Friday, 8 July 2011

A Man of Many Masks

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Daniel apologises as he steps into the apartment. He looks a sorry sight, hair and coat dripping with rain, his glasses steamed up. He becomes aware that he is dripping on the polished wooden floor, and begins to apologise again. I raise a hand to stop him. “Don’t worry,” I explain, “it’s a studio. The floor frequently gets dirty. Art is a dirty business.” Daniel smiles an uneasy smile and allows me to hang his coat up for him. From the hook by the door the coat continues to produce a puddle on the floor.

Daniel Webb is a young journalist working for a local London paper, here to interview me in the run-up to the British Museum’s upcoming ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ exhibition. In particular he is here to speak about the masks I am offering the Museum for the duration of this short exhibition from my private collection. Daniel and I have met just the once before, following a brief phone conversation where I suggested we meet up for a coffee on London’s quiet South Bank. There’s a lovely place that sits directly opposite Cleopatra’s Needle on the north bank of the Thames, an ancient Egyptian monolith that seems both out of place and yet typical of the mish mash of identities contained within this city. This is not my home and yet I love it for it’s cultural diversity, the way it draws in people and influences and stirs them together.

I remember that initial meeting. A sunny day, not at all like today, a golden light filtering through the trees on the South Bank, the laughter and conversations of people sitting nearby, or walking past along the bank of the river. Daniel was early and I found him nervously waiting when I arrived. He rose from his chair, addressed me by my name and eagerly offered me his hand, which I took and shook. His handshake was a little too eager, as if he’d once been told that a firm handshake conveys a strong and confident character. I sat down and we talked a little, and he jotted down numerous notations in a ring-bound notebook. He seemed to relax in my company, seemed to be comforted somewhat by my laughter in response to some of his more insightful questions. But we agreed there and then that he might do better to have some sort of recording device for the purposes of his interview, and that if he were to have his article accompanied by relevant pictures he might as well visit me at my London studio flat. And so here he is.

I lead him from the slowly forming puddle in the entrance hall through to the lounge, and offer him a drink. Tea? Coffee? “Coffee, please,” he says, his eyes wide as he takes in the details of the studio flat. There is little here to suggest anything comparable to the grandeur of the collection Daniel has come here to see; I have the bare minimum to make myself comfortable here. A glass topped coffee table, a couple of white plastic chairs, and four blank white walls like vast canvasses awaiting their first drop of paint. A large window looks out across the Thames, but it now frames darkness, animated by the pattern of raindrops. The lights of distant buildings dance to the gentle brush of the rain against the glass. By contrast my footsteps sound sharply upon the polished wooden floor as I cross the room to the kitchenette near the window.

“Please, sit down,” I call, as I fetch a jar of instant coffee from the cupboard. “Make yourself comfortable.” Daniel picks one of the not-particularly-comfortable chairs, one where he faces the window and the kitchenette, and begins to empty his bag. One by one he places the contents on the coffee table, as if each needs to be positioned just so: a compact digital camera, a dictaphone, a notebook, a pen, and lastly a book from which protrudes a leaflet for the British Museum. The book I see shares the name of the exhibition and is presumably the book by Joseph Campbell from which it gets its name.

To be continued…

Snippet of a short film script... "Red"


Fade in the words “ONCE UPON A TIME…”

ROSE (V.O.):

Once upon a time…

The ‘O’ of ‘ONCE’ fades into a full moon in a dark sky.

ROSE (V.O.):

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Everyone’s heard this one before. It’s only the details that change.


We see ROSE’s red mp3 player. A finger with a nail painted bright red presses ‘play’ and the music begins to accompany opening sequence.


The music is the main constant throughout the opening sequence, the images showing London in momentum, as the camera pans past, taking in various snippets. Key to this is ROSE’s journey through London by night, trying to maintain motion, flashes of colour and life. People laughing and chatting, glimpses of adverts and brandings. Trying to maintain the presence of red without making it an obvious focus. ROSE we see only partially, holding a book or magazine with the same red nailed hands, or legs crossed with red shoes. She wears dark colours mixed with brighter reds. The music remains constant, no background noise coming through. ROSE’s journey is uninterrupted by the world beyond her personal theme tune.

