Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tales From The Ward

This tale was told me once by the reincarnation of Errol Flynn in a ward in which I was not a patient.

Errol: Don’t slouch, Problem, Boadicea would never have slouched.

Me: Look, I don’t think I’m Boudica, OK?  And don’t use the language of the Oppressor.  She’s Boudica, got it?  Not that sissy Romanized appellate.  Besides, that whole warrior queen thing was only for a day, like – not even a whole day.  As soon as I had impaled Nurse Seezer on the drip stand with the blood-curdling yell of freedon for the Iceni, I came right to!  I was able to calmly assess the difference between right and wrong and, as the filthy Roman, Nurse Seezer melodically bubbled blood from her windpipe, I also had the capacity to realize that maybe this was one of these non-right times.  I calmed right down after that and thus it was with noble resignation and a defiant chin that I raised my vein for the swimmy swimmy shot I knew must come.  History is against me and my tribe, after all.  I know my part.

Errol:  Anyway, you couldn’t be Boudica, your breasts aren’t big enough.  Her’s were mighty and pointy*, almost like Madonna’s.

Me: Sputter!  That’s an inappropriately personal remark, Errol! Another of these and I’m telling the doc. and
that’ll set back your release another week at least.  Anyway, you call that scrappy little line of polarized iron filings a Flynnian moustache?  It looks like your top lip is perforated for easy detachment or something.  Like a teabag.  How come you’re back in here anyway, Errol?

Errol (eyes narrowing in recollection) : It was a snowy day just after Christmas and I had nowhere I had to be. Inside its sheath, my bendy fencing sword shivered, imploring me to use him in the cause of Justice.  I walked and walked and then I took to lurking.  Outside a large house on the hill, I lurked in the shadows, buckles clanking against my epee, swashes moist with anticipation.  I twirled my moustache as I lowered the brim of my black Spanish hat over my keen eyes and sneered as I surveyed the pleasant scene inside the room.  What I saw enraged me.  Men in new Pringle sweaters were standing pleasantly with their also pleasant wives, all dressed in the bright colours of the season. But I knew the cost of all that smart-casual.  High in the hills of Pakistan, thousands of cashmere goats were shivering their way through a brutal winter just so richos like this could stand around and laugh as they spilt sherry on their stolen fleeces, dyed and criminally knitted out of all recognition.

Me:  That’s terrible, Errol!  I know your fondness for the goat. I bet your blood was boiling!  What happened
next?

Errol:  There was a blur, and that blur was me as I flew through the air at the patio windows expecting to crash through in a glorious hail of glass and wood trim.

Me:  Cool!

Errol:  Wait Problem, wait.  I’m not finished. Although, yes, I was very cool indeed, the upper-middle class bastards had only gone and gotten reinforced non-scratch perspex for their windows, hadn’t they?  Picking myself up off the patio bricks I heard the crunch of my elbow, and the bitter tinkle of silver plate and laughter continuing uninterrupted from inside, made me taste bitter gall and shattered mercury amalgam in my mouth.

Me:  Bloody window fixtures to fit your lifestyle!

Errol:  Then I saw all too clearly what I must do. Clutching my useless elbow and whimpering manfully, I mounted the slippery roof of the house, via their wheelie-bins.  Scaling the slippery roof to the chimney, the orchestra, my orchestra, started up, urging me on and on with Excitement Music.  In non-jarring backing-tracks I could hear the far off plaintive bleating of the cold and terrified goats. Jeeringly unconcerned about soot on my clothing because heroes don’t worry about things like that and besides i was all in black anyway, I didn’t hesitate as I leapt down the chimney in a single panther-like bound.

Me:  You sure are brave Errol.  People might criticize your hammy acting and your questionable personal life, but nobody could say you’re not one brave s.o.b.

Errol:  Well the cashmere-sweatered party were sure surprised to see me land in their fireplace, I can tell you.  Many of them said some of the more polite swear words like “Damn!” or “What the hell…?”  It was only the vicar who screamed “Holy fucking shite!” over and over, before sucking his thumb and pressing his head to the hostess’s bosom for maternal comfort and some light stroking.

Who are you?  What do you mean by leaping down our chimney like this?” said a man with a crap moustache, which rather pathetically affected that of Tom Selleck, I thought. Well, as you know, Problem, I am a hero of few words.  I prefer to let my actions speak.  Therefore I trusted my audience to know that when I slashed furiously and Zorro-like at their sweaters I did not mean to hurt them!  I was just making a timely political point about goat-cruelty.  In my passion I might have blurted out “How could you, you beasts?” a few times, it’s true; and yes, I expect a few tears did fall down my sooty cheeks.  All the work I’ve been doing with the doctor, has left me no longer afraid to express my emotions. I know now that crying doesn’t make me less of a man.

Me: Errol…I don’t know what to say…

Errol: Suddenly I noticed the orchestra music had stopped.  Why? I looked up from the floor where I was now lying curled-up; hugging my knees and a fragment of slashed jumper; softly yodelling the high, lonely Song Of The Goatherd.  I wondered who all these people were and why were they staring at me?  Confusion, cursed, poisoning confusion rushed my senses and it was at that point that the cowardly vicar hit me from behind with the candlestick.

