-orientate himself and reconstruct his life, bereft or otherwise. He doesn't want a "relationship" but he wouldn't mind some mindblowing high-octane sex to remind himself that he's a good lover and a nice guy. In the boredom stage, he casts around for a woman who will understand this and appreciate his talent whilst allowing him free rein to continue to be bored. He secretly wants love but he can't admit it yet, and it's useless insisting.

Dear faithful reader, at this point I wouldn't blame you if you suspected that HB was in fact myself, but this simply isn't true, and when I find the person responsible for this vicious rumour I will make my protest known. Indeed, I am at stage #53, floristry which means I have to be careful when to buy flowers. HB however is a real person (anonymous here for obvious reasons) made of flesh and blood and bone, who has needs and requirements of a human nature, and the proximity and scale of the horn is causing a sympathetic resonance to occur in those around him, like the strings of a tuned piano responding unhammered to a loud note sounded nearby.

It is simple. HB could use some help, and so, since I am bound to write on the theme of love until February 14th I have decided to put some of this energy into his assistance.

Previously I said I have been researching LOVE and so I have been. I have been examing the way in which internet dating sites (ab)use myths of love to create wealth. HB has agreed to take part in an event which seeks to do two things: fix him up with a suitable candidate, and see whether we can by this means move him on to the next stage of his recovery.

Let me reassure you that we do have his full enthusiasm for the task.

Vicarious? Certainly. Tasteless? Possibly but that never stopped me before. We can investigate, via this experiment, the nature of new love. Can it be artificially constructed? Can facts and preferences pumped into a database GIVE THIS MAN A CHANCE? HB certainly hopes so. No, he does. Really. He told me.

Speaking for myself, once I had become aware of her beauty and fine qualities, I shamelessly persuaded my own gorgeous girlfriend that I WAS THE ONLY ONE FOR HER, I wanted her that much. Was I wrong to do that? I was sincere and honest. I believed in what I wanted and in my right to get it. There was no deception involved, and there shall be none here. Lust may have fuelled the process, but love completed it.

Thus, dear and patient reader, I will shortly be asking for YOUR input shortly in order to help in this important decision-making process.

After all, it could turn out to be a match made in Belgium.

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Blame

For reasons I can barely comprehend let alone explain, I am typing this from my kitchen. Here's some research I did earlier.

2003: Canine Cupid Killed in Jordan.

"Big Joe would run to the girl's house, stand outside the building and bark until she came out to take the letters and read them before sending replies. But the girl's brother had been spying on the couple. The suitor had been turned down by the girl's family three years ago because he was still a student and had no standing in society. After he snatched the marriage proposal from the dog, the brother became violent."

1998: The things we do for love

"It seems impossible to win in February's annual love lottery. If you are unattached, the day is a nightmare of anticipation. When all that is delivered is disappointment - again - your heart is filled with nothing less than loathing for couples and the Post Office in equal measure."


2000: Cupid's arrow misses the Welsh

"Welsh women are the least likely in the UK to have experienced love at first sight and Welsh men fare little better, according to a new survey. Statistics by the romance novel publishers Mills and Boon show only 29% of women and 32% of men have been hit by cupid's arrow."

Now back to the party. I wish I could get these damn Hollywood guests to leave. They're all on West Coast time and gawpingly awake. I suspect the Bolivian chap in the corner. I've got to get up in 2 hours!

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Hindu Can-Do

Enjoying a late breakfast of tea and chocolate marzipan in hazy winter sunshine, having my feet waxed, anticipating the aubergine-coloured gloss paint drying soon, and the housedust mites being thrown out with the old carpets and made homeless.. oh damn it, I'm supposed to be writing about LOVE until the Day of Cupid=Stupid, which means I have to resist the constant urge to drift off-topic and scratch the other parts of my head.

So I won't mention how some of my favourite blogs have just disappeared, leaving me with that peculiar hollow feeling and odd concerns about the health of the writer... or how I have mercilessly chopped down the excess linkage that adorned the right hand column.. because that would be blogging about blogging which in my blogging about blogging month is FINE but not in this month.

