Monday, November 01, 2004

Miracle of modern living #1

Hallowe'en must rank as a landmark day, in terms of the level of personal happiness I managed to sustain throughout its duration. (And no, people, I didn't mix the blue pills with the red pills again...)

My day began in the afternoon. I always find this a convenient starting point for my day, as it alleviates any need to experience what cultural commentators refer to as "the morning."

I was woken by my mobile ringing. It is presently earning its keep as an alarm clock, so the fact that it rang came as a great surprise. No-one calls me. And on a Sunday? My sleepy brain prepared itself for someone who had dialled the wrong number.

There was a drawled hello at the other end. Someone was saying my name.

I struggled to recall who it might be. There are scenes in films where someone is underwater in a suit, perhaps they were in a car that fired off the end of a pier after a car chase (this seems an occurence that is hopelessly over-represented in cinema). Anyway, they slide out of the window and thrash around hopelessly. A close-up shows a stream of air bubbles escaping from their terrified mush. Their tie has floated out of their jacket and points the way to safety. They kick off towards the dim light from the surface... but will they make it???

This is how it feels when I'm struggling to speak to someone first thing in the morning and trying to recall just who it might be.

Gasping, I break through the surface, scoring an impressive, albeit, private victory.

"It's Carla!" I yelp in a strangled voice.

It is Carla. Another mystery solved. She is sorry to disturb me. Why do people say this? If they were really sorry, wouldn't they not call in the first place? What do these people say after violent domestic disputes?

"I'm sorry I shot you, truly..."
"No you're not! You just shot me six times!"
"I know, and I feel absolutely awful about all six, especially the head shots..."

Carla is continuing to have computer problems. They seem to have originated from some strange example of manhood she brushed against in the seedy virtual cattle market that is the world of Yahoo! Personals. Ever since, her computer has been acting up, in particular, horror of horrors, Internet Explorer, bringing her research work on environmental issues to a crashing halt.

"What can I do, JK?"
"Have you got a hammer?"
Carla laughs.
"Just thump it a few times..."

The conversation rumbled on for maybe an hour. I closed by making a few passing remarks about the debauched night with Leo and my humous-puke spraying of the walls and bed linen. She laughed at the uproar, in particular the hour I spent in the shower the next morning removing my hardened humous-puke skullcap (now there's a phrase you don't hear too often).

“Well, this is what happens when Bohemians are allowed to freely associate…” I ventured. (Sadly, although committed to openness and honesty, I can't divulge full details here of just what went on that shameful evening, it is simply too distressing).

On a more practical level, I recommended that Carla download Mozilla Firefox, and try browsing the web with that.

I did the waking up stuff and then reported to the Internet Cafe, where I set about completing my latest money-maker, a simple Flash animation for one of my clients. In order to fund my proposed trip to Vermont, I have sought to take a lead in adding value to their website, and so devoted around 5 hours to a simple animation to promote "drying solutions for the filling industry." If you purchase a drying solution for your filling operation on the strength of this, please mention my name, as I may receive a bonus.

Jenny came online. Her and her boy were messing around, carving pumpkins way up there in Vermont. Like the rest of the world's population, they seemed to be getting along just fine without me.

I started thinking about Hallowe'en in Dublin, and what it might mean. My thoughts quickly turned to the 2 rows of buzzers beside the front door of my shared house. I pictured an endless procession of scarred, fake-blooded, flour-coated, kiddie demon fingers, each hammering away on the buzzers amid strangled cries of delight.

“Have you bought candy?” asked Jenny.
“No way! What utter misery… I’m not going home.”

I should've tried to drum up a little enthusiasm, maybe.

After a few hours chat, Jenny went and Carla returned. The download of Mozilla Firefox had solved the browsing problems, allowing work to resume. This was a reason to cheer, I thought.

Then Claire came on… I explained I needed her to buy my PC; she has been using it for free since I left it with her in July. 100 pounds is the price. She agreed to buy it, and then added, “A friend of mine looked at it and said there’s no way it’s even worth that, but I’ll give it you anyway as that’s what we agreed.”

“Fine. Can you hold on a moment, I’m just looking up ‘ungrateful’ and ‘churlish’ in the Cambridge Dictionary Online…”

I sent off my bank details and she will start making instalments this week.

Next up was my TV. It’s in a box in Devon. Bloody TV, weighs more than Venus. It’s probably sunk into the concrete floor of the garage by now, tunnelling its way to the centre of the Earth.

I can see Alasdair calling…

“Jase, your TV, it’s destabilising the infrastructure of the entire village. Some civil engineers from the council came round yesterday…”
“Well, that’s okay, officials, they won't do anything…”
“But they brought the police with them, and they were asking for your current whereabouts…”
“You didn’t tell them?”
“No, but I thought I better call…”
“You dunderhead! They’re listening…”
I hang up and head into Dublin at a rate of knots. A party of Japanese tourists video me hurling my phone into the Liffey and stiff-arming it towards Temple Bar…

Kirsty came along. Ex-girlfriend. I ask her about my television. I explain that it may require a crane to lift it on to the back of a flatbed truck, but could she possibly store it on her driveway and advertise it in the Free Ads.

“Free to anyone who can lift it and has a reinforced floor...”
"How much do you really want, Jase?"
“It’s fifty quid,” I advise her.
Kirsty disappears.
Kirsty returns.
Her parents are considering buying it now.
“They are talking, but there’s something on they are watching… they will talk properly in 15 minutes.”

I struggle to imagine her parents ever talking properly, in my mind they communicate largely by way of a clumsy semaphore, employing the Reader’s Digest and Radio Times as makeshift flags.

