Friday, 31 August 2007

The Holiday Is Almost Gone

I've slacked off a bit lately. Taken time off work, got out into the weird and wonderful countryside. Party times and wild woolly Moorland chill. I've not been that cold in bed in August for as long as I can remember, and that's because I may never have been that cold in bed in August.I'm still slacking now and so tales of wild ponies and last over victories and 172 year old fires and can-can dancers and pink fur and cocktails must wait until my creative self awakes from slumber following it's activity (and spacious behavior) fuelled week.

Some around me are lacking energy too. Soon I start a new job. Before then, my son goes back to school and my daughter goes to a new college. Soon they will move other house again, and fresh new foecal matter splatters haphazard into the air conditioning. The plucky little ship on the High Seas that is sometimes my family life will stir gently as more unpredictable ripples disturb the surface of the water, becoming less easily navigable. But it's spirit is never daunted, course bound still to a chart which unfolds ahead of it as it happens and not a moment before.

Rounding up the last rites of summer and looking onto equinox is the next task. I will need sleep and a clear mind. But I have no desire to sleep early, or clear my mind of wistful thoughts of distant loves and lives. I want to stay awake and let them wash through me again.

So it is not necessarily folly to fill my head with recent events, listen to my garden live around me, and wait for tomorrow in small, easily handled chunks.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Something for the weekend, Sir!

Organised games with much tomfoolery to boot. That's what's about to jump in front of me this weekend.

At last a long weekend with the promise of that cheery co-pilot, Sunshine.

In all, it's influence throughout this inclement summer has been covert to say the least. Some doubt remained as to whether I would ever witness the casting of a midday shadow again.Would I feel the need for a shady tree, except to scuttle under it like a lizard when amidst the raindrops.

My game is a weather dependent activity. To sail across seas you need more than a whisper of a breeze. To ski, one requires the otherwise terrible inconvenience of snow.

For my game the sun has to shine so that grass grows, then be cut short and warped from it's untidy nature, trained and becalmed. Tamed.

Rain. It is a necessity. But it has made a summer into a drear affair so far. It's going to take some hardcore burn-me bank holiday rays to redeem itself.

That's what this weekend is about for me and my beautiful son. Sunshine, people, communication, friends, tents, fire, fancy dress, country air.


Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Fresh Strawberries; Get 'em While They're 'ot!

Well, I can tell you, that was one of the more bizarre moments of my life up to that point. After such exertions it was quite obvious that I was going to require alcohol to calm the nerves. That or valium. In the absense of the latter, alcohol was going to have to suffice.

I love the smell of large sea going vessels. It's a mixture of diesel, fresh sea air, cheap scent from the duty free and cleaning products. I have no idea in which quantities. Perhaps I could get the olfactory talents of Giuseppe Baldini (so well played by Dustin Hoffman) from the film 'Perfume' to sprinkle some on a kerchief and diagnose. I love also the anticipation of going somewhere, a feeling of movement exemplified and accentuated by the gentle roll of an unstabilized ferry leaving port. I now had the task of settling down to a 10 hour boat trip. Once in the bar, looking fairly conspicuously different from many of my fellow travellers, I camouflaged myself behind a pint and began breathing sighs of relief.

Before too long, similar questions to those experienced on the train journey were asked. The groggy moggies were slowly beginning to stir once in a while. One of the people who was asking was a woman, about twenty-something. We chatted for a bit before we were rudely interrupted by the eeyuk-eeyuk sound of vomiting from one of the baskets. Oh yeah, just my luck! A seasick cat! I excused myself and went off to the toilet to cope admirably. Easier said than done. I had to clean up the puke from the cat blanket, simultaneously holding the cat now attempting somnambulistic escape. Everytime another passenger came into the loo, all this had to be conducted with soothing go-back-to-sleep voice spoken through a fixed grin resembling a donkey looking over a whitewashed paling fence. I am nothing if not a resourceful cat juggler, and thus I extricated myself from this predicament with a modicum of self respect still intact and no regurgitated Whiskas on my shirt. It was touch and go for a while.

