Thursday 13 September 2012

This small light the moon bestows

Do you remember my new dog (Lewis)? Why not? Here’s a picture to remind you - and please, just look at how he loves me:

Well, he’s dead. He got hit by a car towards the end of last summer and was utterly, utterly mangled. How on earth is that fair? Oh violence, leave these shores. I made the rookie mistake of trusting a fellow human being and.....well, it doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, dead dogs are unbelievably heavy and that’s just a fact. If you try carrying one for over a mile you’re going to need to take a breather - which raises some rather awkward Dead Dog Etiquette problems. Is it okay to rest a dead dog on top of a wall, for example? Are we allowed to sling these broken and bloodied creatures over our shoulders to lessen the burden or would this seem callous and undignified? It’s like trying to make out with a swastika. Who knew?

You’ll be familiar with those pictures of heroic-looking firefighters carrying babies from fires, all manly and rugged and inappropriately arousing as they cradle the micro-human in their arms? Well, I’m pretty sure I would have looked like that carrying Lewis home, to be fair. One of the disadvantages of living in the middle of nowhere, however, is that there were no passing women - or men, we’re all about equal opportunities here - to gasp at my tragically male steadfastness.

Sir, this passing stranger may very well have said, you seem so noble and manly, both protective and agonised at one and the same time; strong and yet tenderly caring. I wonder if I might fellate you?

To be honest, love/mate, I’ve got a grave to dig and a lacerating grief to attend and I’ve already.....

Shhh. I’m fantastic at this, it’ll be sublime.

Ach. Jesus. Go on, then. But hurry up about it, okay? The things I put up with.....

So there was none of that, unfortunately, and this sort of stuff only happens in cities, anyway, where a surplus of thighs and necks and hectoring magazines tend to drive the inhabitants towards a panic of unearthly sex manoeuvres, according to a recent survey in my head.

Talking of which, the last time I was anywhere near a city (Brighton, end of April, family convention) a very drunk person, wearing a very drunk person’s kind of dress, perhaps mistaking me for a member of the wedding party she was involved with, stuck a fake pink flower on my jacket, uninvited, before kissing me on my disappearing shoulder – I instinctively recoiled from this kiss (it’s always going to happen) and can only speculate where she might have been aiming.

This earned me a rebuke from Charlotte and two of my sisters who declared that this stranger was “only being friendly” and that my action was needlessly (if unintentionally) cruel. No, I insisted, this stranger was being overly friendly and had no business whatsoever trying to inflict her kissy bonhomie upon someone she didn’t know.

Big mistake, that last part, and I knew it immediately.

Charlotte: Sooo, you’re saying it would have been okay and that you wouldn’t have minded if this had been someone you knew?
Me: Correct. That’s precisely what I’m saying.
Charlotte: He’s lying.
Sister: Are you, Jamie?
Me: Very much so, yes.

Did you ever stop to wonder about those men who invest such emotion in their animals and yet seem discomfitted by any passing intimacy with strangers? I wonder about that a lot. There’s something not quite right there, yes? And it speaks, perhaps, of an emotional retardation. In attempting to consider why the death of Lewis (a dog I had only known and loved for less than a year) frequently struck deeper than the death of my grandfather (a man I revered), I have no sensible response. It’s fucking abject. But there we are.

If I told you how yet another dog appeared on my doorstep, brutalised and dying – necessitating an immediate visit to the vet - you simply wouldn’t believe me (and I wouldn't blame you). But he came from exactly the same source as Lewis – read this if you want to know how that came about – and I feel I would actually be repeating myself if I tried to say any more.

All attempts at remaining aloof were obliterated upon seeing the extent of his injuries. You’d have been the same. And so here we go again, another new soulmate, and this time I've called him Harris:

Bonus picture from Brighton: Perfectly Formed Sex Blogger Trapped in Conversation Trauma Hell Fiasco


Monday 10 September 2012

Friday 1 July 2011

An unquiet grave

Try to stay calm, but I’ve finally been reunited with my belongings from Scotland. It’s been six and a half years. I didn’t realise I’d been in Ireland for so long. (Why did nobody tell me?)

They’ve been lying unused these past forevers, stacked in cupboards and the occasional spare room, listening out as a procession of gullible tenants slouched by in their dirty, dirty shoes. (What is wrong with people?)

I’ve got all my old photographs, things to be held in the hand. They actually exist as physical entities outwith the control of Steve Jobs - I know – and may be looked at without first asking for a digital permission. The olden days are back.