Who knows how long I was out. As I came to, a small child dressed all in white was crouched beside me looking at me.  “I guess I messed up the party pretty bad, didn’t I, little girl?”  “Yes.” she said softly. “Yes you did“.  “I expect you think I’m a bad man, don’t you?” I said. “Well, you did eat the head off my teddy-bear,”  she said.  “That was a mistake, little girl,” I said shaking my head sadly.  “That was a terrible mistake.  but I am Errol Flynn, Hero, and I always admit my mistakes.  Remember this night always, child.  Remember the dark stranger with the fantastic moustache who taught you always to admit when you’ve done wrong.

And then the ambulance and police and the firemen arrived to put out the fire I’d set under the arrangement of snow-globes.

Me:  You know, Errol.  You’re not so bad.  I bet that little girl won’t forget the lessons of that night. Oh wouldn’t be great if every breed of sheep and goat bred not for their personalities, but only for their fleeces and cruel men’s gain, had a champion like you?  A true legend on their side?

Errol:  Well to be fair, Robin Hood over there by Calligula, has Angoras covered but you’re right. Wrongs need to be righted and we each need to pick our wrongs-that-need-to-be-righted carefully and according to our own passions. We can’t go at it all half-assed and 50p-in-the-collecting-tin about it.  The world’s a crazy place after all.

And with that, Errol lapsed back into his habitual silence, twirled his moustache and sucked his big toe thoughtfully.

*Contemporary accounts prove that Boudica’s breasts were only apocryphally pointy.  The popular but mistaken belief resulted from the mosaicist-of-record at the time only having triangular tiles left when he came to do her boobs, which, because he’d been away from his wife on campaign for the previous three years, he’d left ’til last to tesselate.

The Biological Week In Review

Sensitive persons might want to look away.

The Biological Week In Review.

Look, I know it’s only Thursday, and it’s a bit early for a biological recounting of the week, but, I’m hoping tomorrow’s going to be a bit more theoretical.

  • 1 tooth  – lost
  • 6 nostrils – plugged
  • 20 fingernails – cut
  • 30 toenails trimmed
  • the contents of one human stomach – heaved
  • the contents of one feline stomach – heaved x 3
  • one eye held up close to the light – peered at
  • one eyelash – removed
  • one finger – squashed
  • many screams – scrummed
  • 32 ablutions – performed
  • 3 foreheads fevered
  • one cervix cotton-budded
  • one growing leg – nocturnally pained
  • one mole – fretted over
  • one – paw stood on
  • much excrement – scooped
  • 18 feelings – hurt
  • little sleep -had.

*

*News flash! My pal Eolai has put a cool painting of his up for auction on ebay.  Shipping is free worldwide and 100% of the proceeds will go to  St. Patrick’s Hospital And Marymount Hospice and Rape Crisis Network Ireland. Go see! I’ve bought a few of Eolai’s paintings and I love them.  He’s a wonderful artist whose work is vibrant yet controlled; he makes Ireland look like it’s thrumming. *

Send Grade-A Pity! Save A Housewife Today!

For Lent this year I’ve been thinking of giving up leaning.  I’m also giving up having a filthy, horrible cur of a cold but I haven’t made a very good start at it.

“Half the town is down with it!” so they say. The other half, smugly, isn’t.  The problem children and I are in the woebegotten half of town, on the wrong sides of the tracks of pestilence.  The girls got it a week ahead of me and are getting over it now, but my head still leaks, a jaggedy bit of serrated virus is trying to saw my uvula off, and some sort of an iron giant appears to have his boot on my chest. I don’t like any of that stuff.

All I can do is lie around groaning, pasty and noodle-limp, in a foetal position, like an overcooked macaroni elbow.  Please send your best pity immediately.  And grapes.  I probably should be eating grapes or something.  They’re a good fruit in a tragedy.

Anyway, I’ll be waiting wanly but bravely by the casement window, sneezing softly, my hands, now lying limply in my lap, now, fluttering delicately to the lace at my throat; waiting, waiting for all the lovely, lovely pity you’re going to send me in trendy stationary the colours of jewels.

I feel my voice fading now…I grow weak again…it is all I can do to whine and moan…farewell…farewell…achoo…farewell…

Going To The Zoo

The chidders are on vacation for a week so we are going down to San Diego for a few days, to the zoo and Sea World and stuff like that.

Yesterday, I told the girls that,  if they weren’t on their best not-running-away behaviour in the zoo park, we would feed them to the hippos. I said this in a loving way – there was really no need for the authorities to have become involved. The tear-gas was just uncalled for, and I told them last time that I need hypo-allergenic handcuffs, otherwise I come out in a terrible rash, forcing me to sue them again, which I hate having to do.  One is forced to ask the question: is having a Child Protection Agency really the best use of our tax dollars?

Anyway, this morning I had a conversation with ProblemChild 2 about what clothes to pack.

Me: Have you chosen some t-shirts to take with us?

PC2: I want to take the blue iceberg one.

Me: But you just put that out for washing last night.   Why don’t you take your green one?

PC2: No, mummy! I’ll look like lettuce and it might make an animal try to eat me.

Me: (laughs) Ah, sweetie-pie, just stay close to us and you’ll be fine.  There’s nothing going to eat you, I promise.  The animals can’t get out.

PC2 (Looks at me, clearly uncertain.)

Me:  We were only kidding about the hippos, you know.

PC2 (Looks at me as if she’s never been entirely sure about me)

Friends, I am now experiencing a rare moment of self-doubt.  Does such a look signify a maternal failure? Or should I continue with my current parental theory of Keeping Them On Their Toes?

The Lamentable Tale Of Wrigley Bland

CAVEAT LECTOR:  If you are offended by mild to moderate rude lewdness and/or The Bishop of Bath, please abandon your reading of this post.