We glimpse a few surreal shots, red phone boxes lying like knocked over dominos (as per the art sculpture at Kingston Upon Thames), the traffic light tree at Herons Quay on the Isle of Dogs, red lights flickering in the background.


The sequence ends with a shot of the red shoes stepping onto a London pavement. We scroll up to see ROSE’s face for the first time, a twenty something girl with short hair, dyed bright red. Behind her a London UNDERGROUND sign is reflected. Closing in on her face the only visible letters of this sign become the letters DER in reverse. She removes one earphone then the other, replacing the music with street noise.

Across the road a crossing sign displays a red man, ensuring she doesn’t cross. Cut back to ROSE until lights change, then show ROSE crossing whilst red light holds back traffic.


We see ROSE walking towards the entrance of a hospital.


A man sits at a table, early to mid forties, suit, tie. He sits with a newspaper in front of him, a crossword incomplete. Possible opportunity for other subtle references to Little Red Riding Hood. This is D.I. HUNTER. He is sipping black coffee. There is a general murmur of noise in the background, but it is late and there are few people here. There is soft music playing. We watch HUNTER for a moment struggling with some of the clues.


Do you mind if I sit here?

Pull back to show ROSE standing next to HUNTER’s table, and lots of empty tables around them. ROSE has a bunch of roses in her hands. Posters and signs on the wall make it clear that this café is part of the hospital. A bottle of ketchup sits on a table in the foreground.

HUNTER looks around, then back up at ROSE.


Ah… No.


I just thought, you know, it’s a big empty room. No point sitting far away from the only other point of interest.


Point of interest?

ROSE pulls a chair out and sits.


You. These flowers aren’t for you by the way.


You know visiting hours are over?


Yeah, I’m here for my grandmother. She’s ill, she can see visitors out of hours. What’s your story?


I’m here on police business.





HUNTER pulls some ID out of a pocket.



(pauses, smiling)

So, what do you make of the coffee?


The coffee?


Yeah, the coffee. In your official capacity as an officer of the law.

HUNTER laughs.


I’m thinking of picking something up to take upstairs. A drink and a snack.


It’s ah… it’s okay, I suppose. Hot. Black. Does the trick.






Eight across. German brothers and storytellers.


Oh, the Brothers Grimm.


Got it in one.


One hour perhaps. Not really my thing.


I suppose not. Not many wolves to catch in London.


No. Not as such.

HUNTER checks his watch, reminded of the man he’s keeping an eye on upstairs.


You know what? I never understood why there was just a big bad wolf in those stories.


(distracted) Huh?


You know, a solitary wolf. They’re pack animals, they hunt in packs.


It’s an analogy, isn’t it? The tall dark stranger your mother always warns you of?


Not my mum. (laughs) You off?

HUNTER is climbing to his feet. He picks up his coffee, but leaves the paper.


Er… yeah. Nice to meet you…





ROSE watches HUNTER wander off.


(to the empty room) See you later then.

To be continued...

Late Night Review...

Last night was the Harry Potter film premiere. A big spectacle. Lots of people were there. Many famous ones.

I didn’t go myself, but did see the crowds during the day. Crazy!

The day had been a little hectic. I needed to sort out some tickets at Victoria coach station, and so had headed out in torrential rain. I’d dressed for rain, with my jacket and boots. Still, it turns out it is actually summer, and horribly warm. Whilst I thought it’d be quite cool to hang around London for a little while (after heading to a few shops and deciding not to spend money on a few things I really liked), five or six hours in a coat exhausted me. The evening I decided would be spent doing some sorting out at my parents’ place. Fortunately I decided not to inform them, as I stumbled across a Tweet en route that made me change direction.

Someone was offering a spare ticket to anyone interested, to a comedy show at the Soho Theatre. I figured that other people might jump at the chance but that, if not, I could probably do so. When it appears noone else has offered to take the ticket I grab a tube to Oxford Circus.

Let’s be honest. The title Gimp Fight doesn’t immediately make you think ‘Hmmmm… that sounds like a fun night out…’ Well, perhaps one or two of you are raising an eyebrow and trying not to be excited by the idea. But the fact is I’d read a little bit about it before, possibly through the Twitterfeed of the person who was offering the ticket, and knew it was a comedy show, albeit it a dark comedy show. And sometimes it’s the random opportunities in life that turn into bigger opportunities and introduce you to a larger world of experiences.

