Ah look at all the lonely people tum te tum te tum te tum te tum te

IMG_20190330_102948

“I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people-
from a distance.”
― Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

Word of the day: Farrago – a confused mass of objects or people, any disordered mixture

I’ve been spending the week paying attention to my fellow passengers on the morning train. I only see for them for a short time each day, when at my most befuddled and slow, and when everyone is sitting silently, also befuddled and slow. But over the months, I’ve noticed little dramas play out and the fascinating oddballs become apparent (this isn’t an insult by the way, I am definitely an oddball, oddballs are my people.)

For example, there are the twins, two young men who aren’t twins, but travel together with the same hairstyle and clothes and rucksack. When one gets a haircut, the other gets the same a few days later; when one starts wearing shorts the other does the next day. They get off at the same station and walk side by side, hands in pockets, the same loping walk. But they never speak to each other. They don’t sit together or acknowledge each other in any way. My conclusion is that either: they are psychic, although I’d assume they’d start wearing the shorts on the same day. OR: one is stalking, following and copying the other who doesn’t know how to get rid of him. One day I’m expecting a punch up.

Then there’s the large, middle-aged woman who wears biker boots with spikes on them, a pink streak in her hair and huge colourful jackets. I love her. She’s my hero.

Then, sometimes, there is the angry staring man.

Stones and aliens, some answers and speculations

IMG_20190615_091205

‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’

Michelangelo

Word of the day: Dealate – insect divested of its wings

One mystery is solved! The encyclopedia of all important knowledge, Calmgrove, knew why buildings in the UK have so many stone babies and small children scattered around them. Here is his brilliant explanation.

‘Fat winged babies: these are called putti, Italian for ‘male children’. They were originally a pagan figure, a representation of Aphrodite’s child Eros, better known to us as Cupid, but substituted for cherubs in Christian iconography. Cherubs themselves derive from Hebrew cherubim, fearsome angelic beings but over time tamed down to podgy infants with ridiculously inadequate wings.
As to the St Paul’s putti, I suspect some of them are a reflection of London’s poor — the orphans, beggars, climbing boys, young pedlars — a reproach to passers-by and an encouragement to engage in some charitable work.’
I love the idea of pudgy infants with only vestigial wings so that they can no longer fly, dodo angels.
thing
The alien space tank on the roof of a building has not been so clearly explained. An air conditioning unit (thank you Boo) and overhead Gantry Crane (thank you Darnell) are two excellent suggestions. I’m not going to spin this into a drama, but all I’m saying is, keep an eye out for inexplicable alien space tanks appearing on top of buildings in your town.

London’s many stone babies

smaller

Somehow, Hamoudi has now got Jinjing into the drumming. This morning they were emptying out all the kitchen cupboards trying to find makeshift maracas (rice in tupperware) drums of different sounds (buckets, saucepans and the bin) and cymbals (they hadn’t figured this one out, but mugs, metal spoons and a frying pan hanging on the wall were all possible candidates.)

This led to Neville being annoyed and slamming doors, playing his music loudly (Miley Cyrus???) and singing.

So I ran off to central London.

Wasn’t sure where I was going, but ended up at Bank, first spotting this weird doodah on top of a building. Couldn’t get any closer to work out what it is. A machine anteater? A caterpillar tank? An alien invasion happening very slowly – like Tripods, but not tripod shaped? Any ideas?

IMG_20190615_090021thing

I know this doesn’t help much. But, what the fuck?

Anyway, then St Paul’s appeared.

IMG_20190615_090259

One thing I love about London is there is no uniformity to the buildings. Shiny new chrome can be next to a dome over 1,400 years old.

St Paul’s, like many English buildings, is filled with statues of toddlers and babies, which suddenly occurred to me is a bit weird.

IMG_20190615_091151

Especially when so many don’t look very happy.

IMG_20190615_091444

The carvings below were especially disturbing to me, since they seem to show two winged babies being whispered to by evil ghost babies.

IMG_20190615_090714

Look!

creepy

I know some of you (Calmgrove?) are knowledgeable about old buildings, so maybe someone can tell me a reason.

The din had calmed down by the time I got home. Hamoudi had a plan about going busking with their makeshift drum kit. I suggested they got Neville to sing with them and he was quite enthusiastic. Sorry London.

 

 

The curious incident of the cat in the fence

IMG_20190516_122735

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Word of the day: Cynosureany – thing that attracts attention; object of interest

Was walking along one of our gardens when I came across a small face peering out. I let out a yelp of joy, which my boss interpreted as me getting hurt and she quickly hurried over.

‘What? What? Are you ok?’ she asked, frantically.

‘A cat!’ I said pointing to the fence, where a stone was nestled in the fence, a cat’s face painted on it.

