Category Archives: Surprise

It’s not everyday you can say you answered the call of nature and ended up committing a crime against it…

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time…

Friedrich Nietzsche

942750_10151627526991041_1958403882_nThere a lots of reasons why I started actually writing things down again. One of the isn’ts, was a fear I’d run out of thoughts should I ever to feel the need to just write; granted, I’ve kicked myself from time to time for being so complacent, but when not-actually writing things down is the healthy alternative, you must be philosophical about it; what comes with ease, likewise goes–– and with any luck will do again. I think anyone who’ve ever wanted to go through the motions of transcribing their brains, will agree that it helps to have something in it: a maraca therefore, is preferable to a balloon.

Minds however, regardless of their content will go completely blank from time to time, sometimes in mid-sentence. It can almost feel as though the meadow through which you were just strolling was replaced suddenly by a large carpetless floor with no sky. Sometimes, just sometimes, like all good things and boomerangs, women or elephants; it’ll come back…

It’s realisations like Dorothy Parker’s in The Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals, that makes me smile. I grin only, because it helps me find my place; so at least, when the push comes to shove me to one side and ask me who I think I am, at least I can declare with some certainty, that I am neither woman nor elephant…

I mention this only because it’s more interesting then what inspired the imbecility that followed–– it must be, because for the life of me I can’t imagine whatever possessed me beyond my compulsion to read signs, packaging or anything with writing on for that matter, regardless of what I’m doing–– add to that, a day two bitching %#@&$ing cold.

It was in-part at least, inspired by something I’d read concerning air-fresheners some time back and part, an absurd idea to check out what I reckoned to be an unnecessarily outrageous claim on the back of the packet: one squirt apparently, could keep a bathroom smelling ‘pretty’–– whatever that means–– for thirty minutes.

So upon the utterance of a dismissive twaddle under my breath and in mid-stream, I decided to depress the dispenser not once but thrice–– and it wasn’t long before I was doing my best to recoil from the spot and think of something other than asphyxiation, toxic acidosis or any of a hundred unpronounceably aggressive lung diseases in their most virulent form from overcoming me… and making a mess; right there and then: in mid-stream.

I think it’s moments like these that compel the weak to overcome insurmountable obstacles, like lift buses single-handedly, charge a fortified enemy with nothing but a battle-cry, or survive an asphyxiating atmosphere for thirty seconds longer than need be. I could even be in contravention of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases. It’s not everyday you can say you answered the call of nature and ended up committing a crime against it! Is it?

Besides, If I die young I want it t be something heroic involving thin-ice or a runaway train and not because I became over-come by a raspberry smelling wonder-mist in a toilet. It was a very near thing for sure and must have had something to do with the brain-leak, it’s just gotta…

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again—

L. Frank Baum

Easier said than done Mr Wizard…

Advertisements

The Art of Babysitting: the lowest paid high-risk job in the world…

Spare the rod, spoil the child—

Boys will be boys. And so will men…

This could have been possible without the help of a few like minded individuals, but it would not have been nearly as fun to put together. I just hope that that enjoyment shows on the page. It’s also nice to have the blame for conjuring up such rotten behaviour shared. What was omitted of course, will stay that way.

19171_281714681040_1679334_nThere is no such thing as a perfect mother or a perfect father for that matter. So it stands to reason that babysitting, as an art form is impossible to master. This doesn’t mean that an attempt to do so is futile, it just means the odds of success aren’t exactly weighed in your favour. We do live in the age where man has voyaged to beyond the unquestionable fathoms of the deep; leapt from the edge space; we do have Usain Bolt, and children are being born at a much younger age, year after year, but like the babysitter, parents are doomed from the start it’s an insurmountable mountain that must be negotiated from the moment they arrive to bring joy, warmth and happiness to them, and it is their responsibility alone to confuse and disturb them. The humble babysitter however, has no enduring claim, other than to provide little-more than a form of cheap entertainment; a gift if you like, from the parent to child, as a pay off for abandoning them to seek out entertainment of their own.

So, what follows is rule number one, of one, in multiple parts: not exactly the key to being a good babysitter so much as it is the key to surviving babysitting…

You see, the problem that most of us encounter whilst looking after a couple of mitching-snipes, is that we still think of them as children. This is not the case, it is a basic thought-error and wild under-estimation from which trap, should you fall into it, a lifetime of therapy could be necessitated. Children, under the supervision of a babysitter must be thought of as miniature-creatures, since they regard us at best as pretend people. We don’t really exist in the sense that we have powers to anything but occupy space or heaven-forbid we actually tell them to do anything they ought be or not be to-do and this is something a miniature-creature can work out by simply exchanging looks with a sibling, or ogling us.

