Thursday, August 30, 2007

Upbeat ending

Coming up for air out of the claustrophobic arctic diary I just did there.

I miss Fusel, but Bêbe's still alive.

Wait until next imaginary travel, where me and Bêbe take silver riveted aeroplanes to the dark grit of lush-jungle Toswania, with Fusel's heart in a jar, where we might resurrect him.

The end

Beraubtes got smaller as she went on, and found another hole that she crawled into: we heard a splash somewhere further down and not one of us would follow.

Ginger died trying to gouge out the one glowing eye in the fifty foot high iron Fuhrer we found half submerged in oil.

Later, guns spent, we (me and Bêbe) came out of a long tunnel to find ourselves looking down on a lot of dead people and smashed tanks. There had been some battle, and in between the bits of human scattered about were slightly moving machines.

We walked down the slope, stopping once to do a thing that needed doing, and found the carriage. Vodka hag was still there and welcomed us with tea in the candle-light.

We waited there until another road train arrived and then took us away.

(no questions answered)

That's it.

gods and demons in numbered bottles

Miskatonic for the troops.

Now do you see, with that literary littoral behind me, I'm not so impressed by the lights (in a viscera sense).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Unwelcome revelation


Sometime later, in the dim cold and orange glow, we were hiding in a wide lead-lined alcove set off the floor. We'd been running until we couldn't hear the metallic scraping of the rats behind us, then just stumbling on. We'd stopped for a minute, too exhausted to continue, when Beraubtes pointed to the dark hole half a man's height up the wall. So we climbed in. It went back a few yards, housing a mass of complicated pipes and dials in the back. There was enough room for us to get right in and hide.

Beraubtes crawled as far under the machinery as she could, and curled up shivering. Ginger sat down with a little huff, fished his little book out, and started flicking through the pages. I squatted. Bêbe slumped against the wall.

Bêbe was the first to speak; she said quietly, not looking at anyone, like she was talking to herself, "Why did you kill the Albonian, sir?"

Ginger looked straight at me, "Because the lowland coward asked me to."

That was enough, that was just about enough for me. So I hit him in the mouth as hard as I could, and as his head went back and I saw the surprise on his face ( and was gratified by that), I hit him again. Then I was on top of him trying to break his skull by repeatedly slamming his head against the concrete floor, hoping each time to hear that hollow crunch that would tell me that I'd killed him (and the orange glow got brighter).

Then everything went white from one side, and with a ringing deafness.

I came to with Bêbe standing over me, the gun she'd just hit me with hanging in her hand, "You can't kill the Commissar, he is the only one who knows the way out."

Ginger was sitting up, rubbing his head, blood trickling from his mouth and one ear, "You feel better for that, shitting dickless foreigner?" The little fuck was smiling. "I have hard head, and you are flower-waving piss-streak."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Multiple death

Erschroken ran away and Mocz followed him, and we found them both later, cut in half and various essential bits missing.


You may get ices and popcorn

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Can you hear that?"



"No, cloth you put pillow in make no noise."

"Very funny. No, twat, ticking, you know, clocks and shit."

Right that's it

All this scuttling around in arctic circle Nazi labyrinths, like an NPC from Castle fucking Wolfenstein. It's not fear, it's fucking exasperation. I could be in the sunshine somewhere on a sea-side packed with fat bastards reading Dan fucking Brown's latest grammar catastrophe (got a good plot, mind, if you like shit). Instead, I'm in the dark, in the cold, following a ginger psychopath through damp corridors with sweaty communist Erschroken (who has swallowed enough of his fear to get inappropriately avuncular with Berbautes), Mocz, the teenager with a big gun; and my hysterical valentine, Bêbe.

Holiday fun time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"We didn't get all the rats"

"Is what your gun is for," said Ginger, "you think you see something move you shoot it fucking quick."

"Rats?" asked Erschrocken, "There can't be rats up here, there's nothing to eat."

"These rats are mainly clockworks, don't need to eat so much for many years." answered Ginger. "Eat your shitting face off if you not careful, though. Keep them going another many years with fat communist inside them, ay?"

Sick and dazed, wandering through corridors in the bowels of Gethsemet

We passed so many things I don't want to see again, with Ginger keeping up a tour-guide commentary in his peculiar idiom.

First it was the containment cells, with doors hanging off and the remains of things inside. Things half machine, half human, by the bones and gears mixed together. Shattered glass and dried something spilt on the floor. Bullet-holed skulls with nails sunk in and metal plates attached, wrapped with copper coils in rotting insulation.

"These are the failures, kept for experiments and observation," said Ginger, "they were made mindless by what was done to them, but they had reactions that could be measured, so the Nazi alchemists kept them.

"They lived here, locked in these little rooms with numbers on the door. Until we found them, and shoot them in their heads."

Then, a hall with rusting giants hanging massive in the vaults. I felt their oppressive weight above me, and hunched my shoulders as we walked below.

"Things like these we fought in the valley," said Ginger, gesturing up with his gun, "they rend us to pieces with their hands, and stamped us down with their feet. Until we realised they had to see out of their little glass heads," and he pointed at a glint in the darkness above, "there you see, there are proper eyes and brain behind that window. So we shot them there, and they stopped dead."

I asked him if he meant that they had pilots, or drivers, or whatever they should be called, you know, like tanks.

"You mean they have men inside, controlling them? Yes, I suppose - bits of men anyway.

"This is the Abfüllenraum - bottling room, yes? Where volunteers..." there he stopped for a moment. At last he took a deep breath and said, "These volunteers, with limbs amputated, and brain hanging wires, were installed in these bastard machines."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Unanswered questions

What did Ginger say to Fusel that made him sit back and shut up?

What did I say to Fusel, and he to me, that I can't remember, even now, when he's gone?

Why was I thinking about all of this as we, the happy band of comrades, went in to Gethsemet?

I don't know.

And it smelt of rotten peaches inside the gatehouse. Although I think this may have been synaesthesia brought on by the sickly orange glow.

This was regular rations

The other passengers filed down to the soldiers waiting below and matter-of-factly handed in their guns to one who had produced an oily bag.

I heard some murmured conversation as they went (and even a half-stifled giggle from one of the younger women).

Ginger spat on the ground and said to himself, "chance gone for them, I think they happy with that." But he said it in English, so therefore being for the benefit of Mr Kite (me, if you don't get that allusion).

Beraubtes and Erschrocken were standing together, Beraubtes holding on, crying, Erschrocken, with arm around her.

Mocz was looking sick, and Bêbe was lighting a cigarette with shaking hands.

I was standing there like a long streak of piss (or a lemon, something yellow and surplus anyway).

