... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

511: Can't Read, Can Use Chopsticks

It was pay day on Friday so I treated my female companion and I to Yo! Sushi (get a soft-shell crab hand-roll, it's delicious), then I treated myself to the new Nick Cohen book You Can't Read This Book. If you're reading this Nick, I'd like to say two things to you: firstly, I can read it and, indeed, am reading it. How dare you make such an assumption about my literacy. Secondly, I love you Nick; every word you write speaks the truth to me; I hate you Nick, you show me how poorly I write and how dopily I think, how lazy I am in my own thinking and writing, you embarrass me in unwillingly prompting me to gush like a newly pubescent sufferer of Beatlemania. I, you know, like, don't really love you.. I was only joking, it was a joke, pff godddd, but you know, I do, sort of, admire you, I guess.

I could discuss the content of the book, You Can't Read This, which is about censorship, particularly in the 21st century, and how the liberal Western world has become permeated with an incipient form of self-censorship designed to appease religious fundamentalists and fanatics, and is driven by fear of violent reprisal. It condemns the idea that it is bigoted to oppose Islamists (Islamic fascists using fatwa and murder to silence free speech); it condemns the liberal politicians, journalists and intellectuals who abandon their principals in favour of double-think when the rights they hold dear are challenged by the enemies of liberalism; the abandonment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali as she fought for the rights of immigrant Muslim women in Holland to live free from violence and intimidation, over the rights of immigrant Muslim men in Holland to live free to inflict violence and intimidation on their women; it condemns the idea that all cultures should be equally respected no matter how totalitarian and illiberal they are; it condemns the idea that free speech should be curtailed to spare the blushes of the pious; it condemns the idea that the illustrator of a comic or the author of a book is to blame for the violence carried out by people claiming to be offended by comics or books.

I could talk about these issues, but Nick Cohen can and does do it better than I do. As do Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. I on the other hand would like to quote Grayson Perry, then proceed with an unrelated, inoffensive and trivial story about Yo! Sushi:

"The reason I have not gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel the real fear that someone will slit my throat," said Grayson Perry with candour rare when discussing the lack of mainstream criticism of Islamo-fascism.

So, I was in Yo! Sushi, yeah? It's a popular chain of restaurants serving Japanese food. The diners sit on bar stools along a bar circling the open-plan kitchen, while the food travels around a conveyor belt on tiny plates, colour-coded for different prices. You just lift what you want off the belt, and/or order from the menu. It's good; over-priced, but fun. Sat to my right were another couple of a similar age to us. The woman was really struggling with her chopsticks, he was managing but clumsily, and I am highly proficient having lived in Japan for eight months (Go! Me).

She said to him, "I'm not very good with chopsticks; what's the right way to hold them?" His reply both amused and annoyed me: "There is no right way; you just hold them however you like." This was so stupid and wrong that I did what anyone else would do: I started showing off, picking up very large items of food like the hairy prawns, or tiny items like single grains of rice; putting down and picking up my chopsticks without looking and in a single swift fluid motion, so they just fell into my hands perfectly placed. It was subtle: I didn't want to look like I was conspicuously showing off, but if she looked over I wanted her to see that there clearly was a right way to do it, and neither her nor her partner were doing it right. He held them as though he had just jabbed them through his clenched fist. His chop sticks had no room to open and close, no pincer movement; dear god, I was embarrassed for him.

510: My Band (A Routine)

I'm going to start a band that only works on cruise ships... it'll be called A Band On Ship. It'll be great; we'll never need to play a note. Every time we are announced on stage the crowd will run screaming for the life boats. Which is good for me because I have no musical ability whatsoever. But, if the audience fail to notice the play on words, and just hear a literally-minded band name, they'll remain seated, passive-aggressively demanding I entertain them. I'll be left on stage mumbling A... Band... On... Ship... It's, it's, sort of a joke... a band on ship... I'm sorry but that joke was all I have... there will be no music this evening... sorry, good night and sorry.

What a marvellous idea if I do say so myself (and if I don't). I imagine there is absolutely nothing more simultaneous terrifying and liberating than dying painfully onstage. Looking forward to it and it seems like an unbearably painful humiliation, but I imagine looking back it wouldn't seem so bad, and might give one the power to give it another go. Of course how to respond to deathly silence is one thing, but how to respond to smart arse hecklers, drunken hecklers, or hecklers armed with google who can quickly discover that A Band On Ship is the name of the Alton Towers Resort Hotel resident band.

"Excuse me, Mr. Man on the stage," the heckler might request, after putting his hand up. "It says here that A Band On Ship is the resident band of the Alton Towers Resort Hotel. Pardon me if I'm mistaken, but I do believe we are not currently situated in the Alton Towers Resort Hotel, thus rendering present the possibility that you are not in fact A Band On Ship who are, as previously mentioned, the Alton Towers Resort Hotel resident band."

"Yes I know that." I will respond quick as a flash. "Admittedly I didn't know when I thought of the joke, only discovering so later when I too decided to google the search term "A Band On Ship", however I naively thought you, the collective "you" of this audience, would be able to momentarily suspend your disbelief in order to be rewarded with the permission to giggle. I'm sorry if that isn't enough for you. I thought the resident band at the Alton Towers Resort Hotel was sufficiently obscure that most people wouldn't have heard of them, even going so far as to assume that even people who had seen them perform at the Alton Towers Resort Hotel would not have remembered the name."

"The thought also occurred to me," I continued, "that members of the audience would not find it necessary to source attribution to every little detail, and offer a running dissection of the show. I ask you, nay, I implore you, consider in your heart whether it does indeed matter, for the joke to work, that there is in fact an existent band called A Band On Ship; that they do not in fact perform on a ship, but instead in the Alton Towers Resort Hotel, and I am not actually a real member of the band, A Band On Ship. Does it matter? I ask you."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

509: Pour myself a cup of ambition

A snapshot into my life in especially excruciating detail; I hope you enjoy. I compile a list of products; a particular type of stock which one might browse and purchase when out and about in the high street. These products have, to me, no names, merely numbers for example 72153. Being au fait with the workings of these product codes I am able to disregard the initial seven, knowing like I do that it merely represents my department. The following 21 is the sub-department, and the 53 indicates the style. Therefore I am able to communicate basic ideas about stock using mostly numbers. Working from a list of paper, which looks like 73423, 73283, 73342, 77923, 79893, 79223, 73123, 71293, 74291, 71912, 73989, 79128, 78992, 72912, 79932, 77272, 74322, 71232, 74321, 74121, 73122, 78829, 71923, 73192, 73192 x2, 71922, 71291, 79322, 71492, 71923, I am able to pull from the dusty stock room a large towering pile of boxes. Each box contains between nine and 40 of a product, usually individually wrapped with plastic and paper.

