Archive for November 2011

One step closer to the serial killer

November 26, 2011

The obtuse angle of dusk cut through the horizon. The whippoorwills began their nightly forage and Albert reflected on the Jedward trees that loomed in the distance from his house. Why are they all of a standard height? Why are their shapes so similar? Aren’t trees meant to be individualist and unique? Every night he looked at the trees with wonder.

A trail ran parallel to Albert’s log cabin that was never used by anyone but Albert. He liked to have these woods to himself; he was at one with nature. Just across from the side of his cabin a sign on the trail said: Montana 57 miles. He loved the complete randomness of the number fifty-seven. Not fifty-six or fifty-eight, it said fifty-seven.

Going indoors Albert listened to the radio. The Montana chainsaw killer had struck again, the news presenter said. Victim number ten was found hacked to death in the woods beside the highway in Rexford. Albert thought to himself that the murderer would probably stick at ten; it was a nice even number.

The next night as dusk hit the air in all its post-twilight shade the whippoorwills were nowhere to be heard. Albert yawned inside the log cabin before scratching his chest under his dungarees. He had overslept a bit. Albert opened the cabin door to be confronted with the Jedward trees right in his face. They were looking down on him with malevolence.

“The trees have moved.” Albert fell to his knees in a religious fashion. From out of the corner of his eye he spotted the trail, his trail. There was no sign on it. He rose up ignoring the Jedwards and walked round the side of the log cabin. In the distance the sign stood as erect as it ever had. As dusk fell it was clear to Albert that it was the cabin that had moved. It pained him to think that he was now, possibly, an even fifty-six miles from Montana.


There goes your eardrums

November 26, 2011

Of the Premiership’s big four only Megadeth are still delivering the goods. Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica are letting the genre down. Step up to the plate one of the big bands from the 90’s: Machine Head. The band’s new album, their seventh, is thrash metal at its best; snarling vocals, big solos, dark lyrics. Unto the Locust is a mind-blowing CD even if it has been released by the infernal Road Runner Records.

The difference between metal bands and pop bands isn’t just in the music. A lot of pop albums by distinguished “artists” have a lot of filler in them. Cover songs, songs that will never see the light of night at a concert, self-indulgent ditties “penned” by the non-song writing star singer him/her self. Not so with the Metal Gods. Every song right down to the last track is carefully crafted with intricate guitar solos or elaborate key changes that show they care about their audience. They play it loud; the louder, the better. On Monday December 5th at the SECC I will be party to deafness or disappointment.

The locust is an insect that breeds like fridge magnets. Their swarming behaviour is legendary. My first recollection of Locusts was in an Incredible Hulk comic book way back in my pre-historic days. The story was called “Day of the Locust”. Old jade-jaws managed to overcome the swarm that threatened him by defeating the villain that was controlling the teeming towers of noisy pests.

As I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here hit’s the TV screens for its fifty-seventh or so series I look forward to some nourishing bush tucker trials. If I were on the show I would gladly eat up my share of Locusts that were piled in a dish. Eating bugs and being in a cage with creepy-crawlies wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. Bring it on; if you think I’m scared of you, you’ve got another thing coming.

Snakes and their cousins are a different kettle of fish. Anything without legs gives me the slithers. Worms, snails, snakes, they would make me run for the highest chair. I’d hitch my trouser leg up and scream for help.

Down they come
The swarm of locusts
Skies above Converge to choke us
Feast of souls
Consume the harvest
Young and old
Suffer unto the locust

The Bucket List #2 – An element of danger

November 23, 2011

Most of us like a nice, quiet, safe life, this is quite normal. However, as the clock ticks on and the natural time span for a body runs out it would be good to try and rock the boat of boredom to tornado levels. There’s a latent daredevil in me that wants to live life just a little bit fuller.

About the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done is venture onto a roller coaster. I get quite a buzz from the spins and descents while at the back of my mind I know the ride is perfectly safe or it should be anyway. Doing perilous stunts or extreme sports would take training and I can’t be bothered with all that. My idea of danger is to use the lazy route. What I’d like to do is walk along a rickety wooden bridge or a slender path at the side of a mountain.

A treacherous bridge is a man-made nightmare and I’d love to slink along a swaying crossing without holding onto the handrail. Wild waves of water would be underneath me and me being a non-swimmer makes it more interesting. Ideally, the precarious bridge would be in a remote location. Trying to navigate the broken and missing slats would be a nerve-wracking experience. Fun and dangerous at the same time.

