Friday, 26 September 2014

Chekhov's Knife Turn

Walking to work the other day, I heard this snippet of conversation:

" the end, he turns on him. With a knife."

And I was so, so angry.

Why aren't people more careful about spoilers?

These people were just casually chatting about the end of something, in public, not even whispering. No consideration.

Of course, I have no idea what they were talking about. It could be any film or television programme. It could even just be an anecdote from their lives.

But still: livid.

Now, every time I watch a film, it's going to be in the back of my mind. If there are two male characters, I'll be half-expecting one of them to turn on the other one. Especially if a knife has been previously established.

People should think before they discuss key plot details in public.

It doesn't matter that it's vague. If anything, that makes it worse. It's like someone telling you that there's a twist without saying what the twist is. You spend the whole film so obsessed with figuring out the twist that you ignore all of the dialogue and popcorn.

From now on, I'm only going to watch films with fewer than two male characters. If people ask me why, I can claim that it's an act of Bechdelesque feminism. But really, it's so I don't already know the ending.

Or, I suppose I could watch it if the film takes place in a world without knives.

Either it's set in a pre-knife civilisation (early cavemen) or sci-fi set in an entirely different planet or dimension. They'd have to make it pretty clear that there were no knives, though. That element would probably have to be the main thrust of the marketing campaign.

[trailer voice]

"In a world where the knife is but a pipedream...

but pipes exist, I guess..."

[/trailer voice]

(Sidebar: It's funny how our jokes about trailers are totally out of date. No-one has used that "in a world" voice for ages, but we still do it to illustrate a typical trailer. Modern trailers are all just darkness, discordant droning and occasional throbbing flashes of Jessica Chastain.)

Though, if that was the marketing campaign, I would begin to suspect that knives would make an appearance at some point. I mean, why would they make such a big thing of it otherwise?

It would probably be the driving force of the plot. A man with a knife in a knifeless world.

It would be like that Ricky Gervais film about lying, except it would make sense. And would feature Ricky Gervais getting stabbed (if I was the casting director/prop master).

Basically, all visual entertainment has been ruined for me by those two thoughtless people. And maybe even audio entertainment. Someone might turn on Thom Yorke at the end of the next Radiohead album.

My life is over.

Also, on the same walk, I saw a heron on a tree branch.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Cold Clock

Doubt is my constant companion. I keep it on my person at all times. Sometimes I find it difficult to hold shopping bags, but it never occurs to me to let it go.

Occasionally, I will be forced to relinquish some doubt. I admit it. If I'm forced into a juggling competition, for example. I stuff it in drawers and onto the shelf under the coffee table.

If my flat caught fire, I could imagine myself running back inside to save the excess doubt, and being consumed by the flames.

You'd think, if I was so hung-up on doubt, that I would doubt doubt itself.

But I don't.

I'm even beginning to doubt whether this is a good opening to a blog post. Imagine that.

They were selling cheap ice cream in the work canteen today. They had the freezer up on the counter and everything. I suppose they want to get rid of it. Either they're retiring the ice cream trade for the winter, or the freezer is cursed and needs to be buried by a priest.

The staff were asking everyone if they wanted ice cream with their lunch.

The trouble with this initiative is that ice cream melts. You can't buy ice cream with your lunch. It would melt by the time you'd finished. Ice cream isn't something you can stockpile as an economical snack option. The immediacy of ice cream is one of its main selling points.

I suppose some people might go back for ice cream after they've finished their lunch. That makes sense. In fact, I might do it.

Or - and I shudder to think of it - people could eat their ice cream first, before consuming the bulk of their (presumably savoury) meal. But that would be appalling.

You know how the saying goes: 

Lunch before Cornetto: the best meal yetto
Cornetto before lunch: I hate you a whole bunch

Ice cream sales have always been the best way to mark the passing of the seasons. Sure, leaves may change from green to reddy-brown. But what if you live miles away from all deciduous trees, like I did back in the 90s?

Ice cream is the barometer. When the price of ice cream is reduced, autumn is upon is. When they start leaving the Soleroes out on the patio furniture, winter is about to rear its frosted head. When the birds begin to build their nests with discarded lolly-sticks, daubed with jokes they can scarcely understand, spring is in the air once more.

And so the circle of life continues. Turn, turn, turn. A time to reap, I time to sew, a time to buy mulled wine, a time to wear vests.

The patterns of life are beautiful when you understand them.

Sunday, 14 September 2014


Keeping it simple this year.

Happy Nine Hundredth Blog Post.

I wonder if there's anyone - other than me - who has read all of these. I can't imagine that there is. Such a person would surely be known.

What was once an ironic "anniversary" special has become a regular fixture of the cultural calendar. It's impossible to remember a time before I posted a photo of myself doctored in MS Paint and rambled on and on and on.