Ginger smiled suddenly, and said, in a big voice, "come on then, happy band of comrades! Let's go and make peace."

At the gatehouse

The gatehouse was big and built into a split in the natural wall that guarded Gethsemet's towers, orange lit, looming behind it.

After what looked like an argument with the captain, who with his soldiers was holding back, Ginger limped up to us, the huddled passengers, and pointed at me.

"You come," and pointed at Bêbe, "you too sergeant. And boy, you got your gun full?" (this to Mocz).

Mocz swallowed and nodded.

"Good, you get him," and he pointed at party man (whose name was Erschrocken, who staggered), "and I think, her," with another stab of his hand at a young woman (whose name was Beraubtes, who burst into tears).

"We go to meet someone else's maker."

I don't remember much past that

Until we got to the blasted gatehouse, then there's too much to remember. Between Fusel's death and the gatehouse it's just a freeze-frame montage:

Mocz pulling me up, looking shame-faced, and muttering something in Svaltish.

Ginger kicking Fusel's corpse and saying, "Albonian got good death in second, we get bad death, take an hour or two."

Ginger still limping, and me, with Fusel's blood all over me, getting some minor, buried comfort from this.

Bêbe holding my hand, but not able to look at me.

The soldiers behind us, grim but breathing then, as we climb past rotting machinery and broken masonry.

The back of his head burst open

And I looked round a moment later, and saw Ginger smiling, just lowering his gun.

We were half way up, and not going too quick because it was steep, and we really didn't want to get there ahead.

Fusel was beside me, my arm in his, and also holding Bêbe by the hand (I wanted to do that, I thought), helping us both. For a moment he stopped and pulled me back, and pulled Bêbe forward, so we were three close together, and me, taller than both, was looking down.

He looked at Bêbe, then looked me in the eye, took a breath and opened his mouth to say something or other, and I heard a parsimonious little crack behind us, and blood exploded from his mouth. And he hiccoughed once and I felt his weight suddenly, and Bêbe caught him close, and his eyes went glassy as he slumped, and pulled us both to the ground.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Began to lose it on the way up


We had guns (shitty little pistols) and we got some martial comfort from that, but still we were herded up the glass, cutting incline. With blank eyed soldiers and Ginger (with sarcastic encouragement) behind us. We climbed. And now we could see where we were going, because it was limned in that vomit-orange glow that seeps out behind the towers of Gethsemet.

We stood outside

In the banked up winter there beside the stopped and silent road train, in the hollow of this glacier track valley. The engineers were up ahead uncoupling the two unplugged tanks. A bunch of soldiers, wearing long felt tunics and with faces smeared with lard against the cold, were stood around, silent, bored and smoking those thin little cotton-tied cigarettes.

We were huddled together, not wanting to stray too far from the candle cast light out of the cabin door. Party man, Mocz's pretty bullet girls, another bunch of blurred face passengers who I don't remember now (all dead now), Bêbe, Fusel and me.

Ginger was in earnest conversation up ahead with the soldiers' boss (Captain? Corporal? Manager? I'm not a student of military hierarchy), with Mocz in lick-spittle attendance, fawning for the big soldiers with the big guns, who largely ignored him.

Mainly waiting then, in the cold which was not as cold as it should be (it was winter within the ice radius) and not as dark as it should be (there was a vomit orange glow behind, it's origin obscured by the dark bulk of the train).

I began to realise quite how ineffective our guns were (comfort blankets) when I checked out the soldiers' ordnance: big fuck off wide muzzled rocket launchers; or multi-barrelled perambulating gatling guns on rubber-wheeled trolleys, tended by two each of these lard-faced, felt-wrapped men.

I woke up

With a splitting headache and Ginger shouting. The train had stopped and it was time to go. Ginger had this big smile on his face, standing at the open door with Mocz and the vodka hag.

"One last drink, before we go! Come on!" and he pointed at the party man. "You first comrade, come here and get a shining courage, come with your gun and drink up."

The party man hesitated, and looked around for someone, but we all looked down. Mocz took a step forward, and the man fumbled up out of his seat, gun shaking in his hand. He said something pleading in Svalti, but this just made Ginger snigger, and shake his head, "You come here, you drink, you be fine, " and he gestured at the Mensat who filled a glass from her back bottle. She held it out with averted eyes and a little mutter.

Fair play to the party man, he took the glass, raised it and said "Spless hin." Which Bêbe translated for me in a whisper - "fuck you."

Ginger sniggered again and wiped his hand across his mouth, "Come on comrade, you make sacrifice now, your family is grateful for now until next time." Party man downed the vodka and gave the glass back to vodka hag, straightened and walked out the door into the dark cold outside.

And one by one we went, each time Ginger inviting, smiling and showing us the door with an exaggerated wave. Whilst Mocz stood close, tall beside him, with finger on trigger.

We were last, and I was expecting him to say something as I took a brimming glass from the Mensat, but he didn't, and I think I was more insulted by that.

Fusel was behind me and refused the drink, and Ginger asked "You Albonians can't stomach smell of vodka?" And then he turned to Bêbe and said, "These foreign shitters, ay Sergeant? Perhaps you take me for aim piss later, and I show you real cock?"

I spat out vodka, and attempted to execute some crap punch-him-in-the-head-and-get-shot-by-Mocz idea, but Fusel was way ahead of me. Blocking my advance easily, he appeared to stagger into Ginger and, seemimgly to regain balance, threw an arm out leftwards (knocking Mocz shotgun to one side, tangling him in the strap) and scraped his boot down Ginger's shin straight down onto his instep.

Ginger's eyes went big and wet, and he bit his lip hard, "You did that purpose," he hissed. Fusel made a big deal about steadying himself and said, "I have no stomach for vodka, is all, comrade. I am sorry." Mocz was red in the face, trying to extricate his gun. Fusel turned and, with one quick movement, unhitched the harness' buckle. The gun fell free. "There you are boy. Keep harness on left shoulder, with strap under pocket, you be fine."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Part two

Where I go past tense.




Got here, Fusel dead

Can't get my head round this, eyes too full, heart too empty. The wind is whipping us below Gethsemet. And I'm on my knees, hugging him close.

Fucking drunk and lairy right now

See that East Midlands hinterland (land behind the well known seaward port of Scarborough) vernacular coming out now? One too (three) many vodkas in my face. And I want to fuck Ginger right up (and am rehearsing bullet through the neck scenarios in my mind's eye right now). Little, nasty, fish-stinking fuck that he is. Fusel won't let me though, and has taken my pistol. Also Mocz is standing close by with his big brass automatic shotgun. In addition, Ginger is asleep.

