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Dreadful Nonsense

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

29 November 2002

And... following the fantastic edition of Popbitch last night, and the coverage of that email in some of the British press today, I've discovered that if you type in certain key words relating to this story in a search on google, you'll come up with my weblog.

But sorry, no. I don't know what the rumours are. Although, it's probably exactly what you think it is.

The hype surrounding The Inadvertent Twin continues unabated. The review below appeared a week ago - before any review copies of the book were released to the press. It's the new journalism! Predictive reviewing! This review comes from Morag Keshtall, a Scottish journalist of the lowest calibre.

"The new collaboration between Eoin and Sharon will leave even the most eagerly excited fans gasping with delight. Their treatment of the most esoteric of themes is, as always, an exercise in novelty and originality. There are those who may find certain scatological facets bordering on the pornographic; but to do that would be missing the exquisitely expressed point. A point that is delivered with style and sharp certainty.

Not so much writers as artists, the team challenge our expectations of the novel as a format, and overturn our critical faculties, rendering this reviewer at least utterly speechless. Their power to thwart the ordinary and stifle the mundane is a thing of immeasurable importance in a literary scene that so frequently threatens to choke in its own stagnation. It is Eoin's very quixoticness, blended with Sharon's unique quotidiatudism that makes this pairing both startling, refreshing, and yet curiously familiar. If it contained words, I would say that this novel is nothing short of essential reading; being as it is an entirely fictitious fiction, I can only suggest that readers hurry to consume it before its cover is finally blown."

In other news, the press have been camped outside my door ever since the prefaces were previewed here two days ago. I did attempt to post up a brief statement on this weblog last night, concerning Eoin's latest foray in to the land of the illegal, but Blogger.com was mysteriously unavailable. I won't be making any comment concerning this, other than to imply that they probably did it on purpose so that our artistic voice couldn't be heard, and that I'm on to them and the government.

27 November 2002
This might come as a big surprise to some of you - it certainly was a bit of a shock when I found out - but for the last three years or so, I have been working on a new genre of children's writing, working in collaboration with the controversial Irish artist and raconteur Eoin . Our book is facing publication very soon, and the press hype is already reaching fever pitch.

Below, you will find the preface to the book, written by myself and my collaborator Eoin. Tomorrow, when we get the first press reaction, I'll be publishing that here. In the meantime, do enjoy the authors' introduction to The Inadvertent Twin

"When I was presented with the opportunity of engaging in a collaborative work, it arrived at a telling moment in my own career. I had reached a turning point in my art, and I was beginning to doubt the merits of my previous work. My engagement in shock art, the rows of piglet heads attached to the dead bodies of stray cats, the life size replica of a living room which I had carefully filled with papier mache models of various grandmothers, all gained admirable critical success, and after extensive gallery viewings were eagerly bought into private collections, but I began to feel that this work, in some indefinable way, was somehow jaded.

When the acclaimed children's writer Sharon turned to me as the ideal partner for a magical work intended to reclaim lost innocence, I was suddenly very moved, and felt that this was the right thing to do. So abandoning the various papier mache models, pots of glue and spare animal parts, I engaged in what has been the most magical transformation of my life, and working with the astonishingly talented Sharon has been an honour I will treasure for ever."

"When I heard about Eoin's financial troubles, I was of course very keen to help out in any way I could. Those speeding tickets do tend to take their toll, and of course the prostitutes aren't going to pay for themselves. I feel that this represents a new direction in my work, which was previously littered with stories of speaking trains and flying hedgehogs - and there was also the children's work.

The difficulty that we first experienced at the beginning of our collaboration was quickly overcome following Eoin's brief spell in rehab / time spent at her majesty’s pleasure. it has been, for me, an important and life-changing path to take, and I for one am very grateful that this work exists. I am sure that, one day, within this very story, the cure for AIDS will be found."

23 November 2002

Look! Look! I bought new shoes! This is what they look like -

They're great. And I got money off for them. And they look a little bit like mini-wellies. Nice.

Ideally, I'd like a pair of these ones. But in black. They're the prettiest shoes in the world.

22 November 2002

I'm supposed to be booking my ticket for the train journey to London in December to go and see David Gray in London, but after the last time, I'm actually beginning to feel quite anxious about the whole thing. So, instead of booking that on line during my lunch break, I have instead been messing with the margins and links on this site, putting in pretty pictures to websites that I think are particulary important for you to visit. And also the David Icke site, because it's a great read.

The Friday Fives have disappeared almost entirely, so I'll have to find something else to answer, in lieu of a reasonable post. I was going to celebrate the collapse of the McDonald's empire, but I don't have the energy. Equally, I can't even begin to think about writing about the lack of celebrities in Celebrity Big Brother (although I do want to say - GO SUE PERKINS!).

