Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Christmas Spirit

In Focus The Christmas Spirit

INTRODUCTION
'The Christmas Spirit'. It's one of those nebulous, ill-defined concepts that is nevertheless truly universal. Many of us think of the Christmas Spirit as a feeling of goodwill, or perhaps a metaphor for a lifting of the collective mood, a sense of fellowship and belonging.

In fact, it's none of these things. The Christmas Spirit is actually a severed head in a box, with a disembodied hand next to it that rings a bell whenever it wants attention. First discovered in Tenochtitlan (what is now Mexico) by 15th-century Spanish explorers, its name is Tlaxihuatl, and it is the ultimate source of all human suffering and misery. Under UN control, it currently resides in a vault below the Bank of Spain's headquarters in Madrid, where a rotating team of valets is charged with catering to its every whim, no matter how unreasonable, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Each time they fail in their duty, Tlaxihuatl barks up a cloud of unhappiness, which drifts aimlessly around the world and infects every human population it encounters.

In the weeks leading up to the winter solstice, the Christmas Spirit becomes more powerful, and harder to satisfy. As its valets struggle to subdue its rage, it leaks a constant stream of low-level misery, which accumulates in the atmosphere. Finally, at the point of midwinter, Tlaxihuatl's powers reach their zenith, unleashing a burst of uncontainable despair. There is, as yet, no way of preventing this.

Many cultures through the ages have told stories of a malevolent spirit that blights the earth in the dead of winter, threatening eternal night, killing the land and bringing a great sadness down upon the people. In ancient Gaul this spirit was known as Kaecht. The Norsemen called it Thröttir. In Britain and Anglo-Saxon America, it was called Santa Claat until as recently as the 1930s, when the Coca-Cola Company appropriated and subverted his mean-spirited image for its Christmas advertising campaigns, thereby introducing into our culture the more benign figure we know today as John Candy.

Another product of Coca-Cola's reprogramming of the culture is the widely held belief that Christmas has its roots in an ancient pagan festival of light, in which brown, caffeinated drinks were imbibed to stave off the winter gloom. In fact, until this rebranding, Christmas was pan-culturally recognised as a period of desolation and dread, and the celebration that took place on December 25 was a ritual of thanks for being spared its wrath - what we now know to be the annual winter tantrum of Tlaxihuatl. As all around, families and individuals succumbed to its cloud of misery, locking themselves away in their grimy council huts, wallowing in, and eventually taking their lives amid the dreary squalor, those who escaped unaffected would feast and dance and sing to celebrate their continued survival.

But what does the Christmas Spirit itself have to say? I am fortunate enough to have been the only journalist ever to be granted access to Tlaxihuatl, and it is my enormous privilege to bring to you its Christmas Message...

You humans think you're amazing, but you're not. You all think you're so complicated and sophisticated and magical and special, when really you're just dumb biological machines, gene-piloted mechs. There's nothing in your behaviour that can't be explained, and the only reason you can't explain all of it is that you're all too stupid.

You're slaves to your nature just like the lion, or the eagle, or the vole. The only difference is your ability to post-rationalise your actions. You've contrived and enshrined in your laws substitutes for certain social mechanisms which are superficially more 'civilised' than murder or rutting in public, but the instincts that drive them are still the same. Your art and your ideas and your commerce and politics - these are all just means of rising to higher social strata, in order to get more power, more resources, more sweaty meat action than your peers. When someone doesn't conform to the conventions of a given social group, no-one consciously thinks, "let's pull their arms off," but that's only because nature's simple, binary commands have been filtered through years of conditioning and so-called 'refinement'. Instead, they find other ways to destroy the misfit. The will remains. You're as transparent as you are pathetic.

After millennia of culture and civilisation, still you're no better than apes. And yet you walk around thinking you've somehow transcended nature, just because you have things like the aeroplane and the Game & Watch. But you don't know magic. You didn't conjure these things out of thin air. They were always there, simply waiting to be discovered, assembled from components already present in the world.

I mean, look at me. I'm just a fucking head in a box. But I can still reason and communicate. And look at my hand. It isn't even attached to me, and yet I still have complete control over it. Watch it ring this bell. See? That's amazing. I don't have a spine or knees or any of that fancy shit, and I'm more powerful than all of you combined. But because I can't eat or walk around or play golf, you treat me like I'm an inconvenience. Maybe I don't need to do these things. Have you even considered that? Perhaps I'm just designed more efficiently.

You humans really fuck me off. What a bunch of arrogant cunts you are. Has it never occurred to you that I might just want to be included? But no, I'm a bit weird and I jar with your simplistic conceptions of what forms a functioning, conscious being can take, so you lock me away and keep me out of sight because you're not yet sufficiently evolved to overcome your petty, self-centred shit.

Certainly something to think about.

PURPOSE
But in order to really find out what makes the Christmas Spirit tick, I decided to perform a series of simple experiments with the help of Dr Meriel Wissenschaftler from the Life Sciences division of the Frankfurt School of Biofrenafrichtestat.

MATERIALS
  • 500mg 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine
  • Wooden planks
  • Large bowl of boiling water
  • Machete

METHODS
Having each ingested 250mg of MDMA to mitigate the effects of unhappiness, we set about applying heavy blows to the subject using planks of wood. The subject responded with visible signs of anger and pain, releasing misery into the atmosphere as it did so. The blows themselves left bruises, cuts and splinters around the surface of the face, collapsage of the nasal protrusion, and some caving in of the left temple, causing the left eye to bulge out of its socket. After 5 minutes, the subject began to cry.

We then placed the subject carefully into a large glass bowl of water, at a constant temperature of 100°C, and held it there for 2 minutes. The subject initially showed signs of panic and extreme pain, then ultimately pacification. After removing the subject from the water, we could see that the skin had reddened and blistered. The subject appeared to have expired.

In order to examine the brain of the subject, we hacked into the head using the machete. As a sizeable chunk of the head broke and fell away, we became aware of movement inside. On closer inspection, it became apparent that the subject was full of what we estimated to be many thousands of tiny Christmas Spirits, with legs much like a spider's. It was impossible to do a precise count as they immediately crawled out of the subject's brainial cavity and escaped the vault through the air vents. At this moment, I experienced a sense of panic and, against my partner's advice in the name of science and safety, attempted to stamp on as many of these as I could with my right foot, each time feeling a tingling sensation shooting up the length of my leg.

Once all of the subject's offspring had exited the vault or otherwise perished, I then - once more against my partner's advice - removed my trousers and undergarments and, standing over the subject, set about stimulating to orgasm my own genitals using my right hand. Having applied several wads of seminal fluid to the face of the subject, I sat down in a corner of the vault, whereupon, as my partner later reported, I demonstrated outward signs of distress, including weeping, convulsions and muttering in a language not known to anyone else present.

RESULTS
After approximately 60 minutes, I started to feel a burning sensation in my right leg. As the sensation intensified, the leg began to visibly twist and shrivel. Over 30 minutes, the leg withered away and disintegrated in the manner of a dying plant.

After 24 hours, several thousand brief sightings of what appeared to be a previously undiscovered breed of spider had been reported in various science journals and online forums. The sightings had no obvious geographical centre. Approximately 3 hours later, mainstream news media reported multiple epidemics of spontaneous depression all over the known world.

CONCLUSION





Scurferens will be back on January 9

Monday, 12 December 2011

Scurferens

There is, sadly, no Scurferens this week due to circumstances. Here instead is a guest piece by one of our most prominent fans, Brod Horspipe, civil engineer...

Hey, now listen. I don't know who this Scurferens cat thinks he is, dig, or why he's going through my garbage late at night. And I don't know what he's doing parked out there in the street right now, pretending he's an undercover cop doing surveillance. And I sure as heck don't don't know why he left the paper bag on my doorstep that time with a little note saying: "Please shit in here."

But what I do know about is good car park design. And I know that ever since I was chosen to lead the Blackburn Mall renovation project - well, suddenly, everyone wants to be old Brod's friend. And this Scurferens is no exception.

But I don't care for the trappings of the celebrity lifestyle. What I care about is cats being able to get out of corner spaces during busy periods without scratching theirs or anyone else's automobile. And I care about ensuring that every inch of that car park is adequately lit. Turning up to regional awards ceremonies smoking cigars and wearing fur coats might be good for the likes of Davien Pocock, but not me, no way. Old Brod is an artist.

Anyway, I guess I'm here to entertain you, so maybe I'll tell you all a story or something. Here it is.

A fella goes into a bar, buys a drink, sits down with the newspaper - beer on table, legs crossed at the knee, left arm resting on back of seat, newspaper held two-handed in front of the chest - classic style.

His name is Foldirol Casgrove, he's 34 years of age, works in insurance, thin, boyish features, no kids, wife doesn't love him, but that's not important right now. What's important is that after about ten minutes, he starts to feel a dull ache. It begins on his left cheek, so subtle he barely notices it, though he's dimly aware. Before long, his whole face is hurting.

Now, he's thinking, what's going on here? Young Casgrove is getting a little concerned, and can you blame him? So he puts down that newspaper and concentrates on the pain, which by now is spreading rapidly around his whole head and neck. He can feel it fanning out, millimeter by millimeter, taking his shoulders, his chest, his arms. He looks down, sees his skin turning purple.

The pain intensifies to the point of agony. His flesh feels soft and delicate, kind of like bruised fruit. He struggles to stand up. The barman can see him and is already calling for an ambulance, with a weary look on his face.

The man makes it about three steps before his feet give way, followed by his legs, like a man with no shins trying to stand on two eggplants. They're collapsing, turning to mush beneath his weight! He topples over, face-first on to the ground, where he bursts like a bag full of meat and faeces, all over the stone tiles.

