Monday, 26 September 2011

Seb Rochford

Thank you for choosing the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead. We hope you'll soon come to terms with your choice.

The Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead 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 to most people and they'll say, "bathrooms!" That's because the Seb Rochford Inn, Blankhead 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 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, bald pates of middle-aged men drowned in porridge, are locked dispassionately 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..

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'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 sense of dread. 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, 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?

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? A grimy, dog-eared envelope sits like a turd in the middle of his in-tray, smeared in blood and what looks and smells like oil, bordered by fingerprints. A memory, hitherto buried, is stirred. Realising its moment has come, having waited so long, 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 alone in my Alfa Romeo, smoking a joint, Octave Mirbeau on the stereo. Wait, 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 looks strangely animal, agonized, like a crane fly splayed abstract and lifeless on a windowsill. Foot down, Stevert. Keep driving...

Dr Stevert
My ex and I were together for five years, and had talked about marriage. 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 explained 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 three or four 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). My self-consciousness is all-consuming and I haven't left my house in over a year. I'm constantly aware of every orifice, I can feel sweat and an 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 breach. 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? No, he did not. Fortunately, I had no licence to lose 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 pair of strong arms in which to collapse, convulsing with sobs? And where are such arms for Dr Stevert? Who's looking out for Dr Stevert? Your photo is instructive, but in order to advise you properly I'll need you to send in a full body picture for context. Or even better, call round in person so I can take my own.

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 their eyes, their blank 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 recent trend among hip London eateries), 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 taking 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 sadly rushed to hospital having gamely facilitated 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 certain benefits: for example, 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. The peaceful bubble of oblivion in which one dines provides an interesting and jarring counterpoint to the horrors of the food (indeed, whatever one may think of ) 1su's slavish devotion to 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 digested cabbage fared better, the acridity 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 of which I was initially sceptical. But how wrong I was! Every shrieking spoonful pierces the ears 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 curious companions chose his own penis. Dipped in honey and presented otherwise raw and unwashed, this dish really is for the adventurous, but is nonetheless rewarding. The countless variables of size, texture 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 reached a level of intimacy normally unknown to the alienated habitués of London's fine dining scene. We had come much closer to one another. Perhaps too close. We left suddenly, without speaking or touching the rest of the desserts - convulsions of chocolate sadness, the Glistening, and lime jelly - and I have not heard from any of them since we wordlessly parted company, although I've been informed that one has disappeared. I am very concerned about him, and 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


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 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 you in full control of your GDP at any given moment. You can literally 'save' your workers' labor and deploy 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?


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 often fairly safe to use.

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...

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 until your subject is depleted. 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.