Blizzardality

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On second thoughts, stay where you are.

Burn stuff. Stay alive.

Every Which Wayality

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I take it all back, I do, I take it all back about the snow.

It's coming down, left, right and in some cases up (eddies, I hope) with a vengeance.

Run! Run home New Yorkers, run home!

The Mega Killy Snows Of Death are here!

Horizontality

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I wasn't wrong.

I have just returned from the supermarket, walking through the snow. The wind is high and the snow is only settling on the sides of buildings, cars...and people.

Nothing on the pavement, but there was so much on me that when I got home I buried downstairs' Chihuahua mid-yap after shaking my coat.

Don't worry about the snow. It's just passing through.

Adam Sandler...or Leeches?

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Yesterday, at the ever welcoming and fabulous Biscuit and Mike's place, I was introduced to what is the modern marvel of the card game Apples to Apples. (I still can't believe I won the definition 'speedy' with the card 'roadkill')

We had a great time, and the party tripped over and on into the Oscars.

Saturday night was also a lot of fun, with a bit of a gathering at a bar called 'People' on the Lower East Side, where the coat check girl managed to get the hook of a coathanger INTO my wedding ring and was halfway to the coat rack before my polite and rather surprised protest registered with her. That or the fact that I appeared to be reaching over her shoulder. I am lucky that the coat booth was a small boxy closet-type affair.

On Friday afternoon, when I convinced myself that after emailing my recruitment agencies references and going through CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com (the latter being increasingly made redundant by the former) that there was little else to be done with regards to getting a job by Monday - hands up people who think that recruiters go home early on Fridays? I went to the library to write. As we arranged, Krissa and I were to meet outside her office at 6pm, but, having come to a good ending point, I left early, little knowing that Krissa had done the same and that she and Sarah Jessica Parker were both coming to meet me at the library.

Sadly I missed the small televisual one completely but happily bumped into the small pretty stylish one when doubling back from her office. Funnily enough, Krissa and Sarah crossed paths in the library. Better luck catching me next time, SJP. Fat chance. I'm changing libraries. You'll never find me.

It is currently snowing so hard that it is coming in horizontally on the wind; a little self defeating for the snow, when you consider that if it does that across the city it will just pass through completely...or settle on the sides of buildings.

Half Man Half Biscuit

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Vatican Broadside:

(to the tune of 'Glory glory hallelujah' or whatever the song was we used to sing with the words 'when you're hanging by your braces and you don't know how to fly'...which went on to mention sending someone to his mum in a jam jar. ANYWAY.)

The singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope,
The singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope,
The singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope,
And the Pope said to his aide,
Who the fuckin' hell are Slipknot?
Who the fuckin' hell are Slipknot?
Who the fuckin' hell are Slipknot, in relation to me getting out of bed?

That's it. That's the song in it's entirety.

For some reason I have this song stuck in my head today. I only looked up Half Man Half Biscuit for a mix CD I was making ages ago, after Woody was into them at university, but the lyrics sort of stay with you.


Odd, that.

Faire le Weekend

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I used to think that a planless weekend was something to savour after a heavy working week. As a bachelor I would relish the idea of a bottle of wine on the Friday night, the late morning, the hours of video games and going increasingly flighty on espresso, reading in the garden, the late night film, maybe a little exercise, a little shopping, in all probability another bottle of light and luscious italian red wine on the Saturday night.

Now let me tell you...married planless weekends knock all of this into a cocked hat, should you have a cocked hat handy. Even though a 'cocked hat' sounds like the sort of headgear that a shameless and brassy female friend might wear to a hen night or bachelorette party, let's move swiftly on.

The alignment of will in what exactly constitutes a lazy Saturday lends a veneer of added pleasure to sloth and lethargy. Minus the bottles of wine and a playstation, I can honestly say this: there ain't no weekend like a lazy married one.

Quiet Nights

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So over the weekend Hunter S. Thompson put a gun in his mouth and fired it, rather predictably killing himself in the process.