The paramedics arrive. Too late. We'll be no use now, phone for a cleaner.

"What happened to him?" asks one of the paramedics, clearly the less experienced of the two.

Well, the other paramedic (older, manly, good-looking), he just gives a resigned shrug and says: "happens all the time in this place, kid. You see - this is an iron bar."

Iron Bars - A History
The iron bar featured in the story you have just read was actually the first of its kind. It is situated in Brooklyn, New York, and was opened in 1932 by Pondo Strawberry, a local real estate developer and an active member of the Republican Party.

The Depression had reached its nadir, and it was Strawberry's belief that America's only hope was to embrace wholeheartedly the principles of rugged individualism that had made the country so great in the past.

For his part, Strawberry made a number of investments in local building projects, in an effort to attract to the area the kind of red-blooded, good-looking men he believed embodied his personal philosophy. Deciding that the men would want an exclusive venue in which to relax and socialise in their spare time, Strawberry opened his bar with a strict policy against weak, anaemic men such as those he considered responsible for his country's economic woes - stockbrokers and financiers, for example. (The irony of a property developer embarking upon such a venture was, alas, utterly lost on Strawberry.)

But there was a problem. Money was tight, and door staff something of a luxury, even for a man of Strawberry's means. And so he hit upon an ingenious solution: by attaching iron atoms to helium molecules, he realised he could make the atmosphere in his bar so dense and oppressive that only strong, good-looking men with sufficient iron content in their blood would be able to tolerate it. Weaker men would keep away or suffer the consequences.

Thus, the iron bar was born!

Man, wasn't that a trip? Well, you've probably had just about enough of old Brod, so I guess I'll be leaving you now. See you round.

Monday, 5 December 2011

JG Ballard

Reviews Nights Out

JG Ballard gained a fresh appreciation for the baser aspects of the human experience on Mark's birthday. So why does he feel so empty after the event?

I must confess to some trepidation as I cross the threshold of Revolution to join young Mark and his friends in celebrating the anniversary of the day of his birth. The venue is gloomy and tastelessly appointed, and it soon becomes apparent that the soundtrack to my evening will consist mostly of dated electro-house, which may have sounded mildly edgy in 2005, had you been easily frightened.

However, I'm pleased to say that most of my misgivings are dispelled the moment I meet Mark, who greets me warmly before introducing me to the rest of the group: Chugger, Knobber and Todd, known collectively for this evening as Pussyman's Cock Boys (Mark is Pussyman, of course). Here I am, a frail, old, dead man, confronted with four perfect specimens of alpha-masculinity - tanned, athletic and dressed, as the fashion dictates, in block-coloured shirts, untucked, with rolled sleeves and raised collars - and for tonight, they are willing to accept me as one of their own. Though I have - successfully, I think - created, and lived according to my own definition of manhood, theirs is a classic, pure, perhaps innocent form that has always held a fascination for me. Like many others who share my disposition, I have often stayed up until the early hours of the morning, watching hardcore pornography or World Wrestling Entertainment, marvelling at the raw, unrefined visions of maleness presented therein and wondering, what if?

But as of tonight, I need wonder no longer, for I am permitted to taste it: the beer-soaked sleeves, the aggressive pheromones, the gym-cultivated sweat lightly washed and masked by a liberal application of Joop! Homme. I feel a slight stirring in my trousers. My mumbled apologies are met with benign laughter. It seems that phallic activity of this nature is tolerated in this world, indeed positively encouraged, taken as a sign of healthy virility. The boys pat me on the back, and together we down our first shots of the night: foul, violently-coloured stuff that tastes of cough medicine and diesel.

Every close group of friends has its own peculiar set of codes and conventions, and Mark's is no exception. As the evening begins, we place hands on hearts and solemnly vow to sound the 'Titty Klaxon' upon any sighting of naked female breast during the course of the evening, thus alerting the others to its presence. Superficially, the Titty Klaxon is little more than a guttural "arooga!" sound amplified through cupped hands, but encoded within it is a sacred bond of trust, a declaration of comradeship and a willingness to involve others in one's masturbatory experience.

Yes, we are the Cock Boys. Young, thrusting gunslingers out to sexually assault the night - but only in that cheeky, grey-area way that a sympathetic male judge might shrug off as boyish hijinks. In this particular area of society, it is standard behaviour to lift the skirt of a young lady, or else why would they wear such tiny dresses, eh? At worst, they shall simply appear wearied and annoyed. Other times, they might just be game enough to play along. But if you are especially fortunate, the Pussyman tells me, you may even get a slap. That means she's a feisty one!

My world is suddenly alive, fizzing and squealing with fresh possibilities. Everywhere is flesh - perfect, taut, youthful flesh. Temptation at every turn. My penis by now is straining against the fabric of my trousers - or at least it would be if I hadn't had so much to drink. In fact I am rendered cruelly, ironically impotent by the very source of my renewal. I am a rampant spirit trapped inside an ancient, atrophied body. I am Tantalus, ceaselessly beguiled by things forever out of reach.

Pussyman, his Cock Boys and I are swaying in our seats, trying to make sense of our surroundings through cloudy, blunted eyes. Chugger demonstrates the provenance of his nickname by casually vomiting down his duck egg blue shirt. I am dimly aware of two large figures approaching our table through the alcoholic mist, and in a seeming instant we are out on the street. Chugger is urinating into a bin. Mark and Knobber are engaged in a rousing chorus of the Kaiser Chiefs hit I Predict A Riot. Todd is standing in the road, pulling his shirt up with one hand and his trousers down with the other, which he then reassigns to the task of tugging uselessly at his limp penis. Very slowly, the friends regroup and we part ways as they wander off back to their halls of residence. I hail a taxi and stumble, alone, to my hotel bed, where I half-heartedly attempt masturbation until I am snatched away by sleep, fingers still wrapped around my lifeless rod.

I awaken to a powerful nausea, a monstrous headache and a profound sense of shame and inadequacy. Over breakfast, I try to recall the events of the previous evening. Dim, smeared shards of memories momentarily bob up to the surface before sinking back down into the depths of my unconscious. A lascivious comment here, a pinched bottom there, my head wedged between the squirming (possibly with delight, most likely not) thighs of a girl young enough to be my granddaughter. When I was a Cock Boy, such behaviour was appropriate. Now, however, I am but an ordinary fellow, with healthy social reflexes, a code of ethics and no more than a justifiable level of self-esteem. The world seems flat and colourless, the whole night feels now like a strange and wonderful dream, and I realise that I am experiencing something akin to a drugs comedown.

I cannot recommend Mark's birthday highly enough! Indeed I have made arrangements to go out once more with the boys next weekend, so that I may know again what it is to be a twat. Perhaps I shall see you there.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dav Crabes

What makes a man

A man bears the weight of a collapsing bridge on his shoulders.

A man cries, and his tears give life to the plants of the earth and the ghosts of the recently departed.

A man feels pain... AND HE LOVES IT.

A man's sorrow can bring down a helicopter.

A man builds a house with just bricks and no cement, because the love of a man is enough to keep that house together.

A man channels all the pain in the world and carries it alone on his journey through the cold, twilight wilderness of existence.

A man swallows a live baby, then passes it whole and unharmed.

A man emerges unscathed from the burning wreckage of a downed helicopter, then staggers over to the stump of an old tree to stroke the heads of a nest of baby dav crabes, before singing them softly to sleep.

A man punches a cockerel to pieces, then with the strength of his spirit, brings the pieces back to life as lots of little cockerels.

A man rescues a child from the rubble of an earthquake-hit school, then places his strong hands on her shoulders and tells her, gazing soulfully into her eyes: "when you're grown up, you'll wish you'd died."

Monday, 21 November 2011

Stanley Kubrick

The winter months are cold, dark, bleak, harsh, unforgiving. Your energy levels are low. In the dark you wake, in the dark you arrive home from work, and for three months or more you're crushed beneath the weight of an unknowable sadness.

You've stopped going out. Inertia breeds inertia. You walked hunched, your face blank, your eyes sightless orbs. The vivid neon lights of experience go out, just dull grey tubes now, dizzy promise extinguished, nothing more to attract you. You start drifting passively through your days, numbly riding life's current like a feather in the breeze.

You feel no pleasure, no pain. You stop looking both ways before crossing the road. You suspect your tired old boiler may be leaking carbon monoxide, but fuck it. At worst, you'll simply go to sleep and never wake up again. Just slip away, quietly, back into eternity...

So you need something in your wardrobe that's going to square those shoulders, bulk up that withered frame and sharpen your silhouette. Behold! the new military jacket from the Stanley Kubrick winter collection. Spotted with the real tears of the undertrodden grunts of the fashion industry, this jacket has an authentic cut that positively screams: "I'm a dashing, debonair, middle-ranking East India Company officer, freshly returned from slaughtering some bloody South Asian savages, and I'm in town looking to press into service some young waif, give her a ride on both my swords - HA! - then leave her to be eaten by stray dogs! No-one will notice she's gone." That's a powerful message to be sending out.

You can't wear a frown with this on your back. You'd look like a twat.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ornette Coleman

Focus On Ornette Coleman

This week, we're focusing on a true giant of modern music, a man who has both dominated and divided the world of jazz - like a brutal, multi-instrumentalist tyrant - for more than half a century. He's a genuine great - a description I take issue with, though I wrote it myself, because what on earth even is greatness, for Christ's sake?

It's an entirely artificial concept, a construct, a structurally unsound house made of hubris and bones, utterly meaningless beyond the human world. Do - oh, I don't know - cats speak in hushed tones about the feline stars of popular YouTube videos? No. They just get on with it. No cat was ever paralysed by ambition, or driven to self-loathing by its unrealistic demands of its own creative abilities.