Wrigley Bland lived a short but interesting life that is worth chronicling becasue his was a cautionary tale, but one only to be told in whispered hushes around the fireside on windy nights.  You have to whisper in case your mammy hears you and boxes your deserving ears, because, you see, Wrigley Bland was a Very Rude Man.

This was a man who was so rude he was born on the 6th of September, 1969, a date that made even God blush when an embarrassed Gabriel explained to Him. From the start, Wrigley Bland was a … a fiddler of things.  As he grew, this only got worse, or better, depending on whether or not you were Wrigley. At 6 he was expelled from Primary School for doing a potato print in the shape of something very rude indeed.

At 13, pimpley and portly, he was expelled from Seconday school for a series of rather thoughtfully composed photos he had taken, over several months, of his thick-ankled headmistress and the Sean Beany school janitor as they conducted their regular nude Tuesday afternoon meetings about corridor maintenance.

School officials agreed that the photos were really technically very good, especially when one considered the
difficult conditions under which they were taken: standing on a dustbin, with a long angle lens trained through a frayed patch in the closed office blinds, leading to all sorts of problems with exposure and lighting.  For this reason they recommended Wrigley Bland be sent, not to Borstal, but to a School For Gifted Young Perverts, for rehabilitation through the arts.  Besides, quite apart from the photos, and the repeated incidents in the gym and the canteen and the physics lab and the sports field and the toilets and the library and underneath the stage, he was thought to be “really a very nice boy” whom everybody wanted to see do well in life.

Most of these schools for young perverts are located around Aberdeen, for obvious reasons, and so  Wrigley found himself packed off on the train with a note from his mother pinned on to his duffel coat, the contents of which included the words “jubilee teaspoons”, “salmon en croute,” “The Complete Works of A.A. Milne”, “never, ever ever” and “if you’re smart.”

Wrigley found boarding school-life difficult.  Regular counseling sessions taught him he was a bad and wicked boy, and, while he never really believed that, it did leave its mark on him.  From thereon in, he would assume a far more furtive role in his mild-to-moderate rude activities, operating only at night, and using a system of rotating wellie-boots to confuse the police about the footprints they found in area flower-beds.  Most of all, what the School for Gifted Young Perverts gave him was a very thorough schooling in Sneakiness and a child he would never know of, with Mrs. McCuish the 5th Form Pervert Counselor.

After school, there was university and a degree in Divinity, where it was much easier to pass off his obsession with sex as the mere exuberance of a youthful young priest.  This was the happiest time in young Bland’s life, despite having to deal with all the God stuff which he just didn’t buy at all. Surrounded by the similarly giggly, he could drink all the Bristol Sherry he wanted, and enjoy long relaxing evenings of saying words like “thigh” and “autoerotic-asphyxiation” with his friends, after a tense day of bible study.

Wrigley Bland, met his death, one early grey morning in his 4th year of uni. It was one of these stupid accidents, these things that make you scratch your head and hold your loved ones close as you contemplate the randomness of Fate, as cold violent and unfathomable as the universe.

Wrigley was out on his bicycle getting some early morning perving in.  He had stolen three substantial pairs of knickers, a bra with daisies on, and some sort of spiked rubber harness from the washing-line in the garden of a well-known upper-level Tory who has paid me handsomely to keep his name out of this.  On his way back to his student digs, he decided to cut across the park, admire the statuary and take some brass rubbings of the angel’s boobs to enjoy later, between Holy Mary, Mother Of God Studies and lunch.

The park at that hour was deserted, apart from the rustle a few local councilmen and woman enjoying brief leafy flings in the undergrowth before getting back into their estate cars and off to assume the mantle of municiple concern for the day.  And look!  There was the bishop of Bath up early and giving…what looked like…alms – yes alms, to an urchin!  God bless him!

Spotting a marble angel with a really good rack, Wrigley Bland dismounted his bike and approached her, clutching his brass rubbing supplies in excitment.  Looking around him furtively, he climbed the statue’s plinth,  giving that a quick rub on his way. (Because, if you’re a pervert, you can’t really not take a brass rubbing of something called a plinth, can you?)  Then, clutching at a boob for balance, he hauled himself up til his eyes were level with the statue’s cleavage.

Overhead, Wrigley completely failed to notice the naked nun and that was too bad, because she was to be the naked nun of his doom.  Her name was Sister Agatha Thaddeus, and she was fond of climbing trees in the nude.   She liked the feel of the bark against her thighs as she straddled a thick limb, feeling the sap and life of it flowing right between her legs. Her friends, Sisters Constance and Effie, were off straddling poplar limbs in another part of the park, but this morning Sister Agatha had fancied a nice bit of oak.

Sister Agatha was a larger Sister, and and intrepid one too.  Farther and farther out on the branch she ventured, huffing and puffing and enjoying nature.  Suddenly, the branch beneath her round, pink flesh snapped!  Down she fell!  Down, down onto the statue below, where Wrigley had just started his brass-rubbing…

He never knew anything about it. 300lbs of falling Sister Agatha was no match for mere solid marble, and the statue, breaking off at the ankles, toppled slowly forward, as Wrigley Bland held onto her waist and prepared to meet his Maker.

The cause of death was listed as “trauma to the head with a blunt object”, but this was misleading because the statue had an unusually pronounced left nipple and it was this that had pierced Wrigley ‘s skull. The Divinity College did their best to distance themselves from the incident and so Wrigley Bland’s funeral was
sparsely attended.

