Degringolade and Zaftig are the latest words I've added to my personal lexicon. The problem with words of this kind is their obscurity. Neither could be used if the avoidance of obfuscation equates to good writing. To liberally pepper your writing with deliberately arcane words is to risk accurate accusations of pretentiousness. But sometimes it feels good to write recently coined or revived words, which may after all, through finely nuanced distinctions, give a more accurate sense of precisely what it is you are trying to say. That said I have no wish to inflict in any serious way, any readers of this Blog to either of these
Friday, May 31, 2002
whiskeyriver must be plugged into my consciousness at the moment. How else could he find a quote that so much represents how I feel at the moment: "The act of writing bears something in common with the act of love. The writer, at his most productive moments, just flows. He gives of that which is uniquely himself. He makes himself naked, recording his nakedness in the written word. Herein lies some of the terror which frequently freezes a writer, preventing him from producing. Herein, too, lies some of the courage that must be entailed in letting others learn how one has experienced or is experiencing the world."- Sidney Jourard.
Perhaps it's a quote that all bloggers can identify with sometimes.
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
The best title for a haphazard weblog like mine I've ever encountered, one which resembles little more than a collection of random titbits (or as our cousins from across the pond would say tidbits lest the sexual connotations of the prefix gives offence, or offense) must be the already taken Brainsluice. Snatches of half remembered anecdotes, sub Swiftian references to bodily functions in an effort to get mileage out of: headaches, mouth ulcers, tears, coughs and farts. And swearing. The moans and groans about my "trials of a net neophyte," the suffering of which ensures most, if not all, of those psychological and physiological conditions are my constant companions. A bit of radio here, TV there. A fragment of social commentary ( a few ideas percolating even now, though Gert's just beat me to one of them - The Great British Package Holiday, rich with potential, and she has the damn cheek to do it justice!), or anything that works its way to the surface of my mind.
Figuratively speaking, the skull is opened and it's hung over a surface. A bucket of water is sloshed over it which douses the brain, releasing chunks of knowledge and outpourings of nonsense. It all falls randomly before being swept and sifted into an organised heap. This heap makes up the bloggers ( this blogger's) post. The brain is then clear to receive more information.
Brainsluice. Genius. Am I always to be beaten to the best ideas? As an acknowledgement I shall visit this website, become familiar with its contents and gaze wistfully at its title. And try very hard not to glower.
Monday, May 27, 2002
These are, it has to be said, very early days, but I too have a few opinions on Big Brother 3. I haven't seen very much of it - I couldn't be doing with the 'entering of the house' first edition; there was always going to be a manic over-excitement exhibited in the players: a mix of first night nerves and hooting bewilderment as each realized they were the centre of attraction. And in the bits I saw I thought one or two of them were going to explode with the sort of crazed happiness children show on Christmas Day as they tear open their presents in a kind of transfixed frenzy barely registering what lies inside the wrapping paper.
Of course the maddest performance came from the already reviled Jade seen taking a girlish delight in the whole thing, her brain fast rewinding back to when she was thirteen, a mere seven years ago. And in so doing getting on everyone's frazzled nerves. Including mine as I reached for the remote control and sought refuge in the grown up sanity of HIGNFY. There I stayed, long enough to see Angus receive a ( predictable) verbal bruising before inexplicably and somewhat sheepishly fumbling for the remote again.
I don't know what it is, I watched the first BB more out of curiosity than anything else. But along the way I became slightly addicted. When BB2 started I was determined that: ' It won't be the same, none of these characters interest me, I'll give this one a miss. I was soon as addicted as previously, if not more so.
Same story with this one. I don't want to want to watch it. But I will watch it, though I shall try to draw the line at those longueurs over at E4 and those ridiculous silences full of tweeting birds and phantom trains tack-tack-tack-tack ...to too to tooing during salacious bits of conversation and fruity language outbursts. And references to the participants lives which might cause them future embarrassment apparently.