The human is a species gone wrong. We, my friends, have forgotten the animal, and now we're hurtling - obliviously - head-first into a bubbling lake of gastric juices and madness, breaking down without even knowing it. We call our sickness consciousness, we mistake our malfunction for sophistication.

Greatness is the very nadir of this wrongness, a tag that denies not only the animal, but even the human. When we call someone great, we accuse them of being the sickest of all. We must pull them back, grab them by their ankles and drag them from their perches, put them below even ourselves. We should subvert greatness, reconfigure it so that it no longer implies transcendence over frail, filthy humanity, but rather emphasises that very frailty.

It is ridiculous to attribute such supernatural qualities to human beings. Humans are as foul and unpleasant as anything else in nature. Did you know, for example, that Plath shat? And Picasso, you can bet he wanked - perhaps on the toilet. Imagine him clenching as he reached climax, shit smearing against shit between his sweaty buttocks. Rimbaud will undoubtedly have been sick, maybe even on his own balls, how can we say for sure that he wasn't?

Is this your idea of greatness, Charles Darwin, rolling around on the floor in a dirty nappy, twitching glans protruding from the waistband, groaning like an injured camel? Jesus.

Or Kierkegaard in the supermarket at 3am, studying the back of a packet of instant noodles. And you look down, and you realise that his penis is hanging out of his trousers. And as you're gawping at the flaccid, shrivelled cock of the father of existentialism, he sees you, freezes. And you both stare at each other in stunned silence for five long seconds before he blurts out: "I was just trying something!"

Stockhausen admiring his anus in a mirror. Shakespeare, semi-comatose on Frosty Jack's and quietly shitting himself at the back of a bus. Virginia Woolf vomiting on a baby. Samuel Beckett, naked, smothered in pig fat and masturbating over an episode of Hannah Montana.

And you think these people are somehow worthy of glorification? What on earth is wrong with you?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Nels Cline

Cycling with Waywo Bassey
This week, Holesgrow ~ Stabwater

Last week, I stopped over in the lovely little village of Holesgrow. You'll remember I was quite taken with the place. Well, not so much today. I ride out into a glorious summer morning. Little bleary. Didn't sleep well. Must be the heat. Pass a bench on the way out of the village. Group of boys sitting on it. They get up, make gestures, shout things.

"Oi, gayboy! Asking the big questions, are you?" "Are you sleepless with deep wonderings?" "Yeah, gonna find out the ultimate truth later, innit!"

Idiots. I don't ask questions. I ride. It's what I do. And hey - they'll probably be dead of heroin in a few years. But I'll still be here. Riding.

Like today, riding down the beautiful country lanes between Holesgrow and Stabwater. Just a couple of miles shy of my destination, I stop for lunch at the famous Barrister's Fist. Gorgeous little pub restaurant. World-class cheeseboard. World-class waitresses. I take a table out front, order Barry Barrister's Fistful of Meat Sandwich and a foaming pint of Nels Cline. She shoots me a look. I know what that look means.

Now, that sandwich might be from the kids' menu, but it's a man-sized serving, OK? And I'm stuffed. The waitress sashays over, picks up my plate. Dessert? Oh, I couldn't eat another morsel! Then she mentions the cheese. Little minx. I raise an eyebrow. She smiles, bites her lip.

The vibe is pure Campari advert, 1977. Exterior: ski lodge. Somewhere European and exclusive. Interior: sauna. Red-hot, sweating flesh. Close-ups on eyes, meaningful glances. You see it going in. He winces. Bad angle. Torn frenulum. Copious bleeding. UK sales of Campari increased by 80% that year.

But back to that cheese. And what a selection! Shropster Grand Unutterable, Cock Hamilton, quarter-wheel de Mini Babybel and Golden Booty Hits of Miami. I swear I've gone blind by the time it's finished. Head's swimming. But I've got a schedule to keep. Time to get back in the saddle. Bad idea.

Less than a mile down the road. Stabwater in sight. Somewhere behind me, I hear the psychedelic rock stylings of Octave Mirbeau. An engine. Getting closer. My head's so clouded with cheese, I don't think to pull into the side. But that's OK. The driver will se...

Mucus Daniels, the man behind the 1977 Campari campaign, made his final public appearance in front of the Hotel d'Angleterre, Geneva, spring of '82, naked and screaming: "WHAT is it FOR???"

... Those words are tumbling in my skull like a cosmic tombola. I'm not riding anymore. I'm looking up at the sky, numb with shock. I hear the car somewhere further down the road. Slows down, crawls for a second or two. Speeds off. I'm alone. Numbness gives way to sickening pain. Screaming silently in the dead-still summer afternoon. A cloud of midges descends.

Minutes later, I hear footsteps. A thin, pale man leans over me, face locked into a scowl. Part of the back of his head is missing. He fixes me with his eyes. Scowling, sunken eyes. They soften. He puts his hand to my face, tear rolling down his cheek. There's kindness in his gesture, but I feel something leaving me. Something he knows I won't need any more. The pain subsides. We share a moment. Nothing wrong with two men sharing a moment. He turns and walks away. Takes something else, too. He comes back for one last look, my mangled bike on his shoulders. Then leaves. Leaves me here to wait, wait for someone else to stop by and call me an ambulance.

The ambulance takes me to Blankhead Royal Infirmary, where I will later die of complications.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sunken Foal

A Sea Shanty

We are sailing on the Sunken Foal,
Washed-up men with shrunken souls.
The ship, in truth, is very, very old
And its ghosts have long deserted.

But what's this creeping about the nest?
New ghost in the making, body soon to rest.
But no-one knows what's about to manifest
Except for Constable Bursted.


Gentlemen, please stop what you're doing. A crime is about to be committed on this vessel.

(Disquiet, hubbub, mutter mutter)

I realise this may sound peculiar, but I assure you gents that all shall become clear momentarily, for if you would just raise your eyes up to the crow's nest, you shall see... in just a second... your fellow crewman Crod Popples toppling over the side of the nest, then falling wordlessly to the deck (note that he's not mobile, his body is completely limp), where he shall land head-first, just a few feet to my left. On impact, the top of his skull will crumple, leading to a severe trauma with intercranial bleeding (you may have noticed part of his brain splattering the deck in a wide arc, some of which is about to land on my shoe - there!). At the same time, the force of the impact has pushed his head up into his ribcage, causing the neck, spine and ribs to fracture in several places. Subsequently, the body comes to a rest on the deck. Not a pretty sight, I'm sure you'll agree.

Gentlemen, I have come aboard - I do hope you'll forgive the intrusion, I boarded without invitation, though as you will no doubt appreciate, purely out of necessity - to solve this crime. But how could I possibly know that this man's death was the direct result of a malicious act on the part of another, as yet unidentified?

Well, the textbook response would be to say that in my line of work, it would be more appropriate to ask whether I can be at all certain that this man was not murdered. For instance - why did he not flail or struggle on the way down? We must be open to the possibility that he was either unconscious or unliving before he went over the side of the nest. Secondly, he received injuries on impact which we cannot simply ascribe solely to the impact itself (for example, a broken neck, which would also be consistent with strangulation; the investigator must keep his mind open, never drawing conclusions where questions might remain).

That would be the textbook response. In this case, however, I can tell you that I do indeed know that this was a murder, and furthermore know who the murderer is. And I know all this because I solved the crime before it happened.

(Disquiet, hubbub, mutter mutter)

Quite so. And I understand your confusion. I shall reveal my methods in due course. But first, a word about death.

What is death? This is a nonsensical question and you should be ashamed for asking it, even though it was me, because death is nothing. It is a state of nothingness. And how can nothing be anything? Hahaha! Fools. A more instructive line of inquiry would be to ponder, instead, the nature of life. For many have argued - and I am inclined to agree - that death is merely the negation of whatever it is that that is.

But it has meaning beyond this, does it not, for the negation of a life does not simply render void the entire existence of the life in question. Indeed, death has far greater and more troubling implications for the living, those left behind. But I mean no slander against death. It is a beautiful thing, and why should it spare a thought for those of us caught in its wake? Death deals in the infinite. On such a scale, haha-why, we are utterly meaningless! Death need not be aware of any of us until such a time as it comes for us.

And it is coming for us all, whether by accident or by design. Yea, we spend more time dead than we do alive. Is life, therefore, not the aberration? The error which must be corrected? And is death not the stabilising force, the restorer of equilibrium?

Death came for Crod Popples just minutes ago. But I have already concluded, you may remember, that death's visitation was not unsolicited. I promised to explain my method, and I am a man of my word.

My conclusion was already drawn and placed, as an invisible layer, upon this ship a long time ago. Long before any of us came into being - even the ship itself, ancient though it is. And just why do I employ this method? Theatre, gentlemen, I am not ashamed to admit. For the thrill of spectacle, I solve crimes in this manner. Some of my colleagues insist that spectacle has no place in the fight against crime. I disagree quite strongly. Spectacle, theatre, they have a place in all things. For what is the world of men without poetry?

And - it gets better! - my modus operandi is not mere poetry. As you will all no doubt attest in light of today's events, there is also the benefit of efficiency.

Poetry and efficiency. A powerful combination. Too powerful, indeed, for many to wield responsibly. Could one not argue that this very combination of quite disparate forces fuelled the intellectual engines of 20th century fascism? A cold, ugly political philosophy, so brutally prosaic... and yet with a sense of childlike wonder, utterly in thrall to the almost mystical promise of the future. A cult of progress, you could say. Even monsters recognise a need for magic.

But I digress! We have established that Crod Popples was murdered. I have announced that I know who the murderer is. I shall now reveal to you my findings.

Crod Popples, good sirs, was murdered by... Crod Popples!

