Saturday 30 July 2005

'Yes, actually, this IS the time for complacency', announces police chief.

Chief Constable Richard Holyfield surprised many this evening by announcing at a press conference that, following the arrest of the four suspects in the attempted bombings of last week, now was the time for complacency. ‘We’ve got ‘em!’ said a delighted Holyfield, beaming out on the crowd. ‘We’ve got ‘em all, and quite frankly I think it’s time we rested on our laurels awhile, and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.’ At this point, the Chief Constable sat back in an easy chair brought on to the platform by two PCs, undid the top button of his shirt, and let out a contented sigh. ‘Yep, I think you’ll find that’s the last we’ll hear of “terror attacks on London”.’ he continued, cracking open a can of beer and kicking off his shoes. ‘I have a funny feeling that from now on everything’s going to be juuuust fine.’ When asked whether now might not more prudently be the time for cautious satisfaction, Holyfield waved the question away with the stem of his pipe. ‘No, young man’ he said ‘now is the time for complacency. For years, we policemen and politicians have been saying that this or that time is not the time for complacency, in a manner suggesting that there will come a time when ill-founded over-optimism and self-regard will be just what the doctor ordered. Well, that time has come. I am fully persuaded that everything will probably work out fine, and it is therefore perfectly legitimate to let down our guard, and take our eye off the ball. And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nap.’

Friday 29 July 2005

Film double bills I'd like to see.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?
All The President's Men.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Twelve Monkeys.

How Green Was My Valley?
8 1/2

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Fight Club.

Doctor Who?
Doctor Strangelove.

Wednesday 27 July 2005

You scratch my back, I'll stab yours.

Yesterday, I went to see a screening of ten things, one of which was written by me. (Don't worry, they were quite short things. I wasn't watching ten opera cycles. That's on Friday.) Anyway, in the chat after the screening, I got talking to another of the writers, who asked me which one I'd written, and then when I told her, said she'd liked it. Obviously, this told me nothing about whether she'd liked it or not, just that she was a normal polite human being. We both knew it, and that was fine. But it did mean that I now had to ask her which hers was, and then say I liked it; being bound doubly by the laws of being a normal polite human being (qv), and also by the laws of being a recently complimented human being, required to deliver myself from compliment debt. We both knew this as well, and this, also, was fine. Except that, as I opened my mouth to reply, the stupid part of my brain expressed a concern that this wasn't going to sound very convincing. At this point, of course, the rest of my brain ought to have wrestled the stupid part to the ground and sat on it, explaining between hammer blows that it didn't need to be convincing, it just needed to be polite. Unfortunately, the stupid part of my brain is quite a large part, and the rest of my brain looked at it, and didn't fancy its chances of getting it down and keeping it down. So instead, it asked the stupid part of my brain what it thought we should do about it. 'Be honest!' said the stupid part of my brain, as it so often and so stupidly does. 'Acknowledge the situation! Make light of it! That's bound to work!' All this took only half a second, as the stupid part of my brain is very quick-thinking, in the sense of quickly thinking something really stupid. And so I said

'Thank you! And which one's yours? Although obviously whichever it was I'm going to tell you it's great!'

Immediately, the rest of my brain caught up with what the stupid part had done. This was disaster. I hadn't done anything to evade my duties as a polite person and a complimented person- I had merely made it much harder to discharge them. Because now I'd wilfully and unnecessarily pointed out the situation we were both aware of anyway, a simple 'Oh, right! That was great!', -which was all that required of me a moment ago- would now practically be an insult. The only way out was to put on a big Oscar-winning performance about how, actually, conincidentally, that one (whichever it was) genuinely was my favourite, for the following six good reasons. Or was that the only way? The stupid part of my brain was down, but it wasn't out. Perhaps, it reasoned, stupidly, perhaps now the whole issue is out in the open, there is a humorous 'get out of jail free' card to be played... And so it was that the following exchange took place:

Her: Oh, I wrote 'The Icy Cormorant of Love'.
Me: Did you? That was rubbish!

She looked as if I'd punched her.

And the really annoying thing is that hers was actually one of my favourites. Astonishing the things they can train cormorants to do these days.

Monday 25 July 2005

Did you know...?

Glass is made by freezing air, and then varnishing it to stop it melting.

There are around 40,000 bacteria living on every human’s skin, some of them up to four inches long.

All cocaine sold in America is now legally obliged to carry the warning: ‘Caution: This drug is illegal’.

A good way to purify water is to run it through a sieve.

The notes represented by the lines in the treble clef can be remembered by this simple mnemonic: Every Bad Girl Forfeits Dinner.

Chess is so fiendishly complex to play that no-one has ever completed an entire game.

The oldest man in the world is Signor Julio Raol Herreras of Peru, who, astonishing as it seems, is just coming up to his 77th birthday.

Every time a child says he or she doesn’t believe in fairies, Father Christmas kills an elf.

Most dogs have the same name as their owners.

Sunday 24 July 2005

Or: 'Any time you like, he can't hear you.'