ComedyNerd, or Carol as she is known in real life, is apparently a bit of a Late Night Gimp Fight groupie, having spent much of the week seeing the show multiple times already, having claimed the same seat in the front row as her own. She was so familiar with the material that she’d previously been noted as laughing prior to the jokes, and disrupting a reviewer’s viewing of it. I didn’t know what to expect, and the flyers all show a gimp masked man cradling a baby. Or perhaps it’s more the mask of a Mexican wrestler, but in a tasteful sombre black. Either way, it didn’t quite prepare me for the show. Nor did the signs warning of full frontal nudity.

Carol, and the friend she’d been waiting with (and whose name I’ve completely forgotten now because I tend to forget names I don’t see written down or hear repeated – sorry!) are big fans of the comedy circuit, and regular visitors to the Edinburgh Festival. Carol has a list of MUST SEE acts, and a list of prices. The total at the bottom was just under £200. That’s commitment to comedy! Her friend said she usually avoided spending more than a tenner to see an act. That said Late Night Gimp Fight tickets were £15. But absolutely well worth it.

We were the first to enter the theatre, and claimed our seats in the front row. The set looked amazing (a little like the sort of thing I’m trying to conjure up for my own play at the moment), being what appeared to be some sort of small flat, a room consisting of a kitchen and lounge area with doorway off either side, presumably to a bedroom (through a bead curtain) and bathroom (with a door). A front door stage left faced the audience, as did a couch in front of it, positioned so that it was lined up with a TV on the far left of the stage. There was an Apocalypse Now poster on the wall, and a selection of boardgames, books, DVDs and CDs on the shelves (notably a Never Mind The Buzzcocks game and a couple of book by Howard ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Marks). Cuttlery lined the kitchen counter draining board. All in all it looked like a bit of a student flat, but like one where the students did actually make a point of tidying up.

The scene is set when one of the five man troupe, a young bearded gentleman, walks onto the stage through the front door, throwing his keys across the kitchen counter. He switches lights on, slumps onto the couch, and picks up a remote control. We are then introduced to an element of the show that runs throughout – a TV screen is projected onto the back wall of the set to show us various Late Night Gimp Fight adverts. Usually these brief scenes, usually doctored adverts or song videos that end with the words Late Night Gimp Fight, offer a few seconds distraction whilst the lights are down and the comedians are running into position for their next sketch. This first time though, which sets the scene, has an advert for a charity. The two gentlemen explain how there are people out there being physically and mentally tortured. And that it is up to them to help look after such people when their masters and mistresses die. They are the Prevention of Prevention of Cruelty To Gimps. “Give a gimp a fish,” explains one man, “and he’ll shove it up his arse. But give a gimp a rod…” The man pauses, then continues… “and he’ll probably shove it up his arse too…”

Once the advert finishes the stage the comedians all appear for introductions, all wearing gimp masks (and including the young bearded man who has had a mask yanked over his head). They sing “Late Night Gimp Show” to the tune of Don’t Stop Believing, one of them on stage in a wheel chair as a special nod to Glee. After the song they introduce themselves to the audience and then announce the new female member of the group who we’ve yet to see. Which proves to be something of a disaster.

There are so many very funny sketches throughout, some of which I’ll try to recall because as a ‘Worst of’ compilation this is old material they’re performing before they go on to do their new stuff at Edinburgh.

There’s a sketch about the father of a four year old who is visited by his tactless friend. After this initial meeting where he casually mentions that his son has been killed they later reappear throughout the show, with the friend displaying his lack of tact a couple of times more.

There’s a sketch where a jock gets bullied by nerds, picked on as he begins to eat an apple. Which is a lot funnier than it sounds.

