Saturday, January 31, 2009
There is a dead and static mouse in the lily-pond. I feel like that mouse - static, obese and decaying. Vita [Sackville-West, his wife] is calm, comforting and considerate. And yet (for have I not been reading a batch of insulting press-cuttings?) life is a drab and dreary thing. I have missed it. I have made a fool of myself in every respect.
Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God?
Very glum. Discuss finance. Vita keeps on saying that we have got enough to go on with. but when one goes into it, that represents only two months. I must get a job. Yet all the jobs which pay humiliate. And the decent jobs do not pay. Come back to Long Barn. Arrange my books sadly. Weigh myself sadly. Have put on eight pounds. Feel ashamed of myself, my attainments and my character. Am I a serious person at all? Vita thinks I should make £2000 by writing a novel. I don't. The discrepancy between these two theories causes me some distress of mind.
What makes daily life so agreeable in America is the good humour and friendliness of Americans. Of course, this quality has its reverse side. I'm irritated by those imperious invitations to 'take life easy', repeated in words and images throughout the day. On advertisements for Quaker Oats, Coca-Cola and Lucky Strike, what displays of white teeth - the smile seems like lockjaw. the constipated girl smiles a loving smile at the lemon juice that relieves her intestines. in the subway, in the streets, on magazine pages, these smiles pursue me like obsessions. I read on the sign in a drugstore, 'Not to grin is a sin.'
everyone obeys the order, the system. 'Cheer up! Take it easy.' Optimism is necessary for the country's social peace and economic prosperity. If a banker has generously lent fifty dollars without guarantee to some Frenchman in financial straits, if the manager of my hotel takes a slight risk by cashing his customers' cheques, it's because this trust is required and implied by an economy based on credit and expenditure.
Simone de Beauvoir
Taken from The Assassin's Cloak.
I place my items down on the counter: breakfast rolls, my own personal Jesus of ham and tuna in a demi-baguette, cream doughnuts, Lucozade Sport, Wispas and Tramil. "You'll do it all again tonight, y'know?," grins the lady as she scans away.
She is mistaken.
I stand in front of the sliding door for a good twenty seconds before I realise that it is, in fact, not a sliding door at all.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I've never opened my emails with a sense of trepidation before, but now I'm feeling slightly sick in my stomach every time, wondering who else feels slighted by what I thought was the most throwaway post I've ever written.
See, I read the blog award nomination list last Wednesday and was genuinely pleased to see my blog there. I wasn't surprised, however, as a friend had told me she had nominated me for a couple. "Nice, but no big deal", I thought. I was also amused at how long the lists were. It seemed like everyone who has a blog was in there for Best Personal (though I do realise this is not the case).Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but I couldn't help wondering if a few people had nominated themselves. Not too many people are going to put their hand up and admit to it, but I stand by that suspicion.
Then, later, I saw the logos that had been designed for nominated blogs and laughed. It put me in mind of primary school children who have just formed a new gang, and are wearing badges to show off to the kids who aren't in it. I didn't get to join many gangs as a kid, so it discomforted me. Jump on me for that remark if you will, but it was honestly my gut reaction. I should note at this point that it was the idea of people putting them permanently on their sidebar that I found distasteful, rather than simply using them as a visual aid in a thank-you post (which is what most people have done, admittedly). I know lots of people put up logos for every award they've won or been shortlisted for, and plenty of them are blogs I like very much. Thing is, it reminds me of the teaching colleagues I have who insist on having every little irrelevant qualification they've ever earned listed in the school yearbook, whilst most people just mention that they have the requisite degree. It smacks of either vanity or insecurity to me, and I don't get it. One could argue that it's an eye-catching way of grabbing the attention of a browsing reader, but I'm inclined to think that if the award is justified the content should speak for itself.
So far, so tetchy. I saw the pisstake logo that Rosie had designed for Gimme's blog and I laughed at it. Hard. Because it summed up what I felt. So I pilfered it and dashed off a few lines, in place of having anything imaginative to say. I thought it might be roundly ignored. Instead, it's attracted the opprobrium of those whom I thought had long since abandoned this blog, brought me private, sermon-like emails, brought me point form comments of the kind of "I'm not angry, just disappointed" tone that any teacher would gaze enviously at, and, in one case, has caused an apparently startling level of hurt to someone I've never met, but whose blog I subscribe to and very much enjoy.
In short, people have been offended, much to my dismay. But what was it?
Is it just universally offensive?
No, I've had emails and comments that have been supportive in tone. and the readers on Gimme's blog seemed to find it hilarious. Gimme is a writer of such talent and brevity of wit that he is capable of putting virtually every other blogger in the shade, but he chose to use this simple diagram to illustrate his point. I can only assume that people expect me to be 'nicer' than that. Why? I'm Andrew, there is no character for me to hide behind here, and I write what Andrew thinks. Always have done. Not everything I think gets expressed, but I don't set myself any rules as to what I can or can't say.
Is it because it's personal?
No, not in the slightest. I singled out nobody. I hadn't even seen that any of the first three commenters to get upset had put those logos on their blogs. I have a fondness for all of them, so perhaps I wouldn't have bothered if I had. I don't know. I certainly had none of them in mind when I wrote the few words that I did write. I was, essentially, criticising a phenomenon, albeit a very small one. I detest the phenomenon of reality TV shows, but I don't hate everyone who watches them, or even those who rate their importance above global tragedies when it comes to deciding newspaper headlines.
