Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Flibbly Bits Of The Damned

The great thing about designing your own bathroom* is the bonanza of fun you can have mixing and matching tiles ‘n’ towels.

*ie thumbing through the various catalogues and shouting That one! That one! That one! until you reach your budget limit.

The worst thing about designing your own bathroom* is the consequence of making a wrong decision about the mix ‘n’ match tiles “ ‘n’ ” towels.

* And it really is bizarre how you can reach your budget limit before you’ve even thought about the bath, the sink, the shower and the loo.

So. Tiles first. The easy part.

Girly of Whirly and I were adamant that we didn’t want to go with any kind of nouveau Slasher Horror Dungeon look, and took umbrage at the numerous variations on the theme of Clearly Bloody Horrid.

So we went with white.

Plain, white, and satin — with a tasteful natural stone border containing fossilised miniature ferns.

To offset the plainness and the whiteness, we decided on a deep maroon for the towels. Personally, I blame Johnny Depp’s lips. It certainly wasn’t my idea.

And this is where the whole thing — my whole world — went decidedly tits up.

The problem with luxury maroon bath towels (and they really are SO luxury, exotic furry animals queue up outside our front door asking to have their pelts replaced with them), is that they moult a fine maroon dust, tiny particles of towel fibre that get. Bloody. Everywhere.

Six months on, in spite of numerous washes each per week per towel, the entire bathroom can end up being covered in a maroon veneer within minutes of drying your backside.

Maroon fluff, everywhere, like some ghostly anti-Jif aura.

Removing the wretched stuff takes weeks. Weeks of work, on hands and knees, scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. And the more you scrub the less it comes off the plain white satin tiles. The more you scrub the more it moves around in clods, forms amorphous blobs of maroon horridness along the lines of grouting and in awkward nooks and crannies twixt soil pipe and difficult-to-reach cupboard.

I’d rather fight lions in the Colosseum than clean my sodding bathroom.

Rather invite Dale Winton to weigh my bollocks on a wooden spoon.

So I’m looking for the bathroom towel fluff equivalent of those prawny molluscy insect creatures people put in their aquariums, the ones that clean the gunge off the sides of the tank with their innate flibbly wibbliwibbliness.

I’ve built a little hut for one on the landing, complete with bedding and a wheel, en suite facilities and wifi.

All I need now is a weblink, a brochure, directions to a specialist towel fluff mollusc retailer of renown.

Any ideas?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Peter Schmeichel In A Mini

The great thing about Nanowrymo (and yes, I’ve pulled this one from a list) is that non-participants like myself can slipstream in the enthusiasm of the dedicated like sponges sucking fluid from the Pacific.*

*And if you are participating, just look at that last sentence to discover how a simple-yet-crap simile can boost your word count by up to 22%.

As I’m currently dis-WIPed, I’ve been scrabbling around for new projects to tackle, unable to decide between half-baked ideas and unformed flickers of flash fiction. Needless to say, I’ve comfort eaten an unusual volume of noodles, shaved my face down to my fingernails and taken up smoking Andrex.

Nano (or rather, its slipstream) has spared me — spared me from calling one of those hilarious prank phone lines and arranging myself a bogus lottery win just for something to do with my fingers — and though 4000 words is nothing compared to the Tolstoyloads some have reeled off so far this month, a couple of things are spectacularly pleasing.

First, my tendency to edit-as-U-go has been tossed onto the back burner along with the Sausages of Korrect Spelling. The result? Rather than looking like pages from a published book, my notes resemble a frenzied Pollock rendered in the sicked-up contents of a zealot scientist’s eureka glands.

Second, much of what I’ve written requires very little editing. Highly unusual, this. Unwitnessed, in fact, since I downed too many pints in the back room of The Wooly Mammoth and trotted off most of my Deano Haloumi.

So, for once, the pat I feel on my back hasn’t been squirted from a restless bovine spirit’s arse.

And I don’t care if people think I’m flagellating myself. Jane Fonda did worse in her fitness videos — half naked, the shameless hussy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stay At Home Zombie Love Nest 3

‘Did you see me take my tablets this morning, dear?’

