Thursday, June 30, 2005

What's the Recipe Today Jerry?

Jeremy Vine carried out an interview on his Radio 2 programme today with the self-styled 'King of the Chavs Lottery winner and serial lout Michael Carroll. For those who don't know, Carroll is an ex dustman yob who, at19 years of age, in an obscenity of justice two years ago, won nearly £10 million on the National Lottery . When he picked up his cheque wearing an electronic tag attached to his leg you could almost hear the collective despairing groan of a disbelieving nation as this boyo gurned at the nation's press photographers whilst holding a cheque with this mind- boggling sum of money displayed on it - all of it going to him, to this nightmarish example of an undeserving cause.

Part of Carroll's celebrations was to burn a 40 foot mobile home in his new front garden in rural Norfolk, whilst setting off industrial strength fireworks. There was a boat and a couple of cars lined up to stoke the fire up a bit should things die down too quickly, though the neighbours pre-empted this by summoning a battalion of firemen to dampen down things a bit, treating Caroll's bonfire as a fire as out of control as he was proving to be. The same neighbours who must have thought that Carroll had brought Hell as well as Hades with him into the Norfolk countryside where, once ensconced in his large home with grounds a plenty, proceeded to have all night alcoholic binges and banger racing parties in his garden, with at times as many as 80 cars formed up for the drive and wreck treatment. A mini crane had been purchased for the purpose of shifting the wrecked hulks form one part of the garden to another to allow unimpeded, noisy, smoke inducing, dust cloud creating, racing with a new regiment of sacrificial vehicles.

How the neighbours hearts must have sank to see this metal crushing procession in waiting. Not so much the calm before the storm, more the nepalm which brings the end of norm. How their lives had changed thanks to the lottery. From polite garden parties, hedge topiary, good natured braggery over the quality of the herbacious borders and gentle clapping during the family's annual croquet competition, to this dystopian, devilish fairground of Hell on earth. Satan's circus is in town - and it ain't moving on.

Not content with making his unfortunate neighbours lives a misery, his next stunt was to travel around the town and share a little of the mayhem about, toting a catapault from which he fired ball-bearings at shop windows and other cars. He got into trouble with the police for that one and it was for that he received his ASBO. He now says it will change him. And today he has chosen the Jeremy Vine show to let people know that he's turning from this dark side, and become a law abiding citizen. On the JV prog. A little current affairs, a range of music, (well the Radio 2 playlist), and the current debate - nature v nurture in terms of personality development. This was brought about by the Narcissitic Personality Disorder murder issue and it stays with JV throughout the Carroll interview.

The arrangement was for Carroll and his manager to assemble at the BBC Norwich Studio and explain how this corner was going to be turned. It was never going to be an easy interview for Jerry. His natural journalistic instincts were always going to prompt him into an investigative interview rather than something more cozy about where Carroll might go from here. He was always going to adopt a challenging attitude over his actions since winning the money. Carroll predictably did not have a good voice for radio.

Vine began by introducing Carroll who grunted something like 'ello' - even though one word, it was quite indistinct.
Vine: "You've been awarded an ASBO, is that why you've decided to change?"
Carroll: After a hiatus that must have seen much BBC tumbleweed rolling through the empty radio space probably made out of the hairlines of Jeremy's and his producer's hair-lines. "Yeah!"
Vine: "And the ASBO was awarded to you because you fired ball-bearings from your car."
Carroll: (Into comfortable territory) "Fucking prank wannit. Stoopid."
The "stoopid" referred to the prank I think, not Jeremy. It hardly mattered who the 'fucking' was aimed at, the whole of Radio Two's lunchtime audience would have heard it, that's all that mattered. Jeremy, slightly stunned, let it pass against a background hissy shout in his ear from a heavily sweating tumbleweed producing Producer: *move on quickly.* .
Vine: (loosening his tie) "Why do you behave so bad?"
Carroll: "Provoke."
Vine: "What do you mean?"
Carroll: "Sly remarks and shit!"
Vine: (To the accompaniment of more: in-his-ear-but-audible-to-us-hissing.) "Because the £9.7 million must have changed you and perhaps changed the people around you?"
Carroll: "Yeah. Changed me. Yeah! Trust!" (Sniff)
Vine: "And you feel you haven't been treated well by those around you."
Carroll: "Not too good."
Vine: "And that has affected your behaviour but you're cleaning yourself up now?"
Carroll: "Fucking right"
Vine: (now with thoughts of P45s winging their way towards him before he can acquire a Colt 45 to place against his foot. Or his head) " I must remind you that this is a family show and to kindly watch your language"(or words to that effect.) Christ! he must have thought, one day Kissinger, next day ...
Carroll: "F..... yeah. Right."
Vine: "You were treated badly as a child." ( the old nature versus nurture debate still rippling through his head.)
Carroll: "Just a wee bit."
Vine: "You didn't get on with your wive's partners."
Carroll: ( Wondering how many wives he's had and perhaps rationalising that he probably wouldn't get on all that well with their partners) "Pardon?"
Vine: (bugger me I'm getting as bad as him)"Your mothers partners were cruel to you."
Carroll: "Just a wee bit."