We North-Westerners have a half-naked Greco-Roman Deity - Cupid aka Eros - clutching a bow and arrow to represent our culture's romantic passion. How much more interesting is the Hindu Myth of Kamadeva:

Kamadeva, the Hindu god of carnal love, who is said to arouse physical desire. Born out of the heart of Creator Lord Brahma, Kamadeva is depicted as a youthful being with a greenish or reddish complexion, decked with ornaments and flowers, armed with a bow of sugarcane, strung with a line of honeybees and floral arrowheads. His consorts are the beautiful Rati and Priti, his vehicle is a parrot, his chief ally is Vasanta, the god of spring and he is accompanied by a band of dancers and performers - Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnaras.

According to a legend Kamadeva met his end at the hands of Lord Shiva, who incinerated him in the flames of his third eye. Kamadeva had inadvertently wounded the meditating Lord Shiva with one of his arrows of love, which resulted him to fall in love with Parvati, his consort. From then on he is thought to be bodiless; however, Kamadeva has several reincarnations, including Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna.


Now that sounds a lot more funky - I want to go to that gig!

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'm Your Venus

In Astrology, Venus is the planet of love and attraction. But if you casually misspell that, Venus is the PLANT of love. And isn't that more manageable? It's like I said to my friend who fell in love and had the running-away-in-a-desert-without-feet dream (scroll down) - when she said, we are going away to stay in a cottage in the middle of nowhere for a week. I said, be careful that the Ts are crossed. If you don't cross the Ts, then you'll be staying in a collage, which is not pleasant or advisable in early February. Too cold and drafty.

Remember that song by Shocking Blue (Rob van Leeuwen) from 1969 - called Venus - ? One of the most mis-heard lyrics ever. I particularly like:

Misheard Lyrics:
I've got myself a muffing job
Correct Lyrics:
The goddess on the mountain top

The idea of finding employment as a vaginal attendant has me reaching for my gold vellure cloak and Barbarella boots.

Mars meanwhile has been found to be made of chocolate. If you find it, let me know, would you?

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Zero-Rating Dating


14 DAYS LEFT
before the winged nutcase seeks out your wallet on the pretext of stimulating romance, 14 long days and nights of pressure from the magic Kingdom of Coupledom upon ALL SINGLE PEOPLE everywhere who SHALL BE DEEMED WORTHLESS unless, come Feb 14th, they are seen in the right place with a person of gender appropriate to their sexuality in the annual HERD-INSTINCT mass clinch.

Cupid was hijacked long ago to make money from loneliness, and the nonsensical nature of human attitudes towards love - finding love and falling in love and being in love and being loved - are exposed once a year in a blizzard of single stem roses, restaurant bookings, pink padded cards, threadbare lingerie, alchohol, sweets, and expectations racketed up to the moon, underneath which we are all supposed to pay homage to a chubby little bastard with a bow and arrow and bad eyesight.

Everyone is hung up about this dating business. There's a lot of stupid pressure put on "success" in dating - and what the hell is that when it's at home? It turns love itself (and the pursuit of love) into a competition where success is measured by Richter-scale levels of interest, how much cash was spent, whether favourable sexual activity was achieved, and how enhanced either or both of your status is as a result. I know, I've been researching it, and I will reveal how later. In the same way that a fool and his money is soon parted, a lonely fool and his heart is soon wired up waiting for the surgeon. And yes that can be her heart too, I just wanted to use that traditional gender-imbalanced phrase to MAKE A POINT.

It's alright for you, Deek, nobody said to me, you've FOUND love. But what about the rest of us poor souls, struggling to make a life out here on our ickle own, nobody to hug and kiss and eat chocolate with? Did I say, don't try to get what you want? Did I say, sit down and remain in your cubicle? Did I? Ever? And what do you come up with as a solution? DATING? Time to turn up the heat.

Basically dating is very simple, but made complicated by the mixed messages about love that are perpetrated by our insane culture, gender polarisation, lack of self-esteem.

We should not even use the term. There is a proper word for dating. It's "associating" - that's all you are doing, associating. Hanging out. Because it's nice to do. Insurgents do it all the time, and look how successful they are.

Two clicks away from this very page, lives the Hopeless Romantic. He's a nice guy with a good blog. He has a date he's nervous about. He feels silly. I left him some advice. Go read it. No really, you'll be surprised. I didn't want to sound churlish on his page. He has sweet imaginary girlfriends. The heavy stuff is here. Cupid=Stupid. Remember that, it could save your love life.

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