Sister Agatha, suffering no more than a few bruises, declared her survival a miracle and went on the breakfast television circuit.  There, her talent for contralto singing was noticed and she gave up nunhood for a life in Parisian burlesque.

*

If you’re looking for a moral to this story, then I’m afraid you shall have to find it yourself.  Me? I merely presentthe facts; I just record life as it really, truly happens.   And if any of you should doubt the veracity of my tale, I shan’t mind, no not at all.  But I’ll know. I’ll know who the doubters are.

Eyebrow

I have a friend who made a new Year’s Resolution to master the art of raising one eyebrow.  I value loyalty and discretion amongst my friends above all other things, except money, obviously, so let’s call this friend, who is in no way me, Sally.

RESOLUTE

“Sally” has been taking her resolution very seriously.  She knows the value of a disciplined training regime. In
her quest for amused superiority, she rises before dawn and takes her eyebrow running round the park.  On a
typical day she will do a good three miles and as she does them, she flexes her glabellar muscles vigourously. At this point in the training she doesn’t know which eyebrow will look most archly devastating when raised, so, for this early part of the day’s training, she’s working on muscle development in both.  I think this is a good call and on many occasions have said to her “Good call” even on those days it wasn’t.  I really feel a sensitive support-network is crucial for her at this stage.

Admittedly, it makes for a curious sight, a 30-something woman jogging around, her expression oscillating
floridly between classic mild runner’s resignation and apparent sudden astonishment at dustbins and squirrels and other wholly unastonishing things.  This is why she trains so early, before many people are about. In the past, lunchtime jogs have left her tearful, and really quite dismayed by rude comments thrown at her by her fellow recreators.

“Ahooohooahhoo ahoo ahhoooohoo”  She often sobs. And remembers every slight and slur.  Some have been barbarous in the extreme.

“I never even knew that was possible with a stiff, wire brush!”, I recall her remarking to me, once, in quite genuine wonderment, about a particularly unseemly suggestion lobbed by an uncouth sort of fellow.  There were not tears about that one though; she was more intellectually curious about it than shocked, as I remember.  Her voice was very high and quiet.

Anyway, back from her workout, Sally showers, massages her glabellar region with stinky oils, recommended to her as “real professional-performance grade” and “highly illegal” by her friend, “Bill”, from the online eyebrow chat forum in which she often passes her evenings.

Next, she will usually breakfast on a lean protein item and some complex carbohydrates, from time to time
startling at the increasingly nervous cat the better to glabellarly tone.  Off-schedule exercises are not mandated but she really is committed.

THE CARROT AND STICK AND FISHING-LINE APPROACH

After breakfast, the training begins in earnest.  Sally favours a carrot and stick and fishing-line approach with her eyebrows, although other individuals will find other techniques are better for theirs.  It depends on the eyebrow, its age, haircount, willingness to try new things etc.  Sitting in front of a wall-size mirror, Sally’s eyebrows are given a pep talk.  She tells them they can do it, they really can, if only they believe in themselves.  This is America, she tells them, anythingis possible with hard work and a can-do attitude!  She urges them to dream big and reach for the stars.  At this point, if she feel her eyebrow is skeptical, she may show a video of Lance Armstrong or a particularly encouraging episode of Barney, who “really possesses a lot of life-wisdom if you know how to listen” (Bill) . This is THE CARROT part.

However, on some not-so-good days – and doesn’t the questionably good Lord know we all have those – she might fall to her knees and stroke her eyebrows cajollingly, pleading either one of them to rise independently, just this once, please!  One eyebrow, hairier than its fellow, responds to this stroking a little better than the other, and some raising does indeed take place.  Sally was once told by a seaside psychic that that eyebrow had a strong masculine aura, so this doesn’t surprise her but – ever hard on herself ho ho – she doesn’t count this as an actual bona fide eyebrow raise.  At this point, wretched with shame at her lack of control with the stroking business, Sally, has often contemplating shaving her eyebrows right off and giving up, ending her battle.  But someone once told her she had nice ones, and some small foolish vanity has never allowed her to go through with it because they said her eyebrows were nice too.

THE STICK is an actual stick, with which she beats herself about eyebrows if she suspects they are not trying hard enough. It’s quite tiny but it really smarts when thwacked by someone who means it. There is also a little whip, I’m told, but it rarely used; she is not a monster.  She mentions it quite a lot though, just to keep these eyebrows on their hairy little toes.

THE FISHING-LINE approach consists mainly of hooking a fishing-line to the eyebrow and jerking it in an upward motion.  This imprints a “muscle memory” according to Bill, and Sally trusts his advice implicitly – he has been in the Unibrowular-Lifting Training Program now, longer than anyone she knows, and has amassed a wealth of knowledge, despite not ever actually managing to raise just the one eyebrow.

A variation on this is the weighted eyebrow lift, where the fishing line is attached to a series of small lead weights and the eyebrow works to lift them; but that method is only really for actors, body-builders and the professionally supercilious.  It is not advised for amateurs.

STAPLED

After a hard morning at it, Sally changes and readies herself for her part-time job as a basic-cable, viewer-send-in video-bloopers television show host.  She was given the job despite her lack of formal eyebrow qualifications because she was sleeping with the producer at the time. That producer was later found slain in his car with the note “You shan’t have her, she’s mine!” stapled to his forehead.  Investigators were led, via a fallen pair of used tweezers, back to “Bill” from eyebrow-group and he was questioned at length, but in Bill’s own triumphant words “They couldn’t get me for nuffing!” Even though nobody had accused him of nuffing anybody.

