In a concerted effort to continue blogging despite the far-from-friendly new format blogger has imposed - did you spot that from the last post's title? - I am tackling a truly stupendous creative writing exercise. The challenge was to write 500 words based on the first line of famous books (I barely recognize said lines, but they are italicized for anyone too dense to work out which is the first sentence in each fragment). So, I've gone for YOA and even more surprisingly am trying not to get too depressive in each one, hard though that is...
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that
station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. Just a pity
the text window keeps jumping around in size, every time I hit enter to
create a new line the cursor leaps to the bottom of the page, and
trying to paste in material from another source causes all sorts of
Jesus, what precisely was wrong with the original form of
Blogger. I never complained, did I? Well, not about that specifically.
My complaints were vitriolic, but never able to be misinterpreted.
Right, where was I? Oh yes. Blogging.
Perhaps I better do this to music. Music works best to stimulate the
phagocites. Whatever they are. Sounds a bit homophobic actually. Or
maybe they're to do with cigarettes. Where have I heard phagocites
before? Oh yes. Ian Chesterton after a ghost girl walked through him -
does that count as sex? It was a hologram, so I guess not. Cybersex?
Heh. I remember Demolition Man when they use some wierd VR shit to make
sex some bizarre LSD trip without so much as touching. Who thought that
up? Same retard who replaced toilet paper with the three seashells. I
actually looked that up, you know - apparently you're supposed to crap
INTO them like a kind of venus fly trap. Disgusting. And surely you'd
have to wash the bloody things afterwards. More efficient future?
Bollocks. Still, what do you expect when Sir Humphrey Appelby is in
charge of everything.
MMmm. Seem to have wandered a bit. Where was I? Oh yes. Am I the hero of
my own life? Well, I don't see anyone else taking up the slack, do you?
DAVE! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO WARN ME BEFORE YOU MAKE A
Holy Christ, this dial-up is shitty. Oh well, I'll just have
to finish this tomorrow, by which time I'll no doubt have even MORE
amazingly awesome things to say.
It wasn't worth posting anyway...
STRAW + CAMEL - SPINAL SUPPORT
A screaming comes across the sky. Life under the third runway isn't easy, but no one bothers to complain any more. It's almost sweet and naive to think of a time when noise pollution was the worst thing in the world. Nowadays it's all terrorism and anthrax and collatoral damage. People are more scared of planes deliberately crashing rather than drowning out The Mole on TV.
His sister spends more and more time in her room, blocking out the news of war and death with the Prodigy's "Spitfire", only playing the first ten seconds or so - she prefers the lonely sighs to when the idiot bandmembers start singing themselves. He hasn't heard from his brother in months, but his boyfriend dutifully rang on Wednesday and said all was good. His mother hugs her knees to her chest and sadly asks the TV to stop repeating the one where the twin towers are smashed. His father didn't laugh when he joked that this disaster ruined the awesome opening scene of the Spiderman film, where Spidey created a giant cobweb between the World Trade Centre tower to capture crooks in a helicopter. Did he find that a laughing matter? Of course he did. He'd wept enough for one lifetime.
Yes, thinks Dave, looking around the home he has lived his entire life.
I have got to get out of here.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking
thirteen. It was also the last day Andrew worked at the antique
timepiece repair shop across the road from the pub and between the tax
office and the brothel. Residents of all three heard quite clearly the
massive argument that blazed between the clockshop owner and his newest
"It is 24-hour time, all right? There are twenty four hours in the day
and it is not MY fault the idiots who made clockfaces could only count
to twelve so we have to use each number twice, is it? All these
so-called anologue clocks are doing are giving children an excuse to
fail 2-Unit Mathematics Advanced - oi, I know where of I speak, pal! I
failed 2-Unit Mathematics Advanced myself, actually! If we can't expect
people to comprehend the equation "minus twelve" in damn-near-universal
numerical symbols, then what is the point of being alive? This is
exactly how 1984 started! Keep the proles ignorant and the... uh, party?
Did they call it the party? Anyway, Big Brother and his clans will rule
forever! This isn't a good thing, people! It is, I would go so far as
to say, DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD!"
