Okay, I haven't updated on here for ages, so my apologies. Work, interviews, lots of fun things, and messed up sleep patterns have been getting in my way I'm afraid. But needless to say I've got a big backlog of blogs to write, so I'm going to try to get a few up this weekend.
Just a quick recap for now though. Last weekend I was assaulted (As there can be no other word for it) by Matt's birthday party. It was an excessively fun one, as seems to be the way in that flat, though let it be forewarned, those green cocktails will be the downfall of civilisation. Needless to say, I remember the night in snapshots at best, and not very well focused ones at that.
P.S. I am posting this via my Wii, just because I can. I am teh 1337!!! ZOMG!!!11One!!11111!!!Onethousandonehundredandeleven
...it was 6am and I was only just getting ready to go to bed. God knows what had kept me up so late, but it must have been good. There was however, no way in hell I was going to remember it at that point.
One thing I did remember however, a few seconds later, and with just the right timing to strike enough horror through my being to terrify 3 generations of my offspring from birth, was the fact that I had an appointment with the Dental Hygeinist the next day.
At 10:10am. Giving me 3 hours to sleep before having sharp pieces of metal jammed down my gums.
If I was asleep then.
Which I wasn't.
Rather amused by a sarcastic version of the Final Fantasy victory theme which was now was playing through my head to the image of myself ironically jumping up and punching the air, as I would have done if I'd had one scrap of the energy required, I piled into bed to let sleep come and do whatever good it could do in its short window of opportunity.
I awoke three hours later with a skull filled with almost entirely congealed concrete, a mouth that tasted like a violent street crime, and an ability to see which very nearly rivalled that of a glocomaed badger wearing a back to front balaclava whilst trying to swim the channel.
"Onwards!", I thought. "Onwards to victory and having sharp pieces of metal jammed down my gums!". And off I went.
Upon leaving the house though, it wasn't too bad. It was one of those beautiful frosty mornings that always lead to the kind of dense, frosty, nights of mist on which I am writing this, and I was actually very happy to be forced to be out in it, despite my impending mouth-violation. Ignoring the ever-nearer horror of gum-jabbery and tooth-mining, I walked on to the Dentists' office and booked in.
To be honest, despite my earlier horror and Lynchian re-imaginings of the dentist scenes in "Little Shop Of Horrors", the actual check-up wasn't too bad. The usual bit of poking, but as I look after my mouth equipment fairly well, nothing too strenuous. And besides, I was so happily, dopily exausted by that point that I nigh on dozed through the whole thing in a blissful stupor, such is the comfiness of dentist's chairs when tired. One thing that did cross my mind though, was the inherent weirdness of the whole situation. Not the sharp pieces of metal in the, let's face it, noteably soft and sensitive area of my mouth. Not the big crazy cyber-armchair of the future, with movement settings that surely would have allowed me to comfortably win a b-boying competition without even raising a a finger had I programmed it correctly. No, what I found weird was the whole set-up of social interation and ritual about the thing.
You go into a room where someone you don't know hovers two inches above you, face to face, and inspects and sticks sharp things in parts of your body that you yourself never even see. And then they send you out. And you never say more than two words to them throughout the whole process. And then you make an appointment to do it again in a few months.
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I find it really fucking odd to have such a level of danger and intimacy for a grand total of fifteen minutes, and then pop off back out of each other's lives and thinking nothing of it for the rest of the day. And the Hygeinists themselves must find it pretty strange, surely? Having a constant production line of open mouths processioning in through their door, to be inspected, prodded, but never spoken to, and to be then sent out to make space for the next one as the process continues and repeats? There's an interesting metaphor for something in there, but I'm not sure what it is. It's the same sort of thing with hairdressers, gynochologists, and waxers in salons. You think it's completely normal at the time, but it's all very strange when you really think about it in anthroplogical terms.
Especially when 10 minutes later you've forgotten the entire experience, finding yourself back in bed and leaving the lady with the shiney metal implements and the small mirror on a stick far behind, to get on with her next charge. Very strange. Very strange indeed.
©2006, David Houghton
Sooo, it had been a thoroughly enjoyable day.
I'd been round at my friend's house working on the Flash cartoon we're making for someone's birthday and productivity levels were high. We'd sorted out the soundtrack, fixed the pacing of the middle section, and come up witrh a whole new, and pleasingly sick, joke for the begining. Then we'd rewarded ourselves by geeking it up on Quake 3 for an hour and watching a lot of Scrubs.
Overall I was in fine mood. I left to get the train at 10, knowing that given the timing of buses and things, I'd be waiting round for 20 minutes at the other end, but I didn't mind. It was just another chilling bus-wait that would be forgotten as soon as I sat down, and therefor no major trauma.
But the reality that greeted me upon arriving was very different. Very different indeed.
The first thing I noticed was the seething swell of 15-year olds swarming across the high street like some kind of rippling organic tide. It turned out that local cess-pit of drunken depravity Liquid was having a schoolie night, it being half term, and the resulting sight at kicking out time was akin to an explosion at Wonka's Chocolate Factory, with endless Oopma Loompas pouring out of every crack.
Underterred, I walked on, towards the bus stop they had obviously by now descended upon. There were at least a couple of hundred of them, and I knew full well there were only about 6 buses left due to run before the end of the night. It was going to get interesting, but they were all amiable enough, so I figured it was just going to be amusing more than anything.
And it was. As much as the number of them made it feel a bit like that scene in Batman Begins when Bruce stands up in what will eventually be The Bat Cave or the Sentinel battle in the third Matrix film, they were generally just staggering around, babbling hyperactive shite, and otherwise being 15 and on a night out.
A few moments later however, an unopened can of coke came gleaming through the moonlight, sailing through the air and bouncing off the head of a girl near me, exploding on impact (Well I say a girl. She was actually the only person there apart from me who was over 20). As impressive as that would have looked in slow motion, it was obviously the act of a snivelling loser, and although said can target was alright, once said loser was found, quiet words were had by some of the other kids.
Which inevitably resulted in a fight. I think it was a fight anyway. Given the amount of them who jumped in, it looked like a shoal of pirahnas zooming around a dead elephant. It got broken up pretty soon though, and the police arrived a few minutes later, holding up a couple of buses until they found out what was going on, then buggering off and leaving the whole scene with an ineffectual aura of "Hmm... Yes... ". But that was when the fun really began.
At this point it was 10:30 and my penultimate bus of the night was due. Pretty good timing all round. I was expecting it to be a bit late as a result of the crap that had just happened, so I wasn't too bothered when it got to 10:40 and it still hadn't shown up.
But then it got to 10:45 and the extra 15 minutes in the cold October night started making themselves known.
Then 10:50 and I started getting bored.
Then 10:55 and I started getting perversely amused that the bus after it was due in 5 minutes,
Then 11:15 and serious eyebrows were raised. Things were now off the map, and the prospect of my much looked-forward-to plan of "Get home early. Eat. Shower. Hug bed until unconcious" was sudden thrown into the hands of chaos theory. The potential length of the night stretched out in front of me like that corridor in the aforementioned Wonka's factory and I started to stare at the end of the road, willing the bus to arrive. But half an hour later, still nothing. I was past the point of cold now, having gone completely numb from head to toe. I probably should have known that wasn't a good thing, but the ice crystals on my brain had caused my thought processes to slow down to the degree where I was just glad I couldn't feel it any more.
At 11:45, every scrap of dignity was lost. Three quarters of an hour after the last bus, there were only 7 of us left (oddly enough all going to the same place), and my mind was entertaining all kind of unhelpful thoughts. Namely, that it would be easier to just sleep in a doorway, given how liitle time I had to get home, sleep, and get back before I had to be in work the next day. By the time I bit the (by now ice-hardened) bullet and decided to spend my last remaining money on a taxi, the town was empty and silent apart from the chattering of 7 sets of teeth and the occasionally repeated refrain of "Oh my god, my Mum's going to fucking kill me.". Fortunately though, everyone was in full agreement on my suggestion of sharing a mini-bus back (Who says you shouldn't talk to strangers?) and 2 minutes later we were piling into it and ordering the driver to turn the heating up to a degree that could have melted the windows.
