Friday, 9 December 2011

The Weekend

My trust in Cornerhouse films has grown over the past year. Okay, I admit it, I have always liked the films at the Cornerhouse. There, said. The amount of time and money I have spent accompanying friends to see the latest film out at the Odeon or AMC is unbelievably disappointing. At the Cornerhouse, I skip merrily through their automatic doors and hand over my debit card wondering what quirky film awaits me. 

The Weekend, a British film directed by Andrew Haigh, was last month's Cornerhouse treat. A friend invited me and I had to say yes when she included the word 'gay' in its description. It's always interesting to see how my tribe will be portrayed in films, especially ones where this theme is the sole concentration. It had already been showing on the screens for a fortnight by the time we went to see it, so the room wasn't bursting with curious eyes as I had expected. Instead, several gay couples occupied the rows sporadically, each glaring to the aisle when a new member entered (there's always an interest as to whether we see an ex, a hottie or someone we look at and say 'ah, a fellow gay').

First impression; loved it. Tom Cullen grew on me within a few scenes and Chris New's fearless character was instantly likeable. The chemistry between them was HOT, with a few shots either making your eyes widen or your cheeks (the upper ones) blush.

The contrast of the two men is perfect. Each with their own struggle and each trying to put on a face of who they want to be. Two sides to every story. Important issues are raised in this film and some pretty funny lines are thrown in. One of my favourites was:

Russell: 'What goes ooooooooo?'
Glen: 'What?'
Russell: 'A cow with no lips'

This had me in a little girl giggling fit for a good 3 minutes. 

I've known quite a few gay men who struggle with putting forward their sexuality in society. They don't want to be judged by it, but by who they are as a person. However, putting yourself forward as a homosexual who doesn't fit the generalised gay image is what can break the stereotype. If these people hide away... well, we're only left with the stereotypes. 

Grown (gay) men have their complexes and this film draws them out beautifully. I left the cinema with tingles in my belly. The open ending leaves you to believe whatever you want. As I'm a romantic (some may say otherwise), I prefer to go down the 'happy ever after' option.

If you haven't seen it DO! I will certainly be watching it again. And probably again after that. Great stuff!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Lessons In Personal Pitching...

How does one make the perfect pitch? Well, I have yet to find out. But you can read up (here) on some tips Stephen Bayley gave us anyway.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Moved By The Breeze

Photo by Ed Swinden

My final blog for this year's Manchester Literature Festival.The poet Jean 'Binta' Breeze takes us into her home, read more here

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

Anne Rice At The Cheltenham Literature Festival

The first book I read of Anne Rice was Merrick. I was eighteen and the book was in Portuguese. Whether it was the fact that it was in Portuguese or the fact that Merrick performed black magic, which I was more aware of since living in Brazil, I don’t know, but it laid out the menu of Anne Rice's vampire novels from then on for me to devour. I have since been a huge fan of this author and didn’t think twice about going to see her at Cheltenham’s Literature Festival this year.

We are in the Main Hall of Cheltenham’s Town Hall in the Imperial Square. I am surprised by the lack of goth outfits in the room; a gothic nun is sat in front of me and a few other cloaked characters are scattered amongst us (could they be vampires blending in?). The lights dim, and like the men in the Pet Shop Boys 'Go West' clip, our heads turn left to watch the inspiring author make her way to one of the two seats centre stage.
Charlotte Higgins, Chief Arts Writer at the Guardian Newspaper  conducts the interview. It has been fourteen years since the author of the best seller; Interview With A Vampire came to the U.K. She appears at ease, comfortable and ready for the hour-long conversation before her adoring fans.

Trivial info; Anne pronounces New Orleans as New Orlee-ans. Noted!