At the moment I'm not looking to rip daft Jade's heart out. Admittedly she's young and silly and seems to have suffered a similar cultural upbringing and attendance to the same Charm School as dear Helen from BB2. I fear there could yet be a little plate licking and knives in mouths during future eating scenes. But she will be regarded as a bit of naive fun by audiences and the butt of many jokes by the more sophisticated housemates, so I think she'll stay in for a while. She was also very quick off the mark to get into her bikini, and despite showing a body for which the term puppy fat could have been invented, will win her more friends than enemies, methinks.
However I have taken a bit of a dislike to Sunita who gives the impression of being a spite-filled volcano. I would not like to fall out with her within the constraints of the house and would point my elbow well and truly in her direction if I was voting from inside.
As for the rest, it's just too early. Though I think unless Spencer is sent packing soon I fear he may fall into a Slough of Despond. His idea of socialbility seems to be having an intimate relationship with his ciggies and wine glass whilst sat ruminating not on what this adventure has in store for him but on what delights (football, his mates) he's missing out on. Plump Alison seems game for the long haul looking like a mixture of one of the Weather Girls and Lennox Lewis' mum, happy to cuddle up to the men in the knowledge that if they don't fancy her no man's going to reject a surrogate mother figure - all the men will love her cosy fun, making her place in the house safe. Sultry Kate's a potentially much more threatened figure from unwanted physical attention is cuddling up to nobody at the moment - that may come later. No doubt C4 would like to make a star of her.
I shall continue to watch with interest.
Sunday, May 26, 2002
The first casualty of spending a few hours tinkering with technical matters, something for which I am woefully ill equipped, is in finding the time to fashion a decent quality post. I have little time for that at the moment. I shall instead refer only to the current task - the changing of this site's template.
Deciding that " Sportscast" - which I think was the template name of this site's previous look was a little...clinical, a visit to Blogskins was needed. I checked out a few attractive looking backgrounds together with some absolute horrors including a yellow thing called Lemony something which had me screwing my eyes and letterboxing my mouth as if I had licked its acidic sourness from my PC screen. I think I have settled on this.
Known as "Vanilla" the creator had received this eulogy from one enthusiast: "So creamy I could almost have put a spoon into it." During the transition - which is ongoing, I'm embarrassed to say, I could happily have put my boot into it ( Purple Shimmer was it?). That's not a negative reaction to the look of the site, more frustration at my technical ineptitude. At the time of writing I have: no Archives, The "Comments" are AWOL ,and the Registration Icons have metaphorically shown me their version of the middle finger before packing up and leaving (I shall be reproached/banned by the more severe unless reinstatement comes quickly) or Stats link. I could receive one or one million hits today and feel just the same. I could be behind the formulation of the most inspired comments in the minds of others or quitely dismissed as unworthy of their thoughts. Liberating, yet frustrating.
All things considered It should be worth the effort.
Thursday, May 23, 2002
When I'm off from work on week days and the weather is crap - like today - I have a habit of leaving the TV on in the lounge and the radio on in the kitchen. Sometimes there's a TV and radio on upstairs as well. This is not a conscious decision, more I should think, some subliminal need I have to cheat myself into believing I have a house full of chatty and informative guests. The consequence of this is that whatever I'm doing and wherever I am in the house I am subjected to bite sized chunks of news, music, features whatever happens to be broadcasting at the time.
Whilst occupied in a little domestic activity involving folding up countless items of clothes belonging to assorted family members who all have the good sense to be out of the house at times like these, I caught a glance at three people on the TV chattering about a table full of unusual (to me at first) gadgets. Something in their manner and the exotic colour and shape of the items laid out on the table in a kind of Kim's Game style made me freeze as I was about to leave the room, arms fully laden, but eyes and ears mentally sharpened.
The garrulous high maintenance lady, part Joan Rivers part haggard Jamie Lee Curtis stood over the table as if protecting items brought to an alter. The presenters John Leslie and Fern Brittain flanked her. The programme: This Morning. The feature: Sex advice. The items: helpful aids to a better sex life.
