Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

There's always time to jump the shark

Manager's taste in DVDs is pretty horrific, and despite a pleasantly crazy day and a particularly tasteful episode of Grand Designs, I'm still struggling to get over the sheer horror of the film I 'borrowed' last night.
I think I should be concerned about anyone whose DVD collection consists entirely of gory sci-fi films. Think Blade, Starship Troopers, and *every* Star Trek film ever made. And don't get me started on his sense of humour. However, when he's flogging surplus films for £3 each, somehow the Fifth Element seems a little bit tempting. Having just come out of my "you don't need to buy films...imperialist hollywood mind control" rant, the act of actually buying one would have looked pretty feeble. And it's not as if I'd want to own Men in Black, never mind the sequel.

Looking back on it, the cover should have been a clue. Will Smith, looking cool as ever. Tommy Lee Jones, looking like, well, the only other film I know him from. But look, in between, what is that?

I'd been unfazed by the 200 foot alien attack. The minute the dog started talking I looked away.
It's safe to say that nothing's more likely to ruin a great franchise like a talking dog, as Spin City found out to their expense when they introduced Rex the talking (suicidal) dog. So many episodes. So few laughs. Obviously, it can't be a boring personality. It has to have a 'quirky' character. With lots of original one-liners both children and mildly slow adults are certain to find hilarious. Repeat all the best jokes from the first movie, put in a storyline that undoes the attempts to prevent a sequel in the original movie and could be written by a fairly simple computer, and bang, you're quids in.

Looking at the reviews on Amazon can be a troubling experience. How about this one?
One of my top ten all time great films, January 31, 2003
Reviewer: Humphrey Waterhouse from London, London United Kingdom ...
I though MIB 2 was a fantastic film! The humour is intelligent and not dumbed down (may explain a thing or two) and Will Smith gives an Oscar worthy performance. This film is not just about vacant special effects and mindless fastpaced action sequences it has a cleverly written script and the comic timing is suberb. I loved the first film but I have to say I thought this one was in a class of it's own. We watched it twice.

I'm intrigued to know what's his favourite.Also confounding my expectations, the positive reviews are also the best written.

I'm just glad I got it back on his desk before Manager noticed. Somehow, even £3 seemed excessive for that.

Imperialist mind control....

Stop the world- I want my other sandal

I'm sorry to say that, yet again, I gave into the impulse to write into the Guardian. As this would be my 3rd letter to be published, it would have brought me firmly into the realms of what David Blunkett called "the yoghurt-eating, sandal-wearing Guardian-reading fraternity". It's weird how these things creep up on you.
I had good cause though. Yesterday's front page trailed the lead article in G2 with what was going to be a facile statement at the best of times:

"Why fashion is more important than life or death"

And, as if to prove my point below that it had the headline, "Fears for Briton as hostage killed." I
felt someone should point out the striking juxtapositioning there. They haven't published it though.

Brother thinks I'm being a little intolerant with this. I'm not- everyone has the right to express their opinion, within limits, but when you make a statement that idiotic in a serious newspaper, unless you genuinely know nothing of the world apart from clothes, you should expect a number of people to criticise your bizarre and twisted priorities. You sick weirdo.

The problem is, the article's actually a valid representation of a very mainstream strand of thought. Many people prefer to go shopping and talk about shoes than the horror around them. And in time it becomes more important. Their hero becomes Sarah Jessica Parker, thinking about sex, shoes and, most of all, herself as the city burns around her. She's plunging into the abyss, smiling, as her new Gucci handbag is to *die* for.

It's bigger than fashion shows, where an insular elite talk of unreal designs never intended to hit the shops are paraded in front of people who think they're at the cutting edge of the world. They're never going to realise that it's solely of interest to themselves, as they disappear further up their own backsides. But calling them journalists just encourages them.

It's in every mind-numbing magazine which genuinely seems to teach "last season bad- throw it out". The idea of retail therapy- that somehow getting further into debt will make you feel better- which somehow these people have brought into the language. The more stiches, the less riches.

If fashion's more important than life or death, imagine what would happen if someone flew a plane into London Fashion Week.

