Friday, December 05, 2008

Untilted

In the background: feet. In the foreground: a block - it is mine. In the middleground: stuff - it gets everywhere; somewhere, there is always stuff.

Now you know the landscape let us begin.

I have been approaching the block from many angles lately. (But the feet aren't mine. They aren't anyone's, they're just feet). The most oblique angle I have tried is 176°. Or perhaps I'm being obtuse? Yes, I am. Though not quite as obtuse as I might be. Beside the block is a hole - it is a block hole. It has no purpose, it is just a poor pun. Give it some money. Even if you do, it won't go away; you'll just be encouraging it, and later you'll doubtless see it staggering around drunk and swearing. It may even try to fight you. Then you'll be sorry.

The block has words scrawled on it. Two of them are Birmingham. So are all the others. They aren't accurate. Or dirigible. They're Birmingham. Or do you need telling a third time?

As usual the feet are trying to get my attention - I can hear them jumping up and down in an agitated sort of rhythm. I can't see them, though. There's stuff in the way. They can't see me either. They're feet. Let them jump. They're meant to jump. They're also meant to run, and go away, and walk out on you, and leave. Bastards.

I wish I could ignore the block. I wish it would go away. I wish I hadn't covered it in Birminghams. I don't know what I was thinking. I really don't. I was probably thinking about Birmingham. It's all Jonathan Meades' fault. It's all Jonathan Meades' fault. It's all the fault of Jonathan Meades...

FADES OUT

[Links lead, respectively, and respectfully, to (YouTube-sized) parts 1, 2 and 3 of Jonathan Meades' wonderfully absurd docu-thingy on Birmingham - more telly should be like that. So much more].

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A merciful break from the awful puns of recent days

Anyone with any curiosity about the writing process, and TV writing in particular, could do worse than have a look at this week's Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe (or track it down on YouTube, TV Links, etc., if you're reading this in a week's time). It's always worth a look anyway, of course - unless you don't like Charlie Brooker. But for this week at least a liking of the grumpy one isn't even a pre-requisite: for 50 minutes it's all about the people being interviewed - Paul Abbott, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, etc.

Overall, lots of useful stuff, but most reassuring was finding out that even the likes of Tony Jordan, Graham Linehan and Russell T Davies are hopeless procrastinators/fastidious researchers (depending on your point of view/level of self-delusion) who hate writing, but love 'having written'. Paul Abbott even employs people to force him to write - which is just brilliant. Made me feel much better.

Anyway, must go. Lots of research to do, and all that...

(Wonder if the Inland Revenue might accept that my over-priced coffee consumption should count as research? Hmm...)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

9:00 AM

When I awoke this morning a note lay beside me on the pillow. It gave a phone number, and above the number a message: "Perhaps now you will reconsider my offer?" it read. Beside the note lay a seaweed strand and a seahorse's tiny severed head...

Angrily getting out of bed, I snatched them up and heading for the shower dropped them in the nearest bin - who did they think they were! So, perhaps tomorrow I shall be sleeping with the fishes? But it's the priniciple of the thing. Never will I give in to the demands of lobsters!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Shoe romance - part 2

After the shoes have been to Relate the problem takes on a new complexion:

This couple of shoes with their differing views, 'twas inevitable
That both would fight, 'twas inevitable that both would lose

But the trouble is through now, they've promised it is. The issue's address'd
He'll stop trying to be right now, and she'll never be left




Shoe romance

It is a harsh fact of romantic entanglements between shoes that they will always be laced with tragedy. For should even the slightest of arguments arise in paradise - and what couple is ever without its disagreements? - at argument's end, only one of the pair will have been right...

The other will always have been left.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slogan for a T-shirt yet to be made

FRONT: Life is pointless.
BACK: More pointing please.



Song titles (revised): #117


Overheard

A studenty girl talking about a Christmas present someone has bought for someone else:

GIRL 1: She's got him like this wartime book, for forty quid, and it's like got stuff in it.
GIRL 2: [Makes some kind of commiseratory sounding noise].

Also overheard

Bunch of students leaving Caffé Nero, talking about what they have to do later:

GIRL: I need to bleach my hoodie.

Rejected Ad Campaigns: #123

If cleanliness is next to Godliness, and if God is to be feared, is it any wonder that people litter?

KEEP BRITAIN TIDY. BE AN ATHEIST




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A short story without a home

I was writing earlier and didn't know quite what to do with this gloomy specimen, but as it's pretty short and also more or less a true story (to the extent that I ever remember anything correctly) I decided it may as well darken my blog...

SOMETHING HAPPENED

I once met a man with a hole in his head. We all have holes in our heads, of course, to let air in and feelings out, but this was an actual hole in his actual skull - in the ordinary run of things it shouldn't have been there.

He told me that he'd come for a meeting. I told him that he was a month early.

"But I've come all the way from Norwich!" he said, as if expecting that this would somehow collapse time.

It didn't; time was lamentably robust at that reception desk. By way of consolation I offered him a cup of tea to refresh him before he retraced his mistake.

On his return from the toilet the tea was ready; I passed him a mug, and perhaps assuming some kind of exchange was necessary, he gave me his life story. I politely tried to give it back, but he was insistent - I suppose when you've come all the way from Norwich you want to do something more than drink tea.

Happily, I forget the exact events of it now - it wasn't a terribly happy story. All I can remember today is that it included an accident and a year of painful, lonely treatments and recuperation in a specialist ward at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge; a year that left him still not quite right, but much healthier and with a hole in his head. He pointed it out to me, or I'd have never known it was there - it wasn't even big enough to be shocking. But it was still hard not to show revulsion - the state of his scalp was terrible: great flakes of rice-papery dandruff... you could almost smell the hair just by looking at it. Maybe when you have a hole in your head, though, washing your hair is far more trouble than it's worth?

