Friday, 29 August 2014

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I had another dream recently. Even though this is my second dream-related blog post this month, it doesn't mean that nothing interesting is happening in my waking life. It's just that my waking life isn't as interesting as the stupid thoughts I have when I'm asleep.

In the dream, I'd come up with a new business venture: a series of caves, each with its own distinctive smell. People would pay money to go underground and sniff. I dubbed the activity 'Olfactory Spelunking'.

The dream didn't go into much detail, but I think we can extrapolate. The caves would be dark, and no-one would be allowed to use torches. There would probably be an instructor in each cave with night-vision goggles, for safety. I don't know whether the smells would be piped-in artificially, or if the source of each smell would be right there in the cave.

Some possible cave smells include: manure, bacon, rat-bacon and Lynx Atlantis (which I believe has been discontinued).

I'm quite the entrepreneur when unconscious.

***

I've been watching a lot of films lately. I haven't got much to say about them, so here they are in order of best to worst:

The Conformist
The Raid 2
Wonderwall
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Fisher King
To Catch a Thief
The Seven Year Itch
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Drag Me To Hell

There. That's all the information I'm willing to impart.

Come... at... me... bro...?

***

I wonder if I'll ever hold a press conference. Or even just be a part of one.

Press conferences are usually of two main types: the big announcement and the missing kid.

Neither sounds ideal. I don't like conferences, and I hate the press.

But still, it would be nice to sit behind a long table and answer questions into a dozen microphones. I'd particularly like to mishear a question from the back row and ask them to repeat it.

I obviously wouldn't like to be appealing for information about a missing child. That would be terrible. But I have always wanted to make a direct plea to a kidnapper, and have never had a good reason to do it.

I could announce a series of reunion concerts. That would be much nicer. I'd have to do an initial unioning, though. And wait a few years.

I don't think I'll bother.

That reminds me of this Limmy sketch, which I may well have posted before. Still...



***

I bought a roll with lunch. They do good, fresh rolls at the canteen now. They're good and fresh and soft and round. This one has poppy seeds on it.

But my plate of salad was pretty big, so I saved the roll. I saved it for later. It is now later.

The roll is sitting in a white paper bag on my desk. Next to the bag is a plastic knife and a small sachet of Flora. But not a sachet. Sachets are for sauce.

It's not a packet either. It's one of those little, like, mini-tub things. A solid plastic basin, with a peelable lid. What would you call that? A little individually packaged serving of Flora. You know what I'm talking about.

Not this:


That's wrong. I knew sachet was wrong.

More like this:


10 grams of yellow chemical paste.

And a plastic knife.

I might eat the roll in a bit, with some Flora, spread with a knife.

Anyway, that's all my news.

***

I suppose I could call a press conference to announce my Olfactory Spelunking project.

And I could use the same press conference to appeal for information about the dozens of children lost in the caves during the test phase. They were lured deep into the bowels of the mountain by the child-friendly odours of plastic and Flora.

If only the night-vision goggles had arrived! We asked our safety monitors to squint, but that can only do so much in the pitch blackness.

Please. There's a large reward for any information that may lead to the majority of the children. If you live in the mountain (perhaps you are a troll, or a "subterraniac" of some sort), I implore you to get in touch with my agent. We can meet backstage at one of my reunion shows, preferably Bath on the 19th of next month.

Are there any other questions?

...

I'm sorry, can you repeat that?

Ah, I see. That was just the echo of my initial question.

It was probably a mistake to hold this press conference in a cave.

Does anyone else feel in the mood for bacon?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sabbath

I'm going to freshen things up a bit, by writing this post with a sprig of mint in my USB port.

Hmm. Is "port" funnier than "socket"? I can't decide. I'm usually very good at deciding which of two options are the funniest, but I must be a bit off because it's Sunday.

I'm going to leave Sunday behind, by leaping into a fictional world in which it is a different day of the week.

***

INT. REGGAE-THEMED LOCKSMITH - DAY

Behind the counter, the LOCKSMITH sits, playing with his dreads and wondering if there's some mileage in the fact that 'Chubb' rhymes with 'dub'.

The locksmith is open. It is therefore NOT SUNDAY.