Anyway, the long and the less-long of it is that the new producer is demanding that Sally be able to raise one eyebrow or she will be thrown off the show. So you can see then, why she is so keen to acquire her eyebrow-raising skills as soon as she can.  If she loses this show it is going to be a major setback in working up to being a MSNBC news analyst.  It is Sally’s dream to one day replace Wall-Street whizzkid and famous beauty, Maria Bartiromo, as television’s most popular “Honey On the Money” or “Econobabe.”

DROPPED SCONES

And so, at the end of a busy day, Sally, her head swimming with theory, her eyebrows often aching, ignores Bill’s on average 14 texts with great new training ideas, and finally sinks into her bed.  But there is no rest for poor Sally even now. Before she can sleep, she studies publicity shots of her idol, Roger Moore for his breathtaking artistry and sheer technical virtuosity.  A small sigh will often escape as she contemplates the poetry of his rising arch, the profundity of his downward sweep.  He is a Unilevitus Glabellar God.  He is her Unilevitus Glabellar God. O to be born with such a gift!

LOVELY HAIR

Sally might weep hysterically a little at her own facial ineptitude before she sleeps, rending her sheets and tearing at her lovely hair, but let’s leave her there, shall we, friends?  Trying to comfort her now would only lead to her screaming and continued distress over strangers off the internet seeing her in her nightie.

I leave you too then, gentle blogging types, with this question: for what goal would you sacrifice your mental health?  And what goal would you sacrifice someone else’s for?  (If you are now, or have ever worked at either Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, please do not respond to that last one. Also, if you are called Candy or Biff, it might be better if you don’t answer either.)

Transferring domains

Back soon!

It’s involved and time-consuming and frustrating and execrable and headacheable.   I’m in stage 3/4 of the process but now I’m stuck again.  If the site goes off that’ll be why.  Waily waily!  I’m hoping just dogged determination and a bit of teacup smashing will be all there is to it, but I fear I might need an IT meerkle, peeps! (like a miracle, but more freckled and Midwestern).

Wish me luck as the cabin door breaches on problemchildbride and I am sucked into the outer ether to float eerily forever, like one of these motes you get in your eye when you’re in your 30s, that never, ever go away. Nobody hears the plaintive cries of these motes either.

Living Life Expletively

You know when life wallops you in the soft parts of your head and turns things upside down leaving little room in your bonce for anything else – and then here comes Thanksgiving and what now?  – it’s Christmas? – and crikey Mikey, I haven’t blogged for a whole spletiving* month?

Well that isn’t at all what happened to me.  What happened was that I ate a dodgy kumquat one day and fell into an hallucogenic stupor where I believed fully – and with some effing dismay – in an elaborate storyline with plot points including, but not limited to: arson, love, hate and winter heating allowance; roof slates, insanity and uneven bites.  Now, on this day of Festivus, I have woken up and realized it was all just a crazy dream.  Whether it happened or not is beside the point – I don’t have to believe in it.  In fact, I don’t. Believe it, I mean.  Instead I believe that:

1. Eating broccoli makes me strong and thoughtful

2. And that love is real.

And that’s it.  The rest I’m not sure about, but that’s OK.
There are questions though, many questions at this time of year.  Come, all ye faithful, I mean really, come on!  And when you’re on, Come off it!  Whether or not you believe in the Christmas story surely you must concede God can’t be wild about how we choose to spend it consuming and consuming and, “oh, go on then” consuming a bit more like demented flocks of reward-points-earning, store-credit-having, remortgage-lamenting, stomach-ulcer-developing, wild-eyed, murderously store-employee-trampling ovines?

Problemchild 1 took the baby Jesus out of his manger the other day and replaced him with a bit of ceramic Nessie who was coming from the East bearing gift vouchers for the new king.  Then she ran around warbling “Nessie in the manger, no crib for a bed…” for about half an hour longer than was strictly funny.  (She gets that from me) But the point was well taken.  We might as well have Nessie be part of the Christmas as much as anything else. Get Scottish tourism in on the cash-deer.  Why the bloody-nosed not? All our traditions are such strange amalgams of customs old and new:  Santa only wears red and white because some adman at Coca Colaearly last century wasn’t so keen on the blue and white;  How the virgin birth of the son of a jealous desert God ever came to be associated with an antlered ungulate from Northern climes with an angry nose infection, is a story more convoluted as the one that links cocoa beans from the tropics, bunnies and eggs with the hammering of a man to a cross far back in sand-swirly time in an rocky, unpromising land that people will fight savagely over for millennia. ….And breathe…

I’m not really that wild about it.  ‘Scuse my dramatic breathiness. I can’t even get worked up about the mass massive stupidity any more. We all know this stuff, we all think it every year and we all keep right on with the silly things we believe, emotional creatures that we are.  So do I. I love Christmas, I buy right into the tree and the lights and the ridiculous paper hats that add a tragicomic aspect to the Christmas Day family bust-up on Eastenders.  And I do think there are millions of deeply good people who embody the Christmas spirit – which is a bloody good idea after all – be nice to your neighbour. Still, it’s all a bit mad.  Why can’t we be gooder all the year long?  It’s hard, isn’t it?  Being good an’ that.