Which took the interview roughly down the route he was (unconsciously) heading for I suppose. And as the interview developed I did begin to feel some sympathy for Carroll. There can be little doubt that he had a shocking upbringing, and even agreed to Vine's suggestion that all he really needed was a 'hug' from someone genuine and he'd be fine. Difficult to imagine I know but ...
We shall have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Strain to Regain

Since I've found myself adopting poetic state of mind, I thought I'd use this opportunity to reproduce a poem written about a pervasive condition that all writers must suffer from, or at least feel anxious about at, sometime. Writer's Block. Consider Tom Sharpe of Wilt novel fame and all those brutal comedies written in the seventies and eighties: Riotous Assembly (1971) Indecent Exposure (1973) Porterhouse Blue (1974) Blott on the Landscape (1975) Wilt (1976) The Great Pursuit (1977) The Throwback (1978) The Wilt Alternative (1979) Ancestral Vices (1980) Vintage Stuff (1983) Wilt on High (1985.) This man's imagination was fizzing on the blowings-off of blow up dolls, farting with the gassy inflations of bobbling prophylactics and jerking with the methane of reanimated corpses; and then. . . Enter the Wilderness Years (between 1985 and 1995.) This wasn't generally considered his best work. The plot was deemed 'rather thin'. It was 'Slightly lacking in breadth and scope'. Its prose was considered 'a little spare'. In fact ten long years of writer's block and no work completed.

Stephen King wasn't obviously a sufferer, churning out over seventy novels to date: but consider two of his novels: The Shining, whose blocked protagonist memorably portrayed by a mad eyed wild-haired Jack Nicholson took to maniacally banging out "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," on his old Remington typewriter. This was a crazed effort to unblock his creativity before he went mad. He couldn't, so he did - and presumable King could imagine that he himself would too, if blocked. In Secret Window the main character shuts himself away in a remote cottage in an effort to cure himself of his writer's dry-up. A few scrapes and distractions fired him up a bit, but our main man, as depicted by a shambolic Johnny Depp with finger-raked, mussed hair and haunted looks was into suffering territory long before he realised it. It's an unsettling thing this Writer's Block. I wonder if Helen Nicholson scratch-wrote, strained, crossed out, swore, stuttered, drank, howled and head-cradled her way towards the final draft of 'Writer's Block' and in so doing cured herself of the condition. Seems she did, perhaps pointing the way for us all.

Writer's Block
Helen Nicholson

If I dared write
I would carve my words from a rock;
scrape a line with a flint sparking off malachite,
or smell the sulfur linger from a struck match
as I flare what I feel to the world.
I would give you cadences
Cuillin-sharp or rolling as the ocean;
line breaks dangerous as a
assonance subtle as the dying wind.
I would write of tears and dissolve your page.
I would write of drought and you would scrape the dust from your hands.
The tinder of my parched heart would spark forest fires.
I would growl a word
and you would hear the thunder.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Save the Fast Dance for Me.

Here at One Man Crappolas-ville USA - as the multitude of his readers will testify, there can be found the occasional bit of amateur (rubbish as opposed to unpaid) Lit Crit. Often this will be the result of a little inspired reading from either the Blogging arena or elsewhere. That last sentence is probably a little self-evident, but nevermind.

Someone, somewhere - you know what it's like when you're reading countless Blogs, it's rather like all the houses you view when you're looking to buy, they merge in the mind. But someone, somewhere, and I appologise for failing to remember who, recently reproduced the poem below in honour of a childhood memory and the battered book he remembered reading it from. It's called Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc.

DO you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the bedding
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.