‘I don’t know. No. I don’t think so.’

‘Let me check the packet. It’s not too late to catch up if I did.’

‘While you’re in the kitchen —’


‘Put the kettle on, petal.’

‘Ordinary or Rose Pouchong?’

‘Oooh, Rose Pouchong. Yes please. Any joy?’

‘Yes. It looks like I must have taken them.’

‘That’s good.’

‘Shall we treat ourselves to a biscuit each?’

‘Oh go on then.’

‘Digestive or Hob Nob?’

‘Aren’t there any Nice left?’

‘No. They’ve all gone.’

Friday, November 19, 2010

Torch The Jester

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a communal voice post thang, but since a whiff of 2008 currently blows across the scene like a bridesmaid’s unconcealable fart at a shotgun wedding reception, a few of us have taken the plunge and committed wiggle of larynx to mp3.*

*I’ll post links here as and when they appear.

This time round, we’re doing pieces of writing from long, long ago. Not so much juvenilia as embryonium.

So here’s one from November 1982, which got performed during one of the many student poetry slams I engaged in as a pre-grunge layabout with zero shaving skills.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


As I understand it, there’s something of a 2008 celebration going on in select nookiettes of the blogoshpere

2008! Who can forget that baby?

Certainly not the Missouri liquour store owner whose wife was eaten by all those escaped donkeys from the NASA Deep Space Research Laboratory.

Or the 93 year-old ex-acrobat from Sprimpington-on-the-Whoppe who astonished the judges of Britain’s Got Talent with hyperventilated screeches midway through her vaginal harmonica rendition of We Are The Champions.

Less still the Bharvaddi tribe of Bolivia, undiscovered by the rest of mankind until May 4th, and now hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine and late night re-runs of Sgt Bilko.

For me, the big deal was coming out of the blogging closet on April 1st. Cold in there. Suffocating. Hrr. And my chimpanzee cellmate — so smelly, so rude, so difficult to beat at Rummy.

I’d been staring at the padlock on the trapdoor for a while, and every day, muttered to the diminishing spirits of my loved ones, “if only I had the key, I’d wrench myself free from this infernal hellhole while still retaining fingernails to die for.”

Always, the chimp would mutter something back, some evolutionary ancestor nonsense masquerading as a pre-language style grunt. And I would beat it about the head with a rolled up Jack of Clubs.

Then one day I realised. Heard its words for the first time. That hru hru hru was no ordinary hru hru hru as might be made by an orang utan, masturbating to cheers in some inner city zoo. What it said was, “look, Whirl, the solution is staring you in the face. You’ve got to extricate yourself from this self-imposed exile. Link up with some of the folks over at Evil Editor’s blog and indulge yourself with a little post-millennial cyberexchange of intellectual spasms. The key you seek is no cast of iron, no tangible mongering of metal. ‘Tis deep inside your heart, my friend —”

That’s when I strangled the bloody thing. Nothing gets my goat more than a schmalzy chimp.

He was right, though. As I side-footed his remains down the drain, a bright light burst from my chest like a will-o-the-wisp paying homage to the abdomen scene in Alien. It hovered before me for a few seconds , as if to say, “this is a moment of great significance in your life”, then whooshed into the padlock and set me free.

If you’re here for much the same reason, then you already know what’s going on. You’re part of it. Implicated.

If not, maybe you’re simply lost, in which case

a) The loo is just down the hallway, 2nd door on the right.
b) All-in-one pink fluffy Snoopy cutesy suits look ridiculous even on people who know exactly where they’re going.

Whatever the case, if anyone has fond memories of anything that happened in 2008, the comments trail is open to your outpourings of unrestrained gush. You may even wish to make something up. In fact, let’s do that. Blogger award for the best fond memory, fictional or otherwise.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrity Guest Blogger: Lina Trujillo

Gazpacho by Lina Trujillo
carefully noted by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

I walked into the kitchen where Lina waited impatiently.

“OK, we will make gazpacho together.” She tapped the marble counter. “This is everything you need.”

