The British Jaws, The Demon on Dartmoor, and estate agents organising a mass whinge about the utterly inconsequential home information pa.w wsddip jfws\a/;……..-sorry, just fell asleep on my keyboard* – yes, folks, it’s silly season once again, and I’m almost looking forward to this one. The imagination of our daily red-topped chav-speak lexicons will be stretched to new levels given that (a) there won’t be anyone taking their clothes off in Trafalgar Square/Hyde Park this year, (b) wasps aren’t getting any bigger or coming from anywhere else and (c) once they traditionally get bored there’s nothing left to anticipate in the Queen’s Speech because helpful old Guddenbroon has already projectile vomited it all over the front benches before the recess, and like a pack of wild puke hounds the editors bit each others’ bettys off to be able to mop it up with their rags. Even that old standby immigration will be of no use once the decent majority get their loungers out – it tends to lose its horror when one is sipping Pimm’s in a 100-ft back garden, where you know, (dear) Britain just doesn’t seem quite so crowded to overflowing, what! (though they should do something about next door’s bloody lawnmower). Incidentally, this only recently occurred to me, but as clued-up senior boloists you will probably already have appreciated the metaphorical value of the ‘influx of freak insect from the continent’ stories that crop up (just when you thought it safe to venture to Homebase the French release a cloud of mildly irritant purple moth caterpillars, and of course giant wasps, presumably bred in a detention centre in Calais or somewhere oop Congo-way).
So anyway, back to the supposed Great White shark spotted off the coast of Cornwall: a considered little piece in the true interest of public safety, keenly and conscientiously researched to make sure it wasn’t a harmless blue shark, porbeagle or basking shark (<em>oh noooowh Cap’n, this’n wuz ‘ooooge wiv teeyf loik Forrrd Fiesterrrrs), and guaranteed to deliver to the tourist industry the kind of kick in the head that you might expect in Glasgow, were you in the gutter outside the Brick and Shitter, face down and choking on yours and several others’ enzyme and sex-on-the-beach-softened kebabs. And just to make sure that the brave but hapless berghaus-clad, daring to holiday at the end of the world, can’t flee inland, the Daily Mace your local Polish plumber comes up with a flanking movement, introducing a monstrous sheep-eating ball of fluff spotted on Dartmoor, followed by the somewhat inevitable chorus of speculation from bored or playful (or discredited) ‘boffins’ about breeding communities of rabid panther-bears and sabre-toothed wallabies, one of which may not be too far away from your back garden – in fact madam, one could be polluting your water feature right now, and come to think of it have you checked fluffy in the last hour, and really, just what did eat M******e McC**n……………………………..?!!!
*joke (c) J. Clarkson c.2002. Nice man. Very tall.
I had been trying to pick a parcel from the post office for two weeks. Every time I went in with the slip confirming which post office the package had been sent to they took a photcopy, noted my phone number and promised to call me the next day. Every dutiful post office worker was duly appalled that their colleauges had not got back to me and vowed to ring me the very next day with news on this ether drowned parcel of mine. My patience was wearing thin, but I knew that getting openly pissed off with these people very rarely pays dividends. So I opted for polite persistence. I went in to see those fuckers every day and let them photocopy their bit of paper and tut at the failure of their colleauges. I remained civil and pushed my enquiries as politely and firmly as possible, but they all seemed incapable of reacting in a different way to their seemingly infinite number of co-workers (I had yet to see the same incomptent twice). I began to suspect that these were no ordinary public sector, work dodging, slow moving, gaggle of wretches.
There was no time for a gradual effort to test my theory. It was now day 15 – the last day they would keep hold of my mystery parcel, if the idiots ever indeed had it, and I knew that after that I would be greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and a “you should have come earlier, Monsieur”. I was afraid how I might react to this shrug, so I vowed not to pursue the matter beyond the already taxing 15 day period.