It's a cracking poem full of rhythm and cadence with many rhetorical flourishes such as euphony, repetition patterns and internal rhyme. Taken together with its short staccato lines and the progression of its chords, the poem invites a rapid reading which in turn symbolises the movements of the tarantella dance. As I recall the commentators on the site were quite sniffy not just about the poem, but also about the writer's decision to post it, as if it was something of a cop out. Bollocks to them I say - I've a good mind to turn this whole blog into one big poetry-fest and fly in the face of this popular conception. Or at least do a post in support.

The title of the poem: Tarantella, has been taken from the mad frenzied dance Spanish and Italian folk in Medieval times would immediately spring into if unfortunate enough to have been bitten by the deadly tarantula. Folklore had it that if anyone was bitten by the spider, the only possible cure from the deadly toxins now surfing through their body- which would no doubt be short-cutting straight to the heart as these things are apt to do - was to snap out of the trance-induced shock of the attack and dance a mad whirl of alternating clockwise and anticlockwise movements with arms and legs in crazed freewheel. This would continue until the dance - probably something of a learned response from Mediterranean childhood, think dog-bell-food, dog-bell slaver, until once exhausted the victim would either fall down dead - i.e. it didn't work - or fall down in cough-gasping, back into safety zone mode, having sent the poison on a blood whirlpool of a U turn and forced out, like a bad spirit, through the now gaping skin pores.

Being bitten wasn't all bad. It invariably developed into something of a social occasion - a sort of 'you have the dance floor to yourself 15 minutes of fame business' and as such you weren't expected to do the embarrassing bit alone - it was, after all, a rather dramatic and public cry for help. People would surround the victim and musicians and accompanying handclappers (untalented groupies) would be quickly mustered - in those days you could get hold of mandolin, guitar and tambourine players easier than you can get hold of plumbers now. And they would strum and pluck and shake (and for all I know, rattle and roll) in search of the correct rhythm. Once the correct rhythm was found - and the victim could tap into it with sufficiently synchronized mania, there was a good shout for survival. And new chums made.

The dance of the tarantula the 'Tarantella' has long since been adopted by Sicilians Italians and Spanish and has become a favourite dancing activity at weddings - bald uncles and shriven black widows weeds wearing grannies like to have a go - not just the young lovers, all in keeping with Mediterranean tradition.

The Miranda of Hilaire Belloc's "Tarantella" is not an Italian, Sicilian or less obviously a Spanish lady, but a Scottish lass (Miranda Mackintosh) whom Belloc met at an inn in the Pyrenean hamlet of Canranc on the River Aragon in 1909. The poem, written twenty years later, was a New Year's present to the Scottish Miranda. The holograph copy is inscribed: "For Miranda: New Year's 1929." One can only assume that much fun was had during their stay for such an emotion-filled if belated memory.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Time After Tim

So Tim Henman has been knocked out of Wimbledon in the second round. I have to say it's quite a relief to me. I always found the whole Henmania thing a tad embarrassing. Henman Hill and all those painted grannies. And a more unlikely hero you'd be hard pushed to find. A geeky swattish lad from Oxford with a sensible hair cut and a screechily clean provider of less mileage for the rude lewd tabloids and mags than the Singing Nun. And the ever-present parents Tony and Jane, who surely would have been priceless fodder for the old Spitting Image team - perhaps presented in monochrome outplaying knife-scrape-pea-pushing John and Norma Major in tick- tock shattering silence. In the house with Mr Dull and Mrs Mousy Church Mouse, who may or may not have, a suppressed, lively side.

Tony H: "Thought Timothy played rather well today".
Jane H: "Yes Dear".
Tony H: "It would be nice if we could..."
Jane H: "Yes". (looks up full of hope)
Tony H: "If we could, well if you could, share those peas you can't manage."
Jane H: "Oh. Yes."(coquettishly) I could give you . . . "
Tony H: "Yes dear"
Jane H: (Thinks better of it) "I'll leave some. I'll leave some of my peas. For you."

Or some such blinding repartee.

And Tim. Then there's Tim. 'There are amoeba on Saturn with greater charisma than our Timbo', as Blackadder might have put it. True he is/was a doughty performer - great resilience and courage, but not really someone worthy of half the nation's fanatical worship for the first couple of weeks of every summer. A decent player but flawed. Forever getting whacked by players with greater flare and more chutpah. Except for Pistol Pete Sampras who could bore his opponents to defeat, but at least had an air of invincibility. Tim was never invincible. A skinny toff who happened to be a Brit, who knew how to hang on in there limpet-like. Talented, yes, but no superstar. Not really worthy of a nation's adulation and investment in the desperate belief of great white hope-like deliverance.