And letters from decades ago. On paper. Written with a pen, strategically licked, frogmarched to a post box and then picked up and delivered by An Actual Postman. We would write to each other, you and me, and we were forced to take care with our words. Do you remember? We read things carefully and responded in kind and took the time to express ourselves clearly. We were good.

And who on earth were pen-friends? Seriously. Who were these people and how, exactly, did we find them? Was there a directory? I had pen-friends from around the world and waiting for their letters was excruciating. The anticipation made me want to scream or pee (or something or both). I stopped collecting pen-friends before I was ten, however, and none of their letters survive. Shame.

Dear Jami, I am pleased for to incur your letter, thank million. Is so sad for your dog to dead. Aww!! You like for to wear speedos swim tronks? I like for to wear speedos swim tronks. If now you sends photographic of you with wear speedos, I am forever send returning me with speedos also too, yes please? Paulo xxx

Good times.

Mummy? Where’s the camera?
It’s….why are you wearing your trunks?

And then we waited. It’s not just that we would endure an actual wait for an actual roll of film to be developed in an actual shop with realistic-looking people standing behind an actual counter; we would also need to wait for the film to be used up before taking it to the camera shop in the first place. This could take days, potentially weeks. “This isn’t the digital age, Jame, it’s 1976. You can’t just snap away at any old thing and upload it to your computer the same day and then forward it to friends by email – should the technology ever exist.” (What?)

But an actual deferral of gratification. Stunning. It’s a lost – or at least rapidly fading – art.

Six mois plus tard…..

Dear Paulo, I hope you like the pictures my mummy took and blah….and blah. At school today blah….can you understand when your teachers don’t speak in English? For holidays this year…blah. There is an “e” at the end of my name, Paulo!!! Love from Jamie xxx

Dear Jamic, I am smile gratitudes for provoke of your letter. Is only for funny time – I not a girl!!! – but also so good for to put lipstick on mouth lips (for funs yes!!!) when blessed in speedos swim tronks. I like for to laughtering with this. You also like to do? Mine camera abides kaput this day so I missing all the funs!!! Makes sincerely good next day. Paulo xxx

Mummy? Can I borrow your lipstick?
I don’t wear lipstick. I don’t own lipstick. Never have, never will.
Could I borrow some from the girls then?
And they certainly don’t have lipstick, either.
Right so.

Accosting the first of many passing sisters….

Can I borrow some lipstick?
Sure. Do you want me to put it on for you?
How come you’re wearing your trunks?

Nowadays, of course, such pictures would probably be posted straight to the swimwear section of one of those kiddy sites that pasty-looking men get sent to jail for gawping at and wheezing over. Sweet. (OMG!! OMG!! I can’t believe a guy actually thinks I iz fit!!)


This was meant to be about something else, but my imagination got the better of me. It happens.


Thursday 30 June 2011

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Oh music come.....

Good news: when I was very young I had a large collection of toy cars. (I may be unravelling here. Don’t worry, everything’s under control.) I would spend hours playing with these things. Days.

I didn’t push them along the ground and say broom - and broom broom would clearly have been superfluous - I simply ordered them in a meticulously straight line. Not just straight, you understand, but straight. The cars would stretch out along the attic bedroom floor and I’d be lying on the ground making sure that every single bumper was perfectly aligned. And that was the game. And it took a bloody long time to get good at it.

Mummy: Why don’t you run the cars down the yellow track, Jame?
Mini-me: ??

(Crazy talk. Then I’d just have to spend forever lining them all up again. Where’s the fun in that?)

Mummy: Come on, let me show you. (Reaches down to pick up a car….)
Mini-me (without looking up): Step. The Fuck. Away. Mummy. Or learn to live with regret.
Mummy: Don’t swear to try to impress your future blog readers, Jame, everyone knows you don’t talk like that.
Mini-me: Why are you spoiling this?
Mummy: I’m not, you are. I’m not the one making this up.
Mini-me: Fair point.
Mummy: Let’s just run a car down the track and see if you like it, okay?
Mini-me: k

Hate when that happens. And why does she still call me “Jame”? Why give me the I to begin with – only to take it away? I could nip back to the attic and ask her.....but she’s not really being herself, is she? I’d be quicker simply asking mini-me, to be fair.