Within a moment of surmising we harbour weakness, they will begin to determine inappropriate actions amongst themselves and begin to divide the bibs they intend to plant on us whilst nabbing the regulars of acceptable behaviour in the bud, one nip at a time: they truly believe that anything goes. You may as well resort to pirate talk straight away; but arrghhs and it meb’ees will only hold them at planks-length for so long, because they are scheming little terriers who love nothing more than to leave you sunk and drowned whilst they strip your quarter decks and fetch you a kop of the unfortunate variety across the cheek, up the bracket or if you’re really unlucky, right in the mouse-trap leaving you shivering up and down whatever timber you have remaining…

This is where your counter-planning must begin if you’re foolish enough to enter Amityville without any. You must muzz, before being muzzed, because you are vulnerable within seconds of being seen. The rule starts here. You must be sure to keep your movements to a minimum. A for limp example, will be noticed uncannily, because while you are hanging up your coat, items of furniture will be being moved with the express purpose of clipping it, regardless of the room you enter and they somehow manage this without uttering a single syllable. Therefore, if you do have a limp pretend the affliction bothers the other leg, or both, or if that’s too much, a pair of baggy trousers will suffice.

Naturally, if you manage to navigate the obstacles without so must as an inconvenience to your balance, never put it past a creature to shimmy in with a nudge or two of your own. Sometimes as a defensive strategy, an accidental clip round the ankles of your own works wonders to keep them on the other foot. I knew of one brood strategically placing roller-skates around the house when breaking in a new babysitter, so it’s important to remain focused.

Any successful completion of a booby-trapped path can earn you respect, but you have to be quick to register any sleight nods of approval this fetches you because it’s as stealthy as their next move…

If they can’t topple you through material mischief alone, they will be forced to barter with you and ask you seemingly innocuous questions that you freely submit to answering. This can be dangerous, as they use this information to be beastly. Remember, these are not children. And you my dears, are not real.

So when they ask you if you’d like a cup of tea, return the compliment and suggest that you will make it; being careful not to trip over the rocking horse that has by magic appeared by your right foot and the marbles by your left and proceed to the kitchen, whenever possible, alone— but should that be impossible— by making positively sure that you lead whether you know the way or not. Knives and other stabbing instruments have the unlikely habit of becoming unhinged and accidentally lethal at this point. You should make sure there is nothing suspicious about the kettle, and make doubly sure you don’t find yourself standing in a small puddle of water before engaging it.

Just in case you’re still a little apprehensive, I’d recommend a startled leap away from the counter. This is a cunning ploy. Not only does it grant certain observations to be made, it give you a chance to draw your own conclusions as to the motives of your creatures. If they launch themselves back and hurt themselves, so much the better, you can inform the injured party that it was in fact their sibling that caused the wounds, so by creating a diversion whilst finishing up with the tea. If they merely stand firm with a look of excited wonderment on their faces, you know you’re in for the long haul. Not only do they have their code to protect, but they are, in all actuality, going to make pretty certain that you never leave the house alive.

This is when you must plan pre-emptive revenge if you’d been in a rush and had forgotten to before accepting the appointment. For my guarantee, comprehensive enlightenment is always sought, and I employ the services of a master. Her insight into the ways of the sneak are beyond reproach, therefore her advice, beyond question:

  • Turning one child against the other by favouring them; preferably the older child…

  • Threats and bribes…

  • Feeding them huge amounts of tryptophan to induce sedation

  • Winning them over by allowing them to do things expressly forbidden by their parents under the guise of deal-making and secrets; staying up late and watching TV…

If however you do not have the heart to drug your tiny adversary, and you just want them to know who’s boss make their tea the Mongolian way and use salt instead of sugar. This is when you can start to turn the tables back on them; regardless of its shape. Reverse psychology on a creature is a powerful tool. Not only will they seek personal compensation for damaging their palate, they will also chuck a little hurry-durry your way. Combine this with a sneaky aside to the untainted sibling by suggesting his brother, or sister is a wimp and you’ll be granted an honorary high-five on the spot. If you play your cards right the brothers, or sisters will spend the next little while exchanging names and daring each other to drink the tea at which point, one of them will, have rush to the toilet, and be sick…

With one down it’s easier to work on the other one. This can be achieved by suggesting he is beastly, and he should apologise immediately, and keep him company if that fails, you should use the ‘golden ticket’ method:

  • Show them a horror film or ghost story; anything that deals with keeping all limbs on the bed, under the covers and keeping quiet so ‘it’ will not find their next victim…

I remember to always keep a copy of Scream handy, and simply tell them it is the new Casper film. They will be horrified by the antics of the unfriendly ghost; and go to bed.

