Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Some years ago some spoilsport involved in the siting of those awful Gatso cameras decided, cynically, to locate one at the beginning of a short straight stretch of three lane carriageway near where I live. There isn't a building or pathway within a country mile of this camera, no schools, Residential Homes, hospitals, churches. There is virtually no extra risk on this piece of road as far as the eye can see. The reason for its presence can only be through certain knowledge that drivers will anticipate the inviting opening in the road and scandalously creep over 60mph by the time they hit the spot where this insidious blight has been placed. An assemblage of foliage, signposts and carefully factored in slight kinks and cambers ensures that this monster is practically hidden from view. Until it's too late and you happen to be the unhappy recipient of the dread double flash as if a giant paparazzo had emerged unseen from a low cloud and freeze framed an instant of your life, as a driver, driving. Ever so slightly, ever so slightly, illegally.

A few months ago this cold, automatic device of instant unquestioning justice turned the garish yellow of cat vomit and sickening, milk fed babies stools. How the road planning advisors and police authorities must have hated the decision to high profile these cash generators, which after all, operate most successfully catching hapless motorists unaware of their presence: grey, disguised, anonymous.

This particular camera bothered everyone. Its presence seemed to flout every rule behind their idea. There was no real justification based on the notion of added safety for it to be there. It bothered everyone but it bothered someone more than most. Tentatively driving into its field of view today I was quickly struck by its changed shape, colour, complexion. No longer its erstwhile DOT grey, not even its new fashionable sunny-side-up hue; more black now, blackened, charred. A piece of sculpted coal, the trunk and box together now a lifeless parody of its created role. The yellow -- it had been sticky tape all along -- had obviously battled bravely against the flames, now fluttered gamely in little raggy strips of yellow black, black yellow. Even uglier in death than it was in life, its stubborn visage seemed to try to nail the lie that it was now impotent and that it was no more a catcher outer, no longer an over zealous school prefect, slimy jobsworth or paid nark. It's shape still threatened, but now only an empty threat.

Perhaps it had "ping-pinged" one too many of the frustrated locals. Perhaps just a piece of random vandalism. But for the time being one of the more contentious of these monstrosities stands lifeless, blinded and stripped of its arbitrary powers of judgement.

Friday, July 05, 2002

"Alone, I am drunk on my thoughts; in company, I am sober again."
Mason Cooley.

I'm back at work, but I am haunted by the spectre of unfinished business. In idle mode my mind usually unhooks itself from any rational thinking. In the recently unfinished entry which alluded to something I saw on 'This Morning' which I watched whilst in what I nearly called "idle loaf mode" before coming partly to my senses and ridding the sentence of a scandalous tautology, an image on the programme in question is staying with me. Stubbornly rooted into my consciousness like a squatter - the feature involved a succession of nearly, ( day time telly ain't the zenith for models), beautiful women displaying summery outfits, (yeah right, where're you going?). All outfits were different, but all shared a stylistic imperative. As each lady sashayed towards the TV camera on the makeshift catwalk (more of a kittywalk really) with Fern and her new geezer-helper and the proud designer looking on, one by one they hiked up their skirts and showed the world, (and me),their knickers. Knickers which only partially matched the rest of the outfit so not part of an un sexy ensemble (like bikini bottoms or those ghastly stunted cycling shorts now favoured by women tennis players). These were thin lacy affairs, the style which, should a chap be lucky enough to catch a fleeting, illicit glimpse in his daily life; his day, if not his week, if not his year is usually made a happier one.

Fashions move on. Knickers have gone public!

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

"How truly does this journal contain my real and undisguised thoughts—I always write it according to the humour I am in, and if a stranger was to think it worth reading, how capricious—insolent & whimsical I must appear!—one moment flighty and half mad,—the next sad and melancholy." Frances Burney.

I should apologise for my recent reliance on quotations to kick start posts but there are good reasons why it's become the norm. Firstly, I am looking for the "ideal" quote, which could justifiably occupy a place of permanence around the title area - based on relevance to this blogging thing, and particularly to this blogger's style. Secondly, I'm guaranteed to have some quality writing on display, albeit always distinguished from my own writing by: quotation marks, italics, credits and an elegance and insight I cannot hope to emulate. And thirdly, I'm turning into a bit of a loafer seeking refuge and vicarious glory in other people's thoughts. And fourthly (there was never going to be a fourthly so perhaps I am curing myself as I kick and poke at my brain as If trying to rouse a somnolent teenager at around two in the afternoon, getupgetup, I quite enjoy the challenge of finding them and through the process of reading and re-reading them to ensure suitability for inclusion, based on the criteria I've set, they seem to scurry themselves into my brain and infect my thinking. For the good, I hope.

Can something be infected for the good of something? I don't know, and I shall continue not knowing because I've gone into freewheel mode. Purify. That's the antonym of infect. They scurry into my brain and purify my thoughts. There, that's sorted that one out. But I haven't sorted this one out yet. This morning I was in total idle mode - and when infected with the germ of idleness, which usually befalls me when I have a weekday off, I watched This Morning. Note the symmetry of that sentence. But please don't measure the length of that "fourthly" sentence, in the previous paragraph. Picture an image of me (yeah! yeah! I know but try real hard) with a thick copy of Fowlers Grammar. If you look closely you'll see me doing my strong man act: slightly crouched, knees knocking, eyes boggled, tongue protruding, and look! the book, it's in two pieces. And look! the shreds are going out the window. Out the window, or out of the window? Hmm when did we decide that the of in sentences like that one would be surplus to requirement?
Where's my Fowler? Oh shit it's in pieces. And this piece is getting well out of hand.

And where was I? Oh yes, This Morning. I can hardly be bothered now. Right I'll keep it short, I'm still in freewheel. Freewheel. Martin Amis calls it freefloat. I think he's taking this War Against Cliche thing a bit too far. Right, This programme This Morning - I'm beginning to feel like Ronnie Corbett when he used to ruin "The Two Ronnies" TV programme with those dreadful monologues sat in that arm chair and continually digressing from the point of his interminably long "jokes" when all we wanted all along was more from his more talented namesake. Repetition of more, buzz, hey we're into "Just a Minute" territory!

Um. What the hell was I going to write about This Morning? It'll have to wait. And the perceptive Miss Burney would look at this journal entry and nod her head sagely and say: "flighty and half mad mode' I think for this one."

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Oh dear! Becky at mybluehouse, elle n'a décidé pas plus. Where will I turn to now if I need advice on how to create fashionable hat warmers for my boiled eggs or plot the latest fashionista crazes from halter-necks are back in, to the bum crack is the new cleavage?

OK I would snooze through some of her posts when the focus of her attention was on her latest knitting projects and wacky food and sewing creations. But her astute social observations, good natured rudeness about the French and her ability to be straight talking, clever, sassy and mumsy (momsy), all at once - (how did she pull that one off?) made her required reading. As a blog it looked to me like it had been the product of a giant blender with meg, Martha Stewart and House and Home chucked in as ingredients, whiz-whipped then seasoned with the diced pages of a couple of French and Spanish language food dictionaries.

And a great link finder - a real candidate for the: "where do you find these things?" school of respect. It's no wonder her hoards of admirers got into a right old tizzy when, following a little semantic confusion after her hasta luego valedictory, almost beat the doors of her comments down with a despairer's repertoire of "boo hoos", "why why whys" and Frenchy expressions of cri de cours, quel dommages and je suis tristes . The howling crowd had balm smeared on their wounds only after an early Becky encore of Schwarzenegger-ian I'll be back promises. To ease their pain. It eased mine as well.