They are driftin' from do' to do'

Doesn't matter how busy I find myself with work, everyone seems to be more busy and more I know what I'm doing so get out of my way with theirs. Anyhow, still ticking along. Keeping my eye on the prize.

There's this cat who keeps hanging round the Gulbenkian at night. Not seen him during the day. I know he is a him because he has a cat's penis. Quite a nice cat, actually. We fed him some beef the other night and he loved that, but he doesn't look starving. Where the hell does he keep coming from? I was stroking him after my shift, and he put up with it for about two minutes before swiping his claws along my arm in a very I don't see any more beef in that hand of yours, so dangle kind of manner. Some of the staff wanted to tempt him into the building. What's that about? Where is he going to go for starters, let alone the hygiene concerns and all that. Clearly from this reasoning, I am too sensible, and they are too taken in by fur.

Decided after much deliberation with people that the best movie of the last ten years was the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Are Thou? (2000). Hard to explain why. Just ticked a lot of boxes for me. I'm sure there have been 'greater' films in the last ten years (for want of a better word) but I'm just in total admiration of it, not least because of Chris Thomas King's cover of Skip James's Hard Time Killing Floor Blues. This is a song to drown to, and I have done a lot recently.

By coincidence, I showed O Brother at the Gulbenkian recently. I also came downstairs that night to find a giant hand-painted tapestry depicting scenes from the film hanging over the windows. There was also a few country musicians performing in the cafe. Weird, unexpected evening. Good start to the year, though. A continuation of nice things to come, let's hope.

Got three essays back: 63% for Media (better than 40% last term..), and I also got 76% for Language in Literature and 71% for Theories of Discourse and Culture. The TDC is the one I'm most happy about. That was a hard essay. Deconstructionism is a tough gooch, no matter which way you wax it. However, the source material (Raymond Carver's So Much Water So Close To Home) was something I have profound interest in. There's something about Carver's stories that almost gives away the fact he died young. I know that's a strange thing to say - they're not suicidal or anything. It's just that Carver wrote stories where everything is forthcoming, and characters seem at ease with this. This is also something I myself am beginning to understand; dwelling on the past. What's the point? If you're here now, you're here now, and the future is forthcoming, but you're here now. My degree is happening now. My PGCE is forthcoming. Where ever I end up after I get out of this very small town is forthcoming. Has anything ever been so tender on the mind?

Other news; got a new tattoo (pics to follow) inspired by the cover to Michael Marshall Smith's SF thriller, Spares. The idea came about when I was sat, turning 32, in the Yorkshire House pub back in the Shire with Ted and Dominic, and I recalled that about 10 years and 1 week to that day I'd been recommended it by a friend. Since then, pretty much every single person I know (especially ex-projectionists) have gone out and read it and loved it. I can seriously see several people back home getting a similar tattoo now - Aidan and Ted for starters. After I got it done I sent them the template and said 'Ok, your turn'. They're getting theirs next week. Almost feels like we're forming a cult.

Charlotte is addicted to Pac Man. She seemed almost genuinely furious when I first showed her the various free online versions you can play, knowing full well that she would be instantly hooked. I often get home late to hear the inimitable wakakakaka of the pill-popping wazzack, followed by shouts of despair and 'Fuck you Pinky' emanating from the front room. She even got a Pac Man mug for Christmas, which hasn't actually got Pac Man on it. Bit strange.

Read a couple of books recently which have had the odd effect of making me well up because of a powerful relation I've found with the protagonists. It's a strange feeling, and it means I'm either finding, by sheer coincidence, books that seem to tap into something emotionally sensitive about myself, or that I'm looking too hard for any kind of relatable symbolism. Probably a bit of both. Anyway, I found the character Karl in Michael Moorcock's Behold The Man (1969) highly interesting. I think he displayed an honesty in men that not many are prepared to admit. I also read Haruki Murakami's South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (1992). First Murakami book I'd read in a long time (seven months is long for me), I can always rely on his books to say something to me. How gruesomely self-indulgent I find reading at times. I positively wallow.

Saw Richard Herring performing Hitler Moustache at the Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable last Saturday. Another fine 90 minutes of stand-up. Always an interesting mix of people there too. People like Richard Herring always manage to bring fans out of the woodwork I notice.

Stay off the drink and drugs, kids.


Pretty sleeping patterns

Sleep isn't coming home any time soon, and I'm tired of waiting up for it. Keep checking the time, but it hardly makes me feel any better. Weather today was the colour of gravestones. Still, work was peaceful and passed swiftly, and I've written 2850 words of a 4000 word essay in just over 24 hours, so, when I'm actually done complaining about meteorological events that I have no control over, I have to concede that it's been a good day.