"Iran must not have a nuclear weapon," Bush has said. "For the sake of security and peace, they must not have a nuclear weapon."

A Scottish blind man turned on his Guide Dog, biting her and kicking her into a road.

I've spent my morning picking from a small tub of dodgy olives, listening to music, drinking coffee, and laboriously making my way through the job websites and emailing recruitment agencies to let them know I'm legal again.

I have a new first-cousin-once-removed. Welcome to the world, Archie. Some of the best bits don't make the headlines.

My sister Jemma is doing extremely well in her Psychology degree.

My parents are wrestling with AOL and BT as the pioneers of broadband internet in my home town of Ventnor, Isle of Wight, England.

I am twenty-five years and four and a half months old, living in New York City, New York State, USA. I am drinking coffee, deciding against another olive, and looking for work.

Madhya Pradesh's annual bhooton kah mela, or Ghost Exorcism Fair, is well underway in India. That's a novel one.

Pope John Paul il Secondo has popped back into hospital with a relapse of that troublesome influenza.

Hunter S. Thompson wants his remains fired out of a cannon. I assume he'll be cremated first, otherwise that could be dangerous, not to say potentially quite messy.

These olives really are a bit too tangy.

There was a tsunami which hit South-East Asia just after Christmas in 2004 and killed a lot of people and the relief and aid efforts are still struggling to cope.

An earthquake hit southern Iran on Tuesday morning - it was 6.4 on the Richter Scale, which is pretty powerful as earthquakes go, and it took the lives of 500 Iranians and has affected the lives over 30,000 more.

I'm probably going to go out for a walk this afternoon if it's not snowing too hard.

This post was brought to you with my deep and personal thanks to the BBC, The Kansas City Star, Google, CNN and the Pakistani Daily Times for their news coverage, and to freshdirect.com for the olives.

Newsflash

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Today's mail brought my US Employment Authorization Card.

I'm back on the market, people, and this time I can stay.
Back to the jobhunt, with the ability to actually take any jobs I'm offered!

Also...the card would appear to be 90% hologram, 5% beardy photo, and 5% fingerprint. It's practically the shiniest thing I own. Instead of being allowed working permission in the United States, I feel like I've just been admitted into a fan club of some sort. Maybe one which should include free entry into museums, like a Blue Peter Badge.

I never managed to get one of those, even though my Dad tried really hard...

Return from Texas

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Krissa and I flew into Newark last night mostly ignorant of the fact, as the cloud was low and thick and all we could see of the outside world from our seats was the grey-curtailed flashing of navigation lights and the vortices in the cloud made by the moving wing. We only saw the lights of New Jersey and the snow on the ground a minute or so before landing.

Texas.
Well.
Where to start?
As Krissa's Poppa told me, Houston isn't Texas. It's IN Texas, but that's not what Texas is like. My reactions to Houston and Texas are different things.

Let's start in London. I've been there, I've lived a little away from it, I've been there a lot. And anyone who'se been to both places will know that it's not New York, but it's one hell of a city, big, bustling, busy and swarming with activity and motion and pressure. London is a great city, and because of my familiarity with it, New York didn't come as so much of a change of gear to me as it would have done if I had lived all my life on the Yorkshire Moor.
Which I haven't.

Now I'm not saying that New York is bigger or better than London, but it is in a different country and the bulk of it is stacked higher than most of London. It looms more - there are extra dimensions - of information and motion to take in and cope with.
Now it also happens that I know New York better, or at least more intimately, than I know London. I live in New York, and I haven't lived in London. That's just the way it is.
So you could say that I'm more attuned to the sensory assault that the city launches at you every time you climb to the top of the subway station steps in Manhattan. I'm used to it.

So from New York let's go to Houston. It takes about four hours normally, and even when we're only considering cities in words and impressions it's still a bit of a jaunt from where we're standing, so while we're en route let me talk to you about another couple of things.

