Thursday, January 19, 2012


Lord Jim (a lot better than Heart of bloody Darkness)

"There were eight hundred people in that ship," he said, impaling me to the back of my seat with an awful blank stare. "Eight hundred living people, and they were yelling after the one dead man to come down and be saved. 'Jump, George! Jump! Oh, jump!' I stood by with my hand on the davit. I was very quiet. It had come over pitch dark. You could see neither sky nor sea. I heard the boat alongside go bump, bump, and not another sound down there for a while, but the ship under me was full of talking noises. Suddenly the skipper howled 'Mein Gott! The squall! The squall! Shove off!' With the first hiss of rain, and the first gust of wind, they screamed, 'Jump, George! We'll catch you! Jump!' The ship began a slow plunge; the rain swept over her like a broken sea; my cap flew off my head; my breath was driven back into my throat. I heard as if I had been on the top of a tower another wild screech, 'Geo-o-o-orge! Oh, jump!' She was going down, down, head first under me. . . ."

'He raised his hand deliberately to his face, and made picking motions with his fingers as though he had been bothered with cobwebs, and afterwards he looked into the open palm for quite half a second before he blurted out--

' "I had jumped . . ." He checked himself, averted his gaze. . . . "It seems," he added.'

Lord Jim, Chapter 9

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Cleaning up Kensington, one wing mirror at a time

A series of expensive-sounding bangs outside my front window were what first aroused my interest. Looking outside, one of the 'Clean Up Kensington' trucks was going down the road. This wasn't unusual. What was unusual was that the truck's vacuum hose hadn't been secured: it was swinging freely, swiping the wing mirrors off parked cars as it went.

I was just in time to catch the best bit: the hose banged into the bonnet of a Ford hatchback, leaving a fair-sized ding in the bodywork. It flipped over the roof of the Ford and smashed in the rear windscreen of a Fiat Cinquecento, parked facing in the opposite direction. Bouncing over the Fiat, it then bashed in the headlamp of a Saab.

At this point the driver, perhaps realising that his progress down the street was accompanied by more screams and bangs than usual, pulled over.

I wandered out onto the street to survey the damage. One car owner was raging over his 4x4's missing wing mirror. A lady across the street was stammering about how horrible all the destruction had been. Various council employees from the truck were trudging humourlessly up and down the road making notes of the damage, while a man I took to be the driver was slumped against a garden wall, puffing fretfully on a cigarette, staring at nothing, thinking perhaps about deep cosmic uncertainties. Or what a lot of trouble he was in.

Out of consideration for his feelings, I forebore to take any photos of the mess. I half-suspected the whole thing had happened purely for my amusement. Otherwise, it was a pretty slow day.



You broke it, you bought it



DAN: Hi Joe.

JOE: Hi Dan, how's it going?

DAN: Good, except I can't find any bloody coffee in this shop.

JOE: Which shop are you in?

DAN: The pound shop.

JOE: Ah. Of course, all the stuff in there comes from other shops which have gone into liquidation. So when you're shopping there, what you're buying is other people's broken dreams.

If he has a point, I don't see it. And I'm becoming increasingly desperate for coffee

DAN: And?

JOE: And coffee happens to be one broken dream that flies off the shelves pretty quickly.


Happily, one broken dream that hadn't flown off the shelf was the DVD of Merlin (1998), with Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rutger Hauer et al.

Whenever I see such an impressive cast list, I'm reminded of Island of Fire, a poor Taiwanese film which featured most of the hottest actors of the time, as they owed the producer a favour for getting them out of trouble with the Triads.

After sitting through all three hours of the DVD yestereve, I felt that I'd pretty much got what I'd paid for.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012


It's bad to have a bad uncle

Christmas Eve, and Kianna, my wee little pretty thing of a niece, is explaining to me the pile of presents on the table, bought and gift-wrapped by her mum, my sister

KIANNA: The big one's for you an' the small one's for Uncle Joe...

ME: Just like when Mother Nature was giving out the presents when we were born.

A brief pause

KIANNA: Did you get a big one an' Uncle Joe got a small one?

ME: That's what they say, dearie.

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