And now he's gone. And the stage has been left for the young pup, Andrew Murray - who it has to be said, seems to have something about him. Seems a stroppy young sir. Upsets people when he opens his mouth and has none of that exaggerated respect for tradition and convention. Prefers the US Open to Wimbledon, prefers clay courts to grass. And seems to have an expressive single mother in tow, all gappy toothed whoops and bingo-wing hand-claps, which provide welcome relief to a TV audience weary of a decade of looking up and seeing the impassive somewhat regal Henman seniors. Both family's seem to share a similar view on the importance of dental aesthetics -with young Andy happy to show a couple of rows of tombstones during his TV interviews though even that provides a new slant on the Tim fangs for the memory look. And perhaps that's what Tim will be now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Anal Spasms

Overheard on a saltmarsh. Well not exactly, there were no stealth-mugging green goblins imploring innocent nymphs to hand over their jewels unless they fancy a little mud wallowing moon-gazing howlerings and lagoon-reflected happy slapping. Overheard in the office is perhaps slightly more prosaic, but a lot closer to the truth.
"Is it exigencies or exingencies?"
"I don't think it's either, I think it's extingencies."
"Hang on, it says here - ex i gen cies - urgent, pressing, requiring immediate action or remedy. Requiring much effort or expense; demanding. "
"Spell it"
"Ahh. Exeeegeny." So it's exeeegencies!

Note to self: It's exigencies - eggs a gents cease, eggs a gents cease. Don't listen to them, they are evil. Remember Edna O'Brien's maxim: never read bad writers, you might end up writing like them. Never listen to bad speakers, you might end up speaking like them she might have added. She didn't, so I did.

*Adopts a Hamlet pose ("Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across, plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?) and soliloquises: eggs -a-gents-cease, eggs-a-gents-cease, whilst fingers are planted in ears.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Gym'll Fix It.

Guesting at a gym this weekend, equipped and designed a little less stylishly than my own, I later felt compelled to deny imaginary points to a couple of odd individuals who, I suppose like me, were passing by.

Minus points to the man who seemed to know no shame, who when standing on his X9i Elliptical Trainer intermittently raised his arms ceiling wards before unleashing a clumsy repertoire of hand and arm movements which, when combined with the ponderousness of his leg rotations, would not have looked out of place at a sand-dance audition. Not so much walking like an Egyptian just making an ass of himself really. Minus points were doubly assured when these badly choreographed movements finished with an absurd two hands clasped behind the head posture which made him resemble a badly dressed Dirk Diggler - a sweaty blur of pelvic thrusts and parodic eye rolling. But despite this twisted version of fitness equipment use and unconscious popinjaying he easily blended into the background of mirrored walls, hissing machines and gleaming chrome when compared to the sight of 'no point hero number two'.

No-point-hero-number two was an incongruity who seemed to have strayed into the gym area looking for work rather than a work-out. A grey-haired cove in his late fifties dressed in a blue checked shirt, blue trousers and black shoes and who, having sauntered in, sidled up to one of those difficult machines which involve a complex nexus of cables, pullies and timing devices, and stared at it as if trying to discover by observation alone its mechanical workings and purpose. My sweatily distorted eyes assumed blue man to be a janitor or maintenance staff. His presence was in stark contrast to all the lycra, swooshes and ipoddedery happening all around. Age, body shape, clothing choices; the message was clear, the fixer had been summoned. Summoned by dumbbells as John Betjamin might have written if he'd been recalling the methods he might have used to help rebuff those angry classmates wishing to flail his hide for mistakenly believing him to be a German Spy, rather than seeking out all those circuitous routes.