I’ve missed the bloggy life.  If I don’t get around to see y’all in the next few days, please don’t be taking it personal, like.  I visit people only as Lord Time allows, randomly, without rhyme nor a smidge of reason.  Except for fatmammycat and Pat.  They rhyme.

Also, here is a book you might like to buy. It’s called Homepages and I’m in it but you should buy it anyway.

Love to you this Christmas, blogchums; love and pie.

*My pletives aren’t ex; they are very current and uttered full-throatedly in the moment.

Cindy

Cindy Woods is my friend.  She is a remarkable woman and a gifted artist.  Beloved Cindy is in hospice care, her battle with cancer lost.  Knowing her has been a revelation, a surprise, a delight and an education.  Her unwavering gaze at the difficult things of life and her incredible line-drawings and sketches have made an enormous impression on me.  She is a sweet, brave, amazing woman whose life is drawn out on her blog and on her Flickr site.  I cannot recommend a visit to her site enough.  She has touched me profoundly and I feel strongly that her’s is a talent and a spirit that needs to be broadcast far and wide.  If you follow these links you will see what I mean.

That Was The Week That Was

Well, that was a pretty big week, as they go.  For me anyway.

That was the week I became a citizen.  I could practically feel my teeth straightening out and becoming dazzling as I took the oath.

The week I early voted, grinning like a buffoon at the bored clerk handing me my “I Voted!” sticker.

The week I went to Washington as a shiny, new-minted citizen and saw the Lincoln Memorial. And on a beautiful day, in the alcove off to the side, I read the words on the wall.   I leaned back against a huge marble pillar and felt the massive weight of history and people and ideas at my back.  My fingers ran along the grooves cut into the marble and it felt very, very cold.   I ground the back of my head into the chill and spent a little while with the old story and the cold dead giant at my back.

Noise was behind me, all kinds of people having their photos taken with Lincoln and talking in low reverent, cathedral voices. And it was the best way, a way I never imagined, to feel that behind the chilly pillar and the sculptor’s art and the reverence, the ideas were still warm and living and alive in the people who had come to look at him. I went back out into the main part of the monument and looked at collossal Lincoln gazing down the mall, beyond Washington’s imposing blaze; the steady gaze of history into the future, and it was calming.  I  thought that Lincoln’s wise, tired, grave eyes saw Barack Obama, were fixed on him, entrusting him to take back the big ideas and by leading through them, give them back to all of us.

This fanciful stuff might just come from being a new American,I don’t know.  It might be the feeling that we’re on the brink of great change and an historical election. It might be wishful thinking for another great leader and the tantalizing possibility that we might finally have one again.  But it wasn’t just me, there were many people there that day and they were all there to get up close to the beautiful ideas again. Or even if they’d just come to sightsee, like us, none of us could fail to be moved into pondering them. You could see it on their faces.  It is a very powerful monument. And on the brink of this historical election I really, truly think a lot of people are hungry to live the great ideas and be led by a man who will animate them again.

I did that day anyway.  No doubt, my customary news-fuelled, quotidian cynicism will curl and moulder the edges of that feeling soon enough but if it lasts through next Tuesday and we have a President Obama, then I think the optimism has a chance of continuing. And we will make the sacrifices we need to to get the country back on track. What’s more we will want to make them because that’s what great leaders inspire.

It was also the week I met some wonderful, wonderful people in DC but missed a lesbian transgendered wedding with my darling pal, Dev.

It was the week we went solar here at our house in Ojai.  Bit nervous about the expenditure but it seems to make long-term economic sense and will cut our leccy bills by 1/2 to 2/3. The energy savings will be equivalent to the energy two cars burn in a year – regular, movee aboutee cars, even, not just parked ones. Besides there’s a rather soopah government rebate towards almost half the cost down.  That’s jolly nice.

And it was the week I, Doofus-Woman, fell spectacularly on my arse down the hotel stairs in front of people who said Oooh! and Geez! as they watched. The autumn leaves have nothing on the rate my bum is turning colours.  My own personal fall colours. Boo.

But also, Boo!  Happy Halloween, chums!  I’m just getting back into the way of things and will be round catching up on y’all damn near directly.  Seeya out there!

Song Of The Damned

If you were to hear The Song Of The Damned, not long after you’d probably find yourself in quite a bit of trouble, right?  It’s standard for woe to betide you when you hear unearthly wails and everybody knows it.

But what if you don’t find yourself in quite a bit of trouble?  What if you genuinely – without a doubt – sure as Cindy McCain is attracted to a bold palette for her Fall wardrobe – heard the Song Of The Damned…but nothing bad happened?  What if for weeks, years, decades passed and things actually went surprisingly well?  Would you live large, feeling you had cheated Fate and slipped by somehow, or would you live every hour in dread of what you know must surely come?

Well that’s exactly the dilemma of a friend of mine. His name’s not important but it’s Douglas.  Douglases were once much more important. For example, there was: Douglas MacArthur; Frederick Douglass; Douglas Adams; one Douglas even had a fir named after him, so important were Douglases in the olden days.  These days you’re hard pressed to find a Douglas more important than this one. That is why Douglas’s name is not important.

So, Douglas is minding his own business one lonely night, compiling a list of all the foods, in descending order, that he’d prefer the circa 1979 Margaret Thatcher to lick off his naked body,  when, all of a sudden, he hears the Song Of The Damned!  Just like that!  He says he can’t really describe it but you definitely know it when it hits you, kind of like love and the odor of a “Natural Choice“-fed labrador’s fart.  The best he could say was that it sounded a bit like Kate Bush’s voice carried on a storm-force, terrified-seagull-filled gale, if Kate Bush kept turning into a snarling beast every other minute.  With an upbeat Bluegrass tempo and occasional virtuoso triangle solos.  It seemed to be coming from the fridge.