Standing beside the piles of boxes, I create a smaller pile three or four boxes high so that the top-most is at a comfortable working height, requiring me to neither bend nor reach beyond a limit unacceptable to me. Using a safety box opener/knife which I usually keep in my right trouser pocket I slit open the lid. Sometimes I find the safety knife has made its way into my left pocket, and there is usually a moment when I think just a minute, where has that silly little knife gone and put itself? Once the box is open, and the four leaves/tabs are folded back out of the way I proceed to unpack the stock. One at a time I lift each item from the box, remove it from its plastic bag, pull out any cardboard or paper, or any further plastic, and deposit the packaging into an orange bin bag. The bin bag is often tied to the side of a trolley (more about the trolley soon; much more), or sometimes just hung off the side of the box. Sometimes I even put the bag inside the box. More and more recently this has become my preference, as it results in the minimum need for unnecessary twisting and turning.

As each item of stock is removed from its packaging (a process we refer to as prepping; a whimsical shortening of the word preparing) it is placed in a large trolley. When the trolley is full it can then be wheeled onto the shop floor where the stock can be deposited onto the shelves in the appropriate locations. The convenience of the trolley as a medium for transporting stock lies within its possession of four small wheels (almost verging into the realm of castors), one located in each corner of the trolley's base, coming into contact with the floor, and enabling a significant increase in manoeuvrability than one would expect from a similar object lacking wheels. Once the contents of the trolley has been evacuated it can, and should, be wheeled back into the stock room and the process repeated. This is done until its time to go and have a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

508: iBlogEveryDay Big Cartel shop

Big Cartel is a simple, easy to use, thing. It's a thing for artists to sell the artists' things wot they make with their artistic natures. I make bits of things sometimes, and pile them up in boxes and corners and under beds. You -if you are using it, which you might well, especially if you are an artist with art to sell- can create a page to sell your stuff, art, and the checkout uses PayPal. I discovered it through Cardboard Kid's very own Cardboard Kid Big Cartel shop. Now there is a very own, very own I Blog Every Day Big Cartel shop HERE. It's really nice; it's a way of life.

Two affordable pieces are currently available. Choose life; choose to read on slightly to do a look at these things. Forgive my nonsense words; I am tired and unwell and happily allowing any old rubbish to come out onto the typewriter:

A glossy postcard of my signature "Octus" octopus drawing. The back of the postcard features a painting of a crow sticking its beak in a deer's ear. It's a classic/it's not totally crap. 
So, here is the story: I used to run around with an SLR, before the days of digital, and this habit left me with a LOT of poorly-framed, blurry, and failed photos. Being pre-digital I had no choice but to get these developed.

For your money you get two photographs randomly pulled from the box file currently propping up my desk leg. On the back of each photo I will do a drawing of your choice (illustrated here with a picture of a typewriter and another of a hot dog), and post them lovingly in an envelope with a sort-of pattern thing hand drawn on it. All together this is quite a nice, personalised piece of art.

Series of 400, each individually hand numbered, with my hand (like, I've written the number on each one, and cos each "one" contains two pictures I've labelled them, like, 1a/400, 1b/400, 2a/400, 2b/400 etcetera, etc, &c).

When ordering be sure to include a brief note (in PayPal checkout) stating what drawings you would like, otherwise I'll select something randomishly. Here are some ideas: a pig and a duckling, Harry Potter and clown, forceps and fireplace, headache and horseplay, munchkin and mooning, wedding cake and wheelbarrow, etcetera, etc, &c.

Hope that's clear.

507: sigh

You know how they used to use an 'f' in place of an 's' for some reason in old printed books, e.g. 'fcience' etc. Well, they did. I'm watching Botany: A Blooming History on BBC4, through an unpleasant fug of cold with just the slightest hint of flu symptoms, and have just been delighted by an archaic spelling of 'honeysuckle'... can you guess how they spelt it? That's right, 'honeyfuckle', ha ha, honeyfuckle, oh my days! Oh, dear; forgive me Miller and Linnaeus (fight, fight, fight).

Linnaeus gave us the binomial system for classifying life, for which we should all be eternally grateful. Someone else gave me the common cold, or some measly weaselly flu-like thing, for which I will be annoyed and pathetic for the next couple of days. I've already been accused of having man-flu, by 'my' woman, through the medium of tweeting (on twitter), and I've had enough. How much snot must a man produce, before you will call it just flu, and not man-flu? Can't remember what any of this had to do with Linnaeus.

I know it's a real nasty piece of cold because I need to keep a carrier bag near by to collect all the used tissues, and I have spent more time in bed than I have since my student days. And after writing one sentence I can't think what to say next. So, erm. Forget it. Sorry to waste your time. Here are some pictures:

Monday, January 23, 2012

506: Heh heh, Huh huh

I mentioned about owning art in the last post. If I ever make a decent amount of money -decent enough to buy art- this is what I want to spend my money on:

Apparently this magnificent pair of deformed monsters were crafted by Kevin Kirkpatrick, some talented chap who does special effects and make-up for the movies.  I am totally serious when I say that I would buy these now if I had the money.  I've no idea how much they would set me back, and I don't know where I would put them, but I want them.  My life finally has meaning, purpose.

505: BUY, ART, BUY

I wish I had the money to collect art; it's long been an ambition of mine. Occasionally I manage to get the odd piece here and there: I have a print by Gareth Hacking (a.k.a Cardboard Kid), given to me as a gift, for which I owe him a piece in return. The print by Gareth is of a skeleton in silhouette; its skull inverted and swapped positions with its pelvis. I also have a unique and original Cardboard Kid stored in a shoe box alongside myriad postcards and business cards. I have many artists' post/business cards which could be considered limited edition print runs. In my "collection" there are drawings by my niece and the children of other friends and relatives, art books, old prints (some original, others reproductions), etcetera, etc, &c.

The above paragraph was just preamble to this:

Want to own a piece of "art", in the form of a lovely postcard featuring my signature "Octus" octopus drawing? Well now you can by clicking the link on the right of the page; what lucky boys and girls you are! In our house there are octopuses everywhere, most notably the one tattooed on my arm, but also the prints and paintings on the walls, and the cuddly toys all over the shop. I get at least one octopus thing every Christmas. The original drawing (as reproduced on the postcard and my twitter profile) is in a sketchbook I bound myself using found paper; damn I'm such a fucking hipster.