Andrew was still fired.
He took his redundancy pay across the road to the pub and drank it away
until chucking-out time.
Whenever that was.
I am an invisible man. I don't even know
how it happened. I wasn't meddling in the forces of nature or anything,
no lightning bolts, no curses... I walk through the world and no one
pays me attention. No one meets my eye. No one smiles and waves.
course, I'm not actually invisible. I'm not sure you CAN be invisible,
without creating a whacking great hole in people's perceptions, in which
case they could spot you by being the person-shaped gap in reality...
but I might as well be.
People notice me briefly, of course. The checkout folk accept my money,
hand me change, exchange a grunted pleasantry. The people on the bus
glare at me not to take up two seats. Passers-by do their best not to
bump into me. But I feel I fade like smoke from their memories. A face
no one cares about in the crowd no one cares about. As I leave a shop or
end a conversation, I think they auto-delete their memories. Within
minutes, they never knew I was there, that we had met, that we had
I could live with that (well, I don't have any bloody choice, do I??!)
but this affliction even affects the woman I love.
She listens to my worries, laughs at my jokes, looks at me with more
concern than politeness demands. But her eyes are looking for someone
else. Someone who isn't me. Someone visible. Someone who makes an impact
on the world.
And I know, very soon, she'll find that someone.
Worse, I know that someone will never be me.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having
done anything truly wrong, he was arrested," Nigel read out impressively
from the thick manuscript he'd printed out that morning. The air stank
of hot ink and overtaxed servos.
"When's the Kandyman going to show up?" asked Dave sulkily, cradling his
chin in his hands.
"Which one was Josef K again?" asked Andrew, looking up from the paper.
"Helen A's husband or the Kandyman's bitch?"
"Nah, the bitch was called Gilbert."
"Oh yeah. Heh. So he was." Andrew shot Nigel an innocent look. "Well, go
"Why am I even bothering with this?" Nigel snapped, flinging the pages
up into the air so they cascaded around him like the opening gag of a
Good News Week episode. "They don't even publish missing adventures any
more! Anything before the Weeping Angels is just thrown onto the scrap
heap! Christ, who would have thought Moffat would have damned all
licensed spin off material with a lack of imagination!" Nigel beat his
fists against the dining table as he sank to his knees in despair. "This
is a total waste of time! LIFE IS FUCKING MEANINGLESS!"
Andrew glanced at Dave. "I'm glad he's happy."
Dave nodded. "I'm happy he's glad."
"THIS IS IN NO WAY AMUSING ME, YOU BASTARDS!!!"
"DOWN THAT AISLE II: NOW, SHE WHO MUST BE A BABE IS THE
I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man.
So why in the name of all that is sane did I enjoy this film?
to last year's insult-to-intelligent-design, "Down That Aisle: Grounds
For Marriage" set at a ghastly homemade coffee shop, this flick should
have had people evacuating cinemas as soon as it was announced. I mean,
for crying out loud!
Our heroine, She Who Must Be A Babe (oh, thank god Leo McKern is dead!),
leaves her passcard at a dusty antique book shop and just as she is
reporting it missing at her workplace, a dashing young hero on a bike
returns it and the two end up believing one is a bike courier and the
other a senior executive and not a lonely assistant to a shockjock DJ.
Of course, our hero is actually the son of the richest man in the world
and keeps his identity secret so as to form meaningful relationships
with people (odd how he never thinks lying through his teeth might upset
folk when they find out the truth...)
And with tedious predictability,
the two encounter each other again at a park as they walk their
respective dogs - his, a proud hunting dog; hers, a comic relief
flatulent old labrador who provides most of the toilet humor in the
script, farting in expensive restaurants, until his surprising demise in
the traditional subway scene when he gets hit by a train. Tearjerker?
Cujo was more of a sympathetic canine. Anyway, the two dogs drag our
starcrossed lovers into a convenient lake where their iphones are
destroyed, forcing them to court each other with letters and notes and
flowers. Amazingly enough neither is arrested by police for stalking or
just acting incredibly wierd, while the constant scenes of them buying
each other leatherbound editions of Byron and Wuthering Heights from
aforementioned dusty antique book shop would have worked better without
the Lady Gaga soundtrack.