Have you ever worked in a restaurant? A supermarket? A theatre? Have you ever worked in a place where a curtain or veneer is drawn across part of what happens? It could be the cooking, dishwashing and ingredients in a cafe or restaurant, the stacking of the goods in the warehouse of a supermarket, or behind the scenes at a theatre. Yes? So you know what it is like to see and understand what makes something work beyond what you are presented with as a regular customer or client. It's almost like a privilege, even if you are in the lowliest of jobs, to get to know where the trick is, what the duck's feet are doing under the water...how it all ticks. It's a privilege and the privilege it gives is knowledge. You understand.
I've been lucky enough to study at university and had a few jobs, and all of the experiences attached to those times have shown me one thing - there's always something you miss if you take everything at face value.

Anything from what goes on in the kitchen (Why is there dirt on my bread roll, waiter? Oh, chef likes to serve them freshly harvested, sir.) to the amount of work, effort, planning and design it takes to keep a modern motorway up and running, there are always things to miss if you accept them for what they are. Ignorance is bliss and knowledge is privilege, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. For example, this little penchant I have for trying to understand what I am seeing made my brain fold in half on Friday.
Because of Houston.

Krissa and I landed in Houston after a four hour flight next to a very polite Texan West Point Freshman to find the weather pleasantly relaxing in comparison to New York. Today's temperatures are rattling around just above freezing, but in Texas it was humid and balmy. Not hot, but comfortable. Krissa's parents greeted us at the baggage claim (WARNING. This baggage conveyor will start without warning. When the conveyor is about to start, the alarm will sound.) and took us out into the a night which was bright with the lights of cars. We eased out of the airport and onto a freeway and ate at a roadside restaurant called iHOP - International House of Pancakes. More freeway, and our roadside hotel, and sleep between starched sheets in a comfortably characterless room.

In the morning we went out and into Houston to rent a car...more freeway. And along the freeway the roadside shops and cafes and stores and churches and restaurants which kept coming and coming and repeated in their catchment placement formulae and the roads were often clogged to the gunnels and on that Friday there didn't seem to be any actual TOWN, just roads, and the town was on either side of them, catching the passing traffic which was en route to...well, if this was Houston...where?

Krissa knows the city; she went to High School there, and the conversations with her parents were sprinkled with the names, numbers and titles of roads of how to get to one place or another, short cuts, traffic dodges...I tried to follow the road names to get to know my way around and figure out the way the city lay, but I failed.
I tried to figure it all out, and we went too far by freeway, through too many areas, with so many names and numbers and chain stores which all looked the same but different enough, as chain stores do, with flashing neon and billboards and church signs ("You'll fit in.", "Come Worship With Us.", "In Pain? Jesus Has Been There." "The Rockets' Stadium - soon to become Lakewood Church")...drive-through banks, all the time my mind was needling at it all wondering how, what, why, how can all of this keep going? Themes of names 'Memorial something', the most memorable of which was the seemingly inappropriately named optician, 'Memorial Eye'...and so much was new and moving past quickly and this was Krissa's old stomping ground that she had told me so much about and I was trying to reconcile what had been in my mind's eye with what I was seeing and after a day in the car my brain shut down and refused to take in any more stimulation.

I found myself being noncommunicative and staring at the dashboard as Krissa drove. I realised what was happening and tried to relax, and after a while it got better. I started to take things at face value, to enjoy the patterns made by the passing lights, the sensation of travel, without trying to understand it all. It was too much to take in, so I didn't take it all in, and I began to enjoy myself a lot more.

I've gone on about it a lot, but it's never happened to me before. It was a very odd feeling.
Parts of Houston were lovely - the water wall, the bayou-side parks, the atmosphere of quiet reassurance, the ease with with disparity and variation move around you as you travel through the city. It is a harlequin patchwork.

