Monday, December 20, 2004

Second class return to Dottingham, please

To catch the above reference, you'll need to be 30+, have a great memory, and have grown up in the UK.

If so, perhaps you're now fondly remembering the red-nosed blubber-ass asking a bemused clerk at a ticket office for a "second class return to Dottingham..." (Nottingham, articulated with blocked sinuses). The clerk then provided the flu victim with some Tunes. Cut to the same guy, still with a red nose, walking towards his train. "Tunes!" he says, his nasal whine having given way to perfect enunciation.

I mention Tunes because the first part of this post is concerned with the beneficial effects of menthol.

I am mentioning this for the sake of accurate reportage and because it is curiously satisfying...

Hmmm, on reflection, no, I don't think I can mention it... it's a mix of cough drops and a sexual practice. It may not benefit the sinuses in any direct sense, but it certainly made me feel better.

No Way! did I watch that much Porno...

We went out on a routine trip this morning, tying up loose ends before heading to Alabama tomorrow. The damn cable box has not functioned properly since I arrived, so we took it back to Time Warner down on Poplar to swap it out for a new setup.

Waiting in line behind some guys in plaid shirts, one with a mass of long silver hair, we speculated on why people always take so long.

"They're here to dispute their bills," said Hannah. "Goddamn it! These people..."
"We mustn't be too hasty... maybe they got cable box troubles like us..."

I looked down at the cable box and remote control I was holding. I looked around at the other people inside the store. No-one else was holding a cable box, no-one else was holding a remote control. I reflected on this.

"Hmmm, maybe you're right."

The guy with the silver hair was up at the counter. He was mentioning items on his bill. Hannah had been proved right.
"It's the porno," I said, "he can't believe that he's watched 1,000 dollars worth of porno this month... He probably drove to the store thinking, 'Goddamn, am I really that sad? Did I really watch 300 hours of White Chicks doing Nasty Things on pay-per-view this month?' glancing over at his bill on the dashboard and getting mad all over again."

The guy carried on bellyaching. He looked tired, like he'd been whacking off constantly for the last month.

Reading a Random Page of Hardback Novels

We went over the road to Bookstar. Our mission; to seek out some books to take as gifts to Hannah's people in Alabama.

We started by seeking out some titles for Hannah's momma. She likes to read, oh I don't know what she reads. Stuff with some magic and intrigue, Da Vinci Code and all that. Oh, and she only likes hardback books. Polar opposite of myself, a so-called bibliophile, who by and large only purchases paperbacks.

What to choose? I walked along and looked at the covers.

David Fucking Lodge

Some of the books were instantly offensive, just from their dust jackets. For example, I find the two word combination, "David Lodge" mind-bogglingly sickening. David Lodge, David Lodge, a cretinous author who writes all about, hmmm, how to be a good writer. The same David Lodge who can't write a fucking sentence but who still finds time to write garbage literary theory. And Good Lord, if it isn't the same David Lodge who is a fellow of Creative Writing courses and who wonders the globe "teaching" people his unique brand of literary ineptitude.

You've guessed it, folks, I have issues with David Lodge.

Books with trees on the cover. Or Snow

I scanned the other hardbacks. I dismissed any with trees or snow on the cover. I stood in front of a book that featured snow-covered trees on the dust jacket. I held back an urge to vomit.

I gave up looking at the covers and set about assembling a pile of possible purchases.

I sat in a chair and read a random page from each.

They included:

A Scotland Yard thriller concerning some artworks. The page I read offered staggering insight into the relocation of Guy's Hospital. It also mentioned a quadrangle. Dismissed

Next up was a Chick-Lit offering. It was written by a Cambridge English graduate (cue teethgrinding). The page I read contained the mind-slappingly annoying phrase, "The Doyenne of Denial" Dismissed

Ooooh, a thick one, Seven Types of Ambiguity, written by an Australian. The page I read was well constructed stuff, self-consciously literary. It was lacking completely in dialogue though, and flipping through there was a distinct imbalance in this regard. Dismissed

Going against every screaming cell in my body, we eventually settled on two. The first was Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, the other was Alexander McCall Smith's The Sunday Philosophy Club.

The thought of contributing to Pratchett's pension fund is particularly galling, but sometimes life is like that. Who knows, perhaps he'll spend the pennies he's prised from me on an electrical appliance that will fall into his bath as he masturbates furiously while wearing women's underwear.

Then I wouldn't feel so bad.

Trip to a Mall

We rode out after nightfall to Barnes & Noble to locate the 2nd part of the Philip Pullman Dark Materials trilogy, as parts I and II are a Christmas gift for a precocious kid off in Alabama. The number of lanes in the highways and the superabundance of strip malls knocked me sideways.

We found the book. I know I recommended it, but

1) I've never read it
2) I dislike Philip Pullman, specifically for his eulogising of Oxford
3) Fantasy bores me senseless, and, regardless of literary merit, The Dark Materials trilogy features the word daemon in the opening paragraph of Book I.

Oxford is a loathsome place. I lived there for a year in 1997. It is full of ugly people, many of whom race around on bicycles. There are thousands of Pippy Longstockings, there are thousands of Bertie Woosters. Way back when, I had a week of my writings performed at the Burton-Taylor Theatre in the centre of Oxford. I went into the ticket office to see how things were going and there was a young man in white trousers, striped blazer, and a straw boater, buying himself a ticket. I felt like tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "Excuse me, I wrote this stuff, and I don't want people such as yourself to come..."

I didn't bother. Instead, I reflected further upon the human condition.

4 Comments:

Blogger Claypot said...

I was reading along, going to ask in the comments 'So are you writing a book?' cos I love your writing. But then you say you've already had some work performed. Obviously already a professional. So I'll just slink away quietly then. (But not before saying that I completely agree with you about David Lodge. WTF? Oh and also, watch out for Hugh. Not speaking from personal experience at all, but he will probably try and have sex with you. Because you're European. And you can read)

6:23 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

I would not call myself a professional writer by any means. One week of stuff in Oxford in 1997, a contribution last year to a book on colour theory, it's not exactly the stuff of legends.

If i want to put a book together, I might chop together the Dublin section of my blog, as that is over and done with. I can ask Hugh to put it on his counter (not in return for sex)

11:35 AM  
Blogger gymnut said...

knowing you as I have for far too long. It strikes me odd that you have never written a book. However, I am actually glad that you havnt. The effect it would have on your bank balance would be devastating.
You would lose your excuse to only drink for one night of partying. You would finally get a house or something, and I would then have to come to you for a share of your riches. On second thoughts release a book and ill manage the finances.
Catch you soon.
Gymnut

3:37 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

i suppose it's a mercy that they don't have debtor's prisons or workhouses for the poor today, i'd definitely be breaking rocks with my unique style of financial mismanagement.

having lounged around watching novels being put together for publication, i was more than cured of any wish to pursue that as a profession. a simple dedication in the front of a Scarlett Thomas novel was, in my eyes, the full realisation of my literary ambitions.

5:39 PM  

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