Then there’s the mountain passes. I’ve seen films where trains travel round mountains with a sheer drop on one side. Trains are good but it would be a more cliff-hanging adventure doing it by foot. The narrower the trail the better. Walking along crumbling ground underfoot as the sun burns down on me with no shade, no hat, and no water while the sharp rocks in the depths below lick their lips in anticipation of a fall, would be exhilarating. The twin dangers of dehydration and vertigo are in full flow, both vying to make this the last Bucket List. It’s only a matter of time before…

Right enough, already. Repeat the first line of the blog and stop.

Keeping Whizz out in front

November 19, 2011

As the economic crisis shows no sign of abating this is a boom time for business blog sites. There are millions of websites out there offering advice and analysis of the global financial problems facing investors and creditors alike. When we first started we had a choice between writing about monetary matters or science. With current affairs programmes and news bulletins awash with the latest disaster affecting the financial world, it looks like we made the right decision. I don’t think they even teach science in schools nowadays.

We can’t rest on our laurels, though. We have to continue to present a fresh and different outlook that can blow away our competitors. It’s a cut-throat business the business blog business. Many respected pages have already passed into history. I chaired the monthly meeting where we could discuss and possibly implement new measures to keep ten steps ahead of the opposition.

In attendance were myself, the sub-editor and my secretary. Before we go any further my secretary is the hard-working lady in the header. She seems destined to be forever climbing the paper mountain. She is called Hillary. Her parents named her after Edmund Hillary, I’d guess. The sub-editor shall remain nameless. Here are some selected minutes from said meeting.

Sub: Why don’t we sell advertising space on this page?

Me: We’ve went through this before. I’m not selling out to shady organisations like the Olive Oil group. If we let them in just even one little bit, they’ll swallow us up like they did the Marmot Foundation and we’ll be nothing but a subsidiary.

Sub: Cool, then I’d be a subsidiary sub-editor.

Hillary: Has anyone seen the Expat United file? I thought I’d logged it under blue chip companies.

Me: Hillary, come down from there for a minute. Go. Jump. I’ll catch you.

(She jumps. I catch her. Don’t tell Mrs W)

Sub: Horoscopes are the future. We should publish a weekly chart with good news for all twelve star signs.

Me: No way. This website has always dealt in hard truth. At no time have we strayed into fantasies and I’m not going to start now. If we take our eye off the ball for a second and start making things up, the readership would never forgive us.

Sub: OK then, what about a cartoon strip? All newspapers have them.

Me: Too expensive. Have you seen the prices for one of the big franchises? It costs a bomb to run a Hagar the Horrible strip. As for Sylvester and Tweetie-Pie, forget it. That darned canary and his exotic islands would bankrupt us.

Hillary: Why don’t we make our own? After all, we have always prided ourselves on our originality.

Me: Hillary, I think I love you. (Don’t tell Mrs W)


If only I had Coppola’s lens

November 14, 2011

It’s easy to blame Twitter for everything so I won’t. It’s all mobile phones’ fault. Mobiles that take photographs have contributed to the dying art of philography.

Most of the young upcoming stars of music, film and TV can barely write their name. They don’t need to. Nobody is interested in autographs anymore. Yes, there are still the die-hard collectors out there but they’re in the minority. It’s more rewarding to get a snapshot of the celebrity. Even better if the star agrees to have you in the picture.
Lately, I’ve came across some crashing bores that boast of their conquests-

· This is me with Madonna
· I’m in the middle of Nicole and Tom from when they were an item
· Shaq’s not so big. Look I’m up to his shoulders

The days of the big game autograph hunter are numbered. What use is a Richard Widmark scribble when your friend has a photo of himself having a scramble with Beyonce? Mama, put my pens in the ground, I don’t need them anymore.

As a non-mobile phone user I arm myself with a camera that I found in a drawer. My quest is to take a picture of me with a big star. I wanted to be known as the next Peter Parker. I wandered the alleys and highways looking for my big break. So far, my scoop had eluded me. I ended up in a dingy public house on the outskirts of town. To my disbelief the place was empty save for two men sitting at a table in the corner.

It was Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

I go over and we shoot the breeze. Jack Nicholson’s a phoney, I say. Bobby and Al agree. How about a three amigos shot, I ask. Certamente, says Al. I don’t know if he’s calling me Shirley or not, it doesn’t matter. I call the barman over to take the shot.
Ok, here we go, wait until the five-a-side team sees this.