There’s Jesus being crucified on the cross, delivering his great speech about being delivered into his Father’s hands… before being interrupted by one of the thieves being crucified alongside him, who’s just remembered something he’s forgotten to do…

There’s the jolly doctor who announces to his patient that he’s got nothing to worry about, and that he just has hives. “Hives? Phew! But isn’t that like an itchy rash? I haven’t got an itchy rash…” “Oh! Let’s see. Oh, my mistake, you’ve got A hive. Just the one.” “Phew! Well, that’s a relief!” “Yes, nothing to worry about… hmmmm… I thought ‘hive’ was spelt with an ‘e’ on the end…” Patient’s face drops. “Oh! I see! My mistake! It’s HIV! That’s make perfect sense!” Laughing aloud at his silly mistake, then sees how the patient is reacting. “Oh… I suppose that’s worse, isn’t it?”

There’s a sketch about how Sleeping Beauty could only be woken by a kiss of true love. Nothing else. So, essentially, the narrator explains to the prince, you could do whatever you wanted and she wouldn’t wake up. Which it then cuts back to later revealing that Sleeping Beauty was sleeping next door, and a hysterical Cinderella is shrieking at the prince “What was that? What the hell was that?” before sobbing to herself “That was nothing like Disney!”

There are few great moments where they sing. There’s a wonderful scene where a pervert in a trenchcoat is encouraging Bonnie Tyler to “turn around, Bright Eyes!” There’s a song they’ve written themselves about Making Love With The TV On, that lists various amusing shows to do so to. There’s their beat box version of some Dizzee Rascal (that is paired with another sketch which has its ‘big twist’ ruined). There’s their version of the Full Monty striptease that changes to the All the Single Ladies dance routine midway through (hilarious, and that’s before the big reveal at the end of the striptease!). And finally there are couple of songs performed by the comedians lying on their backs, wearing hoodies over their legs and manipulating them like puppets. Incredible stuff.

Very very funny. If their new stuff is anything like their old stuff, I encourage you go see them.

I went home to where my two of my flatmates were very drunk. My story about how Twitter had presented me with a really cool and unexpected opportunity was derailed by one of them, the comedy writer, saying how I only do stuff in order to write about it on Twitter, and how wouldn’t that be a great idea for a comedy character, or someone that apparently has all the answers and can be reached directly on Twitter? Or wouldn’t it be hilarious if you created a Twitter account and just came across as elusive and vague and difficult to actually Follow? Which, to anyone who is on Twitter, probably sounds like the dullest bunch of ideas you’ve heard for a while, since there are hundreds of accounts out there like that already. And which was a bit of a dampener on a great night out because I think he’d have probably preferred hearing about the great comedy than trying to string together a few terrible ideas and then, being drunk and stoned, lose his thread of thought several times.

But there you go. Too much alcohol makes dicks of us all. Or makes us too honest. Perhaps that’s the same thing.

Late Night Gimp Fight can be found here:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Killing Time In Camden...

It’s mid afternoon in Camden. I’ve met a friend working in the market, who has been handling a hangover and has been demonstrating to me which stalls he watches over, and the constant stream of young attractive girls that wander by. I’ve been to the shop that looks like it’s like an Ibiza club, were it an Ibiza club in the 22nd century – it’s all glow in the dark bits and edgy graphics and loud electro dance music that never fails to leave me leaving it with the impression I’ve just had a GREAT time. And I’ve traipsed alongside the canal and up and down the high street in glorious sunshine, feeling that okay, this is summer and I should take advantage of the good weather.

But these are not the reasons I’ve come to Camden. I’m here because another friend of mine, Tim, will be on stage at a comedy venue this evening. I’ve been going to quite a few comedy nights recently. A long time ago someone suggested I should go into stand up myself, due to occasional quick displays of wit people are taken aback to witness. Alas this would never work since there seems to be a requirement in stand up to stand up in front of people. And there so are many people much better at standing up than me.

The night starts at 8pm. It’s still mid afternoon. And I’ve started to exhaust my list of things to do to kill time.

“Do you fancy meeting up before 8pm for a drink?” I Tweet, to which comes a positive reply and a suggestion of 6.30pm. This is good, in that it means I have a whole hour and a half less to waste. It does still require me to find other things to do in the meantime. This results in more wandering around, towards London Zoo where I rejoin the canal and work my way back towards Camden. It’s a very nice little walk I’ve not really done much before, one of those few walks in London where you forget, for a moment, all the busy roads and see a more sedate side of things. It’s a slowed down pace. If not for the small groups of people using this route, or sitting down taking in the view, you’d think it was one of London’s best kept secrets.

