Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Suburb of the dead
You know the feeling you get when you’re ten years old and you come home from school only to find that your family’s gone away on holiday for a fortnight? That’s the feeling I had when my dear departed dog came loping in through the front door one evening last week, dripping bits of earth and dog flesh on the carpet: annoyance and disappointment in equal measure. After I’d been persuaded that Fritz wasn’t coming back, I’d got round to burying him in the woods with no small effort, and I’d gone through the normal painful stages of grief and achieved closure. Now he had come back.
He tried to lick me but bits of his decaying tongue kept sticking to my hands and face, so I led him out the back and bashed his head off with a shovel. You might think that sounds callous but he wasn’t the Fritz I’d known and loved. After chopping and bagging him up and getting a good bonfire going, I phoned the council. Tracey, the chirpy young lady who took my call, didn’t know why my dog had returned from the dead but promised to look into it for me.
A few days later she rang back in a state of some excitement. A Professor Bertram of the Department of Dark Age History at Essex University had done some research and discovered that the woods where I had laid Fritz to rest had been the burial ground of the Saxon king Thicric and his family in the sixth century. Legend had it that Thicric had fallen foul of a witch’s curse that specified that if a dog should ever be buried in the hallowed ground, it and all beings previously interred there would walk the earth again. Why the curse took this particular form I didn’t find out, because I was too busy writing letters of complaint to the previous owner of my house and to the surveyors about their failure to disclose this information to me before I moved in.
Since then, it’s been non-stop. You can’t step out your front door around these parts without encountering one of the bloody living dead. The older ones, the Saxon lot, aren’t so bad because they’re mostly just skeletons and are quite clean, though they don’t half scratch the paintwork on your car. It’s the more recent burials that are the problem, the East End gangster victims who have only partially decomposed. They leave a trail of skin and other bits wherever they go – I found a large intestine draped over my garden fence yesterday morning – and they’re always trying to bite you as though they watched too many zombie films when they were alive and think they can turn you into one of them by giving you a nip. (They can’t.) Plus, they make that awful undead noise, halfway between a moan and a shriek, which is guaranteed to keep the neighbourhood awake at night. This morning I was upstairs in the bath and one of the buggers appeared at the window. Turns out he used to be a small-time cat burglar called Billy the Finger, who upset one of the Hackney drug barons.
Vampirella is all soft-hearted and keeps trying to strike up conversations with these creatures and invite them in for a cup of tea and suchlike. Me, I’ve decided enough’s enough. So, if any of you are in the Brentwood area this Friday and would like to join me and some of the lads on a cull, you’re most welcome. Bring a spade, a machete if you’ve got one, and plenty of binliner bags.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I smell you
Stop watching me. I’m warning you.
All of you. You know who you are, oh yes, you do. You think you’re so clever, writing with such disparate voices, but I’m on to you.
Under the name of “Binty” you post an essay on your weblog referring to George Orwell, on the very same day that I make some Orwell-themed remarks. Today, I post comments on your various blogs – “Kim Ayres”, “Doctor Maroon” and others – and you respond within minutes.
But don’t you gloat too soon, Mr/Mrs/Ms Smarty-Pants. I’m on to you.
I started with the light bulbs. Took them all out and put putty in the sockets. Took all the curtains down after that and stuck corrugated iron up which I found in the rubbish tip on the other side of the field. Then I got rid of all the screens in the house apart from my PC monitor. Threw the TVs into the skip in the back alley.
The colour orange has something to do with all of this that you’re planning, as does that Dave Brubeck tune that goes on forever. I’ll figure it out, don’t you worry.
And then I’m coming to get you.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
One of the unadulterated delights of working in the NHS is the nagging you’re constantly subject to. Need to empty your bowels at work? Fill in a Defecation Permission Request Form. Don’t have this form? Fill out a Defecation Permission Request Form Request Form. Don’t have a pen with which to fill out the form? Fill out a Ballpoint Request, Excuse and Apology Form. No toilet paper in the loo? That’s too bad, but bog roll is unnecessary as it requires the cutting down of the rain forests and we should all be using bidets instead. No bidets? Have patience, we have to prioritise resources and you don’t seriously want patient care to be compromised just so that you can clean your anus, do you?