“It’s not working there’s no batteries in this…thing” says the barman.
The two hoods are displeased. Before I get whacked, I’m outta there in a flash.

Just for CI. A smouldering Bardot or Bardo, whatever.

Deus ex machina

November 14, 2011

One of the worst things in life is listening to other people’s ailments. Getting told the latest medical report from folk you barely know can be galling for a number of reasons. For one, it’s hard to be witty when someone you’re not that familiar with is giving you a car crash headache and another is that you‘re suffering this barrage of bad news while trying to smokescreen a yawn. The perpetual groaners seem to revel in their pain. I’ve seen myself locked, piggy-in-the-middle, in a sickness session ménage à trois conversation with two swinging whingers trying to outdo each other in the illness stakes. The contest seemed to be who is the nearest to death’s door.

The only thing worse than hearing about the dooms and glooms of others is when someone tells you about the dream they had last night. In the name of Bobby Ewing, go away. Dreams and nightmares are insignificant and instantly forgettable. I can’t remember any dream I’ve ever had and I must have had billions of them.

Then this friend comes up to me and says “Man, I had some dream last night”. Right, very good, see you later. No wait, wait, there was a car chase in this dream. I made an emergency stop as I’m quite partial to car chases in films and maybe his dream was as exciting as the urban chases in Bullitt. He began.

“I’m sitting in my Focus and “Oh Yeah” is playing on the radio. I check my lo-”

“Cut to the chase.”

“Alright, chase then. I’m driving along and I hear this bang. I start to veer sideways and I’m thinking it must be a flat tyre. But there’s no juddering which is what you get with a flat. I straighten her up and there in my side mirror is a dude-”

“Dude? When did you start saying dude?”

“It’s a dude in the dream. This dude is driving a Dodge Viper and he has a shotgun. He’s taking aim at me ready to shoot my Focus. I leans over and picks up a Luger that is on the passenger seat.”

“How’d the Luger get there?”

“Dunno. It was just there. I leans out and shoots left-handed over my right shoulder. From my mirror I can see him spin out of control and down the motorway embankment. I pulls over then crouching down still holding my Luger I move down the slope toward the Viper. It’s all beat-up but there’s no dude anywhere. Next second there must have been a jump, a glitch, something anyway because I’m driving the Dodge Viper along the freeway and there’s not a mark on it.”

He must have been dreaming because everyone knows I am the number one wheelman around here.

Glory days in the second division

November 5, 2011

It’s not just celebrities that write autobiographies, there will be a day when a non-entity, like a blogger for example, publishes his/her life story on paper, and with astute marketing and a bit of luck it will sell like cement. The book won’t even need to have the boring background material in it. The story could centre on just one event. A ski-lift journey, the first time you encountered hot water or tuning in the radio and having the bottle to listen to the police messages. You see every one has a book in them.

And I laboured long in thought, cranium Chronos-like, before the brain epidural concluded that nothing of great interest had ever happened to me. The autobiography would have to wait until a page-turning significant experience manifested itself into the drudgery of my existence. As a would-be writer this was a rebarbative circumstance that shelled me like Hypatia, the last librarian of Alexandria. Ikea! This little-known cataloguer of expiry dates gave me an idea for a book.

Sadly, my other commitment, the musical I’m working on, had to be put on ice, so to speak. However I was excited about the prospect of writing a full-length magnum opus. If my autobiography would be a DeLorean in print there was nothing stopping me writing a Dino de Laurentis biography of someone else instead. Not for me the usual suspects. I wanted to write about a minor figure in history. If you look past the chieftains there are some really interesting underlings.

Step forward with your wooden racquet: Victor Pecci

Victor Pecci was a Paraguayan tennis player that strode through the circuit like a second rate Colossus in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Although he wasn’t even in the second string of hitters like Vitas Gerulaitis and GuillermoVilas he left a mark on me. I watched him on the TV at Wimbledon, and as a fledgling tennis star myself I was mightily impressed with his ground strokes.

Contemporaries at the time cynically pointed out Victor’s uncanny resemblance to the young Freddie Mercury as a source of my idolisation for such an unsung racketeer. The likeness is purely coincidental. Pecci could put a tennis ball on a tanner. Freddie, incidentally, was an accomplished table tennis player in his youth. Strange but true.

My mind was now straight sets up. A Pecci biography was what the English-speaking world was waiting for. Massive research would have to go into this venture. Working on the assumption that Victor still had family in Asuncion I bought a plane ticket to South America and packed my bats.