The sun, by now, has decided it’s put enough effort in for the day and has hidden behind some clouds. There is a light breeze but then it is still warm, almost humid, and the breeze is welcome. I walk the pleasant walk back to Camden Town and eventually find myself sitting in Burger King, where I sip on a large coke. Catching sight of myself in a mirror, I figure the world has seen enough of my bare arms and put my jacket on. Once outside again it begins to rain, just ever so slightly, and it’s lovely and refreshing. It’s about 4.30pm. I still have two hours to kill. I shall go to see my friend in the market again.

My friend in the market smiles when he sees me return, and is rolling a smoke to take a break. He introduces me to some of the people he works with. But we seem to have run through most topics of conversation from our previous catch up. Furthermore it was sunny then, and the talk was of lighter topics such as girls in the market, about comedy clubs, about getting out of repetitive situations. “I used to go swimming,” he confided earlier , “three times a week. I think I need to get back into it.” I nodded, knowingly. “Yes, I’ve been thinking of maybe joining a gym or something. I’m getting a bit of a belly.” I patted my very small belly, just for emphasis. A lady my friend was selling a picture to looked at me with a small measure of amusement. I do not look fat. I look wirey.

With the rain conversations seem to have taken a slightly darker edge. Apparently there was a stabbing recently, one of the security guards having gone to hospital after being slashed with a knife. My friend wants to get out. Already he has earned himself an evil nemesis in the form of a young girl he has caught trying to shoplift a number of times. She’ll still pass by on occasions. Scowling. My friend wants out. He doesn’t feel safe.

A girl who he has just introduced me to, who works at a nearby stall, is looking decidedly uneasy with this topic of conversation. “No, no,” he attempts to reassure her, “you’ll be fine!” She smiles, nervously.

The market is winding down. It is nearly 5pm. An hour and a half to kill. I say goodbye to my friend. I have a plan. I need to pick up some tickets from Victoria Coach Station before the weekend. Why don’t I do that now?

On the bus journey there, the light rain pattering on the windows, the air-con turned up to eleven in a bid to make the bus sound like a hovercraft at full speed, I reflect that today has been a really cool day. I’ve spent much of it catching sunshine and reading, taking advantage of some unscheduled down time between freelance work commitments. I’ve enjoyed exploring parts of London I’ve not been to for a while. I’ve been able to have some quality me time that doesn’t involve going to shops and spending money. I feel cosmopolitan, I feel at one with my city and, by extension, the world. It’s been a lovely sunny day and now the rain is washing away the intense heat and letting things settle for a more relaxing evening.

It’s been a really cool day, I reflect. But a big part of me doesn’t feel like I’ve earned it. Or perhaps more than that it feels as if I’m having a really cool day at the expense of others.

The bus journey takes longer than expected. I disembark at Trafalgar Square to catch the tube. But even on the tube I don’t get to Victoria tube station til ten minutes to six. And Victoria tube is already congested. I figure that if it’s taken me 50 minutes to get here from Camden, despite the fact the travel gods were smiling on me and ensured the correct bus turned up at the right time, that tube trains were arriving on their platforms just as I reached them, if it takes another 50 minutes to get back to Camden I will be late. This doesn’t even factor in the ten minute walk up the road to the coach station and the further five-ten minute interaction with a ticket machine. Looking at the crowd of rush hour commuters in Victoria tube station I think that perhaps the best thing to do is take the Victoria Line back in the direction of Camden. And that at least the journey to Victoria has been a nice distraction, and afforded me some time out of the rain to read some of my book.

The return journey takes me 20 minutes. I am now in Camden again with time to kill. Oh, how I laugh.

At 6.30pm I turn up at the Black Heart bar that has a big neon red crucifix on the wall and pictures of Jesus Christ on the wall, alongside pictures of skulls. It is a place I later remark to someone as not perhaps being the best place anyone would ever bring a first date to. My friend Tim is already here, and not alone; our mutual friend Tara sits with him in a booth and it is she who sees me first. I get myself a drink and drift over. We exchange pleasantries, discuss various writing and comedic projects, and other random events about town. I’ve not known these two very well and so by way of introduction they tell me of various drunken activities. They mention something called Underground Bingo, which may well be to Bingo what Fight Club is to Taking A Work Break, but essentially sounds like a themed Bingo night where everyone get very drunk first. “We’re very much in the upper age range of the people who turn up to these events,” Tim tells me. “Some of the younger members said he looked like Elton John,” Tara confides, “He wasn’t happy.” I nod my understanding. Who would be?