It is true, your colleague took his own life by diving head-first from his post. If he did not appear to struggle - well, there was the serenity of the man who has chosen his fate (if, that is, any of us could ever really be said to have any influence over such a thing). He knew what I have just told you, that death is not the destroyer that we, in our ignorance and fear, have deemed it to be. Rather, it is the maintainer. The keeper of a grand cosmic order that not one of us could ever comprehend.

I know that he knew these things, because I learnt these things from him, in the minutes before he died. Because I am him. Or at least, a part of him.

Gentlemen, I have not been clear about this up until now, and I hope you will soon understand why that is so, but now is the time for me to confess that my purpose in joining you today has been twofold.

Number one! Solve the mystery of Crod Popples' death. That can now be put to bed.

Number two! I have come also to introduce myself to you, and I do so humbly beg that you will welcome me into the crew of the Sunken Foal, for I am, sirs... the ghost of Crod Popples!

Let's have a party!

(Cheers, merriment, mutter mutter)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lewis Carroll

In this fifth and final part of my thesis, I'd like to focus on my good friend and mentor, the musical comedian Lewis Carroll.

When I first met Lewis in 1970, he was a cheeky, voyeuristic window cleaner, and the wit for which he became famous was apparent even then. With his polished repertoire of bon mots - such as, "oi-oi!" and, "come on, luv, show us your knockers!" - he was always the life and soul of the party.

Lewis loved his work, so it came as something of a blow to him when, in 1977, second-wave feminism finally strangled the life out of the voyeuristic window cleaner market. All of a sudden, young ladies were no longer content to lounge around in see-through nighties as randy gentlemen in jaunty-angled caps leered at them through their bedroom windows. (Some even had extra-large windows installed to accommodate more of them. You could sometimes look up and see as many as seven window cleaners peering into a single bedroom.)

Lewis fell into a deep depression for five days before deciding to enter the world of showbusiness. He struggled at first to get his act off the ground, but after years of toil, he finally broke through to the theatre circuit in the early 1980s, alongside the likes of Dermot O'Leary and Slavoj Žižek, and the two boys from Arab Strap (who, you may remember, were accomplished magicians before stadium rock and roll fame beckoned). It was during this time that Lewis' salt song brought him to the attention of the televisual producers...

Keep the salt flowin', m'boys -
Lovely, brown salt.
It's warm and smooth,
And it keeps me satisfied.


(Pop quiz, hotshot! What do you think 'salt' is a euphemism for in this song? Answer at the bottom of the page...)

Having secured his own televisual show, Lewis started to branch out, styling himself as a Lenny Bruce-esque figure, with shades of Les Dawson. This was, of course, a ratings disaster, and the show was cancelled in 1987 after just eight series. But he was simply ahead of his time. Lewis spoke truths that contemporary audiences just weren't ready to hear...

Music, please. Some smoky midnight anecdote jazz, if you don't mind.

So you're on the train home. It's been a long day, and you're in the grip of peristalsis. Painful spasms wrack your dirty regions. Oh, it's agony. Is that something coming out? Are you touching cloth? No, it's okay - it's just a bit of pressure. And that damp feeling? Just sweat, perhaps a little mucus, but no lines have been crossed just yet. Don't worry. You never shit yourself before, you're not going to start now.

Then you get home, rush to the toilet, drop your pants and sit down. And that's when you see it, staring up at you from the seat of your trousers: a great, stinking, curling mound of your yesterdays. In this moment, a horrible realisation dawns. All those people you passed by, the people on the train, they really were recoiling in horror. The man sat next to you who moved to a vacant seat - it was your faecal stench that drove him away. Those attractive students... they're faxing their friends right now: "omg this dirty old prik on da train shit himself lol!!!!"

And other realisations. All those years. There was no paranoia after all. Everything you feared had been true. Whenever a crowd of people outside a bar burst into laughter at the precise moment you walked by, it wasn't bad timing. You hadn't just entered the scene at the climax of a joke, or the delivery of some unheard witticism. They were laughing at you. At you. They were laughing at you. People see you and they laugh. They just can't help themselves. You're ridiculous.

Strange looks from pretty girls. People who seem nice at first, then suddenly turn hostile halfway through conversations. Shop assistants who were chatting pleasantly to customers in front of you then greet you with contempt as you approach the till. These things were real.

Falling over in a busy street. Chewing gum stuck to your trousers. Saying 'expresso' for three years before realising your mistake. Splashback from a poorly-designed urinal. "Look, he's pissed himself!" No, I haven't! Well okay, yes. Yes, in a sense, I have. But not directly!

Lewis Carroll died a year later, penniless and hopelessly addicted to caffeine, in a branch of Wimpy at Sandbach services. He was survived by his wife, Carol, and a sort of giant maggot called Keru-Gwa.

(Salt Euphemism Quiz: Well done if you spotted the trick in the question! The word 'salt' is really a recursive meta-euphemism, itself representing chocolate pudding, which is, in turn, a euphemism for salt!)

Monday, 10 October 2011

µ-Ziq

I would like, if I may, to present the next part of this thesis loosely in the form of a treatment, for a film, perhaps, or televisual play. But why? I can only answer, why not? Because I felt like it. You might think this answer insufficient. To that, I say, pah! Embrace insufficiency. Make a friend of it. For like it or not, it will be your constant companion through life. You will then look sad and I will tell you to stop being so pathetic, then get up and walk away. Close up on your stupid face as a door slams somewhere out of shot. Fade to me talking about this treatment.

This film or televisual play should be viewed as a question. Far too much emphasis is placed, these days, on answers, particularly in cinema and television. No-one is willing to figure anything out for themselves. Viewers go in with questions, expecting them to have been answered by the time the end credits are rolling. Critics demand resolution. They want narrative sense. Why does this woman resent her own children? What relevance does this detail have to her story? How is she going to deal with this?

But why do we insist that this aspect of her experience be relevant to whatever slither of her existence on which the storyteller has chosen to focus? And why on earth do we expect her to resolve it? Maybe she never will. Perhaps it's just there, and will remain so, for the rest of hers and her children's lives. Perhaps their children will feel the ripples, too. Fate is cold and arbitrary.

Look at scene 2, 4'12" in - she's eating granola. I think we can say, therefore, fairly safely, that this woman likes granola. But why does she like granola? What has happened in her life to bring about this attraction? How will this inform the choices she will make throughout the rest of the film? Is this why she put on her dressing gown at 0'44"?

Do you see now how foolish such questions are? The world does not work this way. Reality does not demand conflict and resolution. It does not insist that, for example, a person's extraordinary skateboarding abilities play any part in their existence beyond the skating arena...

When I skate, I am very good at it. People watch and they say things like, "warm!" and, "carefully executed!" or even, "dickhouse!" (Author's note: these are examples of youth slang)

When I'm not skating, I do things such as online banking, smashing windows, eating granola. I once chased down and accosted a mugger, but I did it on foot. My skateboard has no significant function or meaning in these other areas of my life. Now, leave me alone.

So why do you bring your questions to me? What do you think qualifies me to answer them? I have no interest in doing so, nor do I have any interest in you. I am interested only in those with answers. I want my audience to walk into the cinema auditorium, or turn on their television sets with heads full of answers, and I want to present them with questions. I want to shatter their certainty. As the closing music plays out, I want them to leave their seats and go away, blinking, into a world clouded by ambiguity and confusion. Some of them may be crying. I hope so.

I think this film or televisual play will never end. We will film and release it as the audience watches it, continuously, and our children will take over its production as we all wither and die, and their children after them, and their children, etc. I shall be aiming it at the date movie market. We have a PR firm which promises 360-degree promotion, deals with the likes of McDonald's, a series on the Disney Channel, an album, action figures, branded erotic playwear...

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Certain Ratio

Rediscover The Beast In You

How many of these statements do you agree with?
- "I feel I'm held back by my own conscience"
- "Every time I hurt another human being or beings, I suffer from guilt"
- "My problem is that I'd rather spend my free time with my family than pounding a hot 20-year-old in my city-centre bachelor pad"

For years, you've lived a life of cowardice. You've lived meekly, defensively. "Why should my desires take precedent over others'?" you've asked. This is why you're a loser. It's why you're reading this under a naked lightbulb, eating Spaghetti Hoops in your pants. You're pathetic. I think about you and I chozz my fucking guts up out of the hole in my face.

Well, today, all this can change. Today, you're going to learn how you can Rediscover The Beast In You.

Empathy is an unfortunate by-product of socialization. For millennia, mankind has sought to suppress his most useful instincts. Rage. Jealousy. Violence. Hatred. Why do you feel these things? Because they are a part of you.

I don't want to be kind, I don't want to be compassionate. I want to succeed. I want to conquer. I want to feel a man's life seep away through the cracks between my fingers.

These are the words of a winner. Look behind the mask of civilization. Look behind all the culture and the manners and shit and see the horrible truth. The human is a tame animal, a dichotomy of refinement and raw, bloody instinct. But all along, mankind's development has been driven by one thing, one ugly thing, the same thing that drives everything else: competition, the urge to dominate, to control resources.

Society is an effort to maintain a certain ratio, a perfect balance between the socialized man and the animal within. It seeks to harness and tame those wild instincts - the instinct to kill, fuck, conquer - yet all the same, it uses them for its own ends.

At the dawn of the civilized world, mankind discovered it was easier to acquire resources through agriculture and trade. Kill a man, take his food and his women. You eat the food, the women get old and die. No more food and women.

Why not persuade him to build a farm, produce a theoretically endless supply of food and women, year on year? And instead of killing him, why not persuade him to give them up through other means? By swapping resources less valuable to you? Or, in time, with tokens that could, in turn, be swapped for goods and services of his choosing? Soon enough, other agents arrived to profit from the very movements of these goods and services. Upon this system, societies were founded and laws passed, ostensibly to protect human beings - though ultimately, to protect the commodities and capital that they generated.