‘Right,’ she said, giving me a look, she was not impressed.

On the back the cat says it wants me to record online where I found it, but I don’t want anyone knowing where I am – my paranoia has reasons. I think I’ll hide him somewhere else. Maybe to make up for it, I’ll add a few cat stones of my own. Or other animals, any ideas?

Oh and this evening when I got home, I discovered all the cutlery had gone and Hamoudi sitting in the kitchen looking desolate trying to eat some rice with the lid of a jam jar.

‘Jinjing says I’m not allowed to use cutlery until I stop drumming with it,’ he said.

‘What about me?’ I ask.

‘She says she’ll give you a spoon if you ask.’

Barry explodes!

water

I’m not argumentative, it’s just that other people are so incredibly wrong that I have to point it out.

Word of the day: Kelpie – mischievous water spirit

Today was a day of rain and rain and rain. We stayed outside hoeing weeds off paths, and keeping our heads down, waiting for the minutes to inch past.

At break time we had fifteen minutes to try and dry off, even though it’s summer we all huddled around the radiator.

Then Barry (attention-seeking road sweeper who’s become increasingly unpleasant over the last few weeks) came stamping into the mess room. He was wet through and had decided that was our fault, specifically mine.

‘Well thank you very much!’ he shouted. We all looked at him blankly. He was waving his arms around, eyes bugging out.

‘I was out there all on my own and then the rain came down like a fucking bus on my head!’

‘Oh dear,’ we all mumble, ‘shame.’ It hadn’t occurred to him that we experienced the exact same rain.

‘But none of you came to check on me did you? None of you came to see I was ok!’ He was red-faced, slamming things in his locker, then taking them out so he could slam them in again. At this point I thought, bollocks, and sat down to read the paper. He had been building up to this tantrum with a series of minor tantrums, and my patience had worn away to nothing. The others in the room made awkward sympathetic noises, but I stayed quiet.

Now, in case you’re wondering, there’s no reason why we would check on him, we don’t work with him, we never know where he is, or even if he’s at work unless we happen to pass him. But in Barry’s mind (which I’m starting to think is the mind of the narcissist) this was an affront! An insult! How dare we!

His ranting carried on, but now I was obviously not listening, and this was a further insult, a sign of disrespect. And although he didn’t use my name, I could tell that each rage-filled comment was now directed at me, I could feel his bug eyes trying to burn a hole through my paper. Above the page, I could see him leaning over the table towards me.

‘No! Don’t worry about me! I’ll be fine! You just sit there like it doesn’t matter!’

So I did. And it didn’t.

‘I could have died out there! You wouldn’t even know!’ He slammed something in his locker again. ‘And look at me! I’m soaked! I’m not going to be able to dry off now,’ he snarled, I focused on my paper. ‘I’ll be wet all day!’

Eventually he ran out of words and I ran out of break. I got up and walked to the door, where I ran into Mike coming in.

‘Hi Inkbiotic, do you think you could help me do a service on the hedgecutters after break?’

‘Sure, Mike,’ I say.

From behind me, Barry sneered,

‘Oh she can speak! Now she talks.’

I didn’t say anything, because fuck this, and I carried on out the door. As I went back into the rain with relief, I heard Barry shouting after me,

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.’

But it’s too late. He’s a dickhead and I’ve had enough.

This is why going out is a bad idea

animal

‘Until all that’s left is the pounding of a solitary drum.’

And Now This, The End of Time

Word of the day: Carphology – fitful plucking movements as in delirium

I used to be able to watch the trees blowing in the wind from my window, but this weekend there are only stumps, so I went out to the park to see the trees shimmying around. A strong warm wind is always so melodramatic. While I was out I got a text from the landlady, a little passive aggression followed by more proof she sees our flat as her storage facility.

I thought you’d be in today. You usually r on a Sat. I didn’t have my key. I don’t have time to run around. Be careful of drum kit in hall, we’ll pick up later. Julie x.

Seriously? A drum kit? Got home to find Hamoudi happy as a crab in a bucket of snails, he had discovered the drum kit and was composing a drum solo.

‘I’ve watched a few videos and I think I’ve got the hang of them. Maybe I’ll join a band,’ he said battering the cymbal.

‘Have you played the drums before?’ I shouted.

‘No, but it’s fairly straightforward. It’s all about keeping time, you see?’ he said earnestly, taking a pause, and I nodded. So far he’s got the eyebrows and enthusiasm of animal from the muppets, all he needs now is the rhythm and he will go far.

Note: that may be the first time in my life I spelt rhythm correctly without help, the curse is finally lifted!

Sunshine questions for everybody!

sun

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question, than a fool can learn from a wise answer.