It didn’t seem like very much. I pulled out my small notebook and scribbled down the list:

• A baguette
• 8 medium red tomatoes
• 1 large green (bell) pepper
• Half a cucumber, peeled
• 1 clove of garlic
• Salt
• White wine vinegar
• Olive oil
• A large pitcher

She took the baguette and ripped off about a third of it. “You need a large piece of bread.”

“Wait, how large, I need to weigh it!” I managed to get it onto the kitchen scale and see 60 grams before she took it from me, rolling her eyes.

“It’s approximate, you don’t need to measure.” She began ripping the bread into pieces and dropping them into the pitcher. “Just a bit of this and a bit of that. Hack everything into pieces so that it is easier to liquidize into soup.” She quickly chopped the pepper and cucumber without a cutting board, just holding them in her hands. I tried not to wince. She cut the tomatoes in half and dropped them in as well, core and all.

“Don’t you...”

“I don’t cut anything out,” she said. “We’ll strain it later so it doesn’t matter, just throw everything into the pitcher.” When it was almost full, she paused. “We need to make space.”

She got out an electric mixer with a blender attachment and began breaking down the tomatoes. Soon, the pitcher was only half full and she was able to add the rest of the tomatoes.

“Could you use a stand-up blender?” I asked.

“Sure. You might have to do multiple batches.” She cut the remaining tomatoes and threw them in followed by the garlic. “Only use one clove of garlic, so that it doesn’t overpower the flavor.”

I scrawled her advice as quickly as I could and looked up to see her adding the seasoning. “How much salt?”

“A lot!”

“Could I use Worcester sauce?”

She paused. “What’s that?”

“It’s a condiment.” My voice faltered under her gaze. “It tastes salty.”

“Just use salt! The tomatoes are sweet and they need plenty. The salt is important.”

“Could I use celery salt?”

Her face flushed. “You are making gazpacho, not a Bloody Mary. Use sea salt!”

She poured it in. I wrote a heaping teaspoon and kept my mouth shut.

“Now oil and vinegar. Don’t ask me how much! As much as you like, just make sure it is more oil than vinegar.” She added both in quickly.

I bit my lip and wrote 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil while she liquidized the ingredients.

“Blend it for a very long time,” she shouted over the whirr of the blender. “It should be very smooth. When you think you’re done, blend it some more.”

Then she cocked her head and looked at the liquid in the pitcher critically. “It’s not red enough,” she said and got a few more tomatoes. She added two and then laughed and threw in a third. “Another one won’t hurt. The tomatoes are the most important ingredient.” She paused to look at me. “Seriously. Without the tomatoes, you have nothing.”

She ran the blender for a few more minutes and then handed me a spoon. “Now taste.”

It was sweet and acidic and a little bit spicy. It tasted as if it had onions in it or something else sharp, maybe the effect of the vinegar. It tasted like summer. “It is wonderful!”

“More vinegar?” She already had her hand on the bottle.

“I don’t think so.”

She gave me a dubious look and took the spoon from me so she could taste it for herself. Then she nodded.

“Fine, it’s not bad. Now you need a sieve and a very large bowl. Pass the gazpacho through the sieve, pressing it through with a spoon.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “You can add some water to make it lighter. I do that sometimes. Or ice, I like to fill it with ice cubes.”

She poured the strained liquid back into the pitcher and held it out to me. “And that’s it! You can drink it from a glass or serve it in a bowl. I like it in a bowl, so you can mix things into it. Fry small pieces of bread in hot olive oil to make croutons. Offer onion, pepper and cucumber chopped fine. Even chopped fresh tomato, if you like.”

I took the pitcher and inhaled the red scent of tomato. “How many does it serve?”

“Depends how much they eat,” she said. “I never have any left over. Now get out of my kitchen, I have work to do.”

And I took my gazpacho and left.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Unsubtle Infusion Of Sock Pong

I have no idea what they’re putting in the Ylang Ylang washing machine powder tablets these days, but I can confirm that it’s about as much cop as Vera Lynn would have been as lead singer for Led Bloody Zep.