But what happens when a man's land becomes fallow? What laws are there to protect him? Well, why would there be any? He is no longer useful. As in any economy, as human life becomes more plentiful, more durable, so it becomes less valuable. Life knows this, and it isn't happy. Now Life, worthless Life, is at war with Commerce, the very arbiter of worth.

So which side do you choose? Do you follow your 'conscience' and join the losers, in their overalls and their rice fields and their semi-detached houses, sitting there hoping everything will turn out alright, all the while chomping away at whatever's left, signing their own death warrants in the process? Or are you going to become a winner, proactive, aggressive, a hunter, hungrier than the hungriest mouth, devouring everything that gets between you and your prize - the complete annihilation of all things - all things in the pursuit of the only thing that matters anymore - the thing that exists beyond the realm of things - the thing that represents things - the symbol of things: the sexy chodrah?

Nature is a constant battle, and you - stupid twat - are on the losing side. So be the best that you can be, place your faith in the dream of constant growth, embrace the virtue of excess, slaughter your family - they pretend that they love you, but they are only keeping you down - invite destruction, fuck everything... and Rediscover The Beast In You.

Our logic is flawless, try not to think too much about it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Seb Rochford

Thank you for choosing to stay at the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel. You've just made the best decision of your life: you've chosen to stay at the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel. Thank you for making the best decision to stay your life at the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel. You've just made the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel choose the decision of your life: to stay.

The Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel has something to offer almost everyone, whether you're a retired sergeant major with a dark secret, a successful super-head with a reputation in your community for turning around failing schools, or a thin, taciturn man known only as Cloyd.

Say Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel to most people and they'll say, "bathrooms!" That's because the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel is famous for its world-class facilities. Under the tepid dribble of your en-suite shower, you'll enjoy a steamy clinch with your former student in almost total privacy. And thanks to our newly-installed, state-of-the-art flushing system, you can lose your entire weekend to a crippling bout of implosive diarrhoea in style.

And that's not all, because now, the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel even has beds. Imagine Cloyd, splayed out on his like a happy spider with an ugly, scowling face growing out of its back. Lost in thought (not to mention comfort!), Cloyd's eyes, skulls sinking into porridge, are locked lifelessly upon a stain on the ceiling. Part of the back of his head is missing, no-one knows why. A battered, brown-stained briefcase at the foot of the bed. Cloyd is breathing deep and slow, deep and slow, "deep and slow... deep... and slow..." (soft pornography on the TV - press Service 2 on your handset).

Let's leave Cloyd now. Best to leave him alone, or who knows what he'll do? Here he comes once a month like a clockwork, but we know very little about him. Sgt Maj Pesco in 34 believes Cloyd to be some sort of healthcare professional - we shall do nothing to encourage such scurrillous rumour-mongering! However, we can tell you that he keeps a battered bicycle chained up in the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel's spacious car park. The bike too damaged to ride, he simply travels on foot, carrying the thing on his back wherever he goes. Sgt Maj Pesco (says he came here to rekindle a memory, not sure what, but something that happened between these walls, long ago, foggy apparition haunting his dreams - you were last here in 1983, weren't you, Sergeant Major, shortly after your Falklands tour?) once followed him to the edge of Stabwater until he felt compelled to stop and turn back. He can't say why, only that he was overcome by a thick, pervasive sense of evil. He wept. Dear friends, he wept. Dreadful state he was in when he returned, wet and covered in filth, well, we gave him a blanket and a hot mug of coffee - Irish it up, Jean, he could use it - and this is exactly the sort of hospitality you can expect at the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel, it's not just for the Sergeant Major, nothing special about him, apart from all the... things he keeps saying since the Stabwater incident (strange things... sometimes in a tongue that I'm convinced is not of this world). So why not kick back your feet, sink into luxury, wave goodbye to your mass and say "hello!" to welcomeness at the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead Hohotel?

You deserve it.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Octave Mirbeau

Ask Dr Stevert

From his tastefully appointed office, Dr Stevert Crosb thumbs through your queries on matters of health and well-being. But, good Lord, what's this? Amongst the sharp, pristine whiteness of the pile, one grimy, dog-eared envelope draws the eye towards it, like a wanking tramp in a boys' choir. Fingerprints in chain oil and blood. A memory, hitherto buried, is stirred. Realising its moment has come, it jostles for attention at the front of Dr Stevert's mind: a childhood injury, a departed pet, a weekend in Rhyl forever tainted with regret, all pushed aside for... There! I recognise those thatched roofs and the looming spire at their centre. The road approaching the village of Stabwater. A glorious summer afternoon. I'm in my car, smoking a joint, Octave Mirbeau on the stereo. No-one in the passenger seat. So why am I not wearing trousers?

A yell. A thump. Clatter clatter. Something bounces off my windscreen, disappearing over the roof of my car. A mangled bicycle in the hedgerow takes on a strangely organic form, like a daddy longlegs splayed abstract and lifeless on a windowsill. Foot down, Stevert. Keep driving...


Dr Stevert
My ex and I were together for five years, and planning to get engaged. During the final year of our relationship, he and my best friend started to become very close. Looking back now, the signs were obvious, but still I was shocked the day they sat me down and announced they had been having an affair and that they would have no further need of me. A year on, the feelings are still raw. Will I ever be capable of forming a relationship again after being betrayed so casually by the two people I trusted most in the world?

Dr Stevert says...
Hahaha! Oh, how delicious! My dear little girl, you really must disburden yourself of your childish notions of what's right and what's just with regard to affairs of the heart. The unsettling truth is that we're all lost, frightened and confused, mysteries to ourselves, searching desperately for warm bodies to cling to, without any real idea of what it is that we actually want from them. It's a messy process of trial and error, and that means blood will be spilled, tears wept, vomit heaved up outside late-night takeaways and semen spattered over items of clothing left behind. But attachment to an individual is a type of bondage, my darling. You must free yourself of love's shackles, embrace uncertainty and fear, go out there with your blades flailing wildly and carve up any unfortunate who crosses your path, without remorse, without reflection. Only by loosing your ghouls upon the inner worlds of others will you begin to understand the mentality of those who loosed theirs upon yours.


Dr Stevert
My body disgusts me. I feel, see, smell filth on me at all times of every day, no matter how much I wash (I usually have about five showers a day, each lasting around 20 minutes, scrubbing until I'm red all over and peppered with tiny spots of a deeper red that gather into crimson beads and stain the towel with which I dry myself, a process which takes a further 15 minutes). I haven't left my house in a year, since my self-consciousness became so acute that I simply couldn't stand to be around other people. I'm constantly aware of every orifice, I can feel sweat and oily discharge oozing out of every pore, bacteria crawling on my skin - can picture, in my mind's eye, their favourite spots in microscopic detail, bubbling swarms of beetle-like creatures, weaving around and climbing over each other, rolling balls of grease and pus through the canyons of my epidermis. The dirt just won't come off. I see myself as a deep, infected wound in the neck of the earth, the source of all disease, germs in their millions crawling from my hot, angry gape. I feel utterly revolting. I'm absolutely at my wits' end! Please help in any way you can.

Dr Stevert says...
But of course you're revolting! You're a heap of organic matter, a biological machine. You're a laboratory of biochemical processes. An ecosystem - things are hatching and crawling and living and fighting and fucking and dying all over your body all the time. You're a bag of foul-smelling gases and juices. You're a study in decay. Nature is disgusting, my friend! And you
are nature. Not merely an observer, but very much a part of it, part of a wider process, a process of birth, death, decomposition, rebirth... You will die and you will rot and from your stinking, bubbling essence life will spring anew. Elton John did a song about it. In a sense, you are earth's infected wound. We all are. And that is why you must pull yourself together this instant, young man, look into my eyes, deep into my eyes - you don't mind me holding your hands do you? - and listen very carefully as I say these words: "we are all dirty little fuckpigs." Enjoy it! Pick your teeth! Smell your own farts! Masturbate in the street! This is what happens! This is nature in all its hideous glory! It is a beautiful thing that I do! But did the judge accept that argument? Did he fuck. Fortunately, I didn't lose my job because I'm not a proper doctor.

Dr Stevert
I have a growth on my rectum, but I'm too embarrassed to go to a proper doctor about it. I've enclosed a photo. Does it look like something I should be concerned about?

Dr Stevert says...
Oh, for Christ's sake... You people plague me with your endless questions! "Dr Stevert, what's this? Dr Stevert, how do I prevent that from happening? Dr Stevert, can you remember where you were at around 2pm on June 26?" And always I oblige, like a cooing nanny, making reassuring noises and softly singing you to sleep in my arms. But what about Dr Stevert? Does Dr Stevert not sometimes need a strong pair of arms in which to collapse, convulsing with sobs? And where are these arms for Dr Stevert? Who's looking out for Dr Stevert?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cannibal Ox

One of three fates will befall a high-profile restaurant within a year of opening: humiliating failure; naked, roaring triumph; or demolition at the hands of the marauding legion of demons that descends upon London each April. One of those escaping destruction this year was ) 1su - pronounced 'Yaqub's Marine Challenge', and named after Yaqub Fürschranz, former world champion arm-wrestler and the human face of the restaurant (all other front of house staff have had theirs removed surgically, but for the eyes). Now ) 1su hopes to go into its second year a bona-fide success story. Much fawning press and excited chatter so far suggests that it will, and so I decided to investigate.

) 1su doesn't exist in the physical realm (an irritating trend which has gripped the London scene of late), and can only be reached by performing a blood sacrifice in the doorway of an abandoned shop. But its inaccessibility seems to have done ) 1su no harm at all: this wet midweek night saw the house full.