Me: How come mummy still calls me “Jame”, mini-me, even though she knows that I really don’t like it?
Mini-me: to be honest, I’d be a bit more concerned about the fact that we still seem to be calling her “mummy” in here. Maybe time to move on, hmm?
Me: I’ve never liked you, mini-me, you know?
Mini-me: Imagine my surprise, you shitty little cliché.

Right, that properly hurt. (Oof. I actually felt that one. Incoming! Incoming! Success.) Now I just feel bad about myself. That’s the last time I try one of those for a while, I tell you that for free - it’s not worth the hassle. All those gentle angels I’d like to talk to in my head seem to have armed themselves with quite the attitude. What is wrong with these people?

But the lining up the cars game was beautiful. It would annoy my sisters, unfortunately – although not as much as the fact that I would often refuse to open Christmas presents for weeks on end and would always insist on having to do so in private – but they’re a forgiving confederacy of tangles. It certainly never stopped them from asking me to play:

Sisters: Would you like to come and brush the dolls’ hair, Jamie?
Mini-me: Yes.

Told you.

Brush brush, chatter chatter, laugh, torment and tease. Lovely.

But the real action went down in the thuddingly enveloping silence of the car game. Once you’ve tuned into the rhythm of your heart, pulsing hotly in your ears, you’d be a fool not to make a musical accompaniment.


Friday 17 June 2011

One step beyond

I find myself with another dog, a welcome addition to the pack. Predominantly white, with some weird speckling beneath the surface, he’s (now) roughly six months old. Beautiful. He’s been with me for the best part of two months. I mean, he just turned up, he was here, waiting….and he’s still here now, rarely letting me out of his sight.

Hello, Mr Man, I’m staying here now. Hello, Mr Dog, I’m so glad. You don’t need words to trace the electric outlines of a sudden, overwhelming love. We just looked it at each other; fixed.

After a few weeks, I got a hold of myself: this dog must belong to someone else, I need to ask around and explain to someone – anyone – that the dog is now mine. When you live up a hill in the middle of nowhere, asking around can be tricky. When you’re only just emerging from the deepest mental fog, reluctantly fighting back against the seductive muffling of complete withdrawal, the task may seem simply overwhelming.

What if I can’t hear what the people are saying? What if I’m no longer able to speak? I know all the words, get a grip, and I know exactly how you lot interact. Blah blah blah blah, you say, blah blah noise blah. You bore me, you know? It’s nothing personal. I bore me, as well. I always have. It’s just that I tend to go about the business of boring myself in silence. But you there, with your mouths and everything? Blah blah noise blah. Fucking crushing.

Some very minor investigations later and it turns out that Lewis – I’d already named him by this time – belonged to The Wilsons from down the hill. Oh dear. The Wilsons comprise three middle-aged brothers, all wholly smithereened by a rampaging alcoholism, living together in a blue house the size of Andorra.

I don’t like violence - it seems like the greatest possible admission of defeat - but I’m not entirely certain I wasn’t ready to batter a Wilson or two quite dead. It’s very obvious when a dog has been brutalised and the thought of such things will unhinge me. So just one poorly chosen word, hobo-face. Please. I dare you. (I beg you.)

But no, the queasily diffident brother I spoke to disarmed me: “we’re just three bachelors living together, so we can’t always feed him.”

Isn’t that a bizarre thing to say? It doesn’t even make sense. Why are you telling me your marital status and living arrangements? How does it follow that these things disallow for the feeding of a dog? How did any or all of you ever think it might be okay to kick the undercarriage of an animal in your care? And straighten the fuck up, man, and stop mumbling in such a cravenly apologetic manner. Look me in the eyes, god damn it.

But why waste time? My words to him would have meant nothing at all and his words to me would be worthless. Besides, I’ve never liked a scene or, as mentioned, violence. It was merely interesting to note, as I waited at his door, that a bright whiteness passed (quite slowly) over my eyes. I’ve only ever had this once before. At the other side of the whiteness, you step straight into Anything Is Now Possible territory. I think it’s a dangerous place to be.

Anyway, aided by the imperturbable and hurtfully loyal Emma (an impeccable dog), I’ve managed to make Lewis feel safe. That these binding loyalties have been forged in near total silence only adds to the feeling of intimacy. Words may mean nothing or significantly less, in the final analysis, and dogs seem to know this well enough. Blah blah biscuit blah. Shh.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Coasting in neutral.....

Sometimes - very rarely, but just sometimes - it's possible to stumble upon something that pierces the jaded, seen-it-all knowingness of the age and causes a shudder of outright revulsion. It’s quite hard to come by these things, unfortunately, as our digitally-enhanced desensitisation kicks in.