As I took one last glance over my shoulder as we drove away from that bus stop, I almost felt a kind of sadness at leaving it. I'd been there for so long that in many ways it now felt like my home, and the separation was indeed a bit of a wrench. I would have shed a tear, but my tear ducts were all frozen up so it was, sadly, physically impossible.
In additional notes though, special thanks must be made to my bed for a job well done at the end of the whole escapade. I really needed all it's best efforts at the end of the night, and it's prowess at comfort and coziness did not let me down.
I just got a e-mail saying I had a message at my Faceparty in-box (not that I've actually used that site in years). Apparently it came from this young lady (who's guaranteed to be a mailbot in disguise. And no, I didn't notice that Transformers reference before I wrote it, but I'm going to keep it in. :) )
But one point of note though...
Doesn't it look like she's about to be smashed through a wall by a truck? Clearly, someone somewhere's running people over and taking these last minute pre-pulping photos from the driver's seat for kicks. Still, you've got to have a hobby...
I own The Ramones on Guitar Hero.
A few more things that have been milling around in my head, and that keep coming back more and more these days.
26, A big pile of money to go on a music and film splurge with. For a media junkie like me, this kind of withdrawal is not pleasant.
27, A weekend somewhere completely different, definitely. I want to either lose myself in a big city or head out to the lake district or somewhere similar and just chill out somewhere quiet. I've been invited to Amsterdam next month with my boss, but I doubt that's going to be relaxing.
29, An attractive and cool person to enjoy some not strictly platonic fun with. Not necessarily looking to get married, but something good with someone fun would be nice. And besides, I seem to remember that being one of my better fields, and it's a tragic waste the way things are at the moment.
30, To know who writes all the Jesus pun slogans for Christian t-shirts and churches. And find out if that's everything he does for a living. And if he's gone insane yet.
None of which are too much to ask, I think, and all of which would do me a lot of good.
I have just eaten this amazing piece piece of confectionary engineering.
Bit his head clean off, I did.
Anyway, I'm off out to Manchester.
They're re-releasing The Nightmare Before Christmas. In cinemas. In 3D.
Now the 3D thing I can take or leave, but read those first two sentences again. Now grin for the rest of the day if you've got any sense.
And check this out: http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=contests&id=7833. I'm actually glad I've never got round to buying the soundtrack reading those prizes.
Waking up this morning was foul. It always is unless you're doing it just so you can lie in bed for a couple more hours and be smug, but today was even worse than usual.
I'd just resigned myself to getting up and was just about to move, but then BOOM. The sky exploded with a downpour that sounded powerful enough to break my windows. We're talking a solid wall of water here, with being simultaneously bludgeoned to death and drowned being far higher on my list concerns than just getting wet. And then the lightning started. And you don't need to know you'll have to be out in that sort of shit within the hour when you're still in a cozy warm bed. So I cocooned myself up further in the hope that I was dreaming it.
The only thing that brightened up the trip was the look on the face of a bedraggled mosher kid at the railway station, who was staring at the floor in bug-eyed horror at the fate that had befallen him. He seemed to have taken the entire North West's pain at the weather upon him, and I've never seen an expression like that outside of a Jhonen Vasquez comic.
A list off the top of my head.
1, My current job but with lots of money, or a similarly fun and worthwhile one with lots of money.
2, One of these.
3, A spare month to just go off and explore anywhere I feel like.
4, A small robot companion. A proper sentient one though, rather than a Robo Sapien or anything. He's got to be able to hang out, and chat, and do things.
5, The abolition of Carol Smillie. Any method necessary. Just get rid of her.
6, One of these and one of these.
7, A new series from Chris Morris. And maybe a few short films. And a feature too.
8, The new Cure album. And it to be that new extension of Disintigration and Wish I've been imagining for years.
9, The abolition of Bruce Forsythe. Any method necessary. Though ideally nuclear detonation.
10, The end of crap hugs. Too many people are shit at them and it's turned into just a meaningless generic greeting with no feeling behind it at all. It's a completely different thing getting one from someone who really means it.
11, My own place somewhere snowy. A log cabin up in the mountains would be nice, or an apartment in New York in Winter.
12, My own place in Tokyo. Preferably somewhere high up and surrounded in neon.
13, The Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.
14, New Squee and Johnny The Homicidal Maniac books.
15, A day and night when I can walk through Wigan at any time and not run into some drunken fuckwit bellowing at and threatening their "partner" over something irrelevent, some easily frustrated idiot screaming and slapping their kid around for being a kid, or a knuckle-scraper putting his "mate" through a window for running out of cigs.
16, The abolition of Claire Sweeney. Any method necessary, but preferably one which would reduce her to just a fine red mist. The same for Gillian McKieth. I want to make sure the job's done efficiently with these two.
17, An end to crap music and films. Seriously people, everyone knows there's far too much out there that exists just so people without the emotional or intellectual capacity to appreciate music and films can have something to put on their shelves to feel better about themselves. And it takes up far too much space in HMV and means I have to look for ages to find what I want. Let's have less of it.
18, A mastery of Ninjitsu. Not for any violent means. Just so I can stealth about and disappear/reappear surprisingly in the middle of rooms full of people.
19, The abilility to spontaneously melt as and when I see fit. It'd be great for getting through crowds, a brilliant insult when someone's trapped you in a boring conversation, and an incredibly fast and energy efficient way of getting down hills/stairs.
20, John Peel back. I still miss him.
21, A cool new exciting person to hang out with, preferably an intelligent, imaginative one who's slightly sick in a well meaning way and appreciates the importance of point 10.
22, The ability to play an instrument that doesn't involve loading up a copy of Guitar Hero.
23, My fully passed driving license and a rather cool car to go with it. Free petrol and insurance too, obviously.
24, My own place in Hallowe'en Town. You know, for holidays.
25, To get at least one of my Big Plans off the ground.
It seems David Lynch's new film, Inland Empire, is constructed in a similar way to Lost Highway and clocks in at around 3 hours. Naturally I'm reacting with a resounding "Woo! Can I pre-order a ticket?", but it seems others aren't so sure.
You see he's having to consider distributing the thing himself, because any interested parties want to cut the running time down.
Firstly, this taps right into my pet hatred for that "If it's longer than 2 hours, no-one'll watch it." mentality. It's an another ridiculous example of paranoid studio executives trying to dictate creativity through poorly percieved demographic rules, and it doesn't take into account for a second the fact that if a film's well paced, or *SHOCK* actually enjoyable to watch, then the audience won't notice the length. And it's a thinking that'd been blown out of the water a whole tonne of times. "Titanic", "Lord Of The Rings", "King Kong", the list goes on. And then add to that the amount of people who've spent the last 10 years ravenously searching for LONGER cuts of things like "Das Boot" and Lynch's own "Dune", and the arguement immediately degenerates into the crazy jibberings of a methed up hobo.
But the main point that makes this whole thing hilarious is the fact that we've got marketing men thinking that it's even WORTHWHILE trying to make a Lynch film, with an almost completely abstract narrative, commercially acceptable. Surely they've seen some of this man's films before? By now, they must know what kind of audience it's going to appeal to, and that they're really not going to give a shit about the length. And that similarly, they're not going to draw in a whole new generation of Lynch fans amongst the "xXx" and Jennifer Aniston fans of the world by cutting the running time down.
It'll just be a case of "Idiots confused for 90 minutes instead of 180."
Come on people, the studios are paying you a shit-load. Let's think about this shall we?
Okay, so it seems The Pope is considering abolishing the concept of Purgatory (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5406552.stm), but surely this raises a couple of small, yet I feel, considerable questions.
Like why, if God is omnipotent, can we suddenly decide that things have changed? The age old situation of "It's the true word of God! Until it isn't appropriate any more..." rears its ugly head again, it would seem. Though no doubt the "true word of God" arguement will still be used to bash gays and flood the Third World with AIDS for quite some time to come. Because, you know, it's always true if we're using it to talk about people we don't like.