The door opens, and the bell (which sounds like a steel drum or some shit) rings. It's a PRIEST. The PRIEST is elderly and dignified.


LOCKSMITH
Hey mon. How can I 
help you? Sorry, I 
mean how can I 
reggae help you? 

PRIEST
Good afternoon. As 
it is not Sunday, 
I was just having a 
pleasant walk through 
the neighbourhood and 
saw your fine emporium.

LOCKSMITH
Aye. Is "aye" reggae 
slang? I... uh... 
am a lockmith. SMITH, 
I mean. With an 's'. 
Do you need a key cut?

PRIEST
Yes. I'm having problem 
getting into the rectory. 
Which - as far as I'm aware - 
is a non-denominational 
dwelling for a man of 
the cloth.

LOCKSMITH
Right, me old... 
jerk-chicken... dude.

There's a long silence. The sounds of Sting featuring Pato Banton play over the shop's sound system.


LOCKSMITH
Listen, father. I'm going 
to come clean here. I 
don't really know much about 
reggae. I just thought 
it would be a weird juxtaposition 
to have a reggae locksmith.

PRIEST
Ah, I see. Perhaps 
you wanted to do a 
"dreadlocksmith" joke?

LOCKSMITH
(BEAT) I never even thought 
of that.

PRIEST
That's OK. To be honest, 
I don't know much about 
the priestery. I was 
just here to hammer home 
the fact that it's definitely 
not Sunday.

LOCKSMITH
Sunday? It couldn't be 
LESS that, father.

PRIEST
Indeed. I suppose I'll 
just have to bust my 
way into the rectory. As 
many priests have done before me.

LOCKSMITH
Is that a joke about child 
abuse in the church?

PRIEST
No. That would be too 
obvious for my tastes.

LOCKSMITH
I know what you mean. 
It would be like me making 
a joke about smoking marijuana.

PRIEST
Yes. Too obvious.

Another awkward pause. The shop's sound system is now playing Big Mountain's cover of 'Baby I Love Your Way'.


PRIEST
(TENTATIVE) So... *have* you 
been smoking marijuana?

LOCKSMITH
(TENTATIVE) Yes. 

PRIEST
Me too. To be honest 
I can't remember why I'm here.

LOCKSMITH
Me neither, actually. I 
have no idea what's going on. 

PRIEST
Ha! How amusing.

LOCKSMITH
But...

PRIEST
But what?

LOCKSMITH
But that might mean...

PRIEST
What?!

LOCKSMITH
That it could possibly be... 
Oh dear god, I hope it's not...

The LOCKSMITH turns to look at his laminated wall-planner. He sees that all of the previous days have been crossed off with a red X. All except the current day: SUNDAY.

The PRIEST drops to his knees.


PRIEST
Nooooooooo!

The PRIEST beats the floor with his fists.


PRIEST
I'm late for work!

The PRIEST beats his knees with his fists.


LOCKSMITH
And *I'm* violating our shop's 
licensing agreement for 
hours of business!

The LOCKSMITH and the PRIEST both turn and directly face the camera.


PRIEST
Don't smoke drugs.

LOCKSMITH
This could happen to you.

Then they both start giggling and stagger into a display of fobs.


***

Gah! You can never escape Sundays. The human imagination isn't strong enough to break that gravitational pull.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Three Corners

How about a lovely, thoughtful piece of writing?

***

Nothing was visible, except a bright triangle of moon between the branches of a struck tree. All else was black soil, black wood, black leaves, gleaming black barricades. And the sounds were black too.

The rest of the moon was nowhere to be seen. It was just the triangle; a gift for which we should be grateful. So many children have been spoiled by an entire circle. Curves are an unnecessary luxury.

A triangle of moon is more than enough, for romantic skies and ominous lycanthropic portents. The rhythm and magic of the tides remains unbroken. Everything is as it should be. The vulgarity of a circular moon is a full-beam headlight on a country road: into the hedge we swerve, into a dry-stone wall, into the black trunk of a tree.

Think about others. Dip the headlight. Pare it down.

The triangle is the strongest shape in nature. It will shine a light on our own strength.

And for the greedy eye that asks for more? It shall be blinded by circumferent wonder, and will weep for the beneficence of Pythagoras. 