I was fortunate to find only a small queue of people ahead of me – 5 or 6. I could expect to be at the counter within 20 minutes, with a bit of luck. It turned out to be 10 and I took this to be a good omen. The woman whose counter was free gave me the standard look of disinterested disdain as I approached. She had a head like a wine soaked king edward, a small piggy nose and tiny, deep set brown eyes. I made no effort to smile, but mouthed a ‘bonjour’ and nodded as I reached her platform of adminsitrative mishaps and staple gun fuckery. Then I reached out, grabbed hold of her ear and yanked it viciously downwards. There came a sound like a cat being disemboweled. FRAAAAAACHHHH!
The ear came off in my hand and it didn’t feel right. Too heavy to be flesh and absolutely no blood. I looked up and saw that another ear was shooting out of the woman’s head to replace the one in my hand. I wasn’t surprised. I reached out and ripped that one off too. FRAAAAAACHHHH! And again and again. I got tired and stopped. No one had seemed to notice my outburst. The king edward was just staring at me, wincing slightly as her latest replacement ear emerged.
I left, reassured that I was not going mad by the pocket full of ears in my coat. I had always suspected that french postal clerks were sub-human incompetents, but to find out it was true was alarming. Who put them there? Why? Why had no one else noticed? Was I living in a town populated by androids or aliens? My ear-ripping quest had only just begun.
I came up with a couple of paragraphs a few nights back, that demonstrate what happens to a man when he drinks too much coffee, stays up too late and leans himself up (they’re not in the final cut, although I was tempted):
“We kept coming back to the list. We pinned it up on our noticeboard, we wrote down words on post it notes and stuck them on the fridge. We drew strange diagrams and argued about whether colours captured a particular emotion or whether a font was too austere or too boutique. We checked everything we made against the list and sometimes this meant starting over or making tough decisions. On occasion, we pulled our hair out and ripped up the bits of paper scattered on the floor, cursing the cat for putting paw prints on our prototypes and banged our heads on the wall, rueful of the day we had determined to visually express the concepts of â€˜creativeâ€™ and â€˜heavyweightâ€™ at the same time.
These were good days, and the reason I mention them is that I want to make the point that getting branding right is difficult, but worthwhile. Successful branding is about opening up a compelling dialogue with your audience and offers you the chance to express your work in its best light. It should evoke consistent associations, while allowing room for creative freedom, debate and playfulness. It is about being clear about who you are and having the confidence to deliver consistent messages, within a consistent visual framework that increases the impact of what you do and what you say. ”
It was then, I knew for sure that I had passed over the threshold of Bill Hick’s simple categorisation of evil. I was an animal, and I was proud of myself.
Coughing like an old asbestos worker today. It came on sudden after a night’s heavy drinking and Parcour tomfoolery. I woke up in Putney confused by my geographic location and irritated by my inability to remember to drink copious amounts of water before going to sleep.
By then it was already late, sometime mid-afternoon and that meant there was work to be done and casualties along the way. The Greek was somewhat agrieved to hear that I would not now be popping over to his flat for some light marootage later in the day. I apologised, I was a drunken fool I explained.
My cough was getting worse so I knuckled down to the computinator to get some work out of the way. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I find myself desperately trying (and so far failing) to make some space to sit down and get some writing out, not least to clear the mental tubes a bit. Avoid complete shutdown or complete burst of the seratonin valve and all that good stuff. Ah well, perhaps it will happen and perhaps it won’t. If I can just preserve the valve, then everything else might just be well.
One down, one to go (and that’s just this year), but bring it on. The Great White Wedding at the weekend I was, truth be told, dreading as if it were my own, but amazingly the nuptial reality did nothing to reinforce my cynicism. Actually, I’m not too proud to say it was something approaching the very opposite. It’s true of course that before our very eyes thousands of pounds were being cremated every second on terminally ill flowers, white napkins and canapes, but the fact is no-one could smell it over the strange narcotic happy gas that enveloped the whole proceedings. So much planned and coincidental went so right from the traditional church ceremony to the following controlled-mayhem-tinged dinner/party that the Vic and his wife Bob must have felt not-just-a-little Christian smugness, and for once I could forgive them for it, even if they did lay the God on a bit thick (sort of every other word thick as it happened). I’m thinking that maybe they saw the glint in my atheist eye so felt to protect the sanctity of it all, or maybe they just caught sight of Steedo mysteriously having appeared on the front row with a tan that could only have come from being slowly toasted in the fiery depths….but of course the devil makes digression for idle minds…
So, yeah man, the booze flowed in high quality and quantity, the speeches stayed tasteful, the bride blubbed, the father blubbed (double blubble?!), the best man fought it bravely; the Sun came out, the Pimm’s went down but not down my shirt, there were mini toad-in-the-holes, chicken on sticks, and cheese, ham and melon not on sticks; the suits were sharp, the wits weren’t blunted, the girls were beautiful (even the big-nosed ones from school), and Steedo stacked it in his classic style. And I didn’t.