Once back at the bar, surely I could relax into a conversation. The bar was filling slowly with a compliment of amused bystanders all with that look of 'I'm glad I'm not in his shoes' about them. The young woman I had been talking to was still there looking after the other cat basket. We'll call this woman Kate so as
a) not to reveal her true identity and
b) not to reveal my lack of memory.

Kate lived in Wales on the Gower Peninsular. We chatted about that, some inconsequentialities, some places we'd both been and what I should do with the nineteen tabs still stashed in my boot. I was tired, getting a tiny bit drunk, and beginning to stress up. My mind began working on silly 'What If' scenarios such as 'What if the coppers in Swansea were having second thoughts or were strategically letting me on the boat to catch me off my guard?'
'What if they've phoned Irish Customs and tipped them off as to their obvious suspicions?' Oh how the addled brain began working paranoic overtime. It was time to hatch a cunning plan. And so I contrived to wrap the contraband with whatever I could find to make them as water tight as possible, and neck the lot just before disembarking on Irish soil. Sound thinking, Dude! Hey, the worst thing that could happen is that they open up and I'm Zapped beyong Zargon, Munted to Mergatroid. A week long excursion to Pallookaville to converse with the tiny people whilst up a mountain in Ireland. Could be worse. So I wrapped them in a sticky label from a previous airline tag and waited til a short distance from the Coast before knocking them back. I bought some duty free vodka so I could drink that neat to help make myself vomit once past customs.

Irish customs on this day consisted of one diminutive chap, no moustache, in a wonky hat looking more tired than I did. He largely ignored everybody, including me.

Aha! It began to dawn on me that I had perhaps been somewhat over-zealous regarding my original plan of extreme furtiveness. Such obsession with covert behavior was less than required. In short, downright unnecessary. So off to the port dunny I went for a quick voddy and vomit. Could I regurgitate anything? Empirically, could I feck! I tried fingers down the throat, thinking of Margaret Thatchers sweaty arse, more vodka, imagining I was eating mouldy cheese and pickle sandwiches, more fingers for longer periods of time, more vodka but no more Tory arses cos once in a lifetime is enough for any sane human.

Nothing. Nil. Nowt.

"Great Scott!" I exclaimed most perturbed. How remiss to not have a contingency plan. I had arranged to get picked up at port by my ex/girlfriend and anyone she could coax into driving as she never learnt. They were late. This was pre-mobile days. I'd have to wait. As I'd promised her a lift to the interior somewhere, Kate patiently waited with me and the cats, who were now fully awake, hungry, and occasionally mewling in tones of increasing ire. An hour passed. Where the feck were the useless hippy wasters? They turned up in, wait for it, a Citroen 2CV. For those not familiar with the 'je-ne-sais-quoi' appearence of a 2CV, imagine a large corrugated rusty baked bean can with a small spindly wheel at each corner. Were there just two occupants? No! Not on your Nelly were there. Already four. FOUR!! How many hippies does it take to drive this tin crate? Do we have to pedal it or run like the Flintstones?

So here we all were at a deserted ferry port, two pathetic caged malkins, my ex, three of her 'just along for the ride' mates (all stoned which is why they were late), a very bemused Kate now probably wishing she wasn't putting her safety in our collective grubby hands, me, paranoid that I can feel the ground turning more marshmallow by the minute somehow combining a slur with a gibber the vague subject being chemists and syrup of figs, and a clapped out French car of dubious design and minuscule proportion to squeeze every last one of this exceedingly motley crew into.

We set off in milky sunshine, faces pushed up against windows, this poor old charabang straining in low gears across Ireland's rural south. For those of you who have never been to The Emerald Isle, the roads resemble Moon Base Alpha, a bit bumpy to say the least.
As planned, we shopped for strong laxatives along the way. Everybody knew why, so I was encouraged to take a dose. I did. Now, I don't know about you, dear reader, but my digestive/bowel system works quite well without help. With herbal encouragement, like a dream. Or actually more akin to a nightmare. Well nobody told me what dosage was enough, so I may have approached it with some largess. We arrived at the mountain just in time. My stomach was tightening like a duck's arse in a force ten gale. Toilets? Oh no! Just a quiet spot on a mountain river bank. A pleasant place to shit out the entire contents of ones bowels. And there, in the middle of the midden, encased in gelatinous syrup of figs coloured goo, were nineteen wrapped strawberry acid tabs.