I look at Bêbe, I want to be telepathic right now, and let her know it will be ok (the fuck that I know), but also that I want to go somewhere else.

Fuck it, I think, "Bêbedos, can you come with me, I want to talk," I say, loud, but not very clear (because I am drunk).

"Yes," she says, and I am undone, and fall asleep soon after.

You're still being cryptic

I hesitate to say, but say anyway, mainly to break the breathless silence.

Bêbe (who now I love) looks at me, with eyes glistening wet in the candlelight, sniffs and says, "I told you what, I told you what this is. What we are."

So I ask, why don't we shoot this fuck, and fuck off home? Ginger says nothing, he's looking enormously self-satisfied right now, even though I've got my gun up and am staring at him with that question just asked.

"Because," says Fusel wearily, putting his hand in front of the muzzle, "we all have families, and they," he looks steadily at Ginger, "know where we live."

Ginger tells a story

"So I tell him so he knows, then I can waste him?" asks Ginger. Fusel says nothing.

Bêbe has finished pretending to be interested in talking to Mocz, so she's back to us, and appears discomfited that she has to sit next to Ginger now, as Fusel's got me in her seat. I get to get up, but Fusel's still barring me. I make an exasperated face for Bêbe and she sits.

"Welcome back, sergeant," says Ginger with a shit-eating grin, "I think you help our foreigner guest with aim?"

Now I do want to hit the little fucker, and try to get up again, but Fusel is expecting it, drops his arm quick and grips me just above the knee with some nerve trick, that stiffens me from hip to head, and makes me shut my mouth hard. And squeak. Which is very cool.

Ginger snorts appreciatively. He shouts to Mocz, "Boy, more vodkas," making that finger palm snap. Mocz quickly commandeers three shots from the Mensat's latest patrons (none for Bêbe) and hurries over. I'm just about recovered from whatever the fuck it was Fusel did to me as he takes our vodkas from Mocz. As he passes me mine, he whispers "sorry". This makes me want to cry. This is all too much: guns, fucking in a toilet, and Fusel coming over like a frightened dad; I can't handle it.

"Well, now we are comfortable, and sitting friend's together, I tell you what the shit is going on," says Ginger.

So in the rumbling clanking quiet that has just descended Ginger, sensing an audience, gets a puff in his chest and starts his story.

The story of dead monks on the hill, with mutter of translating

"During glorious years of rebuilding Svalt pride and land after war, when our great army clears the churches from catholic vermin race traitors. We take every mountain redoubt from the hook claw of these priest oppressors. We burn them out, and shoot them as they run out the big doors. Even old men run fast from flame, but bullet overtake them in even race!" Ginger laughs as he says this. Nobody else laughs, but I'm aware that everyone in the cabin is hanging on his words.

He's speaking in English, and although most Svalts can understand English (glorious hero education system) I can hear low-muttered translations going on.

"Our reach is long but we take our time to find everyone, and it is twenty years after war before we get to Leng." I notice Bêbe surreptitiously cross herself when she hears this word.

"This is regiment of blooded heroes, and tanks, and exploding horses." I learn much, much later that he's referring to a favourite trick of the Svalt army - strap short-fused dynamite to a horse and bolt it into villages where counter-revolutionaries might be (but usually weren't).

"It is same deal, we think, as many time before," and for a moment he stops, a moment of memory, and I realise he was there. "But it is not like before, where we blast and burn church and houses, and shoot them dead everyone.

"This is big place, stand black above the valley, with many walls and towers. The weather is close in and dirty. And many guns, some big, they have themselves.

"We fight for 2 days on the rock below in the shitting blizzard, and we never see faces of the bastards killing us. Then weather is better and we call the bombers in and drop gas on them. This quietens them to death.

"We go up, go through doors hanging off, and walls in splinters. We find one enemy, high in gatehouse, dead with blue face, and tongue sticking out - is good gas.

"And you know what? He is shitting old man Nazi." He leans back and necks the last of his vodka."You know what, friends? This is where we go now. We go to see dead monks on the hill. This name you all know, in our Svalti speech of heroes," and he looks around the cabin, skewering each in turn, raises his glass, and says, "Gethsemet."

There's a pin-drop silence, and all I can hear is the clank and rumble, until Bêbe starts crying again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everything about you, except not your bones

That's what they eat.

This is the cryptic shit Ginger says to me when I get back to my seat.

This irritates me. Tell me what the fuck you're on about, I say, momentarily confident because I'm standing and Ginger is sitting. Fusel nearly sucks his moustache into his oesophagus when I say this - he grabs me and pulls me down into the chair next to him. Ginger looks at me with raised (ginger) eyebrows.

"I think you are heading yourself too far." he says.

And I notice that Fusel has his arm across me, and at first I think he's trying to stop me getting up to punch the little shit, but then I realise he's protecting me when he says, "he doesn't know, he is not yours to waste."

Fumbled exit

Bêbe, in a forlorn attempt at misdirection waited for a moment before coming out of the piss cupboard after me, and is now engaging Mocz in stilted (looking my way too much) conversation.

Bloody nose

Spent, and trying not to think, I'm holding Bêbe close in an arctic shitter.

I'm asking what's this about.

And she's not answering, holding me, little in my arms.

I just fucked you I point out, you owe me (and I know that's crap, so I don't need telling).

She looks up at me and says, "we are dead already, we are sacrifice."

Went for a piss

On the road train the convenience is primitive. Out the door behind the stove there's a cupboard with a hole in the floor. Through which hole you can see an axle grinding loudly. This gives me something to aim at.

Having finished, and not happy about the freezing wind I turn to go (having been).

Bêbe comes right in there, banging my nose on the door as she pushes her way in, heeling the door shut behind her. There's barely enough room for the both of us, and, well, I'm not fully zipped up yet. I have one hand fumbling with my flies, the other on my nose, and I'm all too aware of how close she is, right up against me.

"you fuck!" she says, and I'm insulted until she slips her hands down, and then I get the picture.

Not romantic.

We're on our way

By the clanking of the tank-tracks up ahead and the hissing of the rubber tyres underneath, I can tell we're moving.

Strangely, now we're on our way, the mood has lifted a little. It was the waiting.

Vodka hag is doing the rounds with her big black bottle, and she's stoked the stove, so it's warm, and the candles have been replaced. There's conversation, and comparing of guns. Mocz is looking less white, and has regained some of his bravado, giving me a conspiratorial wink now and then, whilst helping the prettier passengers with the ins and outs of bullets.