So with my faith restored (in weddings at least – I’ll reserve judgement on the institution of marriage, and Jimbo and Jimmy Hoffa are still out in the cold) I returned, refreshed, to work in my welcoming and airy building at my exciting and rewarding job to make a difference to the world whilst drawing my well-earned and generous salary and smiling at everyone with the gaiety of a new-born bonobo… This being Wednesday of course, it would actually be safer to treat the latter part of this paragraph as writing in opposites. Off to the fucking dry cleaners, I guess.
Had to have a nap this afternoon as I was up early to drive to Bicester and back. It was a good trip, and Crimpanort’s bag of paper prototypes seemed to go down well, but getting up early is totally offensive to me, so after we returned I staked out the sofa for forty winks.
Need to save energy because tomorrow Lurch is tying the proverbial knot. The day promises to be taxing because of the requirement to don a strange suit and do minor errands in the interests of keeping up the bonds of friendship and because of the inevitable onslaught of alcohol, high-jinx and dad-dancing that will no doubt ensue.
The first of my home crew to take the plunge, it all seems like an epic moment in the history of the group. A momentous occurrence of some note and not one without its peril. Lurch snapped his finger yesterday in an impromptu bout of wrestling with Davros. Sometime before that, after a dose of sambucca and champagne it was myself and Prubast that were trading insults. Shouting abuse in each others faces for a couple of minutes before thinking better of the whole thing and repairing home for a couple of maroots.
All in all, ominous rumblings, but not insurpassable. I feel another nap coming on so I better sign off wishing sunshine, providence, frankincence and all other good things, arrive conveniently at 13:00 tomorrow.
Well. How to broach a new subject after an onslaught of quite stunning reports from the front of insanity, after an apparently barbarous trip to the ‘dam. I, being a stranger to that collective experience will simply raise my current glass of scotch (am doing so now) and finish off the rest of the bottle in homage to these warriors of fortune.
My own personal trip is waning to a close and I can foresee several conclusions galloping from the horizon. I have been in Madrid on and off during the last year and have enjoyed it. I do, however, suffer the niggling feeling that I haven’t quite made enough of the experience. Responsibilities back home, working to survive, a troubled past and personality defects have probably all conspired against me.
But I shall not be the Forgotten Knight.
If there is a useful thing I seem to have learned in the past 27.8 years of life, it is that nothing worthwhile is ever finished, or even has a possible end. To finish something renders it part of the past and not worth thinking about anymore. Passe, old-hat, defunct. Desires, generally, are a fool’s mirage. This must be the point of all those muff-headed surfer monkeys constantly squealing “live in the NOW!” at anyone that will listen.
But that can be taken several ways. Living every moment in a hedonistic salubriousness surely will result in a Vanilla Ice-like nose-dive, the likes of which we can probably glimpse from the brief examples of all-out episodes described in the posts below. But perhaps there is another way… altogether more zen-like.
And that is what I may have learned on this voyage. The continuous drone of marketing, PR, hype and product placement that has assailed my ears since London sprogdom has ceased while I have been here. The materialistic and short-lived desires that characterise the capitalistic way of life have lost their power – and I am left, savouring the most normal and oft-repeated moments of friends, beer, smiles and laughter… each one perfectly formed and untouchable.
