31 March 2008

Give me a London girl every time...I've got to find one,I've made up my mind...Give me a London girl every time, I want a London girl...

I'd like to address recent claims in the media about the origins of the term "Satan's Chicken". Unamed sources in the Seventh Day Adventist Church have spuriously claimed ownership of this term when, in fact, I myself am the inventor and have several witnesses who will attest to such, including one from within the Church itself. If a representative of the Church would like to step forward and dispute my ownership then by all means let them do so. Until such time, I shall continue to mock their inability to eat anything with webbed feet and if anyone has a problem with it then, in the words of The Bard: "Got an issue? Get a tissue."

For the record I also invented the terms:
  • Bi-polar bear
  • 2615, bitch
  • Aftermirth
  • Arse burgers
  • Anarchy in the Ukulele
...so if you catch anyone using them they're violating my copyright. Not the first time I've been violated, mind you, but how about buying me a drink first, huh?

People often ask me "who is Blind Phineas?" and I sigh dramatically and roll my eyes in exaggerated exasperation before telling them that according to Greek mythology, Phineas was a seer who lived in the city of Salmydessus on the Black Sea. He had the gift of prophecy (or foresight) and Zeus, king of the Gods, was pee-o'd that Phineas kept blabbing to everyone about the plans of the gods so he blinded him and banished him to an island with a buffet of food. Not so bad, you might think...but oh how pathetically naive you are, you feckin' great eejit. Phineas couldn't eat the food because each time he tried the Harpies (vicious winged women with razor-sharp talons, pendulous tah-tahs and questionable personal hygiene) would swoop down and nick it. Eventually he was divorced, err I mean, released from this torment by Jason and the Arse-kicking Argonauts. There's an analogy in there to my track record with the ladies but I'll leave it to youse all to draw it out for youseselves...

Admitedly, not all women are vicious, evil monsters with claws and wings, horrid screeching voices, BO and unrealistic expectations. I hear there are actually a couple of nice ones out there somewhere in a convent or something, flicking themselves off to Jeebus. Did you know the collective noun for nuns is 'a superfluity'? No you didn't, you pretentious lying feck!

Why is it that we always want what we can't have? My problem is I fall in love too easily, but it's always unrequited or with the wrong woman. How can they ALL be wrong? Just the other day I fell in love with the recorded voice of the woman who announces the stops on my bus. The soft lilting tones of "254...to...Holloway...Nag's Head" causes my heart to race and burns into my brain a mental picture of her perfect mouth, her soft lips, her barely-there overbite, the way her lips purse ever so slightly on the T's, and the tiny smile she gets at the corners when she says "Nag's Head". I picture us lazing in bed on a rainy morning under a duvet of Sunday papers, she inflames my passions by calling the stops and I sending her into fits of giggling by talking filthy in my best Stephen Hawking voice. But, inevitably, it doesn't work out for us becasue I'm afflicted with Cyrano de Bergerac syndrome, which means the reality of me can never hope to live up to the fantasy of me, so her affection and interest wane and I'm back to where I was: sad and lonely and riding the buses and having pathetic mental romances with recorded voice-overs...siiiiiiiigh.

It's gotten so I can't even go into the perfume section of a department store any more because one whif of perfume triggers an overwhelmingly intense scent-trip and suddenly all the painful little memories come home to roost like emotional homing pigeons to crap all over the cold hard statue of my heart. I reel from the clamour of past aches and barbs and torments and hurtful words clanging in my ears. Then I'm reminded of how long it's been since someone let me get close enough to smell them without calling the cops, and how nice it is to smell a girl's perfume on your clothes that you haven't sprayed there yourself. All of which culminates in an thudding aching fremitus of longing and despair in my chest and I have to run to the nearest KFC for some comfort fries except they don't have chicken salt over here so I'm left feeling sad and nauseous and unsatisfied. Kind of like sex, really...but less tears.

Why is it so easy to let our self-worth be determined by the rejection of strangers rather than the love of our closest friends? Why does 'wishful thinking' have to be a bad thing? I can't think of anything more lovely than wishful thinking. It means you still have hope, and that's the most precious thing of all.

25 March 2008

For suddenly, I saw you there...And through foggy london town...The sun was shining everywhere...

Apparently we're supposed to be heading in to Spring, but this weekend not only did we have rain, hail and freezing cold wind, but it actually snowed! You'd think this would quite quaint and romantic but it wasn't. It was horrible, face-stinging, eye-blurring frozen rain. Ave, London!

