Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Oh well. It's raining. I have loads of work to do. Iraq is sliding into a bloody civil war, the far right is on the march and my toe nail just fell off. But it's my birthday at the weekend, i have a week's holiday, so things aren't that bad. Mostly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The redhead's called death

I'm in an ongoing battle with two people. I call them the Horsewomen of the Apocalype.

All winter I've been stuck downstairs, as it's been far too cold to sit out under a tree. There's a small lunch room, with some fairly comfy chairs and a big sofa. Not many people know about it, although I've introduced some select colleagues to the secret.

You always see the same people down there. Most of us tend to sit in silence, either having a quick nap or reading a magazine, we acknowledge each other with a silent but friendly nod of recognition. All of us, that is, except the horsewomen of the apocalypse.

What they do is talk shit. Absolute tedious, unimportant, repetitive shit about their kitchen cupboards. Death has been on about her new kitchen cupboards and plumbing since November. Every lunchtime. And Pestilence tends to agree, and tell the same story about the difficulty she had with a plumber. In November.

I tell myself every day that it can't be that bad, I can continue to read my paper and rest. They needn't ruin my lunchbreak. Then I end up going back to the office early, opting to work on my own time rather then listen to them for another minute.

"So then he says, 'The problem's the fitting love, it's not compatible with these units.' So then I says 'the unit's not the problem. It's new it is.' So then he says 'Yeah, they're new, but the fittings not compatible.' So I says, there's nothing wrong with that fitting. It looks alright.'"

All lunchtime.

The reason why I call them the Horsewomen of the Apocalypse is that, well, frankly they look a bit equine. And, more importantly, whenever I listen to them discussing the same shit, every day, at the top of those annoying whiny voices, the sky looks a little redder, and the bomb seems a bit closer to dropping. And I imagine, one day, I'll be running back to the office screaming 'Shut up about your cupboards', when I pass Nemo on the stairs yelling something about global thermonuclear war. So we'll run downstairs, where the shear amount of concrete, lead and asbestos in the building will shield us from the worst of the blast.

Three months later we'll still be stuck down there. And there'll still be on about those fucking cupboards.

"So then he says, well, I can't come out Monday. Summat about radiation burns. So I says to 'im, there's nothing wrong with those units, they're new they are."

I suggested a coffee shop

Mum's doing a lot of work at the Parish Council at the minute, and wants to know what the church could be doing to keep the Youth from running away at the age of 18 and never setting foot into a church again.

My answer to this one wasn't exactly impressive (see above), but here's a few more ideas:

1) Sexism is wrong. Have girl altar servers, at the very least. And women priests too. It's hard to overstate what a complete anachronism any organisation becomes when it's still fundamentally sexist in 2004. There was a time a few years ago when female altar servers were tolerated, but it came to the pope's attention, and that was that.

It's a real fundamental one. A good analogy would be a really nice cafe that still practised racial segregation. No matter how good the lattes were, I'd either be boycotting or firebombing the place. You don't have that problem in the church of England.

2) Engage in debate. There's no point in using the style Tony Blair has nicked if you're looking to include people who really don't like being patronised (ie most kids). The style of debate I remember from church was treating the person who disagrees at best as someone who's just not read it properly, at worse as if they've got a mild learning disability. No two people will really believe the same thing in the real world, and religious differences should be more than tolerated, healthy debate keeps an organisation from plunging into intellectual stagnation. You don't have that problem in the church of England.

3) Stop coming out with daft pronouncements. The Cardinal's not made waves, but there he and a few people have said some important things (Poverty more dangerous than terrorism). But then it gets overshadowed by ridiculous stuff, most of it coming from Rome, and involving sex.

4) Look at the calender. Closer than that. What do you see? Yes April, what else? A picture of a cathedral. Yes, that's the one- the year is 2004.

The Pope recently wrote a letter to all parishes urging them to oppose gay marriage, describing homosexuality as "evil". This was read out in Catholic schools. Jesus.

There we go, that's DOAFW's top tips for dragging the Catholic Church kicking and screaming into the 19th century. One step at a time.

Terrible game going on with coughing man at the minute.

Coughing Man always likes to sit on the left hand side of the bus, on one of the two back seats. But regardless of this, his choice is always to sit right behind me. And cough. I've been on about this a few times lately.

