Thursday, 26 August 2010

Market Research

A woman from the suburbs of Delhi rings with a number of consumer based questions. They are mostly about home insulation and utilities providers. I've already got insulation. 'Thats a no then' she says. She asks about my income bracket and how many times a year I go on a foreign holiday. More than four times a year? Less than four times a year? 'Once every four years' I reply.
'Thats a no then.' I can tell she doesn't believe me. 'And who do you book your holidays with?' 'No one' I say 'we just turn up'. Just turn up? Who is your holiday provider?' 'Me' I say. 'We just go to a campsite and pitch the tent.' 'A no then.' 'Yes' I say and she gives a stifled giggle conscious of the fact that if I possibly complain about her rude guffaws she will lose her job and not be able to pay for her children's school fees, nutrition, medical treatment or the roof over their heads. How can that be a holiday, she is thinking.... I think of the Pakistan flood. Suddenly a weekend's camping in a rainy field in Kent seems sad, sick and completely insane.....

Monday, 23 August 2010

What Can Possibly Go Wrong ?

Apart from the climate and world economy.... In a very parochial way -
quite a lot. And it all seems to happen in the last week of the holidays
when panic rises regarding imminent lack of free time or being able to
ever think one's own tiny thoughts again until half term.

First the internet is down. We need a new rooter (little red rooter).
Distraught at lack of access to social networking the kids make
a zombie movie. I have a cameo role as a member of the undead
breaking into the house, because actually in real life the door
handle is broken. "Help it's a very coordinated zombie" I shuffle
towards them, ketchup covered, clutching a screwdriver. Multi tasking,
I manage to complete a DIY job WHILST entertaining four twelve year olds.

Then some more pre termtime tension due to urgent need to contact
the Inland Revenue about a form left unsent... The phone is dead.
Turns out a zombie melted the cable in the panini press darling.

We return to our cardboard box after visiting the mansion of our
country cousins... The lamb was delicious we all agree, gagging on
another tuna pasta. Why do we think we can afford to go on a three grand
skiing holiday with them when bits of rusty metal-mimicking plastic are
beginning to break off the car and it stinks like an oil refinery?
Why don't they just come camping with us and save £ 2900? The question
hangs in the lavender and beeswax scented air and remains mysteriously

I try and sign in to blogger after many months away. It does a
Martin Guerre on me and I have to re establish my entire personality,
thereby wasting precious time I could be using to mend the cracked
bathroom basin. In denial people still use the basin, the ensuing drool
collecting underneath in a small plastic camping cereal bowl......

The borrowed guinea pig is beginning to sneeze in the August Monsoon.
Could be the first line of a poem I don't have time to write.
But it isn't.
I still have to gloss paint the outside window frames.....

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Infrequent book reviews

On my way to Ch***** School yesterday, having volunteered to run the cloak room for Quiz Night, I see a dead cat on the pavement. One of of it's eyeballs is hanging out. I absolutely know it was hit by a car not bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat by a Ch***** student. 'American Psycho' springs to mind. A nasty book written by a nasty man (Brett Easton Ellis) but with a sense of humour. The two are not incompatible. I would only ever read this book to examine the craft of writing. And then only once as it is so poisonous.

Another book about nutcases is 'Human Traces'(Sebastian Faulks). My definition of a good book is that you wish you'd written it. The man has a mind like a Victorian library, full of musty reminiscing. Hallucinating history. Yes there is imagination - but it is rooted in the vernacular. Yes, flashes of visionary brilliance but they are deeply conservative. It's an endlessly corduroy astounding feat of fogeyish intrigue. Very educational factually but there's a lot of it. Rather puffed up and schoolmasterish. And no, I don't wish I'd written it.
I probably wouldn't invite these two to a dinner party.....

Minimal but startling is good. Ann Enright is great for this. Energetic, surprising - often poetic. Minxish and life affirming. I would happily to do an egg on toast for her and for Ernest Hemingway....should he be wandering this way. Looking for a cat or some other dumb animal to shoot.

So, keep reading folks. Books don't crash like computers.