Meeting Krissa's Poppa and Deedee and their family was marvellous. A group of more welcoming and friendly people you could not hope to meet. Some of Krissa's High School friends were in Houston at the same time, so I was introduced to Erin and Rachel and Matt and Liz and we had a hell of a time.

One of the highlights of the weekend, for me, was getting to eat at Krissa's favourite restaurant in the world, which she and her parents have raved about ever since I met them - a Tex-Mex restaurant called Lupe's - and finally understanding why.

And on Sunday, Krissa and I took the rental car (itself worthy of an epic post) out of Houston. I have no idea if the route we took would have satisfied Poppa's definition of 'real' Texas, but we drove off the freeway across a great flat plain under enormous, glorious skies, a horse grazing on the roadside, past farms with slowly spinning many-bladed windmills, through towns whose entry signs gave populations in the hundreds, over a river, wide and with orange mud banks, and where everyone at the roadside or in a garden raised a hand in greeting as we passed.

And there is something about a warm climate which relaxes you in a way that you just can't get from being warm inside.
I feel good.

And I love travelling with Krissa.

Texas

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Yes, right, well.

Krissa and I are off to Texas for the weekend.

Back soon.

Two Gates And A Bridge

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As Krissa has said, I think The Gates in Central Park are approaching total saturation photographically. At night, when we were wandering around (after our spot voxpop for the Christian Science Monitor), the sporadic flashes of white light on orange seemed to be part of the show.

As art, they are spread over the park, ubiquitous at the same moment as being unexpected and unusual. Photographing them is hard, because they are what they are. In the heat of their intense scrutiny as a short-lived work of publicly accessible art lies the crux of what makes the task of anyone photographing them much harder. It is difficult to show them in a light in which they have not already been considered or contemplated for what they are - both individually at the personal level or en masse with the few panoramic shots available in Central Park's gnarly maze. I think the really great photographs will contain either the obstruction of the vista of, or human interaction with, The Gates...


...which is lucky, really, as I took this photo on a 2 second whim whilst doing what I always do when Krissa is finished doing her pro-school stuff with the camera, which is muck about.

Check out the rest of the pictures from our walk, over in the pH gallery.

Tonight I entered into an uncharacteristic reverie - I checked out a number of university websites for Warwick in the UK, and made the tragic mistake of emailing my current counterparts to say hello.

On the plus side, I discovered that RaW, my old radio station, are doing really well, as are RAG and, to my surprise the new Warwick Uni TV station, Warwick TV.

I particularly recomment the Comedy Awards footage...but don't tell anyone. That way you can be cool and indie and stuff and not let anyone know where you saw them first.

A Little Less Conversation

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"Give me your hand, we take fingerprints, then you can go back to work."

"Uh, certainly."

"Place hand here."

"Okay. You've got it, though. Oh, right. Thanks."

"Are you a doctor?"

"Me?"

"You have very soft hands. Like doctor."

"Oh, no."

"Like a doctor."

"I'm an engineer."

"Hands like a doctor. No real work."

"Well, I can't. That's why I'm here. To get my status changed to work."

"Yes, you can go back to work in a minute. Nearby?"

"No, you don't understand, I don't work."

"Yes yes, like doctor."

So, in a bid to divert attention away from the fact that Adrian has asked for photo of the beard, and after a Valentine's triumph in the kitchen from both Krissa and I, we can lend a hearty Autohiboux endorsement to these - they are delicious balls of risotto, prosciutto and mozzarella gently fried in breadcrumbs.
In addition, these, these and these are all pretty cracking, too.

Krissa and I are going to Houston this weekend.

We have an awe-inspiring line-up of Krissa's friends in Texas to meet, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Tomorrow also marks a bit of a milestone in the visa/residency process. I am off to Jackson Heights to have a 'Biometrics' appointment, where I'll have my photograph, fingerprints and (one can only assume, given the word 'biometrics') measurements taken.

What kind of measurements these will be only time will tell.

