Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Lately, I resumed furtive and exquisitely painful visits to an electrolysist who happens to share a name with a sadistic child murderer, to permanently lose encroaching embarrassing facial hairs. My reasoning is that I won't have tweezers or mirrors when I retire to the Cook Islands, so I should acheive a permanent solution to menopausal androgenic cosmetics now, before it's too late.

Myra doubted my ability to tolerate the pain of a half-hour session on the upper lip (see the relative sensory size of this area on a homunculus), but I breathed through 30 mins with silence and elan.


Myra lays me down on her green couch,
She of the smooth legs, white snapped dress,
Botox expression and rootless blonde French twist.

An inspection with an enormous lens
Her perfect blue eye haloed by a punishing light ring,
Her gaze, inescapable,

Alights on the hirsute source of shame.
Speaks in soft elliptics about ‘the problem’,
Her exquisite plan of action

Starting from the outside working in;
Her needle, probes, electrocutes, extracts in an escalating pattern
Of trigeminal sensibility.

“Myra, you’re beautiful”, I’m thinking,
Each stab a blessing and a step closer to perfection.
I breathe in and out, in and out.

Focus on the fluorescent tubes,
Everything washed out, stared through
Each professional second of pain.

With Myra, time stands still,
Music smears, the overhead tube strobes,
Hearttbeat and breath, never so alive

As when I labour through these invisible pinprick tattoos.
Discreet, chilli-hot and sweet, eyes watering,

But no tears.


Ethical living

George Monbiot's rubbing salt in the wounds of petrolhead air-travellers today. Three Hail Gaias and a special penance on today's Fat Tuesday before Lent. *But* I want some dispensations for recycling, for thoughtful consumerism (farming methods, labour relations, wages, transport miles) and a preference for second-hand shops.

Freeganism (supermarket trash raiding) has great recycling credibility but has bad associations from behaviours allegedly adopted in extremis by starving Mormon polygamous families. 'Made for TV films' in print form- I love 'em. Another related read on Mormon polygamy was Under the Banner of Heaven, which you can compare to Capote's In Cold Blood as a sociological forensic investigation.

This week I'm into investigating Mormonism, a religion/faith that I'd be hard pushed to defend, but who are able to capitalise freely on free-speech legislation while perpetrating a particularly autonomist but racist narrative. One can tie this into a Darwinian behaviour model quite neatly, should one choose.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Just to clarify...

It's particularly the fat bloke who lost my claim at the DWP and Agnes Haggess, my personal advisor, who can kiss my fat ass. I'd also like to rextend personal invitations to all the employers who send me PFO letters, to a certain Human Resource management afficianado of shoulder-pads, and more generally Jack Straw, Charles Clarke, Jack McConnell, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and Tom DeLay.

I'm going take a long, extremely hot shower with conscious yogic breathing, a guava and apricot scrub, intensive hair conditioning treatment and toenail painting, and I will feel much better afterwards. There are few things worse than dealing with authority, and you need, I gather, to adopt patience, strategy and tactics.


Monday, February 20, 2006

That's absolutely

The worst day I've had in five years.

Accompanying a friend to the Sheriff Court in the morning, a political argument in a nearby pub with a taxi/property entrepreneur after and an interview with a DWP official for dessert, who told me to forget about mortage relief for 40 week (9 months).

Lost it with both the latter dumb innocents, and will doubtless regret this in due course. I'm planning an escape to the Cook Islands, so may the drones be very happy in a self-inflicted dreardom. Meanwhile, I shall make a career adopting local dogs and kitties, toasting my sun-starved body on a white beach, playing with fishies and cooking on an open fire. You can kiss my ass.


Friday, February 17, 2006


Despite dog-tiredness, the Goldfrapp performance to which R kindly treated me last night was most entertaining. Their award-winning website is visually beautiful and delightully quirky, designed for browsing rather than quick links.