Of course, there are other characters in the film - the heroine's
eccentric Jewess artist of a mother whom she forced to live with, first
scene smoking a bong in a yoga class; Jenifer Anniston as our heroine's
best friend and hilarious gay bartender who sings into a hair brush in
the bathroom to yet more Lady Gaga songs; and the undesirable male
suitor who our heroine kinda likes but everyone is convinced works for
Al Quaedia. Our hero has his own posse, naturally: Nick Frost as the
disheleved male friend; the funny pool-cleaner who hasn't done a day's
work in his life; the hilariously deadpan butler; and the annoying kid
nephew our hero is lumbered with throughout the film. The only other
cast members of any note is Hugh Grant and Tommy Dean as the clumsy
lawyers struggling to sort out the wedding and the bizarre clause that
our hero will lose his inheritance if he follows his heart.
The plot does spark up surprisingly at the "meet the parents" sequence
at the luxury beach house full of successful elder siblings; where the
father of the groom is magically bodyswapped with our hero and, taking
possession of his body, proceeds to propose outright to our heroine in a
surprisingly good Steve Martin impression. Why he didn't pull this
stunt earlier to convince our hero's mother that the bride "would
suffice" is something for us to linger on during the segues to
gymnasiums, bridges, scenes held entirely in the rain, or the bit where
the second-choice man runs after his beloved through airport security
onto a plane. I was expecting him to do it with ridiculous ease, but the
"kiss me quick I'm a suicide bomber" approach to romance really does
earn points for novelty.
Frankly, though, the wedding itself is skipped over almost entirely and
the final scene on Christmas Eve when she reveals herself to be a serial
killing cat strangler held in check only by her multiple personality
disorder is, in my view, a cheap way of explaining poor scripting by
focus groups. Though the amount of dead felines provided a good final
montage as Lady Gaga sang classic Sinatra songs over the end credits.
Yes, I am a sick man - I enjoyed this film, but at least I didn't think
it up in the first place.
"They shoot the white girl first," Nigel said lazily, reaching around my
shoulder to steal some popcorn. "It really breaks the tradition of
ethnic minorities getting killed before the anglo-saxon-caucasians do.
It's one of the reasons this film is such a classic."
"Yeah, and I'm trying to watch it so I can do an essay on it!" I snap.
"Essay?" he sneers. "Whoop-de-friggin-do! An introduction to visual
cultures - 101! Yeah, that's not wasting the next four years of your
life at all, is it? No way indeed, January! You just go ahead..."
"Of course, Antonioni's always been very experimental. You remember
"I remember you talking all the way through it while I was trying to
"Not my fault you had a dodgy copy without a sound track. And there's so
little dialogue in it anyway."
"Nigel," I say, taking a deep breath. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sorry, Katy," he says quickly. "You're way below my shag-quality
"Why do you insist on interrupting me everytime I come here to watch a
film and generally pester me? I mean, don't you have anything better to
He looked amazed. "You mean, you don't enjoy my witty commentary on the
movie as it unfolds?" he exclaimed.
"No," I said very calmly, keeping my hands from snapping his neck.
"I'm shocked, January! I had no idea you were such a philistine! No
wonder your grades are so poor!" he snapped, getting to his feet and
storming off. "It's no skin off my nose if you want to wallow in your
own ignorance! I don't get anything out of this, you know? I was just
trying to help someone in their misguided academic career through the
state-ruined educational facilities..."
"OK, OK," I sighed. "You can watch. Just, you know, cut down on the
Nigel returns to the sofa. "Very well. If you insist. I'm not lonely,
though. Let's make that abundantly clear."
"Course not, Nige. You need friends like I need bigger tits."
Nigel instinctively begins his mocking tirade, but bites it down when he
realizes he'd be incriminating himself. It's a full fifty-three minutes
before he speaks again.
It's a start.
LET DOWN LIGHTLY
The moment one learns English, complications set in.