Before being allowed to take its table, each party must nominate one of its number to accept the eponymous Yaqub's challenge: namely, swallowing a live octopus whole. One of my guests for the evening gamely rose to the occasion and so we were permitted to eat, minus our brave companion, who was rushed to hospital after facilitating our dining experience (to the family of AA Gill, I offer this small crumb of comfort: he died doing what he loved best).

) 1su's décor keeps up the rather tiresome metaphysical theme, but with unexpected benefits: no two tables occupy the same point in space-time, so whilst one has a sort of dim awareness of one's fellow diners, they are neither seen nor heard. Instead, we dined in a peaceful bubble of heavenly whiteness, which provided an interesting and jarring counterpoint to the horrors of the food (indeed, whatever one may think of ) 1su's slavish devotion to the whims of fashion, it's hard not to be impressed by its microscopic attention to detail).

And so to the food. The starters were uneven. Golden, shining crab of the moon was fresh and cooked to perfection, its shell simply falling off at the slightest touch and melting delectably on the tongue. However, it comes with a cloying human jam which does the dish no favours, though it is mercifully smeared on the side and therefore, at least, optional. Juices of cannibal ox with diseased cabbage fared better, the bitterness of the cabbage mingling beautifully with the rich, nauseating ox juice, a revolting cacophony of flavours. Truly remarkable. Prawn cocktail was also good.

Amongst the mains, an old favourite. I'd heard much of ) 1su's interesting take on serge gainsbourg, and was not disappointed. The innovation here is the bold substitution of angel's bowel for the unknowable meat, a modish twist on the traditional which I had previously ridiculed. But I was wrong to do so. Every spoonful burns the nostrils with its acrid fumes and sets the gut, quite literally, on fire. Lucky, then, that it comes with a side of asbestos to smother the flames. Of the other mains, pan-seared nightmare of teenage sports champion precipitated a brief episode of violence, but was as plump and disturbing as any I've come across, whilst spaghetti bolognese was very nice.

For dessert, one of my more adventurous companions chose to have his own penis. Dipped in honey and presented otherwise raw and unwashed, this dish really is for the curious only, but rewarding nevertheless. The countless variables of size, firmness and cleanliness make each serving a thrilling trip into the unknown, and to join a friend in eating one of his own organs - and such a private, dirty, shameful organ - adds a heightened, almost hysterical emotional element to the experience. By the time we'd finished, my guests and I had attained a level of intimacy that was completely alien to all of us. We had come much closer to one another. Perhaps too close. We left without speaking or touching the rest of the desserts - convulsions of chocolate sadness, and lime jelly - and I have not heard from either of them since we wordlessly parted company, although I've been told that one has relapsed into heroin addiction. I am very concerned about him. I just want to touch his face.

) 1su, W1
Tel: x and hang up. Callback will come when you least want it
The price of this meal incl. drinks was £319 + gratuity

Monday, 5 September 2011

Herbie Hancock

Infomercial


In these uncertain times, you need to be lean, agile and innovative, like a shaven, oiled wolf. You need an intelligent economic solution that can keep up with the constant twisting and turning of this crazy, ever-changing world. You need something that combines the security of a solid industrial economy with the weightlessness of the money markets. But does such a thing exist? Get ready to shit!

Hi. I'm Herbie Hancock, and I'm here today to tell you about an exciting new product from Moriah Industries.

If you're responsible for a flagging former superpower or upcoming economy - or even if you're just a psychopathic gangster with your bloody hands wrapped around part of a failed state - then the LaborSaver 3000™ is the answer to most of your prayers.

A traditional economy depends on a thriving business sector and a confident market. But when just one facet of this fragile infrastructure stops working, the whole thing grinds to a near-halt: the markets are paralyzed, people stop spending, nothing gets produced. So how do you break the cycle?

With the LaborSaver 3000™, you can free yourself from this self-destructive, co-dependent relationship forever. The LaborSaver 3000™ lets you capitalize on your people's blood, sweat and tears directly, putting your GDP right back up to pre-2008 levels, without the need for a middleman. You can literally 'save' your workers' labor and use it any way you like. Perhaps you need energy to automate your manufacturing processes. Maybe you want to sell your labor abroad without losing valuable tax dollars. Or perhaps you simply want to bank it for later.

The LaborSaver 3000™ lets you do all of this. But how does it work? Allow me to demonstrate...

This guy here is Brandon, or Steve, or 49357 or something, I don't know. He was made redundant late last year, and since then, he's been pretty much useless. Right now, he's getting fat off the free cat food your state is giving out and he hasn't done a damn thing in return. Have you, little buddy?

No.

Hahaha. That's my piece of shit buddy, right there.

But with the LaborSaver 3000™, Jim or Yentl or [citizen_deleted] or whatever can earn his keep in minutes. That's great for everybody. Let's see how we achieve this. Step into the LaborSaver 3000™, my friend, and we'll fire this thing up.

Now, I know what you're thinking out there. Is this process harmful to the subject? Don't worry - Moriah Industries wants to reassure you that, unlike previous models, the LaborSaver 3000™ is not designed to cause actual physical harm to the subject, and is completely safe to use 93% of the time. I like those odds. Don't you?

So I think the LaborSaver 3000™ has done its thing now. Come on out of there, kid, and tell us all how you feel.

... i feel nothing... nothing at all...

There, you see? It's all good. Alp, Grosburn - whatever he's called - is physically intact and in no pain or obvious distress. And let's take a look at the Labormeter™ here... See, that's seven hours' labor right there on the clock. And you can do this as many times as you like, over and over and over. It don't matter. 'Cause at the end of the day... it's all just meat, right?

The LaborSaver 3000™ - It's All Just Meat.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Finn Peters

He shuts hard the book of Finn Peters and says: "well, shit. That was one damn fine bedtime story, huh, kids? Who the hell figured motherfucker would turn out to be the End Of All Things? And your Uncle got plenty more where that came from, no shit. But not tonight. Right now you got to get those peachy little asses up to bed.

"Sweet dreams now. And I mean that. Real important: happy thoughts, kids. All it takes is one wrong move up there in your noggin and that's it, you're fucked. That door's open, baby, ain't no closing it again.

"Keep your gardens green, your pathways clean. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. See this old head of mine? Full of monsters, kids. Phantoms, demons and shadows of demons - you're never fully rid of those bastards. The goddam screeching. And all because I let my brains go once in a while.

"Well, it's too late for your old Uncle. I'm going to the grave with horror on my face, little dudes, heh heh. But you ain't got to do that. All you got to do is remember: keep a smile in your heart and close your ears to ugly truths. They just ain't worth the hassle. Now git!"

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hanif Kureishi

CHARTBACK
The Top 10 singles of Pop on this day in 1991!


10 Bless Miberven ... Fuck You, I'm Massive

09 Churm ... Weeing Up The Sun

08 Aleksandr Lazarević ... I'm In The Mood For Meat

07 Potsy Out-Tray ... Mm Tinkle, Slippery Flowerhorses

06 Monterfingers ... In You Get

05 Breakfast Welt ... Elvis' Shed Games

04 The Clooming ... Yarf (Kenny Dickhouse Club Mix)

03 Solders Grobag ... Chabo! Chabo! Chabo!

02 Blaat Collective ... Stab It Up Yomtime, Pisschild, Stab It Up, Go On There

01 Chod Parade ... His Slimy Things, Parts 3 & 7

And on this day in 1991, the Number 00 Pop disc was...

00 Hanif Kureishi ... She Lays Her Hand Gently On My Stomach And, Glowing, It Passes Through My Skin And Guts, Schlupping On Out Through My Back To Grab And Squeeze The Dirty Face Of A Small Boy Standing Behind Me (He Will Become Our Baby)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Ultrafoetus

Fourth wall down.

Friends of Scurferens (I think I'm going to call you Scurfuriends) might like to know that I've done released a new EP, called Will This Do, and it's free to download from Valentine Records.

Fourth wall up.

Kool & The Gang

Ah, Malcolm... I'm afraid you've opened the wrong box there. You were looking for Kool & The Gang. Kool & The Gang were, in fact... in box 12.

You opened box 15, which I'm afraid contains mankind's 100 ungodliest, most perverse desires, desires to change your world forever, desires to curse your soul, desires of which none of us had ever conceived... until now. Which is great luck for some of us, but hard luck for you, Malcolm. I'm sorry to say you missed out on the big money tonight.

But you won't be going home empty-handed. Sure, you've still got your sexual holiday in Cherbourg, and £42 to spend on whatever you like. Hey, you'll come back and play again some time, won't you? Fantastic. Thanks for playing Brainial Vorpungh, Malcolm, you've been a great contestant.

OK fellas, take him away and have him invalidated.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bret Easton Ellis

Cheap Grimy Phone Sex - Unfurl And Milk Yourself Over Our Hot Pre-Recorded Stories For Just 10p/min!


Hot teen couple with massive relationship imbalance. Listen to him weep after failing to satisfy her!
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Old man channels rage at own diminishing masculinity into desire to pound exotic student arse.
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Your cold, clammy touch makes my skin shriek.
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Boyfriend watches me fuck Bret Easton Ellis. But before long, his eyes, tearing slightly, are fixed elsewhere, gazing into the middle distance, through the wall, as if he's trying to project himself from this cold, shabby room shrouded in the oppressive twilight of a pale midwinter sun filtered through the half-shut blinds. Bret doesn't seem that into it, either. Maybe we weren't ready for this...
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FETISH: I've been in the bushes, flapping my meat to a pathetic lardy dribble like a dirty little boy. Hear me punch myself repeatedly in the face as the initial rush of endorphins subsides, and self-loathing and the scorpion sting of shame take over. Why do I keep doing this?
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Our sex was hot and wild! Now it's joyless and mechanical. Where once was a giddy, hedonistic swirl of longing and unfettered lust, now there is nothing more than muted friction as his cock, never fully erect, fumbles aimlessly inside my numbing pussy like the soft, stubby finger of a fat clown...
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I'm leaving you.
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Monday, 1 August 2011

Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff's pro fishing tips.

