I used to blog.
These are some of my favourite posts.
Bringing Poetry Alive for Key Stage 4
I finished with Julian Barnes last month.
I don't quite know what to do with myself.
This is who we are and this is what we do
So there was this thing, this thing that my English teacher used to make us do when we were thirteen and she grew tired of the vicious noise and thinly stretched boredom in the years before exams or grades just to fill the time we would be made to take our rough books with their grimy orange covers solidly lined in remedial blue and write for ten minutes without stopping, write and write and write without talking your hand off the paper without pause for consideration or correction the first thing that comes into your head...
The 12 News Of The World days of Christmas
I first met P at three in the morning on a lowering June night in a twenty four hour Londis near Finsbury Park tube. I was shuffling through the door in search of cheap coffee and Tampax when he rounded a corner at speed and caught me under the arm, singing Frank Sinatra and hiccuping with laughter as he ran with me out of the shop. We didn't stop until we got to a piss and chip slick alley round the back of the station where he suddenly let go and I was left gulping down air and wondering whether to throw my rape alarm at him and run (batteries cannibalised for remote controls and sex toys) or attempt formal introductions. We looked at one another, both surprised and not quite.
The first thing I ever collected in my life was Garbage Pail Kids, aged seven. My foot-long swapsies pile would surely have been my route to instant popularity had it not also been widely known that although my mother was perfectly content to let me gloat over grotesque pictures of fat children in unfortunate circumstances, I was not allowed the accompanying chewing gum lest I swallow it and a gum tree grow out of my ear. This fad was later to be taken over by an inexplicable passion for Letraset and when the weather conditions are right I can still be seen to this day in certain home counties branches of WHSmith, loitering about their dusty rotary display and making provocative gestures.
The first idol I ever had was Tufty, of the Tufty Club. His cheery yellow trousers and bright-eyed, alert expression are, I am sure, the sole reason I have reached the age of twenty eight without ever having suffered the dreadful fate of Willy Weasel, hit by a car because I never asked my mummy to go to the ice cream van with me. That, or the persistently irritating fact that the ice cream van doesn't stop close enough to my house these days. Oh, I can hear its cruel, taunting siren song all right but even if I leave my house upon the very first note of O Sole Mio (ice cream vans having got considerably classier since I was a child - the one that used to come round my way when I was seven played the theme tune to Match Of The Day) and leg it down the street in bare feet I can never quite reach it before it turns away into the main road heading for the lucrative council estate and I am left on the corner, panting extravagantly and whinnying for a Funny Feet.
AND NOW THE SUPPING FORECAST ISSUED BY THE MET OFFICE ON BEHALF OF THE MARITIME AND COASTGUARD AGENCY, AT 0505 ON THURSDAY 17 MAY 2007.
Will Self? he asked.
Hmmmm.....no, I said. Oh I wanted to, don't get me wrong. There's no way quicker into my heart than a capriciously crafted turn of phrase and certain sentences of his have been known to make three of my internal organs stop working simultaneously. But every time I'd try to open my mind to a long term, loving relationship with his perky prehodiernal past tense and swooningly sardonic verbs it descended into an ill tempered one night stand and I'd invariably find myself on the night bus home at four the next morning in yesterday's knickers with an unpleasantly literal nasty taste in my mouth.
Misogynists, cod philosophers and Daily Mail staff writers on deadline and desperate for a suitably conventional angle to their story alike are fond of quoting the threadbare axiom that in order to see what your girlfriend will be like in thirty years, look to her mother. Wilde said that the tragedy of women was that they turn into their mothers; but I spend my time fighting off the turn into my father.
A News of the World Christmas
The Pandemian Guide to Pumpkin Carving
1.Stop in at the greengrocer's on your way home from work. Look about you in awe and wonder at this curious shop where people pick up fruit and vegetables like they actually know what they are and what's more, plan to eat them. Feel comforted by the thought of the food colouring and artificial preservatives in the special Halloween snacks you bought from Sainsbury's during your lunch hour to sustain you through the arduous carving process.
Tube announcer: Station cleaner to the ticket office please, spinach on concourse.
Give praise to the humble list, for they bring order to our lives. Today's list is eight things I want to be when I grow up, and the reasons why I wont be.
The Game of Life was my favourite board game as a child. On Sundays afternoons, after the Smurfs and Shaw Taylor while my father slept off three lunchtime pints of dark, speckled beer, my mother and I would set up the board on the living room floor and spend a couple of hours happily guiding our little plastic representitives on their way to riches and glory. Finding the journey from cradle to grave a little too brief for our tastes, we subscribed to a sketchy but useful belief in reincarnation and once we had reached the end leapt straight back to the start, changing jobs and discarding spouses with a kind of flighty glee that I haven't quite abandoned as an adult. Eventually nearly all the pieces got lost and I grew older and preferred to spend my time scouring the local paper, building fantasies around the ads for cheap studio flats and daydreaming an adult life that I never get more than glimpses of even now.
