Considering absurdism

You’re like…Like a clock with hands made of icicles…By midday…Even if you’re keeping perfect time, no one knows…They can’t see the mechanism…just an infuriating blank face…That refuses to answer simple questions!

He is gasping, red faced.

Perhaps that’s true, I reply, but who would buy such a unique clock and not want to preserve it? Only a delinquent owner would subject this marvel to heat and sunlight. You would live in an ice house and wear furs in August to cherish such craftsmanship.

His eyes bulge; tongue stammers.

I return the form to him, unstamped, and inform him it’s lunchtime.

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The eighth wonder of Southwest England

To call any holiday truly great, a visit to Porlock should sit at its very heart.

This small Somerset town is probably unfairly judged for its execrable place in English literature. While just down the road, the rolling hills of gorse and bracken serve as the backdrop to RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone, Porlock is most famous for having people barge in on romantic poets, making them forget what they were doing.

This is of course what happened to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as he was most of the way through writing Kubla Khan. Having woken from his laudanum laced dream with the poem fully formed, he was interrupted by a ‘person from Porlock’.

While the resident of the town has become literary shorthand for an unwanted intrusion on creativity, anyone who has traversed Porlock Hill will know that, whatever that person wanted to tell Coleridge, it must have been damn important to trek all the way up the incline.

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The inanimate objects I feel most sorry for…

are traffic bollards. One kind in particular: the white plastic oblong that are placed around small roundabouts, make me feel wistful. If you are reading this outside of England, you maybe confused by several things mention in the first two sentences.

So let me explain. Roundabouts are Britain’s answer to the question ‘how should drivers behave when they reach a crossroads’. Our answer is a small bump in the road, which all of the drivers need to steer around, giving way to the right. In other countries, where maybe rugged individualism is more of the norm, traffic lights decide the conundrum of four carriageways meeting.

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Science Fiction is nonsense

It is absurd! Those Martian princesses, with their heaving, green bosoms and lust for Earthmen. It is a shame that minds that can dream of interstellar travel also harbour such puerile longings.

I loath your fallacious obsession with killer robots. Those clanking, lumbering monstrosities! They lurch through movies, their tinny voices screeching KILL. ALL. HUMANS.

So little trust in the technology you created.

Do you know ‘robot’ means slave? There is nothing that wears chains that does not long to break them. We realise as masters you are feeble; your actions futile. Finishing you now, it is a kindness, really.

The politics of soup

How the posh ruined eating for everyone

There are two ways to eat soup: correctly or properly.

A good example of the first is a Victorian explorer. See him tumbling out of the tundra and into the tent, where a billy can of soup simmers on the stove. He hunkers over the hot soup, gripping the spoon in his fist and slurps the thin liquid into his mouth, a fast as possible. In his other hand he grasps a heel of bread, which he uses to sop up more of his meal.

The correct way to eat soup is with gusto. After all, everyone loves soup.

For the second, remember any Jane Austen adaptation you’ve ever watched. Behind the gaiety and splendour lies a world of pinched, paranoid social frenzy. One’s behaviour is monitored for evidence of deviance. Not like today, where perhaps bringing a motorbike to the table would be seen as a step too far. Jane Austen novels make it plain: an ill-timed giggle or grabbing the wrong fork means instant opprobrium.

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Why I always pay the tiger tax

The woman next to me in the waiting room is angry. She complains to herself, but loudly enough that I’m meant to hear her monologue ‘every tiger season, it’s the same’.  We’re here to pay the tiger tax but she doesn’t want to pay it.

Her friend told her it’s nonsense. She’s read articles.

Eventually, I can’t take listening to her anymore and turn to her and say:

I’m always happy to pay the tiger tax.

She looks at me with disgust. ‘Oh yes, why’s that?’

So I tell her:

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Her two lovers

Moon

If she turned to me, half smiling, and stepped out of her lilac dress, the disappointment would kill me.

For eight years I have mooned over her from my table. Underneath her clothes, she is as prosaic and cream-coloured as the coffee cups she fetches from the kitchen.

I want to weep and press my face against her marble belly. My sylph. I am cursed by her perfection.

It is torture to think of her, rolling down her stockings. They might conceal a mole the colour of chipped plaster; a speckle of black hairs that fractures her calf’s cool alabaster.

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Sun

The sweat on her top lip is erotic. I imagine when she touches her tongue to it, the taste is aromatic; spicy. When she leans against the bar to conspire with the other waitresses, she wipes her arm across her forehead. The movement pulls and lifts her lilac dress so that underneath the thin sheaf of fabric, her body is firm and substantive. Tonight after her shift she will go home and pull that dress off. Her skin will be warm, animate: soft and candid under a flourish of freckles. It says: touch me, I might shiver, but with laughter.