Ginger has stopped reading his little book and is now looking around with bright-eyed interest. He turns to me, and I can smell his rotten teeth as he smiles and asks, "you Mercan?" I say no, I'm from Lemuria, and please, could you tell me what's going on?

"This is bad weather," he says.

I agree that's it's pretty grim, and I tell him I know it's winter, and that I wasn't expecting much else.

His smile gets bigger, "no, friend, I say it's bad whether we go, or stay."

Oh, a fucking pun, in English too. I try a smile back (fail), and ask him what's going on. I hold up my pistol, I ask him why we've been given guns.

"Comfort blanket, you know, like Linus? Peanuts?"

I tell him that Linus was the one with the piano, and that I don't know the name of the one with the blanket.

Fusel leans across and taps Ginger on the knee (he's got this expression on his face I don't immediately recognise, then I realise it's respect). "You excuse my friend, he doesn't mean to lead with his nose." (and I think, hey! Fusel, you just called me your friend, and not in that dismissive, dad way.)

Ginger says something quietly in Albonian, and Fusel nods, looks at me sidelong, and sits back.

Ginger looks across the cabin and snaps his middle finger on the palm of his hand at Mocz, and says, "Boy, tell the Mensat to come and give vodkas for our foreign friends." I catch a brief glower of annoyance from Fusel - not happy being as foreign as me, I imagine - but it's gone quick, before Ginger looks back.

Mocz nods furiously, eager to please, and shouts at the vodka hag (a Mensat, apparently) to come over.

Bêbe, who has been quiet until now, and has been sat with her knees up and as far away from Ginger as she can, perks up at this and holds out her glass as the old woman approaches.

"Not for you, sergeant," says Ginger, "you need to keep transparent head today."

Bêbe looks like she's been slapped in the face; I'm really not liking this Ginger fucker.

Questions for old friends

Funny how the ice and non-movement of the train brings this introspection on.

That sound, by the way, is engineers digging out the lead plugs from the gun barrels of our towing tanks, so they can shoot. See how that fills me with confidence.

Once that's done, we're off.

Gun lottery

Our soldier, whose name (Mocz) I find out later, when it's too late to make a difference, took the bag round the other passengers. Bêbe first: she held out her hand, but Mocz said, "no, you lucky dip." This in English, so for my benefit. Bêbe, with a pissed-off look, put her hand in the bag and pulled out a nasty looking poky penis of a gun - if I knew about guns I'd say it was a Luger, but I don't so I won't.

Fusel got a blunt little revolver, and then Mocz was off round the other passengers, who were variously timid or defiant when blindly selecting.

I said to to Fusel that I didn't know how to use a gun (it's hot in my hand, and I don't know whether the safety is on or off, or whether it's got a safety).

Fusel took a moment, clicking through the chambers of his revolver, and said, "You learn quick, friend, you're a soldier now."

Thanks a fucking bunch, I thought, boy-soldier (Mocz) has already let me in on that promotion.

Then Ginger came over and said, in a perfect English accent, "May I sit here? It is a chair that's open?"

I looked up, surprised, my mouth open, gun in hand, and then said yes, that's ok, the chair is open.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This is not fair

It's very quiet. I think something's sinking in and neither Fusel and Bêbe can tell me what the something is now.

The passenger we're waiting for came. A short fat man in a brown uniform, he's got ginger whiskers and smells of stale tobacco and fish. He's sitting next to me reading a hand-written journal, sometimes he mutters something as he turns a page, and gives me a sly sideways glance to see if I've noticed. Fusel's staring straight at me and Bêbe can't look up. Neither of them seem to want to catch the eye of my neighbour.

I'm getting this backward - it's just that, with him sitting there, uncomfortably close, and Fusel and Bêbe acting so spooked by his presence, I can't think of anything else.

There was a thing that happened when he came. We'd been waiting for about an hour, mostly in silence except for the rustle of another traveller shifting in their seat, or the occasional bitten back sob from Bêbe (followed by Fusel either sucking his lips or huffing his moustache). There was a tap from outside. You'd have thought it was a gun going off the way it made the soldier jump - he'd been leaning against the door smirking at everyone, and if he saw me looking he'd snap his finger and thumb in front of his eye and wink (because he's got my camera).

The door opened and in came ginger-whiskers and two other soldiers. Our soldier regained his composure momentarily and, with a sidelong grin me-wards, made to leave. Not so, soldier number one pushed a big oily bag into the arms of our man. Our man looked at ginger. Ginger smiled and said something that translates as "you stay".

And that's when I realised that our man, the smirking camera thief, is actually our boy. He went white as a sheet. Soldier number two barked out some order, and our boy, who I could now see was barely out of his teens, took a deep breath, stood a little straighter, turned and walked stiff up to me.

"You ok, give me camera," he said, and rummaged in the bag, "I give you good one." And he pulled out a pistol and pushed it in my hand. "You soldier now," he said.

Where Bêbe says something she shouldn't

We're still waiting at Gunhome, and we're not allowed off the train. The soldier, now standing at the door, mimed this restriction very effectively using his gun as a prop. He told us we're waiting for passengers, then he said something to Bêbe in Svaltish. So we went back to our seats. I thought it was just me, the westerner, but he wouldn't let any of the other passengers off either. That caused a bit of a stink, one of them (probably a party member) got all pompous and started shouting at the soldier. Didn't work, the soldier just poked him hard in the belly with his gun and told him to sit down - I'm guessing that's what he said, the little guy sat down pretty quick anyway.

Since then Bêbe's been looking sick, and has been drinking vodka (each sip with a little grimace). Says the soldier said something to her that she's got to think about. Something about an abandoned monastery up ahead, and one of the passengers we're waiting for. Fusel says that all the monasteries are abandoned, and there's a lot of them up here, so we're bound to go past at least one of them. Bêbe says the army shouldn't have cleared them out during the purges, that they were the only thing between us and Leng. Fusel snaps something in Albonian, and then they start arguing in Albonian (Fusel can't speak Svaltish). This stops when Bêbe, looking wild, crosses herself and shouts something in Fusel's face. This gets the soldier's attention and he hitches his gun round. He gives us a warning look. Fusel grabs Bêbe by the arm, pulls her close and hisses something in her ear.

I quickly interrupt to ask what she said that made the soldier prick up. Fusel says, "something she shouldn't have," and pushes her away, hard.

She hits her elbow on the arm of the chair as she goes back. She gives Fusel a look like she could drill holes in his head with her eyes. Fusel's now turned in his seat, so he doesn't notice. She's rubbing her elbow, and suddenly she starts crying, but in an angry "I don't want to fucking cry" way. She's gritting her teeth to keep quiet so Fusel, or the soldier, won't hear.