Two stops from the station the bus has come to a jolting halt in the middle of the road so the driver can argue, furiously and unintelligably, with an unknown voice. I shift in my seat and stare out over the scrubby grass of Finsbury Park. The dust smeared windows and pale early evening sunlight have bleached the colour from the outside world. Trees, roads and buildings drained into olive, grey, chalk, faded like a forgotten baby picture; my father watching in sideburns and pointed collar as I kick a ball with one plump leg, bright colours not invented until the eighties.
Thank you for the invitation to your wedding that arrived in the post this morning. I haven't seen you since we graduated; it must be a big event.
My old university does not have a library. It has a Learning Resources Centre. A huge, square structure encased in dark blue glass, its guts smelt of new carpet and blond wood and furniture polish, but never of paper. It has a place where you might go to borrow video cameras and record music, rooms set up in the 'theatre style' where you could shake as you gave presentations, and rows upon rows of computers upon which I first discovered how to argue endlessly with Americans on indie music forums and Tripod taught me the HTML for a paragraph break.
The baffled king composing hallelujah
This morning I woke up thinking about the daily inadequacies in our expressive use of language.
I was also wondering why my bedroom smelt faintly of guinea pig, but that doesn't make me sound quite so clever.
His scent went too quickly from the pillow, so she now keeps the shirt she removed from his bag before he woke wrapped in clingfilm and buried at the bottom of her wardrobe. Every time she removes it and presses her face into it she is sure she can see traces of him dissolving out into the air and is terrified of the day when the last remains of him will vanish completely. She briefly considered investing in a vacuum sealed container, but woke one night in fear at the thought of his smell disappearing irretrievably into the machine so now she rations her time with the shirt to when she's been good, when she deserves it. Occasionally she would like to shake it free from its wrappings, wind it around herself, use up all of its power in one intoxicating burst of remembrance. Her self-restraint amazes her.
When I look back on it, I think it was Tolstoy that led me to eventually abandon my collection of stories about how people fell in love in favour of tales of how they split up. All happy families are happy alike, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. I didn't read past the end of that first chapter but it never mattered. I'd been discontented for a while but knew then why; I'd been wasting my time on stories that at the time of telling only ever ended in the happy ever after. Charming, but limited. I needed to know what happened after she marries the Prince.
Matter of time
Heading home on the Bakerloo, two stations past Edgware Road. The train stops, half in and half out of the tunnel, and no-one looks up. After a minute or two, the driver tells us he has 'absolutely no idea' why the train is has been stopped, but it has. Five minutes later, in an attempt to assuage or perhaps entertain, the driver tells us that when all trains are instructed to stop where they are it's called a code amber. I amuse myself by inventing emergency train actions for all other possible colour codes when two men wearing London Underground caps at jaunty angles appear by my elbow announcing that the entire tube network is suspended and usher people down through the train and up towards the exit. Tube employees are gathered outside in little huddles of blue, gesticulating upwards.
I collect stories about how people fall in love. Not deliberately, and until a short while ago I wasn't aware that I did. but I do. People seem to like to tell me them, perhaps knowing that I wont try and counter with an even more spectacular yarn of fate and destiny or perhaps just because I'm the latest to cross their path as they fumble with fat fingers to knit synthetic phrases into something warm, something watertight.
Roman a clef
The first time I ever had French toast, it was made for me by a man in a rubber maid's dress. Expressing his enthusiasm for this cheapest and easiest of suppers and distinct yet polite dismay that I'd never before tasted this classic student delicacy, we scooped up bread and eggs on the way home and later that evening he set about unravelling the arcane art that was its creation.
Jebote, voilm kasicni venecijanski stil
There was a baby staring at me on the bus this afternoon for the entire hour-long journey.
Babies and small children stare at me all the time. I've no idea why, since I don't look particularly unusual most of the time (the turquoise hair is long gone), but for some reason they're fascinated by me. I've trained myself to automatically tune out children (and chuggers, and tramps yelling obscenities about my mother) in public places so I'm not always aware of it, but whenever I happen to be off guard in the presence of a child it's staring at me, unblinking. So it was with this kid today, an anonymous thing in one of those three wheeled mini-SUVs. I doubt I'd have noticed it at all, but it was wearing a grey knitted hat in the shape of a slug (complete with antenna) that I coveted intensely.
Mind the gap
I've invented a new pastime for myself. A challenge, if you will, to pass the lonely, lonely hours of unemployment between Bargain Hunt and Richard and Judy. The idea occurred to me when I was drying my hair this morning with a London Underground towel I bought one week instead of groceries. I'm calling this game Going To Chalfont.
Panic on the streets of London
I'm holding my breath.
I'm too scared to move.
I think there's someone else in my flat.