Finishing his story - the tea was long gone - he got up, sighed, and returned to Norwich. I took the mug, washed it up, and returned to my book. I was 23, and wished I didn't identify quite so strongly with the central character, a middle-aged man who is slowly coming to the realisation that he is an unwilling stranger in his own life, too tired to even wholly despair, barely even able to feel, drearily trapped inside his own head - something must have happened to cause it, he thinks, but he has no idea what. It's like a part of him is missing.

It's a good book, though, Something Happened - once you get used to the repetition. And I'm quite OK these days.

A few days later it snowed., overnight and unexpectedly. No buses ran; I could have stayed home; but I set out for work anyway, on foot. Mile upon mile of gleaming white, almost wholly untouched; the world transformed, shining, deserted - a clean slate in negative? I wasn't even sure of the way to go - but how could I not?

UPDATE: Well, with the benefit of a day's distance and some helpful comments, it's finally back to the original ending, I think - many thanks for the free editing :) I might even leave the damn thing alone now.

Oh, and if you highlight the apparently blank space above, the alternative ending's still there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama: a plea for sanity

A few moments ago, I was going through the long neglected news feeds on my Google Reader account (now there's a singularly unpromising opening line...) - the World News feed for the Guardian, to my dismay, had something like 738 unread stories on it! Yikes. How would I ever catch up with all that newsiness?

Well, 738 headlines later, it turned out I needn't have worried: nothing has happened. Absolutely nothing. There was an election somewhere (Glenrothes, or America, or some such place), but besides that the world's done nothing. Actually, that's not true, I think someone somewhere might have annoyed a bear and died, but besides that it seems the planet was too busy holding its collective breath until Obama got elected to be doing anything newsworthy. Frankly, it's a miracle the sudden collective exhalation on November 4th didn't cause a tsunami - thank goodness for Time Zones.

If I sound cynical about the whole thing, well, I'm not really. Just bored. Thoroughly bloody bored of the whole wearisome decade-long bloody election that still doesn't seem to be over even now that it is. Yes, it's lovely that America's found someone to burden with the task of living up to the unrealistic and contradictory dreams, hopes and expectations of billions worldwide - and disappointing at least half of them. And no, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person - poor guy (even if he does only have himself to blame). But does it fill me with hope?

Sort of. A bit. Maybe.

Oh, I don't know - I mean, isn't hope too precious to pin to just one thing? Especially a politician - even one who isn't George Bush, a moose hunter, or one heart attack removed from a moose hunter. Anyway, I'll certainly be leaving my hope where it is: sort of free-floating, generalised, and mostly unattached (much more difficult to lose it that way, I find, but that might just be me).

My real point, though, is that although I'm glad that by far the least Bush-like candidate won, and I really am, I can't help but be afraid that expectations of Obama have been raised so high already that he can only disappoint - whenever someone is so lionised by the media it only ever ends one way. Sure, I'd love it if that didn't happen, if he somehow didn't drown beneath the water everyone's expecting him to walk on, if he somehow managed to emerge from the economic, environmental and foreign policy minefield he's inherited without it all blowing up in his face, and if he somewhow emerged from the most potentially compromising role in the world without being compromised. But he's only human - and we're a disappointing bunch on the whole, aren't we?

But is that how the media will see it?

Just a couple of days after he'd won the race to stand beneath the biggest, most clangingly apparent sword of Damocles ever for the next four years, someone in the Guardian was already asking: Now that Obama has won, will the blogosphere turn against him?

Well, of course it will. Not just because the blogosphere isn't just one thing with one mind, it's lots of different people with vastly differing perspectives, so at least some of its denizens won't be happy (to be fair, the writer is actually talking about the Democratic blogosphere; but even there the point probably still holds). But mostly it'll turn because sooner or later he'll actually do something.

Instead of talking about change, he'll change something. Instead of saying, "Yes, we can", he actually will. And instead of saying, "Yay! Go Obama!", some of us will start saying, "Well, maybe he can, but I wish he wouldn't." In short, we'll discover what his policies actually are - and we won't like some of them.

And what will the media pick up on, what could possibly be the biggest, most newsy news story after so much hype and hope? Disillusion. The slightest hint of it and the media will remember, "Ah, we loaned a pedestal somewhere...", and send in the repo-men to take it back.

Of course, there's every chance it'll all go swimmingly (if not quite walking on water, that would still be quite an achievement), and that I'm completely wrong to even suspect that the mother of all media backlashes is waiting somewhere around the corner expectantly sharpening her disapproval. I would love nothing more than for Obama to make the world a better place. But...

There is other stuff happening. I'm sure there must be. I mean, there usually is, and sometimes it's even sort of important. And if we could hear about that instead for a while, please, that would be lovely. I mean, I get it, I really do; everyone's really excited; the world might be about to become a nicer place, and to an extent it already has. But come on, everyone's behaving as if the whole world's won the lottery. It hasn't. Not yet. It's just bought a ticket. So if we could just stop talking about the winnings - endlessly speculating, predicting and raising expectations beyond all reasonable limits - until we know what they are... well, that's just not going to happen, is it?

But hey, I can dream.... or wait, should that be dream I can? Or... (there. You see what this incessant Obama coverage is doing to me? And now I've just added it to it... Gah!).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bill's got a blog!