I hope the US Government hasn't taken up the long defunct art of Phrenology, the practise of predicting or assessing personality traits through the dimensions and shape of the skull, because I had mine done ages ago and I have the head formation of a demented garden shears-wielding maniac.
That sort of thing doesn't look too good in a file.

Also, something you may have missed whilst following the course of my life through the medium of text - I have a very hairy face at the moment. This Friday will mark a month without shaving, as I am a curious boy and from prior experience I know that attempting an assault on Mount Beard is a lot easier without an office of peers with nothing better to do than think up novel and amusing ways of asking you what is wrong with your face.

Krissa also made noises of curiosity when I tabled the motion to grow, although to be fair her reactions on that scale have wavered between recoiling (at the three to four day long scratchy phase) and peering in a sort of compelled fascination (now).

Last night I hovered over a very difficult decision - to shampoo or not to shampoo? I mean, we aren't talking Old Testament, full-on, whoops-I've-lost-my-toothbrush kind of lengths just yet, but it's hair, right? You don't use normal bar soap on your head hair, but on the other hand, you do use it on any...other...hair you might...have. (I have a sudden image of my Mother and my Mother in Law having an email discussion about this post...)
So what do you do? I settled for washing my face in the normal way, as well as just rubbing a bit of shampoo around the place in a generalised, not really trying kind of way just in case it is completely wrong.

The turn up of all this is, in their recorded pictures of me in my official status as a legal full-time resident of the United States, the government will have me down as 'a bit of a beardy'.

I Dreamt I Dwelt

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Let me show you a couple of things. This is where I've been working lately.


So in all honesty, you can keep your corner office.

'Technical Difficulties'...yeah, right...

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Comments are back on, thanks to the stellar luminescense of Mr. Dave.

Feel free to let rip about the British Monarchy in the post below this, as I know some of you were so desperate to do that you texted me (Hello Adam) or any other subject that takes your fancy as long as it doesn't involve me buying anything.

Right, I'm off to help Jen move house.

And to check out Central Park now that The Gates are up.

I suspect there may be some photos involved, but I'm not promising anything.

Post 670

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In which Stuart declares that comments are fucked and that he himself is an Agnostic Republican, but not in that way.

Well. An awful lot is going on.
Charles and Camilla are to marry, and my comments aren't working.

I shall now try and illustrate why the two are so obviously connected. I don't know why or how. This is stream of thought stuff.

Everyone is arguing about what the titles should be after their marriage and when, or if, Charles ascends to the throne. I think this is pretty rubbish. The wife of the Prince of Wales is the Princess of Wales. To say that Camilla shouldn't have this title to show respect for Diana is like suggesting that if or when Charles gets to the crown (out of his mother's cold, dead fingers), that he shouldn't call himself 'King' out of respect for his poor dead Grandfather. They are titles, to be awarded and inherited and held by people. They are not the people who have held them.

The issue surrounding the fact that both parties in the proposed marriage are divorced...this is the bit where, were I talking to you directly, I would begin to stutter because I will want to say three or four things at once. The entire Church of England was founded so that one man could divorce and remarry. No matter what you thought of the fact that Henry VIII showed a few distasteful decisions after that, you'd think the CofE would have themselves straight on that by now.

While I think that there is a lot to be said for not having a Royalty, and I myself on occasion have started to say some of it, I think the royals should stop this public-pleasing charade over titles and whatnot. It's like someone standing on stage and doing what the people in the audience want based on the noises they're making. "Noooooooboooboooboooooooo oh oh ohaaaaaah! Yes! You're getting warmer."

However, they obviously aren't totally stupid, because while they have to respect public opinion and be seen to be modern and progressive and such and the like they fear the erudite and eloquent responses that the readers of this site provide on a daily basis, hence, on the day that the announcement is made, MI5, fully aware that I am out of the country and cannot undo their dastardly fiddling with my server in London, have slipped into the crude mechanical workings of the site and slipped a software spanner in the works, hence blocking all of you from having an informed and measured discussion which might head in a Republican* direction.