“Oh my God, Coy’s dead!” So I was told the cry went from young Groover on hearing the sickening dull crash, moments after the screams from room 204 of “get off the fucking scaffolding…!” It seems that a split in the true style of this group with an ability to organise itself disturbingly inverse to its collection of Honours qualifications had led to that man and Prubasticus Drinkasaurus wandering the streets and finally retiring in the then vain hope of the rest of us reappearing at the Kaizersgracht, and so the cacophony of shouting, screaming and various zoo, farmyard and figgert noises had to be deciphered by the poor, addled Groovester through a piss-stained pubic hair-pile carpet and an inch of asbestos – hence the understandable panic.
The night at the casino had gone well, we thought. The Hof lost all his money, the Bennett made just enough for a belt of shotgun cartridges for his honeymoon to Tanzania, and the general lunacy was kept in check by the small glasses of beer and the atmosphere of calm respectability driven by fear of the hiding strong-arm casino goons. Nevertheless, small glasses of beer quickly make their mark on top of a day’s flying, power drinking and intensive leanery and by not-too-far past eleven the evening got a midlife crisis on as the silent solemnity of the poker room threatened.
So, after the group had pulled itself together a little less efficiently than grains of sand trying to form the Great Pyramid inside a Dyson and had proceeded to argue about taxis so much that comfortably less were booked than were required, I found myself on Dam square with a greatly reduced number of friends around me, paying seven Euros for a beer, and waiting for the other cabful, apparently dropped where the driver felt appropriate for a group of ‘hilarious’ English stag-do boys, i.e. where they really didn’t want to go but were too pissed to realise. The intention on receipt of another ragbag quota of staggers was to charge, like stags (albeit with the coordination of bluebottles post insectocutor) into the beckoning special sweaty seediness just around the corner.
Needless to say (and to cut a long story short-er), after a brief while in this special brand of filth things had got very messy indeeed, and with the chucking of Crimpy’s whites (a frequent and always inappropriately-timed event over the weekend it seemed) in an accidental strip bar more seedy than a jacknifed pomegranate lorry, the evening was forced to make a return to the dark doors of the ‘Hotel’ Keizersgracht. A little on the pit we stayed in: on initial viewing, the place engendered (a) disgusted incredulity at its rottten decor and mysterious ‘stains’ – funny, (b) relentless need for extraction of piss from the bookers of such a cheesy wankpot – hilarious – and (c) real fear that the whole fucking building was condemned and held up by the flimsy mixture of scaffolding and netting completely covering its facade – pant wetting. It was so sorrily short of self-respect that it had to be brought down from the very top. And so the infantry form Planet of the Apes, fresh out of battle and suitably gibbering, bowled in from the night in a mood to throw poo.
Good intentios, I am ashamed to say, initially penetrated the fog in my noggin – a sad indictment of the culture of proto-middle-class-ambition and sedentary drinking in salubrious environments that I had unwittingly allowed to pervert me since I returned from Bolo’s Asian office – and I had actually attempted to go to bed, hoping that the Groovemeister had safely made his way back (hadn’t thought about it ’til then) and had had a similar attack of pernicious sanity. Despite his presence within the door never opened, so down I trundled, confused, fearful and swearing fitfully, to 204.
A brief memory gap follows, but I was first out of the window, both in attempt and success, and any man who dares stake their claim to this feat is welcome to it if the insurance people ever catch up – otherwise I will fight them. Which trooper on a para grabbed my arm at the last moment as I was disappearing onto the ‘balcony’ I cannot remember, but the jolt removed my secure footing, dislodged a board, and sent me headfirst back into the room accompanied by (in order) a crack, an ominous pause, and a sickening thump of what was probably a pretty fundamental bolt or flange (snigger) cratering the pavement three storeys below, and followed by various primal whoops, You Dicks, Oh My Gods and unheard by us……the wail of Groover above.
