January 2009

Continuing this week’s theme of high culture and poetry, here’s a non-rhyming limerick I heard at Alloa Writers on Monday. Apparently, this is well known, but it was new to me and to a few others I’ve spoken to, so I decided it’s best to share.

Being the childish soul I am, it’s taken until today to get beyond the third line without losing control of faculties that are best kept in check. Here we go [adopts serious face]:

There was a young lady from Bude,
Who went for a swim in the lake.
A man in a punt,
Stuck a pole up her nose,
And said, “You can’t swim here. It’s private.”

Conversation overheard today in Stirling:

WOMAN (surprised): He didnae hink ah wiz a slapper!

MAN (indignant): Am no giein’ a fuck if he diznae hink you’re a slapper!

Can’t help but think I’ll get the gist of the rest of this conversation on the news tonight.

I read a lot of Haikus today. Some of them were good, some were excellent, some were terrible. So, given my recent foray into the world of rhyming verse, I decided to give the Japanese 5-7-5 a shot. From my brief research on Wiki, the 17 syllables should have some link to nature. So here we go:

Only bad haiku
can polish up a diamond
into a dog turd.

I tells ya, I could get used to this poetry malarky.

After a bit of coaxing from Steve, I’ve got round to joining the latest social networking fad and got myself a twitter account. Still not quite sure what the precise purpose is, except that I know that Stephen Fry is off to the airport right now, and maybe that’s good enough.

Anyway, if you’re that way inclined, you can “follow me” by going to my Twitter page and doing something. I’m not quite sure what. But, hey, check me out with my tweets and my follows — you’d think I knew what I was talking about. Fo sho.

I’ve written two poems since I left school. One of them — Luss In The Summertime — I’m sure I’ve published here, though the reason why escapes me.

Well, this afternoon, while in Tesco, I inadvertantly became caught up in the whole Burns Night rubbish and decided to give this danged poetry thang another go. So, now I’ve written three poems since I left school and that’s almost a collection.

So, with just a little further ado, here it is. I’m a bit happier with this one than I was with the other two, hence no expense has been spared and I’ve splashed out on some fancy formatting. Apologies for my self-indulgence.

EDIT — Further apologies as I’ve taken the poem down in case I can sell the bloody thing.

Is he gone yet?

What actually amused me more was one of the related items in You Tube. This is what happens when you ask a beauty pagent entrant a reasonably intelligent question.

And finally, Jimmy Kimmel — who’s featured on these pages before in a flurry of Matt Damon activity — is able to shine some light on the matter.

For the last six nights, Most Haunted Live has been on Living TV. We’ll discuss the irony of Living TVs death-heavy schedules another time.

For those not familiar with the concept, a woman who used to present Blue Peter — Yvette Fielding — her husband and their extended family, stand around in dark rooms with night vision cameras, while a medium insists someone called Betty from 1762 is sitting in a corner juggling with kittens. On occasion, they move a marker around a ouija board or, for reasons not entirely clear, make a table tilt a bit.

Essentially, that’s it. It goes on for a few hours with a few breaks to the utterly pointless Paul Ross back in the studio. All the while, the great unwashed use up their free text allocation by trying to attribute the fact that their dog’s barking or their cat has done a particularly large dump in the litter tray to events on screen.

Now, I’ve wasted more hours of my life watching this rubbish than is probably healthy. I’m happy to concede that it’s strangely compelling stuff. Watching adults cutting about, papping themselves like kids can be pretty funny — a bit like Blair Witch but with less snot. Admittedly,  it was better a few years ago when failed footballer Derek Pakora used to fake possessions on cue, three or four times a night. Then he got found out to be a fake, a fraud, a cheat and a liar so he was a failure at that too. No one was in the least bit surprised.

Here’s one of the many clips online of the chicanery that passes for serious paranormal investigation. It’s worth sticking with it beyond the double entendre when they seem to think they’re “clear”.

The most compelling thing about it, though, is that in five years of doing this, they’ve found fuck all ghosts. There’s no documented evidence of anything. There is not one centimeter of film in the Most Haunted archives that feature a ghost, a ghoul, a spectre or a Slimer from Ghostbusters. The best they have are orbs — more commonly known as dust.

And that’s what’s so fascinating/confounding about this week’s extended versions. They’ve found nothing in the past. That’s old hat. Now, they’re going to find nothing for a whole week and for their magnum opus at the end, they’re not going to raise Satan from his diabolical slumber. When do we think Yvette will look at her life and realise she might as well have spent the last five years farting on the sofa and eating Pringles for all the difference it’s made.

Which all brings me on to this YouTube clip. What I particularly love about this is the story of the guy who posted the video. The more eagle-eyed viewers will notice that he’s rewound live TV via his Sky+ doo-dah, so you can imagine the conversation that must’ve went on in his house.

“It’s Yvette! She’s moving the fucking table! Look! The cloth’s creasing up round her bloody fingers! REWIND!!”

As mentioned back at the end of November, Fiction At Work picked up one of my short short stories. The latest issue went live today and you can find my story by following this clicky. Enjoy.

I’m speaking with you all again.

Tonight, I received an email from the good people at Random Acts of Writing, which is a print publication based in Inverness, and they’ve accepted a short story of mine called The Hornbill In The Hall. So all is right with the world again. Not only that, but I resisted the temptation to use a “write” pun there. I’m very proud of myself.

More details of dates and my availability to sign copies to follow.

I’m not talking to any of you.

Here we are, a couple of weeks into 2009 and I’ve checked through my emails on three different computers. I’ve checked my phone for a text message. BT CallMinder is quite deliberate when it tells me I have … no … messages waiting for me. The only unopened envelopes waiting for me are red and have originated from credit card companies.

So, in short, absolutely nothing from any of you telling me about how good Silversun Pickups are. I wouldn’t mind, but the album was released at the end of 2006! That’s two and a bit chuffing years ago.  Would it have killed you? I mean, I realise we all have busy lives, but I don’t expect War and Peace from any of you (except from you, Leo). A quick one-liner would’ve done; a quick sentence or two. “Oh, and by the way, Gav, you might want to check out Silversun Pickups when you get a minute. Yes, I know it’s a stupid name, but I think you’d like it.” That’s all it would’ve taken.

But no, I have to find out from a bloody computer game. And people wonder why society’s failing. We may point to an out of control youth or the economy or the bad example set by any number of racist royals. But here, regarding Silversun Pickups, is a point of failure I reckon future generations will look to, nod and muse, “They should’ve told Gav.”

You’re all too late.

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