We order some pizzas as more friends begin to turn up for the evening. My pepperoni pizza is the first to arrive. It’s not the finest pizza I’ve ever had, the pepperoni having a higher than usual amount of pepper, oil and gristle in it. Two pizzas for my friends turn up shortly after. Tim has opted for the vegetarian pizza with artichokes, pine nuts and rocket on it. Tara has gone the tried and tested route of a pizza with classic cheese and tomato elements. She looks at the mountain of rocket on his pizza before admitting “I’m with Jason on this one. If you need pepper on your pizza just put pepper on it. Don’t cover it with peppery leaves.”

“But I like rocket!” Tim exclaims.

“After all,” I point out, “he’s a rocket man.”

I can hardly believe the joke has fallen into my lap like that. Tara points out that all that was missing was a little baddumm tishhh!

That night in bed, after a good day out, I feel a little ill. I put it down to my pizza and its dubious spicy meat topic. I reflect that, after having a good day I didn’t really earn, I probably deserved that.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

If Music Be The Food Of Love...

So here's a theory, right? It goes that when you're in love and happy in yourself and you're not desperately seeking someone anymore, when you have that little happy spark inside you, or the warm glow of knowing that you've got someone watching your back on an emotional level, you no longer look nervous and lacking in confidence. You're happy. People LIKE happy people. And so it is often the case that when you're in a happy relationship, not looking for anything any more, you occasionally catch people looking at you. What the hell's up with that? All that time when you were single and you couldn't get anyone, and now you're with someone you seem to have become popular.

Okay, so that's the theory. You may have experienced something like it, and there may be a large heap of coincidence in there too (especially, for example, if you get together with someone in summer, which seems to make everyone look and feel more happy and attractive, and not hiding within a shapeless jacket).

How do you get around that if you're single? Well, two answers are available. I'll discuss those briefly before I go onto my own idea, although no doubt you've already got the gist of it from reading previous posts.

Someone came up with the idea of Cloud Girlfriend, an online site where you essentially create a fictional persona, adopt the picture of someone who looks like they belong in a glamour magazine, and chat with members of the opposite sex who've done likewise. The idea is that you gain the confidence to chat to girls by chatting to girls in a no pressure 'simulated' online dating site. Or something. Or as they say "to get a girlfriend you have to have a girlfriend".

I wrote about it HERE.

In summary, it's a ridiculous idea, and a distraction. But maybe there's something behind it. If you're intensely happy with your virtual life and no longer looking for a girl in the real world, maybe you'll find those real girls start to notice the self satisfied fella in their midst and think "Wow, he's a catch!"

Possibly not.

The other idea is from a book by John Selby, called Let Love Find You. I haven't written about that, and probably should, but several of the key elements are mind over matter, letting go of the past, and reducing the amount of static and noise generated by 'transmitting' your desperate desires. In particular this guy says it worked for him, but essentially he'd meditate every day, find his centre, learn to love himself.

It's a neat idea, and it seems to have worked for a lot of people. But I'm shit at meditation. Or, more specifically, finding a still moment to do it.

So what do I do? Well, my own preferred form of meditation is by listening to music. And happy music makes me happy. Deliriously happy love songs that are all about the craziness of being in love, about being head over heals in love with someone... they make me happy... they make me smile... they make me feel as if I'm in love. And sure, in a Shakespearian way it's all to do with being in love with the idea of being in love, but then isn't it better to fixate on an abstract than to fixate on people. I've been there before, and it's quite frankly embarassing. Admitedly I still do it sometimes, and it's still embarassing, but then it's a learning curve. And this whole music thing seems to be doing the trick.

