July 2006: I´m really getting off my bike here. What a wanker. Genuine sentiment, poorly expressed.


March 2005, Borough of Tower Hamlets


Years ago I was reading a copy of Viz. Flicking through to find a strip I liked I saw a frame in the middle of Billy the Fish. The sheepskin-coated team manager was climbing up onto his desk. “What are you doing, boss ?” asked Billy.
“I’m having a shit on my desk,” explained the manager, “Nobody reads this strip anyway.”
Occasionally I feel like that. OK, if you’re reading this then, er, you’re reading this, but I sometimes sort of get the impression that I could MONKEY SPUNK write anything here and no-one would notice. But as I said, if you’re here you’re here and I’m preaching to the converted. While it’s not a big effort to add a name to a mailing list, it’s a fucking massive effort to actually write this rubbish in the first place (not to mention the site maintenance work done by Tig). It’s the only method of communication I have at my disposal which isn’t completely inadequate and frustrating and, at the risk of being a drama queen, I’d appreciate a bit of attention. I’ll be asking questions later.
I’m in a pretty good mood, believe it or not.
After I left the rehab unit I followed a rigorous exercise programme for two months. All that happened was that I got better at the exercises. There was no apparent improvement in any everyday activities; standing, walking, manual manipulation. I gave up; not just the exercises, I just gave up. I didn’t even cry much any more, just felt hollow and physically sick. I got up later and later, didn’t eat or drink properly, and lost all hope of recovery. For a long time I scraped along the bottom, simply wanting to die. If anyone thinks that’s a figure of speech or teenage moodiness, it’s not, it’s entirely literal. The only good thing that happened during that period was a week in Portugal with Thea, Tig and Ali, courtesy of Chappelltours. More later.
So I spent a while in this rut. Some time in early December I had a bit of a re-orientation; there’s no point in believing I have no future, it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. After a lot of consideration, having decided I wasn’t going to do anything drastic (I believe the expression is “Shit or get off the pot”) I came to the conclusion that, once again, I’d wait and see what happens. I say wait: I have a new set of exercises, related much more closely to real-life actions, gallons of BoTox in my right hand flexors (so no grip but it’s not a painful fist any more) and an attitude that’s generally more positive. Less negative, anyway. It’s hard to be optimistic in the morning when spasms prevent me from moving or breathing, but. Well. Hm.

The CSM lot bunged me a load of HMV vouchers. Here’s what I bought:

Will Young, I’m a Cunt
Jamie Cullum, So Am I
Dido, Waste of Space
Katie Melua, Cure for Insomnia

And a 2005 Christina Aguilera calendar. No...Just buying CDs is probably an old man thing these days, but here’s the actual list, which may not be any better:

Modest Mouse, The Moon and Antarctica: That’s a great band name, some duff tracks but with 19 on the CD there are some real winners too.

Explosions in the Sky, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Lie Shall Live Forever: Why are all the post-rock lot, other than Tortoise, incapable of coupling snappy names with succinct titles ? See also Mogwai’s No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew), Do Make Say Think’s Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead and Godspeed You Black Emperor ! Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Laura Viers, Carbon Glacier: Yer Seattle girl-with-guitar singer-songwriter. Pronounces “Cheshire” incorrectly but replied to an e-mail I sent her and is therefore All Right.

Four Tet, Rounds: Ace, wins the award for Best Use of a Squeaky Toy.

Thanks folks ! It’s major project time for the 3rd years. Good luck, try not to spaz out.

So,yes, Portugal. Originally discovered by the Brazilians, the name comes from a Portuguese word meaning stairs. Down to the beach, down to restaurants and (argh) up to bed. The house we had was, for me, a pretty hostile environment; tiled floors and the banister on the left going up, so the first thing I had to do every day was descend a flight of stairs backwards. The place itself was super nice, though, the company, food and weather were spot-on and overall it were reet grand. Being three ignorant English pigdogs and one ignorant Norwegian Thea, our lingual efforts consisted of sticking –os on the end of everything (“Cup of teaos ?””Thank yos”,”Why won’t this breados toast ?””Contains too much asbestos” etc.) I was well pleased when Tig came back from the supermarket with a bag of caramelos.

Weird Shit: One of the most peculiar consequences of the accident was that, although there was nothing there, my left shin itched for ABOUT FOURTEEN MONTHS.
I miss spitting. I haven’t spat cleanly since July 2003; it’s always a long ropy drool which takes ages to snap off.
Really Stupid Shit: I may be about to get my terminology wrong, but let’s say your lung capacity is the difference in volume between an exhale and the deepest inhalation you can achieve. Even if I suck my breath in as much as possible, I reckon I use maybe 40%, although sometimes I have an involuntary full-capacity inhalation, a bit like a yawn. Anyway, the one thing that can trigger this reaction is, of all things, getting my face wet. I’d hoped that this absurdity had gone, but when I went for a dip in Portugal and tried to put my head under, I inhaled rather a lot of swimming pool. It was crappos.