***



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Scars

I had a dream the other night.

In the dream, I was in a room with a group of people. Two boisterous boys came in, and were messing around. One of them was Daniel Radcliffe.

They were play-fighting, and Radcliffe slipped, smacking his head against the floor. I went over to check that he was OK. He was bleeding from a gash on his forehead, but he assured me that he was fine.

Then an idea hit me.

"I have an idea," I said to the crowd. "I'm by no means suggesting that we definitely should do this, but I thought I'd better raise it as an option. It seems like this is the ideal opportunity to make some minor extensions to his head wound, to make it into the shape of a lightning bolt."

The crowd cheered and expressed their approval. All except one woman, who said "No, don't do that! Harry Potter isn't even my favourite of his roles!".

I said, "Ooohhhh, you hipster".

And that was the end of the dream.

My subconscious is an interesting fellow.

Other things that have happened to me this month include a visit to Blenheim Palace, and completing a video game called The Last of Us, set in a (pseudo-)zombie-ridden dystopia.

When I was at Blenheim, I was still in the mindset of the game. It meant that whilst we were wandering through the house, with its crockery and robes, and photos of Winston Churchill, I was imagining how I'd deal with a zombie attack. I could jump over velvet ropes and hide behind pillars, perhaps sneaking up to a Clicker to shiv it with an ornamental silver sugar spoon, or throwing a nail bomb at a pipe organ.

Unfortunately, we weren't attacked at any point, so my strategising was all for nought.

Other things that have happened to me this month include no other things.

***

I've never been skiing, and I hope I never do.

Not because I wouldn't enjoy it (though I probably wouldn't), but because it means that in the upcoming class wars, I can justifiably claim to be on the side of the proletariat.

If you've ever been skiing, you're automatically on the side of the bourgeoisie. You are rich, complacent, domineering, self-absorbed, racist, capitalist, fascist, misogynist, humourless, pampered and in love with coal.

If you've never been skiing, you are a good person, and are the opposite of all of those things.

Snowboarding is a grey area.

So by never skiing, I'll be on the right side of history, even if, admittedly, I have just been to Blenheim Palace. I was cocking a snook the whole time though, so I'm still, essentially, the true heir to Arthur Scargill.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Rescue Miscue

The ticking clock, the dripping tap, the humming fridge, the mewing cat, the itching arm, the bunching duvet, the smoking gun, the aching eye.

We may be kept awake by any or all of these. But I am kept awake by something else: my need to write a blog post. It's already the eighth of August. How did I get so far?

Earlier, someone on Twitter linked to a video of a bear rescuing a cow from drowning. It said what it was, right there on the tweet.

"This I have to see!" I thought.

How could a bear rescue a cow from drowning? Cows are massive. Bears are pretty big, but cows are huge. For a bear to rescue a cow, it would have to really, really want to do it. It couldn't just be a whim. It would have to work hard, testing the very limits of its bear strength.

And, as I clicked on the link, I tried to imagine a situation where a bear would be so interested in rescuing a cow. I couldn't think of one. It wouldn't serve the bear's evolutionary needs. Unless it wanted to eat the cow, I suppose. But why not just wait for it to drown? Let nature wield the axe. Let the bear reap the soggy rewards.

"This video is going to answer a lot of questions," I thought.

I began to watch it. The cow looked strange. I couldn't work out why. After a few seconds, it hit me: the cow was a bird.

"Ah," I thought.

"r," I thought.

Not cow. Crow.



I'd misread it.

A bear didn't save a cow. It couldn't. It wouldn't.

But it did save a crow. Which is pretty impressive, I guess.

The experience taught me a valuable lesson: always read tweets carefully. Avoid disappointment by double-checking that cows aren't crows.

Also, bears can be lifeguards now. They can sit on one of those tall chairs at the beach.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pronged

Maybe I'll try to squeeze another one in, under the wire.

Here's a bit of hilarious stand-up that will really make you think.

You know when you're watching a nature programme, right, and they describe the animal's sense of smell? Or sight? 

It's always either really good or really bad. It's never just... average.

You never get them saying: "The leopard's most useful predatory tool is its eyesight. A leopard's vision is around... 1.1 times as good as a human's. So pretty much the same as ours, give or take. It's not even, like, always the case. It's an average. Some leopards have worse vision than some humans. It's really very, very similar.