I woke myself up this morning by laughing. I was laughing at a joke I was telling someone in a dream, and once awake, I still found the joke so funny, I forced myself to wake up enough to write it down immediately before I forgot it. The joke, thus preserved for posterity, was as follows:

Q: When is it time to visit the Chinese Threeth-doctor?
A: Midnight.

And the really peculiar thing is that even typing it now, sixteen hours later, it still made me snigger.

Saturday 23 July 2005

People whose names sound as if they've been hastily made up by the drivers of hire cars stopped for speeding.

Jimmy... Carr.
Hugh... Laurie.
Minnie... Driver.
John... Constable.
John... Sergeant.
Gunther... Grass.
George... Bush.
Ford... Madox... er... um... ... Ford?

Friday 22 July 2005

The Aftermath

In the light of the awful events of yesterday morning, I think it's very important that we all stand together, united, as we try to recover from the shattering experience of being made so late home from work that we nearly missed our tea. Above all, it's vital that we don't go: 'Ha! Call that a bombing? My Granny could bomb a capital city better than that! Go back to bomb school!'

That would tasteless and inappropriate.

Wednesday 20 July 2005

But can he juggle?

On Monday, I drove about 150 miles, having previously not really driven anywhere for four years. This was exhilarating, both in the good way when sailing along country A-roads; and in the other way when negotiating Hyde Park Corner whilst providing the squishy Corsa filling in a hearty bus sandwich.

Anyway, one of the things that awaited us when we arrived was the sight of Tarzan of the Snails leaping acrobatically from branch to branch. No, really. Look.

It reminded me of one of my favourite postcards:

Which, coincidentally, more or less sums up the way I feel about the project I'm currently (avoiding) working on...

Monday 18 July 2005

No 'Fossilised Fishhooks!', then.

Should you happen to be talking to any teenagers soon, and wish to impress them with how wicked and happening you are; these, I am told, are the words you should currently use rather than, for instance 'wicked' or 'happening'. I haven't made any of them up, though of course it's always possible the teenagers who told them to me did.

Bear - Very
Bait - Obvious
Long - Boring
Butters - Ugly
True dat - I agree
Flush - Attractive
Fly - Attractive
Safe - Cool
Raw - Cool
Sick - Cool
Hectic- Cool
Off the hook - Cool
Dread - Not cool
Low dat! - Accept it
You do it, I'll rate you hard - Should you go through with the scheme you have outlined, you will earn my respect and admiration.
Whatever Trevor - I no longer have any interest in what you have to say to me. (Not limited to interlocuters named Trevor.)
Whatever, Minger! - Not only am I uninterested in what you have to say, I also note you are distinctly lacking in pulchritude, and to reinforce these two points you will please observe that I am making first a 'W' and then an 'M' with my fingers. So that's you told.
Missions! - I consider the task you have just asked me to perform unduly arduous.
Blood - Friend
Bredrin - Close friend
Brother from another mother - Really very close friend indeed.

Doesn't it make you feel old? I thought I'd recognise at least some of them, but no, 'Cool' is still around, and that's pretty much it. I felt like a Victorian anthropologist stumbling through Africa "'Off the hook' Right. Is that good or bad? And 'sick' is good now, is it? I see."

Although there was one heartening moment when after a long string of 'raw', 'bait', 'Low dat' etc, one girl told me earnestly: "Oh yeah, and if like you don't even hear someone, right, you go 'Come again?' " Yes, dear. You and my Granny both.

Saturday 16 July 2005

Yes, but should they be?

Headline on BBC News Online currently:

WALES: Dead bodies 'could be connected' .

Now I know it can get a little boring in Wales sometimes, but can I just say I think this is a really bad idea.

Moments from the life of King William

A story from a girl in year seven, telling of King William's quest to release a beautiful princess.

Here is the noble King in peaceful mood:

'He took his royal coat off, and calmly stepped off his horse, giving it a nice pat.'

But don't run away with the idea that William is some pampered royal milksop, incapable of dynamic action. Nothing could be further from the truth:

'King William jumped on his horse, and sped out like a bee.'

Friday 15 July 2005

Le Mot Juste

In a class of year sevens - 11 and 12 year olds. Ten minutes into the lesson, a gaggle of four boys turn up late, and sheepishly shamble in to the room. At which point, the smart girl at the front of the class who always has her hand up gazes at them scornfully with all the (considerable) poised eleven-year-old sophistication she can muster, and murmurs ironically: 'Oh, Bon Voyage!'

On Your Head Be It, Mrs Crayford.

I spent quite a lot of today in a school.

Sign on the staff room notice board: "Enid Crayford is resigning, after 32 years! We're shocked by her resignation, and appalled by the thought of what Wilkyn Hill school will do without her."

Slightly disquieting use of the word 'appalled' there, I thought. 'Can't imagine what' I would understand, but no, it seems that's not strong enough. Evidentally Ms Crayford has been more or less the last remaining moral brake on Wilkyn Hill. I just wonder what on earth the appalling thing is that the school will soon be free to do...