I can't deal with this, and I put my hand out to her (they're sitting next to each other, and I'm facing, so I have to lean across and it's a bit awkward). She looks up at me, and there's an imploring look for a second. Then she looks away. So I'm left hanging there with my hand stretched out in front, and my two guides glowering in opposite directions.

The soldier, who has watched all of this, snorts, and mimes taking a photograph (fucking street performer that one). Then I see the moment of realisation hit him as he remembers he's got my camera. Now it's my turn to look away. What a tableau: me, embarrassed, Bêbe sobbing angrily, Fusel sulking. Make a great picture. One the soldier snaps just now.

As they say on the postcards, wish you were here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Paperwork in Gunhome

Yes, it's a nine hour journey, but we have stops on the way (Bêbe forgot to mention), so I was woken up by a soldier pushing a wedge of paper the thickness of my hand into my face. Fusel shouted something from the other side of the cabin, where he had been arguing with the vodka hag about short measure, and the soldier stopped trying to shove documentation up my nose.

We're stopped in the bunker town Gunhome. Gunhome is underground, dug into the walls of the valley and only evidenced by the shot towers looming in sentinel rows on the ridge above.

The town is an armoury depot, sitting on top of a lead mine and supplying the local forces with ammunition - lead shot mostly. Which is why I didn't complain too loudly at the soldier, who has this double-barelled automatic shotgun slung low on his shoulder (that there is such a thing as an automatic shotgun was a surprise to me).

We're changing tanks. The previous goes back to the border town, and we get two bigger ones (similarly butt-plugged) and six more carriages, three full of lead ingots.

The soldier wants my camera, and the documentation is to sign for it (in red ink). So I sign it, and I ask Bêbe when I'll get it back (I'm assuming there's some secret shit I can't photograph here), but she says, no, I'm not getting it back, it's an import form. I'm kind of used to this now - I've "sold" quite a lot of my stuff for peanuts to Albonian security this last week. So I ask her how much money I'll get for "importing" it. No again, the import tax means I owe the soldier money ("Surely the government?" I ask. "No, the soldier," she replies). Bollocks.

An aside on the Svalti diet

It's shit. Mainly herrings, onions and yak in a sauce that is mostly salty water. Vodka hag came round with a bucket and a ladle whilst we waited. I got a chipped enamel plate, and she heaped the crap out of her bucket in there. Bêbe and Fusel, both with the same shit steaming in plates take spoons from the breast pockets of their (identical) tunics.

Fusel asks me why I don't eat, and I tell him because I don't have a spoon and can I use his when he's finished? He goes a bit red in the face, and says, "no! You think I am a gayer?"

Bêbe says I can use hers. And she winks when she says it.

I don't think the Svalts are pale because the sun up here is shallow, and most of the year hidden behind the Southwall glacier.

No, it's because they eat transparent food: see-through fish and onion skins.

Other than the purple red of yak sausage (where they get their anger from) there's no colour in their diet, and therefore no emotion.

On the land train.

We're taking the land train from the border town to Shithaus (dark grey government town of Svaltwoond). There's no trains or motorways: the spring thaws and unstable geometry of the glaciers don't allow the luxury of rail or road; so instead we're travelling in an articulated convoy of wide cabins on wheels, pulled by a converted tank. I say converted, but what I mean is that the main gun has been plugged with lead. Bêbe tells us that the tanks pulling the land trains didn't used to be disarmed this way, only since the abortive counter-revolution in the late sixties, when one went straight up the main drag in Shithaus and blew the head off the Slotpin memorial.

A little history

Slotpin was this hunch-backed yak herder from the plains of Leng who led the resistance against the Nazi occupation. Post war, he went on to become Secretary of the party (mainly by killing everybody else in the central committee). The party you're not invited to, and the one that ruled Svaltwoond with an iron elbow (that's the closest translation from the local dialect) for 60 years until the Year of Free Opinion.

That's when Clospin (who was secretary after Slotpin finally died, choking on a chicken bone, with his aides too frightened to help or heimlich), gave a speech where he said, "You know, respect to our departed and glorious leader, hero who led us out from under the Nazi ankle, but, well, he was a bit of shit you know." (I'm paraphrasing)

Of course, once that was out the inevitable decadence of gangster capitalism was not far behind, that and Macdonalds.

Still don't have free speech, mind. Like I can't say "Fuck Slotpin and all his works to behold," mainly because I can't speak the language, but also because Fusel tells me I probably don't want to spend the next several weekends tied to a bed-frame connected to a car battery, and weekdays in a windowless cell with my own shit for company. Think he may have a point.

Back to the land train

The cabin we're in is surprisingly comfortable - it's dark out, yak-wool covered shutters are bolted across the windows, and there's candles in glass jars epoxied to the walls. The high-backed seats are ranked across the wide cabin, facing each other in slightly inward curves, so you get a sense of intimacy in the swaying shadows. Because we're on fat rubber tyres and hydraulic suspension the ride is smooth, if a little undulating. There's soft music on the tannoy which is sometimes interpersed with bursts of static status reports from the tank captain up front. Other than that there's the rumble of the engine, the wind complaining outside, and the murmur of conversation. There's a pot-bellied burner at one end, tended by a stooped old lady, who also serves vodka from a big black bottle or spiced tea from a big black kettle.

We're going to be on this train for about 9 hours Bêbe tells me, so we may as well get some sleep. Good night.

Albonian party music

Watching the news, listening to Fusel play his harmonium whilst Bêbedos (not his wife, that's Fusel's little joke) plinky-plonks on her sitdown guitarra1. Here:

1fired this post up out of the chronology, sorry.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Map Albonia and Svaltwoond common border


Forgot to mark the Zeppelin graveyard, sorry, it's around where Fusel's grandad ditched his shot up Nifferpult 109.

We've just crossed the border

After six hours in the customs hut, we're finally in Svaltwoond1, a hard land of glaciers and concrete bunker towns inside the radius of the Arctic circle, and my, is it cold.

Fusel's still with me as my official liaison - Albonia and Svaltwoond are politically related (one's the client sate of the other, but I don't know which) - and we've picked up a Svalti guide too: a severe woman named Bêbedos Dedos (Fusel calls her Baby, and it winds her up). She's short, with short white blonde hair and a short temper. She's also quite good looking in a terse way. Her accent is as thick as two short planks - her words come out like she's spitting pips into a wind tunnel. I like her. Fusel doesn't.