With the job done, it is important to reflect on what has passed. I tend to believe that in order to be a good babysitter, you must think in the language of kiddish monsitous if this means you have to put your self to bed early for being naughty so be it: for it is quite possibly the lowest paying high-risk job in the world.

With the ultimate goal of ensuring that everyone is alive and the house is intact when the parents return; even when the odds are stacked against you, it’s not entirely unfair to know the rules for playing a little hard-ball now is it?

‘Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.’

Francis Bacon: ‘Of Parents and Children’

Nothing’s changed much in 500 years has it?

I can’t decide sometimes, whether or not my mother thinks she’s living in a sitcom…

The secret to humour is surprise.

Aristotle

27977_450287781040_191932_nA moot point perhaps, but oblivious in this case to the signifiers that make the ‘everyday’ flow seamlessly from one interaction to the other; if they weren’t, you’d find yourself hopping madly all day. Whatever it may be, obvious, deliberate, debatable, moot? A couple of years ago my mother discovered a reservoir of previously untapped ‘ridiculous’. It’d become, after a fractious few years— a pleasure spending time with her, if not for the first time— but the first time in a long time. She’d seemed to be a little more understanding and accepting of my foibles, and I of them, which makes all the difference in the world. It helps relieve a little of the ‘complicated’. The fact that my mother’d discovered comedy and was making me snort on a regular basis was merely a bonus.

But this is irrelevant, a long-winded introduction and steady build up leading to a crescendo of noise— which is not entirely bunkum as it happens. It’s a story involving balloons…

My nephew loves balloons, especially the kind that when released, fly around exulting a harrowing scream, flitter then drop excitedly with one good spasm before expiring. Louis and I had been synchronising the take-offs of them all morning, much to the delight of the little man and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to release even more. Amz was on her laptop, but my mother was hands-free…

So Louis and I filled some balloons, gave them to her and instructed her that under no circumstances was she to release them. Even now, I feel as though I should’ve added something.

Anyway, Louis and I expended what little breath we had left into the remaining balloons and poised at the ready. The scene was to be spectacular; six whirling tubes of shrill screech, dancing unpredictably towards an enthusiastic death-knell. However, I failed to entertain the one element of unpredictability.

‘Ready,’ I said, ‘on one . Three… two… one… release…release…release!’

Louis and I had a successful launches. But my mother held firm. Even upon the final release! Even though the room was filled with the sound of screaming babies Even though the launch command had become a desperate, personal plea for her to relinquish her grip…

‘Why the bloody hell didn’t you launch? We’ve just done this ten times … at what point did you not think I was talking to you?’ A reasonable question in the circumstances I thought.

‘Because,’ she said, ‘you told me that under no circumstances was I to release them.’

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled…

Horace

Not unlike those sodding balloons!

The purpose of Jasper & outwitting superstitious dining practices with sawdust…

I’m a firm believer that we make our own bad luck—

We can’t just have it the one way, surely— it’s just not democratic…

418838_10151214975596041_1406077767_nI like to think of the purpose of Jasper as a blessing; one of wonderment— and for those of you who find yourselves caught short at the dinner table; whether it be over-blessed with company, or under for that matter— a Jasper is a handy thing to have at hand, since no one would wish an unusual fatality to occur to someone you’d only just dined with.

There’s only one drawback, it’s fairly minor, to a point— but drawbacks by definition, does not plain-sailing make. Jasper is a stuffed cat; not the most ubiquitous of items I know. In fact I can safely say I’ve never had the fortune of observing; or the misfortune of having missed one being plucked from the bottom of a woman’s hand-bag instead of a lipstick. I’m sure however, that if I live long enough— it may just happen. I know enough to know that these are bottoms that do indeed hold some strange, strange stuff.

The story goes, that a hundred years or so— I’m not entirely sure when exactly but it’s usually a hundred years or so. Besides, if it wasn’t it should’ve been that a group of hungry people were due to meet for dinner at The Savoy, but one of the party members couldn’t make it, so naturally, as was the case a hundred years ago when everything was unexplainable and spooky: thirteen diners remained.

Now, with ‘thirteen’ being a number synonymous with bad luck even then— as if they didn’t have the monopoly on weird already, the last man to sit at the table was sure to became afflicted with doom of some kind; and this despite repeated warnings that congregating in such numbers was ‘not on’. Anyway, the gentlemen took his chair, the waiter told to ‘shoo’ no doubt flippantly at the same time assuring him that he was well aware of the risks and so on and so forth.