The idea for Interview With A Vampire was a whim, we are told. She found the concept of sitting down and interviewing a vampire interesting. How would somebody who has lived for centuries talk about living among mortals? How would an immortal deal with killing and feeding off their brothers and sisters? Anne reveals that many people at the time she was writing the novel, which began as a short story, told her the title was ridiculous and that nobody would want to read it. She feels crushed hearing these comments, inevitably creating doubt as to whether it is such a good idea to continue. The year of publication was 1976 and her negative peers were, thankfully, very wrong.

Charlotte asks Anne whether she has ever read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and if this book had any influence on her writing the first novel of the vampire chronicles. ‘I took it out of the library when I was a little girl’ she informs us, her hypnotic eyes scanning the emptiness above our heads, ‘but I only got through the first few pages. I found it very scary. It was a baby in a bag’ (chuckles from the audience). She’s such a charmer.

Discussing the film of Interview With A Vampire, Anne owns up to being let down initially at the choice of casting Tom Cruise to play her beloved character Lestat. She only found out about it when she opened the LA Times one Sunday to see it in black and white. ‘It sounded a bit like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn making the film’ she jokes with a strand of honesty. On the subject of potential other films (after the flop of the film version of The Queen Of The Damned – one she didn’t entirely consent to) we are thrown a hook with the bait; The Tale Of The Body Thief. The audience shuffles with mutterings. I, for one, shuffled the most!

Sexuality is heavy in many, if not all of Anne Rice’s novels, despite the fact that her vampires are not akin to romping it up like Edward and Bella – Anne's vampires' age and wisdom outlive this primitive drive. Those of us who have read a good number of her books immediately notice Charlotte’s faux pas when she describes Anne's characters as being ‘guiltless’ with their sexuality. Anne’s eyes widen slightly, and asks; ‘You don’t think the guilt, conflict and darkness comes through?’ (I DO Anne! I DO!) ‘In sensuality one finds one's salvation’, Anne says. ‘There is wisdom in the flesh, we are flesh, God made us flesh, that is where we find our salvation and liberation’. I too find salvation and liberation in this act, though the wisdom is still yet to come.

After a sequence of stumbling stuttering, Charlotte moves swiftly onto the popular homoerotic theme of the vampire novels. I say popular, yet I learn not all readers are able to identify this ‘sinful’ theme within these books. During book signings in Dallas, Texas and the Bible Belt in the South, Anne tells us of the butch, burley men who arrive in caps and jackets asking; ‘When is Lestat coming back’ and soldiers enquiring when the next vampire chronicle will be out, all completely unaware of the underlying 'sinful' subject matter. I suppose the evil they see is the superficial blood-sucking murderer Lestat… or it could be a private refuge for them to treat their innermost desires?

Anne Rice went from being an Atheist/Agnostic to a born again Christian. From 1998 to 2010 her life was dedicated to Christ, which inspired her to write the novels; Christ The Lord; Out Of Egypt and Christ The Lord; The Road To Cana. On 28th June 2010 however, her readers were posted this on her facebook page:
- 'I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.'

On elaborating as to why she chose to leave the faith, Anne begins to speak passionately about her incredulity of certain actions within the organized religion; the clergy abuse scandal, anti-gay marriage, anti-feminism etc. But the step out the door for Anne was a story about a nun in Arizona being excommunicated for helping a dying mother survive by terminating the pregnancy of her dying foetus.

In her new series, The Songs Of The Seraphim, we see how her main character, Toby O’Dara is faced with complex, soul-searching questions. One member of the audience asks Anne what the difference will be in these new books in their relation to God and the questions which were raised, and answered in a previous novel Memnoch. As she mentioned earlier, each book is different due to the different perceptions of the passing time. In Memnoch, her belief in God and her trust in the Almighty was skeptical, therefore he was written as an indifferent God and Memnoch, the fallen angel, was the one who tried to show souls the path to redemption. In her new series, Toby will be working with the belief that he is assisting a loving, caring God.

Her characters who began their tales in the 70s will now be left at peace. They have lived for centuries, told their stories for decades and it is time for the author to move forward on to different projects. Her writing is pleasingly excessive, her characters are eternally deep and multi-dimensional and she has taken me, as well as many of her readers out there, on journeys through eras, realms and emotions.