Welcome back to the real world.

Doubt the Guardian would publish that either.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Psychogeography, Hertfordshire style

I'm wondering if it's time to make a study of the area. In my own way.

Here's a few facts:
1) Yet another Summer's gone by without me having a holiday. And I feel a little tense.
2) It's been ages since I wrote a story. It's been even longer since I finished one.
3) I've got good shoes.
4) There's a map of Hertfordshire on my floor. It looks unfamiliar and very green.

How's this for a plan then?

Take a week off work and walk from place to place. There's a good cafe in St Albans, and there must be a nice pub in London Colney. On the way be brilliantly inspired. If I get stuck I'll carry on walking.

And whatever I write I'll put on the Blog. Perhaps.

It's about time l did that & maybe finished a few stories. That poor man's been stuck in the forest for at least six months.

Monday, September 13, 2004

...And you?

All this talk of comments is making me wonder. It's that sort of night.

After I kick-started Doafw I accidentally deleted the counter. It was a choice between that and the green. It was running fairly healthily, but then I didn't post for months. I didn't think about how many readers I had. If any.*

But now I'm wondering. And as I've forgotten how to do counters, lets have a, um, Shout Out.

Anonymous comments: On

Anyone out there?

*Apparently I'm big in Devon.

As ever, x

Intringuing comment appeared next to the Brighton song. Take a look.

It's unusual, especially as most feedback tends to be ‘You remind me of a guy I punched once. And also, as he or she (lets not make assumptions here) helpfully points out, I don't get many comments.

It raises so many questions though. Firstly, who is this guy? Does he also have a song about drug-taking in Brighton? Or some other coastal city?

I'd also like to know more about their relationship. The clue should be ‘hopelessly‘. Is it a tale of secret love? Heartless rebuttal? Or that lingering awkwardness when it's out in the open between friends but going nowhere?

I'd like to know more about what reminds Anonymous of this guy. The sense of humour? Supercillious tone? The whiny bits? Everyone likes, or reluctantly becomes convinced, that they're unique. Maybe it's me, and Anonymous hasn't noticed yet? Maybe anonymous is that strange ex who used to call me at strange hours? Or a friend trying not to freak me out?

In a way I like not knowing, as I can use my imagination to fill in the gaps. Maybe Anonymous is the quiet one at the edge of a group, harbouring a secret crush on the loud one at the centre of the group who appears forever unreachable. I like that one, as it's got the makings of a good story (and a very bad one too). And it means the really popular one gets to be like me.

I'm not casting a slur on Anonymous's social skills. I just like not being the one harbouring anything for a change.

Er, Si!

It was quite a revelation at the weekend to find out that I'm Portuguese. Slightly.

I found out, to be precise, that I have a Portuguese grandmother. Which was quite interesting- I'd always assumed that everyone sat down with their parents at a young age and was told everything there is to know about their ancestry. Obviously that one doesn't happen, but thinking about it there's so much I still don't know about my relatives (on my father's side I only ever met two people, I think).

I suppose that might go some way to explaining my fiery temperament. And my sister's very Mediterranean approach to dinner parties. Although, to be honest, I know absolutely nothing about Portugal.

Of course, it means about as much as wearing green on St Patrick's Day as I've got an Irish grandfather. People will go some way to not be English. Being English in a crowd of English people really isn't interesting. And proclaiming yourself as English isn't very English. No-one wants to be Engligh. Especially after Iraq.

Now, where's my flag?

Friday, September 10, 2004

You know the tune

Had this song in my head. Something to do with the sea air.

Didn’t we have a lovely time
The day we went to Brighton?
By quarter to nine
We’d had our first line
And wrapped the car around a lamppost.
I wasn’t gay
At least not on the way
But I changed my mind by lunchtime
Wearing a dress
And soon a lot less
As I cruised till dawn.

Didn’t we have a lovely day
The day we tripped our tits off
At half past ten
We hit a crack den
And spent at least a hundred.
At twenty to three
I had my first E
And tried to hug a copper.
Saying “I love you man”
In the back of the van
As we drove away.