Thankfully, Ol' Popey has got a response to this one. He states that he's letting the issue of Purgatory "drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis".
Let's read that again shall we?
By definition, anything theological IS a hypothesis. So God's a hypothesis, Heaven's a hypothesis, and everything else The Pope's ever said is a hypothesis too. So I reserve the right to disregard any aspect of Catholicism on those grounds, as and when I see fit. Now that The Pope has just sanctioned me to do it...
But no, it seems it's okay. The Pope has pointed out that Purgatory never counted anyway, and so striking it off isn't a big deal. You see, according to him, limbo has never been a "definitive truth of the faith".
Once again for those of you who missed that, Purgatory has never been a deinitive TRUTH of FAITH.
Can we all spot the oxymoron here? And in fact just the plain old moron?
Aside from the fact that that statement backs up the problems of the first one, it raises another fun little issue. Namely that of the fact that as soon as something becomes truth, it stops being faith, and that by definition, the strength of faith is instantly undermined by the need for it to BECOME a truth.
Well done Benny. You've just unravelled the internal logic and justified existence of your Church in 2 sentences.
I'm not using this blog to have a go at Catholics or Catholicism. If that's what you really believe, and it really makes you happier than you could be otherwise, by all means go for it as long as you don't get weird about it.
But when you're picking someone to represent you to the rest of the world, please pick someone who can string a logical sentence together.
ESPECIALLY if he's supposed to be the Earthly representation of the word of God...
Public transport is horrible. No matter where you're going, no matter what you're doing when you get there, no matter who you're doing it with, if you haven't got access to the car, the fun is always liberally tainted by the horror of whatever clapped-out peasant-wagon you're being forced to travel on.
Grotty, broken-down machines that invariably smell bad enough to make your nose bleed, and are always packed to choking point with every manner of sociopath and undesirable you'd care to think of. And you need to sell one of your children into the international slave trade to be able to afford the privilege.
But there are a few heroes who make the journey bearable and interesting, and can actually reinstate that will to live you lose each time you embark upon one of these fetid quests, if you make the most of the situation.
I'm talking about the public transport loonies.
Not wanting to take the piss out of these people the way a lot of people do, I want to give them an honorable mention, because they actually improve my day every time I see them. Their rather "specialised " outlook on the world tends to lead them to all kinds of abuse from the local scallies who inhabit the bus stations of the world on a day to day basis. It seems to have developed into a chav sport. Or maybe it's just a territorial war, with the tracksuit brigade terrified of losing the blessed homeland in which they've been free to be happily belligerent and cretinous for years. But either way, the public transport loonies are far more interesting, vibrant, and add far more to the world than any number of potential Trisha-candidates could ever hope to.
So here are tributes to just a few of my favourite regulars.
1, Tubbs Woman
A rather large lady with bullet-proof thick glasses and grey hair, the source of her name is obvious. But while obviously crazier than Frank Zappa on a trampoline, she's got the most sociable demeanor out of any PTL I've ever encountered. On my bus 7 times out of 10, she's loud, giggly, seems ecstatically amused by everything, and can be really quite terrifying when you first come into contact with her. But she's thoroughly harmless and always seems to be having a great time, so you can't really begrudge her.
She's also one of the more adventurous PTLs. Whereas most seem to stick to their designated routes, she gets about all over the place. I actually thought she was stalking me for a while, as for a week or so she was on literally every bus I got on, or seemed to explode onto every street I walked down, eventually started ending up on my train to and from Preston Uni. She's an absolute trooper as PTLs go, and definitely the most prolific in Wigan.
2, Notebook Guy
A quiet, withdrawn type, he's interesting nonetheless. He always gets on the bus with a slightly uncertain expression, but then quietly filters over to his seat and settles down, whereupon he pulls out a notebook and pencil and starts making notes. Of everything, it would seem. The people on the us, the driver, the state of the vehicle, the things we drive past, they all get observed and recorded. Whether he's just cataloguing things, or whether this is all going into some greater work with an ultimate direction, I don't know, but I've been dying to get a look at that book for years. He never seems to sit in front of me though. :(
nb. He also seemed to be a bit of an item with Tubbs Woman a while back. The day when they were both on the bus together and devouring each other's tongues like rampant teenagers on crack was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen. Just the devastated reactions of the chavs on the back row made it worth it.
3, Elastic Band Guy
One of the first I regular ones I spotted when I started going out when I was in college. And one of the most striking. With one of the most applause-worthy beards I've ever seen, a bald head, and a massive black coat, the first time I saw him he had 3 or 4 elastic bands tied together and stretched over his head, attached by a loop around each ear. I was a fan instantly.
Then the second time he was sporting exactly the same attire, but with the addition of a postage stamp on each cheek. My theory was that with the elastic bands and the stamps, he was building up to wrapping himself up in brown paper and posting himself somewhere. I can't say I blame him, given the state of Wigan and the cost of the aforementioned bus tickets, but this plan unfortunately seems to have fallen by the wayside, as he's still around. He pops up everywhere from Ashton, to Wigan, to Manchester these days though, and the last time I was him he was chilling out in Piccadilly Gardens during the heatwave. One of my favourites.
4, The Big Brown Buddha
Always found sitting at the bus stop outside North Western Station, he's a bit of an acquired taste.
A huge big fat guy, with major personal hygiene problems, his entire body is just one shade of brown. Hair, face, clothes, the lot. Naturally his aroma is somewhat less enticing than fresh strawberries in the garden on a Summer's day, and on top of all that, he's one of the most belligerent, rude, and miserable people I've ever seen. But I think he's great.
He's always on that same seat, and I've never once seen him move, even to get on a bus. He seems to have decided to spend his days just sitting in that spot, giving him as it does a busy part of the town with a constant stream of new people to slag off and food and drinks at easy access. And there he sits, like a grimy Henry VIII, watching his subjects go by and barking insults and never getting bored of it. It's fantastic. I usually hate rude people, but the degree to which he seems to have dedicated his life to it, and to which he's thrown himself into the task with admirable gusto makes him ultimately respect-worthy. He's turned it into an art form, and he does it incredibly well.
So there you have it. The people who make those miserable, scummy journeys worthwhile. I'll probably never know their names, and I'll probably never know who they are, but it doesn't matter. They're far more interesting and stimulating that any of the usual array of anti-social, sulking, "normal" people you get stuck with on buses and trains, and long may they continue to be. Give me busload of loonies over those leery drunken plebs and down-in-the-face misery-fucks any day and I'll more than happily leave the car at home.
©2006, David Houghton
My job isn't sustaining me, and I need to do something about it, but I really don't want to. You see the thing is, the company's in a weird situation where it's big enough to get all kinds of really interesting (and high profile) clients throughout the music industry, but isn't big enough to afford to pay me the epic salary I clearly deserve.
So while I'm getting enough money to get me through the month, I could definitely do with more, and although there's been talk of us expanding, there doesn't seem to be much evidence of it happening as rapidly as I'd like.
But while I'm looking for writing jobs on the side (thank god for the contacts I've made in that area), I can't bring myself even to be tempted to quit and go for something else. I totally click with this industry, the clients we're working with, and the way we do what we do, and there's no way in hell I can shoehorn myself into a job just for the money any more like I did after Uni.
I mean I've always been obsessed with music, since that first day I realised that plastic pop wasn't the be all and end all as a kid. I've always found that thing in it that unfortunately not everyone does. That transcendent, empathic, communicative, unbelievably stimulating thing that talks to you in that way that words are far too clumsy to do (and god knows how obsessed I am with words) and puts you in that place where everything's right and as it should be. As media go, I've always been known as more of a film geek, but in another way music's always been just as much my thing, if not more in a lot of ways. It's more immediate, more personal, and more affecting in all kinds of ways, and I'd shut down without it. But since I've been working in the industry, promoting it, working with it, dealing with all kinds of clubs, artists, and producers, planning and putting on events, writing about it (a fantastic combination), listening to it and talking about it constantly, and above all living in a world that's as full of it as it should be, I've not even been able to consider doing anything else. And I really don't want to. Aside from all the obvious important stuff above, I'm bloody good at this job.