On Thursday night I went out on the town with the lads. We went to Café Kick which is a foosball bar in Fo'Sho'Ditch and looks like some dude's basement, which just added to the allure. Then it was off to a Czech bar for shots of some weird cloves-based liquour which was actually quite nice in a medicinal kind of way. I kid you not, the bottle had a warning label which read: "Chiggedy-Czech yourself before you riggedy-wreck yourself." We talked long in to the night about all those things that sensitive educated men talk about, and arrived at the consensus that Paris is not, despite popular opinion, all about art and culture and romance and cusine and wine...Paris is, in fact, all about the arse-fucking. All in all a top night out, so hugs and smooches to Dr Phil Well'Ard for organising it. And if nothing else it gave me a chance to try out my new "Ernest Hemmingway meets the Fonz" look of jeans, black turtle neck and leather coat. Stylin'! Everybody thought so…

I went out to the moofies on Saturday night to see 'The Orphanage', a Spanish horror flick which was pretty good but very reminiscent of a number of similar recent movies: spooky location with a troubled past, strange events, creepy kids, crazy mum, exasperated dad, sceptical cops. So it was enjoyable in the sense that it delivered all the requisite chills and thrills but disappointing in the sense that you came away feeling like you'd been manipulated and had seen it all before. Mind you, even the worst of eurpoean cinema is still arse-loads better than the best Hollywood can offer up most days so worth the money at the very least.

When I got home I stashed some easter eggs in the kitchen for my flatmate Sarah and left her a note from the Easter Bilby under her Easter Tree, which is a German tradition or so I understand. She spray-painted some twigs silver the other night (which meant that all through the house we were chroming by proxy) and decorated them with some traditional easter trinkets and placed easter eggs underneath. I think I may have stolen her thunder somewhat as she was planning on stashing easter eggs as well, but she got me a Toblerone easter egg and made a wicked Sunday lunch of 7-hour slow-roasted lamb which we devoured with much gusto and red wine throughout the afternoon. Happy Birthday, Baby Jeebus!

Monday started off bright and early (which means not at all bright and way too early) at Marylebone train station where I met Dr Phil and the lovely Julie to go hiking in the English countryside. We took a train out to Buckinghamshire where we set off on a 10 mile walk through hills and fields in fairly attrocious weather with high hopes of using the word 'quaint' with annoying frequency. Of course the first thing you must do when setting out on such a venture as this is to pretend you're in an elite army unit and come up with nicknames for each other. I was Skippy, master of espionage and infiltration with a plentiful supply of Toblerone; Julie was Snowy with her amazing transforming mitten technology, who was either communications or demolitions expert, we could never remember which; and Phil was Chuck Slavakia our megalomaniacal leader with a 'Nam complex and a scary black thermos called 'The Sodomiser'. It was very muddy and the going was quite rugged in places, but that just made us feel more outdoorsy and legit as we were required to actually hike, unlike many of our fellow townies or 'bitch-hikers' who stuck to the flat ground and well-marked trails. The weather was quite erratic – sometimes snowing, sometimes raining, sometimes windy – which only served to enhance the mood of collective suffering and bon homie, and increased the calibre of the puns no end. It was a veritable pun-fest as we plumbed the depths of stile jokes which peaked with the creation of the imaginary head of the Stile Maintenance Department, a stern fastidious German man called Herr Stile. All in all we traipsed and trekked and traversed for about 5 hours before we managed to find a pub, and we only had to ask for directions twice. At one point we were walking through this quaint little village and were drawn to a public notice board outside a church. There was a notice pinned to it entitled "Spate of Burglaries!" and went on to detail about 5 incidents (does that qualify as a spate?) committed in recent weeks by "thieving scum" which mainly involved the theft of box mowers, candlesticks and lightning conductors whilst the owners were upstairs watching Deal or No Deal and the plucky intruders cut a hole in the side of the house: "The residents heard a noise but thought it was the wind." We checked out the notice board in the next town but there wasn't nearly anything as exciting: just an ad from the local general store about a sale on box mowers, candlesticks and lightning conductors.

It was a really awesome day, a little bit random and not at all what I was expecting, made all the more enjoyable for the company of my truly excellent companions. It's nice to do something you normally wouldn't and discover you like it, particularly when you're thoroughly shagged afterwards and feel like you've accomplished something other than eating easter eggs and watching dvds. I'm looking forward to our next outing which, at my insistence, is going to cut out the middle man and be a walking tour of country pubs.