I've already sold one!  Huzzah!  Thanks to Michael Thorp, the Manchester based illustrator and designer; yes, that's him, the fellow who made the banner for this blog.  He's a good lad that Michael Thorp.  Go and have a look at his website now.

In final art buying news:
Get down to BLANKSPACE this Saturday and buy a bit of art.  It's to raise money for independent artists, what with the government not bothering with it anymore.  I'll be there, and it's the day after pay day.

Saturday 28 January 2012, 3pm - 10pm
BLANKSPACE, 43 Hulme Street, Manchester, M15 6AW
We’re opening the doors to BLANKSPACE this New-Year for Blank Media Collective’s January Sale!
The January Sale is your chance to walk away with an original work of art and support further artistic development in Manchester and the UK. Each artwork has been kindly donated by artists and practitioners from Manchester, the North West and across the UK. All funds will go towards supporting Blank Media Collective’s 2012 exhibitions programme.
Come down to BLANKSPACE on Saturday 28 January to peruse the collection of original artwork available for auction or purchase artist books, prints and postcards from our January Sale Shop.
With live music from the Manchester’s very own foot-stomping lyrical genius Black Jack Barnett throughout the evening, this is a great chance to kick back, relax and buy some contemporary art.
Our live auction will take place at BLANKSPACE onSaturday 28 January from 7pm and is open to all. Visitors can bid for original contemporary artwork whilst investing in the future of arts in Manchester.
If you are unable to attend the live auction, silent bids can be made from 3pm the same day.
The January Sale is the place to go for original artwork ranging from paintings, sculpture, prints, books, photography, illustration from both established and emerging practitioners from Manchester and beyond. Start or continue your growing collection of contemporary artworks with Blank Media Collective.

504: So I turned 'round to him...

So anyway, he turned 'round to me and said you can't turn 'round to me and tell me I can't go in there, and I turned 'around to him and said I can turn 'round to whoever I want and say what ever I want, and he turned 'round to me and said yeah, and I can turn 'round to whoever I want. I turned 'round to him and said this isn't getting us anywhere. And he turned 'round to me and said yeah, we're just going 'round and 'round in circles.

After hearing enough of this circular conversation I turned around to the both of them and said you can't turn 'round to him while he's turning 'round to you if, at the same time, he's turning 'round to me to tell me to keep my fucking nose out, but as I turn around to you and he turns around to me, we both either meet in the middle or run the risk of ending up back to back, or one or the other of us giving our back to the other. That way or the other madness lies. So when I turn around to you, don't turn around to me because one or both of us is likely to get lost or end up speaking to the wrong person.

So if someone turns 'round to you and starts telling you about someone who turned 'round to them and told them something and nothing about someone who turned 'round to them, I'm not joking. These things do happen, or so a bloke turned around and told me. It was quite a surprise; I've got to admit I was somewhat taken aback. So I turned 'round to him and said woah mate, watch it, and he turned around to me and said soz mate, no worries. So you see there was a happy ending.

He turned around to me...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

503: NOISE

SHONK-krrzzzg gjank gza-kza ka ka
tschzzz kakkkkxxxxxqu psaughk psak fragk grag
fzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zup zp ziiiiiiiiiiiiii fzap fweep fwoop

It's noise. I read Stewart Lee How I Escaped My Certain Fate in which he mentioned two names that, when combined with Spotify, got me excited about music as a powerful non-populist art form (which is a whim I indulge in periodically). Those names are Derek Bailey, a free improvising guitarist, and Evan Parker, a similarly free saxophonist. Find both on Spotify (Bailey and Parker, links open Spotify). I know next to nothing about both of these guys, but Stewart Lee won his episode of Celebrity Mastermind with Derek Bailey as his specialist subject.

Speaking of seeing Bailey performing at the Royal Festival Hall in 1997, Stewart Lee writes:
I seem to recall a moment where the septuagenarian genius, lost in concentration, actually bumped into the back wall of the stage, his guitar making a resonating clang. Looking down, he appeared to consider what had happened, and then playfully bashed the instrument into the wall a second time. I laughed and despite the wealth of different responses Bailey's music had already offered me, I never thought it would provoke laughter. But something great music shares with great comedy is the capacity to surprise, to take us out of ourselves and engender a joyous, and not necessarily mean-spirited or cynical, laughter.
Great art, whether it's laboriously crafted or spontaneously generated, tends towards the surprise factor that [George] Carlin describes [in the documentary The Aristocrats], and Bailey embodies. Derek Bailey is bold enough to refuse to gloss his work with emotional signifiers, just as George Carlin doesn't tell jokes as though they are supposed to be funny. Both make us do the work, and we get the reward of appearing to surprise ourselves. But the breakthrough moment, for me, of seeing Bailey bash his guitar into the back wall of the RFH, was realising that I could be made to laugh, against my will, in an atmosphere of high seriousness, in the temple of culture, by the simple childlike joy of surprise.

In 1999 I was a teenager doing a music technology Btec at college, recently opened up to huge vistas of hitherto unexplored music. From the previous few years listening almost entirely to various types of heavy metal I was, all of a sudden, exposed to hip hop, techno, classical, and modern. I became fascinated by Zappa which lead me to Varese and then to Cage, and my favourite Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was music like nothing I had never heard before, completely free from the predictable RAMTIFT (Rhythm, hArmony, Melody, Timbre, Intonation, Form, Timing). Unfortunately as part of my course we were required to write songs exactly matching the dictates of traditional pop. This meant that in order for a hip hop track to be eligible for a pass mark there needed to be a melody slapped on the chorus.