The holiday wasn’t quite like this, but had a hint of this flavour:

I sat in the shade and went tappety-tap. This illustrates my fear:

Now, I’m not claiming that my writing is beautiful; it isn’t, it’s clean, precise storytelling with plenty of swearing. However, I’m disturbed by the massive sales figures achieved by The DaVinci Code. There was an article in the Guardian Review a few weeks back which was simply about how bad the book is: “To quote Blackadder, it’s as bad as the most badly written bad book you’ve ever thrown across the room.” The piece went on to reproduce a few choice lines, no comment necessary. Even the opening is a piece of shit. If my book is never published, or if it is and it achieves 0.001% of Mr. Brown’s sales, it won’t be because it was written in the style of a 15-year-old who spends most of his time rummaging around Google.
Speaking of which, I’ve developed something of an aversion to Googling (although, as you can see, I’m happy to use it as a verb). Two reasons for this: First, to make my protagonist convincing, while he will have my deep reserves of useless trivia, he will also share my tremendous store of profound ignorance. I’m doing a few tiny bits of research to prevent the narrative being too fragmented, but the way I’m writing is pretty close to the way I used to speak; I believe it’s much better to admit ignorance than to feign knowledge. Secondly, I much prefer asking people questions, rather than going straight to the oracle.

To which end:
What was Victoria Beckham’s maiden name ? Sponge ? Embankment ?
Why is the Pave Low so called ?
Now. Here’s the disturbing bit. The following won’t necessarily apply to, say, 5% of you, but for the rest: You knew the answer to the first question straight away (Line ?) but you’ve never heard of the Pave Low. It’s a helicopter, a very large, fast helicopter, which was an important tool used by the world’s most powerful nation (and the closest, culturally and politically, to our own) in the war in the Gulf which (ostensibly) ended a while back. Victoria (Plum ?) is an utterly talentless media whore who can’t even smile convincingly. OK, nor can I. Still, it just bothers me, the way so much worthless information and so many worthless people and events are ascribed so much importance.
On the subject of military hardware, I’m sure you’ll have heard of the Hummer. Why ? Because you can buy a Hummer. There’s profit to be made.
Can somebody help me down off this soapbox, please ?
The reason I ask about Victoria (Bitter ?) is that I know the answer but I can’t access it, something that seems to happen with some frequency and which can’t be good for a would-be author. And I keep losing at Scrabble. Perhaps Pave isn’t an English word.

Thea caught me looking at porn.

I wrote that lot during a ghastly Christmas at my gran’s. She’s top, and she was especially mellow as she lost her hearing aid. But you know the way Christmas with your parents is traditionally psychotic ? Try to imagine it without the abilities to go outside or say Shut up. At least the dinner wasn’t pureed this year.
Christmas is a fucking disgrace. If I was a Christian I’d hate the way it’s just become a festival of rampant consumerism, opportunism, one-upmanship and obligation. As it is, I just hate the way it’s become a festival of rampant consumerism, opportunism, one-upmanship and obligation.
Having said that, I was impressed by Mariah Carey’s originality, appearing in a red mini dress trimmed with white fur to promote her single...wait, there was something familiar about that...
I haven’t seen or heard this anywhere, and it may be neither big nor clever, but really, fuck Christmas. There were these billboards advertising thongs, embroidered with text of your choosing, “Ideal Xmas gift for him or her.” Well, it solved the problem of what to get for my nan. What would Jesus say ? He’d shake his head and say “Me on a bike.”
I might be interested in an antiChristmas. When’s Paris Hilton’s birthday ? Who’s that coming down the chimney ? Due to a typographical error...it’s Satan ! With, of course, a bulging sac.

A joke:

President Bush goes to an elementary school to talk about the war.
After his talk, he offers to answer questions. One little boy puts up his hand and the president asks him his name.
"I'm Billy, sir."
"And what's your question, Billy?"
"I have three questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? And whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?"
Just then the bell rings for recess. Bush announces that they'll continue after recess.
When they return, Bush asks, "OK, where were we? Question time! Who has a question?"
Another little boy raises his hand. The president asks his name.
"I'm Alex, sir."
"And what's your question, Alex?"
"I have five questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? Whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Why did the recess bell go off twenty minutes early? And what the hell happened to Billy?"

The really choice thing is that that was originally a Russian joke, although presumably it was originally a local party official visiting the school, and the kids had Russian names, like Wayne and Kev.
It came from William Gibson's website; I like Gibbo, he’s a sort of uber-spod, rooting out lots of odd stuff. Sadly he’s stopped blogging as his wife seems to have died.