Take this for
"Thank you for your application with us. Unfortunately, you weren't
successful in this instance. There is much to be admired in your record
and I wish you the best in obtaining the position to which you aspire. I
would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for applying for
the position and I wish you well in your future career endeavors."
The exact same message can be conveyed in a completely different set of
"You? This job?!? Don't make me laugh! Good luck with the rest of your
And, for brevity's sake, can be compressed down to:
"And the survey said? Get stuffed!"
Hell, the entire message can be summed up in two syllables.
And the same to you, undisclosed potential employer.
The same to you.
For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes I even slept.
the time I'd lie in bed and listen to the other three staying up late,
arguing and mocking and insulting each other. Yet they were comfortable
with each other in a way I am not. They related to this crazy world much
better than I ever had or probably ever would. They had that elusive
scrap of knowledge that made sense of the universe just a little more
than I did. They knew what they were going to do with their lives. They
had nebulous plans and reasonably-realistic schemes, they had destinies
I followed in their wake, not knowing what else to do.
Maybe in their slipstream, I'd somehow end up clinging to them like a
pilot fish, finding some niche for myself. Did that make me a parasite? A
bottom-feeder? But I don't know what else to do. The very thought
scared and unsettled me. I was a child in a world of grown-ups,
ill-fitting and isolated.
Sometimes I wondered if it would be better to
take my own life, but my courage always deserted me and I remain in
orbit, going to bed early and listening to the others. An outsider.
Which one of them am I?
Does it matter?
Mother died today. I'm not exactly happy about it. I'm not exactly
devastated by it either.
I barely knew the woman, and I've had deeper
and more meaningful relationships with chauffers and bus drivers than I
ever had with her. Eighteen years and I'd be hard pressed to remember
eighteen days with her. I bored her. Her smile was forced, her eyes
dartng for something more interesting. No, I can't even pretend she
loved me. I didn't matter even enough to hate. I was a tax dodge that
came close to ruining her figure (or, to be precise, one of the many
things that came close to ruining her figure, including all the
combinations of plastic surgery and class-A drugs) and hampered her
social life for around eight months.
I saw Dave and asked him what he thought. We sat and watched Nigel and Andrew fooling about with a basketball. "Am I... evil?" I asked eventually.
"Nah," he said with the sort of confidence that vanishes in the middle of a monosyllable.
"My mother's died. I couldn't care less."
"Yeah," Dave sighed. "I don't know how I'd cope if my mother died. It'd be like the world would just... stop making any sense. How could the sun come up and go down on a world without my mum in it? How can that be right? That she wouldn't be here any more and we would."
"It's gonna happen someday," I said quietly. "Sorry. But it is."
"I know. I guess... I guess you cope the way that you cope. Or you don't cope at all." A thought struck him. "If I'd died today... would you care?"
"Of course I'd care!"
"You'd be upset then?" he pressed on. "You'd cry and wail and need hugs and tea and you'd never be the same again?"
"Course! You're my best friend!"
"And your mother wasn't?" he asked. One of those questions he knew the answer to. "And that's what we should worry about. Not you being underwhelmed by some strange woman you were related to. The fact that, you know, your family doesn't give a damn."
"Maybe I need a new family."
Andrew collided with Nigel who was already colliding with the basketball hoop which then collapsed on top of them. I rushed over to see if they were OK, and Dave followed.
"Maybe you've already got one," I heard him mutter.
THE DEFENDER OF LIBERTY
"Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law."
"The law is an ass, a freaking ass I tell you!"
"Name, address, and a contact number."
"Nigel Verkoff, 15 Credibility Street, and my contact number is 1800-555-BIG-N! This is, I say again, a total mockery of justice. There are real crimes happening in this country, real atrocities that need to be resolved and persecuted. People are in danger, lives are at risk and what are you doing? Carrying out this... this rigmarole bollocks that helps no one and achieves nothing."
"You are hereby fined two hundred dollars to be paid within the next six weeks."
"Two hundred bucks?"
"I hope this teaches you a lesson, sir."
"Yes, it's taught me a bloody lesson all right. Apparently train tickets are worth four hundred times what you pay for them! On top of this, I'm all ready five bucks out of pocket paying for the ticket which I lost - and, yeah, you can't disprove that, can you? - so I now have another two hundred to pay for an uncomfortable train journey through sub-mediocre suburbia and rude persecution."