There's an old Georgian saying: it is better to have piss up your arse than shit on your cock. This is why I always use live bait out there in the fishing arena, particularly in contest situations. It's more intelligent than artificial bait, and you don't have to worry about it malfunctioning.

Fish like a challenge, but are also scared of anything bigger than them, so you need to pick your bait carefully. Too small and the larger fish won't bother. Too big and you'll clear the river. Don't be an idiot, get to know the waters you're going to fish in. What are you, an amateur?

Put the bait right on to the hook. You need to make absolutely certain that it's secure, because if it falls off, it's useless. There needs to be contact between you and the fish in order for you to reel it in, and this is what the rod provides. But the bait has to be connected to the rod for the fish to be connected to you. You want a solid, unbroken line of objects between your hands and the mouth of the fish, and you want complete control over those objects. They should all be your own objects. Natural features of the environment won't do, unless they're fish and they're at the opposite end to you.

Look, basically, the way it works is: there's you, then there's the rod, and the rod has the line on it, and the hook is on the end of the line and the bait is on the hook, and the bait and the hook go in the water. Then the fish swims up and tries to eat the bait. Now, what happens there is, you start spinning the wheel next to the handle on your rod (I can't remember whether it's clockwise or anti-clockwise), and what that does is, it starts to pull the fish towards you. I don't really understand how it works, it's something to do with physics, but that's how you get the fish.

So if the bait isn't attached to the hook, then the fish just eats it and swims away. Well, what's the point of that? Look, it's gone. Bloody waste of good bait, that. I expect you're pleased with yourself. Eh?

Go on, fuck off, I'm sick of the sight of you.

Go on with you.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Serge Gainsbourg

Serge gainsbourg is the quintessential summer dish and versatile with it - it's perfect for a lazy day by an urban canal or even just a quick, effortless supper at home. And with the addition of stew, it makes a great family meal. Serves 11.

60ml olive oil, peeled
9 cold onions, mashed and strained
1 garlic
5 tblspn wetstain
13 delicious iced fruits
8lbs unknowable meat
1 rubber narset, liquidised
Balls, grated


Finely chop the olive oil and place it in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat for 23 minutes. Add the onions and garlic.

Combine the wetstain and iced fruits in a red bowl just big enough to wear comfortably on your head. The wetstain will have a corrosive effect on the fruits, producing a frothy, grey, viscous liquid. Pour this into the pan then add the rubber narset and balls to the mix and stir for 37 minutes. Concentrate on the pan and ignore any visions induced by the fumes. They will try to confront you with some unpalatable truths. These are only dangerous if you acknowledge them. Remain calm, blinkered and ignorant.

This next step is a bit tricky, but don't be afraid, I'll take care of you. Turn off the heat, put on some suitable music (I usually go for Stockhausen), turn the lights down low, light a few candles, undress and commence to wrestling with the meat (it helps to lubricate yourself first). Once the meat is subdued, hump the lot into the pan, turn the heat back on and reset ambience. Stir roughly until midnight.

Now say the following: "I am worthwhile. My father was wrong. I have made a good meal. Cooking is my function. The kitchen is my place." Repeat until no longer screaming.

Induce vomiting (don't worry too much if any gets in the food) and serve on plates.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Janelle Monáe

Congratulations on purchasing this fabulous bottle of Janelle Monáe radionoidal coptic acid.

Please read this leaflet carefully before applicating the product.

1. What is Janelle Monáe and what is it for?

When you do a sneeze, germs come out. Germs are tiny, microscopic people, right nuisances, and they do things like gathering in large numbers, making a lot of noise at unsociable hours and producing enormous, penis-like growths on exposed parts of the body.

Janelle Monáe uses soft, cooing noises to lure them towards water, heavy traffic, etc.

2. Before applicating Janelle Monáe
Encertain you accept responsibility for adverse effects arising from the use of this product, including but not limited to:
  • Malady
  • Unhappiness
  • Death
  • Mishap
  • Unemployment
  • Excessive happiness
... and any combination of the above or others not mentioned.

Do not perform any actions within 72 hours of applicating Janelle Monáe.

3. How to applicate Janelle Monáe
Dry the area with kitchen roll and rest thoroughly until refreshed. On arisal, applicate the product to the desired area, taking care not to put it in the wrong place. Do not attempt to communicate with Janelle Monáe.

If you get Janelle Monáe somewhere you should not have done, consult a priest straight away.

If you look at or speak to Janelle Monáe, avert the eyes immediately and apologise. Reattempt applicatement when allowed. Janelle Monáe may stay angry at you for up to 6 weeks (or 1 year if you did it on purpose).

If Janelle Monáe effects damage to property, for your own safety, join in.

If Janelle Monáe attacks you, remain brave, switch off lights and sing the Mercy Incantation:

Forgive me for existing.
I did not mean to -
It was thrust upon me.
It was no slight on you.

Dearly do we pay for life.
It is a crown of thorns.
So please take comfort from this fact:
I'd rather not have been born.


Take care now.

Monday, 11 July 2011

David Lynch

The David Lynch Holiday Prank

1. Purchase a set of blank postcards featuring a destination of your choice. This will be your holiday destination. Make sure the country still exists!

2. Purchase a tanning bed.

3. Using the internet, find and befriend a reliable contact currently living in your chosen holiday destination. Write out the postcards to a number of friends, put them in an envelope and send them to your contact with strict instructions to post them back to your friends on arrival. Be sure to include enough money for postage.

4. Stock up on plenty of food, preferably nonperishable, such as dried and tinned food. Don't forget toilet paper! You won't be able to get out to the shop for a while!

5. Tell your friends that you're going away for two weeks. See the envy in their faces! Relish it.

6. Now your holiday begins! Lock the front door, close the curtains and remember not to switch any lights on for the next two weeks. If you must watch TV or listen to music, use headphones, and turn that TV off before sunset!

7. Bored? Don't worry, you'll have some tasks to help pass the time. Use your tanning bed for 20 minutes each day (remember - only during daylight hours!), while the rest of your time can be spent Photoshopping yourself into pictures of your chosen destination sourced from Google Images or similar. When you get bored of that, why not try masturbation?

8. When your holiday's over, put the pictures on Facebook and arrange to meet your friends before that tan fades! Make a trip to your nearest airport for duty-free gifts (you'll need to purchase a ticket to get into the departure lounge).

Your stupid friends will go as fools to their graves!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Arthur Schopenhauer

The Comedians' Comedians: The Kids In The Hall share their favourite Arthur Schopenhauer routines

"Hey, I knew a guy once who could talk upside-down. Now, I know what you're all thinking, you're thinking, OK, Art knows a guy who can talk while standing on his head, or hanging from the ceiling or whatever. Big deal, right? But no, what I'm tellin' you is: I know a guy who can talk upside-down. Like, the words come out of his mouth upside-down. That's some shit, huh?"

"Why have women always gotta do that thing? You know, that thing with their feet? Like, round and round and round and then a little shuffle, right? You know what I'm talkin' about, fellas!"

"When I was a kid, my dad set fire to my stamp collection for no reason."

"OK, so I go into this diner, right? And I sit down and I order a cheese & egg crosby with a part-pint of chilled syrup, carbonated. The waitress has that kind of sad face poor girls always have. You know, that beaten look that says they seen too much and expect too little. Anyway, then this guy comes up to my table and asks me if I got a quarter for the phone. So I pick up my knife, right, and I'm like, hack! hack! hack! in his face, stab his face, stab one! Stab two, three, four! Stab six! Stab seven, eight! Fifteen! Ninety-seven! Ninety-seven times I'm stabbing that fuck. I didn't really, though, I was just imagining it, but for a minute there I felt like that knife was a dick."

"Hey, what's the deal with that iPhone? Why doesn't someone invent, like, a fuckin' earPhone or, I dunno, a mouthPhone?" (eyePhone)

"Hey, did I ever tell you guys I used to work for one of them - whaddya call 'em? - paint companies? And I invented one, I invented a color. It was mainly black, with a kinda midnight blue tint to it. I called it 'Crying In The Dark'. But they didn't use it, said it was too depressing. I said, 'how can paint be depressing? Some guy likes a color, he paints his living-room with it, he's happy.' But they wouldn't buy it. I mean, paint can't be depressing, ferchrissakes, it's just... fuckin'... paint."

"I hate this fuckin' piece-a-shit world. I really do."

"Oh, I see a bunch of you are leaving. This is what always happens. Yeah, sooner or later, everyone walks out on old Art, don't think I haven't noticed. Jesus, I'm just tryna fuckin' communicate, you know?"

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday, 17 June 2011

Charles Bukowski

Focus On Charles Bukowski

Jackie Collins
Hanks Bukowski was unusual in the world of literature, he was unusual in that he never actually wrote anything. But he talked about writing, about all the stories and the poems and the books that he was going to write, talked about them constantly, so much that people just started believing in them. Then the stories and the poems and the books started appearing, nobody knows how. Maybe people believed in them so strongly that they felt compelled to write them for him and get them published, and the belief was so powerful that everyone involved immediately forgot that they were and assumed he'd put those things there. Maybe he actually did write them. I don't know. I can't remember. That whole period is a blur.