Yep, that Bill. He of the beard, the infectious enthusiasm and a thousand photocopies. Bill Greenwell.

These days it seems he can be found thinking out loud in here - doubtless much more conducive to the task than those strangely impermanent windowless rooms up at Tremough...

[sighs wistfully, and gets all nostalgic for the MA days...]

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My Winnipeg

The unconscious of a filmmaker. The unconscious of a city. Merged in a fever-dream.

That's my best attempt at summing up My Winnipeg, the film I saw at The Poly this evening. The poster calls it a 'docu-fantasia'. Either way (and both ways), it's definitely the only film I've ever seen that credited a 'Tapioca Wrangler'. A detail that at once seems utterly relevant, utterly misleading, and as distinctive as the film itself.

Film contains: snow; sleepwalking; Surrealism; attempted leaving; hilarious short experiments in family psychodrama; psychogeography; critical nostalgia; brilliance; and as much to inspire and haunt the memory as you'll find in many a good book (it's brilliantly filmic, but at the same time you can't help thinking about the best experimental literature).

The highlight: rediscovering that feeling of being in a cinema and - for a whole movie - having absolutely no idea at all what's coming next - it was like spending 80 minutes in the company of a long-lost friend (there was even that initial awkwardness - in other words, if the opening ten minutes or so seem hard going, they're more than worth it).

If only it hadn't been the last showing - I kept getting distracted by short story ideas...

Trailer time:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Ross loses title of 'Worst Presenter Called Ross'

Should anyone have thought Alan Partridge was fiction:



[Courtesy of The Guardian]

Radio awards and MBEs must have been very easy to come by, once upon a time...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random ponderance

If prose flows
Shouldn't a poem
Rhy-em?

News from the world of copywriting:

In March, I made up a quote for someone as part of an article (I was asked to; he was important and didn't have time to make up quotes of his own). I wondered if it had been a good quote. Today, I was reading background materials for another article I've been asked to write, and there he was again, not saying exactly the same thing.

How many times has he not said this, I wondered? Probably every day of his life, and yet to my knowledge it has only been reported twice. I was comforted; I can stop worrying. He's evidently not as important as I thought.

Walking news:

When overtaking a line of elderly people walking slowly with sticks you don't expect one of them to blindly attempt an overtaking maneuvre of her own just as you draw level - or at all, quite frankly (apart from the blind part, possibly). That very nearly ended in disaster.

But tell me, which of us was the fool to be in such a hurry?

(Yes, her. Obviously. This isn't an American sitcom with a neat moral at the end).

No old people were hurt in the making of this blog post. Just mildly startled.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yet another thing overheard*

On the way back from looking at the Tall Ships, Falmouth Docks, Wednesday:

WOMAN: Oh no, you'd be amazed at what you can get into these wellingtons.


*I guess my hearing must have improved.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Another thing overheard

Walking down the main street, Falmouth, this afternoon:

SMALL BOY: Indiana Jones hates me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Things recently overheard

INT. TESCO.

Small child: (VERY LOUDLY AND VERY INDIGNANTLY) I am NOT making any NOISE!

INT. COSTA COFFEE. TWO BOYS ARE PLAYING ON A SOFA BEHIND THEIR PARENTS' BACKS; THE PARENTS ARE TALKING TO ANOTHER COUPLE:

Father: (WITHOUT EVEN TURNING TO LOOK) Whatever you're doing, stop it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

At least, I think it was only three...

An intelligence test for people with two mobile phones:

Step 1. Use Phone A to call Phone B (perhaps, to test that you haven't broken it), then promptly forget all about this.

Step 2. Some hours later, discover a missed call on Phone B and try to return it.

Step 3. If Phone A should happen to ring while you're trying to do this, mutter in irritation, hang up, and try to answer it. If whoever was phoning has rung off try to call them back.

Repeat steps 2 and 3, getting ever more exasperated, for as many times as it takes you to suddenly feel very, very foolish indeed.

Scores:

1 repetition = Intelligent enough, though perhaps slightly more than averagely forgetful.
2 repetitions = Consider whether your ambitions in life might not be realistic after all. Or better still, ask someone more intelligent to do it for you.
3 repetitions = Try to laugh off your own alarming mental deterioration in the form of a dimly humourous blog post.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Things that get on my nerves

No. 12,207: Tea-towels that merely re-distribute the moisture. Almost as pointless as those competitive walking events at the Olympics.

Incidentally, by the way... what collection of twisted and dangerous individuals thought, "Yes, that's a sane and reasonable idea, let's hand out medals every four years to the three people in the world who can run least slowly while appearing to walk"? It's the sporting equivalent of the moonwalk. Or Olympic ventriloquism.

In 2012, therefore, I want to see competitors wearing a white glove on one hand and punctuating their bizarre waddles with frequent high-pitched yelps and groin grabs. And time penalties for any yelps that don't appear to have come from the creepy puppet on the end of their other hand; or if a judge spots their lips moving.

I mean, it's not as if that would look an awful lot madder than it does already...

No. 12,209: The number 12,208. No reason, and by tomorrow I'm sure it'll have passed.

No. 12,210: Competitive walking, apparently.

UPDATE: A little something for anyone unfamiliar with the walking race (note the commentator's telling Freudian slip at about -1:10):



Apparently, even the home of Takeshi's Castle finds speed-walking a bit mad:





Thursday, August 21, 2008

Apparently it can

Tourists (presumably) on the decking outside Costa Coffee, Market Street, Falmouth, 18/8/08.

What's not clear from the photo is that it was raining fairly heavily. They stayed out there for ages...