I'll be honest, the first thing you'll see when you look at my music collection is not likely to be "Wow, what a lovely selection of love songs you've got!" But that's why it's been quite a fun project to do in my spare time. It's a little High Fidelity (and man, you have no idea how much this project has made me want to go watch that film today, a film with John Cusack and Jack Black when he was still fresh and funny), but it's been great. I've got a lot of music to plow through, and The Cure and Depeche Mode have a whole bunch of love songs that are upbeat. Well... The Cure do... Depeche Mode have some very honest songs... but all in all I'm finding love songs all over the place I never really knew I had. Pop songs too.. and I'm also sticking some funny tunes in there, because laughter fits the happiness brief too. Richard Cheese doing covers of songs with explicit lyrics makes it hard to do anything with a straight face.

And the results? I've been very happy this week. I had a lot of eye contact with girls on Monday, which may or may not be connected. And I've just generally been a lot easier going. A lot less stressed. I feel a lot more in control. But generally I'm just feeling happy. And yes, I'm also feeling as if I'm in love a lot, so I might want to watch who I spend time with, but it's fun to feel a little flirty, to speak openly about stuff, to stop bottling stuff in and let it out through the music. It's a tap on a lot of unrealised romantic dreaming - I can let it off in short bursts at a time.

Will it work to make me desireable to woman? Hell, I don't know about that. But I'm feeling more 'centred'. I'm enjoying life. The music makes me upbeat and reflective of the good things in my life. So... should I be worried?

Hell, no.

Anyhow, I'm just about out of credit here. I'd best sign out. Have fun out there!

Ready To Go

So, a few nights back I ended up chatting with the mysterious K. As I've said on Twitter I've told him much I'm not really prepared to put onto blogs, because putting things on blogs can cement all your crazy ideas into a solid form that, once witnessed, often can't quite be forgotten.

One of the topics we quite often come back to is crazy exes, and in particular this came up when I mentioned my Lovesong Playlist project (more of which... elsewhere...) - it's crazy how often certain moments, certain situations, get linked to songs that for a long time after remind you in painful clarity of that situation. It's not my place to explain exactly why The Killer's Mr Brightside and an un-named Genesis album occupied a dark place in his heart at one time, but it's fair to say the manner in which I've been dumped from previous relationships seems quite tame in comparison. It may also be that he's even more prone to meladrama than me, but that doesn't make it any the less painful. After all, without being part of a psychic hive mind to share experiences we only have our own experiences of pain to register current hurts by.

I reminded K of the shared conversion from a while back (again... elsewhere online...), about how Cat Deeley had declared that, when younger, she looked for funny and exciting, and now she reflects how she'd like someone kind to grow old with. Sure, I talked a whole lot about that somewhere. And K began to tell me how he'd frequently met a girl working at the internet cafe he frequents who had increasingly been making eye contact, been trying to talk to him, being a little coy and showing some of those I-interested-but-shy signs. And it hit him just like that. He told me he'd become desensitised to romance and love a lot over past experiences, and that he didn't get the sudden spark of love at first sight with this girl. And I shrugged, and told him a little bit about the book I'm reading, Let Love Find You, and how it says if you chill out and stop broadcast your desperate need so often, if you're still within yourself and become receptive, you find a lot more.

"Whoa..." he said, as he often does when he has a lightbulb moment.... "You're right... what if... WHAT IF... someone was RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE?" And we discussed how sometimes it's a whole lot of shit putting yourself under pressure to go out on a date and interview each other, especially if one or both of you are desperate and not a little nuts... and how actually it's nice if you slowly get to know each other, and it's organic, and things kind of happen of their own accord...

I smiled. "Summer helps too. So many relationships have started in summer... but then, quite often, by the end of winter, they fall apart." K told me "A friend of mine had this idea. Things expand over summer, and contract over winter. Even relationships. That's why you should never start a relationship during summer."

Well, that's told me. I was thinking August might be my month. Ah well. Roll on winter.


This Tuesday saw me doing one of those things I haven't done in a long while - go to a book reading and signing. The reading and signing in question was by Danny Wallace, and it was the second of his Awkward Situations For Men books, featuring articles as appeared over many many many weeks in Shortlist magazine. As seen here:

Danny Wallace is, indeed, a man. And for a while he was a man very much in my own situation, married, recently upgraded to fatherhood, and experiencing everything such situations have to throw at you. And then I became significantly less married, if not quite officially, and the kids are a little less a presence on my life, so now these awkward situations have less of a bearing on my own life. However that just puts me into a larger category of audience of people, for a significant number of people are not married, do not have kids around their feet and, specifically, are not men.