Let's take a trip back in time. But we don't need a special portal or an 80s "Martycar". We can just click on links. HG Wells would be astonished that it's so easy.

Post #100
Post #200
Post #300
Post #400
Post #500
Post #600

Post #700
Post #800

I've been conducting a long conversation with my future selves. In Post #800, I wrote:

But enough about me. Post #900 Paul! How's it going, man? Did you manage to plant some flowers in your window boxes?

Also, have you done any good tweets lately, or is that whole deal over with now?

It's.. going, Post #800 Paul. Still going. We didn't manage to plant any flowers, I'm afraid. We did let the weeds grow, though. And a wild flower grew somehow. It was purple. Nature always finds a way. Jeff Goldblum was right.

And the tweets seem to have dried up. I did do a cutting @reply the other day, but that's about it.

I've never embedded a tweet before. I like it. It's much better than my usual copy-and-paste marathons. I don't know if it's enough to get me tweeting again, but stranger things have happened.

So, Post #1000 Paul. You must feel pretty pleased with yourself. 1000 Posts is nothing to sneeze at.

How did you like the last half-season of Mad Men? Did Don Draper die? Did Pete Campbell go to Woodstock?

Also, what's your mobile phone situation? At the moment, my current one seems to be on its last legs. I hope you've got an iWatch.

Seen any good gifs lately?


On my desktop, there's a text file called 'shoe song':

If you were to double-click on this text file, this is what you would find:

The question is: why?

What kind of a person would:
a) "write" a "song" about shoes
b) think it was of a sufficient quality to transcribe
c) save said transcript on his or her desktop

This kind of person.

It's not even like I have loads of stuff on my desktop. If I saved everything there, it would at least be understandable. I wrote a stupid thing and just saved it, unthinkingly.

But my desktop is very tidy. I have very high standards for the items that will appear there. If I don't use a program for several months, the shortcut is removed. If two folders can be combined, I will do so.

I like my desktop to be as clean and clear as possible.

And yet, there seems to be room for the lyrics to a terrible-sounding song.

It doesn't make sense.

Of course, the song is supposed to be terrible. It should be sung in a feeble, tuneless manner. That's the genius of the song.

You see?

I'm rather interesting.


In these anniversary blog posts, I like to mix things up. I play with form, with medium, with tone.

So here's a poem about belts.

Through loops, a snaking binding brace
Metallic grip of ancient craft
Support contorts with serpent grace
Pan-equatory, fore and aft 

No shame, no fear of fallen cloth
With pride, the trouser keeps its height
No exposed undies, by my troth
The belt makes braces look like shite

Oh dear. My opinion of myself just plummeted.

If you're American (and I can't imagine why you would be), you can replace 'braces' with 'suspenders'. It will screw up the metre, but that's the least of our problems.


I don't particularly care for chocolate, and I don't particularly care for croissants. But I love chocolate croissants.

It just goes to show that things can be more than the sum of their parts.

Equally: I don't particularly like oxygen. I don't particularly like hydrogen. But I love water croissants.

Everyone hates protons. But there are protons in everything they love.

Value is a matter of scale.


My opinion of myself just plummeted upwards.


Ooh, it's suddenly got dark outside. I think a storm is coming.

I'd better go get the washing in. I haven't done any washing, but I'll get some in anyway. Hurriedly stuffing clothes into a basket tends to ward off evil winds, even if you're in T.K. Maxx.

Or maybe it's not a storm. The darkness could mean that the world is ending. The apocalypse is probably upon us.

If so, this blog will be an important historical artefact. Future civilisations can study this as a missive from a moribund society. Which is exactly what it is.

I saw this video/song on that site that has people telling you what their jams are. It's pretty good.

Not quite as good as my sock and shoe song, but still worth your time.


We've been watching the 80s television series The Jewel in the Crown, which is about the British occupation of India and set during the Second World War.

It's really good so far, and is full of shiny-faced oblivious posh people and slightly heavy-handed metaphors. I'm glad we don't have an empire any more. I've already got enough things to feel guilty about (personal cowardice, unwatched films in Netflix queue, that motorbike I stole).

The British mindset is now a winning combination of inferiority and arrogance, which is the ideal cocktail. I can't imagine why the Scottish would want to leave.

I'm going to stop writing this now.

It may seem a bit abrupt, but I can't be sitting here all day. In my screengrab of the shoe song icon, you can just about see that it was taken at 13:47.

It's considerably later than that now.

I hope you've enjoyed this extra-large celebration edition of "The Headscissors Comedy/Thought Experiment".

I value your custom. And your customs. (Shaking hands and whathaveyou)


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

In My Locker

Post #899 and I'm feeling fine!

Not fine in the "good" or "OK" sense. Heavens no.

The other fine. Fine as in thin. Like a mist, like a toddler's hair, like vermicelli. A slight breeze would blow me over a neighbour's fence. A strong wind and I'd dissipate completely.