I rest my case.

*Republican as in Anti-royalist, like Wat Tyler, or Oliver Cromwell. Not George Bush.

Speaking of rested cases, can anyone imagine a plea/deal bargaining session between Parker-Bowles and the Queen?

"If I'm to marry Charles I will of course be Princess of Wales."

"Doen't be foolish, Milly. I can offer you the Duchy of Salford, and noe more."

"Salford? But he's your son! I can't be the Duchess of Salford."

"Aie visited the plaice in 1957. It seemed very naice."

"I want something bigger, or more exotic. Give me Hampshire, then."

"Not a chance. Great Grandmama's old holiday home is down there. You can have Cornwall or nothing. It's my final offer."

Postlessnesslessness

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So, yeah.

The Patriots won the Superbowl (well done them).

I've had my first run in with private healthcare in America, in the form of an eye examination. I confess it had a different atmosphere to the comparatively sleepy practices on the Isle of Wight, and rather than settling back into the chair for fifteen minutes of subdued lighting and answering nice and simple questions like "Which is clearer: 1...or...2? Again...1...or...2?" I had to wheel out that great and stock series of responses we all keep in reserve to fend off salespeople.

Doc: "We've got this new type of contact lens you only wear when you sleep and it moulds your eye for a couple of days. Would you like some literature on it?"

Stuart: "No, I've already got double glazing, thank you."

Doc: "Er, right."

Then, a little later on, after I've resisted blinking as he placed a small orange version of what looked like 60s TV's 'The Time Tunnel' over my eye:

Doc: "So, would you consider having laser eye surgery? We've got some really very advanced technology here-"

Stuart: "Sorry, I'm perfectly happy with the gas and electricity provider I already have."

Doc:"Oh, um. Right. How about some coloured contact lenses, then?"

Stuart: "We already have a subscription to another newspaper, I'm afraid."

Doc:"How about some new frames for your glasses?"

Stuart: "We don't want cable, thanks. We have Netflix."

Doc: "A natty contact lens case, made from cubic zirconium and buffed with genuine hamsterskin?"

Stuart: "Do you know, I've never had a problem in that area? I know it's meant to happen to everyone, but never once-"

...and so on.

Krissa's parents are coming over to dinner tonight, which should round off a day of cleaning, cooking, and coffee very nicely.

The world would appear to be spinning very well these days.

Unfathomableness

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It's the Superbowl this afternoon.

I've done my best to try and trudge through this Wikipedia entry on the subject of American Football...but my eyelids kept drooping. I understand that as sports go it's both enjoyable to watch (well, I'm going with the majority here) and a bit stop-start, but there's something about dissecting a sport into textbook-style explanation which takes all the fun out of it.

So I'm sticking with my current level of understanding, which can be summed up with what will be my most oft-quoted response this afternoon:

"So it's a bit like Rugby League, then?"

I am heart-rent in my discovery earlier today that the Six Nations is a couple of games along and I had no idea.
Humph.

Vagueness

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What in God's name IS Welsh Rarebit?

All my life I've had the sneaky suspicion that it was just cheese on toast, collared by the Welsh in the desire for having a national dish which didn't involve leeks.

Now, when I come to look it up online, I find that some people think it's a SAUCE, that it involves RYE BREAD (How quintessentially Welsh) or CAYENNE PEPPER (hence the famous eau de parfum, 'Chili Of The Valley') or, possibly worse, that it is a field rodent with large ears from Wales.

Now, coming to think about it, in my mind there are loitering suggestions that there should be an EGG in it, on it or under it, as well as mustard, tomatoes...

My head is a melange of Welsh Rarebit confusion.

What's worse, I think the situation on this front has gotten so bad that no one in the world will ever be able to clarify things or talk with any kind of authority, so my head will NEVER BE SORTED AGAIN.

Put me right, somebody, please.
Preferably an academic or something, or someone Welsh.