I occasionally wonder (and worry) about the accelerated sexualisation of young people. I mean, if the internet age is all you've ever known then there must be a high chance that you're one terribly twisted soul.

As a plethora of warped imagery and sickly ideas bombard the fragile senses, disfiguring social and sexual expectations, the gap between "may I hold your hand?" and "may I hold your head above the toilet and give you wee kidney digs with a paddle as I slake my fell desires…..please?" must be frighteningly small. It used to take years - years - to persuade a girl to do that sort of stuff, I imagine.


"A restaurant in London's Covent Garden is serving a new range of ice cream, made with breast milk. The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk."

It’s no big deal, right, but I find that absolutely minging. I felt my tummy lurch when I first read those words (many months ago), a proper queasy feeling. Something about it makes me feel clammy, discomfited and sick.

The man behind the scheme, Matt O'Connor, said: "if it's good enough for our children, it's good enough for the rest of us." Matt? Die.

I do the sums:

Ice cream = good
Breast milk = good

So where’s the problem? There really shouldn’t be an issue here, but breast milk ice cream simply doesn’t add up to anything good – not in my head, anyway.

I worry when I lapse into unfathomable, illogical prejudice. I don’t want to be that man. I don’t like what it says about me that I should find this so disgusting - and I don’t like not being able to think my way out of a failing.

Me: Read this.
Charlotte: What is it?

I don’t let it show, okay, but this kind of question always destroys me. What a terrible, terrible waste of words. If you read it then you’ll likely find out, hmm? [passive-aggressive smiley]

Me: It’s a thing about breast milk ice cream.


Charlotte: Oh, but that’s really properly revolting.

Vindication. Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

In any event, it was nice to find something that made me feel sick; something that made me feel something, or anything much at all.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Sunday 17 October 2010

But they forgot about Torschlussangst

Spotkajmy się w moim domu w niedzielę przed meczem – Bóg

Those words (above) are to be found on billboards in the USA, apparently, although not so much in Polish as in English:

Let’s meet at my house Sunday before the game – God


Your skin may be crawling or your heart may be warmed or your gaze may be fixed on the distance. That’s your business. It may be fair to say, however, that some of us abjure the very notion of a matey fireside chat and are waiting, possibly even praying for a great big celestial punch in the face, followed by a severe – a severe – talking to from Bóg. How else are we ever going to learn?

In these cherished hopes we may long be disappointed, unfortunately, as the suspicion must remain that Bóg is simply too busy laying waste to the Portuguese.

Take that and that and that and that and that, he will surely be saying, you ghoulish little Fado-singing monsters, as with a whack and a clack and a clumpety-clump he punches them all down The Stairs. They had it coming – don’t ever let them tell you otherwise.

In English speaking countries – ah, sweet remnants of civilisation and hope – we are yet to invent a word for the type of scoundrel that gatecrashes the funerals of perfect strangers in order to snaffle the food and drink the drink and affect an approximation of mourning. This reflects well on us, suggesting as it does that the practice is not yet so widespread as to demand a word – a job description - of its own.

All eyes suddenly turn with a fearful disbelief towards the westernmost promontory of continental Europe…..

Put the sandwich down, Portugal, and come out with your hands above your dead. It’s over:

Pesamenteiro: Indivíduo que, a pretexto de dar pêsames, entra nas casas para comer.*

Stop. We must surely take a moment here to briefly die of simple pleasure. How gaspingly pleasing a word this is, how supremely and horribly uplifting. And when and how did they ever stray so far from the rest of the herd, the Portuguese? Is this problem really so rampant, so magnificently out of control, that the fever required categorisation?

And is it so wrong to hope that every funeral gathering has a Pesamenteiro in its midst? Of course it is, yes, but must this actually stop us from doing so? Oh, just think of the suspicions. And please, please, let all pesamenteiro-ing men be shatteringly handsome predators. The word deserves nothing less.

“And what’s your line of business?” she asked the mourner with the eyes, “and howsoever did you know my late husband, Godfrey?”
“I’m a freelance Pesamenteiro," he whispered in her mouth, “but let us talk about this Godfrey over sex.”


This could very quickly get out of hand. Casting forward – unusual practice – it’s possible to see the outline of an artlessly constructed joke about the mourning after pill taking shape. Time to stop.

(Or maybe it was the Brazilians? Oh. My. Bóg.)

Saturday 16 October 2010

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