Anyway, as a pissed mission never ends until it ends (normally badly) I was not to be deterred, I endeavoured to sneak out unopposed, and had fun convincing people of my miraculous disappearance (it was messy, remember) whilst miraculously appearing as some sort of hallucination walking past the window. It soon caught on, however, and it was only a matter of time before someone got silly. “Look, I can climb up here” came from Bennett’s brother-in-law Dave, whose insanity I had hitherto little knowledge, and he dispensed with human form as he scaled the framework like a hideous but efficient gibbon/octopus splice, trained by a Frenchman. “Look, there are ladders – to the roof” cried someone else (me?!!!) and thus the gateway to a new altitude of mischief crept ajar. Moments later, said gateway was full of the bustle of lunatics in a race to the most dangerous part of the building. There we were, a lanky gaggle of bloodshot fuckfaces: four, five, six…more? – a hundred feet up on what was little more than three rotten boards, at the top of a creaking scaffold, holding up a crumbling building, greased up for good measure by the pissing rain.
The rest is a little unclear, even in comaprison to what came before. The following memories do exist, though the chronological order will always remain a mystery: The iPod and speakers, the Stone Roses, the dancing, the jumping up and down, the raucous singing and my attempted dousing of a passing cyclist in urine, much of which the now howling wind had blown back onto my new shirt; the attempt by Grechian to get us down so as not to die which was dismissed as a para as if we’d been climbing on a park bench and – not to be outdone on his night – the climbing on the chimney by Stag Boy himself. What might have been makes us all shudder from time to time. But are we sorry? The question will surely remain unanswered until the fiancee reads this and forgives – or doesn’t, or doesn’t read this so it remains unknown; until the slum lords discover their building in a heap after the next severe gust or merely stumble across the decoy smashed hairdryer and accept our eyelid-fluttering denial of it all; until the legend is established or disperses to leave the Horror of potential; or until God proves his existence with a snap Judgement Day and we are all taken down and fucked up the grotgutter for this and every other transgression we have committed since the first tentative sniff of alcohol/drugs/fanny. Which won’t happen of course, because if given much more chance the AmsterDamage, or British Airways, will finish us off long before anything can intervene.
Returned late last night after the seats on the plane we were supposed to catch at two in the afternoon were sold off to wealthy oil barons and tax-experts by the world’s favourite airline. We had timed our arrival at the airport exactly, blazing it up furiously in a favourite coffee shop, fully equipped for a large group of individuals each ranging somewhere between a form of manic frenzy and listless unconsciousness, for the hours before, before swinging in late, off the double decker train, to lurch up to the counter, brandishing online check in numbers and hooded eyelids.
Previously, I had prepared for the trip and the ominous prospect of flying by downed my way through several fresh orange juices (to maintain constant health), while gradually emptying the many bags of quality vegetation I had accumulated on the trip. The camera memory was full (link to appear shortly) and the company was jovial, laughing about the last couple of days and celebrating the fact that scaffolding had not killed anyone off (more to come on that and on other stories I’m sure). The job had been well done and I had reached the inevitable zenith of leanness, secure in my place in the universe, albeit severely unsteady on my feet.
Suddenly, though standing at the counter, as the nervous looking BA attendant explained that whilst most of our party had gone through to the flight fine, myself and three others were without transport. Despite our furious abuse, he explained that the best that he could do was to get us onto a flight for Gatwick for that evening, a considerable blow considering that we had flown out from Heathrow and the car we needed to get home was safely camped out back there. “No good at all, my man” we retorted, but it was no good, he cut us off “So, London is London”.
This logic was irrefutable, but I wasn’t sure what relation it bore to two airports, on opposite sides of a giant city. Nonetheless, it was impossible, he was delighted with the London deal and explained otherwise we would have to wait for the next day.
Disconsolate, pranged, totally lean timed to just about manage to get to our plane seats and pass out. We stopped and considered our options. There were no options, we had over five hours to kill and all the airport had was overpriced baguettes, boxed selections of toblerone and the stench of travellers. We jumped back on the train to the Dam, passed carefully once more over the bike, tram, car strewn streets and repaired to a fine coffeeshop. Ten minutes later, I was sanguine once more, in that short space of time having realised, that delays can be opportunities with a bit of luck and just the right kind of sick determination.