What the hell is happening to day time telly? One moment it's Richard and Judy and that ridiculous quiz: What's the Queens first name? On what date will Christmas day be celebrated this year? Which one of the two of us is associated with shop lifting? Correct, correct and correct; here's a million quid for being so clever. Daft dandy Rich and silly Judes would never..would they, talk about sex aids with some hardfaced, in your face, American female sexpert. On This Morning.
But there was John the new, new-man, looking more like a hungover best man at his chums wedding towering over everybody as usual with his increasingly fragile hairline and his mischievous face forced into a serious expression. And Fern: good old pro drawing on her hardened journalistic skills but with the look of someone who knew she read the news once but now has to ask: " And this what does this do?" This was a cylindrical object, smooth texture, tapered end slightly flexible structure, most of the usual characteristics but curiously with a leopard skin colour and design. Perhaps it was the colour that threw Fern, but nobody else was perplexed. "And how about this wee thing" asked John fighting for composure, pointing to some weird little square thing that buzzed, quietly as it turns out. It gets inserted for the pleasure of both explained their helpful guest. John swayed like a poplar in a stiff breeze. The last time he was handed bits and pieces like this he covered them in sticky back plastic and converted them into trains and castles. Now he was being given ideas to help spice up his next three in a bed romp. Fern must have been happy she was wearing her new specs as without them she gave the impression her eyes might have popped out and flew into the audience, or into her TV Cook husband's recently created Cashew and Mushroom Bake. "Whack it in the oven and sit back and relax" as her swain is apt to say. Hmmm, with Fern's new education that expression may create a whole new meaning for them.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
In my efforts to update my comments facility following as many as a dozen hits from rateyourmusic.com per day (God knows I can live with extra hits though quantity rather than quality make them pretty meaningless) urging me to update, this site has been without a comments link all day. Now I seem to be plagued with rather unsightly comments links! I shall have to carry out a tidying up exercise. This post is to see if I have sorted the problem out!
I'm not sure how that last rogue post was published - it was meant to be nothing more than piece of extempore as I warmed up brain and digits, and not written to be published. The subject I was tenuously playing with though remains an interesting to me. Writers Block. I believe I'm as prone to this condition as anyone else is - my rather episodic blogging posts lately are testament to this. My intention here however is to write generally about the condition rather than moan about suffering from it. And in particular to neutralize its encroaching effects on me by taking it as a subject for a post.
Helpfully defined by Dictionary.com as: "A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing" I think describes it perfectly. It is both psychological in that your ability to construct words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and the skills required to make them readable and in some way illuminating, if there, doesn't go away. And temporary in that only occasionally the psychological quality of inspiration is absent creating a feeling that nothing you think, or see or do seems worth capturing in of writing. But what is going on here?
I have always thought it strange that sometimes I feel interested in everything, attacking and embracing every conceivable subject that comes my way with breathless enthusiasm. At times like these it's as much as I can do to concentrate on any one thing. I want to be doing a thousand things at once, wanting nothing to suffer the lack of my attention whether it's architecture or zoology, Byron or Yeats, Carrie or The X-Men. Writing. I want to go out and do things, I want to stay in and do things. At the same time. Having a single self is not enough; I need to be here doing this, I need to there doing that. At times like this writing and everything else is a pleasure. The flip side though - nothing seems interesting - is equally potent and a psychological curiosity probably induced by too much mundanity and too little excitement from which all ideas seem dull and unworthy of thought or effort. And I guess this is where WB asserts itself.
One solution to the problem I remember reading about once is, that the blocked writer should write - anything, just keep going and going whether or not the words are making any sense. The writer should keep the pen/keyboard going at any cost taking whatever liberties needed to ensure the physical process of writing is continued - if necessary acting like a mad teleprinter flicking the words down when there are words to be printed and flickering in between words in eager anticipation of those to come. Like the teleprinter you must keep going and going, don't stop to dally over the mot juste or for grammatical expediency or to observe the dubious rules of elegant variation. Give no thought to style and tone and do all that is necessary to prevent pauses of any length. Refuse to yield if the brain in a show of stubborn petulance refuses to give you words - any words - write the same one down again and again like a line-writing schoolgirl forced to validate, confront and admit the nature of her crimes.
