The other night I was in the queue at the Co-op, buying some essentials. I was next to be served and was about to make my move to the counter when I glanced sideways, my eye caught by a couple of people having a conversation at the head of an aisle. It was a woman with her kid in tow, chatting to another person who had their back to me. The woman was forty-something, vibrant-looking, smiling as she spoke, wearing jeans and a puffer jacket with a fringe haircut a little bit in disarray. I was looking and wondering at how different we were, this woman and me, when suddenly something about the situation was apprehended on a weirdly strong gut level- namely the ickiness of walking about as a creature of a specific sex, among other-sexed creatures. As I moved towards the counter this dizzy spell continued, or intensified even, but it took on a couple of different aspects; I had an impression of the history of the world as a cacophony, then it felt like I was merely going through motions in this shop, a moving part in some careening dynamic which was absurdly clothed, at this point in time, as ‘the Co-op’.
There was a pile of recordable VHS tapes in my house growing up. They were stored in the cabinet below the TV at one stage, then later on they were relegated to the end cupboard in the little study room. My dad had an extra one stashed away at the top of his wardrobe I discovered. It was labelled ‘The hand that rocks the cradle’ and, as it happened, genuinely was ‘The hand that rocks the cradle’. I think there was a pattern to the stuff my dad recorded off the TV, because the only other full movies in the general pile were the ocean-set Dead Calm, Basic Instinct, and Someone to Watch Over Me, all of which are also about cheating, with maybe a ‘wicked woman’ to blame, and that being an exciting thing. In other news, I quite like this song:
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.
In response to the daily post’s writing prompt An Odd Trio
I’ve considered the possibility of getting a cat. I’ve come to realise that I wouldn’t like to live with a dog. All a dog really wants to do, in its heart of hearts, is put on a gilet and go rowing. But I just want to slink around the house mostly, so it wouldn’t work. I’d spook the creature out. I’d feel like an abuser. A cat would be much better suited. Me and the cat, being wee resentful dicks together. Soup I’m not a fan of at all. It’s actually surprising how awful it is in every regard. There are so many reasons to dislike it: It’s very often the consistency of diarrhea, I scald my mouth every time I have it, this old man I know dribbles it down his chin onto his big gut and doesn’t notice, I’ve sickened myself once or twice on the gloopy tinned tomato version, the metal spoon feels unfriendly in my mouth when there’s only liquid soup on it, the grim, depressed-person spectacle of pressing down on the surface of the soup and watching it flood the spoon, when you get a bit of bread like sodden tissue paper on a spoonful, the fact that it’s associated with hospitals and old people’s homes. It’s just a nightmare foodstuff! It’s profoundly terrible. As far as beach towels go, I own one which I bought in Malta in 2007 when I went on a holiday there with my friends. It’s black with a depiction of a big yellow bus and the words ‘Malta Bus’. They had these rickety old ex-American school buses running around the dusty roads there, with the interiors covered in rosary beads and other Catholic jumble. I’ve had a good long run with that towel, very fond of it.
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.
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.
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.