"There are signs everywhere, Mr. Verkoff. Travel without a proper ticket will recieve heavy penalty."
"Look, I had the ticket! I bought the ticket, walked down the stairs - yeah, is this fine going to provide some decent escalators for a change? - and got into the train. I entered this compartment in good faith. I must have dropped the ticket around that point..."
"...and thus you did not have it when we arrived."
"All right, but that must surely count for something? Can't you knock fifty bucks off this?"
"You spiteful little bastard! I bet your parents are really proud of what you've done with your life, aren't they? Glorified highwayman, robbing from the poor to give to the rich - you are so unAustralian it defies the laws of physics for you even to be STANDING here! You parasites!"
"Tell you what, sir, let's waive the fine."
"Ah. At last, we see some sense."
"Instead, you are permanently barred from City Rail."
"Where do I pay this fine to, then?"
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. We really, really need a plumber.
"That is, without doubt, the most disgusting thing I have ever seen," Nigel mentions in passing.
"Yeah," Dave agrees, helping carry tools as Andrew tackles the blocked pipes. "I mean, you could at least have gone in the backyard. It would have helped the lemon tree at least."
I shout over the top of my diary. "Thanks, fellahs, coz this isn't embarrassing enough already!"
Andrew emerges from the bathroom, his arms covered in unspeakable filth. "Oh, it's barely started!" he booms. "I've pumped twice the recommended dose of caustic soda down the pipe, so the whole thing should be cleared out in an hour or two. But I bet you're wondering what caused the blockage in the first, place aren't you?"
Dave covers his mouth with his sleeve. "Smells like Linda Blair after a curry!"
"I knew it," Nigel says, tutting. "Your extra-fibre-enhanced diet caused this?"
"Well, there's only one other possibility, and I blame the cute blonde using the sink as an emergency latrine." He glares at me. "Don't deny it, Eve. We've all seen Kenny the plumber, we all know what happens when used tampons get flushed down the loo - things like this!"
"Actually," Andrew interrupts thoughtfully, "it was a huge build-up of shaved body hairs. Brunette. So, since Eve's a blond, I don't shave and Dave here is the perpetual whiskerless youth..."
"...that leaves only one culprit."
Nigel looks over his shoulder before finally getting the picture. "Oh, so it's MY fault now, is it? All right! I admit it! It was me! I have washboard abs and there's no point in me possessing such an amazing physique if no one can see it through the curly folicles of my indigenous ancestry!"
"Why don't you get your chest waxed then?" Dave demands.
"Oh yes, Dave! Pour molten wax all over my chest and then have it ripped away along with most of my flesh and all of my nipples?! Why didn't I think of that before? No, instead I just shaved in the bathroom without hue or cry - until now! Stupid, easily-clogged pipes..." He glared at Andrew. "Is this amusing you, Beeblebrox? Is my suffering fuel for your humour now?"
He nods, giggling. "Pretty much!"
"I hate you all!" Nigel screams and storms off into his bedroom.
"Whatever next?" Dave sighs.
"Um," I mutter awkwardly. "I think I'm stuck..."
AS THE NAME WOULD IMPLY
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
Alas, it's the story of my life.
It's a tangled and incoherent tale, full of puns and irony, told by a madman and signifying nothing. At times I wonder if any of it really happened. I ran away from home and I ran away from school, but there were no circuses to flee to and I've never liked the smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd is almost as annoying as those unfunny bastards who get the two mixed up. Ha freaking ha. I wasted the handful of change I owned on a bag of hot chips drowned in a mixture of tomato sauce, chicken salt, ordinary salt, pepper and lemon juice. My last meal in such a long time.
I walked for hours, determined to get away from the area around the school where the police were bound to concentrate their search. Houses turned to factories turned to giant grey walls on either side of a highway. I only stopped once; hypnotized by the sight of a statue suspended halfway up a building, showing two window cleaners caught in the moment their makeshift lift platform gives way and they start to fall to their deaths. Always falling, going nowhere. How apt.
