30 April 2006

A Surfeit of Squirrels (Tears before bedtime)

That's it, you look all cute while I'm taking your picture. Then run off with my camera and fill it with your filth. Twelve adult consenting squirrels indeed.

28 April 2006

A Surfeit of Squirrels (4)

Me: What’s that you’re humming?
Squirrel: Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh
Me: What is it? It’s really annoying.
Squirrel: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Squirre 2: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Squirrel 1: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Me: Stop it. I’m trying to read.
Squirrels 1 and 2: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Squirrel 3: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Me: Excuse me, could all of you get down off that fence, you’ll break it.
Squirrel 64: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Squirrels 1 – 137: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh
ME: Pack it in now, will you? What is it anyway?
Squirrels 1- 3,793: Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh
Me; Oh my god. That’s the Imperial March isn’t it?
Squirrels 1- 3,793: Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh
Me: Are you trying to intimidate me?
Squirrels 1- 3,793: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh
Me: Go on, get out of it!
Squirrels 1- 3,793: Du-du-du-du-da-da duuuu-duh


Me: Okay, what do you what?
Squirrel 248: We want your flat.
Me: No way.
Squirrels 1- 6,812: Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh, Du-du-du-du-da duuuu-duh

They’re still out there now. With their evil Dark Lord Theme. Thousands and thousands of squirrels.

I don’t know what to do. I might give them the flat. They can't have the dishwasher though. No way.

27 April 2006

The Sultan’s Elephant

Lots of people (when I say ‘lots of’ I mean ‘one or two') seem to find there way here to Froosh Towers by googling ‘sultan’s elephant’. So, in the interest of those thousands (when I say ‘thousands’ I mean ‘unfortunate') visitors, here are some more details:

Thursday 4th May
Prologue: a mysterious arrival (ooh, I wonder what that will be? An elephant I reckon. Or an otter in a costume perhaps)

Friday 5th May
The spectacle begins / Tour

2pm – 3pm, 5pm – 8pm

Saturday 6th May
Sightseeing / A sultan’s welcome
9.30am – 1pm, 3pm – 6pm

Sunday 7th May
Sunday in the city / Finale

11am – 1pm, 3pm – 6pm

The spectacle free theatre extravaganza begins proper on Friday, 5th May. It’ll be in the posh bits of the London where there’s no chance of the elephant getting tagged or finding itself up on a couple of bricks with its feet missing. There’ll be none of that at the Horse Guards Parade in St James’s Park, St James’s, Piccadilly, Haymarket and Trafalgar Square, you know.

You can send in your photos to yourlondon@bbc.co.uk and your mobile photos to 07921 648303. Because they do like that sort of thing at the BBC. They'll be wanting your podcasts as well, once they've mastered the technology. I wonder how many pictures of genitalia they get sent. Don’t send any pictures of anything to me, especially squirrels. I’ve just bought my own camera so will be providing my own photographs as soon as I have deciphered the manual.

Offical site here with
maps at the beginning of May

So that I can be a useful source of information, I have signed up for the updates but have only received one updating me as to my updated status re receiving updates. No word on the whereabouts of the elephant.

26 April 2006

Quote of the day

Mr Williams told the Mirror: "I feel sick. I can't believe the woman I wanted to marry has slept with John Prescott."

I'm with you; Barrie Williams, aged 46, lorry driver of Bordon, Hampshire. I have vomited on your behalf several times today. Then when you went on to describe Potato in human form Prescott as one of the most powerful men in the UK, I got all worried for you. Its obviously been a terrible strain and you've become horribly confused. Shock does that to a man, you know.

Best use of a mobile phone by a lady.

Here’s the shortlist for the Orange Prize. Knock yourselves out.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Accidental by Ali Smith
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Although this tells you everything you need to know:

“Booksellers hail shortlist for £30,000 award”
Go here then; see if I care. Traitor.

23 April 2006

Lost and found

Baffled by the lopsided billowing of your blouse? Confused by the bloody scrap of skin hanging from your chest? Puzzle no more my single-hump-fronted-friend.