Her latest book ‘The Wolf Gift’ will be coming out within the next few months. So beware!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Quick (and last) post today as it was a quick (and last interesting) day at Uni this fine Freshers' Week.

Initially I thought 'OMG! Not another two hour blab about stuff that I can read in my own time', but after the Head of Department, Dr Jess something-or-other began his 'motivational' talk (which wasn't THAT motivational, but interesting nonetheless), I was happy I did attend.

It's incredible to think just how many students there are at the moment for first year English - apparently 231 give or take a few - and that by year two only one in five of us will remain... bizzare! Still, more room for me to raise and wave my hand in the air and ask my eternal list of questions.

Dr Jess did what many of us, me especially, hoped he wouldn't do, and that was ask us to 'Turn to the person beside you and introduce yourselves for five minutes'. The only thing I remember was that the boy beside me was from London and he was living in private halls. He did mention his name but that went straight over my head. Before I caught what was sputtering out of my mouth I had told him I was a mature student, which meant older, but not much older and that I worked on the Curry Mile just round the corner from where he was staying (hope he didn't think I was coming on to him!) but not in one of the restaurants there (yurgh) but a solicitors (my mouth was a nervous, verbal machine gun). I asked if he had eaten in one of the places on the Mile. He smiled and said 'Yes, it was delicious', to which I pointed out there were rats and the kitchens were filthy. BE MY FRIEND!

Main point of today was that I loved it. There are so many oportunities in terms of work and experience. Carol Ann Duffy will be reading to us (lullabies?) next Friday, there will be a chance to network with a variety of professionals within areas of theatre, writing, education etc in addition to working on projects which seem to be in abundance over the next three years. I'm totally going to milk the support they offer in terms of time management and personal organisation (TIDY MY ROOM?) as I am sure this will help in terms of getting my ideas down on to pages. and eventually into stories!

Tomorrow is just a load of crap about how to use the library and so I shan't bore you anymore with my being a mature student during freshers' week. Quiet nights in all week instead of late night booze ups down 5th Ave or anywhere else these toddlers end up. The bliss of being a ... grown-up. Zzzzzzzzz

Good night and God bless!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Part Deux: Freshers Week Experience

What a tiresome day!

Barely slept again, though this time I cannot blame the excitement of the unexpectancies of University. 

You have to try some
Since I threw myself back into the gym this week (mainly to feel good while being around tight skin as well as trying to buff up for the Brazil trip in December), my body has been chugging down a clear liquid known as 'water'. It appears to be adjusting to this substance, yet exercising leads to more chugging, which leads to, hopefully initially only, twilight trips to the bathroom (notice the plural!). On top of this, after shoving my head between the pillows thinking this would help the arrival of sleep, my mind took me to thinking about my new bike (still to be collected). 
I've had a mountain bike for some time now and I have decided to change (it did get stolen so now I can start afresh) to a vintage racer; quicker to get to lectures and back. Due to the position I will need to be in to ride a racer bike, I went from thinking about whether or not my back could take the forward leaning (...), whether or not the narrow wheels would let me zoom over patches of ice when the winter comes or if I will be able to ride it hands free (don't try this at home kids) and not instantly fall on my face, leading to a possible cranium accident under a car (what a mind thinks at absurd hours). I must have schnoozed eventually, and well, as I didn't even hear my alarm clock!