A couple of weeks later however, when word got back that the chap had died in the most bizarre of manners upon his return to South Africa, it was decided that for whatever the reasons: should a party of thirteen meet and dine together at The Savoy. Jasper, the stuffed cat, would take a seat and have a place set for him in the fourteenth chair…

Hemmingway was on the right track when he wrote—

The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.

But he was more into his cats with-many-toes, and would no doubt have approved…

Getting lost and making plans: memory, crafts, surprise & the warmth of a friend…

It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.

Barbara Kingsolver

393329_10151214974261041_349311287_nIt is surprising how much we recollect our most cherished and vivid memories around the things we took for granted at the time, but shouldn’t have. These days I’m surprised by how much I seem to go unnoticed by my memory, as it decides to take off and do its merry thing without the slightest hint of decorum, not worried that what I may be doing may be worth a second thought, or were that to seem a little too much like hard word: a glance as one does at the end of the day to ensure we were the same fellow we were when we’d awoken in the morning. This: most ungracious of exclusion, is perhaps the only thing one does notice with time and by then it is too late, or almost too late. You see, I have of late come into the habit of taking a person or persons out and about, with mine, in case I need a prompt with regards to the outing— or as is sometimes the case— the abouting after the the fact in order to fully satisfy my recollecting.

It is and can be, a most frustratingly futile pursuit; paradoxical not quite quixotical; for the ‘time’ in short, makes what time has ‘built … unnoticed’, therefore forgotten, ‘surprising’ only, owing to ‘how much’ can be lost in so short a time— hence the need for ‘persons’ to illustrate what had at the time— riddlewise— been memorable, thus bringing too my day’s end illuminate. So in a rounds-about way, I can be gloomed, or as was the case: brightened and cheered, for the yester-day was, as it turned out, not-one to go ‘unnoticed’, so-by definition— if not unsaid— then by Jove-abouts not unwritten…

It had started as much the same as any other day— ordinary or otherwise, in the morning: I awoke, performed some duties: tea making, online mail and a few alsos of the like I like before taking ablutions etcetera and therefores.

My day had been wiped clean since the appointment I had been due to keep this particular day had in fact been due the day prior, but because oversight generally requires the helping hand of hindsight in order to acquiesce even to its own name, I had inadvertently overlooked my appointments entirely. I was supposed to meet my dear friend PG, or Pidgin as she’s affectionately known, in part owing to her impossibly correct locution. The fact that we had arrangements, had not even been trembled in lieu of the text informing me that, she was ‘on [her] way to Canterbury’ on a not inexpensive ticket when taking the comparative proximity and price with mine; a fact she hesitated little in informing me when on arrival at our agreed destination shortly after politely drawing to my attention that perhaps I required companions, even when talking on the telephone. This was not a fact that has gone unevidenced in the past, but seemed to’ve become an almost daily occurrence.

I had already declared my day to be one of arts and craft and wallpaper paste. I had a twelve inch model of HMS Victory to adjust, as well as a thirty inch model of a Spitfire. D had agreed to don surgical gloves with me and make it a family affair, so much glue flinging and frivolity were inevitable. I had already been amused by Pidgin, as I’d called her, as is customary on a weekday morning to enquire into her well-being, health and other sorts, before the narrative became an unnavigable exercise to circumvent her own attempts at preventing getting any more lost than she already was. She’d only just left her house as she took my call, for the polling station to vote— quite sensibly as would have it— located just two streets away; a distance that should really have only occupied the first of the many intrusions I made of her. However, as our conversation lengthened, as did the pauses and strangely detached nature of her responses, until finally she confessed that she had inadvertently found herself very, very lost.

Were she to’ve been a new resident, the situation she now found herself in may have been quite distressing, but since this was not the case, the peculiar position she now found herself in was as comedic as it was hitherto unknown. I advised her to retrace her steps in order to find her way back to her house, which she did, but found that her house was nowhere to be seen— in fact, she remarked, she had never ‘seen’ whatever it was that should ‘ve been her house anywhere or at any time before. She then decided to return to the point she’d been originally and quite by chance, found her house, if not where she’d left it twenty minutes earlier, but for convenience’s sake, in a place that’d ‘have to do’. She nipped inside, found a map and a minute later— no more and little less— had found her way, her place, checked in, hung up and voted.

