Saturday, September 17, 2005

In some ways, I think we’re all being stalked by tuberculosis victims.

it's not phlegm, it's a lifestyle

i am also being stalked by tuberculosis victims

I am being stalked by tuberculosis victims. They keep leaving great hacked up balls of phlegm on my doorstep, like kitten offerings of dead birds. I can hear them loitering behind me in the lift at work, gurgling lung diseases subtly into their hankerchiefs. I keep turning up at meeting with bloody tissues impaled on my high heels.

I am being stalked by lepers too. I have pieces of dead skin in my handbag. Yesterday, when I opened my lunchbox to munch upon my wheat-free rye bread sandwiches, I found a decaying ear tucked in among the lettuce. And a note with rotting finger cells smeared all over it;
This is your last chance! give me a call!

I never call the tb victims or the lepers. I hide my phone when it blares out their messages and I lock my door at night in fear of the scratching on the letterbox when they try to get in. I have disabled my cat flap after finding half a zombie leper corpse stuck in it after coming back from a weekend in the pentlands. He had been trying to squeeze his way in to suckle on my underwear drawer. I never clean things from my front pavement, but rather let nature take its course and allow them to rot away alone into the garden. I have a squeamish disposition when it comes to corpses. The milkman hasn’t come by in three weeks and the letterbox has been worryingly free of junkmail. The only thing to grace my doorstep now is the ubiquitous lidl’s discount of the week leaflet.

Reliability. A great trait of the Germans. And cheap cheese and yoghurt desserts.

Once when I was shopping in Lidl I was making my way down the port aisle when I heard a dull thud. The leper stalker looked at me terrified, one arm dropped clean off and oozing yellow pusses among the discount wines.

I'm being stalked by tuberculosis victims!

i used to get kisses and romantic from my last boyfriend, but since i switched to tb guys, all we exchange is blobs of phlegm.

at first i resisted. as you would. if there was herd of tb victims crouched outside YOUR front door. but it is futile to resist them. you know they're there. you can hear them coughing in the bushes ALL NITE.

oh juliet, if romeo had been cursed with tb, would you have loved him so? would you have left him wheezing and sputtering beneath your balcony and drawn a hot bath instead?

all nite they cough, and to try and make the coughing romantic, they try to cough the lyrics to stevie wonder songs, and strangled compliments.
it goes a little something like this: ughghhghkoffoffkoffff-beautiffoffkoffkoff. and so on, with other drowned phrases like 'silky hair, shiny skin, smell nice, and healthy lungs.' at least that is what i think they're saying.

eventually i could keep my distance no longer. i invited the sickest, louis, in for tea. i let him blow his nose and warm his chest on my couch.

that was both the end and the beginning. now we do everything together. sometimes i wonder how i ever lived without them? because i am never without them. our lungs rattle together in the pub, we double over in the cheese aisle in tesco together, gasping desperately for breath. i had to stop the weekly bike to commute to work, because first they insisted on following me on foot. i had to phone two ambulances to pull them all out of the canal after they fainted two blocks in.
now i'm not strong enough to cycle myself. in fact, i cant remember the last time me and the tb mob left my bedroom.

instead we sit, swathed in wool scarfs with menthol rub on our chests, making phlegm sculptures, daring each other to take a deep breath and laughing about the good old days when the bushes were leafy and the nights outside my window were long.

peasant pheasants

Devil bird! Horned fowl beast!
Curse the peasants no more.
Pack up your feathers and fly home to hell.

There you live with your trident and flames, plotting endless destruction to those who live near excrement spattered waterway pavements. There you gather together a terrifying army, a million minions of pheasanting destruction. You administer them with broken pheasant guns and shiny pheasant badges proclaiming their hatred for all that is not fowl and screeching.

You have been spreading your foul wings of destruction. You have been moving to Bosnia and agitating the Irish. You divebomb from the skies with a squawk of terror and pluck the bratiswurst from their fingers. Poor peasant potato farmers. They have nothing left to eat. They have to take up the melodica and play on street corners, just to scrape togther pennies to stay alive.

After a while, you drive the peasants insane. The screaming of disconcerted killer birds in their ears, they pack up thei melodica for a world tour. They sit in the dark corners of cafes with harmonicas and whisper to terrified customers
>>>>>>>>>>>>>“would you like to look inside my magic box?”
They will make music and move on, take a top floor flat and leith and start trying tracks about hedgehogs and poodles.
>>>but they will never forget the killer birds.

Screeching terror noises will ease their way into the improv midi tracks. Keyboard solos dispersed with wide throated synth clucks and sqwauks.