Isn't it awful not knowing anyone when you start Uni? There are some people from my Access course which have also started at ManMet, but they aren't on my course. So I'm on me tod. Options to look like you are 'naturally' occupied are:
* Fidget with your phone (most obvious)
* Take forever to turn your ipod off
* Rustle through a pile of papers you took just in case any of the information (completely irrelavant) will be used

I fannied around for twenty minutes waiting, with everyone else (though many were in clinky groups and the ones also on their own, well, I'm not going to extend a hand and introduce myself) for the lecture theatre to open and allow us in. Fortunately, when I located a seat inside the theatre, I noticed that the lady I was sat beside had a brave few wrinkles (Yey! Another mature student). Unfortunately however, she was in the wrong room. I tried scanning the crowd around me but couldn't for the life of me detect an 'older' being, apart from the teachers. Will I be the only mature student?! While the 'Year Leader' waffled on about this and that, she threw in an occasional personal comment which drew from me a smile. Not from the others though. (??? an age thing? Will I be invited to staff parties or the monthly game of bridge?) This first hour of the day was useless. Everything dear Ellie talked about was there in front of us in black and white. I suppose they need to get paid for something though.
I'm the one in the glasses marking the cards

Out of the theatre room and I'm passing by the gym before heading home to munch some protein (grrrrr) then biked back for the other hour we needed to attend in the afternoon. 

PEOPLE! PLEASE! What is the point! Seven minutes with a lady (I think she teaches approaches to narrative) who pointed out the use of a 'personal tutor' (she gave three examples) then passed it over to a student entering his third year and left. This poor boy didn't even know he was going to be shoved in there until last minute and had to ask a room full of first year students if they had any questions. I felt his pain and so I asked a few but there was a limit to my forced curiosity. The glare of the other eighteen students burned my neck and so I brought my Qs and his As to and end.

Roll on Thursday. The excitement is hard to contain I have to say.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fresher's Week As A Mature Student Part I

Last night felt like I was suddenly dragged back in time to when I was ten years old not being able to sleep because the following morning meant the first day of school (GEEK!). Even back then, whenever I had to stay off school because of an illness, I'd be jealous of those who got to go and so I'd look out from my brother's bedroom window over to the school's playground with butterflies in my belly just at the thought of what I was missing out on.

This morning dragged! The time stated to collect the Uni ID card (that's all I was going for, no classes yet) was 10am - 4pm and I got up at 7:45. Two large, black coffees later, my foot was tapping the floor at a speed which nearly gave me cramp and my eyes darted from one clock to the other, thinking this would help speed things up. By 9:45 I was already out the door and on my bike. 

Aren't the roads great after 9:30. Hardly a car could be heard nor a person seen (okay, maybe one or three). Everyone was either at work or at school. I biked my way straight down Stretford Road at a pleasurable pace until I hit the opening of the campus halls. Suddenly I began to feel nervous. Could they tell I was older than them? Did they think I looked ridiculous with my Puma bag and my beany? Simple answer; Fuck 'em. 

After securing my bike and taking a deep breath I made my way into the crowd of youths. Outside stood 'the smokers', they looked so cool holding their fags awkwardly between their fingers, blowing the smoke out straight after they inhaled. Ah, those days. 

Queues were everywhere. It seemed I wasn't the only one who wanted to get there bright and early. Like a good British national I immediately found a place in the nearest queue and waited. Eventually I discovered I was in the wrong one and so I made my way to the correct one. This was HUGE. It seemed to spiral round two corners and down a flight of stairs (no joke!). I didn't mind though as I had my ipod (great) and I could also people watch (ie bitch to myself, even better). 

Now, I have a shaved head, #2. I like it. It's simple and easy to maintain. These kids had all just materialised out of Tony & Guy or some freak magazine of 'How Best To Fuck With Your Hair'. Some (I mean one) I liked, the rest would probably HAVE TO grow on me. As I shuffled closer to my destination I noticed how fashion really does set a trend, be that bad or good. The choice for chinos won with the boys, girls preferred leggings with a large jumper over the top (always good to show a bit of ass. Let's see if they'll do an inverted day where the boys go as girls and girls go as boys?). 

As today was simply to pick up the ID card I have no idea who I will be studying with for the next 3 years. This I will find out tomorrow... more to come then.

Friday, 9 September 2011

August bank holiday weekend blessed me with my first (large) festival christening. My very first one was Pitball Festival in Taunton. This was really just one stage and a bunch of locals from the neighbouring villages in a field. They haven't had another since 2008, so it was time I sought another.