And then suddenly the imagination is released from its bonds, from its swaddling, as if through effort alone the intellectual process acts as a powerful release like a decongestant snorted up the nose or a blast of Amoclean knock-out fluid* down a drain. Or a well aimed spurt of WD40* on a rusty nut. Clear and Release - release and clear. And a bursting forth of ideas and the words needed to communicate them will flow. Or so they say.
It can't be a serious condition. If it were surely links like this wouldn't exist.
Sunday, May 19, 2002
I find that the more tired I am or the more stressed I feel the more I swear. During these periods I seem so preoccupied with my emotional state my thinking becomes muddled and lazy. On these occasions I sense a destructive affect on my ability to communicate accurately - and I know this is so. I know someone who uses the F word in normal conversation with such alarming regularity I often lose the thread of what it is he is trying to say. I find myself wanting to cut him off mid way through and say to him I've had enough, I'm bored, you're never, ever going to get to the point of what you're saying with these endless, pointless gap filling repetitions.
Everything he says just becomes one big F word in the memory with a few desultory facts that I may or may not have taken in.
But for those who might think swearing always an indefensible indulgence for those too idle to control their speech, this from email@example.com. is as near a justification for its use, (sometimes), as I've seen: "Swearing achieves the same catharsis one gets from a hearty belch, an evening constitutional, or a good, long cry -- it's a psychic purgative when one is suffering from emotional constipation. Because men are congenitally incapable of indulging in good, long cries, swearing provides them with a handy compromise when presented with the impractical alternatives of running away, crying, or fighting. Men can be hostile creatures, and swearing often allows them to exchange oaths instead of blows. As Mark Twain put it in _Pudd'nhead Wilson_, 'When angry, count four; when very angry, swear'."
--Richard Dooling, American writer and lawyer, "Blue Streak", 1996.
I wonder if swearing in another language would work if you needed a psychic purgative - handy perhaps when in the company of sensitive souls.
Friday, May 17, 2002
It's something of a surprise to me, but I seem to have been on the receiving end of, if not quite a bite - at least a polite nibble from the rampaging online quiz bug. Whether it's due to the proliferation of OLQ's and the quirky belief which participants seem to show in the revelation that they are anything from a fictional character to a sock of a particular colour I don't know.
Which Dicken's novel are you? typifies the kind of question - and you will know whether you are indeed: Great Expectations or The Old Curiosity Shop once you have decided how you wish to answer specifically chosen multiple choice questions which present alternatives from which you can, with a little a concession here and a tad of contrivance there, match yourself. Through this process of personality trait recognisance, similarities emerge which determine how your personality, through its revealed characteristics can somehow be associated with or parallel to the perceived personality of an article or other thing. I guess it's a sort of meeting between the theory of the Pathetic Fallacy,employer/employee psychometric testing and Women's mag writers.
But I ain't one to sniff. How else would I, could I, know that I am a spunky ( here's that crudity again!) fun, fantasy believing Purple Shimmer of a Doc Marten boot. Shoot, I might even go out and buy a pair to give myself a nice little top to toe ginchiness when they're worn with my new mascara which I am proud to announce is my Inner Beauty Product.
This latest quiz fazed me slightly when asked whether I preferred to wear a lacey thong, skimpy or big knickers - I went for the b k s blokishly imagining my snug boxers to be biggish and knickerish rather than anything gauzy and teeny.
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Well, (as dear old Peter Jones used to begin many of his Just a Minute monologues despite always being pulled up by some mean-spirited pedant - hesitation, I suppose, from the denied trinity which included repetition and deviation) I struggled my way towards a score of 139 in the BBC IQ test - one short of Madonna. But I'm pretty happy about this: Marilyn Monroe, after all, famously outscored Einstein in a similar test. And anyway, I've always been terrible at imaginative logic and matters numeric, particularly so if I am denied the use of pen and paper. I find doing sums in my head pretty tough anyway, which although frustrating is helped by the fact that most of the people I know who are good with figures and can remember countless numerical combinations: telephone numbers, dates,statistics and so on, often seem to be touched with a little helpful idiot savant(ism). And most of them, not great at social interaction - capable, but flawed; their judgement always seemingly slightly awry, and in a twist of irony,also their sense of timing.
