Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Married an Aaardvark

This afternoon I received an anonymous letter containing a blank piece of paper. It's the first message I haven't found boring. I read it three times, then stuck it on the fridge.

I’m not full of energy in the morning. I can hear my next door neighbour outside talking to the postman. Their conversation is about the weather. What would people talk about if there wasn't any weather? I remember at school being asked by my geography teacher to name one type of cloud and I was completely flummoxed. I was immediately removed from the class, poured into a cold large bowl, and stirred briskly with a fork. I lost consciousness as I was poured over slices of cooked boiled potato.

‘Do you think it will rain?’ ‘Not sure, but it might.’ ‘Have you heard the weather forecast?’ ‘No, but they never get it right. Too many variables.’ No wonder the mail always arrives with a splutter.

I've been having odd nightmares recently. One is about a film: The Wizard of Oz. Those bleeding witches and winged monkeys flying around my room with a bloody tornado. The other nightmare is about my wife starting to resemble an aardvark. Her hair was cut short recently and for the first time I can see she has extremely long ears. Also, her tongue has become long and sticky so 'French kissing' is a definite no-no.

Wait a minute! My wife is turning into a bloody aardvark! That would explain why she spends long periods in our back garden, during the night, digging burrows and eating ants and termites. Our family hasn't enjoyed a warm meal in days. What can the neighbours think? My wife and I are flying to France next week. How will we explain her passport photograph? Her new dietary requirements?

I discussed the position with a neighbour who is a 'Scalpel Slave'. She's had so many nose jobs her snout now sits on her face where her left ear once resided. When I asked her if she thought my wife might benefit from cosmetic surgery my neighbour suggested that my wife and I should go together and get the same package. I left her ranting in the street about tummy tucks, eyelash transplant surgery, and getting extra toes.

She had the audacity to shout after me, 'What else do you think I should get done?!' Is it possible that a great number of the inhabitants of this world are crazy, leaning in that direction, or stumbling blindly towards a 'genuine' hell on earth?

Reflection: Sometimes I feel like a little brick in a large building, then I just opt for a large bucket of KFC chicken, grab me a few dozen 'booster drinks' and spin like hell on my car swivel seat for days to burn up calories. I expect to be awake for at least a week, anyway. I want to be supercharged, super-alert, super-cool, superman, and ... I need to grow my damn hair back.

Researchers say if a person drinks about 'eighty cups of coffee' a day (!?!) it 'may' work. They wouldn't lie, or try to deceive us, would they? Today I'm on my sixtieth cup of coffee and I can't locate a single hair on my head. And the worst part? I can't close my eyes and I'm scaring the kids half to death.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Mortuary Attendant & First Memories

Today I met with a man at loftier peaks than me. Sometimes words can't do justice to the bleakness of a meeting, a rendezvous, a lunch engagement or a secret liaison with a lover. My boss is undoubtedly well-liked but not as a leader or manager. Everyone is aware he wears a toupee: it resides on his left shoulder.

Few people have the opportunity to choose the people they work with and in surroundings harmonious to the ear and eye. Who wants to work with the lazy and slavish? In a way, what may be viewed to the outsider as "unity" may be - to the insider - a concoction of misery, exhausting conflicts, irritability, opportunism, indifference or the simple act of "sucking-up". A sense of inadequacy haunts each one of us. Most human beings are saddled with superimposed secrets.

"How long have you been here?"

"About one minute, sir."

"Not in my office! ... with the organisation?"

"Fifteen years."

"Are you content here?"

"Is that a serious question?"

"Why do you feel that?"

"Well, I don't feel I've a purposeful role in the organisation. Indeed, has anyone?"

"Perhaps another position would suit you. What do you feel you did best at school?"

"I was particularly adept at humming along with hymns in assembly."

"I mean academically."

"I enjoyed dissecting frogs."

"In biology?"

"No. I never did biology. Dissecting frogs was a hobby. My pen pal, at that time, Jean - Paul, used to send me frogs in the post. He was happy to pay the extra postage. I stopped writing when he sent squirrels."

"That doesn't help me to generate any ideas about your future. I’ll have to give it more thought."

Silence fell on the room. For a minute I thought my boss looked like a pair of nail clippers: useless and neglected. I intervened through sheer boredom.

"When I was sixteen I saw the inside of a mortuary. You remind me of the caretaker. He had blueish-gray lips, grey hair, a round chin and collected hair from corpses. He enjoyed talking about death and the dead."

My boss fell to his knees and began to weep. Fifteen years' too late, in my case. The last words I heard him pronounce were, "Why am I unable to lie down without falling?!"

