Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My Book Of Dreams 

Dream 13
In my dream, I look out of my Mum’s front window to see a man digging a hole in the lawn. He is dressed all in black and there is a body by his feet. I go outside to take a better look. It is dark and raining heavily. The man carries on digging. The body is dead and wrapped in plastic.

I head back into the house and ring 999. An automated voice greets me:
“Thank you for calling the emergency services. Your call will be answered in 70 minutes.”

I’m suddenly back at our house and Girlfriend is dishing out the tea. I decide to try the police again after I’ve eaten. When I'm finished, I go upstairs to use the phone but am distressed to discover that water is gushing into my Attic Studio Complex. There's a gaping hole in the ceiling and rain is pouring onto my desk, my computer, the notebook I write my dreams into, and all my music equipment.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bottle Up And Explode! 

I walked into the office this morning to find Terry alone at his desk. He was lost in a heart to heart with somebody on the phone, I don’t know who. He looked tired and sad.
“We’re a couple,” he said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

I edged out of the room and wandered off to find something to do in the data centre, but the truth is the systems pretty much look after themselves. There are robots to change their backup tapes for them, and they can diagnose their own faults and even arrange site visits from engineers after hardware failures. It won’t be long until they don’t need us administrators at all.

On the way I had a word with Rex the security guard, who was milking Geraldine, the company goat.
“If you care about your cordelines,” he said, “you’ll be wrapping them up in some old fleece. Protect them from the frost.” The snow was falling faster now. He sniffed the air. “It’s going to be a long, hard winter.”

Steam rose from the plastic bucket. The milk smelled sweet and warm. There was probably enough to fill a baby’s bottle, I’d guess. Geraldine stared at me and I stared back.

When I returned to the office, Stella had left a post it note on my screen. Terry had gone home. Apparently he wasn’t feeling too good.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


There’s a wonderful poem by Simon Armitage - Shrove Tuesday, from his second collection, Kid; go on, buy it buy it buy it, and then don’t forget to read it too - which includes the words:

“I must have looked for all the world like that lost, knocked-sideways, bowled-over girl who, at odds of more than a hundred-thousand-million to one, had come so far but never dropped across the word or the idea of snow.”

It’s a thought that often plays on my mind, and Girlfriend’s too, who can recite the poem from memory, and frequently likes to remind me how she discovered Simon Armitage when he was still a social worker working in a cocktail bar, as it were.

I was reminded of it one evening last week, when I discovered that Canoeing Instructor had never dropped across the word or idea of Sudoku. What must be the chances of that?
So for her birthday on Friday we bought her a book of the pesky little puzzles, and a map and compass as well, just in case.
It was a good night, and all your favourite blog characters and many more were in attendance.

Charlie is grappling with that most perplexing of modern girl’s dilemmas - whether to spend her hard earned on a sofa or Buffy DVDs.
Leanne seems a little too confident about our impending 3 card brag weekend, but I reckon she’s just getting her bluffing in early.
Juggling Protégé can get more stuff into his car than he’d ever imagined, Fairly Famous Actor revealed he once worked with someone off The Archers, Long Tall Wanda didn’t thump me once, and Canoeing Instructor needs to double check before committing pen to paper.

Today me and Girlfriend had a stroll to the pub in a neighbouring town. The tide was high and there were sailing boats on the estuary. For a short while the light was soft and muted and kind of spooky, much like myself of course. I like The Taps because they serve guest beers that you’ve never previously heard of, and they never play music. We pondered it’s suitability for a blogmeet venue.

It was quieter than last weekend, when we saw The White Stripes, promising indie hopefuls The Wedding Present, and the sublime, life enhancingly beautiful Icelandic noiseniks Sigur Rós in ear splittingly rapid succession. We met up with my friend Steve for The Weddoes, which was great, and had tea with Juggling Protégé before Sigur Rós, so it was sociable as well as deafening.

We even managed to take in some white emulsion paint being passed through a central heating system in the name of art, at The Lowry. It was good, but how much would I have liked to drop a bottle of Quink into the tank just for the fun of it?
We also saw Tracey Emin’s Bed, Damien Hurst’s Shark, and Loyd Grossman having his tea.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Just Like Christmas 

Spike and Rex scatter the footpaths with salt, and then Charlotte - Bill Surname, Chief Executive Officer’s loyal personal assistant - emails everybody to tell us off for tramping it all over the building.
It’s a seasonal event, comforting as hearing the first cuckoo of Spring, or the first sighting of Neil, my former team leader, in his cricket flannels and here at Company X it’s how we know that Winter has officially arrived.

Poor Charlotte: it’s a difficult time for her, anxious and agitated, only five weeks to Christmas and her fudge won’t set, and then there’s the turkeys to think of. Fifty three birds last year, tenderly hand killed by her good self, one for each employee.
Bill Surname says she should contract the work out to a local butcher, but Charlotte says Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a massacre.

I imagine her calling each turkey by the name of its future owner as she snaps its neck.
“So who’s next? Ah yes. Come over here Stella! I’ve got a bit of a surprise for you!”

In the private murk of a bijoux executive dwelling, deep in the outskirts of the exclusively shadowy heartlands of an empty void, Charlotte knocks back box after box of Cabernet Sauvignon while plucking her and screaming at Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? on the kitchen portable - “Phone a friend? Are they stupid or what, Stella? Everybody knows it’s sodding Norfolk!” - before hoisting her up onto the table and tidying her off with a good stuffing, the likes of which she’ll never see again, not in this lifetime anyway.

