Friday, March 27, 2009

One potato peeler, Two potato peeler.

The nice thing about living in London is being close to several international airports which sundry friends and relatives can utilise to visit us. This is always welcome, even the occasional mad person that I have befriended during the course of my life.

The phone rang late one night, not late enough to think it was an emergency but late enough for me not to answer it. The voice message I received was J_'s calm middle-aged female voice filtered through her Catalan accent. She was in search of her potato peeler that she felt she might have left at our house during her last visit.

She did, in fact, bring her own potato peeler as she felt it necessary for the preparation of a "thank you for the room and board" meal. However, I didn't recall seeing the implement and considered searching for it low on my priority list. I did not respond, nor did I to the second voice message or the email.

When I received the third phone call that first made conjectures about my untimely death then asked if I had found her peeler, I immediately sent an email saying I had indeed found her peelers. Peelers plural.

The next day I bought ten identical peelers. I knew where to find them because one of her phone calls specified the shop and price (IKEA £1). I posted them without a note and waited for the response.

It came, "Which one is my peeler?"

"It is a little known fact that potato peelers are one of the few kitchen utensils that are capable of asexual reproduction," was my reply.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Queen doing the School run

On this island they speak a language similar to my own and sometimes I forget that I'm the one with the accent. It's for those reasons and more that I sometime forget I am a foreigner. Then like a bug into an open mouth, I am reminded.

The other day I was late for a hair cut, because the hereditary head of state had to go from one palace to another by a horse-drawn entourage. Ah, London.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

People who don't live in glasshouses should throw stones

Scientists are excited because it shows apes are capable of planning. I'm excited because it proves even chimps know that some people deserve to have rocks thrown at them.
Planning of the Apes: Zoo Chimp Plots Rock Attacks on Visitors

Monday, March 09, 2009

To Henry

I'm a strong proponent of the maxim, "Never meet your heroes". It's happened to me twice and it was a bitter experience each time. Bukowski died a couple years after I discovered him. So I was never in danger of breaking the rule with him. It's a good thing too, because by all accounts he was a truly horrible person. It amazes me that a man who understood so much could be such a wife-beating asshole. Regardless of the man, his work taught a teenage me a thousand lessons that I still hold to my heart.

So, in a tradition that started a long time ago, I went to the riverside with a flask of whisky (any intoxicant is acceptable), a good friend who has the understanding and a fist full of Bukowski poems (Kerouac is acceptable as well as his birth date is the 12th of March). We sat at the Southbank and we talked of writing, of life and eulogized our heroes - long may we never meet. Upon the conclusion of our meeting, I read this poem1 over the Thames as group of waddling and dumb-struck tourists listened and, as we left, I passed the teenagers watching the skaters zip past the graffitied cement. I recognised one of them. It was me over a decade ago.
"Do you know who Bukowski is?" I asked.
"No," he said.
I handed him the poem and left, hoping, like in the parable of the sower, the message had found fertile ground.

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) - The History Of One Tough Motherfucker1

he came to the door one night wet thin beaten and
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway
and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said,"not much
chance...give him these pills...his backbone
is crushed, but is was crushed before and somehow
mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at
these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets
are still there...also, he once had a tail, somebody
cut it off..."
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough
one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.
"you can make it," I said to him.
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up.
you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left...
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!"
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
graphed together.
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.