1not its real name

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fusel tells a story

About his grandfather, who was a fighter pilot. Seems he was flying low over the Urinals on his way off patrol and late one night. And out of the moon glow at 12 o'clock a fuckker bi-plane shot the crap out of his tail.

Nifferpult 109, Grandad's plane

So he ditched in an oxbow lake in the bitter hills homewards (no parachute you see, and water landing much preferred to rock scratching).

Anyway, he wakes up in the gray dim dawn wrapped in felt and lard, a walking stick in his hand and a fucked off wolf a yard away.

The story goes on and involves homburg hats and more lard.

And he goes on to become this word-renowned artist. So Fusel tells me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Just realised you're probably reading this upside down (which is yak-to-front timewise), so start here and work to more recent.

smoking in Albonia

day 4 of vacation, and now smoking weasel tobacco in the customs hut

I'll get a shot of Fusel next. No sound though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Zeppelin graveyard

One thing I didn't tell you was the time, in the bulldog aeroflot, looking out of the glassene bow observation hole, when I saw the dead balloon tracts.

We were cycling up over the mountain hump of the Urinals and there was this plateau, full with ice stretched over the hard grey rock, where due to a lucky confluence of orphan thermals and dry winds the abandoned blimps of inter-war transports gather.

They built those things to last, filled them with argon and wrapped them with thick, greased leather, so once left to their own devices they floated up the betrayed winds, and ended up jostling in the depression, five points north of anywhere we care about.

Dark hulks lifting on errant gales, sometimes grazing the ice-locked valleys, sometimes above the peaks. A hazard to commercial airborne shipping nonetheless. Surviving 70 years lonely later, bullet-riddled by attempts to down them, but still floating in the night time depths.

Just got off the plane

And am feeling multi-banged up by cargo hold.

Me and Fusel (Fusel and I) spent the last ten hours in the dark oil stinking belly of this cold war flying shit-house, with straw bales, chickens and a lashed tower of Samsung microwaves for company.

Fusel had his travelling set of chess out. Tiny milled steel or aluminium pawns, knights and bishops; brass or copper rooks, kings and queens; depending on the side you're on. Sharp pin feet stuck in, holes in, alternating oak or padouk squares.

He had this Eastern European belief he's better chess-wise than any pasty westerner like me (Gymnasium of the Mind) but I have this aptitude, and I gave him a good run for his money (we bet on the outcome of our second after a cagey first).

I lost in the end (end-game pawn manouevres, in which I get lost).

But he's not so dismissive now: he's younger than me, but he had that weary patronising, and sometimes sanctimonius, way of suffering my enthusiasm; and although that eyeward skyward thing he does (which irritates the fuck out of me) is still sometimes going on, he listens a bit more now.

And all because I sacrificed a bishop for a winning attack on his fianchetto.

Mint based breakfast barbecue

We're out (Fusel and me) on the terracotta tiled roof garden this fine morning (cold mist crystal dawn in the cotton of our over-shirts) and looking out over the purple rooftops, across the incised plains to the low hills bent beyond the horizon's curve.

I am smoking a cardboard cigarette (a nicotine contraption made of silk thread and rice paper), and I have a thick black coffee in a tiny cup.

Fusel's fluting breath into his turbine pipe and holding a plastic disposable lighter, flicked on and off, over the bowl - fighting the early morning dampness, mist and fog, to get it lit.

We are standing apart, and not exactly facing (because of drunken information going each way the night before - we both know more about each other than we want to). But I hope there's still a friendship there, and it's just a hangover headache in the way. Plus, last night, I fired off into the East Midlands vernacular, and don't think he understood me.

There's an airship just lifting off out of the field two miles downwind. The morning blimp, dull-seamed with explosive gas, about to rise with engines whirring.

I have mint, meat and cheese to eat for breakfast (laid out on paper on the table) but I'm still slightly drunk, and haven't an appetite for anything other than asking Fusel what exactly he meant last night when he said that thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anyway, tonight

We found a tavern (light spilling on the street from the double doors, oak and strapped with brass) where there was a welcome.

After drinking the local cooking beer with Fusel and various men (the women, in layers of cotton and silk, don't come out nightwards), where my shining baldness was subject of much conversation (these guys have big black bushes of hair, or fifteen feet of dusty turban), we've retired to the back room for guests.

The electric has gone off (it's past midnight, and the grid is pumping up to the arctic circle and the miners there; no light for us), so we're lantern-lit in this nook.

I'll take a minute to describe this place. The floor is stone flagged up to a burning fire where two big dogs lie. The tables are round and thick and the chairs low and upholstered in stretched leather. The ceiling is in shadow. Heads of dead things, imperfectly stuffed, are hung on the walls. There's a short bar with candles on, and golden glints from metal there. And there's this big glass fronted budweiser fridge in the corner, by the door, with one light occasionally flickering behind the stacked bottles inside.

Fusel, slumped in a chair by the fire, has his chin on his chest, so I see his fat moustache, and pipe, silhouetted; his eyes backlit orange. He's staring into some distance that ends around a mile away and underground. He's stopped talking to the old man (equally piped, equally silhouetted) sitting with his dogs.

I'm further from the fire, and have that thing where my front is too hot, and my back cold. But I have a beer, and am trying to smoke a pipe (a black curved stove) that I can't keep alight.

Somebody should tell a story right now.

In town

We got here at last, night drawing in, and I'm now blogging this through the wonders of T9 predictive text, standing on a cobbled road in the outskirts of the old quarter.

This is Valve Street, and there are electronics shops each side, blinking and flashing from yellow-lit interiors. The shops have no front walls, they're all door, with a token territorial gesture of flaking metal-framed office desks across the front. These invariably piled high with winking and humming gimcrackery.

The shop I'm in front of has windows on the second story painted out red with white text, there's a light on behind - making signage.

The table of this one is spread with oily cogs, a spaghetti of wiring and humps of things that have the air (or ozone) of Tesla machines.

I would buy one, except I don't know what constitutes "one" in the pile - they all share tangled wires and bits of fatherboard (which is red, not blue), copper-soldered together. If I picked that one up, I think I'd trawl a dozen others dangling by.

The shopkeeper is a five year old boy, and like all his peers in this country looking like an angry angel, with mad big eyes and brows thick and in a V.

I smile, but the boy scowls more. Fusel takes me by the elbow, and leads me away. He mutters something to the boy and the boy smiles and nods.

Steve (the yak, remember) has just shit on the cobbles, and it's my job to clean it up.

So I'll phone in later, after I've dealt with the yak shit.

Near the Knuckle now

Well the yak (who I've named Steve) is really wearing my arse out now, but we're just passing the Knuckle.