I have found your missing breast implant.

It is by the path, nestling in the grass on the opposite side of the road to Matalan, on the Cricklewood Broadway. It’s a bit grubby now, so I’m guessing you must have lost it over the weekend; perhaps you’ve been on a hen-night and a helpful friend tossed it out of the window of your limousine? Well, wipe your crying eyes - if you hurry I’m sure it will still be there.

You can just rinse it off and slip it back in again, no?

22 April 2006

A Surfeit of Squirrels (3)

Me: Hey! What do you think you’re doing?
Squirrel: Who me?
Me: Yes, you.
Squirrel: Me? Not that blackbird over there?
Me: No, you. Is that blackbird over there wearing my favourite velvet jacket?
Squirrel: I dunno, is he? Oh, no. He isn’t.
Me: That’s right – he isn’t. And that’s because…?
Squirrel: Erm…
Me: Because you…
Squirrel: Because I am?
Me: Yes, because you are wearing my velvet jacket. My jacket. You have stolen my favourite jacket.
Squirrel: Looks good though, isn’t it?
Me: No.
Squirrel: It does.
Me: Doesn’t.
Squirrel: Come on, don’t be like that, Dude. It does.
Me: It doesn’t.
Squirrel: Looks better on me that it does on you.
Me: Doesn’t.
Squirrel: Does too.
Me: Doesn’t.
Squirrel. Makes you look even more like Harry Potter.
Me: I do not look like Harry Potter.
Squirrel: Yeah, you do.
Me: I can’t possibly, I’m a grown woman.
Squirrel: Short dark hair, glasses, gangly, slightly bewildered looking – you well look like him.
Me: I do not look like Harry Potter.
Squirrel: You’ve even got the scar.
Me: (mumble) That’s not a scar.
Squirrel: What?
Me: I said, that’s not a scar.
Squirrel: What is it then?
Me: (mumble) It’s a spot.
Squirrel: A what?
Me: A spot.
Squirrel: A spot? You’re like, what, thirty or something?


Me: I hate you.
Squirrel: Don’t hate the player; hate the game.

21 April 2006

Elves in the Night

by Jerome Batson
When William and friends learn of the council’s plan of redevelopment they form an
eco-protest group to fight, with surprising consequences.
27 – 29 April 2006
Clerkenwell Theatre, Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE [here in fact]
£7 (£5 concessions)
Ticket reservations: 020 7274 4888

My good friend, and fellow table football muppet, Mr Batson’s latest work is bound to be as fabulous as
the man himself. Pick up a little culture then discuss it over drinks in Café Kick, almost opposite - what better way to spend an evening can there be? I ask you. I’m going and I rarely leave NW2. You'll come? Hoorah!

Important, but smally fonted: This show is part of a double bill with Daddy's Girl by Yvonne Wickham, directed by Clare Randall. So you could enjoy a veritable extraganza of new theatrical talent - the best kind according to Lady Froosh of Bamboo.

Rejection is a one horse town (sadly).

One of my friends submitted a short story, which I really like, to one of those London café reading outfits that have begun to spring up. They then rejected it – fair enough, it is always a lottery, a really disheartening one at that which is why the Froosh gave up playing that particular game. I only tumble of the wagon occasionally and then regret it horribly. You would think I'd learn, wouldn't you?

Recently G has started to write back after a rejection asking if there is any chance that she could have some feedback. Its a really polite note; please ignore if its a burden but it would really be helpful to me etc etc. Most of the time, of course, nothing comes back but this time her email received a reply.

It was very terse and did use the word ‘shortcoming’; a little harsh and unconstructive as a term but we let him off because the guy was obviously very busy and was just flashing the email back. He didn't do himself or his group any good but there you go - it was ever thus. However, he did make a point, in his single sentence of feedback, which has prompted G to make a couple of changes which make a real difference. But what amazed me was the opening gambit which explained that they don’t do feedback as they don’t get paid and it takes long enough to read the stories never mind entering into commenting on them. Two points on that:

One: Writers who submit stories to them don’t get paid. At all. Even though they charge an entrance fee.