Bruce Lee

Land Manatee nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award and it’s always nice to have a bit of sunshine, so thank you Land Manatee! He writes highly entertaining blogs, so worth having a look if you fancy something to read.

I like the chance to answer and ask questions –  to an almost pathological degree – but I’m a bit wary of putting pressure on others, so I won’t nominate anyone else, I’ll just link to a few blogs I think are great. I’ll add some questions too, and anyone who feels like it can answer them.

That means YOU!

if you want…

My questions for you

  1. What recurring dream do you have? Do you know why?
  2. If you could choose any name for yourself, what would you choose?
  3. What’s the weirdest fact you know?
  4. What’s a secret about you that no one would ever guess?
  5. Do you prefer to stride or amble? Why?
  6. Name a small thing that made you smile today?
  7. What made you want to write or keep a blog?
  8. What was your best decision ever?
  9. What could have gone wrong today, but didn’t? It can be as serious or ridiculous as you want.
  10. For a week you can have any job you want and be good and successful at it, what do you choose?
  11. What’s the most inexplicable thing that’s ever happened to you?

Some of my favourite bloggers (although, certainly not all)

Darnell Cureton Fictionista – he’s always writing great stories and playing with ideas. His latest, about a psychic crime fighting squad, is great.

Boo Surviving this thing called life – a bitter sweet blog about losing the one you love and keeping hope

Colin McQueen Getting on – always funny, a master of the metaphor

Questions Land Manatee asked me to answer

What would your dream job be and why?

In the world of my head, my dream job would be something adventurous and dramatic, like plant hunting in the jungle or an investigative reporter uncovering corporate wrongdoing. In reality, I know I’d find those jobs stressful and exhausting and they’d give me no time to write or be with friends, so I’d end up hating them. Probably the best job for me is the one I do – gardening – it’s hard work, but rarely stressful (where I am now, anyway), gets me outside and the people are ace. It lets me spend hours daydreaming too, which is essential or I go strange.

How would you describe your perfect day?

In the jungle, photographing colourful birds, plants and insects.

What inspires or influences you as a writer or blogger?

Blogging – life. It’s filled with bizarre little details, funny people and odd mysteries.

Writing – the same as above, but with the chance to let my imagination do ridiculous things too.

If you decided to move to a new country or city, where would you want to live and why?

Iceland, maybe. I’m curious about the politics and people and I think the environment would be drastically different to what I’m used to, and I love that.

What famous person or celebrity at any point in history would you like to meet and what would you want to talk about or ask that person?

Someone who’s done something huge and terrible, Hitler, Pinochet or Pol Pot. I’d want to understand why they did what they did, if there is a specific course of events that shapes someone like that, and if there is any way to divert that course

In what fundamental way have you changed over the years?

I had a real life-changing event about fourteen years ago when I got brain damage and PTSD, and that changed everything in many ways. These days I’m a lot calmer, less confident, less manic, more aware of others than I was before the accident. I get on a lot better with people, but I worry a lot more if I don’t.

What do you like about your writing and what frustrates you?

When writing books, I like that my writing tends to be imaginative and unusual. However, my last book ended up kind of intense, and I really didn’t want that.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog or be a writer?

To start a blog – make sure you’re writing something that you’ll enjoy writing, so it isn’t a chore

Writing – get the ideas out, splurge; then be your own harsh editor. Create with abandon, select with care.

What is a pet peeve of yours?

In writing it’s stereotypes, when the writer hasn’t really thought about anyone beyond their own peers/gender/race and so bases all characters outside of that on characters they’ve read before.

What’s your favorite book, movie or TV show and why? (answer any of them you feel like)

Books – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because it’s joyous, funny and ridiculous, but still has some profound ideas to it.

TV – Community, because it’s joyous, funny and ridiculous, but still has some profound ideas to it. And it also has a diverse cast that avoids insulting stereotypes.

If you were to be sent back in time — at least more than 75 years ago — when and where would you want to be sent to and why? Would you be an observer or a participant?

I’d go a few billion years, I want to see early life. The first forests, the bizarre sea creatures, to discover the climate. I definitely shouldn’t be a participant, I’ve seen that Simpson’s episode.

 

sunshineblogger-1

Back to the landlady drama

IMG_20190330_101223.jpg

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

Lewis Carroll

Word of the day: Barbastelle – a hairy lipped bat

For anyone not keeping track of all my nonsense, myself and my three flatmates recently discovered that the landlady, Julie, has been paying us little visits while we were out.