It's this big black volcanic glass rock that's off to one side of the road (a mile off, and still huge) glinting in the evening slanting sunshine.

It's called the Knuckle (Shlortsi in the local language, so Fusel tells me) because it looks like this big carpometacarpal joint pushed up out of the stony ground round there. Like a giant is trying to punch her way out of the geology.

Nothing grows there (and you have to say that with a mystery whisper) because, hey! it's fucking rock, there's no soil there. (Fusel glowers at this and sucks on his pipe, which I think is full of ketamine, because he's that fucked up with his big-ass moustache).

I'm a happy smiling tourist with a big camera, a hunk of technology I can't use, even here - there's a super-secret rocket base behind the Knuckle, and occasionally you see the contrail of an X-plane full of volunteer about to explode.

Still and all, I can hear the whiny call of plain warblers arguing about politics in the reeds of a stagnant pond (that smells of diesel) just a couple of close Greeks away.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Fusel tells me...

The town's called Pizpot, and was the furthest north Alexander got on his world tour in 333BC. (I'd link that if I could work out how to do it on my phone).

It appears he minced up here after sorting out the Gordian Knot (a kind of pre-christian Rubic's cube) and took a short holiday before going back south to die of dysentery.

There's a spa in the centre of Pizpot that has Alexander's footprint preserved in plaster as a centre-peice. It's exactly a foot long - and is where we get that measure from. By the same token, a yard is a measure of three Greeks standing really close together.

Travelling through the planes of Albonia

On a yak.

We (me and Fusel, my guide and card-carrying Comintern apparatchik) are on the road across the grain bowl of Albonia. The bowl is flat as a flat thing and stretches out on every side to distant hills poking up a long way away.

It's wet too. Wet in the sky, wet on the road, and wet on my yak.

What's that thing? "You can see so far you can see your dog run away for three days". Well maybe two days here with that dog measure, or maybe a yak metric in these parts.

For a couple of hours now we can see the smoke of the town we're heading for (there's some big fuck-off brown coal power station there apparently, fed by strip mines we can't see) and the smoke goes up like a solid tower of global warming, a right angle of pollution dividing one half sky from the other half sky.

Fusel says it's a portent of the glorious something or other.

I'm not allowed to photograph it.

hey, just realised the world has intertube connections

Blogging from Albonia1, first stop on the grand tour of my holiday. This off my phone.

Very difficult. Like this has taken about 20 minutes to write. So not much from here, then.

Everywhere in Albonia is nearly underwater because of the inclement weather. Wading not walking.


1Not its real name, and not the one I gave it first.

Just nipped back to get my keys

Before off on the holiday (long time coming, short time going).

Anyway, before I bugger off. I found this from Bertrand Russell:

Fear of public opinion, like every other form of fear, is oppressive and stunts growth. It is difficult to achieve any kind of greatness while a fear of this kind remains strong, and it is impossible to acquire that freedom of spirit in which true happiness consists, for it is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbours, or even our relations

That's good.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Big blue bed beckons me

Now to sleep, perching bream

happy fucked-up insider trading

In the stocks and shares of the internal market of your head, my understanding is weak,

I'll blow candles out and breathe in the smoke,

Say random words, and push them into a series of sentences,

Completely meaningless, but contiguous nonetheless,

They resemble sense, and follow naturally, from one to the other,

Until they make a paragraph.

I don't mean, and am not mean

I'm a misanthrope, not a misogynist, and I don't mean you any harm, the list of my inadequacies is long but stops before wilful hurt. I'll stay calm, apply the balm of my solution to your disease. Whilst worthy in my absolute hatred of all things half-done, half-hearted and empty, I'll stay true to the bitter morality I built in my head, and pay those fees.

Or something like that. Maybe with less internal rhyme.

Follow up on brutalist architecture

From another contributor, this is the American equivalent of false to materials architecture:


Made me think of the idea of 'ranch style' houses. What was intended by the original designers was a home in which the outdoors and the indoors are not so seperated. I think I spelled that incorrectly. I shall soldier on.

So, you move seamlessly from indoors to outdoors without having to go downstairs. From that original idea, we ended up with millions of cheap tract houses with no upstairs. Many if not most of them opening up (with sliding glass doors at the back) to pretty much nothing. A grass field about the size of a postage stamp, neatly missing the mark set by the idea-people by about a jillion miles.

And they are absolutely EVERYWHERE, like some kind of a plague.

In the cold light of morning

Only had to edit one slightly embarrassing thing out from last night's ramblings (there was a line that was a bit too informative).

That's good going. Usually I have to correct grammar (because she can't spell).

Liking being thin

I'm 42 (which is a good age for answers to the question) and I am very pleased that, due to serious illness in March past, I am super slim and full of vim and vigour.

Go figure what that's all about.

I need to, and want to, find a replacement intelligence, that supersedes (and intercedes with, in arguments I can not win) everyone I have ever met.

Someone muscular in intellect and viscera, someone whole and right.

Someone fair and happy to smile on any other hour.

That will be enough, there's closure there.

missed it

five seconds of truth, gone

I just found the absence in me, and projected it at a wall

With good friends who chip in occasionally (imagine, I'm thinking of you) the starting point and main point of this blog is lost.

See, I'm a technical director for a large advertising agency and my job is partly to understand the trends and tropes of the interweb (the other part is to swear fulsomely and creatively at people less prima-donna than me), so I know exactly how unread blogs actually are.

The 95% percent rule applies -

  • Most blogs are shit
  • Of the blogs that are not shit, most of the posts therein are shit
  • Of the posts that are not shit, in the blogs that are not shit, most of the content is shit
  • Of the content that is not shit, in the posts that are not shit, in the blogs that are not shit, most of the words are shit
  • And so on, until you achieve the granularity of lexicography and you are assigning 95% of the alphabet to the category "shit" (is "a" more shit than "f"?).

    So when I started writing this blog I had the happy realisation that I was only writing it for me, and it was a stage for reflexive and cheap therapy.

    No more, I've got an audience, this blog isn't the notes to self I imagined: where I could sort of, kind of, publish my inner rubbish, safely in the margins of the great unread.

    So thanks everyone who drops by (and one in particular), there's more of the same to come.

    And if you think it's time to dip out, fair enough, this isn't for you, it's for the future me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I shaven headed now


Plus photoshop filter, and eye-high-lighting, makes for vanity publishing.

Yours for the price of a slack cigarette

Have at it phrenologists, the topology of my skull brooks no tiny patch algebra.

Bald and rebarbative

Going to shave off all my hair tonight. Down to the nub of skull.

Because that's attractive.