Well, Douglas, he got a bit of a start, allright.  It’s not every day etc. etc.  But it’s been 17 years now since that night and poor Douglas is still haunted by what Fate might have in store for him. When will the demons come? he wonders.  How will I tell that they’re not the nice Jehovah’s Witness couple from round the road?  He cowers by hedges and trembles when he has to interact with other people.  He can’t look them in the eye for the pants-pooing fear of seeing no pupils there. He probably would have been like that anyway because he is, after all, the kind of man to compile a list, in descending order, of what foodstuffs he would like the circa 1979 Margaret Thatcher to lick off his naked body.  (Dream Topping narrowly beat Miracle Whip on account of its lower heat-transfer coefficient.) But I think it’s got worse since the whole Song Of The Damned business.

What would you do?  How would you live your life after hearing the Song Of the Damned?  The Terrible Tune? The Unholy Unharmony?  That most Diabolical of Dirgey Ditties?  What would you do?

And She’ll Have Fun Fun Fun Til The Govt. Takes Her Money Away

The lovely Annie came to town this weekend.  For those who don’t know her she’s a gem of a blogger who has embarked upon a mighty Murkin Adventure.  Ojai wasn’t the mighty part of it obviously and there’s not a whole lot of adventure going down here, but Murkin we is, gin we had and it was good to see her intrepid, fabulously-booted self and her pal, polyglottal, all-knitting, all-sewing, all-round great guy, Wies.

Great big fat busy week ahead, but good fun busy, and the healthy kind of fat.

I’m going to my citizenship ceremony which is called “naturalization” here! Unnatural and suspicious no more!
Then I’m going to Washington to meet arty types! Bloggers who sketch, paint, photo-take and hunt gargoyles.
Then I’m going to meet up again with my lovely, lovely friend, Devin!

Then I’m coming home for a bit of a lie down.

And soon it will be November 4th.  And something great might happen that day.

How Things Rolled

In the beginning the gods spoke in yellow and black thunderbolts, the shape of exclamation marks. The utterances were guttural and absolute.  But even the gods can make a mistake. Sometimes, one of the rookie undergods would misjudge a thunderbolt and it would hit the earth too hard, bending and bouncing back like a question-mark.

This is what happened when a young, intern god, fresh out of god polytechnic and working on Mammals Of The Australian Subcontinent, accidentally created the duck-billed platypus.  “?” resounded the platypus into the earthly realm, and all who saw it wondered.

There were red-faces all around at Celestine College – the Harvard of god universities – when one of their graduates threw a thunderbolt so badly it bounced into the world of men, ricocheting off some hard-nosed pastors and contorted into a shape roughly resembling the word F*%k! They called this creation a “Sarah Palin” and, after a few strings were pulled, it was decided that they would pack her quietly off to Alaska and the matter would be forgotten.

Her creator,the blundering, cocky young god, Hubristrus, was given the job of designing what would become known collectively The Financial Instruments Of Wall Street.  (While the gods love to be known for operating in the decisive active voice, of course, all the really important decisions are carried out in the passive voice by some unnamed and therefore blameless agent: mistakes were made; Hubristrus was given a job; religion was invented. The Committee for More Transparent Godding has made no headway against the Passive Voice in its whole 7 trillion years of existence.) But Hubristrus had never really studied much at Celestine, and his thunderbolts, always thrown much too hard, were tortuously twisty, loop-holed and hideously convoluted. As we know.

Anyway, Hubristrus did very well and retired super-early to The Hallows which is a bit like the Hamptons but, you know, a lot more marvellous, obviously. Better roads. And of course there are colourful local angels, who’re like super quaint and authentic and everything but never smelly or offensive.

A few months ago, however, Hubristrus, was out strolling in his Hallowed garden, idly pulling the wings off fairies and just enjoying Eternity, when a Postangel named Pete flew by with a brown, official-looking envelope. Doffing his halo in charming Olde Heavene deference, the  fellow winked, “Looks loike ‘at could be roight impawrtant, yer Smashingness!” (He winked this in a West Country English accent.)  “Ah well, Oi cahn’t be lingering, gorra get bahck t’the missus, keep them roses in ‘er cheeks, loike, hohoho!” And with an earthy, rustic wink he headed back towards town.

Hubristrus, because of his name, dismissed the mildly annoying old angel from his mind almost immediately, and the envelope too because brown was not pleasing to him that day.  In fact, it was only Sunday morning just past that he remembered it, prompted by news of Pete and his wife being flung into Hell, for some heavenly infraction involving hot nectar, improper use of a cloud and the having of altogether too much fun for Heaven.

Hubristrus opened the letter and discovered he is being pressed back into service by order of the Big Guy Himself, his signature ,”Alf”, scorched right there into the official Gold House Paper.  Sarah Palin has somehow returned, the letter said. And Wall Street’s rampant greed and mismanagement has created a financial meltdown.

“Holy shit!” thought Hubristrus, genuinely surprised, an uncomfortable prickle of responsibility needling him for the first time ever.  It seems that many of the Gods had preferred the deregulated atmosphere of the US to Heaven’s own markets and now all of Paradise is worried about their 401ks.