There'll be a way around it. There always is. I've got a few other interesting irons in the fire which I can combine with this if I need to. But whatever else I do, I've got to keep doing this too, even if it means rescheduling a bit just to fit it in. I can't actually imagine it not being part of my week now, and I can't think of a reason at all that justifies changing that.
I found this today:
It's the best record site ever. They only sell tribute albums, and of the most wildly varying mash up of genres you could possibly think of. Their stock goes from the vaguely understandable (string and piano versions of The Killers and The Cure) to "interesting experiments" (Electronic Pink Floyd and Korn), to some of the most gloriously insane concepts I've ever been staggered into wide-eyed bamboozlement by.
Techno Abba!? Dub Reggae Linkin Park!? Instrumental Swing Michael Jackson!? Lounge Outkast and string quartet My Chemical Romance!?
Every page bursts with twisted genius of the highest order, and frankly, whoever came up with the concept for the shop is an absolute legend.
I can so see myself making a point of buying a random album from them every month from now on. Some of it actually works bizarrely well, and if not then at least it's interesting/hilarious.
Check them out, seriously. They thoroughly deserve your time.
Just a quick one from me tonight, as I'm power-tired after dispensing mighty thunderbolts of P.R. righteousness all day.
But one thing that really perked me up was when I got off the train after an intense burst of sleep and found that the sky was that really thick, dense, deep, inky black that comes with the beginning of Winter. I don't know why, but it always makes me feel so much more awake and alive at that time of year. Ironic considering everyone else seems to think everything's dying and falling away. I think I've got inverse Seasonally Affected Depression.
But anyway, a dark sky, crisp air, and twinkly stars, and I was in a great mood. :D
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked the age-old three wishes question. Verifying early on that we were vetoing the "more wishes" option due to it being a cheap way of cheating we moved on, and after using the first two to make things better/easier/more profitable for myself, I got stuck. Eventually, I settled on agreeing with a friend on finding out the ultimate truth, so I could wave it in the face of religious zealots everywhere, and hopefully cut right down on pointless conflict.
However, having thought about it properly for a bit, I've swung away from that one in a big way. My reasons are as thus...
Firstly, an ultimate truth is fundamentally impossible. There. Said it. Sorry if that fucks with anyone's nice cozy views of the nature of reality, but that's just the way it is.
The reason is perspective.
You see, everyone and everything in existence constructs its own reality based up on its own interpretation of the stimuli around it. We all see these stimuli to be what we take them as granted to be, but the actual core root of what they actually are is always lost in translation.
A simple example would be the colour issue. I see blue and recognise it as blue. So do you, but we don't know that we both see the same colour. We've both been taught for our whole lives that a certain colour is called blue, and that that colour is the colour of the sky, but there's no way we can ever know that we're both seeing it as the same one. You can try to dismiss this as simply a philosophical arguement, but in truth, it happens all the time with colour blind people. Extrapolate that concept into everything else, and suddenly a separate parallel version of the universe appears for each inhabitant of it, all running simultaneaously in the same space.
And then if you bring opinions into it, things get even more complicated. As you walk around the world, at least half of your construction of it is built of your personal emotional reactions to different things. The connotations you attach to things build the shape, feel, and atmosphere of things, their importance, and where you fit those particular bricks into the giant lego set of your life. Things some people see as fundamemtally important to the makeup and running of everything won't even exist to others. Again, a bit more extrapolation, and suddenly even more worlds pop up, and it becomes blatently clear that any idea, concept, truth, or arguement, however well reasoned, is based entirely upon your own set of rules and universal construction, which are in turn based only on your own level of awareness and understanding of, and personal reaction to, what's around you.
And then on top of THAT (and as a direct result of it), there's the constantly updating nature of science and religion. These two codes purport to be the yardsticks of what is and what isn't, but the fact is, they're both based upon, and limited by, the same rules listed above. Remember how we KNEW the Earth was flat a few hundred years ago? And how we KNEW that the sun and moon revolved around us? Consider the fact that we now laugh at what WAS the truth that people built their realities around in the past, just as we build ours now, and then add to that the fact that there are currently things that science admits contradict everything that it "knows" (Galaxies too big to exist, bees that fly despite defying the laws of aeronautics, etc.), and it becomes clear that science is as much a victim of the laws of personal interpretation as the rest of us. It builds its truth out of research and well reasoned arguements, but this research and these arguements are still, ironically, based upon science's EXISTING understanding of things. And that in itself is pretty limited. We know that certain patterns occur in the reactions between different things, but if you pull the petulent child trick of asking "But why?" at each stage of explanation, eventually you'll be presented with the answer "That's just the way it is.". At which point you can legitimately argue that everything works by magic, or anything else youcare to use.
And the religion situation's even simpler. It's still an attempt to personally understand the un-understandable, but instead of grasping at the constantly tumbling scientific straws and messing around researching things that will be outdated in ten minutes anyway, it saves itself the effort and takes a more personal and spiritual approach to understanding self and purpose. And by definition, such an approach must change as the individual grows and changes, otherwise it becomes worthless. It's a different method of asking the question, rather than being an answer and doctrine in and of itself. Well it should be anyway...
With all of the above in mind, consider the following. If the universe has been ever expanding from a single central point since the big bang (and I know there are differing theories now, but that fact just backs me up further), what's there before the universe gets there?
You see that sums it right up. Whatever scientific advances we've made, whatever emergent theories we have, whatever beliefs and faith there are about what's around us, they'll only ever, in an ultimate best case scenario, explain things up until that boundary. At that point, EVERYTHING is limited by the context of its own experience, the big picture becomes ultimately infinite, and we realise we've wasted our time, not only being arrogant in thinking that we could crack the nature of everything, but also, and far moreso, in thinking that our interpretation of everything would BE everything.
Assuming, as our science dictates, that there must be something outside of the universe, what's there and how does it interpret us? (if its even aware of us in any way more than we're aware of it) And assuming it does interpret us, how does it interpret itself in that context? And how does it interpret the NEXT layer along, and vice versa? Even if what's outside is some sort of god being as we see it, how does said god being know its place in all of existence? Even if it created it, how can it assume that it and it's creation is the ultimate, and that it ITSELF does not have a next layer? Let's face it, we create and reproduce, and some of us assume we're the be all and end all too. This thing can layer up and layer up, and each level of increased understanding will only ever understand things from the context of its own perspective.
And I think that's great. :D
You see it makes you free. There's no rule book. There's no pre-subscribed plan for the direction you should be going in. Any authority, whether human, scientific, or godly is only a suggestion, coming from a source that in context has no more idea than you. And all of that gives you far more of an incentive to explore, experiment, follow your loves, and work to understand your everything and what works best for you personally within it.
So the third wish?
I just want everyone to chill out and grow the fuck up about everything. Ask anyone what the root of all evil is, and they'll generally come up with war, religious fundamentalism, or corporate greed. But the fact is, these are just the symptoms rather than the cause. The actual problem is human insecurity, ego, and angst. It's been the same since the primary school playground and it's the same now. So many people have such fragile little egos and are so terrified of not being accepted/respected by others that all this shit starts. Wars come about as a result of the falsely contrived concept of national identity (Grow up people, it's a fucking lump of rock. It doesn't dictate who you are.) being put into action to build a feeling of group security. People can't accept that we're just all people, because that would mean they'd have to go out and work things out on their own. And because they've still got a concept of there being a right and wrong answer, they're terrified of the mockery brought about by getting the wrong one, inflicted by people they for some reason assume to have the right one. So instead of working things out for themselves and being a hell of a lot happier for it, they get a big group of the nearest people together and start a war with someone else to define themselves instead.