 Shambala !

Before going, I had been told it was a festival for a bunch of hippies. This for me was a plus. I was never given the specifics on what to expect, but my judgmental mind led me to believe I would meet families made up of relatives and siblings with long, unkept hair, flairs and each one emitting their own... individual essence.

There was such a lovely welcome to those arriving that, despite the drizzling, dreary weather, gave hope to a long, happy, relaxing weekend. 

An old double-decker picked people up from the little train station of Market Harborough in Nottinghamshire, cheerful voluntary workers confirmed tickets at the entrance with big smiles and a chuckle then pointed the way to the 'love chamber'; a tunnel which opened upon  the camping field. For some reason (maybe the fact that I'm a big Harry Potter fan) I felt as if I had apparated to The Quidditch World Cup. Banners fluttered crazily high in the air as people carelessly threw their bags into their newly pitched tents, eager to make their way to the city of dazzling lights. 

I don't know about other festivals, but what I heard on the Shambala site was that it began with a group of around 150 people with a sound system and a field. From this, they have managed to get up to 14,000 visitors in 2011 (that figure is not official, just what I heard from a random guy I met at a tree while waiting for a friend). If this number is accurate, the organizers have achieved quite a bit. They recycle almost all waste, invest in compost loos, use solar, wind and biodiesel for resources and were awarded the highest ever 'industry green' by Julie's Bycicle

So, we pitched our tent conveniently behind the portaloos - at a considerable distance of course - paces away from the FREE 'luxurey showers' and a reasonable stretch away from the small village of pleasures where the music, arts and crafts were being held. Within an hour we were asked to join the circle of the noisy crowd (which we declined) and were kindly offered a variety of uppers, downers and confounders (which we also declined... bar one?) by a wandering roamer.

Within 24 hours, we had all settled in and called it home. If someone asked where the Chaiwalla tent was, I would inform them; 'over there'. If families were looking for a good Sunday afternoon film? 'Grandma's cinema' (my favourite tent), right around the corner. The grounds had so much to offer. The healing area (beside the Enchanted Forest) was bliss to be in; yoga, massage, herbalist walks around the gardens. Workshops, fancy dress (our crew went as a veg patch; carrot, pepper, corn and our faithful slug), food, music, samba and more were available every day, inevitably drawing in the curious passersby.  

Now, music wise, it was not my cup of tea, but that didn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. With the amount going on around you, I advise to stick with your group of friends and while you all wobble, sway or slump from side to side or back and forth, watch a male she-ra chase a smurf, dazzle yourself by a catwalk of 'meggings' struggling through the mud amongst many, many other excellent, impressive home-made creations stumbling around.

In the Kamikaze tent, probably the second biggest stage there, I saw myself in the future. Coming through the crowd gently being rocked, a couple shuffled through behind a pram. In the pram sat the cutest baby of all time (oops, second cutest as cutest still remains with my friend's, Arthur). The display of lights above hypnotised the littl'en into a lolling daze. The earmuffs his parents had equipped him with made him even cuter; big, yellow blocks which probably sent him a muffled version of what I had been forced to listen to (mental note: get me some industrial earmuffs - also, stop sniggering at the word 'muff').

Lamb played on the Main Stage... Music; good, standing up to listen to the music; bad. Although I enjoy the tuneage, my physical movements did not match the rhythm and so I probably looked a bit unstable to fellow members of the audience. Reggae, or what I call reggae (Jungle, dubstep, ragga ragga etc) was in abundance. I listened to a great variety of this genre until I had to haul my white flag up on the third day so I could pursue further talents in the minor tents. One tent which made me leave an ass-print in was a tiny shelter near the crafts area. I watched a man with an AMAZING voice (can't remember his name, forgive me), doing acoustics with his guitar and I have to say, his fingers struck all the right cords! (Guffaw, guffaw)
Congo Natty, although I thought would be a pain in my feet, was really very good. The Kamikaze tent was bursting, the beats were difficult to fight against and the guys on stage were extremely engaging. My only criticism, and this isn't directly to Mr Natty (oh wait, isn't Mr Natty me? click here to see) is that the music went from; bounce, bounce, wave your hands to shuffle, sway, look towards the way out. More bounce, bounce would have been better.