And they weren't even smokers (not even the kids).



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It can't rain all the time...

A little something by Jane Siberry, optimistically dedicated to the Cornish summer:


Discover Jane Siberry!


Also known as "that song from The Crow soundtrack" (for that matter, Jane Siberry herself is also known as Issa, these days), it's kind of a slow-burner... but if you like spacy, ethereal, and sort of gradually transcendent it's defintely worth a listen.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pragmatic job adverts

I like to imagine they unsuccessfully advertised for the careful kind, then lowered their expectations:

Casual Art Handling Technicians

£11.85 per hour - Tate St Ives, Cornwall

Original advert here (well, you never know, there might be someone clumsy enough reading this...).



Sunday, August 03, 2008

Past glories

Remember when I tried imagining Radio 4 programmes plus or minus a letter? I was listening to the radio earlier (just for a change) and couldn't believe I missed this one:

Whatever you do, don't make them angry - Cross Incontinents

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An unfortunate conjunction

As I write, the top of Times Online's today's Most Read stories tab reads thus:

I had sex with my brother, but I don't feel guilty
Top 50 'wish you'd been there' moments




Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Truthkickers

BBC 1 recently launched a new drama series called Bonekickers. As far as I can be arsed to establish, it's basically a cross between Time Team and that time-travely ITV thing with the dinosaurs, except without the time travel bit, or the dinosaurs. So, erm, just think archaeologists talking urgently and rushing about a bit, really... In Bath.

Anyway, here's the pay-off line from a Radio 7 trailer for Episode 2:

"Bonekickers: the search for the truth is beneath us."

Nope. I was wrong. They probably don't rush around at all. They must just sit there looking conspicuously bored and sighing occasionally:

INT. SUMPTUOUSLY APPOINTED ACADEMIC LOUNGE

ARCHAEOLOGIST 1: Oh, there must be higher ideals for us to pursue, don't you think, Jenkins?

ARCHAEOLOGIST 2: I know. Truth's just so passé (SIGH).

ARCHAEOLOGIST 1: Yes. Old hat.

ARCHAEOLOGIST 2: Bullwhip.

ARCHAEOLOGIST 1: What?

ARCHAEOLOGIST 2: Aren't we naming bits of Indiana Jones again?

ARCHAEOLOGIST 1: No. (PAUSE) And we never shall. Not after that stupid plot twist with the aliens...



Monday, July 07, 2008

One of my occasional music posts

First things first, the following is brilliant and should be downloaded immediately:

Johan Heltne - Hjärta. Instinkt. Principer. [courtesy of It's A Trap! Scandinavian Music Journal]

If you haven't done that already- and let's face it, why should you have done - I guess I should probably try to explain what's so brilliant about it. Which is a bloody nuisance, quite frankly... but anyway, re being brilliant, it just is - in a Swedish chamber-pop, Andrew Bird mixed with Joseph Arthur and lots of lovely strings and plinky things kind of a way. If it were a person he/she would put you at ease immediately with his/her gentle warmth, openness, enthusiasm and charm, inspire you, make you look at things anew, then unexpectedly and wisely leave before all that became, frankly, just a little bit wearisome - whether you might see him/her again, you'll have no idea but, in a way, that won't even matter, they made you feel good for a while and you'll settle for that; that's better than most chance encounters go.

Of course, this is where music has the advantage over people, you can press play again and bask in that feeling as many times as you like. Ha, beat that 'people'!

Erm, anyway, there are three more free tracks to download on his website, plus an album to buy here (or at iTunes), and the inevitable MySpace page. He's with a different set of musicians on each track, apparently, so don't expect them all to be like that one. But do expect them all to be excellent, especially Din alkoholism är ingen alkoholism - a walk along a breezy, deserted beach in late-October, just as dusk's falling, except in song form. Wonderful.

In other news: some naughty techie types have worked out how to download any song from MySpace. The tracks you'll get are only 96kbps bit rate, but you could always just buy them instead, couldn't you? Except when you actually can't, because they're unavailable as far as you can tell, which is when that link really does come in handy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

He mostly just wimbled on about his book, really...

On Radio 5, for the last couple of weeks, Simon Mayo's afternoon programme has been coming live from Wimbledon, so there haven't been too many Daily Mayo podcasts. Evidently rain stopped play today, though, so Julian Clary popped in for an interview.

Wherever Julian Clary is involved the possibility of innuendo is so great that you become sort of hyper-alert to ambiguous turns of phrase. In other words, I'm not sure whether Mayo served up these feedlines deliberately - the delivery was entirely deadpan - but here they are:

Referring to the probable outcome of Federer vs Ancic:

"I suspect Roger's just going to think 'I'm going to get this over with and blow him off the court.'"

[You can almost hear the late, great Humphrey Lyttleton saying that first line on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, can't you? Followed by a pause and "Well, he wouldn't want to do that on court - you can get arrested for that sort of thing."]

About 30 seconds later, discussing match winning celebrations:

"Do you like the Andy Murray style - when he was so pumped up the other day after the five set match and he was yelling and shouting and waving his fists around, and he showed everybody the size of his... [LONG PREGNANT PAUSE] biceps?"

Amazingly, both those serves went unreturned. Must have been distracted by the claustrophobia he kept moaning about, I suppose.*

IN OTHER NEWS: I have become addicted to olives. Especially the huge green Spanish Gordal olives sold by Provedore - pigeon egg-sized and just bursting with umami... Yum :)

Hmm, I don't think I've ever developed a healthy addiction before...