Mildly rebellious, pseudo-intellectual, pretentious little oik that I was (I mean "am" obviously) I responded with a song I called Spoken Like Tricky but now prefer just to call it Music is an Art (With No Place for Rules) (click to listen). Yeah, right on! I have zero music ability so the music was written and played, and the lyrics spoken, by my highly talented friend Robbie Greer (aka Stoopid Ill, aka Derogatory, aka Bobby Esmond). I bashed away expressively on the piano in accompaniment to my lyrics:

I've got a new religion called pop music
It has been forced on me and it's making me sick
[unintelligible mumbling, can't remember the words I wrote for this bit]
I don't come from the school of the Beatles or the Stones
Yeah, I hate Oasis, Steps and the Stereophones [sic]
Music is an art with no place for rules

No chords, no structure
With dissonance , with difference
Without the use of a scientific formula for creating a single,
A nice pop hit
For little boys, little girls
Little minds
For capital
The biggest disease of the Western civilisation is pop music

Four minutes and thirty three seconds
Music completely to chance occurrence
The creative function of non-control
Solid bands of sound
Indefinite pitch
A variety of articulations and special effects

As it turned out the song had a pretty formulaic structure, otherwise I would have failed the unit, and in order to be eligible for a mark we had to put some singing on it. So whatever my point was I might not have successfully got it across. My lecturer came in the control booth while I was bashing away at the piano and, I was later told, sarcastically referred to me as "The Professor". Gradually, and retrospectively sadly, I slowly became more conventional. Now I've even got to the point where I can tolerate some of the tunes in the popular hit parade!

I've just come across a book on Amazon called Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen by David Stubbs, the product description I think is worth quoting in full:
Modern art is a mass phenomenon. The Tate Modern is the most popular tourist attraction in Europe. Conceptual artists like Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst enjoy celebrity status. Works by 20th century abstract artists like Mark Rothko are selling for record breaking sums at auction, while the millions commanded by works by Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon make headline news.
However, while the general public has no trouble embracing avant garde and experimental art, there is, by contrast, mass resistance to avant garde and experimental music, although both were born at the same time under similar circumstances - and despite the fact that from Schoenberg and Kandinsky onwards, musicians and artists have made repeated efforts to establish a 'synaesthesia' between their two media.
This book examines the parallel histories of modern art and modern music and examines why one is embraced and understood and the other ignored, derided or regarded with bewilderment, as noisy, random nonsense perpetrated by, and listened to by the inexplicably crazed. It draws on interviews and often highly amusing anecdotal evidence in order to find answers to the question: Why do people get Rothko and not Stockhausen?

It's so true. But a question arises – where does art music, the avant garde, fit in peoples lives? It can exist as incidental music in strange and sinister movies and TV shows, but is that enough? I don't think so. Many people visit art galleries to view Modern and Contemporary Art, but few people buy art and live with it. I suggest the Tate Modern (and indeed other art galleries) should have a permanent music room with regular live performances from small ensembles, soloists, sound installations, tape loops, which can be listened to comfortably for long periods of time. They could offer residencies to people like Derek Bailey. It's the best idea ever.

Gzzzz-rahhh gggggggg ha hrak heep fwooo
Tsop-fla zxxxxxeeezzzzzzzzzzz -zaw dwoip
vg pflpfwp eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiieeeeeeee-gh fwap-SHK

502: Evidence for my stupidity

"You have to be brave to take out that white sheet of paper and put on it words that could be evidence of your stupidity."

Here it is ; as I listen to a man fwapping a guitar, with intent or distraction I cannot tell, and attempt to process the fact that Nina killed Jack's wife in episode 24 (of 24) of series one of 24, now I have the worry of being made to look stupid by the sound symbols I place carefully hither and thither on this white sheet of paper. It's not real paper, you know. It's just a picture, an image of paper constructed in the mind of a child; a dream of paper in the pocket of a hobbled dinosaur sinking slowly to the hot tap end of the sink; a fantasy of paper plopped in the lap of an orthodontist with too much time and not enough numbing agent.

Here it is ; an attempt at bravery. Not that rescuing cats from burning houses and young families from trees kind of bravery ; not that twice saving the life of Senator Palmer kind of bravery. Not that, no. This is the bravery of a man with a blank piece of paper, nothing to say, and the stubborn unembarrassed idiocy required to persevere long enough to put a bit of black stain on a white piece of paper. This is what writers do, so the creator of TV series Bewitched, who died at 100 and raked in piles of royalty money despite only writing the pilot episode. If that isn't something to aspire to emulate I don't know what is; honestly and genuinely, I mean that.

Here it is ; the evidence of my stupidity. Evidence for my stupidity. Of/for? Is one American English usage, the other British? I just don't know. Circumstantial? Here it is ; stupidity, stubipity, swibbibbity, spop-bobbity spobbity spob, spab-pipippy popippipy prap. I proscribe sleep for symptoms such as this, and I prosecute to the fullest extent of the law for impersonating a doctor, a writer, a drama teacher, a womble, a street cleaner, an foolscap scraper, a hay baler, a cow catcher.

Here it is ; evidence if evidence is evidence is evidence were needed. 'tweren't

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

501: Comment

In lieu of a proper post I reproduce here a comment I have just written on the following blog post http://followergerrard.com/2012/01/12/the-atheist-delusion/:

You mention "the Christian belief" repeatedly and then proceed to talk about all Christians as though they all hold the same belief. The Bible, and other sources of Christian theology, not being factual (i.e. evidence based) are all entirely open to personal interpretation. When you claim to be speaking for Christians it seems to me as though you are only speaking for yourself. The reason why scientific method holds so much power and is so much more useful than religion or philosophy as a tool for examining the world is that its conclusions are dictated by the evidence. The conclusions of religion are subject to whim, preference, wish or political dictate. One only need look at the world around us to see there is not one "Christian" outlook.

Science is the act of attempting to find the truth through observation and testing; gradually we get closer and closer to truth as science reduces error margins. Religion, if it does exist outside of the physical or material world, only does so by inhabiting the world of fiction. While science is the most accurate method of observing the real world, theology is at best an archaic, dogmatic and stunted method of fiddling aimlessly with the details of a fictional world. Every claim you make about god applies only to your own interpretation.

Being an atheist isn't an act of faith, it is the lack of an act of faith. Not believing in god came before believing in god, just the same as not being able to drive came before being able to drive; first there was the world, then there were gods and cars. All of your ideas about what god is and what god means and what god does are meaningless to an atheist (or at least this atheist) because they all rest on the unfounded assumption that god exists. The idea of god can and should be viewed as a scientific hypothesis (because it is possible that a universe created, maintained, observed, occasionally interfered with by god is very different from a godless universe). When I hypothesis is not backed up by observation and evidence it is rejected. This is the reason it is safe to assume there is no god. There might be, but given the lack of evidence there is no genuine reason to believe.