We were up in the gods, nosebleed territory, in a rather grand operatic gilded rotunda built at the turn of the last century. A suitable venue for their theatrical, airbrushed performance, which portrayed something between cabaret, interbellum cinema and a 70's carnival ride. No dancers, but a fantastic lightshow. Alison's ponytail wasn't in evidence- my favourite stage accessory since Morrissey's bouquets. Instead she looked tiny on the stage from our height, in black with a hibiscus-pink winged jacket which exaggerated her every eurythmic movement.

'Felt Mountain' was a louche theramin-laced score for a lost cinematic masterpiece from the 1930s. Since then (Black Cherry, Supernature) they've become self-consciously and brazenly glam electro-pop. Ms. Goldfrapp obviously appreciates the 70's, and she plays beautifully the smoky-eyed Biba woman of that time, strutting in gold platform shoes. The mica in her eyeshadow winked even up in the gods in that spectacular Broadway, Busby Berkeley, carnival-ride lighting; her blond hair and pink pleated Ossie Clark jacket animated by a front-stage wind-tunnel fan, as she stomped on sparkly gold platforms to a glitter gang-beat, with the demonic fiddler's shadow magnified on the screen behind them.

Goldfrapp smells and memories:
Belle epoque, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Weill, Jacques Brel, Scott Walker.
Roadmaster buses, socks with toes, Carnaby St and patchouli incense, my purple mutton-sleeved purple Biba dress and a new war to worry about, 1971. Noosha Fox (after whom the cat is partly named) singing 'S-s-s Single Bed' on TOTP c. 1976. Travelling carnivals ('shows') of the 70s, with blaring music and the screaming exhilaration of the waltzers or twister at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall, 1976-1979.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Well m'dears, I've survived Valentine's day without committing a postal massacre, which must be an achievement of sorts. I really hate that day, mainly because I realise how many poor sowls suffer. Philip's researched the festival from a 2020 viewpoint. My best valentine was received at age 11 (probably from a girl), and the worst a hideous pink padded, padlocked monstrosity at 16. I think that's when I foreswore such idiotic rituals, and these days nothin' is probably better that sumfin'. Valentine is a stupid Hallmark celebration for generating income, and if you're loved you receive in non-material terms throughout the year, and not just symbolically on one day.

R kindly invited me for dinner and a movie last night, but I called off. Job-hunting leaves me quite flat, so I wouldn't have been any fun anyway even though we might've distracted each other from valentine ague. We would've gone to see Grizzly Man and joked conspiratorally at how dumb and extreme men can be. Though I don't deserve it, she's kindly taking me to see Goldfrapp perform tomorrow night.

My half-term cinematic activities have been somewhat stymied by changes in plans, with their Dad now taking them for 2 of the 6 days and me wrestling with a fulltime job in claiming due state benefits for unemployment. I'll spare the details, since they're not pretty. So no Walk the Line yet therefore. Plus sonny boy (age 13 going on 3) thinks he's too old to go to movies with the likes of me, now that he can get into '15' ratings with his zombie posse of lurking, monosyllabic, behoodied pals.

Meanwhile, for my and Sau's benefit, I bought the last Cat Power, sounding remarkably like the previous ones, dandy but contemplative. But I also bought for Dodo and Nini (who adore him) Pete Burns's "You Spin Me Round". When it rises from no 5 to no 1 in the pop charts next week, I can be held personally responsible. I'm delighted to make a personal contribution to his cosmetic surgery costs, as long as he agrees to leave his tongue (the most beautiful part of him) alone.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Film communiqué

R and I saw Hidden (Caché) last night, and we both hated it. In my case, the ennui at this self-indulgent Austrian-French film extended so far that I fell asleep in the middle. This is not usual, as films in languages of which I have a smattering are normally enlivened by a vague comprehension. Everyone else loves it, apparently (see reviews), but I was bored by both the form and the content. So you're alienated and you've got guilt- what's new, and who hasn't? Pick your flavour. Plus, the seats were bloody uncomfortable and crowded, leading to economy-class syndrome. 'Match Point' from Woody Allen addressed similar themes of social alienation in the urban tragedy, but in my opinion more ably, colourfully and dramatically (Scarlett Johansson helped). For me, a much better cinematic experience all round.