*Apparently, he was finding the studio/commentary box thingy somewhat cramped, but he could cope so long as they kept the door open.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm not the only one


Ye gads! I appear to have been published!

Well, just a little bit.

But still, woo-hoo! I didn't really expect that at all. Obviously, you must all go to the relevant site and order a copy RIGHT NOW - after all, a daddy-long-legs died in the cause of this book.

(Erm, and proceeds go to War Child - £6 from each book bought, or £10 from every copy downloaded. Which, of course, is the real reason you should buy it. Just to be clear.

Oh, and well done to SJ Peach and the editing team!).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saturday in Falmouth

The Moor. Saturday. People with large knitting needles were knitting with shredded carrier bags.

One of the people had knitted a chair.


Someone else had knitted a woman.


Whether she really wanted to be unravelled, or to hear the complete works of Bob Dylan being played by a succession of tag-teaming buskers behind her, I'm not sure.

She didn't say anything.

Or move.

Here are the knitters, making single bags out of many bags (I thought it probably better not to point this out).


As I joined the main street (really two streets - Market Street and Church Street) roars could be heard. Also: seagulls, insects, and exotic birds; perhaps an elephant. Being sounds, I was unable to photograph them.

Other corroborating evidence of their existence was also lacking: my fellow shoppers and idle wanderers seemed to be ignoring the unfamiliar soundscape.

First the knitters, now this. Troubling.

Yet pleasingly disorientating. Like being in one place but with the soundtrack to another.

Some say Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon is a perfect alternative soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. But this wasn't like that. The bricks weren't yellow. And none of the short people were singing.

A few minutes later, I was in the middle of sending a text message when a pink Cadillac drove past, down the non-yellow brick road. It contained three people in 50s regalia, and for a brief few moments Rock 'n' Roll could be heard mingling with the seagulls, the lions and the elephants, and the silence of short people.

The car was gone before I could photograph it.

By now I was at The Poly. An exhibition by the Wooden Hand Collective looked interesting. I decided to wander in.

In a kitchen, hiding from the Box Office people who wanted a cut of everything sold, I bought a card. It was Mandrake 5 by Tarkus Blackmore - he has no net presence so I can't link to it. You'll just have to take my word that this happened.

It occurs to me now that I don't really remember there being a kitchen in that gallery before... But never mind. There probably isn't. It was probably just some room with lots of kitcheny things in. This of course would also be quite an accurate description of a kitchen.

Again, never mind.

Leaving the possibly non-existent kitchen, and then the rather more definitely existent gallery, I was pointed towards an upstairs gallery by a sign proclaiming "Live Art." Had I been looking at dead art? It certainly hadn't moved. Or perhaps if I ventured upstairs I would have the chance to live art? I wasn't sure if I'd done that before (I had definitely drawn things sometimes, and had presumably been alive at the time, but I figured that this probably didn't count as art).

Intrigued, I soon found myself trying to open a locked door.

There was no mystery; I simply had the wrong room. In the correct room, the walls were adorned with sheets of A4 paper printed with people's memories of cars beneath different shades of car paint. I decided the work lacked balance. Where were the cars' memories of people? Maybe the printer cartridge ran out.

In a corner, was a monitor. It was showing someone's feet.

Next to it, on a windowsill were scattered what appeared to be progammes of events. Indeed, this was exactly what they proved to resemble - perhaps representational art was not dead, after all? Further observation revealed the evident trouble someone had gone to: programme dates and times had been made to match with this exact weekend, and like a mirror held up to a mirror, reflecting on into infinity, this work itself even listed the exhibits I was stood amongst at that very moment.

Someone had dreamed up countless other events for it to list too.

I had to have one!

Possibly disturbing the artfully random arrangement, I quickly slipped one into my bag and left. No-one noticed.

No-one else was there.

Supposing that perhaps other events listed might exist too, I followed a helpfully included map and soon found myself watching two girls in overalls feeding each other jelly and ice cream with long spoons. A cassette player tried in vain to convince me that I was at a children's party, rather than in a white room amongst mostly non-children, mostly looking serious.


Once the girls had stopped, the serious looking people began to applaud. I wasn't quite sure why. Hadn't the girls failed in their task? Look how much food was still uneaten:


And the ice cream had melted.

I suppose it was kind of a hot day, though.

Downstairs another monitor was showing feet.

I went back upstairs. In an empty room a bicycle orchestra had failed to turn up. In another empty room a woman told me that there was nothing to see there. I didn't point out the empty room to her. Or that she was in it. In still another room someone was making fruit cocktails - they weren't for me. I tried another door.

In the dark, on a projector screen, some kind of meat construction was squirting milk and roaring in slow motion. Hoping it wouldn't do this for too long, I sat down and watched.

After this, feet were shown. They looked cold. This time they were in the rain.

In a series of fixed camera shots: a toddler could be seen doing undignified things to a cat, a small dog patiently and lengthily standing on two legs was ignored by people watching Eastenders, and two cats fought while another five ignored them. Eventually, a dog knocked the camera over.

Another fixed camera shot showed us a post-smoking ban game of drive-in Bingo. In Ireland, in smoke-filled cars unsociable people sat listening to numbers. A horn sounded. Someone had won. I wasn't sure who.

Next, we saw an artist showing his father his work (stick around until 00:34, or fast forward to it if you're squeamish).

Last, the feet again. And two hands pretending to be feet. I left.

Atop feet; smallish but real.

Apparently, feet are inescapable. Especially your own. No matter how fast you run. There's probably a message in that somewhere...

Either that, or an elaborate defence for foot fetishists.