Two: It takes longer to write a story than it does to read one. A lot longer.

This is not his fault, of course. He is right – if an outfit like them did feedback for everyone it would take them longer to process submissions and they wouldn’t be able to showcase as many writers. Although a cynic might say that many of the people running these things are in it to help other writers get better, only to promote themselves, but we Bamboos are not cynical. Not at all.

Anyway, writers can submit story until their keyboards wear out but without feedback – how will they improve? Without improving how will they get showcased?* And without writers to showcase how will our poverty stricken, red-eyed friend carry on promoting his outlet, and himself? His feedback, although only one sentence was useful and G thought about it, agreed, edited and the story improved.

So, what? Firstly, chin up G – the funk of rejection hangs heavily but briefly.

Secondly, for all this talk of a resurgence for the short story it seems to be Rose Tremain, Helen Simpson and William Trevor who are doing all the surging, which means nothing in the real world, only that the rise will be temporary.

Thirdly, it’s the getting feedback and the feeling work develop which is most useful, and most rewarding, everything else is nice but not worth lighting a cigar for.

Don't get me started on short story competitions which don't even respond to unsuccessful submissions - that is just rude and inexcusable. The people that run them don't deserve entries. That would learn them some manners, eh? What? I wouldn't? Oh.

*I know this isn’t how it works – just humour me.

Robin Watch (2)

In which Robin attempts to fit as many people in his studio as he possibly can.

I watched from the spacious comfort of the not-born-yet-baby’s room, getting an excellent view of all the excitement and wrestling with a mamas and papas pilko travel system, which came in a box bigger than Robin’s studio. It was vast. I’m thinking of hiring it out for weddings and bat mizvahs.

Robin could play that game that kids play where you say “I went to the shops and I bought…” except Robin would say “I went to my studio and in it was that lady with a bad hip who lives in the next street, the man who owns the restaurant round the corner, the guy who drives a black cab and nearly ran the Froosh over once, the woman with the twins, that boy who bounces his basketball up and down the damn street at nine on a Sunday morning, three women who all looked kind of the same so must, surely, be related.” Then he’d have to stop for breath or something. “A old man with a stick, that guy from up the road who’s going to Spain to live, for good, my old mate who comes round all the time, that neighbour with the ski jacket with the massive hood and Bill who drives the Merc.” And again with the breath. “That man who was drunk on the tube in a pinstripe suit who amused the Froosh by falling over, the woman with awful hair…..” And so it would go on. And on.

Sadly, the door opens inwards and they couldn’t shut it without decapitating a small child and squashing an old lady, so once they were all in there they had to suffer the stiff breeze which doubtless whipped through the throng.

It better not have been a party, and me with an airing cupboard full of red wine and twiglets.

20 April 2006

A Surfeit of Squirrels (2)

Me: Saw you at Highbury last night. Enjoy the game, did you?
Squirrel: Can't remember - I was well tanked.
Me: Yes, I thought that might be the case. You got sent off.
Squirrel: Did I? Must have been a good night. Is this your kebab?

19 April 2006

A Surfeit of Squirrels (1)

Squirrel: Listen, Froosh, you know them nuts? The ones you put out for the birds?
Me: Yeah.
Squirrel: Can you put some more out?
Me: Nope.
Squirrel: Dude, go on. You know you want to.
Me: I don’t.
Squirrel: That ain’t fair.
Me: Yeah, it is fair. What happens when I do put nuts out for the birds?
Squirrel: Nothing.
Me: What happens?
Squirrel: Oh. What? You mean me and my mates come and hang off the tree like bats, showing off and all, and chew holes in the red plastic bag thingy?
Me: Yeah, then what?
Squirrel: Then we eat all the nuts?
Me: And what did you do the other day?
Squirrel: Nothing, we went to Bluewater. I’m tellin’ you, man, we did. Ask the Kent constabulary.
Me: What did you do the other day?
Squirrel: We ran off with the whole bag. Even took the bit of plastic clothes line you’d used to hang them up.
Me: Exactly. So no – I’m not putting any nuts out for the birds.
Squirrel: That is a gross injustice, man. Think of the birds, think of the birds.
Me: You think of the birds. I might has well just give you the £2 and be done with it.