I think I said before that 'Brokeback Mountain' was pretty as Ang Lee does so well, but pretty facile and fashionable and in a predictable romantic/tragic vein. It was vanilla, sweet enough to squeeze some tears from both me and R, but only through blunt and simple emotive manipulation. Agreeable, but where's the spice? Call me shallow, but 'Memoirs of a Geisha' has been the film I've most enjoyed over the last few months. Beautiful eye-candy.

Upcoming is the family trip to Walk the Line. R and I both want to see Grizzly Man. But the film I'm most fancying is 'Lady Vengeance', by the bloke who did 'OldBoy'. Now that was urban tragedy.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hitler Heather

Heather switched my weekly muck-out and lifecoach session from Weds to Tues, so I was even more behind schedule than usual on my pre-assigned tasks. She writes her weekly plan with me in precise capitals, and God help me if that homework isn't maintained and verified each week.

She's a tough broad, raised on a New Zealand farm and with the freckles and skin cancer scars to prove it. Makes jams and chutneys every year and keeps a beautiful and food-rich garden. But she's a tough task-mistress. Beware her tongue if you've failed your assignments or allocated task list. I ask you- tough as old boots even when she's a forgiving saint, and shrives freely shortcomings.

What's worst is the frank betrayal when your own flesh-and-blood, the fruits-of-your-womb, clipe on you mercilessly to Heather in defense of their own transgressions. "Mum left her bag in the hall", "Mum didn't make her bed". She's a tattle-tale, that Nini, with no more loyalty than Lord Haw-Haw. She never misses a chance to cosy up to the fuzz, even in my hearing.

Next week is half-term break, when I get the pleasure of my kids' company fulltime. I'll be taking them the Walk the Line, and we've arranged a meeting up with Hitler Heather and her part-owned rescued smooth-coated collie, Reekie, for a pebble-beach picnic and dog-run at Musselburgh.

This dog Reekie is more human-tuned than any I've known. He possesses one brown and one blue eye, like David Bowie, white socks, belly and tail tip, and a preternatural linguistic ability. This dog has an accurate and almost freaky understanding of at least 50 discrimatory words, including verbs, adverbs, adjectives and nouns inc. stay, bring, leave, sit, stay; sock, slippers, towel, tail, blanket, walk, food, ball; the other one, the blue one. This is one smart dog.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

'Talking in Your Sleep'

How's this for spooky? Apparently, I sleep-dialled my honey this morning and carried out a sensible 40-minute conversation of which I have no memory.

As far as I'm concerned, I woke and got up as usual at about 10 am after an intense dream, which didn't involve honey. After I'd been over the road to Smileys' cornershop for fags and the paper, I dialled him as usual at our customary time at 10.30 am my time, 2.30 am his- the time when a lark on one continent and the owl on the other coincide. He tells me that we'd just hung up a half an hour previously. Apparently I'd carried out a sensible, apposite conversation- maybe a little groggy, but nothing unusual for me- of which I have total amnesia.

All I remember of last night is that I'd turned in early after a dinner of pesto and tomato salad with Swedish rye bread and butter. I'd woken at 4 am with a thirst and brought through a big glass of milk before going back to bed, vaguely registered the R4 early morning theme (love it or loathe it) and the Sunday hell of the god-slot, just like any other Sunday. I dozed on till the Archers omnibus theme woke me properly at 10 am, and I pulled on clothes to visit Smiley's cornershop for necessities.

So what really happened? On the one hand, denial takes over, but the objective clinician would probably diagnose an episode of REM behaviour disorder (RBD) when automatic acting-out took over while sleep masked the memory. Since I've no history of RBD, this will likely pass without intervention, and I'm not worried about an ongoing pathology.