Vegetarians receive a ‘Nuts Of The World’ variety pack instead, complete with obligatory health warning written in Charlotte’s own fair hand - “Caution. Produced in an environment where nuts are handled.”

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer 

Creepy Keith from Accounts has chosen me, of all people, to moan to about his continuing run of bad luck “on the copping off front.”
He hasn’t had a shag in years and believes its because he suffers from Nice Guy Syndrome.

“Surely not?” I said, trying not to sound incredulous or unsympathetic. “You?”
“’Fraid so, mate. Happens to the best of us,” he said, shaking his head and tutting. Tiny flecks of spit sprayed out from the gaps between his teeth. He looked like the human equivalent of a garden sprinkler. I nudged my chair back a bit.
“Happens over and over. I take some bird out to Pizza Hut, show her a good time, everything’s going great. Walk her back to her place. Then just when I think we’re moving towards coffee, it happens again.”

He fell silent, waiting for me to ask “What happens again?”
I resisted for, I dunno, about five minutes, but when it became obvious that he wasn’t going to leave me alone, and everything on my desk was fast becoming covered in an oily film of saliva, I looked up from my screen and said, “Oh, I’m sorry Keith. What did you say happens again?”

“She says, ‘Thanks Keith, it’s been an unusual evening.’” He did the voice and the actions and everything. “‘And I think you’re a really nice guy and that, but I’ve got to go and wash my hair now.’”

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, wandered idly into the room and through to her office.
“Morning Tim, morning Keith,” she said. She was reading her horoscope and sucking on a panettino.

“I’ve been shunted into the friend zone,” he continued, nodding in Stella’s direction.
“You mean, with… ?” and I nodded in Stella’s direction as well. For a moment we were in synch with each other, a pair of sagely nodding dogs sat in the rear window of the Vauxhall Nova of life.
“Blimey,” I said.
“No hope of escape once they put you in the friend zone,” he said.
“It must be very, erm, frustrating,” I said.
“I’ll say,” he said. “It’s driving me…” and his words petered out. I made a half hearted attempt at making eye contact, but it was never really on the cards.
“Yes,” I said, and threw all my paperwork into the recycling bin.

We filled in the gaps chatting about Michael Owen for a bit before he eventually shuffled out of the room and I set about printing fresh copies.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fugitive Motel 

The other week Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, helpfully suggested I could improve my profile within the company by getting out of the office a bit more.
Never one to make a fuss or recognise a black hole until I’m being sucked through it feet first and so rapidly that I can no longer feel my face, I’ve lately found myself in a spirit sapping series of motorway service stations, lunching with coach tripping power pensioners, and attempting to distinguish myself from other less cool executives by making a point of not wearing pieces of Bluetooth technology about my person, conspicuously or otherwise.

I’ve tossed and turned in a harrowing succession of noisily ventilated motels - cigarette holes for every lost soul to give up the ghost in this place - and every now and then I’ve performed odds and sods of bits of work, some of which have been humiliatingly beneath me, others discouragingly way over yonder in the minor key.

When you’re alone in a strange town, you occasionally find yourself doing things and thinking thoughts you wouldn’t have had if you were safely ensconced within the four walls of your own home. Ahem:

1. If you jump up and down in a descending lift, why do you never bang your head on the ceiling? I don’t know the answer, and it’s not for want of trying. It isn’t that Girlfriend expressly forbids me from this kind of experimentation at home, rather that the opportunity never arises, what with us still having stairs.

2. Asking for a table for one. Wondering if there could be some kind of formula for calculating a person’s “Would you eat alone in this restaurant?” threshold. I’ve known people who would rather go hungry than dine on their own.
One ploy if you feel self-conscious about dining alone is, of course, to laugh so loudly into your Penguin Classic that people think you’re either insane or just one of those dudes who can have a swell time whatever the circumstances.
At all costs, avoid pretending to talk to somebody on your mobile. Nobody buys it. Writing lots of stuff in a notebook is better and might even result in improved service. Never offer to do the washing up.

3. Giving a handful of small change to a dog-on-a-string homeless guy who is busy on his Palm Pilot. Then asking yourself “Excuse me? Who’s blogging about whom in this relationship?” Wondering if it’s too late to go back and ask for a VAT receipt. Or exchange URLs.

4. Running up eight flights of stairs two steps at a time to see how soon you become breathless. Good for when they’ve asked you to stop using the lifts. Pretending to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard optional.

5. Trying to make up jokes.
Two nuns walk into a bar. The barman says to the first nun, “Good evening Sister. What can I get you?” She replies indignantly, “Nothing for me. I don’t drink. I’m fine as I am, thank you.”
“Very well, Sister,” says the barman. He turns to the second nun and says, “Good evening Sister. And what will you be having?” The second nun tells him that she doesn’t drink either and that she doesn’t need anything from him, thank you all the same.
They sit at the bar in silence for about ten minutes when a third nun walks into the bar and pulls up a stool. She has a ruddy complexion and wild bloodshot eyes. She looks like she could use a bath, and her clothes stink of fags and booze.
She lights up a cigarette, then orders a pint of Guinness and whisky chaser from the barman, downs them rapidly, orders the same again, downs them, and orders the same again.
The first two nuns look on dismay.
The third nun wipes her cigarette ash onto the floor with a beer and puke stained sleeve, belches loudly, then wanders off “to take a leak.”
When she’s out of earshot, the first two nuns look at each other and say, “Filthy habit.”

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