Squirrel: That works for me.

Later two grey squirrels came and knocked on the kitchen window and accused me of loving their red brethren. They had placards declaring me a communist and everything. Bastards.

And so I face the final curtain

The final reading in the Monkey’s Typewriter tour is tomorrow. We, the unwashed, are being unleashed on Kensington this time. It’ll surely end in tears – theirs not ours.

Its been good fun, this little amble around west London, but I have to say reading the same damn story out nine times is mighty tedious. I now hate the story. And more annoyingly, I can’t tell if it is any good. It started off, in Harrow, being quite funny. And then, as I don’t do funny, I made it more serious. Then I got round to correcting all the mistakes. Then, my buddy B read it and corrected even more of my mistakes. I know, yet more mistakes; who’d have thunked it? Then I changed it some more. I've declared it finished now. FINISHED.

I think I might bury it in the garden under a gravestone made of ice lolly sticks like it’s a beloved guinea pig.

Although if anyone actually turns up this week I promise to read it out in my most animated and engaging voice – the one I use when talking to large groups of children under five. Funnily enough this would be our ideal audience.

The Froosh’s Favourite Lyric

So, white male middle class Britain has declared its favourite lyrics and, surprising no-one, they prove themselves mawkishly cloth-eared. Apart from 2, 3 and 8 obviously. I would prefer the list to look like this, but not necessarily in this order:

That we don’t even care as restless as we are, we feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts and poured cement
1979, Smashing Pumpkins.

We always hang in a buffalo stance, we do the dive every time we dance
Buffalo Stance, Neneh Cherry.

Basically I'm complicated, I have a hard time taking the easy way
Gone, Daddy Gone, Gnarls Barkley.

Suck your teenage thumb, toilet trained and dumb, when the power runs out, we'll just hum
My Iron Lung, Radiohead.

Clever when you talk, pretty when you sleep
Wasting my Time, Kosheen.

Toy like people make me boy like, toy like people make me boy like
Risingson, Massive Attack.

You come to represent my attention? You need more than a mic and a mention.
Brand New You’re Retro, Tricky.

And if you say to me tomorrow, "Oh, what fun it all would be", then what's to stop us, pretty baby, but what is and what should never be
What Is and What Should Never Be, Led Zeppelin.

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you without a strong rhyme to step to
I Know You Got Soul, Eric B and Rakim.

If you got a hunger for what you see, you'll take it eventually, you can have anything you want, but you better not take it from me
Welcome to the Jungle, Guns n Roses.

Although, it could be the list is so bland because they had to reach some kind of consensus. Still, that's no excuse for number 5 at all.

18 April 2006

Angela Carter Tribute

I’m really looking forward to this, so much so that I’m contemplating getting the special rate ticket for the whole day and taking a picnic of scotch eggs, pickled onion monster munch and vimto.

I read quite a lot of Carter when I was a teenager but I never clicked with it until I picked up the Magic Toyshop again a couple of years ago. Perhaps she is an acquired taste. Like olives. Or perhaps the weight of academic theory circulating the work is tedious and distracting, as it usually is. I just don’t know. Anyway, it’s an interesting line up and £8.50 to see Ali Smith and Sarah Waters at the same time is bargain. At the same time on stage, not like that. Jesus.

12 April 2006

NW2 Bird Flu: Crisis Averted

Yesterday I popped out in the garden to rescue a large plastic bag which had strayed on the lawn. At high speed, to avoid getting drenched by the lovely April weather we are experiencing in NW2, I retrieved the bag and put it in the dustbin.

On my way to the back door I nipped past a small brown feathery mass on the ground near the house.

It was a bird. A sparrow. Female, of the tree variety. I know my birds.