On the bright side, I've finally managed to decipher the horrible smell that I get from him. It's tobacco mixed in with Contreau, and it's pretty damn overpowering.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Jesus in a camper van

Here's a couple of thoughts for tonight:

1) Some of the most scary right wing extremists are Christians. Particularly the most judgemental, hate-filled ones.
2) Jesus was a liberal. He used to hang around with the sick and rejected. It's usually felt imprudent to point out to sexually-repressed raving preachers that Jesus hung around with prostitutes *and didn't condemn them*.
3) Claiming back words and ideas can actually work. Suddenly "Queer" isn't such a bad word when there's TV programmes like "Queer as Folk" or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". Suddenly a word I'd never use doesn't quite seem as bad and hate-filled.
4) Jesus and Christianity are two very different things. Next time a member of the Christian Right preaches to you, just quote "Judge not, lest you be judged" and you'll see what I mean.

Instead of leaving the beardy guy to the suspiciously clean shaven Christian Right, why don't we claim him back? There's a pretty good theological basis for this.

It really pisses me off when I hear people using the new testament to curse and condemn. It's really not about that at all, but a lot of Christians have used it as an excuse for furthering their own desires. I don't doubt they're sincere, they're just not consistent.

So if we take Jesus away from them, all they've got left is hatred.

And control of two-thirds of the world's nuclear weapons.


Norris McWhirter, founder of the Guinness Book of Records, has died at the age of 78 of a heart attack.

Experts say the heart attack was one of the biggest they have ever witnessed, and could be a new UK record.

They hate life, apparently

Located safely behind five feet of concrete and a large armed guard, Jack Straw bravely stood up to al-Quida's cowardly offer to declare a truce and negotiate with europeans.

Apparently, it's not done to negotiate with terrorists. The only course of action is to declare war on them, and win a decisive victory. As we did in Northern Ireland, and Sharon's currently doing in Gaza. These people are different.

It's a seductive thought isn't it? There's nothing we can do about them except anihilation. With some really high tech weaponry. As an Al-quida spokesman put it "We love death, as much as you love life." You can see why McDonalds eventually settled on "I'm lovin' it" though.

But then we thought that Bin Laden had blown that world view, offering to negotiate like that. Luckily, though, Jack Straw helped us resolve our moral difficulty.
"This is a murderous organisation which seeks impossible objectives by the most violent of means."

Like the IRA always talked about then, with "Brits out". Or the PLO with their threats to "drive Israel into the sea". Or George Bush with "Iraqi Freedom." Impossible demands. But the IRA were happy to settle for a negotiated power-sharing. And the PLO and Israel got *so* close, or at least closer than they did by lobbing bombs around the place.

That was all different though. Big demands, legitimate grievances. All we're doing in the middle east is installing dictatorships and illegally occupying a sovereign nation.

Impossible objectives. Let's have a war instead.

That's "Keys" and "Due Process"...

Oh no, I'm having a bit of an insular moment.

I like to think of myself as an inclusive sort of person. (As long as you're English-speaking and are located somewhere in the South East of England, let's not get carried away here). BUt otherwise I look down with scorn at the way other people use their powers to exclude outsiders. In the way Oxbridge Colleges have names like "Caius" and "Magdalene", and the way Americans drag them behind their pick-up trucks or lock them away in order to protect national security.

But I had to order some leaflets at work today, and after giving my postcode, the bored call centre operative said "is that HERts-mere social services?". I started to say "HARTs-mere", then I paused.

"Yes, it is. It definitely is. I'm really sorry."

It's a slippery slope. Next up "Actually it's Maudlin" or "Whose country is it anyway?"

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I've spent a *lot* of time asleep this weekend. I'm calling it "structured rest".

I've been a little run down all week, having not quite got over the Nemovirus Nemo passed on to me. Sitting in the office has been exceptionally boring this week, as very little has happened. And in addition to this, I spent an hour at the day centre on Friday, which was quite fun, but spending time there always tires me out.

Everyone bombards you with questions over there- "What's your name?" "Where are you from?" "Are you going to be a new client here?" "Are you going to be working here?" "What's your team?" "Do you have a girlfriend?" "Do you have family?"

It was all very friendly, but I really felt like I was standing up in front of a class, bringing back various school-related phobias. I like to be a semi-anonymous but helpful voice on the other end of a phone. Here there's no hiding at all. And I was nervous, but I relaxed fairly quickly.