It was in 1971 that hard-drinking celebrity postman Charles "Hanks" Bukowski decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. However, after weeks of struggle, the dream was still no closer to reality, so he joined the New York Dolls instead, giving them their only hit - a cover of Tommy Steele's Flash, Bang, Whallop!, which they recorded at his repeated insistence.

Alan Titchmarsh
Although he was the sole architect of that brief flirtation with success, Hanks never quite fit in with the Dolls. No-one really knows anymore how he came to be in the band, actually. One thing's for sure, though: with him around, the New York Dolls never ate a dull lunch. Hanks had a peculiar gift for making sandwiches. His creativity and inventiveness were astounding. It was hard to tell exactly what went into them, the combinations of ingredients were so surprising. And yet they complemented each other beautifully. Real works of art. Fucking amazing sandwiches.

By 1975, the Dolls were over. However, Bukowski drew on his experiences with the band for his semi-autobiographical debut novel, Music Industry (1978), which detailed the gritty, blue-collar rock 'n' roll adventures of his fictional alter-ago, Chuck Hankowski. It was an immediate bestseller, and was followed by two sequels of sorts in what was to become known as the 'trilogy': Factato (1981) and Bees (1985).

David Hyde Pierce
Bees were Hanks' real passion. Man, he loved bees. And that was the first thing he did, when the money from the writing started coming in, he got himself a big old apiary. He used to take those bees out - "release the bees!" he'd yell, with this huge grin, this look of pure, innocent joy. His face would be so soft and beautiful. And he'd take them for walks, take them around town while he conducted his business. Wore them as a beard. That was his party piece. "Hey, Dave, d'you like m'beard?" "Oh, Jesus, Hanks..." And they were so angry, the angriest bees I'd ever met. Real assholes. They used to sting him, sting him up real bad. I hated them for that. Hanks doted on those asshole bees. He wouldn't stand for that kind of behaviour from a human, but he tolerated it from his bees. He loved them that much - knew every one of them by name. And that was how they repaid him.

Nevertheless, beekeeping gave the notoriously self-destructive Bukowski's life a sense of meaning he had never known before. By 1987, he'd given up drinking, and for the next decade devoted himself to his new vocation. Then the internet came along.

Bukowski first became involved with the internet as a means to connect with other amateur beekeepers. But it wasn't long before this seductive new technology began to appeal to his worst instincts. Bukowski soon took to sitting up all night in his underwear, lurking in AOL chatrooms... and also, inevitably, drinking.

The bees were neglected. But without their stabilising influence, and chained to his computer, Bukowski's literary mojo returned. He produced a new novel, his last, and a work which many consider to be his finest.

Extract: Internets, 1997
The Internet is society's toilet. A place where those who can't cut it in the real world can go and float around with all the other shits. But the rules are the same as the real world's. If you don't look like them, talk like them, smell like them or taste like them, you're a misfit. Grab your coat and leave, they don't want to know you. I never fit in the real world or the Internet. But I'd hang around in the bar areas of the chatrooms when I was broke.
BigBallsChuck20 gets himself a whisky ;)
user71853 hey chuck i think u shuld take it easy w/that stuff
SoundgardenRule (Admin) yeh, chuck. time 2 call it a nite huh? u've had enuff, buddy
BigBallsChuck20 fuk u, i'll tell u when i'v ehad enough, n00b
SoundgardenRule (Admin) alrite, chuck - i've warned u b4. ur barred
>=(
BigBallsChuck20 left the room

But in 1998, disaster struck. Arguing with his wife one hot summer night, Bukowski, drunk and raging, flung his computer through the open kitchen window. Landing among his cherished bees, the computer immediately caught fire in the LA heat. The entire apiary was destroyed.

Duff McKagan
Hanks was a broken man after that. The only healthy passion he ever had, killed by the poison that had blighted so much of his existence. Crestfallen, he retired silently to his bed that night, and that was where he stayed for the last six weeks of his life. In the final days, we gathered by his bedside and took it in turns to remind him of everything he ever did wrong. He liked that. It reinforced his self-image. As the great man himself once wrote: "No man should die / A stranger to himself."

Friday, 10 June 2011

Company Flow

(Company Flow/50mg) First time - Intense

I had been hearing about company flow for a while so I decided to order some from a reputable online supplier of 'research chemicals' :)

As usual, ate a light meal at 4pm, then ingested nothing else besides water and cigarettes for the rest of the night.

21:00 - Alone in the flat, put on some trippy tunes, chop out a line on my coffee table and settle back into the sofa. After a few minutes start to feel a noticeable glow. Mild dissociative effects 20 minutes later. Just over 30 minutes in, external world becomes very distant.

22:00 - Everything has broken down into pixels, the divisions between objects no longer discernible, significant or even real. The pixels are lilac-grey in colour, and vibrate at low frequency. I hear voices with great clarity, as if speaking into my ear. They say things like:
- "all is one - your secrets are ours now"
- "everything you think you are, you are not"
- "you are ridiculous"
- "you think what you do is OK, but it's not OK"
- "did you remember to put the bin out?"
- "don't bother coming back"

23:00 - I've started to come back. Realise I'm in my bedroom, with no memory of how I got there. Wearing only a nappy. Look at my wall-clock - the numbers now go up to 49. I pick up my notepad and write the following:
"I pick up my notepad and write the following:
""I pick up my notepad and write the following:
"""I pick up my notepad and write the following:
""""I pick up my notepad and write the following:
"""""I pick up my notepad and write the following:
""""""I stop writing.""""""
I stop writing. I just about manage to prepare another line, and start going back under almost immediately. Possibly made a mistake. Everything breaks down again into pixels.

01:00 - Rain?... white noise?... Room shifts 45 degrees right... shifts again 12 degrees upwards... The sound of a drum... Ghosts... A rooster explodes... Bedroom... mirror curls up like melting plastic... Man shouts: "goodbye to these!", beats himself in the balls... Mum voice: "oh, I'm very disappointed in you"... Boss voice: "I've heard all about your behaviour, and I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go"... Burning works of a once-respected academic... crowds around the bonfire... man in the flames... "now wander the hinterlands forever..."

02:00 - The pixels are slowly blurring, changing colour, melting back into discernible shapes, then more detailed objects. I am now wearing the formal evening dress of a NASA pilot circa 1968. The world still fizzes quite violently.

03:00 - Some semblance of reality has returned. I am completely naked, and realise with some alarm that I am sitting on my parents' sofa. I can hear wailing somewhere in the room, and a man I think is my dad is bellowing into my face: "look what you're doing to your mother, you little turd!" He keeps asking me questions. I respond with straightforward answers, but he just tuts and mutters: "bloody gibberish." He leaves the room, saying: "I'm doing something I should've done a long time ago, lad." I drift off into a haze, day-glo mist and neon swirls. Out of the fog appear fantastical creatures... long legs, bright colours, shifting patterns, huge, swivelling eyes... One of them is carrying what looks like a drill. Something jerks my head forward. I hear my dad's voice: "blood come out, muck come out." I try to move, but can't. A sudden, searing, white flash of pain concentrates all of my being into a single point in the back of my head. "Blood come out, muck come out. Sit still, lad."

Verdict
Hello.

What do you think about what you've just seen? How did it make you feel? Think about the different characters. Was Dad right to do what he did? Why do you think he did it? Think about the nightmare of drugs. Would you take drugs? Would you take drugs with me? I'd look after you.

Get into groups and talk about what you've seen today. Why not make up some characters and a story of your own? Then maybe you could take some drugs. And then come and see me. OK?

Sponsored by the Drugs Promotionatory Council of England

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Residents

June 3, 2011


To the Occupants of Number 44 Davnet End,


It has been brought to my attention that your house is on fire.

In line with paragraph (a) of subsection 48 of the Residents' Charter, I am obliged to remind you that your friends and neighbours take great pride in the community that we have built here and will regard with concern any modifications which may adversely affect property prices or attract undesirables. Failure to comply with any request from the Residents' Association will lead to action being taken against you and your family.

You are new here, we realise that you may not yet be familiar with the Charter and for this reason we do allow newcomers a grace period of up to 6 weeks in which to properly integrate. This letter is, of course, a formality. I am quite sure that the fire is due merely to an oversight on your part and that you fully intend to remedy the situation at the earliest available opportunity.

On a lighter note, I must tell you that your daughter is a delightful girl. She looks young, but she smells mature.

I look forward to your house not being on fire.


Yours faithfully,

Dr. Stevert Crosb
Chair, Moonlight Barrows Residents' Association

Friday, 27 May 2011

Hubert Selby Jr

Hubert Selby Jr, you may recall, caused a stir back in 1997 when he guest-wrote a special episode of the long-running BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine. The episode - Just One Fix, Cleggy - dealt with much weightier themes than viewers were used to, as Compo grappled with a debilitating addiction to heroin. With the central trio's usual madcap escapades suspended, we instead follow Compo as he hustles his way through a single, terrifying night amongst the dregs of Holmfirth's seedy underbelly.

And so familiar to us is this character that we share the keen sense of loss, helplessness and sheer bewilderment felt by Clegg and Foggy as they trail their companion on his odyssey of self-destruction, watching from the shadows as he's attacked by a local pimp after trying to turn tricks at the betting shop, getting into a vicious fight with another unfortunate over a 20p coin they've seen in a pool of vomit, masturbating in a bus shelter... It's difficult, demanding viewing - but well worth enduring, not least for its valuable glimpse of the emotional fallout of living with drug addiction.

The final, harrowing scene - in which a tearful, desperate Clegg, completely at his wits' end and at a loss for anything else to do, tries to drown his seemingly lost lifelong friend in a filthy toilet bowl, until Foggy arrives and intervenes at the crucial moment, then cradles the sobbing Clegg in his arms as the credits roll - left an indelible mark upon the memories of all who saw it.