Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why the way people finger bread proves why the fight against global warming can never be won.

Head in the sand, bread in the hand. That's what it's all about. People don't understand the knock on effect that their actions have. They've never seen one of those time-travel films where you stop Abraham Lincoln from being killed and end up 200 years later with Ron Jeremy as president. Still, worse things could happen - but that's not the point - people can't see the consequences of their actions - they think it's just liddle ole them doin what they're doin - they aint gonna affect nothin - all their doin is havin a little poke at a few croissants, maybe pickin up a pain au chocolat n havin a little sniff:

"Feels a bit squdgy. Do you think they're fresh? Like cooked today?"
"Dunno, pass us one of those shortbread cookie things n I'll give it a sniff. Do one will notice if I have a little bite, do yeh reckon?"
She passes it to him; he has a delicate nibble n ponders.
She asks him, "How is it?"
"Bit sweet. I normally like white chocolate shortbread with fudge squares n smarties, but this one is a bit sweet."
"Put it back then."
"Think I fancy savoury," he says now. She starts pokin again:
"These onion bagels feel a bit hard."

Then they stop cos the Tesco bread monitor has come to fill up some gaps in the shelves. More multigrain rolls are needed etc.

I am watching: frozen, unable to move. They assume (if they care at all) that I am ponderin on my forthcoming bread product purchases - instead I am starin at them and wondering if I could possibly get my phone out and film them - knowing that if I did the quality would be too utterly terrible.

It's like watching one of those Channel 5 documentaries that you watch but simultaneously feel shame and horror at actually being in the same room as the onscreen goings on.

They're lovely looking people and everything, they're not urchins from the Victorian era; they're not wearing woolly Aztec hats and their shellpants tucked into their socks. She's wearing a mustard yellow coat and an excess of hairspray; he's wearing a young man's beard and a scarf tied like a fashionable garotte.

The silent Tesco bread man starts dishing out more bread products onto the shelves. Shoals of identical, perfectly risen rolls clumping into the shelf from his tray. He is wearing a clear plastic bag over his right hand - vaguely perched over his right hand. But he's made an effort right? ('All that elf n safety? Bit of dirt never hurt no one...') His left hand is just a left hand. He uses this uncovered left hand to push the bread rolls into a more uniform scattering; removing unsightly clumps of bread until they are as neat as beans on toast.

By now Mustard Coat Lady & Garote Scarf Man have decided what they want: sticky almond plaits. She uses the tongs to pick out their bread choices.

"By the way," I whisper to Garote Man, "that fellow there. The Tesco fella up to his wrists in granary rolls - he's got monkey AIDs version 2.0 - the new, really bad one, y'know, you must of heard of it? - and he's been fingerin every one of those rolls n he licked a few of the sticky buns as well. Takin a chance there you are."

I walk away feeling very pleased with myself. I have a good mind to write a letter to Mr Tesco, the head of the Tesco family, but he wouldn't want to listen. I've a good mind to return to the shop tomorrow after I've splashed my winkle juice all over my sweaty palms and fondle every blinkin bread product in the shop. Instead I buy some hermetically sealed pitta breads and leave.

And that is why people will never face up to global warming and all that stuff:
  • Everyone wants lots of products to choose from
  • You have to pack everything in plastic because people are stupid and like poking things
  • People prefer to ignore the consequences of their actions - or are too stupid to even realise that their individual actions add up
Yeah, well, it makes sense to me. Urban Peasants. And that bread looked so nice, if I'd only arrived in the shop 5 minutes later I would have definitely definitely bought a load. And it probably wouldn't have done me no harm. What you don't know, don't hurt you. Especially if it is a bap full of Monkey AIDs version 2.0...

Some bread being 'seriously' fingered: http://breadblog.net/

Monday, December 28, 2009

My teen fiction confession and my books of the year

I was talking about books the other day and I said, "I've been reading a lot of Young Adult fiction recently."

"What?" she said, this person I was talking to, who had been telling me about a Nathaniel Hawthorne book she hadn't read. "What?"

"Teen fiction." I said, feeling slightly embarrassed.

"Teen? Is that some kind of porn?"

"What? Hey? No."

"I thought you meant you meant fiction about... teens. And adult. Erotic. And... what exactly does... ?"

I explained how 'teen fiction' was, y'know, books for the youths. Probably more emotionally & linguistically complex than the fictions for the kiddiewinkles and usually about your actual teensters. But I was feeling grubby by this time. Guilt by association with someone else's filthy minded brainbox. Or lack of knowledge of the classifications system at my local library. I tried to explain how I spend 30 or 40 minutes a day on the train - but split into little journeys and any number of minutes waiting for the train to arrive. And how 'teen fiction' books tend to be small, fit into my bag quite easily, have biggish writing and are easy enough to read when you're standing in the queue. Or bunched up n standin up on a smelly ole train.

Books for busy idiots. Or to help me avoid reading the pap in the free Metro paper. But y'know, it was time to change the subject. So I didn't press it. It's not like I was telling her to read graphic novels. It's not like I was pressing a copy of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi into her hand. Something I feel I should do to everyone who hasn't read it. I could have suggested the Y:The Last Man series of graphic novels. Really - it's smashing. But it wasn't appropriate. All the men in the world have died. She'd have loved it...

But yes. Teen fiction. The realistic type rather than the vampire type (I've read 'that' book as well. All the unnecessary adverbs and unedited adjectives made me feel physically ill.) But anyway, it does feel like I shouldn't be reading all these *teen* books, but I have.