I sold them all, one of them immediately to a member of the 2CV crew, others purveyed around the scattered mountainside collection of self-exiled English travellers and hippies. I probably made enough profit to cover the laxatives and the vodka. I've never possessed much in the way of business acumen, but life isn't always about an emolument. It's just memories once the events have taken place.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Cats on Drugs?: A Moustache Investigates.

Many moons ago, when myself, the World, and even Cilla Black were younger, I took a journey. It was a journey through space and time. No, I haven't been on the cane toads again, travelling through space and time is not as unusual as you would at first think. I mean, how many of you out there in my extensive readership have ever taken a journey that wasn't through space and time (unless you were on a Virgin train in rush hour). Have you ever gone on one which left you exactly where and when you started? Unlikely. That's just called 'being' Anybody can 'be' Where's the skill in that? Anybody of course except the dead. They just have a monopoly on 'were' They own the past tense in a way us living creatures just can't quite muster. Anyway, that's all just nonsense really, especially the bit about Cilla Black.

No, this journey was an errand. In fact it was a collection of errands. If I had been a spy or somesuch, I would have been offered a flat overlooking Red Square for this. I would have refused it. Not for any reasons involving altruism, it's just that I don't speak a word of Russian, I despise hanging around in queues, and I have a moral objection to wearing fur. The tasks I had set myself were simple enough. You may recall if you are Rexperienced, that I shared my life with cats once upon a time. There were quite a few of them. During a period of upheaval, also partly skimmed over, I relinquished my responsibility to a couple of them. I wasn't proud of the way I dealt with that situation, but I have always hoped that they went to good homes via the Cats Protection League and not ended life as a rather comfy pair of fur lined slippers. Two of the mogs were taken over by the ex-girlfriend who had shared them with me. Since we'd busted up, itself a longer than usual process, she had been on her own bizarre journey of self-enlightenment, self escapism and torment mixed together in a confusing cocktail which I was forced to imbibe on occasion, mainly though not entirely, through gritted teeth. She had eventually moved to Ireland during this period, leaving the cats in the care of a self-confessed sculptor and lunatic. Determined to make up some lost ground on Brownie points with Bastet, the Egyptian Cat Goddess, I accepted the charge of transporting the pussies over to The Emerald Isle.

My travels began in Bristol. I had a long day and night ahead, one which was going to be hindered by cats in baskets that didn't want to be in baskets. They yowl horribly when captive, so I took what I considered to be the kindest way for them, and filled them full of sedatives. What they lose in dignity and conciousness, they gain by not being scared, confused, vicious, multi-weaponed pains in the arse. I piled them into a taxi in order to get to the train station. Taxi drivers being licenced latter day highwaymen, there was a sudden claim of a surcharge for animals. Well, he did have a weed habit to support, so I surrendered the extra few quid. Once on the train, the cooing grannies and staring children asked all the relevant and obvious questions, to which were given the same simple and polite answers. 'Oh, about 18 months I think' 'Yes, ever since it was a kitten' 'Well fairly often, but the carpets quite old anyhow' How long was a sarcastic, facetious bastard like me going to be able to keep up this facade of truth and affable charm? Well, the train only takes 90 minutes to Swansea, so I didn't crack under the interrogation and remained urbane until it was time to alight.