Religious fundamentalism too. Same thing. People just use personal beliefs as the imaginary boundary instead of geographical placing. The really funny thing about this though, is the fact that if you believe strongly enough that something is the truth to go off and start killing people for it, surely you should be satisfied enough in the truth not to give a shit if anyone else had got it wrong. By definition of their actions, they're proving that they know their cause is flawed. Let's face it, god as they see it doesn't need people to go around killing other people to prove he's god. HE'S FUCKING GOD! HE'S OMNIPOTENT! Which instantly proves the whole thing is about personal security and ego protection rather than the serving of any higher purpose. All of our problems come from the fact that people are terrified of anyone having a different opinion to them, which is so primitive its unbelievable. It's something that should be majorly embraced, not only for the enrichment of coming into contact with different perspectives and fresh approaches, but also because it means that each individual is enjoying finding their own way, based upon knowing who they are, and understanding what works for them.
Corporate greed too, comes from the same source. This is the most simple one of all though. People are again insecure about the way they're viewed, unsure of what they should be in life, and unsure of how they'll know they've succeeded, so they go for the most obvious, black and white, yet still false and contrived indicator and put everything aside in favour of making a lot of money. Fuck what gets in the way. Fuck whoever you have to fuck over and kill.
So there you go. So much needless shit. So much needless shit that if people actually thought about it for a few minutes, they'd realise won't actually get them anywhere anyway in the long run. They could substitute it all for sorting their own heads out and having a good time, but instead they start fights, fuck people over, demean others, make selfish demands for things that won't make them happy anyway (when it's really just the fulfillment of demands that they want, to make them feel important), and go on reality T.V. shows to become a celebrity and have the whole world tell them how beautiful they are.
Could we all just grow up and get on with REAL life please?
Everyone's been covering it up with peripheral shit for years.
©2006, David Houghton
And then beat you over the back of the head with the drunken stick while you're looking whistfully away into the distance?
Yep, I've just had one of those, and am now a disheveled mockery of the man I once was. Still it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Knowing full well that I was finally going to be getting round to meeting up with horrorb0y and psychodolly on the Saturday, I decided not to bother with a heavy Friday night. Just a quick drink for an hour or two with a friend who'd invited me out for a mutually brief evening.
A few hours later the alcoholic-division of chaos theory had kicked in, and I was at some else's house entirely, devastated by cheap gin like a Victorian whore, and playing Mortal Kombat 2 against some particularly vicious and dirty-fighting girls who've never before displayed such qualities in all the years I've known them. 'Til 3 in the morning. I only actually saw the friend I was supposed to be meeting for about 20 seconds all night, and she, similarly afflicted by the random nature of Friday nights, ended up leathered in a godawful club, texting me in a thoroughly confused and monosyllabic fashion. The last I heard anyway... She could be anywhere now.
Arriving home, I found a Daddy-Longlegs in my room. The most ludicrous and amusing of all insects, they're too retarded to be offensive and far too weedy to be dangerous, but bobble unpredictably and make a hell of a lot of noise. So I had to get it out.
I took the textbook approach of switching the light off in my room, disturbing it, and hoping it flittered towards the light in the hall. Unfortunately it didn't know the rules, and so after a particularly strenuous bout of drunken wafting, it piled headlong into a wall, did itself a serious injury, and had to be put down. I wasn't happy about that.
So Saturday began with an "Oh God.", as I threw all the inertia I could summon into hurling myself sideways out of the bed. My legs long since protesting against doing anything at doing anything in particular for the rest of the day, it was the only was I was going to move. But those I was due to meet had had a similarly heavy night, so all was not lost. At 3 o' clock we were meeting in Manchester and beginning a largely improvised trek around the city. Things I learned are as follows:
1, Primark is built on the same rules as Dark City. Things shift and move around you, and unless you're very sharp on your wits, you'll never find your way out alive. They also seem to make clothes by scooping out the insides from small animals and hanging the rest up. Small animals need their insides, so this is a bad idea.
2, The best Art shops are seemingly run by one person per 3 shops, as 60% of Manchester's artistic community seem to be on holiday at any given time. They make very nice, and often amusing/endearing stuff though.
3, The hot chocolate in the Night And Day comes with "lovely cream". Not just average cream, you understand. Not just fucking good cream. But "lovely" cream. However, in the menu's description of "Hot chocolate with lovely cream", only the word "chocolate" is actually true. I was thoroughly disappointed at this betrayal, and forced to return to the table with a poor, poor facsimile of what we had been promised for Becky. I will not forget this insult, and next time will demand "fucking awesome, eye-popping, life changing cream" in compensation.
4, Asda party blowers are designed to either cut out noise pollution, or stop deaf children feeling left out. Despite being described as "party flutes", they are utterly, utterly silent. I feel this definition of the word "flute" would drop them in serious shit with the London Philharmonic.
5, There's a girl in Manchester who really needs a Polo. To an almost violent degree. I really hope she gets one for the sake of us all.
Anyway, after a thoroughly good and amusing afternoon, we all went our separate ways. I wished we'd had more time, but schedules and horrific amounts of cross country traveling time got the better of us. However, being good of mood, and now fairly awake of head, I wasn't in the mood for going home yet, so I phoned Saff and Randolph who I'd bumped into at the railway station and went to meet them in The Fringe.
Having secured a Frambozen Bier, we settled into a damn fine evening of festivities. This is also where the weekend took over again. Frambozen Bier, you see, is lethal. It tastes of nothing but Ribena, but gives you a kick up the arse the like of which was last delivered to Hitler when he tried to invade Russia.
So after a while, we decided to eat. And off we went to the most eyebrow-raisingly good restaurant I've been to in as very long time. Seriously, it was applause-worthy. Utterly impeccable Caribbean themed food, blindingly classy decor, and DJs mixing Reggae, Dub, and Funk all night. I will get the name and details of this heavenly abode of eatery and post a proper review soon.
However, we had to get back to Wigan for 9:15 to see our friend's band. Also however, the restaurant was themed in a Caribbean fashion right down to the serving speeds. Not that we cared. The atmosphere of the place was so mellow and smooth that to be faced with frantic, ratty, typically stressed out English service would have felt wrong. And besides, the food was so good that we were toasting it's quality with new drinks all the time. We were devouring and quaffing like Vikings after a particularly healthy season of pillaging and plundering, and we had no mind for the rest of the world for a second.
We missed the train. But fear not, we had another one an hour later.
But we had to perform another couple of toasts to the food. I am nothing if not respectful and a great believer in etiquette, and we just could not leave the food un-respected. And then we found the desserts cabinet, which contained Dime Bar cheesecake.
We missed the next train.
Finally leaving, knowing in our hearts that each member of staff was now a brother or a sister to us and cursing the fact that we didn't have time to hug each and every one of them individually, we had 10 minutes to get to the train. Which was a 15 minute walk away. And thus the full horror of a drunken, full to the sinuses run through Manchester hit us in the face. I won't try to describe the agony. It will only trouble your sleep.
Making it back to Wigan, we'd missed all the bands, so chose instead to drink yet more until 1am. There was a point towards the end of the night when I felt like I'd burst through to the other side and made myself sober, but on later reflection, I think that was just a cruel illusion.
Arriving home, I found another Daddy-Longlegs in my room and realised just how John McClane felt when everything kicked off again in Die Hard 2. But there was to be no "Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherfucker." moment. I drunkenly wrote off this one in the same method, and started to feel like it was time to write a letter of apology to their government.
Needless to say, I stumbled through Sunday with a mopey, incoherent, and slightly mumbly demeanor. My head was in a large collection of bits from start to finish, and I feel very sorry for anyone who came into contact with the slightly abstract shambles that I was that day. I decided the safest thing was to eat a bowl of Alpen, then play with my new computer all day. How well it went, I'm not entirely sure, as the entire day was a blur, and I was just glad to get to the end of it.
Then arriving in the bathroom at around midnight, I found a Daddy-Longlegs in the sink.
Only the body-flattening tiredness suppressed my hysteria.
I was determined not to break another one of them. I was adamant in that. And for all I knew there could be some kind of "Kill 3 in a row and you're cursed for life" rule. I don't know their folklore and traditions. So I spent a good 10 minutes engineering an operation of near surgical precision and care and eventually, punctuated by a couple of terrifying instances of the poor moronic thing landing in back in the sink, perilously close to the wet bits, I was redeemed.
I cleaned my teeth, went to bed, tripped out wildly on the edge of consciousness in that way that you do after such weekends, and blacked out.