It is late summer. We have moved to a home imbedded with a farmyard smell. The cottage my family now inhabit is located on a dairy farm. My female playmate lives next door. I am six; she is eight. I adore her white skin, cheerful smile and mass of red hair. We develop a system of communication after we are sent to bed. One knock on the adjoining wall represents, Yes; Two, No; Three, Maybe; Four, Tomorrow; Five, Are you tired?; Six, Have you wet your bed?; Seven: Are you happy?; Eight, Do you love me?; Nine, Are you awake?; Ten, Why do some people, like my dad, gargle TCP?

Her two sisters - both strikingly more beautiful than my playmate - are dimly aware of the presence of the soul. She once said to me, with assurance, "To be clever with words is a hazard." Suddenly I kissed her for the first, only and last time. In the throes of prolonged silences I still see her face and body and sense the touch of her soft skin. Abruptly, I recall how undeniably I miss childhood. 
Reflection: Once I sat in Custard for two days. It made me finally realise I’m not Apple Strudel. Mr Apple Strudel lives in France under the pseudonym Mr Apple Sauce. Everything seemed to move so quickly, including the Custard. Suddenly, the Custard told me it was pregnant. I immediately succumbed to severe attacks of dizziness, black-outs and eating popcorn with the lights out.

I telephoned a doctor but he refused to believe a bowl of custard could be pregnant. The parish priest greeted me with a hug. I knew Father Aidan to be a more balanced human being than I could ever be. After a a moments hesitation he said with laughing eyes, "I can't marry you to a bowl of custard! You're already married to a lemon curd sponge pudding."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lena & The Seagull

I'm married, at present, to my fifth wife, Lena - she is a beautiful and lively person; sometimes extremely emotional, sometimes chaotic, sometimes tall, sometimes small (I'm not a scientist, nor aware of the cause of this condition). Buying Lena clothes, however, can present extreme difficulties, as I'm not sure what size she will be at a particular hour of the day. She has a talent for imitating people. At breakfast this morning she let her jaw drop, rolled her eyes across the table, and mumbled incoherently in a dull, dark voice. Silence fell over the table, over a chair, and left the room to go to the toilet. I laughed and smiled at Lena. " Well, who were you impersonating? I must admit I'm at a loss." "You," said Lena, lowering her eyes.

Silence returned to the room, and I asked if he had washed his hands. He replied yes. I was immediately suspicious as he doesn't have hands. Any fool could see that! Anyway, where was I? Yes. Love anything that lives and you will eventually get hurt, whether it's a relative, a friend, a lover, a pet. I looked at Lena, then Silence, then Lena. "Do you still love me?" Lena replied, "Yes", her voice controlled, and unexciting. "Do you still share my passions for soil, fertilizer, pruning, being drunk at 9:30 in the morning, and pressing your body against rocky walls?" She smiled sarcastically, and said yes. I felt like pulling my hair but my wig was upstairs in our bedroom.

Anyway, I am suspicious that a son from a previous marriage named, Seagull - a result of my admiration for the works of Anton Chekhov - is also in love with Lena. Why do I think this, I hear you say? Frankly, Seagull shares our marital bed: he sleeps with Lena and I. There I've said it! And worse, he decides when the lighting should be turned of, and its usually when I'm in the throes of a good book. Outrageous behaviour, you'll agree. Then the bed seems to move like a "horse and carriage" eloping at great haste. I can't take the darkness and deceit much longer. I'd be at my wit's end, if I had any. No man should be expected to live like this? I swiftly found my pistol and put it against my temple, but the bullet was a blank filled with soot!

Am I condemned to face aging, loneliness, anxiety - by myself - dressed in a pink, cotton nightshirt, red nightcap, and Russian-made gumshoes, and covered in soot?

Reflections: I'm currently working on a humorous piece for submission to a magazine. I expect the usual pro-forma rejection letter. That doesn't alter the fact I enjoy writing, being creative, watching the tide coming in.

I'm sitting in the library. It is late afternoon; late spring. I sit and think for a while. The light from the overhead fluorescent bulbs can be intensive. I’m finding it hard to concentrate. The library is perched where traffic, pedestrians, pigeons, dogs merge, and congregate. Sometimes the echoed, scrambled shouting of high school pupils pierces the air.

