Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Have The Knees Of A Fainting Woman

While I have no doubt that being subjected to a full 24 hours of chimp-peeling G-Force action c/o some NASA spaceflight simulation suite would be kind of scary, and crossing the Niagara Falls straddling a tripwire with a rocket-propelled miniature unicycle strapped to your genitals might bring you out in a sweat, no earthly terror can compare (in the Shit Your Pants Right Off Your Body stakes) with the stairway to peril they call...La Pagode De Chanteloup.

Not bad handiwork for a 18th Century French ponce, say I.

But why, may you ask, should a 130 foot tall pretend pagoda be at all scary?

Here's why.

The ground floor is a piece of cake to negotiate (not in the literal sense, of course, as this would constitute architectural suicide): you just walk right in and marvel at the nibbled stonework supporting the entire structure before you risk life and limb by climbing up the bastard in your vĂȘtements touristique et ridiculeuse.

Ascending the spiral stairway to the next tier, it's almost like being inside an English cathedral in that everything feels very sturdy and even if the spirits of the perverted dead were to appear, the arrowslit windows are impossible to hurl yourself through. Unlike in England, however, there is no uniformed Red Cross volunteer on hand. And no sign saying WHAT ARE YOU? STUPID???

By the second tier, the reassuring metal handrail spiralling alongside the stairs has been replaced by a piddly wooden bannister which, being exposed to the elements, is more rotten than a Slipknot lyric out-take. Clumsy fat bastards and acrophobics beware: if you fall to your left, you will die. Thankfully, my Kirk Douglas visualisation techniques paid off at this stage and I proceeded with all the gung-ho gusto of a man in middle-eastern skimpies with a peculiar dimple in his chin actively consenting to being filmed.

By the time you get to the third and fourth tiers, it feels like being inside the world's most rickety garden shed perched on top of a flagpole during the sort of gale that rips leaves from the trees before ripping the trees from the ground. There's very little solid stonework to hang on to as you make your way upwards, and the arrowslit windows have given way to flimsy wooden shutters perforated with holes made by blind bats, bees and formation squads of gnats. Clumsy fat bastards and acrophobics beware: if you fall to your left or your right, you will die. This is where I lost Kirk Douglas and got Tony Curtis in a bath of camel’s milk with Laurence Olivier.

The fourth tier was as far as I made it the last time I was here in 1995. I'm not bad with heights on the whole — I have, to my considerable credit, survived The London Eye and the clifftop walk round East Prawle in Devon — but there’s something so tangibly insubstantial about this weird old pagoda I'm surprised it isn't frequented by trainee doctors keen to bone up on stomach anatomy without having to chop anyone up. This time round, I got to the 5th tier and had to lie down. Further up, I’m told the final step emerges from between four puny pillars onto a two foot balcony but at this stage I had no desire to check for myself whether or not this was true — I merely wanted to live.

It’s holiday experiences like this that can make or break a man and although my later adventures were peppered with genuine near-death experiences such as nearly fracturing my entire hand on the dodgems, being dashed against a barnacle-covered rock by a huge surprise wave and negotiating a bowl of steaming soupe de poissons in which the chef who cooked it had probably drowned, La Pagode stands out as the Knee Buckler And Scrotum Shriveller Incarnate.

Terror! Pure terror, I tell you!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Whirl Goes Sunbathing

It's that time of year when I can refrain no more from donning a pair of flowery Hawaiian shorts, slapping enough sun cream on to my pallid flesh to drown a hippopotamus and floundering in the briney like a jellyfish entangled in its own wibbly dangly bits.

And so, to France I away, to amuse and amaze all Gallic souls with a grasp of the French language to rival a three-toed sloth trying to hang onto a fatty sausage while trampolining during a hurricane.

The best I've managed so far is a reply of "yes" to the question "would you like me to speak English?" What a terrible foreigner I am.

So — nothing much is likely to be happening round here till the end of the month, unless I find myself a cyber cafe among the sprawl of Snail-On-A-Stick bazaars and medieval toilets, in which case I may just post.

Until then, adieu.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hal's Kitchen

Further vocal delights abound thanks to the miraculous force of nature we know and love as
Robin S.

I'm here again with one of the many kitchen scenes from my WIP. I could have gone for more exotic locations like tornado-tossed ravines and sub-Plutonic strip clubs, I know — but if you've ever stayed up till morning at an all-nite party, you'll know the best place to be long after the booze has been drunk, the floozies shagged and the loudmouths vomit-lined of mouth is...the kitchen.

Did I mention Robin S?

If you head over to her delicious blog here, you ought to find a burgeoning list of other writers announcing their vocal treats in her latest comment trail. If not — demand a refund and sulk like a petulant child.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Protrudio Says — Hey! 2

As you may recall, Abysswinksback-goers were invited to partake in a writing exercise at the start of the week, and in spite of a torrent of responses to rival a eunuch semen tsunami, Protrudio has very kindly agreed to spill the beans on another of his secret recipes.

Protrudio responds...

Splendiferous Nib Huzzahs!

Just the one entry this time round, but so perilous has been my last sojourn into the custard swamps, even the crazed scribblings of a wannabe author phytoplankton would be sufficient to raise my energy levels from their presently flatlined ennuihood. Some of the crabs I’ve had to wrestle with over the past few weeks have nipped and nibbled my costume to within a hemstitch of one of Johnny Weissmuller’s loincloths. But hey ho.

Kiersten writes...

The door creaked open like the best eight seconds on a horror film sound effects CD. I reached for my iPod and turned off the horror film sound effects track. Stupid thing.

It’s brief, but to the point — exactly what you want in a range of men’s nylon swimwear or novelty sweet course consisting solely of tart autumn berries, but I digress.

So here’s a quick recipe for sunny afternoons when the future of humanity hangs in the balance by a moderate enough thread to warrant taking five to rustle up the full scrumptiousness of its munchosity. Hot Yum Yum Action!


For this top salad accompaniment, you will need

1 head small white cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, grated coarsely
1 small red pepper, chopped finely into vowel shapes
8 glorious green olives, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

When I’m making this one, I like to prepare everything in advance wearing my favourite flowery apron. Once I’ve juggled all the chopped and grated veg a slice at a time into a series of identical bowls, I combine the oil and seasonings in an old elephant jelly mould I’ve had since I first learned to breathe custard through my ears without choking. A delightful pink plastic affair, it never quite fulfilled its role as a mould on account of its oddly-shaped trunk and remained, unused, in my utility pouch throughout all my childhood adventures until one day I found myself trapped in a huge underground coral reef by a shoal of poisonous turtles and was forced to deploy it as a cudgel.

So, assuming you have all of the ingredients to hand, it only remains for you to crank up a suitably joyous Beethoven concerto and throw everything into a huge salad bowl, making sure to shout the flavour-enhancing word ULTRASLURP continuously as you blend the cole slaw together with your favourite spoon.

Leave to stand in your refrigerator for a couple of hours and you’re ready to feast.

Me? I’m hoping to catch a good long lie down before breaststroking off into the depths once more.

Be sure to return soon for further adventures and recipes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Casting Off Of Albatri 4

A Blackbird

My sight
of now
must be
this bird —

I turned here,
saw it

All other futures
are dead now.

No if
no or
no but.