This I know because three pairs of wet stinky socks deployed for a walk on Sunday afternoon ended up in a load intended to be exclusively composed of school uniforms and frightful shirts. Yesterday, when I wore a couple of said frightful shirts (because it was chilly), it took me a while to realise why everyone I met seemed to have smelly feet. At first I suspected a bug of some kind, a virulent worm capable of sneaking its way between innocent toes and vomiting up a slurry of bacteria and athlete’s foot style slime, but then I figured — no, it would have been on The Adrian Chiles Debacle this morning, slipped between some brave disabled kid who’d rescued his grandmother from a fire and a catwalk display of vibrating bras. You go through all the options don’t you? Before finally admitting — Christ! It’s ME!

Fortunately, my revelation occurred in the supermarket, and though the communal sniffing and retching I’d previously thought had a global rather than personal origin continued, I managed to cover my tracks till I made it outside by spinning some story about how Tesco was going upmarket and muscling in on Waitrose by piling its cheese counter to the rafters with 2-for-1 rounds of Chaumes.


And I mean — PHEW

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'll Do The Math — US Subtract The "S"

While I’m waiting for the hairs on the back of my neck to settle back down into a greyhoundpelt-like silkyness after my early morning encounter in the bathroom with a SPIDER THE SIZE OF MY HEAD, I’d like to tease your brains with a gentle brain teaser.

Add up the following numbers out loud.
Add them up in the order they are written.

Answer follows in comments trail.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Diary Of A Noxygen Atom

Whizzed into some cat’s nose c/o a sharp intake of breath, probably shock.

Two days later, I find I’m sentient. From my vantage point on the tip of a whisker-like protein formation, I see a young girl, hear her say, “isn’t it great the way we found this gorgeous cat in the street, then took her in and fed her?”

Several chemical recombinations later, I’ve slipped bonds from the whisker, and I’m halfway along the tongue of a bearded veterinary surgeon, blown this way then that by a chirpy, “for a cat so old, she’s surprisingly kitten-like” and a less upbeat, “such a shame she has a renal disorder.”

The vet sneezes, and I’m back inside the cat. Goes weird for a while, like I’m part of some stomach lining denied access to nutrients thanks to an unwillingness on the part of the stomach filler to ingest anything other than My Bloody Favourite. Outside, the world rumbles on. Too much information to process. All I hear is Sven Sven Sven. Is this the sound of a guillotine for Oxygen atoms? Am I finally to be sliced, proton from electron, in some garish sub-particular nightmare? Or has Goran Erikson signed up to manage Leicester City, and I’m sensing the incredulity of souls beyond my feline prison, palpable as an elephant’s trunk up a tennis player’s skirt during a ladies’ singles final in the 33 degree Wimbledon heat? Only one conclusion I can come to about the nature of the molecular structure I’m helping to form, the corner of the universe I’m holding together with my quarky oscillations: this is the Scudamore Rd RSPCA Centre, isn’t it? Oh please, dear Lord, don’t let me end up part of some crusty old Alsatian’s bum hole.

Now I’m skating on eyeball fluid. I can tell it’s an eyeball because it’s looking at me. Overhead, there’s a sign.

Dogs > Cats > Ferrets >

Ferrets? Hey, don’t ask me — I’m only an Oxygen atom. You’re the guys owning, feeding and rescuing the downright absurd pets. Like this one, the baby kitten one. The one whose eye I’m skating on like David Seaman breaking the neck of some poor lycra-clad young hussy while sporting a visible vacuum where a ludicrous ponytail used to be.

Motion, like the Earth is moving faster through space, sucked towards a black hole billions of light years away. Or maybe it’s just a car ride along a dual carriageway. Yep, lookee there — that’s me stuck to the side of a half-sucked boiled sweet tucked under the passenger seat. Next to me is a cat in a basket, looking slightly confused but essentially alive and well despite not eating for a week and being perforated to within an inch of her life. Any minute now she’ll be home, tucked up snug by the warmest radiator or redefining the word ‘irritating’ with some strained medley of meaows.

Signing out now.

A good few days, but still no closer to my goal. One day, one day, you’ll see me — burned up, spent, consumed — in the flare of some colossal space rocket bound for Venus. Or part of an ASDA Smart Price trifle six pack.