After the second major bonfire and guards wrestling with approaching pyromaniacs (me!), the festival came to an end.  

I would hate to see Shambala turn into Glasto, but I do recommend it from the highest level. If you would like to know more, click here.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

X-trax Street Arts

I am glad that I was able to make it to last night’s performance in Castlefield. Fortunately, it will be on again tonight for anyone who hasn’t yet been able to go.

Now, I could bang on and on about how every single aspect of the first performance I saw amazed me, but that would probably bore you. So I’ll be brief and to the point. One stage under a bridge in a warm, rain-free evening (for the duration of the performances at least), three dancing acrobats – two men, one woman – and a one man band. 

I was immediately sucked in to this show, being a fool for contemporary dance. This talented trio grabbed and spun each other around the stage and also around a pole (several metres high) stuck in the centre of platform. Their interaction and trust in each other, together with their props, was excellent and their gravity-defying skills, amazing. Just the dancers alone would have been enough, yet the added music, coming from a single guy with a keyboard, harmonica and other equipment which generated hypnotic music to accompany the fluid movements of the dancers, was a bonus. 

These dedicated, talented performers demonstrated their skills by sliding down a pole, head first, by their ankles, spreading their limbs in a hoop (similar to the Vitruvian Man) as they dominated gravity and manipulated the circumference of the circle on the ground (this act especially drew many ‘oooooooos’ from the crowd). 

The ending performance of this small group would make a vertigo victim quake. The femme fatal of the three (she deserves this title after teasingly lifting up her stockings Liza Minnelli-style and removing her blouse revealing two strips of gaffa tape on her nips) was hoisted up into the air and swung like a daring child fast and far into the open space above the crowd. At times I had to look away as the height and her stunts were pretty jaw-dropping (yes, I have a major fear of heights). She contorted the ropes around her feet to dangle herself forwards then backwards to return to her sitting position. She spun and twisted making gravity her slave and the audience her admirers. Magnificient.

Main Stage - Several yards to the left and I was taking my seat on the floor in front of the main stage (the stands for seating were heaving). I friggin loved this performance. Again, shan’t go into too much detail but I highly recommend you go tonight or seek out where their next set up will be. (Pictures can be seen at the end of the blog)

The stage was designed like an office; desks, chairs, shredder, boxes, staff etc. Animal species were being confirmed extinct by one man at a desk when the stage began to tilt forwards. The office slowly slid off – together with some members of staff – while the rest scrambled to the top (rising further and further into the air) for safety. The office floor became a screen, for us, and the land beneath for the remaining staff. Their bodies were suspended by wires. They chased, escaped, caught and violently shook as the images of destruction and poverty, floods and droughts flickered by. In a post-apocalyptic world, a woman was left stranded to burn in what seemed like the eternal fires of hell until a man appeared to carry her across the barren land and cracking fields of earth. The images projected were indeed potent and I suppose made many people quiet in introspect; Dubai’s Palm Island, Skyscraper cities, tsunami’s, floods and tornados – Man Vs Nature. The presentation was flawless, the actors spectacular and the message undoubtful. You could see the pleasure everyone had in watching this performance and from those being part of it themselves. The act and their final message should be shown worldwide:

‘Change. Be Change. Demand Change. Now.’