18 March 2008

Toot Toot Toot Toot...Silver Rain Was Falling Down...Upon The Dirty Ground Of London Town...

Good news, everyone! London is now officially the World's Grubbiest City. Hoorah and huzzah! Good job, Limeys; not content with making a mess of the rest of the world, now you've gone and rubbished your own back yard...literally!

So I've been exploring the new area which is officially known as Clapton Pond. It's in the East End at the top of Clapton Road, just east of Hackney, which is the most culturally (a polite way of saying "ethnically") diverse area of London. Clapton Road is nicknamed The Murder Mile because of the high crime rate (go figure!), but all the action is centred down the lower end, not Upper Clapton where all us cool kids live free in harmony and majesty with authority.

There's an awesome church just north of me called the Church of the Good Shepherd, but it used to be the Church of the Ark of the Covenant. The very first parish priest was one Father Indiana Jones...I shit you not! It was built in 1892 by the Agapemonite cult which had some weirdo ideas about women and the true station of womankind and had mad orgies all day all night, Maryanne. From what I gather, the Agapemonites considered women as nothing more than vassals and vessels...put on earth to serve mankind (emphasis on the Man part, ooh err!) and cook the tea and tidy up the place and have babies to keep the cult going. Henry Prince was the original leader who, although claimed he was immortal, died in 1899. A sleazebag named John Hugh Smyth-Pigott took over, declaring himself to be the messiah until a bunch of pissed-off parishoners challenged him to prove it by walking across Clapton Pond. Predictably, he pussied out and buggered off to live in the country and have non-stop orgies with his numerous spiritual brides. Go on, my son! Mind you, I wouldn't fancy a walk across Clapton Pond either. It's not the most picturesque of water features and you can't even get that close to it without running the gauntlet of drunks pooing in fried chicken boxes and pidgeons having knife fights over scraps of stale bread. Despite also claiming to be immortal, Smyth-Pigott carked it in 1927 and the cult lost a bit of steam. All that sex with- and oppression of the ladies must really take it out of you...

The church is in an area that has a large Haredi jewish community. They're those far-out funky dudes with the nu-metal beards and the ringlet sideburns and the tights and the dresses and the shawls and the furry toilet brush hats, oi vey! There was a whole gang of them out on the weekend with their old-before-their-time jewish kids and their brown-house-coat-and-head-scarves plain jewish wives, why not. I felt a little bit funny about taking pictures of them just so I could mock their appearance to youse all, so I waited until they were looking the other way, already.

Also in my area is the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which is the oldest commercial business in London and has been churning out top-notch ding-dongs since 1570. These guys cast the Liberty Bell and the bells for Big Ben and the bell for the new Freedom Tower in New York. They're all about the bells over here...they're bell CRAZAY, I tell you! I went down there and who should I bump into but LL Cool J (you know he's hard as hell, he'll battle anybody I don't care who you tell). It's been a while since I'd heard from him so I was all like, "I've been waitin' and debatin' for oh so long...just starvin' like Marvin for a Cool J song." And he was all like, "If you cried and thought I died, you definitely was wrong...it took a thought, plus I brought Cut Creator along." Then Cut Creator (he'll cut the record in a second, make your d.j. look blind) whom I hadn't noticed up until that point, scratched the record with his fingernail and we totally Rocked the Bells....rrrraaaahhhh!

Last week's work do was at an ultra-swanky conference centre where we had a bit of dinner, not enough dessert and way too many drinks. All of which is OK because it's free, but it's getting a little predictable. This week's work do promises to be a whole lot more interesting. After a boring team meeting we're going on a moonlit ghost walk through some of the more seedy areas of the City and then off for a curry. Kick arse! It's the Easter long weekend so there's plenty of opportunities for drunken hedonism in the East End (which kind of sounds like a saucy euphemism, does it not?).

So Lily's in her last year as a pre-teen, which is totally surreal as she's rapidly approaching the point where she'll be more mature and sensible than me. I managed to wake her up on her birthday, though, heh heh. Sucked in, Chook! Calvin's started at a new school this year and he's got in to the school band playing trumpet, yay! Now I not only have two people I can call 'trumpet bum', but I also have two potential cash cows to look after me when they become famous musicians and I become a pathetic old mooch. And it's a perfect excuse to hang out in seedy jazz clubs when I'm a dirty old guy trawling for chicks. "I hate the music, honey child, I'm just here to support my kids...now give us a quick shuftie of your bristols."