Kirsty pops up again.
“Dad wants to know if it works properly.”
“Of course it doesn’t, why would I be selling it? Tell your dad he can have a 50% discount because the screen’s been kicked in and it doesn’t work anymore…”
“They are clearing things and measuring whether there’s sufficient space…”
They are going to sleep on it.
"Yes, I imagine they will need to call a family council of war and pass an Act of Parliament before taking such a momentous decision..."

Carla phones me. Once again, I’ve no idea who it is. This must be disheartening, not just for Carla, but for everyone who rings me. I answer the phone as if it’s the first call I’ve ever received, and I dimly recall the identity of the person speaking only after they have given their surname, their relationship to me, and supplied at least three anecdotes from past interactions. 90 seconds later, there’s a flash of realisation. “It’s Carla!”

“I had to call you again, sorry, but there’s something exciting. 360 degrees of sky has gone loopy for your blog. She doesn’t even mention mine, she chooses not to reflect upon its qualities, etc…”
Carla moans about her own blog being passed over. I tune this out.

Ringing off, I head to the blog, my tiny hamster-heart pumping the blood around my body quicker than is strictly necessary. Maybe this made sense in ancient times when people ran away from mastodons across glaciers, clothed only in their woolly mammoth singlet and caribou-skin pumps, but today, in 2004, it’s not really appropriate for browsing a blog…

Whoo! This is heavy praise. Fulsome. I’m winded from the thrill. I read it once. I glow. I read it again, a word at a time. I glow intermittently, like a lighthouse. I leave as much time between reading each word as is possible without losing the thread (for the historical record, this is about 3 seconds)…

I have to quote, I have to – here!

"I am particularly pleased to have found Extreme Unction, not only because it is extremely funny, but because it is written by a man, and there are very few manblogs I like. Apart from Mike Moore, and let's face it he's more of a pie factory than a man."

Catch that buzz? I picture myself, the mighty Jase, a shining star of the digital underground, 1000s of open-mouthed, finely-featured, kulture-headz, all slurping on the fizzy juice of my freshly squeezed thoughts. I think about all those things that are really popular, they all started out small. I then think of all the things that started out small and are still small, perhaps even shrinking. This worries me. I gaze wild-eyed around the Internet Café, anxious that no-one spots my mini-crisis unfolding, failure looming… they seem indifferent. Ha! Indifferent to history, history, right here, happening in their midst!

“Peasants,” I whisper…

I make a comment on the blog. Carla has already made one, too, hers references me as being potentially one of these little hobbits, recently discovered on a remote island.

I find this doubly irritating, because:

1) I am not a hobbit (despite appearances)
2) I have a loathing for all things Tolkien… I thought this stuff had been seen off by punk, all that terrible prog-rock, stuff like Jethro Tull, fully grown men playing flutes with a green-stockinged leg perched atop a papier-mache toadstool.

My comment was less incriminating. In fact, it was a study in modesty... and I'm so modest I'm going to resist the incredible urge to quote it here.

Jenny came back. They were retouching their monster outfits before an evening of collecting candy.

It was time to pack up.

Just before I left, a girl in a Marilyn Manson mask and a sheet ran in to the Internet Café and let out a spectacularly charming and non-frightening, “Whoooooooo!”

She closed the door carefully as she left. Charming teen-ghosts, I thought.

Today really has been perfect!


Blogger bhikka said...

I didnt calle thee a hobbit : (

7:33 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

History will be the judge

7:41 AM  
Blogger Claypot said...

I wouldn't get over-excited about future traffic on the strength of my mentioning you just yet - only about 5 people read my blog, and most of those are Scandinavian. I am trying to decide if being quoted by another blogger is as much fun as being chosen by the Guardian as pick of the day...hmmm...NO! Mwahahaha. Now, do I apologise to Bhikka/Carla here, or must I go to her site? It would be more in context here, but netiquette suggests I should depart for other climes. BTW, you can nominate yourself for the Guardian, go on, it's a giggle. And thanks for being funny, I like it.

7:48 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

how do i nominate myself? on guardian?

7:52 AM  
Blogger Claypot said... Mind you, they ignored me when I nominated mine. They waited until it was reviewed by someone else before picking it up. Hey, if you get Bhikka to nominate you from her funny computer they will probably get the email in quadruplicate and be forced to take notice hee hee!

8:11 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

i nominated myself thus:

"something funny



thanks claypot!

Please Note: if they don't Reward my blog i will make a graphic entitled "Not thought to be worth mentioning by The Guardian" for my front page. A win-win!

8:50 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

oh balls, i even got the URL screwy :(

8:51 AM  
Blogger BrooklynVoice said...

So maybe if someone from the states nominated it, would that help? OK, done. Now - who can put me up for the next 4 years? Or at least suggest a university that would work well? Thanks in advance... lost in the blue states.

12:00 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

brooklyn, oh dear. you're welcome to move to Dublin and i'll help you find a place to live!

12:58 PM  
Blogger BrooklynVoice said...

Sounds good. I've been before, but only for a day. Now to find a good school where i can study something useful. Like geology...

11:44 PM  
Blogger Claypot said...

You could always try the African Bush, much nicer than the American one.

Pinhut - looking at my stats, someone from the Guardian has come to my site off yours. Time for another post from you I think...they're watching ya!

5:15 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...


oh, the pressure! the guardian! do i stick or twist?

sadly, i can't do my performing dog trick and conjure a post from thin air, as i have spent last 72 hours in brain-dead funk (not from reading the Guardian, honestly)

11:47 AM  

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