The traffic on the street near the entrance to the library never stops between the hours of 8.00 am and 6.00 pm. It moans, screeches and aggravates. Occasionally, stray plastic bags – mostly white – roll along the street, fill with air and levitate. Sometimes I feel out of fashion, but I shall go on. I must.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crop Circles

I woke this morning - which is always a good thing - to a strange phenomenon. The handmade velvet blanket covering my bed was emblazoned with crop circles. I know such formations usually appear in wheat, barley, rye, and other crops adorning this Earth. Often on highlands and intricate in design. How an alien spaceship landed in my bedroom without wakening me has left me unsettled. However, I believe that the experience has cured an ailment which has plagued my entire adult life: I can finally walk without my mouth open.  

When my wife came into the bedroom she give an unearthly scream; she had never seen me without my pyjamas before. She began to laugh - an emotion she hasn't the countenance for - and conjectured that it may have been the work of pranksters who had breached our home during the night.

I don't believe in 'paranormal activity' except when my wife and I attempt sex. How will I sleep tonight? Probably with my eyes closed. I have sprinkled wheat on top of the bed in case the aliens return. I'm frightened they may revert to violence or sexual experimentation if their desire to create crop circles is infringed. Tonight I intend to sleep in an iron stove in the kitchen disguised as burning coal. My wife can sleep under the carpet in the living room if she so desires.

The synopsis of my new novel is based on a wealthy charmer who paints still life, before life, after life, and blocked sinuses. In the story the protagonist falls in love with his easel. Unfortunately, they break up following an argument as to whether Picasso ended his life bald or without hair.

It's funny how your memory works? Mine works part-time at McDonalds. I remember my physics teacher saying sarcastically he could foresee a bright future for me. After torching the school I burned down his house. His prediction turned out to be correct. It’s strange that his forecast didn’t include having the Fire and Rescue Service on standby? Guess you win some, lose some . . .

Reflections: It's gratifying to discover that a number of so-called 'great' writers' were unable to spell certain words. For example: William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, etc were at a loss to spell: iPad; digital detox; smartphone; gastropub; atom bomb; overseas contingency operations; botox; selfie, twerk, and 'me time'.

I don't believe they missed anything of value, somehow.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

When Things Go Right, Something Must be Wrong

I enjoy urban walking, eating out, browsing in shops, indoor and outdoor markets; preferably in a country other than my own. There's less chance of bumping into someone you can't place either in name, or relevance. Lapses of memory can happen to anyone. I remember one day wearing a yellow pullover to work, and only becoming aware of my 'fashion faux pas' when my orange shell suit caught fire on the train journey home.

Last week I met a woman I couldn't place. We conversed about the weather, the recession, politics, philosophy, and where the moon goes when it disappears into the sea. She reminded me of Mickey Mouse. I believe it was the prominent black ears and squeaky voice. Try as I might my memory failed to recall her significance. In a way it's like treading a narrow, steep, mountain path in cold, weary weather, only to wonder why you didn't stay back at the warm hotel and order a bottle, or two, of Chablis Fourchaume, and get tipsy.

No sooner was I having my hair and beard trimmed when I remembered the woman was my wife. Absurd, yes, but the incident did make me smile. Suddenly I was consumed by a mania for cheap Mexican food.  

I've just completed a draft film script titled: When Things Go Right, Something Must be Wrong. The script has no dialogue, sound, or action, which should save valuable time and money on production, rehearsals and filming. The difficultly is selling the project to a nutcase who wants to break into film, and thinks mise-en-scène involves sex with a baguette, or worse, pilchards.

Today I went sailing, and took my two dogs, a neighbour's cat, and some food to eat on the journey. The animals were very noisy, and a bit unsettled. Frankly, I found their behaviour annoying. About thirty minutes into our voyage I realised I had forgotten the boat and that my sandwiches were wet. No wonder the animals were restless. It's strange how your mind can desert you when you need it most.

ReflectionsI've two married sisters called Housefly and Barfly. Thankfully, I hardly ever see them. When they call at my home I pretend I'm at the end of a long corridor. They incessantly engage in conversations about panic attacks and the benefits of lithium.

It is my view they're both crazy and shall remain so. They appear unperturbed by the fact they're living their lives in similar fashion to that of our parents. While not a crime in itself, it should carry a mandatory jail sentence.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Audrey Tautou, The Psychic Sisters & 'Heroic Uncle Teddy'

Audrey Tautou certainly charmed me as the ingenue in Amelie. I'm pleased to learn Audrey plays the heroine in Anne Fontaine’s film Coco avant Chanel (2009) and is the new face of 'Chanel No 5.' I believe the poster for her new film has been banned in France. It features the French actress holding a cigarette and is deemed 'unhealthy and inappropriate.' Paradoxically, further publicity for the film.