Who said romance was dead?

17 March 2008

The (Sesa)Mean Streets...

Oh Big Bird, you crazy yellow bastard, with your imaginary friends and effeminate ways, always annoying the crap out of old Mr Hooper. "Mr Looper, Mr Looper," you would go. And Mr Hooper would reply in his whiny gasping old guy voice, "HOO-per, HOO-per!" and we would laugh because he was old and soon to die.

But then he did die and we weren't laughing then, no sir. We were passed out drunk in the back yard. And when we regained consciousness, vowing never again to mix Crème de Menthe and Southern Comfort, Mr Hooper was gone, replaced behind the counter at Hooper's Store by David, who up to that point had always seemed friendly and helpful and nice. But suddenly with Mr Hooper gone and David in control of the Hooper Empire, Mr Hooper's demise seemed slightly sinister and somehow... convenient.
Then David disappeared for a while, possibly keeping his head down until the heat was off. But when he came back fat and smug and thinking he'd got away with it, Maria had hooked up with Luis from the Fix-it Shop. Perhaps losing Maria to the suave and swarthy Latino finally pushed Ol' Davie-boy over the edge. It has been rumoured that the actor playing David, Northern Calloway, died in a mental hospital in 1989, and we were told that David had moved away to live on his Grandmother's farm, presumably so that he could run around in her panties and masturbate into his own faeces.

When Mr Hooper died, the Sesame Street producers were very brave to deal with such a tv-taboo subject in such blunt and straight forward manner given the age of their core audience. They didn't sugar-coat it like they would today, and the grief of the other characters was open, genuine and palpable.

The decision to talk to kids about difficult subjects is not an easy one. Young children rationalise everything into terms of black and white. They don't like ambiguity and try to reduce everything into it's simplest terms. So how do you explain to your children things like pain and death, separation and divorce, intolerance and hypocrisy in a way that they can accept and understand without feeling patronised or frightened? In my experience, most times you can't. All you can do is be honest and don't try to deflect their questions. How you respond will determine how strong their coping mechanism will be when they have to deal with this stuff as they grow up, and shielding them from it now only makes it more painful later on. Kids are surprisingly resilient, and can adapt more readily than most adults, and people don't give them nearly enough credit.

There needs to be more death in contemporary childrens' television. In fact I can think of a bunch of childrens' tv personalities whom I would personally bump off. Murray from The Wiggles, I'm looking in your direction!

14 March 2008

Where's the Cheese?

Of the many casualties in the war for corporate fast-food supremacy, there are few so heroic as Mayor McCheese. The Mayor arrived on the political scene in the early 70's and for 20 years presided over McDonaldland with a firm yet high-cholesterol hand. But sometime in the early 90's, this be-monocled big-headed burger-meister disappeared from public life. No scandal, no trumped-up charges, no press release, no hoo-haa, nothing. Harold-Holt style, he simply sank beneath the cold relentless waves of the Zeitgeist ocean.

How could such an illustrious political dynamo vanish without a trace? Ever vigilant in my search for truth, I approached McDonalds for word on the Mayor's whereabouts. The response I received was predictably glib and smacked of a cover-up. I was not satisfied: I'd cruised up to the drive-through window of truth and ordered a piping hot value meal of answers, but all i received was a soggy grease-soaked bag of questions.

The US has a proud history of plotting to overthrow foreign governments: Guatemala '53, Cuba '61, Brazil '63, Chile '73. In each instance, the military attempted to overthrow the government with covert US support at the behest of some shadowy unknown figure. Thanks to my uncanny powers of assumption, I can declare the identity of the shadowy unknown who took down the valiant Mayor McCheese is none other than...Ronald McDonald! That's right, people, jealous of the Mayor's huge popularity rating in McDonaldland, Ronald marshalled his evil forces and led a ketchupy coup targetting the authoritative triumverate of police force (Officer Big Mac), judiciary (Captain Crook), and government (Mayor McCheese), and replaced them with his own people. He even gave the head of his secret police, Hamburglar, a makeover, turning him from a slippery deformed maniac into a cutesy smiling maniac. Those McArseholes!

The final step was an Orwellian rewrite of the history books to make it seem like things had always been this way and remove all trace of the Mayor's existence. The McDonald's internet site lists a bunch of trademarks owned by McDonalds and guess what? Mayor McCheese is not among them. Some interesting ones to note, however: Bolshoi Mac, Cajita Feliz, Changing the Face of the World, Cuarto De Libra. Is it just me, or does this smack of a bourgeois totalitarian authority with a sinister penchant for sticking it to the socialist anti-capitalist little guy? (incidentally, McDonalds has copyright on all of these phrases so don't even think about using them yourself).