Not so very long ago I did one of those IQ tests you get from books with titles like "Test Your IQ" often seen languishing on tables in badly stacked columns in those cheap and tawdry bookshops no serious book lover would ever go near. And if memory serves I managed only a shameful 90 odd on that occasion which is probably closer to my true ability in this area of raw thinking. I suppose I'm a right brainer - random and intuitive as opposed to the typical left brainer - logical and sequential. And if that is the case, I don't suppose IQ tests,such as they are, test my abilities at all and only focus on what I already know I can't do - Well ( as Peter Jones was apt to begin his sentences).
Saturday, May 11, 2002
I am one of life's yawner's. Some people think I'm one of life's yawns but I shall let that pass. I yawn a lot. More than most people I know. I yawn when I'm tired - natch - and when I feel alert (?), when feeling stressed, relaxed, happy or sad; I can always rustle one up from somewhere. Sometimes it's a great relief whilst I'm alone or with friends or strangers who are otherwise occupied . Mouth agape, eyes closed in a parody of ecstasy, right (invariably) hand in a concession to decorum thrown palm first to mask the offensive meeting between my tonsils and the rest of the world. Then the audible qualities - a suck rattle draught of oxygen that will hopefully slake my starved brain together with a groan otherwise only ever heard in imitation of how it is thought early man communicated.
At other times the urge is much less welcome. In mid conversation for example. Complying with the annoying convention of sensitive turn taking - and let's face it, it's always, always more fun to talk than listen - and the initiative is with the other, there's scope for yawning misinterpretations. Head forward, eyes bright and alert in an attitude of genuine interest, the tale-tale preliminaries from the nape of the neck to the top of the head to the face are being checked off. A nightmarish succession of scalp tightening, eye fizz and headblood pressure. I know what's coming. But the normal rules of etiquette forbid the yawn. You do not have that luxury. Yawn now and you're trouble. If you give in - if you yield to the urge - you'll have an enemy for life. Quickest way to upset someone without causing them physical harm? Tell them they're boring. No-one, no-one will feel less than utterly devastated if pulled up, mid utterance and told: " Say no more, you are boring me." Which unfortunately for me - congenital yawner that I am, is precisely the message I risk sending out. All the time. Because I yawn. Too, damn, often.
Or would be if over the years I hadn't devised the denial yawn. Same symptoms - head in a temporary padded clamp, grit of sand flicked into each eye by an invisible hand and gradual build up towards the overpowering urge to open trap and begin the repertoire. Then, release the denial, mouth sealed as if superglued, eyes slightly boggled ( more felt than seen I think) ears and throat in rapid deliberation followed by a head bursting fusillade of pops and crackles as the ears save the day. Result: the denial yawn, a social life saver, probably accumulating damage to my brain - but, helping keep friendships intact.
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
I was browsing The Haddock Directory today and up popped an old relic of popular culture known as "Dial a Disc." Dial 16 on your telephone and listen to a hit record from the top 10.
For me to actually make that call from the house I grew up in was about on a par with taking money out of my mum's purse or siphoning petrol from the petrol tank of my dad's car and decanting it into my aged moped. It was regarded as a waste of money, and therefore my sisters and I were barred from using the telephone to access whatever delights the crusty post office staff decided to play down the telephone line from this endless loop of tinny mediocrity.
I have no idea why this facility existed - Radio One was up and running and pulling in huge audiences. Top of the Pops was just one of the many music programmes on TV. All of us had records and cassette players - Radio Luxembourg filled the gap late at night; even with its accompanying whistle and sound quality: a mixture of undulations, waves and drifts as if an extension of the sea itself, they all sounded a million times better than the screechy tuneless rasp that the post office sent down those old copper wires of theirs.