I'd had a blindingly good time. :D
You know those times when you take an objective step back from your life and take stock? This weekend was one of those times, and I've realised that I'm really not satisfied with things. (Well, not really realised, as I knew full well before, but I've become far more lucid about it now.)
I can't really put my finger on one thing that it is. I know that it's definitely NOT a case of me not being happy myself and getting all mopey. Ironically, it's exactly the opposite situation that's brought this about. I'm incredibly happy and settled in myself, I know exactly what I want out of life, and I know myself well enough to know how to get it. And I've got enough ability and talent to do whatever I want.
No, the problem is that everything else around me seems really stale. I think maybe it's because I spent so long after Uni concentrating on getting the career sorted out, and putting everything else into the "Look at it later" pile, that things haven't moved on with the rest of me. I've got a really fun and worthwhile job working in music and media, working with people I really like, doing things I really like, in one of my favourite places in the country, and in myself I have no complaints. But everything else is starting to feel rather bland.
I've got a naturally explorative personality. I know that's a lot of the cause. I need to be always moving around, finding and learning new things, having new experiences, and meeting new people amongst the new things or I get bored, cranky, and really pissed off. And that's happening now.
The other night I was at a party with people I've been friends with for years, people who I get on with really well, and we were having a thoroughly pleasant, chilled out time. And I was bored out of my mind. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm reallyt glad I've got a lot of intelligent, imaginative, tasteful and decent people as friends, and that we can have nights like that. They're the sort of people I need to be around. If I was stick with a bunch of loud, leary, beer-swilling folk, with only a bi-weekly pub crawl to look forward to, I'd kill myself. And I'm not criticising anyone I'm friends with. I love them all dearly. But I just feel like nothing's HAPPENED for ages.
I was sitting there, having a fairly good time, but it was exactly the same fairly good time I've had every week or so for months upon months. I haven't met anyone new, been anywhere new, done anything new, or done anything utterly random on a whim for ages. And that's just not the way I work.
It just feels like I've got about 4 or 5 jigsaw pieces and I'm trying to make an infinite number of different pictures, but I'm running out of combinations. All my free time seems to be a slightly different rearrangement of the same events in a different order, at different times every week, and now I'm bored of it. It's strange. It seems like from Primary School to Uni, things have never stayed the same for too long. Things have always hung round for exactly the right length of time before things have been shaken up again, and my life's been built up of a just different enough permutation of new bricks. But this current line-up seems to have been around so long, it's getting really smelly and begining to go mouldy. I mean I KNOW how lucky I am. And I know I've got in bucketloads what a hell of a lot of people dream about, with a good job I love, good friends, money, a nice house, and the capacity to appreciate and enjoy them. But something is really missing.
There's a whole world out there. A whole world of countries, music, people, places, films, culture, ideas, sights, sounds, and experiences. I'm not saying going on a round the world safari will sort my problem out, it probably won't, but at the moment, I'm feeling like there's NOTHING fresh or exciting happening, and I'm standing in a jam jar bashing on the sides and trying to shout a message through to the other side.
Like I said, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm as clear headed, and purposeful, and confident as I've ever been. I'm bouncing off the walls and raring to go. But nothing outside work's making me feel that spark, that indefinable something, that fresh airiness that sends you skyrocketting out to take over the world and treat the whole place like your personal playground.
I need something, or somewhere, or someone new. At the moment I feel like I'm just killing time 'til the next re-jig. And I really want the next adventure to start soon.
As some of you may be aware, I have a very real problem with our nation's public transport staff, particularly the train-based species. When I sound this most passionate of opinions, I find often that people are confused as to my reasonings. Still naively swept up in the romantic cloud of mystique of this country's great locomotive past, they can't get past the image of a shiny steam engine speeding through the countryside on a sunny day, the idea of happy Victorian school children gallivanting off on a jolly day out, and of course, that most cheery and romantic image of all, The Fat Controller.
But these people are mistaken. The modern day descendents of Thomas The Tank Engine's erstwhile colleague are not big chubby, rosy-faced men of an endearingly grumpy demeanour. They're vile, petulant scum of the highest order, and have to be stopped by any means necessary.
My friends, my examples are as follows:
1, The Scanner Darkly Incident
Yes, A Scanner Darkly. One of the finest, best directed, most intelligently written, best acted, and beautifully, beautifully crafted films in recent years. Unsurprisingly I'd been waiting about a year to see it. And come opening week I rang around, motivated the troops, sold the film down to my last breath, and organised a trip to go and see it on opening night. I was in a fine mood.
But then my train didn't turn up. And the next one was delayed. And then when I went to check why the next one was a few minutes late I was informed, with a "Please try and evolve along with the rest of us" expression, that it had just left from the station across the road. This, understandably, raised a few questions. Like "Why was it advertised over on this station?”. "Why wasn't the location of departure noted on any of the new, easily updateable electronic boards you've just bought in, at the expense of cleaning up the cess pool in the street outside or buying a few new computers for one of the district's many schools?". And most importantly, "Why, in fact, am I being so civil and polite, and biting my tongue, when you're clearly a smug imbecile who's delighting in every second of this?”. But bite my tongue I did, left the station quietly seething, and missed the film entirely. I heard the people I invited to go had a great time though.
2, "Nope, 'Fraid You're Not Allowed To Be On Time. Regulations."
So it's 9am. I've just made it to the railway station on my way to work. I'm cutting it a bit fine due to my bus being late, but that isn't bothering me. I've still got another minute or two 'til the train's due in, and I've only got the steps down to the platform to cover in that time. But no. Suddenly, sensing that great evil is in the air somewhere around me, I spot a ticket inspector at the top of said steps. A huge, bulbous, vaguely pestilent looking man, features swollen to the point where he only has one facial expression any more, and a far from inviting one at that.
I've whipped my credit card out before I even reach him, already trying to save every precious second I can. But my efforts are in vain. As I'm in the middle of ordering my ticket, I hear what sounds like the train pulling in, and looking over said behemoth of slovenly gristle's shoulder I see that I am unfortunately right. I plead with the quivering mass to be allowed down onto the platform. It's clear that I'm happy to buy a ticket, surely?
But it's clear that I'm happy to buy a ticket, and they check everyone on the train in the morning anyway.
But it's clear that I'm happy to buy a ticket, they check everyone on the train in the morning anyway, and I can't get off the platform at the other end without buying one.
And if I don't get that train, I'll be 20 minutes late for work.
"Well you'll just have to be late then."
Never in my life had I ever before booted someone down a cold, concrete staircase, and delighted in the contrasting tones between the vibrant red blood leaking out of their skull and the pale grey cement it flowed onto. And I'm pleased to say I didn't that time either. But ye gods, the temptation was great. Luckily, I just managed to get down the steps and onto the train in time, but the doors were closing after me as I did.
I don't know what pleasure the jabbering mess at the top of the steps got from this early morning psychological torture. It couldn't even be justified that he was trying to save the railway company from the collapse caused by the loss of a £6 fare. As I’ve pointed out, there's no way I could have got out of it even if I'd wanted to, which I actually didn't. 'Twas mere bureaucracy and gratuitous power wielding, and I don't much care for that sort of stupidity. But a tip for if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Make it very clear that you've clocked their name badge. They hate that, and it makes things run along so much faster...
3, That Guy
Picture the scene. It's 9:45. After the traumas of the early morning, I've found myself to a seat on the train, relaxed as it rushed me away from the madness left in the station behind me, and closed my eyes for some medically vital zoning out, as the hypnotic "Ker-chunk, ker-chunk" of the train drifted my mind off to an emptier, calmer, but occasionally weirder place. After forty five minutes of blissful half-dreaming, I arrive in Manchester, awake, refreshed, and enthused about another day in the city.
But then the wake up call beyond wake up calls. The call to arms for all things dark and unholy. The moment which stiffens my back, and hardens my glare, as I'm forced once again to do battle with the single most odious opponent I have ever come across.
At the top of the steps, there is a man. He is the most irritating man I have ever met in my life. This is no exaggeration, which is I realise, an impressive statement. But the most irritating he is nonetheless.