Didn’t we have a lovely time
The day I got arrested?
By the time I got out
I wanted to shout
But they’d broken all of my teeth.
We went to the pier
With smack in my ear
And we had to share a needle.
Laughing like drains
As we got on the trains
And had a fight.

Blame it on the blog

Lager-soaked rat girls have taken over the streets, cars are swerving on the pavements, and my colleague's called me to say an infestation of giant spiders is causing panic attacks. This can only mean one thing; I'm back in Blogspace.

Since my phone died abruptly on me on Monday, I had a surprisingly quiet week. I couldn't blog without email, and suddenly I had nothing to blog. Whole conversations would go by without a single non-sequituir, and even my sleeping started to get back to normal.

On Wednesday I finally managed to restore my phone, and innocently went to the video shop to rent Shawn of the Dead. Stepping out of the door, a crowd of feral teenagers were having an argument, when the one in the white baseball cap threw his can of lager on the floor, causing it to explode over the girl opposite. There was a similar crowd laying waste to a phone box, and another stocking up on valuable carbohydrates outside McDonalds. I tried to disappear into my coat and pretend to be invisible, when the annoyingly catchy drumbeat I had as a ringtone echoed out. White baseball caps raised slightly, and my caller sounded mildly agitated.

"They're absolutely massive. There's four of them floating in the sink, and I sucked another three up in the hoover and now I'm afraid to turn it off."

"Spiders, right?"

"Yes, spiders! They're about the size of my palm, and they're everywhere. You didn't believe me today when I said how scared I was, but can you hear it in my voice?"

"Well, you sound a bit scared."

"I'm terrified. They're eveywhere."

After recommending some simple defensive precautions against spider plagues, a car nonchalantly mounted the pavement and narrowly missed me and the crowd of rat boys behind me. Suddenly, Shawn of the Dead didn't seem so weird.

I blame the blog. Does that mean weird stuff didn't happen before I got one?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Gates of hell

I've been trying very hard not to jump out of the window.

It's not that I'm depressed. I just feel like doing something really spontaneous and a bit dangerous. I only live on the first floor. Maybe it's just as well I don't have access to a vehicle at the minute.

It wasn't so much the failing the driving test. Although the huge credit card bill is starting to eat away at me. I'd rather stupidly scheduled the test for 9.37am. *Every* time I have an important morning appointment, this thought process goes ahead, and it tends to open the gates of hell. It's this:

"I need to make sure I've gone to bed by 12."

Consequently, I get anxious that I might just not get to sleep in time to have a decent night's sleep, therefore jinxing my chances of succeeding. And once I've thought that, I never get to sleep.

Sometimes it's frustration or 3am paranoia. This time it was one of those darkly introspective, annoying nights when I can't help but lie away and be, well, darkly introspective. Last night I also took loads of pictures of clocks.

Either way, I feel a little unsettled at the minute. And, to be honest, I'm wishing I'd never started this driving shit to begin with. I was hoping the days of accumulating intolerable and ultimately pointless debt were over.

Like I say, I think this test business unsettled me more than I was expecting. It's what Glinty calls a very mental health look.

Maybe I should smash some bottles instead.

How I learnt to stop worrying and love the bus

I had a feeling I'd failed my driving test when I heard a horn behind me.

I was perfectly aware that tired, paranoid and jumpy was not a good combination behind the wheel, and I'd put that down as the cause of my Serious Error. And, as the examiner pointed out, the car behind nearly hit us.

Have not been sleeping well this week, and an early morning driving test didn't help. Had one of those deeply introspective sleepless nights I hate the most, culminating in what be kindly be called a restless state.

It's not the fact that I failed that's getting to me, it's the fact that 700 pounds later I have no money left, and my enthusiasm for driving evaporated when the job I was learning to drive for failed to materialise. And yet again l find myself in Concorde Fallacy (google it) and am in danger again of putting a lot of time and effort into something with nothing to show for it. And it's not as if I can even afford a car.

I'm sure I'll get some enthusiam back - but I'm going to need a plan B. But I miss the days when I just abstained from the roads.

At least I might get some sleep on the bus.