Two massive thumbs up!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ah, the Mobile Phone

The mid nineties opened the jaws of many children in awe as the wireless telephone, what we today call ‘Mobile’, was being introduced to our homes. I remember the day my Dad walked into the living room and placed this block of au courant technology next to our very small (compared to any T.V. nowadays) black and white (What? Who?) box of moving images and telling us; “Emergencies only!” As soon as he left the room, my brother and I immediately darted towards this incredible gadget, treating it like an artefact out of The Valley of The Kings. With no colour T.V. or a wall mounted shower, no Hi-Fi or microwave (pretty bad for the mid nineties), somehow we convinced ourselves we had become members of the Mundo High-Tech.

My first step into the world of mobile phones was forced upon me (like a competitive mother trying to show a ‘new mother’s group’ how her son can walk, by starting him off with the help of her vascular forearms) by my employers. My first phone was a black slab of plastic with a very narrow, incredibly small, green-lighted screen; only a number, battery life and signal bar icons could fit all at once. It was definitely an improvement from the not-so-popular ‘beeper’, especially since I could call a person up and tell them to ‘fuck off’ (this would probably have been my brother, not some random) instead of trying to convince an operator to do her job and write the god damn fricking message, please.

I forget about the camera or the camcorder. Taking photos has lost its charm with me I think. If I don’t take a picture of something (someone falling, a cute dog or a funny sign) I’m sure I’ll see one alike somewhere on this worldwideweb. No picture taking, no time-wasting. Sometimes I think certain things are better seen with my own eyes and kept as a memory (selfish? Deal with it) than to share a photograph with others who weren’t there so didn’t have the same feeling. Pointless.

A mobile phone has much more to offer than I had ever thought possible. I'm not a phone person myself - in terms of talking - but who needs a phone to talk when I can chat via all these new social channels? No, my phone is used mainly for the calendar; to remind me to moisturise at 10pm, follow up on blog ideas etc (I would have used a filofax but such antiques don't send you reminders accompanied by a sound which makes you think; 'What a great idea!'). Apps get you by on a brief tram journey or while you wait for your other half to get back from the bathroom while out for dinner. I’ve found that game apps can be as bad as a good book. Before I know it I’ve missed dinner, the cat is screaming at me because he’s missed dinner and all the lights have been turned off as everyone has gone to bed. It’s gone midnight and productivity has been zilch.

Regardless of everything I’ve mentioned about what the mobile has to offer, there is one form of assistance the phone offers me (and probably many of you out there), which I would have been lost without. One word; ‘avoidance’.

Every day I get my lunch from a specific shop. Every day there is a guy behind the till who not only fulfils his duty by greeting me, but always (ALWAYS!!!) takes a step further and wants to chat. This is not a weather chat (he would have been decapitated by now if he brought the weather up every single day) or a superficial chat. This is a chat which probes into subjects you do not have time to chat about when popping out for a quick sarnie. So, behold dear readers, my confession. Just before I head to the counter, conveniently, I 'receive a call'. I nod friendly at the cashier while speaking to my trustworthy friend; Henry Tom Cole (HTC for short) and escape the awkward, meaningless conversation I dread. I do not consider this to be a form of social anxiety as it helps to remove oneself out of many types of similar situations.

On Wednesday I was heading into town for a meeting when I saw three street roamers several paces ahead. One was shaking an empty can of cider which had been left on the street, the other was swaying, bouncing off walls and the third had begun to slur words at passersby with an extended open palm. Not wanting to get sucked into approximation or conversation, I whipped out Mr Cole and commenced my usual conversation of ‘You there already? 6 o’clock. I’m on my way’ blah blah blah.

Yes, the phone can be a planner, a camera, a game console, a music player, a video player, a clock and alarm, a dictionary and so many other things but, the finest use I have had from mine until today is its helping hand in getting me out of awkward situations. If you haven’t tried it (which I’m pretty sure many of you have) then do.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Lousy Litter Louts

Destroy my World, the World that I belong
One no longer declared my own
Ravaged Land, are my firm feet grounded?
Instability foretells my future underfoot

The seven seas a wonder to unfold
Like Space above in limit we remain
Built up walls of tasteless waste
Mysteries kept hidden, secret Maritime mourns
Slick petroleum pomades overshadows life beneath

Black out the Sun, extinguish my life
Smear smog on the skies and haze the stars
A cellophane sheet bitterly thinning away
Fuelled man-made tools dig and zoom on, and on... and on

Desert-cracked streets, not a drop should be shed
All together yet alone we plead with our Almighty God
The World that was once mine and yours and everyone else's
Is now a bleeding wasteland, no one to blame but us and yourself.