Having made it clear with our rental contract that we can’t stop her, she’s started popping round every few evenings and using our flat like some kind of storage facility. So far we’ve acquired a broken toaster, a vacuum cleaner that smokes when you turn it on, a bag of plastic spoons and two packs of doilies. Then this evening, Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen making falafel and I was hanging about hoping to either get some leftovers or summon up the energy to go and get popcorn, when  Julie showed up again. She poked her head round the door and said,

‘Ohhh, are you having a party? Alright for some.’ Then went back out into the hall. Hamoudi  watched her through the slightly open door, and gave whispered updates to us as to what Julie was doing. Apparently she was checking the paintwork, looking in the toilet and then she took a pile of notebooks out of her back and put them up in the cupboard in the hallway. Thoughtfully she took out Hamoudi’s bicycle pump and my spare towel first, before adding the notebooks and putting a padlock on the cupboard. Then she left. Hamoudi has spent the evening in the hall with a paperclip and YouTube trying to work out how to pick the lock.

‘I just want to know what’s in those notebooks. I’ll bet it’s all information she’s collected about us.’

‘Why would she keep it here then?’

Hamoudi looked at me with ferocious wide-eyes, a man pushed to the edge, I’m not sure what by.

‘To taunt us!’ he said.

P.I. Inkbiotic Investigates

 

IMG_20190517_111652

‘Inch by inch, the world fell apart.’ Empty Poems of the Sun – Hector Banlet

Today me and Mike were loading up the van with a few shrubs we’d cut down, when a man came rushing over all excited.

‘I don’t mean to be rude, but can I have them? I’m getting married on Saturday and they’d look great in the hall, they’re so beautiful!’

We tried to explain about greenfly and viburnum beetle, but he was too happy to listen and we were only going to throw them away, so of course we said yes. Mike tried to charge the guy a fiver, but I gave him a stern look. The groom-to-be kept thanking us, and we congratulated him (actually I said ‘Have a good wedding’ because I have no idea what the etiquette for weddings is).

Five minutes later he returned saying,

‘I’m so sorry, I have to give them back, my van is full of flies now!’

So our kind deed failed, and Mike didn’t even get his fiver.

This afternoon I went to check out the accident down my street, as promised. I had to walk up and down the road looking casual until everyone had gone, and then got a few photos.

IMG_20190517_111711

 

Inspecting closer, I noticed there’s slight skid marks leading towards the smashed up fence. It looks as if someone skidded off the road and drove through the fence, then drove across the garden and out the wall a bit further on. Pausing only to smash out the back windows of two cars. But surely it would take a truck to drive through a wall? Was it a truck? The cars now have bin liners over the window.

Any ideas? I asked what people thought at work and got the following suggestions:

  • A hate crime.
  • A revenge attack.
  • A police raid, where some kind of evidence/ drugs were thought to be in one of the cars.
  • Somebody really drunk got confused where the road was, drove into the garden. They felt very guilty and wanted to write a note to say sorry, but they didn’t have a a pen, so they smashed the rear window of one car, looking for one, but no pen.  Then they smashed the back window of the other car, but no pen. They were then so frustrated by the uselessness of the garden owner, that they drove out in a rage, not noticing that they had made a new path through the wall.

 

The dream man gets out

identikit

Word of the day: Bodach – churl; goblin or spectre

Weather: yuk

Mood: well…

 

Got home from work, muddy and soaked. The lounge door was open and I could see Jinjing and Hamoudi hunched over their laptops. Being nosy, I went to try and see what they were doing and they both turned to look at me with haunted eyes.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked, I could see composite faces on each of the screens, like something off Crime Watch.

‘Working with an online identikit program,’ said Hamoudi.

‘My dream,’ said Jinjing darkly, ‘the face in my dream, we’re trying to create it.’

‘The man who stands and stares through your window?’ I asked. With all the trouble with the landlady, I’d forgotten about that.

‘I think he was sitting opposite me on the tube this morning,’ said Hamoudi. I tried not to look too confused, but I must have, because he went on. ‘I knew what he looked like from Jinjing. And there he was, the dark haunting eyes, the grey hood, the pointy nose.’

‘And he was going to work?’ I asked.

‘He wasn’t going anywhere, nobody else could see him,’ said Hamoudi. He paused dramatically, then said, ‘He was dead.’

‘Ah,’ I said, I’d forgotten about Hamoudi’s dead people also. I look at the faces they’ve created, Hamoudi’s has a scar, Jinjing’s has a brooding brow and pouty lips.

‘See? They look the same! That proves it!’ says Hamoudi. ‘I saw the man from Jinjing’s dream.’

I don’t point out that they’re sitting right next to each other, looking at what the other one is doing, so it’s not surprising they’re a little bit similar. I also don’t point out that Jinjing’s has no scar and Hamoudi’s doesn’t have a brooding brow or pouty lips. I don’t want to spoil the drama. I creep out the room and make the most of the empty kitchen to cook some pasta.