Is it the crude language?
Hardly. We're all grown-ups here, and I can't imagine that anyone was really appalled by the casual usage of the 'C' word. This is not a family blog and I'm not convinced that there is such a thing. I could put an 'adult content' warning on the blog, but it would prevent some people (including me) being able to access it in work, and it does sound so horribly seedy. I do generally swear in my posts, no-one should have been shocked by it. If you were, grow a thicker skin or read elsewhere.
Is it because everyone else loves Damien Mulley?
It could appear so. Thing is, this post was in no way having a go at him, or the awards he runs. I expressed a distrust for awards in general, something too many people seem not to have gathered. Why so defensive of someone I did not, in this case, denigrate in the slightest? I'm sure you all find him as lovely and fluffy as his links in person, but I feel I have seen enough of his online conduct to strongly dislike him. Were I to meet him in Cork there is a genuine chance I might punch him. So I won't go. I find the all-pervading sycophancy towards him gobsmacking, and I do hope that some day Irish bloggers may feel there is another way.
It matters little though, for as Thomas Aquinas once said, "All I have written feels like straw to me."
I'm sorry to anyone I upset, I truly am.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Folks, just keep it in your pants until the shortlists at least.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Travel back to Dublin. Do the Late, Late Show with with Gay Byrne. For those who don't know, this is the Irish equivalent of Dave Letterman and Jay Leno rolled into one. And it has been running since they have had television in Ireland. I've avoided it for years, because it is the one thing that makes your face known here. As it is, I'm generally confused with Jim Sheridan and complimented for My Left Foot, which is fine by me. actors and rock stars deserve that recognition since they're paid so much. Writers and directors are paid to be anonymous. And halfway through the show I realise that anonymity here for me is gone forever. The interest in this Collins film is turning it into a national institution. My problem now is how to make a film that won't feel like a national institution.
Neil Jordan was on the promotional circuit for Interview With a Vampire when he wrote this entry, and had been with Liam Neeson in west Cork the day before to meet the family of Michael Collins (it's a shame I missed the date for that entry, it's all about them getting stuck into pints and pints of Guinness, and also makes mention of Kevin Costner). I'm inclined to think he failed in his quest to not turn Michael Collins into a national institution, given that RTÉ screen it at least twice a year.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Hectoring, badgering, toadying, schmoozing.
The kind of week where I stay awake contemplating quitting blogging and then heartlessly composing posts in roughly equal measure.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Or will they just throw any old shite at you?
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I set off with most of my immediate family for the ferry to Holyhead, early on New Year's day. This was preceded by rather tame New Year's celebrations, consisting of two bottles of Duff beer (curiosity and branding pulled me in but seriously, don't bother) and a few funny chaps on the telly. We were headed for my great aunt's birthday party in north Wales. Now, I am not such a dutiful grand-nephew that I would normally attend such events, but this lady was turning 100 and they tell me you only do that once a century. There is a Chinese curse that says may you live in interesting times. My Aunty Kay has certainly done that, but I doubt she saw it as a curse. You don't need me to provide a potted history of the last 100 years, but I'll do so anyway.
Scat music, the birth of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, continued advances in the field of corduroy trousers, the liberation of St. Kitts' and Nevis from the tyranny of a pack of less than benevolent werewolves, the deflowering of Maggie Thatcher, 'text' becoming a verb, George Michael, global contrariness, monkey tennis, the rise of synonyms, Betamax, Hank Marvin, Alvin and the Chipmunks, belly-button fluff, Nebuchadnezzars of champagne, the startling progress of smut, germ warfare, Jade fucking Goody and all that she represents, a man who would have been lucky to have a house (let alone a White one) a hundred years ago about to have a go at ruling the planet.
A mixed bag, the shamelessly clichéd might say.
Still, I don't see any of that when I greet her later that afternoon. I see cards from the Queen and the Welsh First Minister, and a lady with a ticking mind that made her Scrabble Queen of Anywhere She Pleased until about the age of 98. Still clasping hands gently and radiating the kind of warmth that will give our polar ice caps further cause for concern. Saying, "Do come and visit again. Soon."
Thursday, January 8, 2009
NaRocRoc's magical date.
Gimme with a good fucking point.
Jonathan Woss's twitter ejaculations
Sarah tells you what you should do
I'm not sure what Radge is on about, but I think I like it.
MJ's brand new wedding blog. It's OK, she's not Bridezilla.
But not now it isn't. I lie wide awake at stupid o'clock, knowing that once again I'll have to be up at an obnoxious hour, feeling far from sated sleep-wise. Herself, who is no bundle of fun in the morning either, told me earlier that having me around makes it easier for her to get up, because she can laugh at my groans and grumbles and realise that, no matter how much I hate the morning, the morning doesn't care.
She's right, you know. I've never been much of a believer in New year's resolutions but perhaps, just perhaps, it might be time for me to try and start getting in tune with the times that polite society likes to fall and rise at. Failing that, I may just try to become an active member of the Australian blogosphere, where the hours I currently keep should tie in with theirs quite nice nicely.