I realise that when I try to explain the true horror of this person that I'll sound like I'm bitching and moaning.
"Oh it's just because you're tired in the morning.",
You may say.
"It's just because it's part of your morning routine.”
But no. This creature is not human. He is without heart, soul, humour, or grace. He is a crotchety old scrote of the most hideous kind and I want him wiped from the surface of our beautiful planet as soon as possible.
I can't explain it. I know I can't explain it. Maybe it's the way he says "Tickets pleeease" with the cold, mechanical whirr of some horrific, robotic ferryman of the River Styx. Maybe it's the empty, dead, reptilian stare of his eyes as he looks at your ticket, and then you, as if you've just beaten a kitten right in front of him. Maybe it's the way he insists on holding onto each ticket with the vicelike grip of the dead for about 10 seconds, while he reads every... last... detail... on it, only letting go when he feels he's held onto it for long enough to beat you at whatever sick little psychological game's going on in his head. Because there are so many of us who are forging our counterfeit tickets on the printing presses we smuggle onto the train every morning. And it takes a trained eye to spot them.
And in the meantime while all of this is happening, there's a huge backlog of people crushing up behind the bottleneck, gasping for breath, cracking ribs, and falling back down the steps to be greeted by God knows what kind of injuries at the bottom. And still he checks the tickets. And still he reads every... last... detail. And still the horrible, deathly cackle rings through the cold morning air... "Tickets pleeease. Tickets pleeease...”
And some people still say to me
"Oh, he's just a person, doing a job."
But this is not true. I know it. A person doing a job accepts that the real world and real life get in the way of concrete, bureaucratic regulations. A person doing a job does the best they can, but realises that it is just a job, and therefore not at all at the top of the list of priorities in a happy, meaningful life. A person remains a person. But he is a cold, nightmarish automaton, an unfeeling, uncaring, lifeless repetition, his only passion or love for the job, and the job only. He loves the power. He loves the authority. And most of all, he loves the rules. He only works at the railway station because he failed the psychological evaluation for the police and he's too scrawny to be a bouncer, and his very presence, being, and outlook unnerve me and make me uneasy to my core.
So you see what I am up against almost each and every day. You see the hideous, squirming evil with which I have to contend. Please, tell me that I am not alone. Please, someone, tell me that you understand and that you share my plight and passion. Please, say that you'll join with me and that we'll fight. We'll fight and we'll win, and we'll drive this dark scourge from our country's green and pure landscape. And we'll be clean, and innocent, and happy again.
©2006, David Houghton
So far, it's all going really rather well. I'm not usually as impressed with the concept of Bank Holiday Weekends as most people are. I tend to just see them as adding an extra Sunday onto the weekend, and let's face it, no-one needs more than one of them a week. But this one's great.
It's probably at least in part due to the fact that I was running the whole company last week and doing a pretty damn good job of it, so I know I've earned it. It probably actually helps a bit too that I got paid a bit too late to afford to go to Creamfields, Leeds, or any of the other festivals that have swallowed up most of my friends this weekend. They would have been fun, but a far more battering, far more organised kind of fun, which isn't really what I feel like at the moment (plus the Leeds bill's embarrassingly generic this year, apart from the Dresden Dolls).
So an entirely improvised weekend of relaxing and doing not very much with some people I like is the way to go, I think. And from its beginning, as I used my considerable Ninja skills to stealth my way around the railway station and hide from my friend while we were waiting for the train back from work (I swear, if I'd been born Japanese, I would have had a very different career path), to now, it's all been thoroughly excellent, in a nicely understated and meandering way.
Apart from my run in with the mother of all spiders last night. I don't use that phrase in the figurative sense, by the way. This thing was so big it could literally have spawned every other spider on the planet. Simultaneously. It was one of those unnaturally accelerated ones you get at the end of the Summer when the food runs scarce and they all start eating each other, eventually leading to one big B-movie mutant who's eaten all the rest. I swear, it was about 5 inches in diameter, but I took the honourable option considering the fact that it was the this year's winner of the spider equivalent of Big Brother (and could have easily broken my arm if it had wanted to), let it live, and ran away.
But enough of that. We both made it away from the altercation happy this time, and I wish the spider well in his future life, holding him no personal ill will despite our differences.
And anyway, I'm finally off to see A Scanner Darkly today, which I've been waiting for for well over a year. I might well post a review up this week.
There's a woman at Deansgate Station in Manchester. I see her in the morning as my train goes through on the way to work. She stands there, with her MP3 player on, and dances with the most wild abandonment you could possibly imagine. She bogles, she spins, she waves her arms around, she does all manner of jiggy steps, an all in her own little world, with her own private soundtrack. And she's not half bad...
And the best part about this whole thing is that she's not crazy.
You might expect, from the description, for her to be one of the typical public transport loonies we see so often as we go about our day to day business. But she's not. She's completely sane.
She just doesn't give a shit.
And that's why she deserves this tribute.
You see that's what it's all about. You can wear as baggie a pair of pants as you want, slick your fringe over into JUST the right angle, and wear one of those T-shirts that proudly claims "You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you're all the same" (You do know they're mass produced, don't you?) from now until the end of your life, but if you really want to get into all this "I'm a free thinker" stuff, the actual reality is a lot simpler.
Just do things on a whim. Let "Is this fun?" be your only criteria for decision making, and if it is fun, do more of it. If it isn't, don't do it.
Any further consideration than that will only bring in outside factors and perceptions that'll sully and muddle your critical faculties, when at the end of the day, what you really want is the simple purity of what works for you and gives you a giggle. Because let's face it, that's the all-important part.
So don't even consider whether you're being cool, geeky, an outcast, or thoroughly accepted by society. Don't give a second's thought to whether you're being mainstream or alternative (because let's face it, neither of those phrases really mean anything any more, and neither is inherently better in itself as a black and white philosophy). Don't even question for a moment whether other people think you're the weirdest thing they've ever seen, normal in the most normal of ways, anywhere in between, or just don't even notice you. Just be like the woman at the railway station and do things on instinct because they're fun.
I guarantee you'll have a much better time.
©2006, David Houghton
So, as readers of my post below will know, today was my first day in charge of the company for a week. So how did it go? Well...
I started the day with an early mission: Get into town, get a passport photo, use said passport photo to get a weekly bus and train ticket to strike another monetary blow against the dark league of public transport officials, and use said ticket to get the hell out of town and off to work. All by 9:07. Game on.
So I get into town. Is there a photo machine anywhere? Is there fuck. In fact the only one I knew, at the railway station, has now been removed, leaving only a big square block of differently coloured paint on the wall behind where it was to emphasise the fact that it isn't there any more. So I explore. Everywhere that might have one is closed, so I end up in the Travel Shop in the bus station (Can you even buy travel? Am I likely to be pulled up by the tax man at the end of the year for all the walking I've done? The concept seems strange to me.), pumping about a fiver into a £3:50 photo booth which is clearly knackered and can't count. Around the £4 mark I get out and point out the problem to the guy behind the counter, who insightfully responds that "It works" and that there's a number on the side I can ring. Cheerfully exclaiming that that's bound to fix it, I jump back in and start loading it with more money. Eventually it works, and it all works out well in the end, because I've ended up with the greatest passport photo of my life. Seriously. If Satan exists and can be concieved of by human minds, this is what he looks like. Fuck every film or painting you've ever seen. He looks like me in this photo. If I ever murder someone, this is the photo that the news are going to use. It's absolutely blinding, and I love it.
Anyway, I get all that sorted, and off to work I go. Smugly flaunting my new "I don't need to justify anything to you" ticket at all the railway station staff (I have an on-going war with these miserable, self-important fuckers. I'll detail it all here at some point.), I continue into the office, where I find an amusingly lengthy voicemail message from my boss, spread over three consecutive recordings to fit it all on. So far, so good. Then the phone rings. I pick it up. A voice emenates from the reciever. "Hi, I'm outside. I'm here for work experience with you for the next week." My mind double-takes. No-one has told me she'll be here today. In fact, no-one has told me this person even exists. Not sure whether she does or not, I go outside to investigate.