Instead of all that I'm going to have a short lie down. Which, since I'm at work right now, is more of a challenge than you think.

17 November 2002

I’ve spent about two hours writing and playing with this stupid About Me page, which is still not even nearly finished yet, but what the heck, I’m linking it any way. If anyone has any suggestions of real proper questions to answer, let me know, and I’ll do my best to work out if it’s any of your business or not.

16 November 2002

We (and when I say "we", I of course mean only me, because I don't remember you helping me out at all, you lazy sod) have found the identity of the mysterious firewall-e1.meto.gov.uk who has been logging on to my site far more often than is healthy. He is none other than Boony, who lives at the website Boony.org, and publishes pictures of himself and his friends and some beer a lot, despite the fact that his mother reads his weblog. And there seems to be recipes and everything. I've only had a brief scan of the site, but it looks like his writing style is quite like my own, although it's obviously entirely up to him to decide if that's a compliment or a criticism.

The Friday Five is having a holiday this week, and the one that has replaced it has far too many swear words in it, so I'm not going to try to do that, mainly because the questions are too boring for words.

But my homework for today, in order to put off doing everything else that I have to do that is far more important, is to take the advice of the lady that reviewed my site and do an "About Me" page, because everyone likes talking about themselves, and gosh knows there's not enough about me on this site as it is. That will be up when I find out how to do it.

13 November 2002

Also - calm down, firewall-e1.meto.gov.uk. Really, visiting this site that many times in one day - you'll go blind, you know.
Make yourself known to me. Please.

I’ve been thinking about it all day, really, while making up and adding on to the “List of people I would like to kill with my bare hands” (that stands at seven at the moment), and I think I might have done some very bad things in a former life. Either that, or – and this thought did occur to me last night – I’ve died without realising it, and am now spending time in hell / purgatory. If only I believed in evolution, I could be a dung beetle even now. Oh, the humanity.

11 November 2002

Last night, while I was on the phone, I looked to my left and saw a massive spider staring up at me from the carpet. When I say 'massive', I am of course exaggerating. It can't have been more than two or three foot high, but it terrified the life out of me. And it was looking at me funny. Quick as a flash that moves very slowly and quietly across a room so as not to startle the demon spider that had obviously crawled up from the depths of hell, I picked up a phone book and calmly threw it on top of the monster. Both the dog and my sister looked up at me in surprise as I then performed the dance of the truly icked out, stood on top of a chair and begged Edel to stand on top of the phone book "just to make sure".

This morning, stepping out of the shower, I pulled a muscle in the back of my neck that has meant that, up until about an hour ago, I haven't been able to turn my head to the left.

Coincidence, or something more sinister? You decide...

08 November 2002
I’ve missed a couple of Friday Fives the last few weeks, and I’ve also missed out making entries as a whole, which is very slack jawed of me. My excuse is that it was my birthday, and I could do what I liked.

I will try to write a lot over the weekend, as I’ll also be transcribing our interviews from last week’s trip to London. And will be bored and need distracting a lot.

This week’s Friday Five is about politics, and I’m far too distracted today to get in to that. So, obviously, I’ll do the one from last week on religion. There’s a topic that can be easily and summarily dealt with.

1. Were you raised in a particular religious faith?
My family history of religious beliefs is quite colourful, compared to most Irish families. Our immediate family includes variations on Protestantism and Catholicism, alongside Quakers, Born Again Baptists and some very strict atheists. Long story cut unnecessarily short – my father is Catholic, my mother Protestant. We, their children, are therefore “half-caste”, choosing to kick with both or neither feet, depending on our stage of puberty.
We all went to a Protestant primary school, but were all baptised and raised as Catholics. Our secondary education leapt between both religions, and has resulted in all of us turning our backs on structured religion, although I think a couple of my siblings still have some residing beliefs they keep quietly to themselves.

2. Do you still practice that faith? Why or why not?
I don’t actively practice, no, although I do find a great comfort when times are hard in attending church services. One – possibly the only – advantage of my upbringing is that I can basically pop in to any Christian church and know what I’m doing.
The only times I pray are when on airplanes and at funerals, and both those reactions stem from the same source. In my heart of hearts, though, I truly do not believe there is any higher power. I have so many contradicting beliefs (see below) that I can’t actually really define myself as an atheist, although I would never say I’m agnostic, as that’s just hedging bets.