I'm going to have to get used to it, I start working there tomorrow morning! I'm not quite sure what I'm going to be doing yet, but it should be interesting.

But if an hour over there tires me out, what's a whole morning going to do?

"Of course, I'm an excellent driver..."

Now I can drive, the world's starting to change shape.

I still can't go beyond third gear, park, or go at 40mph without getting a nervous twitch, but I can do roundabouts, left (and now right) turns, text book three point turns, and thankfully, emergency stops.

I'm fairly proud of that- it's not bad for nine lessons.

Predictably, my colleagues have been supportive if rude. Sassy Nurse got worried when she discovered I was practising outside her new house. The entire office wanted a detailed itinery of my movements. And Manager and Assistant have been standing at the window watching me drive off with a big cheery wave.

But they don't do that now. Driven home three times now, and no-one's pulled over to call me a "fucking idiot" in three weeks.

Manager's been quite impressed. He said it's quite rare for people with Aspergers to drive. I'll take that as a compliment.

Lips are turning blue...

It's not like me to gawp at the TV. But this was something else.

Muse have upped the budget on their latest video (Sing For Absolution). Spaceships, rockets etc. Wow, it's cool.

The downside is, I tend to go into my own world a little with these things. Getting on the 262 bus last night, as the doors shut and the bus sped down the road, I found myself in a spaceship singing along.

In fact, I did that on the met line too. And during my driving lesson.

Waking up is hard

It's usually a sign of a pretty bad social faux pas when you're the last guest left at a party. But when all the other guests have run off at once, and the very low hostess has resisted your attempts to make your excuses at the same time, you don't feel too embarrassed, just a little awkward.

When you're me, late night conversations with depressed people are pretty much par for the course. In fact, I don't think I've ever been to a party that hasn't ended up like this. When the party's in full swing, I'll be making small talk with strangers, but it's only when a guest starts crying after 11 that I can definitely say "yeah, you're on."

There were two differences last night. First of all, I could find absolutely nothing coherent to latch on to for my late night on-the-spot counselling. Secondly, and this was a social faux pas, I couldn't remember her name. Awkward.

I just wonder if all parties end with a miserable guest, or is it just something I bring out in people? Answers on a postcard if you've ever been to a party with me.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Like many taxi offices,this does have a huge poster of mecca. Amidst the dirt and smells, oh the smells, it really stands out, like a beautiful stadium with meaning. You get a sense of how the word entered the english language so quickly- nothing in the west compares with that. That's what i calla place. Of course, watford has less significance, but it has fewer stampedes.

The taxi office at watford met is a collection of scraps... Debris from nights out, muddy footprints and broken lights. This place feels like an outpost, and i suppose it is- it's right next to the station, but the station is in the middle of nowhere. There's a queue, for once, because it is saturday, but that doesn't mean we're not isolated. There's some hauntingly beautiful pictures of alpine chalets, which just makes the smell worse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I promised i'd never do this but... (Number 3) ...using star trek references. I've taken to calling the downstairslunch room "unamatrix zero". With work how it is, sadly i can't find a better analogy. Damm!

Monday, April 12, 2004

Joining up the locks

Oo, found somewhere I want to live. It's called Apsley Lock. It looks like someone picked up a bit of Docklands and dumped it in Hemel, right down to the huge, shiny new pedestrian suspension bridge and nice looking cafes. It's almost a clone of St Katherine's dock, but presumably a little cheaper.

I got carried away today, and ended up walking from North Watford to Boxmoor. I haven't actually got round to working out how far that is yet. It took over 3 hours.

I've now walked the entire distance (in 4 walking days, over one month) from Tring in the North to Harefield in the South. I was hoping for some great personal insights. I didn't get those, but I now have three places I want to live in. Which over a 40 mile stretch isn't fantastic, but it's a start.

I want a boat!


Well, it's all happening in London News Review world. Something about "outside forces" influencing content (read outraged advertisers).

Basically, Paul Carr's had it with that, and is out rather abruptly, taking The Friday Thing (still the best bit) with him. The first I heard about all this is when LNR didn't show up on Friday. I actually felt moved to email Paul- the man's given me so much joy over the past few years, and he deserves for his new ventures to work out. He'd be the last person to back down when an advertiser gets the jitters after a columnist calls for the assassination of George Bush or something.