Had a 10-hour power cut yesterday that scuppered my original essay-writing plans. If I can't stick to my original preparations, I feel as if it's all going to turn to hell. Maybe a residual element of this carried into today, hence the weather-based foreboding. Anyway, that was a very long power cut. I drove to Asda and bought candles (seems like half of Hales Place had the same idea as me only hours before, because all that was left was posh, lightly-scented ones that did the job, but gave the house a sort of Gothic/amateur porn video look). I went and sat in the office at work, then I stayed over at Fran and Chiara's, all in order to continue with the essay. Managed to chip away at it quite well.

It's always the same with essays; I make reams of multicoloured notes, emphatically digging out all the information, and when it comes to putting it all into a decipherable entity I suddenly feel something along the lines of 'Oh my god, I've researched the wrong thing!' or 'Oh my god, this is completely illegible!' I browse the Internet for a few minutes, then I get going. Once I've made the leap from daunting slab of marble to first chip of the sculpture (not trying to say my essays are works of art or anything quite so sanctimonious) I am very much away.

..oh god, just had a flicker in the lights..
.. power might go out again soon..
.. I don't think those Scottish 100% quarter pounder beefburgers with herbs will last another half-defrosting..

Anyway, nothing I can do about it. I wonder if Fran and Chiara are still up and about..?

I've wanted very much this week to get up early and go swimming each morning, but lack of sleep has prevented me from achieving this. I remember the last term of my first year was enriched by daily trips to the swimming baths, followed by hard revision and essay work, all of which made me happily fall asleep by midnight ready to do it all again the next day. This year so far, the earliest I've found myself nodding off has been 2am - the latest, 6:15am. This is not good enough if I want to be up by 7:30am. And, yes, it's true; the older I get the more sleep I need. I think, if I can't get up that early, I need to do things to make myself very tired like running around the block (or at least walking even further). It seems that just having the occasional anxiety attack isn't actually what qualifies as exercise. Of course, the last term was in the summer, so that was enough to make me want to be up and about nice and early. This weather makes me just want to dash from one sofa to the next in as quick a time as possible. I will pick up some exercise soon and I will stop wasting your time with this.

Whenever I do feel out of sorts, I find that something usually comes my way that brings me out of it with a shock, reminding me why I do what I do. Reminding me how to adore things all over again. It's my nature to get deep into the things that don't need such depth, but it is also my nature to come out the other side electric with that which surrounds me. I've had conversations recently with people that have just come along and reminded me of everything all at once.

I need you to know that our talking means everything to me, it's the reason why I keep going.

Facts, desires, sleeping patterns.
What offends you?
House mate's bizarre nocturnal habits.
Dreams about losing teeth.
That perfume again.
Good car journey.
Mutual respect.
Do you think you could work here?
That Raymond Carver story again.
Giggling under my duvet.
Fear of judgement over the phone.
An album bought and an album loved.
How long since we spoke?
Do we need to take things this seriously?
Calm now.
Just keep quiet for a moment.

The power might cut out any second.
Just keep quiet for a moment.

Keep it up.


July flame

2:09am. Good time for a walk after it's been snowing. People can't get in and others can't get out of wherever they need to be. How can something so peaceful cause so much trouble?


The traveller has come

A brief pictorial run-down of the last two bastard weeks:

An epic day of Doctor Who and concerning foodstuffs (note the burgers with waffles, melted cheese and chili ketchup above) with a good friend before heading home the next morning..

Let's get ready to ramble! Christmas morning atop Pontsford Hill (usual chilly routine of dad's) with neighbours Mark and Alan. Tin of chocolates had been left at the top by 'Grandad'. The chocolates were molar-fracturingly cold..

Wished I'd remembered to bring my camera home for this. The Wrekin, as viewed from Pontesford Hill, 9:05am Christmas morning. The mist surrounding the base of it makes it look dramatically mountainous (but it isn't a mountain it's a massive hill and nothing more so don't believe any exaggerating locals)..

Superb Christmas gift from mother - a make-your-own plasticine Morph! A genuine childhood hero. Here his is lovingly recreated precisely as he appeared in the short animated adventures I watched as a child after school. No difference whatsoever...

Ben and Ted, 27th December. It was decided at this moment that, should I die young, they promised to turn up to my funeral in full Nazi officer uniforms. No real reason, just to detract from any sadness, I suppose..

The journey home was 4 1/2 hours of precarious snow-covered crawling back to Canterbury. Never before has any godforsaken services looked to pretty...

First night back. Chiara, looking like an erotic hot drinks advert..

Handsome devil, ready to take on term 2, 2009/2010. The painting behind me hangs on dad's front room wall. It is truly immense.