On the subject of evolution and what it says about god you conclude "Showing how evolution is the result of physical processes is not, in any way, contrary to this, but simply a description of what was physically resulting from God’s sovereign control." In a sense this is just not true. Evolution is a description of how species can form unguided exactly without "God's sovereign control". I agree that the theory of evolution is not direct evidence against the existence of god, but it does drastically reduce the gap god can safely inhabit.

Often people talk about there being some essential self, a spirit, ghost, soul whatever that exists as a duality with the brain or body. This is often said to have an immortal eternal life after the death of the temporary body. Look at it this way for an illustration of why I consider it inherently ludicrous: The soul (which for arguments sake I will describe as the bit of the brain that feels love, ecstatic reactions to art, music and nature) is a function of brain which can no more exist without that brain than the heart beat can exist without the heartbeat. Were I to suggest that I believe my heart beat (or for that matter my renal function) were to have an eternal life after the death of my body, you would be right to laugh at me.

Although your post contains some interesting ideas it is ruined by your insistence on speaking for all Christians, and by implication knowing what all Christians think. You also make claims to know so much about what your god is and does. When you say "The universe doesn’t“contain”God. God doesn’t“dwell within” the universe or “outside it (whatever that might mean)” it seems to me you are claiming to know so much that you couldn't possibly know. If you get annoyed by comparing belief in god to belief in a teapot in space, because of a semantic game placing god outside of "place", then how about this: Believing in god is like believing in a non-physical teapot that isn't in any place, is outside of space and existence, but still is somehow worth thinking about, discussing and offering praise and prayer to.

Actually the more I think about it your argument seems to be "atheists are wrong not to believe in a god that exists, because that is not the Christian god. The Christian god is actually a god that doesn't exist. So if you are going to be an atheist, at least believe in the non-existing Christian god". This sounds crazy, and indeed is, but that is the reading that comes from your blog.

If god intervenes in the physical world, where is the physical evidence. If god doesn't intervene, what's so amazing about god?

Indeed, this is a conversation between two people who don't speak the same language.

Monday, January 16, 2012

500: Boohoo, it's Blue Monday :)

Full belly, couple of beers, couple of episodes of 24, warm room, chips and gravy, and all shared with the one who will be my wife in less than five months time. You know, I doubt life gets much better than this. Of course, I'm now winding her up by blasting out the free jazz saxophone sqwarks of Evan Parker, and the mid-80s complexities of Frank Zappa's bizarro rock compositions. But as far as I'm concerned this keeps us well within the confines of life doesn't get better than this. Appart from it being a Monday of course... but there will always be Mondays. I guess we'd all just better learn to live with them. Or we could rename it Sunday-II and make it another day of fishing, swimming, cycling, snorkling, belly-dancing, stamp collecting, or whatever it is decent normal people are supposed to do on a Sunday.

Figure that out without me, and get back to me as soon as possible. In the meantime I'll just be over hear readin The Horror in the Museum by H.P. Lovecraft and then doing a sleep. Yeah, this is one of those blog posts that starts of with a limp fart and goes down hill from there on in, mixed metaphors and everything. Don't be disappointed; you shouldn't be expecting more than that in the first place. It's your own fault.

So what was this thing we were saying about Mondays? Today is Blue Monday; the day in which we celebrate bullshit PR being confused with science by people who regurgitate stuff they haven't heard properly and add the word 'apparantly'. Yes, Blue Monday. Supposedly science has discovered that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. Apparantly, according to who, I have no idea. It's just one of those bullshit ideas that floats around, you know, like ghosts or daddy-long-legs being the world's most venomous animal but not having the teeth to administer their venom. Actually it's not a real story, it's not true, it's just a regular way for newspapers to fill up a bit of paper with yet another piece of misinformation about the meaning and purpose of science. It also allows them to portray a serious mental illness as being a temporary slight which can be shrugged off with a few days of fruit juice and exercise.

And besides, I've had a great day, and a great weekend before that. Thanks wife!

499: 24, 11 years after

Just a quick post. I haven't got time to be writing blog posts and such nonsense what with all these episodes of 24 I've got to be watching. See, despite this programme starting eleven years ago, and me having heard so much good stuff about it, from friends, and from Charlie Brooker (whose words on Deadwood lead me to the best TV programme ever), I had never watched a single episode. The other day on a whim, I signed up for a free one month trial to Netflix (a kind of Spotify for film and TV) and was disappointed to discover it is mostly shit. Their are lots of crappy American comedies for stoned teenage dudes and people on dates getting a lovely little fumble up the jumper, and a small selection of mostly shit stand-up.

Really the only two things on Netflix that I have wanted to watch are 24 and Spongebob Squarepants. Both great, and Netflix is free for the first month. Anyway, I gave the first episode of 24 a tentative try on, I think, Friday night, and since then I have been completely gripped. Every second is tense, there is literally no downtime from the action. I really need to try and get in about twenty minutes sleep between now and work. Maybe a bit more than twenty minutes would be better, but Jack Bauer doesn't need sleep, and his job looks quite a bit more difficult than mine. Rarely does my day consist of kidnapping colleagues who may or may not be conspiring to kill me, my family and a famous politician. I always get two fifteen minute breaks and an hour for lunch. Poor overworked Jack Bauer doesn't get that. The only down time he gets is a sit-down in the back of a bullet proof limo, but even then he is threatening to force a wet towel down the throat of some crooked businessman.

Spongebob Squarepants is good, but it neglects cliffhangers and genuine peril. For that reason I have yet to find myself watching episode after episode without breaking for drinks and toilets. I'm only up to 4pm on the first day (series) of 24, so, yeah... end of blog... I really must be off now.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

498: A thing, right, about Art, right, and, erm, Wrestling, right

In 2003 I started a Contemporary Arts degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. The degree was split up into five electives – Visual Art, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, and Music – of which most people chose to do two. Personally I chose Art and Writing. In the first year, everyone, regardless of subject, was required to do a Contextual Studies module. This was the only lecture I had in one of those great big lecture halls often seen in American 'college' movies. You were required to learn bits about all fields of the arts and how they fit into modern thinking. Every week we would split up into smaller tutorial groups, lead by MA students, in order to discuss the lectures and give presentations.

Our tutorial was lead by one of these MA students particularly notable, not for her intelligence or grasp of the subject, but for her relentless barrage of right, like, right, you know, right, right, right, punctuating her speech. This habit made it impossible to hear anything she said except for right, right, right. When I was younger I had a similar habit which my dad expunged through imitation and mockery; an act which I am grateful for. One day, right, while leading a tutorial, right, she sat on a table and pulled a chair towards her to rest her feet on. After a few beats for comic effect both of her stiletto heels went through the plastic fabric of the cushion covers. Through embarrassment her right frequency increased dramatically.