Eventually, the peasants will take to dressing like birds, gathering dirty feathers and rags from street kerbs and tying them to their clothes with dental floss, stiching them to their hats and shoes. They will fail to shave for weeks, and develop spiky birdlike faces with agitated ginger teeth. They will whine their melodia boxes in and out in and out in and out. Like arthritic accordions, wheezing out crippled folk songs of Croatian wildernesses.

They will begin to miss the birds.
They will start spilling tippex in each others hair for that freshly pooed on effect.
They will lie in bed at night pecking at each other with unbeaklike lips.
Sometimes, they will cry out bird noises in their sleep and wake up embarrassed, ashamed to admit to the other peasants their secret horned fowl love.

it is not cruel, it is art

People tell us it is cruel but we cry NO! it is art. They pick the wax from our kittens eyebrows and chastise us for our reticent behaviours. They do not understand the fine details that goes into kitten topiary. But that is fine. Every great artist is misunderstood in their own time. We will refuse to skulk with our sculptured kittens. We will not hide away in draughty apartments crouched over typewriters, bemoaning the lack of recognition.

Oh no!

We shall take our kittens on leads on the tubes. They will wink great hairy eyebrows at the commuters who will shudder in their briefcases at this lewd intrusion into their daily routine. No one wants to be perved upon by a sculptured kitten. But Great Art makes people uncomfortable! we cry. No wonder you people don't understand!

We will have the sculpted kittens front our gigs and offer them microphones and casiotones with which to amuse their sticky paws. They will leave griity litterbox prints all over the keys but that, my friend, is the price you pay for fame.

The kittens will DJ friday nights on boombox record players. As they do so, we will transform our space into a veritable salon, snipping away throughout their set with power tools and safety glasses. We will use the circular saw carefully, tiny tufts of kitten fringe flying through the air.

People wil tell us this is cruel. We will cry NO! it is genius.

We will stick kittens on the pages of our books and the walls of our toilets for bored would-be graffiti artists to concentrate on as they ease their constipation with endless burritos. We will stack them under the books in our library, frame them in our galleries.

Framed kittens! The ideal accoutrement for any home. We will sell them at five pounds ninety nine a piece. We will sign them with flourishing signatures and sneak into the world’s great art galleries to hang them on the walls, subtly, between Picasso and Matisse. They will not remain unnoticed for long. There will be a plaintive purring through the quiet white washed church atmosphere. Security guards will flock to the room to see a great wall of kitten frames yelping for freedom.

They will try to arrest us. Animal welfare people will denounce us in newspapers all across the country. That is fine. We too must suffer for our genius.

You must understand
it is art.

Rule 9. People tell us it is cruel, but NO! it is art.

There they stand, in the window, with their placards. Carefully arranged letters baiting the public, bidding them to join the ranks of protest against us.

People tell us it is cruel, but NO!
it is art.

in the name of art we organised trips to the dump and scuffled through rot-ravaged wood to harvest. the newborn splinters to serve as a delicate backdrop to our exhibition.

now here he sits. painted in honey and licked by fire ants. (well, licked is what i call it, but from the growing tomato tinge in rolf's face, i rather suspect the ants are angry. and who wouldn't be, after having fiery sticks poked into their nest to rouse them and capture their entire fleet.)

but still. rolf sits. in the name of art. biting idly on a piece of rotten wood to dull the cries of pain.

just yesterday we found him, in the job centre, mumbling about a degree in post-modern painting and performance. and we knew. we had the right man for the job. there was only one thing to do.

we took him to tim's flat and filled up the bathtub. jane raced off to buy razors. now we knew we couldn't afford the fancy razors with two blades and pleasing colours in the plastic handles. we couldn't even afford shaving foam. but we figured, he was hairy, he was an artist, simple soap would be enough.

jane returned. grinning triumphantly. proud to have only spent 70p and procured 7 razors! there would be surplus. perfect for the turks.

hints of our next exhibition danced in our nimble minds.

rolf lay in the tub expectantly. we let him keep his pants on. not for modesty, only because none of us had eaten breakfast, and we wanted to avoid any flaccid sights on an empty stomach.

things got tense when tim turned the tap and only a few drips of hot water came out. further enquiry turned up tips from flatmates about rusty pipes, absentee landlords, and showers at the hostel down the block.

not to be daunted, we were artists. we had spent six hours trawling dumps and job centres to make our art happen. there would be a way.

mat's eyebrows raised jauntily as he stared out the window at rain, lost in thought. off he dashed without a word.

only to return, minutes later. with four plastic bottles filled to the brim. puddles! of course.

rolf lay quietly. looking nervous.

and so we started. tim took an ankle, jane took a wrist. matt and i started on the ears. everything must go. we had twenty minutes to make rolf follicle free.