For those, until now unaware of this rights-of-passage phenomenon, imagine an overheard personal stereo sound "tsst-tsst-tsst" then reduce sound quality by about 50 percent. Then imagine you would like to hear this more intimately through a lump of heavy Bakelite that you would have to press against your ear until cramp pains made you wince. Then, to hear anything at all you would have to screw your eyes shut to transfer all senses to the hearing in an effort to ear-suck (this is the early 1970s) "Hot Love" by T.Rex or "Goodbye Yellowbrick Road" by Elton John from the receiver.
It was a grizzly business and a very unsatisfactory musical experience. But, there was always a fight over the telephone with whoever I happened to be with - not to seize it as a useful weapon with which to knock someone senseless (though it was that). Or to smash the receiver and kill off the offensive, not quiet still born racket that was struggling for life, but to actually listen to these bits and pieces of sound broken up and reconfigured into rock and pop records. Why?
Dial a Disc. A crude forerunner of pay - per - (listen) and sadly a bit of a cultural/historical stinker.
Tuesday, May 07, 2002
Listening to Jonathan Meades on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 programme yesterday I was reminded why I like this man. He's a bit like Will Self - compelling to listen to but impenetrable to read. I once had a book of short stories by JM - until an unsuccessful search today I thought I still had - the title of which escapes me, and it defeated me completely. But his food columns make great reading and listening to him yesterday - despite Campbell's continuous interruptions ( Meades is a wordsmith; he chooses his words carefully, and is, despite his intellect, easy to interrupt due to his fastidious need to always to find the right word) - he was compelling.
Both witty and condemnatory about British food, Meades suggested that we - the British - "Can teach the French nothing at all about food", despite the obsessively popular status of the TV food programme and the elevation of " mediocre cooks" into minor celebrities. The British sausage was roundly dissed as nothing more than a "condom filled with abattoir slurry." Tripe was ( I'm paraphrasing like mad here) a typical convergence of noun and adjective - who else but the British would "invent" a food and then condemn the word into a synonym for claptrap. And describing the delights of eating obscure things such as fox. " What did it taste like?" asked Campbell, " A bit like dog" said Meades. He was also very funny about how certain foods were euphemised - the truth masked to protect the squeamish - look out for "white kidneys" they could be worth avoiding.
And,( I have trouble with this one) you shouldn't, according to Meades eat an animal you don't like, that is you don't like it as a living animal. If you like furry bunnies or cute baby elephants, okay to eat, if you are afraid of snakes or crocodiles - and who the hell in the sane world isn't, not okay to eat. Eating as paying the compliment I guess, a sort of: "You look good enough to eat scenario."
Perhaps best known as looking like a cross between a Blues Brother and a tubby agent from The Matrix, Meades often appears on TV doing angry verbose monologues into camera about the state of British architecture. Often he would be doing quirky things whilst talking like: lying down, riding Penny Farthings, eating ice creams and getting up from a table and dismissively walking off camera. But his true metier is as a restaurant critic and his latest book the alarming sounding Incest and Morris Dancing will definitely be added to my embryonic wish list.
Saturday, May 04, 2002
As a father of two growing sons I have had to become accustomed to having the music of the TV Channel Kerrang resounding through the house. This was not the thinking behind purchasing a television the size of a small car with more speakers than your average political party conference and packing more woofers and tweeters than a domestic menagerie. But at least through it and them I have become unwittingly and vicariously semi knowledegable about a subject as arcane as Nu Metal including Coal Chamber, System of a Down and Korn. The exchanges have gone from the standard parental response of:" Turn that racket down" to " Which band is that, and Who's that again - Puddle of what, the Lost who, Linkin where?" And they've stopped telling me to "shut up", even though the nearest I ever got to Creed was through the added suffix plus Clearwater Revival. I have even been able to gain a little credence of my own with them and their chums by being able to extol the talents of Metalica and Iron Maiden who despite their grizzled appearance having drank,shocked and misbehaved during a previous era are still mustard cutters for the K generation. Not to mention Ozzy Osbourne, America's latest imported domestic celebrity - "No lads, I wasn't actually there during the bat decapitation thing, but I knew someone who knew someone whose cousin was there." You get the picture.