I stood and stared at until I realised that I was getting soaked. Then I sat dripping on the kitchen counter; all sweaty anxiety pressed up against the window, going cross-eyed in my attempt to see the bird below. After some time, when cramp set in, I embarked on some intense pacing back and forth between the fridge and the oven.

One bird does not bird flu in my garden make. I knew that. You need three dead birds. Not one. I contemplated a thorough search of my garden and all neighbouring gardens in search of other ailing avians. I tried to remember where we had thrown the phone book in order to get the number for the RSPB. I contemplated dialling 999.

I looked up from my fretting. There was a small greasy smudge on the window, beginning to smear under the rain, but there nonetheless. I established that it was on the outside of the window.

It was female tree sparrow shaped.

I rushed back outside and the sparrow had gone. I turned the pieces of evidence over in my razor sharp mind and came up with the following scenario: Stupid bird flies into kitchen window and lays stunned on the ground below. Stupid woman comes home from work and assumes bird flu is rampant in suburban garden. Stupid stunned bird comes round and flies off. Crisis averted.

Thank God, eh?

11 April 2006

Robin Watch (1) Supplemental

No further news on the object d’art, no sign of Robin either, but this morning there was a red cabbage lying in the gutter outside the studio.

Attempt to take photograph with phone resulted in close call with bumper of Ford Focus. Am praying cabbage is still there when I get home.

Mayhem in Marylebone

Lady with huge glasses: Why are these chairs lined up like this?
Me: They’re for the people reading.
Lady with huge glasses: I see. It’s decided before hand is it?
Me: Well, yes. We like to at least look like we know what we're doing.
Lady with huge glasses: Oh right.

[long pause]
Lady with huge glasses: I’ll sit here then.
Me: Good idea. Front row seat.
Man with plastic bags: Hello, you’re a new one.
Me: Yes.
Man with plastic bags: What are you doing here?
Me: I’m reading tonight.
Lady with huge glasses: Yes, it’s all been decided.
Man with plastic bags: You’re a reader?
Me: Yes.
Man with plastic bags: I’m a writer.
Me: Right. That’s good.

[long pause]
Man with plastic bags: Why are these chairs lined up like this?

They had no idea we were coming. They were only there for their writers group. They thought we were only there for the reading group and that we were in the wrong room. Which, in so many ways, I guess we were.

Thank you, though, to the five members of the Westminster Writers Group who sat and listened to us trot out our stories. No thanks though to the muppets who didn’t tell anyone we were coming. This never happens to Jeffrey Archer you know.

10 April 2006

The Sultan’s Elephant

4th – 7th May 2006 somewhere in London….

A couple of friends of friends are involved in this Royal de Luxe show/parade somehow. It was supposed to happen last year but after the bombings the powers that be were, understandably, a little skittish about letting it go ahead.

It has been all over the world and now, finally, it arrives in London. I’m really excited about this, the material from the previous show in Nantes
looks amazing. This is exactly the kind of large scale arts project we should be seeing in London. We need more projects which really try to engage with people rather than just critics or other artists. Projects which are ambitious and exciting. Projects which I'm looking forward to.

I shall be throwing the full weight of my enthusiasm behind this and I’m eagerly awaiting the updates and maps as they go live. I’ll also be rounding up a load of kids to take with me as mine won’t be born yet.

Bring on the Elephant!

Robin Watch (1)

Near my flat there is a garage, and this garage has been converted into an art studio/workshop by a Canadian guy called Robin. He is Canadian in the sense that he has a vaguely American accent and I like him – therefore he must be Canadian rather than American. Anyway, Robin makes things out of wood. Sometimes they are abstract objects made out of uprooted trees and sometimes they are more practical things, like tables.

He is a real neighbour, in the old- fashioned northern way. He knows everyone who lives within a mile radius and he usually has one of us installed in the doorway of his studio with a cup of tea. He knows all the local gossip; his story about the day we found a gun lying out in the street outside my house is hilarious. No really, it is. Only on my street could someone leave a gun in on the pavement for two hours and not one person picks it up and shoots anyone. We are fabulously middle class. I expect some people tutted and rolled their eyes a bit when they saw it; we’re not made of granite after all. This is perhaps why the police didn’t rush to our assistance. Although when they did finally arrive they use so much tape to close the road off they mummified the neighbourhood. I missed all this – I was in the pub. Although my garden was…wait a minute, this is a whole post in its own right, or even seven posts. I’m saying no more.