Eventually, days later, I collapsed. Malnutrition hit me hard, which is why I've endeavored to be over-weight ever since. What followed was strange and dream-like, or maybe I just prefer to remember it that way. Eventually a kind lady, not wearing many clothes, took me inside into the warmth and light of a cathouse. Strange place, the lights flickering every hour or so to remind clients and staff that sessions were over. I played dumb - literally. I claimed no name, no past, nothing. I'd been gone for weeks, and the manhunt for me was forced off the pages by arguments over Native Title and the Recession We May Have Needed But By God We Were Sick Of. The brothel wasn't licensed, and no one really wanted to draw attention of the police. I was happy to stay.
I did odd jobs. Swept, vacuumed, and by Christmas I was the live-in chef. I learned the art of cooking, the complicated blend of herbs and spices, getting meals just right. Sometimes they told me off for making a piella when some cheese toasties would have done, but for the most part my work was more than appreciated. I had a roof over my head, an infinity of choices. I could stay, go, do whatever I pleased. The madam of the brothel tried to teach me useful things (don't be disgusting, I refer to helping her with the accounts and writing out adverts - the closest to reading, writing and arithmatic she could provide). An old shop across the road provided fresh books and the newsagents sated my love for comics. It was hard not to think of home, but I consoled myself they were all better off without me. I was not alone in such thoughts; many of the working girls believed the same about their respective families. Were we right? Maybe it's best not to know.
I was at that place four years before I met her. Why bother mentioning her name? I've deliberately forgotten mine. But I keep her surname now, her overcomplicated and near unpronouncable moniker of Klyngirophel. Yes, Theodore Klyngirophel, that's me now. The first name of a long-lost child and the surname of a dead junkie would-be hooker. She had come to the brothel looking for work, too young for the madam to comfortably employ her, so I suggested she help me cook. She hated cooking, but loved to eat. She made me happy. We were first friends, then more. Such fun was had, a bright splash of happiness to throw the rest of the misery into sharp relief. Time flew by, a gentle montage of memories worth keeping. I shouldn't have let her try heroin, but it was her choice. And in the end, isn't that the point? Alas, it never lasts. Whatever amazing, dizzying highs you'd get from the first hit, the second is never quite enough - and eventually all it does is cancel out withdrawal symptoms for a few hours. She knew that. I knew that.
Ah, well. Youth is wasted on the young.
It was not the demon drugs that took her - hah, the demon drug, how we both laughed at those gift cards the youth centre handed out to people to "scare em straight", that image of a devil ash-white instead of red offering crackpipes... were they trying to get us trying the stuff? No, my beloved's immune system kept her in good stead until, in a huff of an argument, when we split up forever, she strode right out into the road. It wasn't a hit-and-run, but it might as well have been. And of course, she died almost immediately; too weakened by that damnable addiction to survive. It might have put me off the drugs myself... had I been taking them. I can't stand needles.
What was worth staying for after that? Most of the girls had, to coin a phrase, come and gone. Even the madam was considering retirement. I was becoming part of the brothel's fixture's and fittings. The kid that made lunch and looked like enough of a bruiser that certain customers didn't push their luck. Where were all those possibilities I'd sworn were here all those years ago?
I began to spend more and more time away from base. Let them make their own damn pop tarts for a change. I walk further and further away, take longer and longer to return. Perhaps I should run away again, start afresh, shed my skin and begin anew. Who will I be this time? And does it matter? Can you really run away from what you were? The livid scar on the side of my head isn't going anywhere any time soon. Oh, a dead brother, dead lover, abandoned family and no future.
I can't stand country and western music either.
Where am I now? Philosophically or geographically? Well, to answer in inverse order, I've ended up somewhere in the east, a suburban area with steep hills and overflow tunnels gurgling loudly in the rain. There are police sirens and I've seen more than one dissheveled figure running for their lives. And as I linger by the outpipe trench I can see a blond-haired, dark-skinned shape being washed down the tunnel and about to be swept under the pavement, to be drowned.
Where am I philosophically?
At the point where the mood of this story changes drastically.