I have for many years, since I started losing hairs (one by bunch) flirted with the skinhead look (and even when I had the full head of sprouting weeds).

As I have lost a deal of weight in the past two months (due to indian illness) slim-lining with a lack of head-hedge will suit.

I'll post a photograph through the loveliness of photobooth when I'm done. You know, because that's some kind of entertainment and a record for me in later years (happen this post doesn't succumb to pixel-rot).

Here's the thing

Even though I'm an atheist (though I prefer the term afairiest, as I don't believe in fairies as much as I don't believe in magic-man-in-the-sky) I am extremely superstitious.

Apparently we have this spiritual gland that's buried deep in the grey pudding in our skulls - a little illuminator that lights up the corners in our heads.

Mine is atrophied, but like an appendix (another evolutionary cul-de-sac, punctuating the colon) it occasionally shoots some bitter issue into my digestive tract, and I have to eat my words.

So I have an abhorrence of pavement(sidewalk)-spanning ladders and black cats, and deeply, deeply believe in karmic retribution (although I think that's a network effect - what goes around comes around: you put shit into the world machine eventually the cogs will churn you up).

That's it, and that's the end: shit in; shit out. Live your life with less than brio and half-burned, you'll get a lacklustre and tepid experience in return.

This blog is a case in point - the troughs are matched analytically by lack, the peaks by happy interrogation.


Momentary flashes of joy

Like a dying battery that arcs occasionally, the smell of ozone cracking in the air

"The delta wave has started building - how long does it need"

I think I'm going to go to the poetry slam upcoming. Although it sounds like the usual dreary twats will be in attendance, still I think I may enjoy it.

Here's a quote from the site:

Slamming is competitive poetry; where poets perform their work and the audience decide by their applause which poets are best.

Sounds engaging. Any suggestions as to what I should perform? Perhaps this (I like it).

Or maybe I'll crash?

I can see the wood in the trees

With cellulose X-rays.

I've noticed recently that my posts are degenerating into little more than tweets; thin dough leavened with the occasional yeast of dirty music I have banged together with music hammers in Garageband.

I have an oldest and dearest friend, with finely tuned sensibilities, and a horror of amateur musical twiddlage, who would be disgusted by my attempts at harmonious hoo-har. But I get pleasure out of it, in the same way I getbrutal.jpg pleasure out of doing bad DIY. I have built my house over a number of years: heavily over-engineered; brutalist with ogees; Le Corbusier in frills.

I did architecture for a moment in the early eighties, at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University, because the word polytechnic got associated with sixties socialism and, well, brutalist architecture, and that's not good marketing).

There's a thought: socialist marketing; there'd be top billboard campaigns.


I have a kind of affection for all that nasty concrete architecture that sprouted like things that sprout, but in a bad way, all over the Britain in the sixties' white heat of technology.

All that utopian optimism pissed away on cheap materials and local government corruption. Little people trying to deal with big ideas, and penny-pinching them down to a size they could understand.

Anyway, flapjacks: nearest you get to something that sounds slightly rude, yet oat-based.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New iMac

Oh no, Apple have put together the sleekest most lovely computer I have ever seen. I want one, and I'm so fighting my natural hunter-gatherer instinct to go out with my hunting spear and gathering trousers and pocket me one of they iMacs.

Damn and blast.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

End of the long loaded day

Well work-wise anyway. Now onwards to this developer conference thing at the WS.

Feeling good today

The sun is up, out and glowering over the muddled Bristol rooftops. Seagulls are arguing about politics in the gables. People are squinting (but mainly with smiling).

I can hear the engines starting up, at last.

July was crap, mind.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Marsedit is my friend


Anyone looking for a top Mac blogging tool (an intertube spade, or web pliers) should look no further than Marsedit, because there's nothing worth looking at past it. In fact, its lissom silhouette obscures feature-bloated competitors waving and bobbing for attention in its shadow.

You have to know a bit of HTML (happy tamarind monkey lingo), it's not WYSIWYG (what you suck is what you giblets), to get the fullest extent of its powers (annealing, coffee-making, empathy and grade three piano).

Me, being an OCD geek, have studied its mechanics. With its happy help I wield my blog spanner with aplomb.

Cheers, ta, red sweater.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hinges are door parasites

No really.


You may recognise this expression from that one unexpected (and unwelcome) encounter after so long in the silence.

Not intended. You looked sick. Sorry.

Thursday, August 02, 2007



Biff Plantagenet: more from the spam poets

I know this makes no sense, but it's a nice juxtaposition of wordy-happenstance.

biff |bif| informal

verb [ trans. ]

strike (someone) roughly or sharply, usually with the fist : he biffed me on the nose.

Plantagenet |planˈtajənit|


of or relating to the English royal dynasty that held the throne from the accession of Henry II in 1154 until the death of Richard III in 1485.

American swearing

We English people say "arse" to rhyme with farce. And to us, "ass" (rhymes with mass) is another word for donkey, so it doesn't sound right to say "shove it up your donkey," or "Jesus rode into Damascus on his ass".

I have a theory that American swearing is a lot harsher than English swearing (and differs from Glaswegian swearing in the same way).

Americans appear to have no equivalent of "bugger" (which can be affectionate), "twat" (which is dismissive) and "bollocks" (which is a gentler way of saying "bullshit").

American swearing seems so much more venomous and nasty - "cocksucker" and the "mother-****er" concatenation (even I can't write that one full, it is deeply nasty) are super-aggressive.

Also we tend to find the word "fuck" a lot funnier than they seem to.

For instance, I can say "fuck off" with a smile, meant to mean "you're having me on", in a way that none of my acquaintances - not just friends - will find either aggressive or demeaning.

So I'm sorry if my swearing seems a lot more offensive than it's meant - that's a just another cultural divide, another context where it rains a lot more (the weather is fucking atrocious over here right now).

I'm not having a pop at Americans (inventors of optimism, Elvis and orthodontics), after all my understanding of American vernacular is gleaned from films and television (it's a pop at pop culture) - and I understand that's got to be skewed.

Middle class English people must appear pretty foul mouthed to Americans familiar with their own swearage [misspelt anagram] - especially if perceived as having the same intent to wound.

I fell into this trap in a previous post: adopting an Americanism ("y'all") in a piss-poor attempt at humour, the phrase fell flat and offensive, because, with that adoption, I lost the intended irony (not a synonym of steely) and sounded mean and aggressive.

As a final aside, we find middle class Americans embarrassingly euphemistic (what the fuck does "potty-mouthed" mean, and where is this "heck" that I should go to) - for an over-educated English lower middle class oik like myself, a good chewy swearword like "shite" is a joy to express.