I’ve started counting my daily calories. I’m using an app called ‘Diet Diary’. It’s as vanilla as they come, which I love. The icon is a cartoon cucumber and notepad, with the words ‘Simple Diet Diary’ in a comic sans-esque font. It’s the pure-hearted underdog of diet-tracking apps. It has only the few computational conveniences you want, and no more. I keep track of calories and protein. The app shows me my totals so far for the day, and I can copy and paste past entries. For the last seven days my average daily calories has been 2172 and my average protein 141 grams. The idea of recording calories for evermore isn’t such a wonderful prospect. It sounds a bit of a strangled existence. The thought of it gives me butterflies. But not counting them is also a headache. It may well be a thirty-days-to-build-the-habit kind of situation, by which point it will have stopped feeling uncomfortable. I’ll have to see.
I was in France it seemed, making my way along a city block on foot. It was a faded, local part of the center, where crummy real lives were being lived up above my head. There was traffic passing and cars parked along the roadside, but no-one to be seen on foot at that moment. I had stopped to have a gawk at the only shop-front in the vicinity: A old green awning extending a little crookedly out over the pavement. There were a couple of foldaway tables set up beneath it, bearing nothing at all. The place looked like it had been cleaned out of goods. Even so their door was ajar- business welcome. Further down from this was a tiled entranceway into the block, presumably leading to a stairwell area. I was nervous about something so I ducked into the entranceway for a second.
Then suddenly it was bucketing rain and I had made the decision to go for a drive around the city-center. On a whim I turned down into an underground car park. I took a 360 degree spin round the mini-roundabout down there. This caused the attendant in his glowing booth to stand up and gesture for me to continue on to the next level down. I took the circling ramp down as directed and came off at the bottom into a claustrophobic little area- a cave of sorts- smooth concrete and lit up like a car- park, but too small to be useful for car parking, and tapering off into irregularity and shadow at the end furthest from me. I could have just continued my circling trajectory and aimed the car immediately back up the up-ramp. It was unusually steep however. Also my attention had been caught by something -there was a woman down there in the shadowy, tapering bit, standing facing away from me. I was intrigued so I stopped the car and shut off the engine, bringing total quiet and stillness to this subterranean space. You could have heard a pin drop. The woman was up to something- fixing herself in some way, facing the wall. She was tall and sturdy and blonde. She looked ungraceful: her long hair was frizzy and she was wearing drooping stonewashed jeans with heels. I could tell she was large-chested, even from behind.
As an excuse for remaining there I had begun smoking a cigarette with the window down. The smoke hung thickly in the air around the exterior of the car. Once the cigarette was done I needed a new excuse. There was a sink on the wall near to me, a simple public-toilet style mirror screwed into the concrete above it. I stepped out of the car and went over to wash my hands. When I looked up from my hands the woman was there in the mirror behind me, very close-up, horror-movie style. It gave me a shock. But then she began studying her chest in the reflection, with just that area filling the whole mirror somehow. She was tugging at and rearranging her bra under her thin pullover. This was a little arousing- it was a pretty intimate situation. I rotated on the spot a bit and with a knowing half-smile extended my hand out towards the fixtures, offering to make way for her. Then I straightened up and looked directly at her. She stared right back at me. There was something off about her- she was beastly in some way- her skin was caked in stuff and perhaps her eyebrows weren’t all there. She continued to look at me blankly, and I became very afraid of her. She turned herself then, tottering back to her original spot. Now I saw that her back was slit open in a few places and simply creasing apart like card, revealing that there was nothing within. She was making a show of this to me. She continued over to her spot by the back wall to begin doing again whatever it was she had been doing before. Shitting myself somewhat, I walked all casual towards my car, which was now parked on the very steep up-ramp. I got in and locked it, panicking, trying to get the key in the ignition. There was a thumping on the back window just then. I didn’t dare look round, but I craned round a little to see if she was still over by the back wall. She wasn’t. Just a moment later, while I was still panicking to get the car started, I felt a pair of arms reaching low from behind the driver’s seat and encircling my waist, which was when I woke up with a fright!
Edit, like about 2 years later: This is shite. The dream was a cool neat little package, but the writing is awful. Even I can’t visualise anything from this, and I’m the one had the dream. It’s all stiff and laboured as hell. I was so excited too when I first produced it. Jesus. Lesson: I’m not good at writing descriptively. In fact I’m bad at it. That’s demoralising. It’s fairly clear you either have it or you don’t. It’s not something you can learn. You either have soul or you don’t. Fuck. Some of my other opinion and criticism-type posts are still quite entertaining though, even reading back two years later. So, yeah. Fine.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wicked Witch.”
Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.
Ridicule and bullying are bad ones. Being on the end of it makes me murderously angry, genuinely. Not long after I moved into the place I’m in, the gay couple who live on the same floor as me decided to start making funny noises from behind their door every time I arrived back and was trying to get into my flat. The first time it was ‘no stop…stop hurting me’ as if someone was being abused. All very funny. It was just the once though, so I wasn’t bothered. But then again another night- mewling like cats this time. I had met and spoken to the two of them once before and the big tall one had made it apparent that he wasn’t impressed with me. So the second night of noises I was a little shaken. I shut my door and just stood in my living room with my head spinning. They knew I was here alone and that that kind of thing was going to make me uneasy. They knew all the ramifications of what they were doing. The anger that rose up in me at that, the injustice of it, making my life difficult for no fucking reason, drove me immediately out into the corridor to confront them. I could hear that they were leaving to go somewhere. To be fair, they are a pair of rather feminine, fitness model-type gay guys, so it could have been worse. The tall one tried to play the hard man with me out in the corridor, coming and squaring up to me- he had obviously expected me to be intimidated, the bastard. But he was rubbish at it. And it’s not difficult to intimidate me. So the situation was resolved easily. I just told them with conviction to fuck off, and they did.