So, where were we? Oh yes, at the moment Robin has been very busy. He works as an osteopath as well and sometimes he can’t spend as much time as he would like at the studio. But for the last week or so he has been there when I leave for work and then he comes back and works late into the evening. He seems to be working on a long, slim tree trunk which has some roots twisting around it one end and some branches, straighter and shorter, at the other. He has been varnishing it very carefully, with a number of coats but only to halfway up, from the roots. At the other end he has painted a lattice design in pale pink. I don’t know what it is yet but it got rained on last night. I was concerned for its well being but it seemed to be fine this morning. I guess he knows what he is doing, and I am determined to find out exactly what that is.

Tune in for Robin Watch (2) next week, or sooner if he does something madcap and Canadian.

Marylebone or bust

The Marylebone reading is back on. It was a bit touch and go on Friday – but now, a bright and crisp Spring Monday morning brings the news: the monkeys and their typewriters will be at Marylebone library at 6pm with more stories and poems.

07 April 2006

Macmillan New Writing

I’ve decided that I think Macmillan New Writing is a good thing, as opposed to a terrible thing.

I felt this when the scheme was first launched but wondered how it would turn out. I felt it particularly strongly because most of the people moaning about it were either published or publishers, too busy concentrating on stamping on the fingers of those on the many rungs of the ladder below them to think how the squashed fingered amongst us might feel about this.

The first books are out
, which must feel amazing for the six published. I can only hope that they are the work of people who have never published before, people who don’t know anyone in the industry (or anyone who knows anyone) and people who can’t afford to do an MA in Creative Writing. I can hope this because I’m too scared to find out – I’ve only got a couple of intact fingers left.

06 April 2006

One Hundred Word Story

Rachel watched as her wedding ring rolled around the rim of the plug-hole, like an indecisive ball on a roulette wheel, before disappearing down into the darkness below. Had the clouds outside the kitchen window drifted into shapes which spelt the word ‘omen’ she would not have been surprised. She dried her soapy hands, trying to calm herself, and sat down at the table to wait for him in the gathering dusk. She thought of the bag hidden in the wardrobe upstairs. She thought of the plane ticket packed inside. She thought of an end and began, finally, to breathe.

Tube Trickery or Twattery

On the way back from the reading last night, myself and a good friend (and fellow writer reading) got the tube home. (The limo didn’t turn up again.) He was delighted to find that I too always walk to the right spot on the platform so I can get in the carriage which will be nearest my desired exit/ fastest route of escape.

For example, if getting the Central Line to Bond Street in order to change for the Jubilee Line it is best to stand about one carriage behind the middle of the tube. Then, when the doors open, you are in prime position to nip off the train and up the escalator well ahead of the hideous hordes. Once safely on the northbound Jubilee Line
platform you should walk all the way to the end of the platform so you can get in the last but one carriage. (This is a change to previous arrangements due to the extra carriage on Jubilee Line trains.) Then, on arrival at Willesden Green you are hot to trot up the stairs before grimy gangs of travellers trample you into the platform.

I can not describe the incredible frustration of finding myself in the wrong carriage, knowing that I’m going to have to walk almost the whole length of the platform, trapped behind tortoise-like
tourists with towering luggage, all because I’ve got the Bakerloo Line from Kilburn Park mixed up with the Northern Line from Tottenham Court Road.

Apparently, one of my friend’s friend thought this practice was both ridiculous and anal
. I didn’t tell him that I also stand on the platform so that when the tube arrives I will find myself slightly to one side (to allow passengers off the train) of the doors as they open. There are always more dirty footprints on the white platform edge where the doors will open, this can be quite tricky in the summer but once mastered you are almost guaranteed a seat. Almost.