[Something resembling an explanation. Oh, and the sounds of the Serengeti were being played from speakers in the windows of flats above the shops].

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hamster In A Coma

Google suggests that this, apparently, wasn't one of the tabloid headlines when Richard Hammond was in that car crash a couple of years ago, even if I do seem to remember things entirely differently... Anyway, I'm not really sure why I happened to think about that, but it did lead me to wondering about this:

What other Morrissey or Smiths song titles might benefit from the inclusion of one or more fluffy rodents?

Here are my suggestions (plus, possible themes and subject matter; oh, and a couple of non-rodents):

There Is A Gerbil That Never Goes Out - highlighting the serious issue of rodent agoraphobia.

Squirrel, Squirrel, Down We Go Together - Morrissey entreats a reluctant squirrel to join him on a slide.

Death Of A Disco Dormouse - a cautionary tale about resisting the lure of the bright lights.

We Hate It When Our Ferrets Become Successful - elegy to bitter Music Hall acts whose animal partners struck out on their own.

I Keep Mice Hidden - Morrissey confesses to having frequently ended games of Hide & Seek without telling anyone.

That Vole Isn't Funny Anymore - somewhat blunt lament to a rodent's squandered comic talent.

Big Mouse Strikes Again - Thatcher-era nonsense about Mickey joining a trade union.

You're The One For Me, Ratty - Morrissey makes plain his feelings; to the disappointment of Mole, Badger, and Mr Toad.

Vicar In A Coypu - the less said, the better (to quote the Catholic Church).

Pretty Girls Make Cavies - Morrissey finally explains his misgivings about heterosexual entanglements (see also, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Otters).

Have-A-Go Marmot - anthem to a vigilante ground squirrel.

Suffer Little Chinchilla - decidedly upsetting ballad, in which it becomes clear that Morrissey wasn't always so deeply committed to animal rights (see also, Marmot On The Guillotine).

This Lemming Man - protest song, in which Morrissey parodies the migratory urges of others while blithely ignoring his own domiciliary arrangements.

Squirrel Loves Me - following initial reticence, something beautiful unexpectedly blossoms at the foot of a playground slide.


More songs listed here, should anyone else fancy joining in...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today's news

Apparently, we can no longer call people* cults in public. Yes, I said cults. Which does make me wonder if The Guardian might be next to receive a summons from City Of London police:

"Actor Will Smith is funding his own private school that will teach youngsters using an educational system devised in part by the Scientology cult."

After all, how much more public can you get than a newspaper?

OK, I know, a newspaper article probably doesn't exactly fall under the Public Order Act, but doesn't that, in some roundabout way, just show how ridiculous the whole summons was?

Bunch of...

Erm, anyway, here's a village that wants to change its name.

*or perhaps just Scientologists?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Are you starting?

US declares polar bears threatened - today's Guardian.

Was it just me who read that headline and immediately started wondering about an Axis of Furriness?

Friday, May 09, 2008

A precursor to insomnia, probably

Sometimes, I really wish the world would just stop and let me catch up. All things considered, I'm sure I must be at least a few revolutions behind.

Or are there revolutions these days? All I seem to experience are blurs, between one thing and another. What happens in between, I'm not quite sure - I'd venture to suggest 'stuff', but that sounds overly specific. And I'm not even sure that anything does happen in between, since by the end of a blur I seem to find that all sorts of things have instead failed to happen and I'm wishing the world would just stop and let me catch up.

Damn. That must be what's happened again. That's usually what marks the end of a blur; and the beginning of the next.

Sometimes, though, it isn't suddenly noticing that the steady accretion of things gone un-done has become too large to be comfortably ignored (no matter how hard you try). Sometimes it's noticing that some potentially significant thing you actually have done (often inadvertently, since why would anyone do anything significant on purpose? You'd only be creating trouble for yourself) has reached un-ignorable levels of significance. I think that might have happened too.

A dual blur, then. The metaphysical equivalent of a double booking, minus anyone who might apologise.

Hmph.

I hate dual blurs.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bluebeard, and other sights from St Mawes

Bluebeard - St Mawes quay, 1/5/2008.

As I look at this, I like to imagine all the little boats hanging from the harbour wall, after someone's pulled out the plug... - St Mawes quay, 1/5/2008.

A polite (and precisely punctuated) warning - car park wall, St Mawes quay, 1/5/2008.

I had no idea hairdressers could be state registered. There's even a Hair Council, apparently - St Mawes, 1/5/2008.

Crouching photographer, hidden swastika - fencework outside a house on Marine Parade, St Mawes, 1/5/2008

St Maudit's well - off Bohella Road, St Mawes, 1/5/2008

My parents were in Falmouth last week, so I was forced to eat lots of nice food, stop for both morning and afternoon coffee almost every day, and wander around such places as St Mawes and the Eden Project. Somehow I survived to bring you this record of my torments.

Eden Project photos to follow, when they're all sorted and the right way up.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guardian steps up recycling campaign

Lazy journalism? Or is the news just hopelessly cyclical? Click on these two stories - written just over a year apart - and judge for yourself:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/feb/28/health.society
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/apr/16/medicalresearch

Also: 'may increase the risk of death'? Erm... how exactly? Isn't death already a certainty?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tales of ordinary madness

Overheard this afternoon in Costa:

"Sue? Who the Hell's Sue?" A pause. "Oh, you mean complete nutter Sue? The failed psychopath."

A while later:

"No, I lost my duck."

News that cannot end well:

Not content with bringing us the Maennergarten, and the automated waiterless restaurant, Germany is now also home to the world's first drop-in advice centre for stalkers.

