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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

30 January 2002
Something I've been watching an awful lot of during the time I've been off has been Crossing Over With John Edward, on Living TV. It's a very simple, very cheap studio based programme that is incredibly affecting. Hundreds of Americans sit huddled together in a television studio, clutching tissues and hoping that their dead relatives will contact them one last time. John Edward stands in the middle of the huddle, and painstakingly translates the messages that are coming through to him. The reactions of the audience cannot possibly be false, the messages sent through are sometimes too cryptic to have come out of a screening before the recording began. As a television cynic, and something of an authority on atheism, I can't come up with an explanation for this programme, or even the effect that it often has on me. Yesterday, sitting in the best of moods watching it, I ended up weeping for a good ten minutes as someone was told that their dog was with their mother.

I'm not sure what the rules are for how long you are allowed to grieve for a pet. Nobody seems to know what the appropriate response is - most people, who aren't pet owners themselves, seem totally unable to respond, and therefore ignore the entire situation. My family has responded with huge emotion to Sam's death, myself included. Even typing this I'm getting tears in my eyes. I don't know if that is a normal response - normal or not, it's perfectly natural, and not something that I am ashamed of. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't seem to be able to come up with the right response. Even if people understand how we feel, they seem to get embarrassed at talking about it. Should we just hide the way we are all feeling?

I have no idea. I'm not sure what the grief response is designed for. A lot of strange American websites have suggested that it's there to remind us of all the things that we have still to live for - to move past the loss and on to the celebration of life itself. Some people are quite often unable to move on from a death, and instead chose to dwell at the point of loss and the comfort of the misery. But are you allowed that kind of luxury when what you have lost is "only" a pet?

Along with all those strange American websites that have soundtracks of that song from Titanic played on pan pipes, there are a surprising amount of books dedicated to the loss of pets. "Cold Noses At The Pearly Gates" and "Goodbye Friend" and "Pet Loss and Human Emotion". Shudderingly disturbing as it may seem, I think I've found something in common with some of those strange Americans after all. This is the first time I haven't felt like our family reaction is totally absurd.

I think a lot of people don't understand the importance of animals in our lives. They are looked on as companions, and if single women own enough of them, child substitutes. So, if your companion or child dies, of course you feel a huge loss, and a huge grief. I think that feeling is increased if you have had to make the choice to have them put down, like we had to, and thereafter have the nagging doubt that maybe you didn't make the right choice for them.

I know we did, and I know it was one of the most difficult things my mother has ever had to do. I know we will also soon be able to move past the horrible devastated feeling that we are all carrying around with us at the moment, and all I can hope is that the rest of the world gives us the time and space to move past it.

22 January 2002

My dog, Sam, just died. Forgive me if this infringes any copyright laws, but I found this unbearably appropriate.

My Dog Died
by John Hegley

the dog died the other day
I buried her where she buried her bones
and on the level earth
laid out her name in stones

about to pick a rose
to stick in her grave action froze
a thorn had torn
my thumb I saw the blood come
and the knowledge that I too one day would be dead
struck me like a shovel in the features

you're going to die!
I said as I replaced the shovel in the tool shed
you're going to die!
said the sky as I went up the path

back in the kitchen
I was massively oppressed by the prospect of the end
but as I looked at the bowl from which my friend had fed
and the lead by which her
and sometimes I had been lead
from somewhere I somehow drew strength

you're going to die!
so live boy live I shout
I slammed my foot into the dog-food bowl
and sent it scudding through imaginary goalposts

you're going to die!
so yippe-aye-aye I whooped as I dragged an unopened box
of little biscuits out of the cupboard and tore them open
oblivious to the coupon

you're going to die!
oh yes it's good news John

you're going to die!
if you live forever you need never do anything
as you would do everything an infinite number of times

you're going to die!
I tore out of the fridge a lump of lard
and threw it off the end of the cliff

you're going to die!
the doorbell rang
it was the bloke from upstairs
he said "I'll kill you if you don't shut up"

19 January 2002

As that song goes, it's been a while.

I've spent the last week and a bit flat on my back staring at the ceiling, and not in any kind of a fun way (so all you people with those kind of minds can scurry off back to the pornography pages you've just accidentally surfed away from). That quick fall down the stairs that I enjoyed a short while ago had more planned for me than I had originally thought. Last week, my back decided to collapse, and it's quite difficult to do much of anything when your back doesn't want you to.

But the happy happy joyous news is that the good doctors here in Ireland decreed that I could achieve one of my life's ambitions, and have prescribed me some Valium for the pain and agony. Hoorah. I am a bored housewife of the early 1980s. It's been fun. It even makes watching re runs of Moonlighting seem amusing.

In the last week, when I've not done much more than cry and lie staring at the ceiling, I've done a lot of thinking about all the crap that's gone on in the last year - some of you may know, some of you may spend your lives wondering what I'm on about - and I've come to some very solid conclusions that I am determined to act upon. Hoorah. I type this as a reminder to myself so that when I'm reading back on this feeling aimless and listless one day I'll remember my determination, standing here in the kitchen typing with an aching pain in my back and listening to Jon Holmes screaming on Virgin Radio.

I'm back to work on Monday, having missed a week and forgotten to post my rent cheque. Oops. I'm sure it will all work out in the end.

03 January 2002

Best things about 2001
August, weddings, snow, Electric Eel, quitting jobs, quitting smoking, Ben and Jason: Ten Songs About You, Celebrity Big Brother, E4, Barry Murphy, The Perfect Fool by Stewart Lee, REM: Reveal, writing under pseudonyms, Lee and Herring, the penguin parade, badges, Yo Sushi, Noble and Silver, Jon Holmes, Boosh radio, my little sister, Harry Potter, cartoon chickens, my best friend Susan.

Worst things about 2001
September, Snow, flying, broken shower, moving flats, moving flats again, Divine Comedy splitting, GNER, turning 25, Mic Christopher RIP, George Harrison RIP.

01 January 2002
When we started writing Comedy Lounge we expected some kind of parody to pop up sooner rather than later, as the British comedy scene is incredibly incestuous and insecure, and there is a lot of jealously and back biting - not only among the performers, but also among the comedy fans.

Now, at the risk of sounding self important, does anyone recognise anyone here?

Or even here?

Some Of The Corpses have spent their precious time producing this cash-in Christmas book. They will no doubt scoff at any response or comment I make, but actually I quite like it. I'm not sure if the intention was to offend, although I don't think it was. We were expecting a lot worse from them. Perhaps they are mellowing in their old age.

I am also a big fan of this one, although this is for reasons that are probably best never to go into. In the meantime, Kaz - you know who you are...