So we’d both done our best to create catastrophe from reasonable beginnings. Quite how much the balance had swung away from complacency towards imbecilic and back again before teetering on a verdict which satisfied the acknowledgement of both comedic value and annoyance, is neither mine, nor her indictment to judge upon; for we as acting, if not willing participles in both sets of troubles, were really too close to allow our experiences interfere in such proceedings. Anywise, the now immediate needs were those of swift transport to Canterbury— and thankfully for me, D was on hand to chauffeur. What little mess we’d planned but not created, was cleared up two-fold by he and his shiny blue steed. We mounted his Jag and disembarked.

Canterbury was glorious. It’s one of those little cities that feels, when the sun is high— that the sun is coming at you from all directions— a point of fact that I allow that queer breed, that of the physicist, to mull over and scowl as they do, to doff at one another and attempt to calculate the numerical value of such romantic observations and spoil them. For I care not of such things, preferring to act in inglorious ignorance of the calculaic musings of such people, concentrating as I did do, on more pressing things— scouting for Pidgin. And before too long I’d found her— unlike her and her with her house— exactly where I expected her to be.

“Hello,” I said with a quite unnecessary warmth— it must’ve been 25 degrees C.

“I’ve volunteered you for something!” was the response. Quite what? I could not‘ve said. But I had pretty good idea…

Never, never, never give up

Winston Churchill

Cold callers, mornings and long streaks of misery…

Excuse me, can I have a quick word?

Sure, you can have two: whoosh and zoom…

WP_000189There are certain things that really bug me in the morning. And it’s not always the morning’s fault. It’s not the fault of those certain things which depending on the wheel of fortune of the day, just so happening to pause between one of the anythings that irk. Then there are people and every other thing.

I’m certainly not a gripper who goes to bed in surley-boots and wakes ready to extract joy, quite the opposite, but phone calls, sunshine and a blatant disregard for the effects of unnecessary exuberance count. I’m not sure which category it would fit into, but enthusiasm really waffles me when it’s unwarranted, unsolicited and before breakfast, appreciably so.

When I’m asleep, I like to think that I’m minding my own business. I like to think that it’s not out of the question to expect anything any different. But what do I know? I do know that there are people that phone your house sounding so fucking excited to be alive and lottery-winner jolly, wanting to give you free windows and trips to the moon, that make me want to disown my own face if I allow them more than minute or two.

So when I heard the phone ringing this morning; dragged my body over to it; answered it and Life is Beautiful introduced himself as, Trevor from Sunshine Travel. I knew I wasn’t asleep. I knew in those first few moments that I’d had a grim rest and no amount of happy-talk or freebies were going to supplant the misanthrope I felt at that moment.

‘I’m sorry’ I said, ‘but no. No, no, no, no. No. I’m not going talk to you…

‘Would you mind explaining why?’

It’s not everyday an opportunity like this arises, it just doesn’t, but Trevor from Sunshine Travel got brownie-points for being ballsy, and a free-pass. And I just can’t abide rudeness … the irony.

‘Not at all.’ I said, ‘Because I’m going back to bed…’

*click*

The semantic identity crisis surrounding all-in-one pyjamas…

Look back, and smile at perils past—

Or simply find the nearest grown-up in toddlers’ habiliment…

7720_204996201040_7432759_n

An adult in a baby-grow is wrong— in fact it’s practically retarded. Practically, that is, but not quite. Pleonastic perhaps, but entirely necessary. Regressive would probably be the better term, although reaction formation might do also, were it only a word and far too early in the peace to get defensive. I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to narrow my semantics any further to accomodate an r-word, particularly when there’s already a narrowing between metaphor and metonymy— that’s if, I were to believe in such a thing. The occupation of infant by adult is scant enough to satisfy my minimalism and certainly disturbing enough once summerised: contiguity via wardrobe. Three words. I could quite easily has decided upon, onesies are stupid or, jump-suits? Seriously? But I didn’t.

There. I said it: onsies are stupid;  the word ‘onesie’ is stupid; jump-suit is no better either. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to prefix novelty nightwear with the word jump or anything remotely like it, the clobber in question had better be fucking lacy; frilly even and not, even remotely opaque. Sleep-suit is at least sensibly self-referential, but to accept its self-evidence, one must also accept far too much sibilance for my liking. An abundance of s’s should ideally be held back for more ironic or moronic purposes. It’s also mean to would be readers who lisp.

If I had to pick a pillow to chew however, I’d opt, much like any other self-respecting inner-linguist-ninja would, for romper-suit; particularly for it’s ambi-sexual gender relevance— something which should resonate with everyone; kind of bringing us back to the word ‘onesie’: the adjective this time, not the noun.

That and I think I’d feel less of a wanker wearing something to sleep in which came with ears:

Romper-suit it would seem—

Ticks all the appropriate boxes.

Which still don’t make it so…