The latest round of hectoring and finger-wagging comes wearing the mantle of ‘revalidation’. All general practitioners and hospital consultants now have to undergo this process every five years or so. It involves an avalanche of paperwork, and requires you to indicate whether or not you’re a psychopathic murderer, or, more specifically, to prove that you’re not one. You do this by collecting thank-you cards and letters of endorsement from your patients and colleagues (I’m not making this up); enough of these, it seems, and you must be a swell individual who could never turn out to be another Harold Shipman.
Shipman, for those who don’t know, was a GP who murdered at least 300 of his elderly patients over several decades but committed suicide in prison in January 2004, thus taking the secrets of his motivation with him to the grave. The government seems to have got the idea that he was merely the tip of a murderous iceberg and that doctors are intrinsically dodgy characters (unlike politicians, of course). The whole purpose of the revalidation exercise is to ‘restore public confidence’ in the medical profession. As somebody said in a hilarious but spot-on letter to one of the medical journals last week: why, in the wake of the killing spree by the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, did the government not introduce a revalidation system for lorry drivers (since Sutcliffe drove a truck for a living)? Why not, indeed? There’s no evidence that Shipman’s murderousness had anything to do with his being a doctor, other than that he was afforded a greater opportunity to kill his victims.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Room 101 contains the worst thing in the world. This being my 101st post, I thought I’d do an Orwell tie-in. The worst thing in the world is Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
One hundredth post
I understand it's customary to say a few words on the occasion of one's hundredth post, so here they are.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
To today's guitar bands
You strut, with such artfully tousled hair,
Across the stage of Britain’s dying wastes.
Your low-rise denim’s ripped with utmost care;
Your fans lap up your faux-bohemian tastes.
Your style betrays stunted imagination
You’re spawn and father of your generation.
‘We stick it to the man!’ you sneer on stage,
While Sugar Daddy chuckles from the wings.
Laugh at the club girls dancing in their cage -
You’re trapped as they are, corporate playthings.
You differ from boy bands only this far:
You have no clue what prostitutes you are.
‘Let’s give ourselves a name that sticks in minds!’
The Arctic Monkeys, The Streets, Razorlight…
‘And write really deep songs with words what rhymes.’
And that’s just the beginning of the shite –
Why must Mockney be the accent of choice,
The more pronounced, the more genteel the voice?
‘We’re paying tribute to our favourite bands
Like Pink Floyd, Led Zep, Clapton and his blues.’
I fear you twats tread on the shifting sands
Where homage and pastiche become confused.
Will ten years hence a man his guitar pluck
In tribute to you wankers? Will he fuck.
You corporate sock-puppets, willing slaves,
Who dare to call yourselves rebellious!
Yesterday’s giants are spinning in their graves
As you squander the chance they gave to us.
‘We fight for individuality.’
Can you dicks spell originality?
Despite all this, I wish no ill of you.
I’d hate a guitar to electrocute
You on stage, or, when you try hard to poo,
Massive warts to be blocking up your chute.
(My doctor says repeat these last four lines
Fifteen times a day, and I should be fine.)
Monday, August 14, 2006
Mahmoud and I
I come back to find that Iran's President Ahmadinejad and I have more in common than I’d thought. He’s just started his own blog, and it’s a cracker. As with most blogs, the first entry is one of such devastating literary beauty that I wept blood when I read it.
Ahmadinejad, or Ack as he’s known in the blogging world, has deftly pre-empted charges of hypocrisy by using only software from non-American companies in his blog, and consequently such giants of Iranian technology as Yahoo and Google feature prominently. He’s also careful to provide English translations of his original Persian writing so that those pesky Israelis don’t start misrepresenting his words again.
I decided to copy Harry Hutton’s technique and sent the President this email.
Dear President Ahmadinejad
I think the producers will definitely take you into consideration, though you’re certainly being quite brave with the whole image change thing. There’s never been a bearded Bond so far. Mind you, I reckon you need the beard to butch up a bit and offset that rather camp fringe.
Mr Foot Eater, England
Except I didn’t, because I can’t make head or tail of his blog, can’t even identify it as a blog, in fact, and got all my information about it second hand here.