I think the idea's to help them stop, rather than offering hints and tips, but still, you wouldn't want to work there. Imagine it:

"You've stopped stalking your ex? That's wonderful, Dieter. When did this happen?"

"Well, you remember that car that was outside your house all night..."




Falmouth pride




Prince of Wales Pier, Falmouth, 10/4/08.

There was a silver prince too, but some old bloke was sitting in front of it. I suppose he didn't have silver grey hair, though, or I probably would have taken a photo.

UPDATE: Apparently, Jim Davis has heard about Garfield Minus Garfield, and he likes it.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stuck indoors on a nice day

New Street, Falmouth, yesterday.

After reading this post, I thought at least one of my readers might appreciate this one today. Get well soon, Taiga :)


UPDATE ON THE TESCOPOLY POST:
There were a couple more articles in today's Guardian about the Thais being sued by Tesco. One of them's visiting London at the moment and gave an interview. The other piece is just a short overview of the situation.




Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tescopoly

Tesco Express, Events Square, Falmouth, 23/3/08

Recently, I've been seeing quite a lot about Tesco in the news. In Thailand, for instance, it's suing a couple of journalists and a former Thai MP; basically, just for being a little bit critical, really. Either that, or because Tesco's feelings got hurt: "Ha! Tesco doesn't love Thais,"* said one of the journalists, not entirely seriously; the ex-MP seems to have made the mistake of calling Tesco "aggressive" (or its expansion plans, at least) and getting a figure wrong. He admitted that he'd got the figure wrong, but apparently that didn't help.

But besides suing Thais, Tesco also appears to be: trying to topple iTunes, launching its own degree programme, making tentative attempts at taking over America, and recording record profits (£2.8bn last year). Oh, and they're suing the Guardian too (something or other to do with tax avoidance; I couldn't really be bothered to read it). Quite a list...

All of which leads me to two conclusions:

- Despite the ominous catch-all vagueness of the closing threat, Mr Restall probably got off quite lightly.

- It might be time to post a YouTube clip on here again...



Can't think why, but for some reason, that one just seemed kind of apposite.

IN OTHER NEWS:


Sentence of the week:

"I got a lump in my throat when they were old enough to pick up the chainsaw." The Guardian's Weekend magazine.


*If Tesco is suing over this remark (and it is), surely that means that its management believes a corporation has, um, actual human emotions? Hmm...




Friday, April 18, 2008

Used pumpkin sale

Bottom of Old Hill, on the way to Penryn, 4/5/07

More stuff to come at the weekend. But for now, I just happened to remember this old photo.



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rooting around

Some while ago I wrote a post on here promising to do various things on this blog, such as posting more often, reviving my old blog, and writing monthly updates about how my attempt at a writing career is going. Hmm, actually, I think those things were pretty much the extent of what I promised... Anyway, I haven't quite fulfilled any of those, apart from blogging more often. And, oddly, my blog soon thereafter turned from mostly words into mostly pictures - hmm...

So, anyway, it's probably about time for one of those writing career updates.

The idea, if you recall, was that if I'd promised to report regularly on the progress of said career, I might be forced to have some progress to report. Except, well, that incentive rather rapidly, and happily, became redundant. So, erm, I guess I won't be doing that, after all.

In other words, I'm now freelance copywriting just often enough to live on. Woo hoo! Especially as it doesn't take up loads of time, either - hence the unexpected beginnings of a photography habit, probably - and should leave me plenty of time for writing fiction... Er, should I ever get around to it, obviously [sigh]...

Which reminds me, if there's still anyone reading this who doesn't know about the fate of the sitcom I had pitched to Radio 4:

- They liked the writing

BUT:

- Too many things set in workplaces had been commissioned lately (very true; possibly should have though about that...).
- They weren't sure the idea could sustain a whole series (well, I thought one series, at least. But admittedly I hadn't got much in the way of ideas for anything beyond that, so, um, fair enough probably).

Still, on the bright side:

- I should rework it for the Afternoon Play slot, they said, and get it pitched again.

Er, I haven't really got around to that, though... And I'd had enough of the idea, for the time being, to be honest... But still, I'm just about to send the first ten pages of it off to this thing, so who knows, it might get me somewhere...

Oh, and one last thing:

Part of the copywriting work entails regular blogging elsewhere. So, if you're ever fed up of my pictures and fancy being fed up of my words instead, head on over to The Root of the Matter (it's the blog of the copywriting company I'm working for).

Still, someone else's words are there too, sometimes. So don't worry, it won't all be bad.



Self portrait in blue

The sea, Falmouth Harbour, by Events Square, 3/4/08.

Actually, I wasn't at all Disappointed In The Sun that day, but that was the song that sprang to mind while looking down at an underwater shadow self. Seemed like it would have been the perfect accompaniment:

Under the sea is where I'll be
No talking 'bout the rain no more
I wonder what thunder will mean, when only in my dream
The lightning comes before the roar

The song (that's a download up there, by the way) is by a Belgian band called dEUS, from their deeply odd and deeply wonderful second album, In a Bar Under the Sea (utterly, utterly recommended - if nothing else, try Little Arithmetics. As are the more accessible first album, Worst Case Scenario, and the near perfect The Ideal Crash). Oh, and here's their MySpace, too.




Thursday, April 10, 2008

A comment on graffiti removal, perhaps?


Bus stop, near Gyllyngvase Beach, Spernen Wyn Road, Falmouth, 8/4/08.