Come to think about it, someone should write an article about that. "Bush has caused so many deaths throughout the world, it is ethical to shoot him- discuss" Although in case the CIA are reading, killing people is wrong, whether it's the president or someone standing within the blast radius of a Falluja mosque.

Anyway, so they're parting company. One chooses print, one sticks to digital. As someone who spent a year trampling over printer's invoices, it always seems to me that email has that commercial edge. Could be interesting- I wonder if they'll end up as rivals. Or, more positively, there'll be two like minded publications out there.

But good luck to the two of them. This is a good thing, right?

The Passion of Easter

From my window I can see the daffodils are out in my windowbox, and the sky's at least substantially blue. There's no doubting it now, Springtime has definitely begun. Eggs, both in and out of doors are hatching and yielding up their treats to excited recipients. Some people have spent the weekend in church, others in garden centres and traffic jams. I'm quite happy to say that I took the time out to rest deeply and work out some of the convoluted knots I've tied my head into.

When I went home yesterday, my mother, who is gradually coming around to me not having a religion, said as an aside "I hope you've taken the time out to think about what easter means." I have to hand it to her, given how important religion is to her, she has been really understanding about the fact I don't go to mass, and does want to keep an eye on my spiritual welfare. But a lot of religious people make the mistake of thinking that if you're not in mass, you're in the shopping centre, and the fact is, I've spent virtually the entire week working out what easter means to me, because it's definitely more than an academic significance.

I was complaining a few days ago that I haven't really worked out where Easter fits into my new view of the world. As a child, it all seemed a bit of a chore; I'd spend *hours* sitting through and participating in long catholic masses followed by the treat of making myself sick with chocolate. I'd assumed chocolate was a major part of easter as so many of us catholic kids would give up sweets for lent, and easter sunday was the chance to make up for lost time. But as most people gorging themselves on chocolate this weekend haven't given up anything, it can't be that. We all know Easter as the shops present it will be distilled down to something they can sell, and that would be chocolate then.

Therefore Easter=chocolate. But there's more than that, right?

Of course there is, even since before the time of Christ, Easter has been all about rising from the dead. Look around you, and see the flowers, birds and bumble bees returning from their deaths last autumn. The world is greener, and the food we'll be eating for the rest of the year is slowly crawling out of its underground tomb. Outside becomes more than something we pass through on our way home, it's now a place to spend time, sitting under trees and outside cafes and taking long walks by the canal. In the dead of winter people would pray that this time would come, because for them its failure would mean death. We, of course, know that Spring was always coming. What's less certain is that we will crawl out of our winter shells and walk in the sunlight, and regain a bit of the life and passion that's been hibernating throughout the long dark winter. Maybe that's something for non-athiests to pray for.

As for me, I haven't been near a church or garden centre in days. But maybe we can't get anything our of this weekend unless we stop squablling about its meaning and take it at absolute face value; for many of us it's four much-needed days off at a beautiful time of year. We can be disciplined and take the time to put our lives in order to get through the next couple of weeks. Or we can take the luxury of wasting time, reading saturday's paper in bed on a monday morning, or sitting at a desk still in pajamas writing long ambling articles on the nature of easter. 4 days is a lot of time to be able to waste, and we should be greatful.

It's given me some time to work out where to go from here. It's not going to be that easy, but I've got an idea now of something I have to do. Yes, Easter's a time for new life, and I hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Ok, still trying to get my head round this one. Jesus rose from the dead...so we eat chocolate?? Resurrection. Chocolate. I just can't see the chocolate connection.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I want to say stuff, but not here. Ever since i got a link to here posted on a major website, i haven't wanted to share anything that significant about me. The kind of reader a link the lnr attracts would give a cynical laugh at the idea of someone trying to express themselves emotionally (wawib etc). Not feeling like a safe space for anything other than a 2-d dry observation about society. And there's enough cartoons about. Hence radio silence for now. I have other outlets.

It's easter, and i feel a bit lost. It's a time of year that I haven't yet made sense of in my adult world view. I was brought up with a very christian approach to it that just isn't me- but neither am i likely to buy the pathetic attempts at commercial colonisation. It just feels like a 4 day black hole. Given the state i'm in, i'm quite keen to just fall into it.

Weirdly, after a whole creative surge, i haven't wanted to Blog lately. That'll be the bipolar disorder then. Been a lot going on lately, most of it good, but i just don't feel like talking. Bear with me; it'll pass.