It's also worth pointing out that Danny is pretty unique in that he is a husband and father that stumbles across more pretty random situations than most of us. And hence more entertaining awkwardness.

The reading amazing. An exercise in multi-media brilliance. The event began with a short video. With some singing (sort of). Danny then came into the room once the video had instructed us to applaud him. Not just one person, mind. But multi-media brilliance is not just a video and some singing (sort of). Oh no.

Danny introduced us to the Wheel of Awkwardness, wherein a little application on his laptop allowed members of the public to revolve a wheel and randomly pick one of the articles to be read out, from one of the two books. Some results had pictures. Some results were, essentially, pictures - albeit with an imagined quote to explain the picture. More audience participation came about with Danny inviting someone to part read out a recent email exchange you may have seen, between Danny and someone calling him a douchebag. And at the end, after a brief Q&A, during which Danny was asked what his favourite cheese was, and someone introduced us all to the idea of 'laugh hangovers' (when you remember a joke or funny event some time after it has occurred, and have a little chuckle to yourself, often in public surrounded by people who have no idea why you just laughed), he got out a karaoke machine, and lots of people had a really good go at not singing Don't Stop Beleiving, until someone actually admited to knowing the words.

We then got books signed. Me and my friend Claire joined the queue, talked, met Danny, talked with him (as we go WAY back, as far back as 2003, since joining his 'cult'), then the two of us retired somewhere to go drink beer, eat chips, and discuss porn and discovering it on other people's computers. Naming no names. Not here, anyway. It's all kinda... awkward...

Sorry. I said 'kinda'. I've got to stop saying that.

All in all a very entertaining night and perhaps the best book reading I've ever been to. So... that's Monday covered...


The weather's gone crazy recently. My flatmate says it's become autumn prematurely, but I keep thinking of it as having lapsed back into spring. I got caught in torrential rain a few Friday's back, and it wasn't too great that Sunday either, when I went with friends to the ICA.

The ICA thing I went to with Chris and Claire though was pretty cool, even though my shoes were soaked through by the time we got there (I don't think it had a detrimental effect on the experience). Essentially, through Katie (who is a friend of Chris) we were to experience a 15 minute 'performance' in order to give some feedback. And it was pretty intense.

We took it in turns to enter a room, having first been given an mp3 player and headphones which we were told had instructions on it which we had to follow. In the room was a woman, with parts of her body covered in writing. On the mp3 player were a selection of tracks that began with short monologues about love, reflections on lovers, almost like an internal monologue, at the end of each we were given and instruction to look at a piece of writing on the performer, such as a spot on her stomach where it had been written 'you were the only one I let rest their head here'.

The reason it got progressive intense was because, whilst listening to the voices talking about love I didn't know where to look, whilst all the time the lady looked at me, smiling. I found it hard to gaze into her eyes whilst voices were talking about love without feeling almost hypnotised by the idea of the performer being someone I had been in love with. The longer time went the more immersed I became. It was quite weird - the monologues started to feel like internal monologues, or personal confessions to a lover, whilst the performer was like a canvas onto which to project the idea of a past lover.

Did I enjoy it? I'd say yes, but it felt almost uncomfortable in the moment. It ended with me being asked to write something on her shoulder (the answer to the question 'When was the last time you said I Love You?') after which she asked if she could write something on my arm; in both cases written in invisible ink only visible by ultraviolet light. And no, as both Chris and I later joked, not a phone number. What did I write? Chris found my answer a little sad but in the headspace I was in, thinking about love interests and not my kids, I wrote 'I can't remember.'

So. Yeah. Intense.

I'll probably go to the ICA a bit more off the back of that. I didn't really know the place existed, but there are lots of places around London I've only discovered recently. I'm discovering a lot more of London recently, and just getting to spend more time with friends and creative people, both of which I enjoy doing. Of course it helps that many of my friends ARE creative, in one way or another. In fact MOST of them.

Anyway. Intimate. Coming to the ICA in fully polished mode sometime soon.