I have been writing a novel that's kinda a youth fiction novel. Is my major excuse. A book for clever kids and stupid adults s the way I try to describe it. One day someone will read it hopefully someone who is stupid enough to like it. In the meantime and without further a do-do - here is my list of bestest books that I have read in 2009. Because I keep a list in an Excel spreadsheet like the sad man I am. Or else I forget what I have read and read them again. And there's too many books in the world to be re-reading anything - with a few notable exceptions of course. Here are my best-of-2009 - in order of best-iality:

  1. I wouldn't start from here by Andrew Mueller - amazing journalistic travelling about into war zones and horrid places that make no sense to the outsider or the people actually living there. Clever and amusing though.
  2. Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine. My top teen fiction title. Tears in my eyes at the end. Actual man tears. More shame. Not the best book in the world in theory, but very very good in a small way. As was Finding Violet Park her previous book.
  3. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut. The great man's thoughts on the world. I wish he had been my granddad. Amazing writing and perspicacity.
  4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Look at this. When I'm not reading contemporary teen fiction (by women generally for some reason) - I'm reading novels from 1943 about crazy mixed up young women. Odd. I really loved this book. Who knew that the author of 101 Dalmations (Dodie Smith) was such a magnificent wordsmith. Shockingly good writing. Empathetic. A 1st person narration that convinces completely. You'd think the world had had enough of silly love stories, but it hasn't. My excuse for reading this was it was included in The Guardian's 1000 books to read before you die. Or Time Out's. One of them big lists that I'm trying to work my way through. As was the next choice:
  5. Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers. This was a book that I would never have bothered with unless I was working through some paper's list of 'good' books I have to read before I die yadda yadda. I'd read another of her's years ago and thought it was *alright*. Nowt special. But the shifting of point-of-view in this book and the general craziosity of the characters is incredible. I won't bother to delineate the plot. But they're a reet bunch of odd-bods these people on a military base. Someone chops their wotnots off just as an aside. You don't expect that in a dusty old 'Virago classic'. And it's short so you can read it on the train.
  6. Angus, thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. A pathetic choice. How can this be at number 6 on an adult male's best books of the year list? But it is. I told a 34 year old female that the heroine of this book reminded me of her; she was not best pleased.
  7. Yes man: the amazing tale of what happens by Danny Wallace. Another book I wouldn't have thought I would have liked. Too mainstream and obvious, I'd have said. But it amused me and I could relate to it and I decided to say yes to stuff more. Trite as it is, it is a good philosophy to have.
  8. sleepwalk and other stories by adrian tomine. I like all of Tomine's graphic novels equally. They're odd. But they hover in your head. I read this whilst trying to dry out some damp floorboards with a hairdryer. That was a fun hour and a half. But see: you can read a graphic novel like that without losing your place.
  9. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Bushy beardy old Robertson is like a god in my house. He's a long train journey kinda author. A stuck at an airport read. Not flashy but engrossing. I forget which ones I've read so I can read them again a few years later.
  10. juliet, naked by nick hornby. Liking Nick Hornby seems to be akin to saying to you think U2 have quite good tunes. He's neither trashy nor hyper-clever and nor is he (arguably) as good as he used to be. Sometimes, like with a band, you find that once you're heard (read) one of theirs - you're heard (read) em all. They're a bit samey. Sometimes, if you like one, you like em all - despite that same-osity-ness. This is half a good book and half not so fantastic. But I raced through it. And it's the second actual 2009 book on my list so that makes me feel up-to-date. Hurrah. A big list. Like in a Nick Hornby novel. Pshaw!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why not just write any old rubbish?

"Such a long time has passed since first I promised you the story of my adventures I am resolved to keep my word today, seeing we are happily met together to season those matters with lively conversation and tales of a merry and diverting sort."

So begins this olde worlde 'novel', The Satyricon by some geezer called Petronius. A Roman fellow, long dead. And yeah, I been readin a bit of it, innit? It's Boxing Day and apparently it's 3 long months since I got round to do any bloggage writing. It may even be 4 months. One of the weird things is that even though I did write nothing, there were still some unpleasant people reading a few of my words at random and calling me a stupid *aunt*. Which is amusing - why anyone would bother I don't know. Silly silly peoples.

I am tempted to start writing again. If only so I can annoy some casual browser into swearing at me. I stopped for a number of reasons: no internet firstly, then life thingys later. Not having a job/needing a job/moving house all that life changing bla bla.

Actually all the sort of stuff that makes other people's blogs interesting and I tend to miss out of mine. Or try to miss out.

I also realised that whilst I was busy I had no ideas about the world. No theories or interesting words. Just bus timetables and bank balances in my head. Receipts from B&Q in my pockets. A head full of worries and alcohol. But now it's almost year's end and all of that nonsense is over. I still have no money but so does everyone else it seems. I could have blogged about all that. Recorded my anguish on certain days. My relief when I managed to cheat or lie or work my way through the day. Sometimes just doing nothing works. Stuff can just improve over time. It's like when you're sure you have skin cancer and then have a wash and the spot of bike oil rubs off your neck. Oh. Well that's a relief. Even if I do feel a little stupid. Not that that ever happened. Obviously.

'Dad always said a person must have a magnificent reason for writing out his or her Life Story and expecting anyone to read it. "Unless your name is something along the lines of Mozart, Matisse, Churchill, Che Guevara or Bond - James Bond - you best spend your free time finger painting or playing shuffleboard, for no one, with the exception of your flabby-armed mother with stiff hair and a mashed-potato way of looking at you, will want to hear the particulars of your pitiable existence."' from 'Special Topics in Calamity Physics' by Marisha Pessl.

I've been reading that book as well: It's like ... y'know, I d'know.... How's that for a book review?

It rhymes if nothing else.

So yeah. I figure I might start writing some more stuff up here for my own casual amusement. Mundane stuff. Short posts. Like the regular folks do. I have no theories or ideas, but if you just keep writing ideas can sometimes appear...