05 April 2006

The Froosh - Live

Tonight I will be at the Shepherds Bush library reading a new short story as part of the Westwords literary festival. We’ll be crossing our fingers and hoping that this time there are more listeners than readers (almost Willesden Green), and that we’ll sell more than six copies of the Monkey’s Typewriter (Ealing). I’ll be hoping that stinky man with the dog on a dirty bit of string does not return.

It’s free, it starts at 7pm and the telly’s rubbish on a Wednesday. Crowds will flock surely?

After that it will be a case of Harrow, Ealing, Willesden Green and Shepherds Bush down – Marylebone and Kensington to go. And then I’ll be sad.

Wipe Clean Eugene

His childhood had laminated him. He became a wipe clean man, with a duck’s back and a clearly marked entry and exit signs above either ear. Once in a while he would wake with his father’s voice in his mind but he would shake his head hard and his panic would subside. He had developed strategies for that kind of thing.

He had no strategy for Marlie, she caught him unawares. He had avoided other people as sharp objects but there was something about the way she said his name. ‘Eugene,’ she’d say, the word becoming a warm cat slouching through sunshine. ‘Eu - gene.’ Her glasses were always speckled with dust and he marvelled that she could see through them. He washed them carefully with lemon juice and a little hot water one day, but in a matter of hours they were cloudy again. It was in these tiny ways that he showed her he loved her. He would wrap his hands in her long tangled black hair buoyed against the dizzy scent of her skin as they lay on her crumpled sheets in the cluttered chaos of her room. But he kept Marlie in a small box, an unruly jack which would not be allowed to burst out in other parts of his life and startle him. He was still his father’s son after all.

He waited for her in their favourite café, the one near her house, to ask her to marry him. After two hours Marlie still hadn’t arrived so Eugene walked round the corner, careful to avoid the dirty puddles left by the rain. He had to ring the doorbell three times before she answered.
‘Eugene,’ she said in a way he hadn’t heard before.

Eugene lay on his neat bed in his tidy room. Everything in its place. He drew a trembling hand across his wet face and heard her say ‘You won’t let me in, I can’t stand it’ again. He shook her voice out of his head until it hurt. Then he began to feel better. He allowed hindsight to make him feel foolish. He painted a picture of himself in his mind; he was an island, fortified and forbidding, watching life sail by him in a flimsy dinghy. ‘I’ve had a lucky escape’ he thought and slid across the floor on feet of Teflon.

04 April 2006

I wish that cats didn’t hate me.

It’s worse than your best joke falling flat at a dinner party. It’s even worse than returning the wave of someone in the street only to find they’re waving at the person behind you.

Me: (cute voice) Hello little kitty. Here kitty kitty, here kitty kitty. Aw, look at the cute liddle puddy tat.
Cat: (walks away)

They can’t even muster that expression of absolute disgust they do so well. Nothing. I’m not even worth a dirty look. They’re all like that too. I am cat repellent. I’m going to start pretending I’m allergic thier fur, just to lessen the pain.

It’s like at school when the popular girls won’t speak to you because your mother made you wear a jumper from marks and spencer made of 100% wool - instead of a nice polyester mix one from BHS that you have to take off in science because it’s a health and safety risk wearing one that close to a
Bunsen burner.

It is a devastating snub.

Because cats are cool, right? Much cooler than
dogs, anyway. Cats stay out all night getting up to all sorts. They’re aloof, independent, mysterious. Cats don’t need anyone – they’re just humouring us until the real world order is restored.

But imagine if you see a person (let’s say about 5’11” short dark hair, glasses,
strange shoes) strolling/sauntering down the road, and that person is greeted by every cat in the neighbourhood. Tabby cats chilling on garden walls raise a paw in greeting. Big fat fluffy house cats tap their little claws on their living room windows to say ‘fancy coming in for a cuppa?’ Black cats weave before them, crossing and re-crossing their path. And in their wake, the figure trails a long line of ginger cats, black and white cats and grey cats like a feline pied piper. And you can hear them coming from miles off because the sound of happy purring cats is almost deafening.

I believe that person would be the coolest person on earth.