Next, another taxi ride, no surcharge this time, proving as I at first had thought, the bullshit-o-meter did not need recalibrating. And so I hustled into Swansea dock on time to embark on an arduous 10 hour ferry journey to Cork. Now, I'd been this way before a number of times. Virtually every occasion upon which I'd walked past a certain Customs copper, he'd pulled me over for a little chat. Maybe it was the locks, (mine, not his, you lemon) or the rehearsed but never perfected look of fake innocence. Perhaps it was the 'Pigs die! Fuck pigs!' T shirt I'd bought cheap off a slaughterhouse necrophiliac (a less than wise move under any circumstances) . Who can be sure? Not me for a kick off, but two things were sure. Dolly Parton floats on her back, and this moustachioed butt-wipe jobsworth was gonna yank my collar yet again.
"Where are you going then?"
(Brain to Mouth, Brain to Mouth. DON'T BE SARCASTIC!!!)
"Erm... Ireland."
Sgt. Lipfuzz peers into cat carriers at comatose felines.
"What's in the baskets then?"
(Brain to Mouth, Brai... I KNOW, I KNOW)
"Well.. I reckon they're cats" (Ooohhh, bollox!!)
The Sarge, now smiling like a chess master about to pull his best ploy. "Passport? Right, wait there!"
He strode off in a sub-nasally hirsute sort of fashion and returned a minute later to announce the dreaded "Come with me!"
I went and sat in a near-featureless white room containing, amongst other furniture, the traditional two chairs each side of a desk. After the preliminary questions about name, reason for trip and all that shit, he began intimating his suspicions as to the hand carried livestock cargo, which he hadn't allowed me to take into the room. I reiterated that there were just cats in there and that they were probably best left undisturbed. His mustache twitched like an antennae picking up dodgy hippie vibes.
He could leave the mogs to the other cops out of view. I had visions of two sleepy cats being sat in white rooms whilst two big tabby hi-vis jacketed Customs grimalkins posed them a series of meows designed to trick them into a confession. They'd probably try to soften them up with the good mog/bad mog routine, nice bowls of warm milk, woolly jumper to knead, little stroke under the chin then just as you begin to purr.... GOTCHA!! You're coughing up secrets faster than furballs in molting season. I know the drill, diabolical psychological torture. It was gonna be tough for them not to break. I had every faith. Those years in the Marines (mascot, 1st class) were gonna stand them in good stead.

Back in the white room, Sgt. Bogeycatcher played his trump card.
"We're going to conduct a strip search" he announced matter-of-factly. "Remove all of your clothing one by one and hand them to the other officer."
"O.K." I said and proceeded to do so. Constable Other started feeling around my still warm discarded garments, including a very good up-side-down shake of my crusty para boots. Now this sort of behavior by rozzers is the part of the sequence of events which they feel is where embarrassed crooks wishing to hide their shortcomings may bottle out. They did not know at this or any stage of the game that I was an experienced life model. I'd been stark-bollock naked in front of whole rooms full of artists of both genders, all ages, and several sexual persuasions. In short, I didn't care a Tinker's Cuss for their assumed position of ascendancy. I began to care when a 'teenth of slate fell out of one of my socks and rolled conspicuously to a halt in the centre of the cheaply carpeted floor. Oh dear. Oh deary dear. Deafening pins could be heard dropping all around the three of us. Sgt. Soupsieve rose in his chair, looked at the blim now placed on the well lit table, and asked "So, what's this then?" I leaned forward to take a closer look, paused and replied "Looks like a piece of hashish to me"

The wheels were in motion. New and more numerous bits of paper came out from a nearby cabinet. I was asked to give up all my details which I did whilst explaining that I really did need to get on this boat and did he really want to be responsible for two cats when they woke up. Still he banged on about the baskets. He started the arrest process, blah blah intent to transport illegal contraband blah.. and then, perhaps in an epiphany, stopped speaking and left the room. The silence between me and Con. Other was leaden. Had I offended him in some way? Now seated, I scratched my divested scrotum, and patiently refolded my arms. When Sgt. Clittickler returned, he sat, cautioned me about the pot, and said that the ferry was just about to haul up the gangplank and if that I wanted to get on it I'd better be dressed and out of that room in 60 seconds. I managed it in around 53, grabbed the furry fiends, and scurried in quick, short steps aboard.

All I kept thinking as the large and protective doors slammed behind me, putting an end to the surreal close shave I had just encountered, was this. 'Thank feck they didn't search my boots properly. They might have found the acid!'