I do want to say that I can’t be angry about this kind of thing because I’m as much of a dick as anyone. To be humble and balanced about it. But I’ve wracked my brain and no, I definitely wouldn’t victimise someone in a premeditated way, for sport. As a grown adult I wouldn’t dream of it. The people who do that are another species. Or just daft. It is a fact of life though, it has always gone on and always will. So seething with rage at those people as I’ve sometimes done is shooting myself in the foot. Even if I took them on and won they’ll respawn in another form, to the end of time. It’s necessary to stand your ground on occasion obviously, but with smaller scale outrages, when they happen, the true enemy is the behaviour, and nevermind the person. And I think the only way to direct the rage against the behaviour is to keep as much distance between it and my soul as possible- don’t let it anywhere near me to infect me- by being the living embodiment of courteousness. That’s what I’m thinking now, anyway. Easier said than done though clearly.
Today I woke up to- what a quick wikipedia has revealed is- ‘racing brain syndrome’. It’s something that can be brought on by ADHD or anxiety disorder, but in my case is due to sleep deprivation, I think. My experience of it is snippets of dialogue and things being said that have no context, are nonsense, and follow one after the other very rapidly. At night sometimes when I’m lolling towards sleep and having the racing brain thing, I’ve been jolted back awake by a sudden, loud, clearly spoken voice, directed at me, as if someone jerked the volume up to full for a second. Just a word or two. I’ve no memory of which words specifically. That’s been fairly terrifying when it’s happened. But also interesting. Not boring in any case. A little thrill. Maybe I’m going to go full-blown batshit crazy and ‘come to believe things that aren’t true’, to quote the pretty chilling description of schizophrenia on wikipedia. Nah, I don’t think so though, thank God. I’m just a common, or garden, variety dickhead who has a bit of insomnia.
After I woke up I got a bowl of fruit and fibre and returned to bed to read my magazine for a while- ‘Wired’ magazine, which I haven’t bought in years. I read about how the google driverless car has been tested on a couple of million kilometers of public road and has been involved in only 14 accidents, all of which were the fault of the human driver at the wheel of the other car. The guy concluded that driverless trucks won’t just be common in a few years, but will be a requirement by law. Awesome. I got up finally at 12.05 and checked to see what time the gym class I wanted to go to was on. It was to start at 12.30. I quickly ate a banana, had a Gentleman’s shower- bar of soap to the armpits- and got into my gym kit. I drove three or four minutes to the gym (because an uphill jog on the way back would be unpleasant after a class) and headed in the direction of ‘studio 4’ where the class was being held. I’m constantly worried, trying out these classes, that it’s going to be just me and a roomful of yummy mummies or something, once I turn up. But thankfully I spied a healthy mix of men and woman through the glass door of the studio before I entered. The class had already begun the warm up so I took a few paces into the room and joined in, as you do. It turned out to be a tough session and I think the guy pushed us too much towards the end. I was pulling huffy faces at the stuff he was making us do in the last ten minutes, even after we’d completed the class proper. I’m not a believer in going so hard that you can do nothing but collapse onto your back in a pool of sweat after. That’s how people drop dead at the end of marathons, taxing their central nervous system too hard, or something. I regretted the huffy faces afterwards though, I must have looked like a right asshole.
Please let me stop buying cigarettes.
I saw this ad on the back of a broadsheet newspaper several years ago, a Sunday paper I think. It was huge- the entire back page in fact. I couldn’t do much but stare at it for a few minutes, mouth agape. It’s Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones, in an ad for Louis Vuitton. ‘Some journeys cannot be put into words’ the tagline reads. You’d laugh to hear that said out loud, but in the context of the ad it’s convincing on some level. They’re flashing such intimidating credentials you’re in no position to argue. The ad is transparently an effort to lord it up over the viewer, and not much besides. Pretty joyless affair. Ok ok, Louis Vuitton, you win, I surrender. Pricks.
There’s a clothes shop I quite like called Pull and Bear- it’s like H and M, but originating in Spain, and the clothes are slightly better and £10 more expensive. Their masthead reads ‘Pull and Bear 1991’. I was a bit surprised at that. They’re going all ‘Gap 1969’ on our asses, romanticising the year. That’s jarring for me because for ages I was fully convinced the early 90s were nothing more than a joke. The entire time I was growing up that was the received wisdom, and I didn’t question it. MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, ho ho ho. But now I turn around and it’s ‘Pull and Bear: Birthed in the cultural firestorm of 1991’, kind of thing. Probably there’ll be an ad with a languid whispery voiceover (or maybe a more assertive tone is the thing now, I’m not sure): ‘Pull and Bear: Nighting nighty one’. They’re completing an about-turn that started a few years ago. It appears I’ve been a pawn in some vacuous cycle. All just a bit of fun you could argue, but I’m pissed to realise that I’ve been holding fast to an idea, about the early 90s, that I had no input on. It was handed down to me by the fickle overlords of taste and I complied. I still hold it, this post was originally going to be me joking about ‘Pull and Bear 1991’ being silly, but I realised the joke’s on me. Someone more enlightened than me is going to come along and explain that 90% of my opinions are like that, that this is just a glaring example of it. You live and learn anyway. Blogging saves the day again.