I can’t tell you any more details but I can tell you “Heaven Today” is reporting that the solution to Iraq, disastrous climate change and the world-wide financial crisis, etc. require solutions so bendy and contorted that the gods just can’t come up with a thunderbolt in those shapes.  In a last ditch attempt they are throwing their biggest bungle-making fuck-ups at the problem in the hope that their disastrous – and therefore hopefully successful – attempt at a curative thunderbolt will result in so very twisty-assed an exclamation mark that it just might (cross-fingers!) perfectly align with the problem and neutralize it.

In case you’re wondering how I came to be privy to this other-worldy information, it is because of the generously oiled annual studio artists tour of Ojai I went to on saturday.  The following day, I was so close to death, the angels dropped off a copy of Heaven Today‘s Sunday edition, thinking I was a done deal and it was only a matter of time before I’d be needing a reliable daily paper in the afterworld so might as well get in a bit of early marketing.

Chill Dubya, Post Office Maverick

Pal Kim asked to know more about Colin from the Post Office.  I thought I couldn’t do any better but to let him speak for himself.

“Good morning, People Of The Internet.  I’m Colin from the Post Office.  That’s not my real name, of course. It’s just another of the many ways my parents have let me down my whole life. I should have been called Chill Riverrock.  I feel that, I do.  Like it’s my spiritual name or something, my name in the far different, far off world I should have been born into.  And I also feel that my spiritual nickname would very probably have been W for Wily.  Chill “W” Riverrock.  But do you think these fascist slave-masters at the Royal Mail will let me have a counter badge with Chill “W” Riverrock Is Pleased To Assist You!” on it?  Hell, they won’t even give me Colin “Chill” MacAuley.

But they’re fools. Fools who aren’t part Comanche* like me.  Fools who think just because you’re born with a name and everybody calls you that name, and you usually answer to it, at work anyway, that that just might not, in essence, be who you are. My essence is not the essence of a Colin.  I once went to an Essence Diviner at a fair.  She sniffed me all over and she told me, she said  “You are no Colin!”  She said I smelt “more like a Howard” but , despite being right about the Colin thing, you really can’t believe everything these people say, can you?

Say, do you know, this little parlay with you folks has helped me come to a decision!  As God is my witness, I will never answer to Colin again to anyone, except my granny because it would just take too long to explain it all to her.  So to hell with the Royal Mail!  I’m gonna live life on my own terms, and, dangit, those terms are wearin’ spurs.

Fool folks laugh at me.  It’s OK, I know they do. When I stride into the saloons at night to have me a few shots of sweet oblivion, wearing the rawhide that feels as natural next to my own skin as the silken panties beneath them, they snigger.  They don’t think I see them snigger but I do.  You’d be a great, fat, dirty shhep-fiddler though if you think Chill Dubya cares about sniggering like that though.   Nope I just pull my ten gallon a little lower on my brow and shoot arrows of steel-tipped hate at them from my stormy, troubled eyes that have known little to no love ouside my parents and my granny and a few aunties and uncles.  Chicks dig stormy eyes.

See, ignorant people always laugh at what they can’t understand but their scorn is like a horsefly round a tailless steer’s behind to me – a mere minor, and sometimes mildly erotic, irritation.  I don’t mind the laughter. In fact I laugh at their laughter.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”  I scream, while drawing my trusty, silver Colt, and they tend to scuttle off in terror with their hands protecting their bottoms,  to other bars for lesser men.

Oh yes, I can take the laughing and the sniggering, but what I cannot abide is the tittering – I bloody hate tittering –  and the smirking and the sticking to my back of bits of paper saying “Colin enjoys weekend botany”.

But what’s that? You’re surprised that a manly, rugged cowboy like Chill “W” Riverrock – a wanderer who’s seen the curlew weep, and heard the fabled hedgehog sing – who’s looked upon sights so raw and steaming and purplish-grey before which any other man would have sobbed and wet their breeks – a man who’s strangled a pretty big labrador dead with his bare hands just because she woofed at him funny, and who put a bullet between the eyes of a kitten that displeased him – do you think it’s amusing that such a craggy seeker of love and campfire wisdom with a side o’ beans should wear silky and occasionally lacy panties?  I hope not because that’s just the kind of narrow thinkin’ I’d expect from fool folks and Chill “W” Riverrock don’t tolerate no fool-folk narrow thinkin’, no way, no how.

See, Chill Dubya is a man of hard yesterdays and tough tomorrows, a paradox of callouses and sensitive parts and he doesn’t want these sensitive parts all scuffed up by rough rawhide seams.  Yessirree, Chill Riverrock has found silk and occasional lace panties to be deliciously cooling on his privates and, dawgone, he’s man enough to say it.

Well, my lunch-hour’s nearly over now but I’ve enjoyed this little chat we’ve had.  I’ll ask Sam if I can impose
on her blog again.  I’m sure she’ll say yes.  She  wants me, you know.  Sexually, I mean.  I try to tell her not to make a fool of herself when she comes in to buy stamps but she just won’t quit glaring flirtily at me and coquettishly threatening to call the police.

Anyway, biddin’ y’all a good day out on this dusty trail we call life.  And remember what Chill “W” Riverrock
always says:  “There ain’t no shame in bein’ 39 and still livin’ with your folks. No shame in that at all.”

*Part Comanche – my mum had a Comanche pen-pal during her school days.  She’s dead now from cultural grief and a freak canned-soup-pyramid accident, but my mum says they were like sisters for the whole of Primary 7.”