For one presentation we were required to do a polemic. As I was to understand a polemic is an extremely one-sided argument, often an attack on an opponent, and often on a highly contentious subject matter, likely to cause controversy or offence. This dictionary agrees: polemic n. 1. A controversial argument, especially one refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine. There seemed to be a problem amongst many of my fellow first-years with comprehending this very simple idea. Even after having it explained some people just couldn't manage it.

The way I saw it was you just needed to pick a subject. It didn't need to be something you liked or even agreed with. It was more about a performance, an exercise in writing either something you disagree with, or something you agree with but perhaps not to such an extreme, and then presenting it in a passionate manner, aggressive even, in order to wind people up. A popular, trite, idea was Pornography as Art. Obvious, and outdated. I chose Professional Wrestling as Art, a subject which I could easily defend and go completely over the top.

One of the other students did a presentation that could easily have been called Why I Sort-Of Quite Like Salvador Dali, but to be honest it's ok if your not that into him, because I don't love him, he's just OK, yeah? Our presented polemics were supposed to encourage discussion and disagreement amongst the group, and as far as I was concerned the longer the discussion and the more aggressive and vocal the disagreement, the more successful the polemic. Her pathetic Salvador Dali presentation was met by stunned silence. Rather than saying "sorry, but that wasn't a polemic, you can do one next week," the tutorial leader said "yes, very good, now discuss". And when no one wanted to say anything, as we had been given nothing to go on, nothing to agree or disagree with, she went around the room getting us each to say something.

I began my polemic with a few words stating my subject matter, the artistic merit of Professional Wrestling. I then showed a video of the first two minutes of the independent wrestling documentary Beyond The Mat:

"I love the pageantry, the athleticism. Even the incredibly cheesy acting. I look at wrestling as theatre at its most base, and guess what? So do most of the fans. We know what's going on. Is it sport? Is it entertainment? It's both. It's wrestling.
Now let's get something straight. I know wrestling is a show, but it's not as fake as you think. Of course the winners of the matches are predetermined, and the violence is choreographed, however the result of the violence is very real.
All these years watching wrestling one thought still swirls in my mind: What sort of human being bashes another man's skull into a ring post for a living?"

A better, more concise explanation of the appeal of Professional Wrestling I have never heard. My intention with starting with this video was firstly to show some images of mainstream wrestling, recognisable faces like The Undertaker and Steve Austin, and to give a rational description of the appeal. I wanted to lull my audience into false comfort. Even mainstream wrestling is divisive: some people love it, some people think it's pathetic, but many people are indifferent to it and never give it a passing thought. I could picture people mentally preparing their "it's not art," or "maybe it is art, but it's shit art for idiots" arguments. Had I left it here the post polemic discussion would have been lukewarm at best.

I then showed a promotional video for the underground hardcore wrestling even Combat Zone Wrestling's Cage of Death V: Suspended. This featured unsimulated, but consensual, violence with weapons including broken glass, light bulbs, barbed wire, a string strimmer/weed whacker, staple guns and baseball bats, and ended with the wrestler John Zandig (also the owner of CZW) being suspended from the ceiling of the arena by meat hooks pushed through the flesh of his shoulders.

This act is a kind of body modification performance art. The hooks are put through temporary piercings made immediately prior to the actual performance. The effect is dramatic but the actual damage inflicted is minimal if done properly. Aside: in 2007 I frequented a micro-bar in Osaka, Japan, run by a body modification artist. Once when I was in there he and his female partner were preparing for a suspension performance later that day. She was sat on the only sofa in the room, next to me, and he came out from behind the bar and began making the temporary piercings in her arms and legs. He was using antiseptic, latex gloves, and an autoclave to sterilise his tools.

I can't find the actual video I showed, but here are some examples of the sights seen by my audience (forgive the dumb ass metal music, it seems to be a compulsory addition to wrestling videos these days):

The wrestlers in this video are quite literally risking serious injury or death, not for money (for there is none in such low budget organisations), but simply for self expression. This could not be more in keeping with the attitudes to art expressed by post-modern darlings, loved by Contemporary Art lecturers. Performance artist Chris Burden had himself nailed to a car and shot in the art with a shot gun on seperate occassions. Vito Acconci sat in a restaurant staring at someone, rubbing his own arm until it bled. For another piece he lay under a false floor in a gallery wanking, looking up through a hole at people walking above. ORLAN is a conceptual artist whose work is her own body, deformed over years by endless plastic surgery. Her performance is her surgery, and she has even sold, as art, pieces of flesh and fat removed from her body.

My argument is that wrestling, particularly of the extremely violent variety, is more powerful than typical Body Art, because it is more direct and visceral in its ability to make us think about and question the limitations and possibilities of our own bodies. I didn't need to say this at first however, because as soon as the video ended the room erupted in discussion and argument, while I sat back to enjoy. Mission accomplished. I hope the Salvador Dali girl failed hopelessly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

497: A poem (epic) about bananas

Banana banana
Banana banana banana

I haven't worked out this poem yet
but there's a bit at the start
where I introduce the subject matter

It then progresses,
(the poem I mean, not the banana)
on a path of its own
encapsulating life, the wider world,
the non-banana world,
but all along anchored
by the humble banana

And so, as I said,
it started subtly
The poem not the banana

But bananas too also start
from humble beginnings,
they grow on plants
long cultivated by humans

The seeds they contain
are residual at best,
I've never known anyone complain
of a banana seed 'tween their teeth

Their name means 'finger'
in Arabic, or so I'm told
by Wikipedia

In other media,
QI to be precise,
I learn the banana plant can 'walk'
of its own accord

The truth of this I cannot confirm
It might be true,
it might not;
How would I know?

Others know and have known
more on the subject of bananas
than I would ever want to know

I'm sure its fascinating
For botanists and their lucky spouses,
but honestly
I'll always be biased 'cause

for Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole and Fyffes
I can't stand the stuff

The white mush
which looks so good
yet smells so bad

sits securely inside
the yellow skin,
pleasing to the eye

the illusion of design

Every year or so
I'll give them a try.
One's taste buds change
and develop over time.