She does exist, and a cup of tea later she's sitting at her new desk ready to start a whole week of work I'd hitherto not known she was going to do, and so had not planned. Though never mind, an extra pair of hands is always good, and after a bit of messily improvised delegation we were flying through it. She's pretty good.
Anyway, around about 5 o' clock my mate comes over to help out, but as the extra person means there's no desk space left he makes tea instead, which as far as I see it is as useful as any other task. At about 5:30 I let everyone down tools because despite the extra half hour to go, it's clear that we've run out of things to do and none of us can be arsed. Ah well, away home for another day.
Getting back to town at 7:05 provides me with a 25 minute wait for the bus, giving me once again nothing to do but puzzle over the failings of the spelling and grammar on the various signs over the Christian bookshop across the road. I could rant about this for ages, but I'll save that for a separate post. (Although Jesus Christ (For it being a Christian shop, surely he is the one to sort it out), it's a fucking bookshop! Bad signwriting outside there is like running a butchers' shop and having a shit-ridden, wormy goat carcass hanging up in the window.)
However the nano-second I finished my grumbly internal monologue about the utter disrespect the English language gets from just about every independent business in the country, a large, bearded man standing near me let loose the most rip-roaring fart I've heard in a very long time. It was perfect punctuation to my rant, that he'll never even know he created, and it more than made up for the lack of it on the sign opposite. It was huge, loud, and when it stopped, he took a step forward and let out another one (leading me to suspect it was still the same one, merely on pause for a second, making it even more impressive). The man clearly did not give a shit, and I tastefully avoided making the obvious mental pun based around the fact. I very nearly applauded and congratulated him on his clearly Olympic-standard arse, but when the bus arrived I made a point of not sitting next to him.
And then, just to round things off, about halfway home, a miserable old woman in her mid-50's started moaning away in that astonishingly indignant yet ineffectual way that only the slack-jawed outrage of the mentally unfortunate can bring about. (I smiled, as it inspired me to come up with the phrase "the slack-jawed outrage of the mentally unfortunate") For what seemed like days (Or it could quite easily have been weeks, months, or years. In fact fuck it, empires could have risen and fallen in the time it took her to stop.), she rambled on about the pain and indignity caused to her family, descendents, and probably ancestors, in a back-dated fashion, by the altercation with the bus driver which caused her to pay an extra 60p to get home. This was clearly the most important thing in her life at this very time, and will, I have no doubt, be her only topic of conversation for the next two months. For god's sake. Like it matters. But nevertheless, she banged on about it to anyone who would listen (which was precisely no-one, as the age-old technique of the nod-and-smile was clearly out in force) for quite some time, and I was getting quite irritated by the sheer, futile, needless angst and aggression of the woman. But then she got up, left the bus, and revealed that her arse was hanging right out. And as is to be expected from people of her ilk, it was fucking huge.
I shook with the gleeful pain of suppressed laughter all the way home.
©2006, David Houghton
Error running style:
So picture the scene. It's late. I'm making the long walk from my friend's house on the outskirts of town to the town centre where I can get a bus home. It's starting to rain. Noticeably. Not officially into the realm of pissing down yet, but it's on its way.
I check my watch. Five to ten. The bus leaves in five minutes and I'm still nowhere near. Shit.
So I quicken my pace, darting towards the lights in the middle of town, and through them to the other side where my goal lies. I reach the apex of the hill which makes the top of the high street but I have no time to take in the sights, such as they are. I speed up even further, spurred forth by the incline of the hill and the ever increasing urgency of my mission. I can see the bus stop. It's in sight. But my heart sinks. I know my time is almost up and before I can reach the stop I have to cross the road, continue another hundred metres or so, and then cross the road again to the other side. But I haven't seen the bus yet so I push all thoughts of negativity out of my head and press on, knowing all the while in my heart of hearts that the time elapsed since I last checked my watch was well over five minutes. But I can't think about that now, so I speed up ever more, a quick skip leading into a jog, leading to another, leading to another, leading to another...
But the bottom drops out of my world. First of all I reach the first road I have to cross and I realise that the green man is not my friend. In fact he hates me so much he's decided not to come out to play at all, belligerently avoiding me and leaving me with only his stubborn red associate for company. The fucker. I'll have his skull on a spike if it's the last thing I do. And then I look to the right and am greeted with the most leering, foul, unholy visage I could possibly have inflicted upon my poor, innocent soul at that point. Let's put it this way, I'll give you three guesses which vehicle was stopped at the traffic lights four feet away from me, and if it takes you all three to get it right, you my friend, don't know just how goddarned cruel the irony of this world can be.
So now it's beyond a challenge. It's absolutely fucking personal, as if the bus had skinned my cat, put him on my bed as a pillow case, and then mocked me for having nightmares after making me sleep on him. It's not enough for him for me to miss my last ride home for half an hour. It's not enough for him that the wind's just the wrong side of razor sharp. It's not enough for him that I haven't got my MP3 player with me, so I'll be stuck out in the exposed night air with nothing to do except stare blankly at the Christian bookshop across the road and ask wordlessly why God has chosen to forsake me on such a piss-grimy night (Probably all those years of not believing in him. Bugger.). No. Now he wants to watch it all happen, like the sick filthy pervert that he is.
But no. I'm not going down like this. Fuck him. Fuck him, fuck everything he stands for, fuck every dream he'll ever have. I make a stand, and not even bothering to press the crossing button to stall him any further, I stride forth, knowing that this is MY night, I own it, and it'll end on my terms. Yeah, I could have given myself a thirty second head start, but where's the fun in that? I'm going to take this one down in style. I'm going to win, I'm going to do it making sure he knows he had a shot, and I'm going to make him feel like his face is rubbing through gravel for every last second of it.
I'm across the road now. He still hasn't moved. My outward appearance is calm, but I know I haven't got long. I quicken my pace, knowing all the time that I can't show him too much weakness. If he knows I'm willing to run, he'll love it. It'll give him the boost he needs, and then it'll all be over. And he knows I know that. And besides, I've never run for a bus in my life. It's just undignified. But I haven't got long. An hour long second of dead, cold silence, and then I hear the hiss of his brakes. I go for it.
Quickening my pace as far as it'll go, straining and stretching, but never, never breaking it into a run, I accelerate faster and faster, constantly checking my peripheral vision for any sign than he might be gaining. Don't look. Don't turn round. I'm safe for now, but it can't be for long. I can't have more than a second or two. It's all going to be over soon.
But then I notice the guy across the road. The guy at the bus stop. The slightly wobbly guy with the can in his hand. The guy who's suddenly perked up, looked over at me, and started cheering. In a kind of beautiful twist, only the most addled person in the street seems to have realised what's going on. And he's on my side. I say "Fuck it" and I start to run. By this point the etiquette of it's academic anyway, and if I don't beat this fucker and do it now there'll be a whole new level of shame coming calling and it'll last for at least half an hour, in the cold and in the rain.
I break into a sprint with the wind in my hair and sparks of flame running through everywhere else, every other such situation of my life suddenly blurring into inanity. Every school sports day? Ha! What was the significance of that anyway? What did you get for winning one of those races, except for a certificate and the knowledge that you were the fastest with both feet stuck in a sack? This was where it mattered. Out here on the street. At night, in the rain, with only the moon and a stranger as an audience, and only seconds between sweet, tangible victory and icy, mortal defeat. I upped my game, burnt my soles, and with a final indignant grin, jack-knifed my path across the road.
The bus was still seconds away. I laughed the laugh of the just as he came plodding down the road towards me, emasculated, humiliated, and beaten down in every way. But he'd been licked by a better man, and there's just no arguing around that. Satisfied, I strolled down the bus stop towards my rightful place, taking the time to take in the night air as I did. It didn't seem as cold any more, and the rain was seeming to be stopping. I took one last look around, smiled, and the drunk guy cheered and pushed me to the front of the queue.
©2006, David Houghton
S2TIMEOUT: Timeout: 4, URL: sir-david-esq.livejournal.com/ at /home/lj/src/s2/S2.pm line 532.