It is difficult for me to imagine Amelie played by another actress. Indeed, Audrey's gamine face is now world famous. She possesses a child-woman persona, and a performance style that embraces naturalness and ingenuity. She has also been graced with high cheekbones; big, dark eyes; beautiful, smooth skin; plump lips & a sexy smile; and a symmetrically, attractive beauty.

I travel periodically to Paris in forlorn hope of encountering Audrey in a boutique, a gallerie, or just passing by on the sidewalk on a warm autumn evening beneath a fog of neon.

I went to see one of the Psychic Sisters at Selfridges - £70 for a thirty minute reading (anything by Tolstoy, or Proust, was an extra £30). The lady told me I was wearing a blue shirt, my own hair, my wife's underwear on my head, and glasses - uncanny. When I inquired if she had foreseen the current recession, the downturn in the world markets, it transpires that Claire was on a caravan holiday in Dorset and had left her Tarot Cards, crystals and reading glasses at home.

I left her shuffling Tarot cards in her purple booth, myself £70 poorer. She prophesied I would meet someone in October. However, Claire wasn't sure of the year, place, sex of the person, or if I should bring an umbrella. How these people know such things is mind-boggling.

Well, I didn't make the 'Time 100 List' of the most influential people on the third planet from the Sun in 2009. Arnold Schwarzenegger's piece, however, on 'Heroic, Uncle Teddy' Kennedy is satire, only Arnold S. doesn't know it. Mary Jo Kopechne's surviving relatives' must live in a state of constant despair. A diver reported that Mary Jo Kopechne positioned herself near the back seat wheel well where an air pocket had formed, and had apparently suffocated, rather than drowned. It's a pity - and a tragedy - that 'heroic, Uncle Teddy' didn't stay at the scene of the accident and make an effort to rescue Mary Jo.

Reflections: We are all competitors for attention, jobs, promotion, status, power. The people most admired tend to be successful: the winners. Those individuals least admired tend to be those whom life has treated less well: the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the mentally and psychically ill. Injustice, oppression and evil are created by human beings and, on certain occasions, deliberately sustained for political and economic ends.

How the perpetrators' of injustice, oppression and evil sleep sound in their beds when the dark descends is one of life's perplexing mysteries.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Steven Berkoff & Greatness

Did the 'man in black' deliver the goods during his one-man show, so to speak? Indeed, and much more. He used his gifts of mime, impersonation, sheer stage presence, to deliver a truly polished, physical, and mesmerizing performance. His analysis of villains, in general, and several of Shakespeare's villains, in particular, was a mixture of comic stand-up, and thespian histrionics.

His performance was insightful, thought provoking, and witty. Indeed, contemporary politicians, political ideologies, and other devious characters who pound our god-forsaken earth daily striving to obtain, and sustain power - at all costs - did not escape his mighty tongue. Think Clinton, Bush, Blair, Mugabe, theatre critics, actors, bosses, work colleagues, pseudo-friends, etc - the list is endless, but you get the drift? A true talent, and dare I say, perhaps a genius.

I have been a great admirer of Berkoff's works for years. An authentic, cerebral maverick. I met him after the show in the lounge of a local hotel. I congratulated Steven on a great performance, and was grateful to exchange pleasantries. I took him out to my car and opened the car boot to introduce him to my wife. The fact that she was tied up, and her mouth duct taped alarmed him somewhat, but when his eyes lit on her face, I think I saw a flicker of understanding cross his features. A riveting night, indeed. I must remember to take my wife out of the car boot.

Like Lady Macbeth I used to sleepwalk: mostly at work during the day. Contrary to myth, there is no evidence to suggest it may prove fatal to wake a sleepwalker unless they are in the process of driving a vehicle, or flying a plane. Unfortunately, I now experience sleep paralysis. This is quite frightening, and happens as people are entering or leaving sleep - usually by a rear exit. I find sleeping while standing on my head helps. Although my beard tends to cover my face, cutting off the oxygen supply, causing temporary suffocation, and extreme itching of the forehead.

Today, I went to the local Police Station and told the Duty Officer I felt someone was watching everything I did. He took the mirror out of my hand, and told me to get lost. Is this what we pay our taxes for?

Reflections: I was considered by my parents, siblings, extended family circle, and an extended train strike in 1981 to be academically challenged. My mother always turned into a hamster when my exam results arrived. With popping eyes, puffed cheeks, and a blood-drenched hatchet held aloft, she would often scream “You possess no genes of mine!” Well thank God for that. At times she could be unintentionally funny.