Aged seventeen I couldn't finish
a pint of Guinness
but now I could, and do
with relish,
now pour me another

So one day maybe,
just maybe,
I'll taste a banana and love it

Until that day,
I'll retain suspicion
maintain inhibition
disdain their incompatibility with my otherwise adventurous constitution

I feel the same way too
about poetry
I think

It seems tenacious
and perhaps that's a sign
that people prefer their lives

to contain occasional bananas
and occasional poems

Despite my proclamations
to love this or hate that
Secretly I am loathe to make judgement

Until further evidence is presented.
I could be right,
or it might all be a matter of opinion

fluid, elastic, subjective opinion.
Liable to change
at any time.

If ever bananas develop a taste
pleasing to my buds,
or conversely those taste buds

change to accommodate the banana
I'm sure I'll mention it
In a blog or something.

496: Headache day, and unrelated banana mention

I woke up this morning with a serious severe painful pain in my face, above the brow, penetrating back into my head, with the feeling its shattered my skull, like a stiletto, and is busy making immoral merry with the grey gunge of my synapses. I didn't want to, but I called in sick for work; a rare happening. Unfortunately all that could be done was drink water, take paracetamol and try to sleep through the worst of the headache. I tried to wake up, but it hurt. Waking up. Waking up hurt. I've had better days.

Recent developments have allowed me to bare staring at the computer screen for a few bloggy moments. So here I am, back again, desperately trying to eek out a word count, by clumsily forcing sentences together using words that don't fit, and attempts at jokes I don't even get. I've slept all day and, when occasionally awake, struggled to look at a book, struggled to listen to some music quietly.

I've been toying with the idea of experimenting with endurance by just writing blog posts about bananas for as long as I possibly can. If, as I intend, I'm going to write this blog for the rest of my life, it might be necessary to attempt such seemingly pointless tasks. I find the thinking behind that difficult to explain at this moment, but be gladdened and encouraged by the thought that I'll probably get around to it sometime in the next fifty years. Until that happens, its bananas all the way down.

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting continuation of my arbitrary obsession with the annoying and ever present banana (headache permitting): same banana blog, same banana url. It's bat time, bat channel. I was doing a play on that, you know, from Batman. The TV series from the 1960s. It wasn't very obvious, and it didn't really work. So I explained what I was doing to avoid confusion. I hope that's cleared that up.

Monday, January 09, 2012

495: I want to talk about bananas

Two bananas, yesterday.

Bananas; love them or hate them, bananas they will remain. How can evolution be true when the banana is so clearly designed to fit in our opposabled-thumbed hands? They even come with their own naturally occurring wrappings, and by slowly turning black they have an outside indication of their internal edibility. OK, that's evolution over and done with; looks like the banana is evidence for an intelligent designer. Only one little problem that designer forgot to perfect. When he/it (not she) was working on the shape, skin, and colouration, he/it forgot to make the inside of the banana taste nice. He/it didn't even grace it with a texture that isn't like a gooey roux of wheat flour and vomit.

For the sake of brevity, and common sense, let's assume the creator of bananas -all bananas, not just some of them- was a man, and let's call that man Bananaman (not that one). Bananaman (not that one) began with a desire to create a healthy and convenient alternative to the sausage roll or Scotch egg; he thought handy, he thought healthy, he thought yummy: he contrived to create the perfect snack fit for the human hand, heart, head and large intestine. He fucked up proper and good. The meat of a banana is a globulous melting filth; a stem of white pus oozing from a phallic yellow spot; a garish gash of ghastly grunge; slightly sweet but with a soggy cold-breakfast cereal texture designed to trigger the gag reflex; a frozen yogurt lolly of puke and alienesque miasma; a hollow fruit of pure unfiltered sadness and unwanted attention; a disagreeable melange of bullying and xenophobia; a distracting subjugation of all that is good and proper; a torturous sentence of a thousand lifetimes; a dirty little secret spread wide for all to see; a snotty nose and a spotty bot; rotten, unwanted, smelly and squidgy.

"You are wrong, they're very yummy."

Once I felt the same about mushrooms. My first job; in a mushroom farm, one well-known in the Lancaster area, and situated close to Galgate village. Mini-bused from Lancaster out to the farm to spend a few evening hours in the dark, legs spread across the aisle, standing between the mushroom beds, climbing high to the third bunk. Picking the mushrooms with the special knife, breathing in the foetid cemetery vapour of the rotting earth. The smell of mushrooms was indelible. Washing would not remove it, for the sinuses were lodged deeply with stinking masses of spores. Years later (when the smell had finally dissipated) I ate soup of the day: mushroom in the university canteen. What can I say; I was depressed, it was a call for help, there were no bananas at hand. Confounding expectations the mushroom soup was delicious, and didn't kill me. I discovered many different kinds of mushrooms in many colours, shapes and sizes. I tried them raw, fried, battered, boiled, poached, scrambled and devilled. I loved them.

So, Bananaman (not that one), I ask you, where are the varieties of banana? Plantains? OK, that's a start. They are nice grilled or fried with a curry. That's it; that's all I know. There must be more? Maybe there isn't. I'm starting to think that perhaps the design argument isn't as good as it might have seemed...

Sunday, January 08, 2012

494: beep beep beep

The block of flats (it's a terraced house converted into three flats) has a fire alarm system with a fault. For no tangible explained reason it occasionally makes an incessant never ending beep. Or the alarm itself sounding, just a loud beep indicating some mysterious fault. To make it stop you have to input the code and then press the silence button. This doesn't stop the beeping fault, it just shuts it up for a bit. The length of time it shuts up seems to bare no relationship to anything in this universe. Just now the beeping stopped for enough time to allow me to sit down; then it started again. Other times the beeping might stop for hours or days before starting up again.

When the beeping starts it starts at a level just quiet enough to not be heard, but then one moment you notice it's there and you can never unnotice it. Beep beep beep just below the level of conscious hearing; but there it is there it is there it is. Today the beeping shuts off for only seconds at a time. I've just returned from a pointless tussle with that fucking box. I pressed in the code and hit silence. There was silence for a couple of beats and it came right back with the beeping. I repeated this a thousand times and eventually gave up. On my way back up the stairs the hall light, which is on a timer, switched itself off automatically leaving my tumbling and stumbling about in the dark. This house hates me.

Even if the beeping was to stop, it has already burned itself into my brain, meaning that I will hear it forever regardless of whether it sounds or not. I think it's off now, but can't be sure. It's not important, I just had to share.