But it was the exercise circuit route our 'janitor' had been summoned to attend. Or so I had thought. It occurred to me briefly that he might have been summoned by misspells as one of the machines had a smudged piece of A4 paper blue tacked on it which explained to an incredulous readership that it was 'Out off service.' But I was thinking too much. And he had stopped thinking altogether as he launched himself with a zealots enthusiasm into a comical caper of pulls and presses, tuggings and curlings. Never mind the black shoes and the belted trousers with the wallet half poking out of the back pocket. Ignore if you can the buttoned up shirt and the ciggies pack sitting square and proud in the shirt pocket. Our aging oddball had popped in for a quick workout - flurry of baccy coughs, nicotined fingers and disbelieving looks from everyone else. And not a spanner in sight. All very strange.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Stumped Chumps

The Mastermind-quality questions that the Celebrity Love Islanders had to grapple with on this evening's programme included some real stinkers. Stinker number one was Rebecca Loos who agonised for an age before disinterring from a recess of her mind that World War One had started in 1942. Observant bloggers will remember Becca of Beckham fame whose new scandal is in showing a rather disinterested world a new pair of surgically enhanced boobies paid for by the British tabloid reading public.
"What is the official title of the Queen's husband?" intoned ex-footballer Lee Sharpe trying to sound as if he knew the answer and that the other contestants are a bunch of thickos who have nothing in common with him. They have everything in common with him, they're all drowning under a welter of inanity and none of them knew the answer, and I'd put my house on it that he didn't either. " I know this, I know this", chirped a hopelessly optimistic Abbi Titmus. She didn't know this. She probably still doesn't know this even though she has since been given the answer. "The Prince of England" was her best shot - which had me frowning at my TV so hard I might have put a bullet though it, Elvis-style, had I been packing a revolver. That would have been my best shot. Keep doing the 'tits for sale' telly gigs Abs if you want to keep paying the bills.
"What's the boiling point of water?" expensively educated Lady Isabella Hervey was asked: A nasally "ninety nynnne" was posh Bella's failed effort. She couldn't crack this question of enigma code difficulty, nor could she calculate two x twenty four without examining all her fingers and toes like a self grooming and overly fastidious chimp. Which I suppose was a little more decorous than playgirl Nikki who contented herself as she limbered up for the competition, by showing her own crack - to everyone - by lying on her back with her legs sluttishly raised as she counted - correctly as it happened - the number of mosquito bites she had accrued around her nether regions. But the "Who's the Chancellor of the Exchequer" question gave her the only stump she was getting that night. On hearing the answer "Gordon Brown," Nikki petulantly drawled: "I was going to say that", showing that she can lie as well as lie on her back.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Apropos of Nothing

This blogging. If you've nothing sensible to say - you still say it. In fact, you're encouraged to, which is liberating. To me anyway. If there's no subject occupying your thoughts, no ideas-baton you feel worth picking up and running with, nothing you feel aches to be revealed through the purging process of writing; you can still do what you do in real life, pick away at the minutiae of your thoughts and say it by writing it down in logical sequences. Or illogical sequences. Or at least in sentences which have the advantages of some crafting time, some . . . honing time, and that through the process it will prompt blogging material from the outrageous tangents and audacious non sequiturs.

And the ideas - the ideas will flow through you like the one that Alec Guiness - he of Obi wan Kenobi (a few erstwhile efforts involving 'Ossifers will do . . . . manuul worrk!!' and a handful of classics notwithstanding) fame implored Luke - the youthful Mark Hamil to feel for. Luke, who within two film seasons ended up looking like he'd just been de-swaddled of mummy-like facial bandages, Invisible Man style, whilst his badly burned face slowly recovered as if from some kind of intergalactic leprosy. All that flying around at the speed of sound even in simulated mode bestowed on Hamil a look that screams G Force distortion. In freeze frame. Still it was onwards and upwards for Mark as he went from strength to, well, mediocre before doing a Hollywood bungy-jump to downright awful. From the Return of the Jedi and international fame from all three original Star Wars, to playing Will Tasker in Slipsteam and Wayne Stein in Earth Angel. The offers were obviously not flowing quite like its forcy precursor.

The offers for sop voice overs however went stratospheric once Mark's new boat became the subject of sneering asides from casting directors and would be leading ladies. Mark Hamil. From Luke the golden boy Jedi Knight, graceful wielder of lightsabers, and saver of fiesty princesses with barely and incestuous thought in his head, to the nebulous 'other voices' credits of The Little Mermaid. But a good face to call up if a redneck inbred role needed to be filled.

And the ideas flow, force-like as it binds this blog entry together - well cobbles it together would be a rather more apposite piece of phraseology. I like cobbles - 'the force, it's what cobbles us together with the universe'. Hmm unless bathos is sought, I don't suppose cobbles really stands as an exact synonym for bind in the Star Warsy sense. Good for blogs though. The verb to cobble: the process of fixing shoes, also gives us cobblers - those who do the fixing and the word in turn bestows a handy bit of Cockney rhyming slang for a load of crap from cobblers awls -balls. Release those cobblers awls. (Only the true OMC blog cognoscenti will have any understanding of this last statement - last statement. Last: a cobblers work bench provides a rather fortuitous link. I don't do John Kettly - 'Oo-er Nicky I can't really think o' link here so I'll get on wit weather. Do the weather John - you aren't funny. I like you though - and if the beard returns telly will reclaim you I'm sure. But no beard and puffy face will turn you into the Mark Hamil of weather forecasting.