I should point out that during my efforts to collect links for this post I think I have failed to do justice to CCR, as they seem to be now known. They're obviously big in Spain and Germany as most of the websites dedicated to them are written in the languages of these countries. As it is the site used here is little more than a tinky-tonk set of musical pieces based on the bands hits tastily arranged using squeaky Bavarian accordions with a lederhosen thigh slapping percussive. The bells and triangles accompaniment apparently performed by the exchange pupils of Nutfield Community School for tin eared children. Mary would not be proud.
I'm very tempted to change the look of this blog. The bright white background and uncompromising red top play havoc with my eyes when I scrutinise the first posted draft for errors. Sometimes I have to stare at the screen for ages before seeing what might be apparent to others immediately. I wish it was the brilliance of the content rather than the colour that cause me to shield my eyes from what is reflected back at me.
One constant I have noticed since being involved with matters weblog and Blogger in particular - is the dire quality of some of the 'Blogs of Note'. Some have been very good, one or two excellent; but many of them, in my opinion, have been very ordinary. Just an observation and I'm hardly qualified to judge, but many of my regular reads - none of which have occupied this 'hit parade', are much better than the current crop.
Thursday, May 02, 2002
I have very recently joined the three-pointer club. Many years of driving and, I think, being a pretty good driver, have failed to keep me completely on the right side of the law. I wouldn't mind, but I'm generally a close observer of marked up speed limits as they're often the dictates of reason - built up areas, nearby schools or retirement homes; in short, areas where people are likely to be present and therefore vulnerable to fast moving traffic. But reader, where I was scored, there were none of those things. There weren't even any damn speed restriction signs facing the way I was going. (Later I saw a few haphazardly placed signs facing the other way, but I'm not in the usual habit of adjusting my driving habits on the strength of grey posts of indeterminate shape, colour and content.) I was tempted to point this out to the yellow-coated officer who waved me into the side of the road as if he were part Magnus Pike in mid gesticulation and part Pete Townsend in full manic windmill guitar strum. A sort arc-wheel, point arc-wheel point, with just a tad too much enthusiasm for my liking. But all the sensible, grown up stuff was uttered by him. Not me.
Boy was I pissed; though thankfully I wasn't pissed up. "Have you any idea what the speed limit is on this road?" "Apparently not you smug-fuck moron," I thought, before confessing "Aaaaaaa, naano!" in a pathetic attempt at sounding like a coherent law abiding model citizen. "That is the problem I'm afraid sir;" here he indicated a digital set of displayed figures reading 43. "This is a thirty miles per hour restricted road. And as you can see sir, you have broken it by some margin". The sir address didn't make me feel any better; I couldn't help feeling that if I were a real sir I'd have been sent on my way with a gushing apology and free tickets to the next policeman's ball. I got tickets all right, but they weren't dished out to enhance my social life. "It is my intention to deal with you by means of a Fixed Penalty Ticket". "Yep, right, okay, um the um… signs they, where are, don’t' seem to…, (eloquence was still a long way away from this temporary abode) " If sir would prefer I don't issue a ticket, I shall have to report you and we'll meet again in Court". "NO!" I spluttered in a rare lapse into lucidity. And probably a little too quickly. "The um the um, ticket will be fine".
The ticket was issued and instructions were given as to what to do with it (I needed no instructions as to what I would have liked to have done with it!). "Have a good day sir," the officer bid me as I buckled up dutifully and fired the car engine up: " Fuck off!" I thought, before saying " Thank-you," though what I had to be thankful for God only knows. "Keep your speed down in future", he said, with barely concealed schadenfreude ravaging his face. "Cheers then" I said, as if saying goodbye to a mate after a night on the razz. And I was on my way, harbouring a quiet and panicky rage.