I quite like this bit of graffiti. Sure, it's a cliché, but even clichés can be meaningful in the right context. Here, for instance, it's just not what you'd normally expect, either from graffiti, or the side of a bus shelter. Usually, there'd just be some advert calling upon you to think nothing more reflective than "Must consume", "Run Fat Boy Run," or "Jordan's written a children's book about ponies? Well, I'm sure that'll be marvellous. And doesn't at all make me despair for the future of the human race."



Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sheds of Falmouth

A shed - Events Square, Falmouth, 3/4/08

Some more sheds - Events Square, Falmouth, 1/4/08

Some bigger sheds - beside Events Square, Falmouth, 3/4/08

The bigger sheds' prisoner - Events Square, Falmouth, 3/4/08




Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gulls Lane

Outside wall of the yard outside the Trago Mills warehouse, Hulls Lane, Falmouth, yesterday.

In case you can't read the last word, it says "Get your seagulls in ure." I think 'ure' is local dialect for 'here', but I'm only half-Cornish, so that might be only half right...

UPDATE: Yep, seems I might well have been wrong. My fully-Cornish father, in fully-Cornish fashion, thinks Devon is probably to blame.



Liberal Democrats in 'making the news' shock

"No more than 30... A lot less than that," really doesn't mean: 'as many as 30' - I mean, 1, or 2, for instance, would be a lot less than 30. Of course, if you're a newspaper or TV station in search of a headline...


And they say politicians spin things.

Anyway, whether or not how many people Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg pretty much didn't admit to having slept with (while single) is actually news, hats off to the Guardian picture editor who found this photo to illustrate the (non)story. Genius. Should anyone happen to click on it, by the way, the filename was the Guardian's*:




*It's a bastion of political correctness, is the Graun.




Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hulls angel




Hulls Cottage, Hulls Lane, Falmouth, this afternoon.

Yes, I know, that pun was unforgivable. But the next time Fal Falafel's open I'll be going to Hell anyway.




Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sugar, sir, or eternal torment?

Fal Falafel (take-away van), The Moor, Falmouth, 20/3/08.

I haven't got around to asking them what exactly 'Hell' might be yet - anyone else know? Of course, maybe it's something different for everyone...




Thursday, March 20, 2008

I suppose I'll have to start actually writing stuff again, at this rate...

I once - in the process of sighing and muttering "Good grief!" - came to an abrupt realisation that much of my adult personality might be directly attributable to having read too much Peanuts as a child. After a moment's reflection, the rest, I decided, could probably be blamed upon Garfield. What the following says about me, then, I dread to think.

By way of Taiga's blogroll, I present to you the wonderfully bleak, Beckettian genius of Garfield Minus Garfield:


It really is much better without him, isn't it?

Oh, and if anyone came here hoping for quirky photos, sorry, no new ones here today, but I'm sure Taiga can oblige again: there's many, many a gem to be found within her Flickr account, quirky and otherwise. And I'd have said that even if she hadn't linked to me the other day :)

Seriously, they're great.

Now, be off with you - I have lasagna to eat. And a kitten to mail to Abu Dhabi...



Saturday, March 15, 2008

And for fresh...?

The Moor, Falmouth, this afternoon.


Mary, mary, quite quite scary,
How does your garden grow?




Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We all live near a yellow submarine

For those who don't know, Falmouth is nextdoor to a smaller town called Penryn. I was slightly early for a meeting there this morning, so took a little wander down Commercial Road:



"Penryn? Arr, thar be dragons, lad. Thar be dragons... Erm, if you look carefully."


Actually, if you look carefully at one of these photos, you might see me somewhere, too.



Sunday, March 09, 2008

More photos of something semi-hidden...


Harbour Commissioners Office, Arwenack Street, Falmouth, this morning.

I can't quite get my head around this one. A teddy-bear and a photo of two small children, left in a public place, would tend to have me imagining that something tragic is being marked here, but... well, I just don't know at all - where are all the flowers and the notes, and the names and the cards and the notices? And why is the bear all but hidden behind the column?

It's a very private public memorial...

Actually, I can't help thinking that it might be something like that. That perhaps whoever left it wants only the comfort of knowing it's there.

I don't know.

And I don't know, either, whether these photos should be here.

When I first saw the bear I thought it was just something odd to photograph. Now I'm not so sure that it isn't in fact the kind of sad quiet determined gesture that can make you feel that humanity's not such a sorry, undignified mess to be in after all.

Actually, they probably should be on here, then.



Thursday, March 06, 2008

Heads in the cloud



Woolworths, Market Street, Falmouth, 5th March 2008.

Funny what happens when you stand in the middle of a street taking photos of something in the sky. Apparently at least four people had never noticed the faces before. A local couple even stopped and talked with me for a while. They hadn't a clue how the faces got there either, but she used to work in Boots when the pay was 20p per hour and you weren't supposed to work anywhere else. She did, though, she said. I forget how that came up.



Sunday, March 02, 2008

Before...

Opposite University College Falmouth's Woodlane campus, 21st June 2007. In case the sign's not quite clear, here's the text:

I do beg your pardon,

I am a guerilla garden.
Please do not mow,
I am trying to grow.

And after...

Same location, 3rd September 2007.


UPDATE: A garden-loving fox found this. Thanks, Taiga :) Apparently, the Falmouth Guerilla Gardeners had a blog.

For more info and links on Guerilla Gardening, here's the Wikipedia page. I'm quite liking the idea of moss graffiti; more of which, here, here, but not here or here (they're both great, though, much like that Little People blog).



Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't ask me...

I hadn't really intended to start photo-blogging, but sometimes things just present themselves...

Outside Tesco Express, this afternoon, The Moor, Falmouth.