Jokes aside, the McTruth is that McDonalds and the advertising agency responsible for creating Mayor McCheese and the entire McDonaldland campaign were sued in the 70's by Sid and Marty Krofft, creators of the bizarre and surreal kids show, HR Puffinstuff. Apparently, a court found that the agency ripped off the venerable HR by wrongfully appropriating the "total concept and feel" of the show and even went so far as to hire ex-Puffinstuff employees to design the costumes and sets. Ultimately, the Kroffts were awarded a large settlement and, presumably as a result of the court action, McDonalds were forced to stop using the misappropriated characters. Unfortunately, this left the world deprived of one of its most endearing burger-headed statesmen. Oh, the McHumanity!

For more of the McTruth, visit www.mcspotlight.org

13 March 2008

Haiku du jour...No. 2...

It’s hard to have hope
Drowning in a glass half-full
I need mouth-to-mouth

10 March 2008

London ice cracks on a seamless line...He's hanging on for dear life...So we hold each other tightly...And hold on for tomorrow...

Awright, geezahs?

I've moved into my new place and things are off to an awesome start. One of my new flatmates, Kerry, is on holidays in Oz for a few weeks so it's just me and Sarah for a while. I moved in on the Saturday and that night Sarah had a dinner party with a bunch of her mates to welcome me. And WHAT a dinner! For starters we had celeriac remoulade and parma ham on sourdough, followed by oven roasted duck legs on a bed of braised lentil and bacon with carrots, then flourless orange chocolate cake and a blue cheese board washed down with copious amounts of red wine. Oh my god! How sated was I? Bloody, is the answer to that question. I had the best night's sleep I've had in 7 months because there was no noise: no traffic, no drunks shouting, no teenagers fighting...brilliant! My room only comes with a bed so I've got to get some cheap furniture this weekend so out comes the magical Argos catalogue which weighs about a ton and contains every single product ever created in the history of human endeavour at low low prices. They don't even have a proper store, just a series of warehouses with a ticket machine out front and a dude who disappears for half an hour and gets your stuff. Picture the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark but with mountains of cheap crap instead of secret Nazi artifacts and you'll get the idea.

The East End is an interesting place. Got the whole jamais vue thing happening again as everything seems the same but is just slightly different. For instance, instead of the 47 bus heading north, I now get the 48 bus heading south. Instead of sitting next to a fat woman having phone sex with her boyfriend, I sat next to an angry teen fighting with his girlfriend and threating to "post up outside your school and stab you up, innit! Fuckin stab you up, tho! Fuksake." Ah, young love is so passionate...

The weather this weekend was positively fiendish. A severe icy wind blew in (they reckon up to 80mph) which just served to make the rain more stingy as it blew straight in your face. I managed to finally make it to the Natural History Museum to see the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition, which was really cool. Although I'm not sure what criteria the judges use in selecting a winner because in pretty much every case I thought the runner up was better. Maybe I'm just naturally contrary...or maybe not. They've got an awesome section on dinosaurs with massive skeletons of a brontosaurus and a tyrannosaurus setup all over the place but, being free, the place was swarming with families. Oh the stench! I'll have to go back at a time when they're not there, like just after the nuclear apocalypse.

Got a few work do's coming up. This week there's a big swanky conference dinner/drinkies thingy for my whole UK-based project team on Thursday, followed on Friday by a night of Lebowski-esque bowling at the All-Star Lanes. Then next week there's a team-building social gathering with my immediate project team and a public holiday on Friday and Monday, woot! The week after that there's an experienced hire gathering, so no doubt another night of too much wine and not enough canapes, surrounded by a fresh bunch of lost souls sniffing each others' bums and wondering what the hell they've gotten themselves into. Or maybe that's just me...

It's The Prodigal Child's birthday this week so everyone wish her a vicarious happy friggin' birthday for me. I'm super bummed that I can't make it over to be with her on the day. She's growing up so fast and it's times like these that I realise how much I'm missing out on by being over here. But what sort of deadbeat dad would I be if I was there for her whenever she needed me, huh? She'd grow up thinking she could rely on me and trust me and would never become the cynical self-reliant adult I always intended her to be. And we can't have that. Happy birthday, Chook! Daddy loves you...