When aiming at .... 'aiming at'... I haven't thought of this since .... I learnt as a school boy that 'at' always, always follows aim or aimed or aiming. The temptation to use 'for' or towards is so strong. So strong. But a little voice inside my head says "don't be a pedant". It will all end in tears. Your tears. No-one else will be crying - do not get involved in this stressful occupation. And I'm not. I can't be - I don't know all the rules. A pedant has to be versed in all the rules. If I'm not to be joined by raging clever-cloggies wanting to 'unhappy-slap' me in my comments box and telling me to shut up. Shut up!

Friday, June 10, 2005

And the Nominees are...

Such a difficult thing to do. To select from the dazzling array of blogs out there a small inconsequential roll of honour to be displayed in the shop window of my own front page. So many, how was I supposed to choose?
I suppose it depends on what I believe they represent. Are they a shortcut system serving primarily as a quick access point to the sites I read the most. Or am I making a statement of some sort?
Is it a kind of reward, blogs noted as models of excellence to which other bloggers of more mundane sites should aspire? Though all selections based on this are I suppose subjective and one person's perception of drab mundanity may well be another's shining beacon of creativity. Is it about reciprocity - I'll stick it up despite its being nothing special as it is more likely to link back? Or is about little communities of like-minders - this is a gang I think I can get into - they speeka my lingo, here is my application form - "hi (blogroll constructed equates to frantic waving) look at me, can I join in? Can I play?" I don't know, but there it is, a work in progress: a snap shot of my current favourites probably best describes it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Slags Tags and Gags

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. Well that was easy - I wonder if I can get a blogroll in a similar manner. I like these automated services; panders to the apathetic/lazy/useless side to me. I will probably die not knowing how the hell haloscan was able to post that opening comment onto this blog. Doesn't really matter though. It wont be particularly high on my list of things to do/learn before I shuffle off and turn my tootsies.

'Tootsies'. Where did that come from. I believe it's slang for toes, but in a characteristic turn of crisis confidence I've had to check it as it just just didn't look right. It is right - but in time honoured fashion, the process of delving a little deeper has revealed additional information. A tootsie is also a slang term in some parts for a prostitute. As does tart, which of course I knew. But I didn't know that tart came from the Cockney rhyming slang 'jam tart' which is a derivative of sweetheart as in the old street seducing gambit 'ello sweet'eart fancy a bit o' business'. God knows what God makes of we non tootsies calling our loved ones sweetheart via tart, via jam tart via 'ello sw . . .' you get the drift.

And tart is a real mixed up word as it also means sour which invites people for what ever reason, to refer to overly savoury things as tarty. Which reminds me of a line from the inestimable AA Gill from one of his Table Talk reviews when he writes that the waiter by way of apology announced that the 'lobster was a bit tarty'. Gill writes that he thought the waiter meant the lobster was tart but then adds: 'but you never know'.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Link or Sink?

Blogging is without rules. The Blogger as Blogger is master. But I gather that there are one or two rules - guidelines, which new Bloggers should observe if they're not to be hammering out their written sentences during life sentences of Bloggy solitary confinement. So I suppose I should get around to putting together a Blogroll of some sort if I'm not to be forever yodelling across the valley into empty space. Into Blogger space where no-one can hear you scream. Or do anything else really.

Can be tricky this blogroll thing. Do I slavishly list the usual suspects and enter the arena of linky lurve - you know the drill, - the type-who-type-this-type of thing: 'Hi all' and wait for the torrent of groupies who sit, fingers forever suspended in hover-poise, ready to join in the fun? Or do I seek out the nuggets languishing in the marginalia? All that pink writing and black back grounding and black cat photography. Hmmm a tricksy snake of a poser.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Sensory Fragment