Anyway..."

I suppose mediocre qualities get omitted from the final voice-over. They go without saying, really. They don't start each section by telling you the animal is composed of atoms. 

You see?

Pretty solid stuff.

It's funnier if you imagine me doing an impression of Richard Attenborough. Or David or whoever. As long as it's an Attenborough, the laughs will be there.

How about this for the first line of a novel?

I've never had people gang up on me. But once, last Christmas, I had some people gang down on me. I didn't even realised what had happened until afterwards.

I'm asking to have it printed in blue.

That's two good ideas so far: the stand-up material and the novel first line. One more and I can get back to my Neptune jigsaw. It's pretty tough going. I still can't even tell whether it's supposed to be the planet or the god.

Is this piece a trident or Triton?

AAHAHA! That's a proper Neptune's moon/god confusion joke.

"But Paul, don't both terms come from the same classical root? Obviously the planet and moon's names are an intentional parallel to the Greek myths?"

Yes, fine. Still. I thought it was clever.

Here's my third idea:

Bring back sacks. Sacks have fallen by the wayside. In the old days, everything was in sacks: potatoes, coal, kittens. But the box and the bag took over so quickly that we didn't even register it.

Bring back sacks.

Remember what made Britain great.

Sacks. 

Sacks did.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Break

This July is on course to beat my all time lowest number of blog posts in a month. It's good to know that, even at my age, I can still break new ground.

I'm feeling low. It's not new. I've been low for a while. On the plus side, it's good to be close to the ground if there's a fire. Smoke travels up. That's why happy people are always the first to die. And that's why each generation is sadder than the last. Simple Darwinism.

But let's not dwell in the dark like some common cave painting. Life is full of about five good things.

Here is one of them.

Andy Daly is a very funny comedian, of whom I first became aware through the excellent Comedy Bang Bang podcast, where he plays multiple characters, sometimes simultaneously.

His TV show Review is really funny. It's a great premise (apparently taken from an Australian series - huh), and Daly's performance is fantastic. Each episode involves him reviewing an aspect of life. Here he is reviewing addiction:



You see? Life's not so black and dour as it sometimes always is.

A moth just landed on my computer screen. It didn't seem interested. Probably because moths prefer fonts specifically designed for moths. Like Wingdings (moths have wings). Or Arial (moths are aerial - spelled differently, but...).

I finished Anna Karenina. It was very good. I particularly liked the bit where Levin cut grass. But that's everyone's favourite bit.

I also read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, which was thoroughly readable. I'm not sure if I learned anything, though. I don't think I'm a psychopath because I'm paralysed with empathy for the entire human race. I think they're all idiots, but I'm deeply sad about their idiocy. For their sake, not mine.

At some point last season, I questioned my decision to base my mental well-being on the fortunes of Southampton Football Club. But I did base them on it. And it paid off. We had our best season ever.

Now, we're selling all of our players, and as each one goes, I feel like another piece of my SANITY IS SLIPPING AWAY! HA! How about that? My face is red now! Silly boy! Watching it all crumble! The sand that I built my house upon has been auctioned off to fill a dozen Scouse egg-timers and now there's nothing to keep the rain off! Ha! Funny, funny, funny.

You have to laugh.

Maybe I'm hungry. That might be it. I could have some Weetabix. That'll make up for everything that's happened.

Oh.

We didn't have any Weetabix. So I was forced to eat Waiterbix.

Two dessicated waiter husks, in milk. At one point, a bow-tie caught in my throat and I nearly passed out.

I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Please don't make me go.

You may well not be reading this on the day I'm writing it. Luckily, that plea is applicable all year round.

My main facial expression these days is "disgusted". I don't know what I'm disgusted with. Electrons? Electrons make me retch. And make me wretch.

Me wretch. You Jane. Electrons bad.

It's late at night, OK? This is fine. I used to do this in the old days: stay up late, hopped up on waiter cereal, rambling into the abyss.

I haven't felt like this since the night Buddy Holly died.

Hey, Monday is nearly over! You know what that means!



I'm going to breathe into a paper bag until sun-up.