It's a little thrilling to have exhibited an interesting benign disorder. It's true I've been having the most intense dreamlife recently, waking with bizarre imagery every morning. This week, I've been Rod Stewart's girlfriend (after I watched/listened to a Cream docu), navigated an underground 3-D tunnel maze (after watching 'Life In the Undergrowth' and reading Atwood's Penelopiad), and at least twice endured horrendous sleep-lab nightshifts. In one, I had to introduce a chest-drain (a surgical procedure I'm not qualified to do) and in another I was called in for a monitoring session that involved super-glued intra-cerebral electrodes, which is not normal practice. That was the one preceding my awakening yesterday.


To L'Oreal, Pantene and RoC

I gather that your ads are aimed at me, but until you explain in what units hair or skin 'shininess', 'softness' and 'smoothness' are measured, your quantitative claims of 60% or 70% improvement in such qualities have no content or meaning whatsoever.

If you pay me a large amount of money, I will construct, calibrate and validate scales of these qualities, and design and conduct human trials to prove your claims. The units of hair shininess will be known as ponies, hair and skin softness as marshmallows and skin smoothness in peaches. I have lots more good ideas like this. I know I'm worth it, but am yet to be convinced that you are.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

C&W song

The rhythm comes from a 4-4 PJ Harvey song


Yaw and roll, roll and sway,
Roll along the tides away.
Take me to the watery deep
Take me down and let me sleep.

Bring me amber, bring me pearls,
Let me see your heart unfurl.
Looking for your shadow self
Rowing nowhere in a rudderless blue skiff.

Let me see the jewels up close,
Let me hold you in embrace,
I’ll bite the stone and test its worth
Tell paste from genuine carborundum.

'Love' is is a syllable, easy to say,
Show me I can finally trust you.
Look me in the eye and tell me
You were born again the day you met me.

I wait, observe and let them speak
The restless stones upon the beach.
Point your compass, let magnetism swing
Draw you and yours close, because its kinship.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I'm not sure if I did well or ill by playing to the kids some of Johnny Cash's songs tonight. DoDo was moved to tears by his cover of 'Hurt'. I explained it was a tribute to his dead wife, June Carter, and tears started to streak his cheeks. I tried to cheer him up with Cash's other covers of 'Rusty Cage' and 'Tear-Stained Letter', and Richard & Linda Thompson's 'Bright Lights', but Johnny's 'Hurt' stuck with him. He's sensitive, a role routinely, structurally characterised and assigned to vulnerable family members (often the repositories/ scapegoat), a boy after my own heart.

I must have been 13, like DoDo, when my dad told me that I wouldn't truly understand folk/ C&W music till I'd had my heart broken. He meant in a romantic sense, and forgot that divorce and migration can do that equally efficiently. Plus I'd been steeped in that music. Bob Dylan, Ewan McColl. Peggy Seeger, Johnny Cash, Carter Family and antecedents in Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Folkways records, cognates in Bessie Smith, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin. He forgets he passed it on, because it's the same music I played for my kids.

My dear DoDo might be sensitive, but I don't have to worry how Nini will cope with exposure to drama- after all, it's her metier. She enjoyed 'Hurt, in a detached way, and wanted to know about Johnny's life. "Walk the Line' is rated 12A, so I can chum them when it's released next week. Part of my abiding regard for Cash is because he played at Folsom prison (near Sacramento, CA), home of my Grandma Mag. She didn't live in the prison, but in a fixed trailer in mobile home park, with plastic flamingos outside and fake plants inside.

Before her stroke, Grandma Mag enjoyed in her 50s and 60s a cowgirl frontier lifestyle, living between her trailer home and the bar on the faux-Western main street of Folsom. She drank margueritas, or vodka martinis, and adored the Man in Black. Mag enjoyed a serendipitous inheritance in later life, but her preference was to stay in that trailer with her mean cat and make occasional gambling trips to Reno or Vegas to (quite rightly) waste her money.