3. What do you think happens after death?
I have no idea. I think you get to talk to John Edward.
My biggest contradiction with all my beliefs is the fact that, although I don’t believe in life after death, I do believe in ghosts. Explain that one. We lived with a ghost in our third year in college. We christened him Patrick after he appeared the night before St Patricks day. He used to turn on and off lights and stereos in the house, and also occasionally stood over us as we slept. We got in to the habit of telling him to bugger off, and he’d leave.

4. What is your favorite religious ritual (participating in or just observing)?
I love the whole pomp and ceremony of it. The ritualistic aspects themselves – the kneeling, the chanting, the singing, the costumes, the sheer repetition. It’s wonderful.

5. Do you believe people are basically good?
What in the world has that got to do with religion?
No, I don’t believe people are basically anything. It’s very stupid to make sweeping statements, but that’s often the best way to win an argument when you only have a very basic understanding of the principals. I don’t even believe in good and bad, per say. I just think that some people are more community spirited than others, and everything can be put very strictly down to interpretation – one man’s terrorist being another man’s freedom fighter.

04 November 2002

If you’ve ever, even once in your life, been a passenger, you’ll know how boring long journeys can become. Even the most enthusiastic traveler must at some point thought to themselves, I could do with not sitting right now, and would like maybe to get up, stretch legs a bit - either mine, or someone else’s - maybe breathe in some fresh air, but most importantly, I would like to be the dictator of my own movement, and in charge of my own direction.

I think being a passenger potentially propels us straight back in to those feelings of helplessness we continually experienced as children. This would certainly explain the reason why, five hours into my journey to London and one hour after the train came to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere for no particular reason, that I was very close to throwing a proper tantrum.

The train company that runs between Edinburgh and London (who I am afraid to name for reasons that I know of having worked in law firms) are becoming legendary for their abilities to break down, crash, cancel without notice and otherwise be fairly incompetent when it comes to all things train related. Which is quite the achievement when you think that they are the only rail service provider along the east coast of Great Britain. I have taken many a journey with them from Edinburgh to London, a journey which in theory should take just over four and a half hours. On average, my journeys with them have taken anything between five and seven hours, and that is now what I expect, and how I plan my subsequent schedule. Even with this kind of generous lee-way, I couldn’t possibly have been expected to believe that the journey could take eleven hours.

Picture it. Ten minutes after boarding the train, and five minutes after leaving the station, the train stopped. Underneath a bridge. For 25 minutes. Apparently, the brakes in Coach D weren’t working. Well, I thought to myself, that’s the delay out of the way. You can find yourself still quite even-tempered (despite being on a train) at the beginning of a journey, and I was quite prepared to let that go, since I was all happy and on a journey and at the start of an adventure.

Five hours later, and I was in a whole new area of exasperation. We stopped about five minutes short of a station. I assumed it was for signalling, or somesuch, but was forced to quickly revise my assumptions when all the lights went off through the train, and the engine stopped running. The Customer Services Advisor started spouting off the usual non-information, and I phoned ahead to say that, once again, the train had stopped. We were advised we’d be delayed for about 10 minutes, and I can tell you now that I was well miffed at the thought - we were already at this stage running just over an hour behind schedule, and I was keen to get to London to start the dancing and the drinking.

Five minutes later, the emergency lighting appeared, and we relaxed to wait the other five minutes bravely through, all the time believing, like the innocent fools that we were, that we’d be on our way any moment now.

Two hours later, and I had already chain smoked all my cigarettes, listened to all my CDs, finished one of my books, and become thoroughly miserable at the lack of information, the lack of air conditioning, the lack of toilet facilities, the lack of coffee, but most of all the lack of forward movement.

Sitting right in my eye line was a notice that, at the beginning of my journey, I thought was a bit unnecessary and heavy handed. Headlined “DON’T DO IT!” in stern capital letters, it explained that The Train Company Who Shall Not Be Named valued their staff, and their staff’s safety, and that if anyone is nasty to their staff they will hunt them through the courts with gratuitous force, using spears if necessary. Two and half hours in to the second “delay”, while we were being dragged slowly backwards to the station we had left over three hours before, I would certainly have taken the risk of court proceedings, had I been able to find a single member of staff to punch. As it was, they all seemed to have disappeared, along with any chance of me reaching London before midnight.

It's quite galling to be apologised to regularly for anything up to five hours in a row, as no matter how heartfelt the apology, it doesn't make your appointments any less missed, or your interviews any less cancelled. I shall be writing a very strongly worded letter to Voldemort Railways, in what will probably be a vain attempt to receive some compensation for the horrible journey I had to endure. The hope at the end of it all is that I get enough money back to book another journey down in December to go see David Gray shake his head in concert. I can but dream.