If you are the Professor for Ethnic Celtic Cuisine Studies at the University of Bangor, I am waiting for your email.

Smugness

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I like music.

I am a fan.

I've not really got my finger on the pulse any more, I have to say. Internet radio has its limits as an EWS for the latest big thing.

But last night I made a pleasant discovery. I've been mucking about with a few tracks with a view to making a mix for some of Krissa's and my friends, and yesterday afternoon I settled on a track listing and order that I was happy with.

Last night, one of the tracks from that compilation was featured in the new iPod Shuffle commercial. You know? The new iPod-like device whose prime features are that it is as big as a pack of chewing gum and it has a random function?
Well. The track is 'Jerk It Out' by The Caesars.

And I felt well smug and chuffed when that commercial came on, and had that minor panic that everyone gets when something they've liked seemingly in isolation for some time enters the public domain - the childish need to stand up and shout,

"I liked that before you! I did! I did!"

Which is what I have just done.
Ah, blogging.

...it's that people will always be people.

And I know that in the immaterial jumble of experiences we call life, stories are only stories because we make them that way; we identify themes, spin yarns, spot similarities, ironies and humour in reality - and it's only in reality because we can see it there.

Which is why Sod's Law, or Murphy's Law...whatever you want to call it, the apparently rigid channeling of events into situations which can only be summed up through, 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong' holds such a fascination for me.

Take tonight, for example. Of late I have, in the spirit of not being an arrogant bastard (which comes hard to me), joined a couple of writing groups through craigslist. The plan was to go along to a couple of groups and see whatever format best suited me.

This evening I was due to meet with a small group of people and have a chat about writing - to talk about our aims, our aspirations, and most importantly of all, what we wanted from the group. The preparatory emails as to location, group ideas, spacing of meetings and a lot of other details spanned two weeks. There were six people on this group's email round.
One lady was kind enough to turn up.

I say 'lady' because she was a little older than me at 51. I told her about how Krissa and I met, that we had been recently married and all about my work situation. She began to talk a little about herself. She told me how she was single, and as a tutor at an adult school she dated either students who were too young for her or their fathers who were too far away, and neither type of relationship had really worked out. While I sympathised with her over this misfortune, it slowly began to dawn on me that I was in another of Those Situations.

You know what kind of situations I mean. The type of situations which make for a good pub story or blog post after the fact, but in the immediacy of the passing moment make you want to run screaming from the building clawing at your face, or, if you're a clearer thinker, other people's faces.

Because the sample of work I had brought along was a short excerpt from a longer story which I am still writing: that of a woman in her early forties living in a university town who seduces and sleeps with one of the students.

The story goes on to encompass difficulties, the isolations of both distance and social ostracising...obsession...but guess what?
That was the bit I'd brought along.

The other bit which stamped 'Sod & Murphy Woz Ere, And We Had A Right Old Laugh' firmly on the evening was when she coyly pointed out that if there was just the two of us who were willing to make a commitment to producing and analysing work, and at this point she paused and batted her eyelashes, then there was no reason for us not to have the next meeting at her place.

The Enemy Unseen

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There's something on the roof.

I can hear it scraping, scratching, padding about. It's been up there for days now. Intermittently.

Every so often, there it is...scrape, scrape, scrape *pause*, pad pad pad pad.
Scrape.

My mind has conjured cats, rats, birds and a small urban mongoose-like creature which subsists entirely on roofing tar and is hitherto unknown to science.

The time has come, the....no.

It couldn't possibly be a walrus.
Although you do hear stories of people keeping bizarre pets in apartments. But if you were going to release a walrus into the wild, you'd do it at the river, right? Lumping a pubescent walrus onto the roof would be too much work, even for our neighbours...
Maybe it's up there now, with a teenage walrus moustache, sharpening its increasingly long tusks on our roofing material...it does have a kind of toothy texture to it.

There's nothing for it.
I'm going up there.

Wish me luck...because I have to clear out my closet to get up there.

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