Hands up those who just LOVE the fact we live in a world where a rush of adrenaline and excitement of joy can be achieved by our decision to throw litter on public streets. Now, hands up those who want to smack that person silly till they are empty of ANY joy, grab the hair on the back of their head (if hairless, socket your palm to the knobbly skin at the back) and smear their faces into the recently discarded litter.

I may need anger management…

Some Christians I befriended in Rio told me that there is no such thing as a big sin or a little sin. Whether you lie to your parents by telling them you are off to the cinema, when really you are on your way to slice a rooster’s neck to complete a voodoo spell you put on your ex, or if you simply rock up to a beauty pageant and gun down the natural (plastic) beauties into lumps of melting gore, you will not receive a greater or lesser punishment in hell. You will simply, go to hell. I take on board this attitude when discussing littering (too harsh?). It does not matter whether the piece of paper you threw on the floor is a bus ticket or The Sun, it is wrong, it is a sin, say hello to Bin Laden (coowee).

As an occasional smoker I am weary of where my butt-ends go (good job I put an ‘end’ there eh) after my final drag. Even though no one is around, I feel as though I am in the centre of a hippodrome with my onlookers holding their breath waiting to see where I will ditch the filter. I feel it is my duty, as a ‘green smoker’, to scrunch out the ember and the final flakes of tobacco into the wind and pocket the rest. It’s more than likely I’ll find a bin before I get home though if not, I’m certain my leg won’t combust or the centre of the earth open and swallow me whole.

Over the past few years I have witnessed some disgusting ways people choose to litter. Being a very passionate person (easily annoyed), the moment I see such a disgrace, I become ignited with fury like a freshly struck match (Hadouken!). Even this afternoon on my way back from the bank, a little girl chucked a napkin to the ground. I flared, focused yet failed to do my duty. This duty is one which all people should have but unfortunately we fear to carry it out (not saying I’m scared of a five year old girl, but her mother could have probably sat on me… big woman). If we speak up, we may well end up crippled, disfigured or dreadfully unattractive until the healing process is over. Maybe even be killed (true story). I am not one that goes out looking for abuse (if I did I’d mince into my local Mosque or Universal Church in fishnet tights and a strap-on) and so I have to content myself with trying to influence them with my psychic abilities. 

Never mince into a Mosque or Universal Church, especially wearing fishnet tights and a strap-on

Examples of witnessed littering:

·       *  Walking down Oxford Street during lunch, a caj-shab dressed man swaggers by a group of smokers. Without a look in their direction, he extends his left arm, opens his hand and releases a half-full takeaway cup from Subway. Obs: this stretch of Oxford Street is ‘littered’ with bins…?
    * Piccadilly Gardens 8:15 a.m. Student waiting on the curb for the bus to pull in while reading the paper. The doors open, the papers lies spread on the floor between curb and bus. Obs 1) A bin can be found six paces to his left or 3 to his right.  2) Take it on the bus. 3) Welcome to Hell.

·         * Taking cover from the rain, I spot a short, rotund woman shuffling quickly across the street with an medium-sized cardboard box over her weaves. Lugging her heap onto the pavement, she signals for the bus. As if to punish the rain, she throws the box through the air and it lands, slightly caved, on its side next to… the bin. Obs: Hello Beelzebub!

    There is no excuse for littering, but there are many things we can blame; laziness, selfishness, parenting, education, rebelliousness, toughness and coolness. All of these are 'acceptable' when the litterer is innocent, NOT acceptable by adults, parents and OAPs!