What do we make of the car boot sale? The stalls and the stands on the farmer's lands. Or a carpark or wasteland. A wasteland. But not for waste. For clutter. Organised clutter, but clutter nonetheless. Each stall resembling the gathered together belongings of a bombed out house, or the salvagings of a Rumanian refugee's check list as they prepare for the trek to safety. But it's not. It's the British doing their week-end thing, the nation of shopkeepers confirming a suspicion.
The car boot sale. The 'car booter', or just the 'booter'. 'The mercantile scrapheap for sellers and buyers, an obsession for die hard bargain hunters and brass from muck cash generators. Row upon row, tier after tier in homage to the farmer's plough, his furrowed brow, and his till. No tills here, only tupperware containers and bumbags bulging with coins. Coins are its currency, items are priced in pence, in Ps, (pound signs are scandalised - not what it's about.) Sellers looking to turn their junk into money, urging browsers with plaintive looks to buy this, buy that, take a look at this tat; this tat I've arranged on my mat, on my, wallpaper table.
Now it's the owners who are getting a pasting - a tasting of a pasting. No one wants what they're selling. This dreck has laid dormant in garages for years in some cases. Peeking out of cases, popping out of boxes, poking out of crates. Then laid out on picnic tables and groaning under the weight. They're buckling, they're bowing, they're loaded, they're showing: egg cups and toasters, stackings of coasters; cracked plates with unknown fates showing faces of the Queen-how mean! Coffee pots, kettles, knives, forks, spoons; photo frames, trinkets and novelty runes; crap brought back from Spain - that donkey, was always a pain, with its sticky up ears and its stupid straw hat, who the hell wants to buy that!
A wreck of a bazaar, a spread-scattering-spattering of trash, tripe and trumpery all dog-eared books and solemn looks and raggle-taggle-gaggles trying half hearted haggles. And getting tetchy when it doesn't work. But the car boot sale does work. And the 'booter' is here to stay.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Reality Fights

Seems we might still be a nation obsessed with class. We're certainly a nation in a stubborn grip of confrontational telly. A nation dedicated to the cause of snooping and inanity. Even in the midst of the Granddaddy of 'fly on the wall' Big Brother and the morally bereft Celebrity Love Island which lies twitching and gasping because it continually fails to shock, surprise and scandalise - ITV were able to come up with a real stinker. Holiday Showdown. If there's one thing guaranteed to pull in the telly watching punters it's a programme chock-full with strife, sobs, sorrow and set-tos. Even if sex is off the menu. The rule to success here is simple. There must be tension. And when there is, the four s words will duly present themselves, join forces and make the programme compelling.

The premise behind this programme is to find two families from opposite sides of the still existing class system, who are unwavering, solid representations of their perceived type. Both families will share a breathtaking ignorance of how this other half live which will cause all kinds of entertaining mayhem for us when they're thrust together into each others diametrically opposed lives. We will be entertained by the utter mystification of each family - particularly the adults - as they consistently fail to understand how each others lives are constructed and lived. We will be entertained by the tension as these alien life forms, these other worlders struggle to make sense of each other. And we will be entertained by the huffs and snuffs and the whines and maligns that these chalk and cheese match ups guarantee.The two families brought together to experience each other's holidays on last nights episode were the Townsends of Solihull and the Coxes from somewhere in the Cotswolds. Both families could have been sprung from a comic novelists research folder of stock comic types.

Mr Townsend - helpfully called Craig, could have been Wayne, but Craig does just as well, was a bald, plump, earring-wearing, goateed, training-shoed, brummie-accented son of the soil with a penchant for chips with everything. His delightful muse, Tracy - I'm not making this up, though the researchers and producers might have done - was a well overweight, bottle-blonde, hugely busted, permanently fagged simpleton. They lived in a terraced house with enough children and pets to to fill a council estate playpark.The Coxes, as you would expect, hailed from a rather different backdrop. Mr Cox was one of those haughty, guffawing strangely tousle-haired toffs, his wife an indulged sour-puss, all hermes scarves and Gucci sunglasses. They're shown leaving their country mansion with their little cherubs, cross cut with the shambolic Townsends lumbering out of their modest gaff all enroute to Shell Island in North Wales - a shortage of money driven back to basics camping holiday choice for them, which the Coxes will have to endure as part of the bargain. After a week the favour is returned, and the Townsends will join the Coxes on their choice of holiday- a cultural hobby horse of Mr Cox - Florence, on a Renaissance Art appreciating trip.

Does it work? Of course it does. They all hate each others holiday, and they all fall out with each other. And they end up hating each other. It turns into the class war the producers hoped it would. And it is entertainment. So it worked. Unfortunately.

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