I had an exciting incident the other day. I was trying to buy a Werner Herzog Blu-ray box set online, and almost accidentally bought the DVD box set instead! I'd got as far as the checkout screen! Bullet: dodged.

Aren't I cultured? Even if my main exposure to Werner Herzog comes from this:

So, so cultured.

In fact, I'm so cultured that I watched that French film recently. You know the one. It came out last year and won lots of awards. It's a romance; something of a coming-of-age story. I wish I could be more specific. I could describe the precise nature of the romance, but it's not important. Anyone who would even mention the nature of the central relationship would be nothing but a narrow-minded bigot. I will not be so reductive. It features two young people - that's all I need to say.

And as for the content, let's just say that there are scenes where the characters interact in an assortment of ways. To outline the nature of these interactions would be prurient, and would only expose my own myopic proclivities.

I watched the film, but did not judge. That's all I can say.

Oh, I suppose I could say that it's called Blue is The Warmest Colour. There's nothing salacious about the title.

My main thought after watching 3 hours of life and love and art and philosophy and humanity was:

"Man, the French sure do wear a lot of scarves."

Pretty cultured, I am.


I wonder if there's a Tumblr blog devoted to things stuck to the inside of high school locker doors in American teen movies.

There should be.

I didn't have locker at school. They're not British.

Lockers are for the secretive Yank. A hidey-hole in which they secrete their guns and bibles.

We had pegs.

Good old British pegs, like the Queen would have.

You don't need to lock your possessions away. Hang your books and PE kit on a peg. Keep a stiff upper-lip and a stiff upper-peg. Need a place to put your cricket bat and your Latin homework? Hang it on a peg. Hang everything on a peg.

You can walk down an American school hallway and have no idea of the property - or the intentions - that may lurk behind those metal locker doors.

In Britain, it's all there for everyone to see: from blazers to protractors, from plimsolls to sanitary towels.

Our possessions are our flag. We salute them in public.

Stand to attention - back straight, chin up - and sing a tribute to Her Majesty, our sceptred isle, and the sweet metallic kiss of mother peg.


Or maybe we did have lockers...

Actually, I think we did.

Never mind what I said before.


I feel like I might have written something like that before. I searched my previous entry for "pegs", but no dice.

Here's a tweet I keep coming back to:

2014 is the Chinese Year of the Month

I like it. It's ambiguous.

It's best to do it around Chinese New Year - that's when the impact is at its greatest.

It could mean (at least) two things:

1) That the 'month' is like an animal (like the 'rat' or the 'dragon'), and that it is the symbol for the whole year.

2) Each month, there's a competition for the best Chinese Year. And this month, the award went to 2014. It isn't always necessarily the current year. In fact, that's pretty rare. August's Chinese Year of the Month was 422 B.C.

It could be either. But not both.

It's like verbal equivalent of the rabbit-duck:

It depends on your point of view.

Right I'd better get an early night. Some may say that 4pm is too early.

To them, I say: look at my nightgown.

Then they look at my nightgown.

Then they look at my face.

Then I nod.

Then they nod.

By the time they've worked out their apology, I'm already asleep.

Friday, 5 September 2014


Word1 word2 word3 word4comma1 word5fullstop1

That was just a placeholder sentence. I'm sure I'll remember to substitute words/punctuation in there later.

It's after miiiiiiiiiiiiiidnight and something evil's lurking in the dark. I think it might be a Mr Hyde.

They're all over the place at this time of year, building nests, scuttling about. Stupid Mr Hydes. But I can't bring myself to kill them. I suppose that's what makes me superior to all other humans alive today.

I haven't got anything to write. I think I'm too disgusted by the world, and also disgusted by anyone who isn't disgusted by the world. It makes it difficult to write the snappy prose upon which my career has been draped.

I'm contemplating drawing a picture of a matador on MS Paint. That's the stage I'm at. Pretty low. I'd say it was sad that I've been reduced to this, but it's not really much of a reduction. I've been in the pan for too long. There's no reduction here; I'm as liquid as I ever was.

I should go to bed.

The only thing keeping me here is a determination to produce a serviceable blog post. That and my fear of pillows.

So, here we go.

A serviceable blog post.


Once upon a time....

hang on.


Inside a Victorian... milking... area...

No wait.


Joan Rivers wasn't just an objectionable woman, she was also...

No. Just... it's... on the tip of my tongue...


We've all been in a situation in which Alec...




Oh, forget it.

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
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


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.



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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

(BEAT) I never even thought 
of that.

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.

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

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

Is that a joke about child 
abuse in the church?

No. That would be too 
obvious for my tastes.

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

Yes. Too obvious.

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

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


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

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

Ha! How amusing.


But what?

But that might mean...


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.


The PRIEST beats the floor with his fists.

I'm late for work!

The PRIEST beats his knees with his fists.

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.

Don't smoke drugs.

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.