we worked quickly, alternately rubbing discount soap across rolf's fur and swiping boldly with our Niestzermauer's finest single-blade specials.

the skin squeaked as we worked. perhaps it was rolf, in semi-silent protest to the sea of razor nicks blooming across his chest. but rolf, true to his word and true to his anticipation of the four pounds we promised to pay, never screamed once.

matt finished off our handiwork with an explosing of all the remaining rainwater. muddy road water washed rolfs hair along the tub to stuff the rusty drain.

while rolf towel dried, tim stomped off to procure the fire ants. jane gathered pots of honey, matt nipped off to pick up some pile cream, and i stuffed the remaining razors into her purse--lest rolf get goosebumps on the way to the gallery and grow stubble.

no stubble!

i suppose news leaked to the protesters from the ant people. maybe the tiller in lidl talked. maybe it was the ant farmer. or perhaps one of tim's german flatmates.

we didn't know yet, were so busy getting ready.

to give you the short version:
it was cold. rolf did indeed get goosebumps and accrued stubble in some sensitive regions. jane raked the stubble away as we walked, alternately prying the bleeding flannel from rolf's chin to scrape away the clots and get at the hair beneath.


there are still cobbles in the grassmarket to this day, and inevitably it produces more of a wobbly step in foot traffic. commuters trip on curbs, teens choke on their cell phones, and jane, misses rolf's chin and shaves off a piece of his ear.

rolf, being a love, merely emitted a sharp inhaled cry. our proud compatriot nibbled his lip so as not to betray the pain to the shocked shoppers in the window of the cashmere shop.

but they still stared. everyone stared. at the hairless man covered in blood. his shirt being tugged open by a small beared man whilst a tall hippie girl in a woolen hat with bunny ears flashes cheap german razors across his bare bloody flesh.

when we finally arrived at the gallery, there were at least twenty people following silently behind us. kebab shop owners. two traffic cops. several surly and underfed pregnant teens, two grassmarket tatoo artists, and the entire staff and waiting room from the colonic irrigation clinic on the corner. one of the patients was still absentmindedly clutching his souvenir hose, besmirched with last nite's psyllium husk stew....

rolf. rolf perhaps enjoyed these moments of fame? we will never know. for when we sat him in the gallery and let loose the ants, honey and pins, that was when it all went black.

the black panther protest party had gone wrong.

Friday, September 09, 2005

friday night conversation

If you’re going to buy one bottle of wine, you might as well buy three. It’s a nice surprise to come home to. They have a nice selection at the bottom of the road.

How do I get there? It’s a secret location. You have to take trams and prams. At least ten of them. It’s a happening in the outskirts of Prague. It’s a nice guy running it. He was the bad guy in some play of mine. He was the witch. He’s a nurse who was thinking of starting selling drugs to supplement his income. It goes as far as Somalia. Intense. Talking to him is interesting though. But all a bit French. You have to skip a few pages and then it’s still more of the same. Skip a hundred pages and you still can’t escape the gory details.

Your plants are the living dead.
No they’re not. I stuck my fingers in and they were all still moist. I’ve been giving orders to the pathetic ones. They all smell of cayenne, but it stops the soil-on-floor problems. But it is going to kill them. First time I water them they’re dead. It’s sublime cruelty. Burn the roots!

I never knew they separated. Very intricate. It’s a high desk. Like the decks are going to be. Like the postals. Like the folktronica. Where’s the harmonica player hiding? He can’t have that many friends we don’t know about. These folktronica circles are small. Maybe he’s tempting girls with a samba not sex drum beat. I will forever remember him as the Great Failed Celibate. Still, you can’t be clever all the time. That’s just boring. It’s endless fun though. First you eat them and then you play with the wrappers for hours.

Red and yellow make green!
Green and yellow make blue!

The broken sock puppet slunk his broken self over the arm of the sofa.
How does one break a sock puppet?, you ask.
You drop it from a high waterfall in Chiapas.

Monday, September 05, 2005

the headless bow armed baby mannequin

the headless bow armed baby mannequin stared at me from the other side of the bed. he always slept on the left, i made sure of it. especially when i had to get up early for work.

didn't want to wake him.

as i got ready for work i sat him at the breakfast table in front of some marmite toast---suitably nutrition is paramount, even for a non-growing boy. Who KNEW what garbage they were feeding them at school!

Last thing, before I left the house, i would dress him gently in his grey school slacks, shirt and tie. Taking care not to loosen his torso or get lipstick on his plastic chin.

After taking out the trash, I would carry him out to the car and buckle him safely in the back seat with his school bag. In my state, it is now illegal for children under the age of 12 to ride in the front seat.