In other news: I'm reading The Horror in the Museum by H.P. Lovecraft, a book full of 'collaborative' stories by the dark prince of 20th century horror writing. 'Collaborative' meaning ghost-written by Lovecraft, or originally written by someone else, then rewritten by the master of the weird tale. Like any anthology of Lovecraft their are bizarre flights of fancy lasting a page or three, interspersed with longer stories often taking place within the Cthulhu Mythos. Seems good so far.

Tomorrow is Monday. Night night.

493: ramblings about nothing

So, erm, blogging and that. How's that for an opening line; quite a hook, eh? Bet you can't wait to read on and find out what gripping narrative this is the preamble to. Not much; my brain is dim after a lazy Sunday in my dressing gown, eating shit and playing Civilization VI. And having not written much or indeed anything for a day I find now that writing anything at all has become a terrific imposition. I struggle to think as I struggle to say as I struggle to write: very little means anything, or so I sometimes think. It's times like this I thank blog that I write: if I didn't write, I wouldn't think, or express, or do much at all really.

And while playing Civ VI I've been watching Breakfast at Tiffany's in which a writer, played by a young Col John 'Hannibal' Smith, attempts to court the whimsically delightful, yet impossibly difficult Audrey Hepburn. There's a cat with no name, rich posh Americans, kooky New Yorkishness, a sofa made from an old bathtub cut in half longways, and errr other stuff. I'm not really paying attention: it's divided 'tween the television and whatever it is I'm writing about now.

Breakfast at Tiffany's has finished, and we've changed the DVD to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It's DVD night in the Bradshaw household. I wish I was a New York writer or a Toontown private dic then, working on my own time, I could have a bit of a lie-in tomorrow, and not bother having a shave. Got too much real life stuff I need to sort out (taxes, wedding prep, writing, day job, this, that, the other, those and the other others, etc), soooooo..... BRB.

After that little three-paragraph breakdown I decided to print out what I have so far of my novel, in order to look at it from a slightly different perspective. To read it, make notes, edits, rewrites and begin picking up and finishing what I already have. I want to get those darn pesky three chapters perfected ASAP (a couple of months or so), and then try to get a literary agent. Worth trying; might bring me fame and fortune. Less of the fame, more of the fortune preferably. Anyway, never mind...

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Space Shuttle: The Complete Missions

Last month the Manchester Apollo was host to Uncaged Monkeys, an evening of comedy, science and scepticism.  One of the many highlights of the evening was Adam Rutherford's video tribute to NASA's recently retired Space Shuttles.  Here is that video - full screen, volume up to full:

"NASA's 30-year Space Transportation System (STS) program came to an end on 21st July 2011. The Space Shuttle fleet delivered the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and dozens of satellites, space probes, crew and supplies. Two Shuttles were lost: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. The touchdown of Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center marked the end of an era, after 135 missions. This video shows all of them in chronological order. http://www.nature.com/spaceshuttle"
(Text from YouTube video description on  Nature Video Channel.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

492: First they came for the...

Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator who I've never heard of either, is apparently rising through the ranks of jostling homophobes clawing to be Republican candidate for the US Presidency. He is known for his considered, insightful and forward-thinking statements such as, "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing." He thinks that people should not be allowed the right to privacy; to consensual relations with the partner of their choice; he appears to think homosexuality is equivalent to child rape and bestiality. Here he is expressing himself, over compensating for something, in an unedited interview with Associated Press.

Santorum wants to mess with the private lives of millions of people, delving into details that are absolutely none of his business, choosing to surround himself in the details of activities he claims to abhor. In 2003, back when Santorum was still senator, gay rights campaigner Dan Savage decided to mess with Santorum by launching a sort-of competition to give a crude definition to the word santorum. The winning definition was "Santorum 1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. 2. Senator Rick Santorum." A website was created declaring the meaning of the word, and it quickly shot to the top of Google's search ranking for the term santorum. It remains at the top, and must be quite a problem for the nasty homophobic Christian extremist and the nasty homophobic Christian extremists whose votes he lusts after.

I added my liberal, wishy-washy, limp-wristed, deviant-empowering, Satanic, dog-fucking two cents to the story mainly for the reason of being able to link to the definition of Santorum and thus contribute to its remaining at the top of Google search results. I think he deserves it, and it scares me that such extremists could seriously be considered for the Presidency of a modern country.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't Jewish.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Synth City

Pete Cannon in Synth City (UK's Largest Collection of Synths)
from Behind Closed Doors DVD Magazine on Vimeo.
(All music on this video clip is by PETE CANNON.)

For more PETE CANNON click the links below:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

491: No Power, No Fire

At around about eleven o'clock last night the lights all died, the ever present unnoticed electrical hum of everything faded, fire and burglar alarms began calling out in unsynchronised discord. At the same exact moment a small spring-loaded book-light on a table in the bedroom reached out its little arm to me spontaneously creating a little spot of light in the darkness about two feet below my face. A sudden power cut is surprise enough but when it is unexpectedly accompanied by a mysterious prick of light just below ones face, the confusion is next-to overloading. At the time, for a few fleeting moments, the two were inexorably connected: either one was the cause of the other, or they were both caused by or predictions of a terrific and imminent event.

I soon came to my senses and looked out of the window to see that the street lights were dead on this side of the road, but the other side was unaffected, and those lucky electric-powered buggers yonder were looking out of their illuminated living rooms to see what the racket was about. In no time we had little saucers of tea lights littered about the place, my flat mate was wandering about the darkness with a hand cranked dynamo torch, and I was reading my Mutants book by the light of the headlamp I climbed Fuji with.

Soon two fire engines had pulled up outside the house and fully equipped hunks were running about thinking where's the fire, where's the fire. Finding none, and only misfiring fire alarms and darkened windows, they struggled with what to do. After some discussion and deliberation they decided the best thing to do was to turn off the spinning blue fire engine lights, and then just hang about a bit kicking up their heels. I felt like letting them blow out the tea lights just to give them something firemanny to do. They looked so disappointed.

We realised there was no hot water, and I repeatedly tried to switch on the light every time I entered a room. It was all very exciting. Our first night back in the flat after spending new year with family; I'm glad we made it back in time. I tried to turn the laptop on but it wasn't charged. I tried to put the kettle on but it wasn't feeling up to it. I tried to run some hot water but it didn't feel like showing up. Then at midnight exactly, with a wire of restarting electrical background hum, the lights came back on, things clicked and shuffled and modern life came back. I shaved in the warm water of modernity, and bathed in the bright light of Western science and the workmanship of electricity repairmen.