We cruise slowly past the school, stop at the cross-walk and wave to some of the other mothers. I pull over right in front of the front door. There are a lot of wierdos out there and I can't risk seeing my headless bow armed baby mannequin on a missing poster. I take no chances.

Then, after I've given him enough time to collect all his belongings and kiss me goodbye, I unbuckle him and lay him in the boot, covered with his favourite tartan blanket.

He will stay there for the day while I am at work. He will stay there until it is time to pick him up from after school sports.


20 years later, and my headless bow armed baby mannequin is no longer a baby. It’s getting to the time I would like to see him take a wife, leave the home, start collecting some plastic offspring of his own. I try to talk to him about this sometimes, but his expression remains blank and uncommunicative. I have never been able to fathom my headless bow armed mannequin son.

Sometimes I wonder about him. Why he doesn’t seem to want to go out and drink and socialise and meet girls. Once I introduced him to the daughter of a friend of mine. A pretty girl, though she worked in a tanning studio and glowed an altogether plastic golden bronze. Well, if my headless bow armed mannequin son didn’t just sit there and stare as we introduced the too, and met each of her questions and gestures with a limp wrist and soggy posture.

Sometimes I despair of my headless bow armed mannequin son.

Then sometimes I feel bad about despairing. It hasn’t been easy for him. Mind you, it hasn’t been so easy for me either, and I cope fine. But him, with his headlessness and his bow arms, it’s no wonder they would have picked on him at school. If I hadn’t kept him safe away from them. Under his favourite tartan blanket in his favourite bed boot. But now it’s not so easy to hide from the taunts. For the headless, they are everywhere.

from the shampoo adverts on billboards
to head counts at assemblies
to hat stands
and brain surgeons
and eyeshadows
thick rimmed electronica glasses Trevor style

the headless have a hardtime of it

mind you, don’t even get me started on the armless. Where are the pocketwatches? And the armless who have no pockets, well, they suffer. They have no concept of time with continuity, only the spasms of random clocks they meet in churches, in village squares, on video recorders, through sundials.
There are the legless, mocked by the shoemaker.
The blind and non-tactile sensitive mocked by the candlestick maker.
The wheat intolerants and gluten frees mocked by the baker
The vegans mocked by the butcher.
Oh yes.
Bring on the automatic cheese.

The Society For Missing Cordless Phones

The society for missing cordless phones is a noisy and loveless place.

At first, it was started for charitable reasons, principally by a group of individuals who each had their own bereft and tragic tale of cordless phone loss to speak of. They wished to help other who felt the same recurring vomit in their throats as the phoneless stand rang and rang, an eternally shrill mockery of the phones they could not find, the alarm clock dream invader which they could never wake from. The founding society member had met in anger management classes and early society meetings used to take the form of an aa reunion, each member desperate to tell their own tale of cordless hell, offering half screamed tales like dead birds on porches, morbid bile ridden desperation. At this time, they were all still bereft of cordless phones. Then the phones started to arrive.

At first they were packaged. Thick brown paper bundles all duct taped to an inch of their papery existence. Shoved rudely through the letterboxes by pimply postmen, ripping through layers of side paper and bashing the poor phones. Then, stranger things. The scratching of phone wielding badgers in the night. The sly redial button, tucked inside accordions to ring out shrill in the third chorus of secrets in the moss. The knitted phones, unfurling incredibly in the middle of grandmother’s scarf.


Fones fones fones. she pressed a fone against her face for so long that it stuck there. Was a Fone that collected furballs in its sticky unwashed handset. A Fone that began to stink, until one day, she went to the doctor to have it surgically removed.

began to stink

it left a big red mark and skin full of blackheads lurking beneath.

what a sweet feeling that night when she curled up to sleep and had no worries of pillow/antennae pain, or waking up to the shrill cry of REDIAL. or the relationship she once thought was special with the recorded redirect operator. a relationship gone sour once the fone failed to fall off her face at the end of the night.

fall off her face.

you call this fone hell? this is only the beginning of our story. i will tell you of compulsive one-shoulder hunchers that ended up needing hair cuts to counter weigh their tired bushy head. i will tell you tales of armenian stock brokers who were found frozen stiff, wrapped in fox fur, and clutching their finnish swine nokia--swearing on their dying day, loyalty to the cruel nordic mobile communications conspiracy.

compulsive hunchers

i will tell you stories of pirates, never texted back by love louse sirens. mer-women with no reception to their swindling signal.

i will tell you stories of fones drowning in baths
and toilets
and pints of ale.

do not call mountain rescue. it is time to let the gsm join atlantis at the bottom of the bubble bath. climb in, dip your toes, let the vibrating ringtone power your jets.

but what ever you do,
don't answer it.