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Dreadful Nonsense

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

25 February 2003


The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

--Wislawa Szymborska

(stolen from Michael Gates)

24 February 2003
Eoin emerged from the potting shed late last night, clutching a number of crumpled sheets of paper. He stood outside the kitchen window and, having eventually smashed the glass with persistent knocking and therefore attracted my attention, he shoved the papers through the window. With a final yell of “They must all know the truth!” he fell over backwards and passed out.

I have released the full transcript of these papers to the world’s press, and, for the sake of clarity, reproduce them below, word for word. This, therefore, is Eoin’s version of the events of the night of 1st February, the book launch .


Media Statement

“This statement is intended to explain in full the events surrounding the launch of ‘The Inadvertant Twin’, that have caused such media outrage and embarrassment, and the present outstanding charge of wasting police time.

Sharon took on the responsibility for co-ordinating events, while I sought frequent inspiration in her potting shed, following in the footsteps of my two great role models – Roald Dahl and Philip Pullman. I have perpetually been lost in my new world, and when Roald Dahl said the average writer needs a stiff whiskey on most days, to help him rejoin the real world, he wasn’t lying; but I am glad to say I have always kept my need for stiff whiskeys under control, and any allegations of alcoholism are a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

We organised the launch to the very highest standards, with the able assistance of one of Ireland’s top event management firms. We specially chose a guest list that would enrich the launch, and one that would especially share a love for children’s writing. However in practice, the last few days have been a blur. I always seem to sleep well, especially on aircraft, where I seem to fall asleep the second my head hits the reclining seat, and I don’t wake up until we touch down. On occasions I have even been known not to wake until long after we have left the airport. On this basis I would like to stress that both of the recent arrests at airports were accidental, and I was cleared of all resulting charges.

I have for the last several days, despite the extraordinary level of attention from the world’s press, felt confident, together and on top of things. I have taken to reading the bible, and I find it’s wisdom a great source of inspiration. The bible of the following incident, (which Sharon fortunately was not aware of due to her hatred of reading tabloids, and doubly fortunately because she had already rescued me from the eerily similar incident in a Belgian jail), was seized mistakenly by an airport security guard in Mogadishu, who believed that as a Christian carrying a bible into a Moslem country, might be on the brink of carrying out some sort of terrorist atrocity. Admittedly I did have a bag full of tiny foil-wrapped Zanzibar pineapples, which any security guard could have mistaken for hand-grenades.

On the event organising side, it was very daring that Sharon would initially choose to decorate the reception with German cadavers, and to serve live swans as the main course for our grand reception. She has since claimed repeatedly that the caterers made a mix up, and I would like to believe her. Ordering a swan and a cadaver or two is careless, but thirty-two swans and eight cadavers cannot be an accident. That worked out at exactly one swan for every guest, and one German cadaver for every four guests, which in the Kabbalah is a sign of…well I can’t say it here.

I have discovered that ever since I met Sharon I have felt a new calmness and sense of spiritual fulfilment. Through Sharon I have found God, and through God I have found His word, especially the line (from the Littlest Hobo) ‘there is a voice that keeps on calling me’. My faith in God stood me in good stead at the Dublin reception, but the London reception tested it beyond the reasonable limits of belief in all omnipotent powers, causing a sudden existentialist crisis and deep despair.

It started when I began to suspect that our ‘exclusive’ invitation of the cast of Coronation St and two ‘Hello’ photographers, had been infiltrated by the cast of Eastenders, and an ‘Ok’ photographer. I decided to climb the latticework for a better look at the hall. Brian Capron distracted me with his outrageously unfunny attempt to mimic choking (no-one else was laughing – and quite a few looked worried) when the latticework, which was very poorly constructed, gave away. Everyone rushed to grab me, and I was forced to fend them off with loud admonitory assertions from the bible and some large pieces of ice, as the mood of the crowd, I suspect due to excessive media-quality cocaine, and too much champagne, had turned rather ugly.

In all of this the true meaning of the launch has become lost. We all gathered to celebrate a wonderful work of children’s literature, and in doing so we have all ironically lost our innocence. Except perhaps Sharon, whose innocence can grow every day with the help of His good word. In innocence she is able to look at the world through the eyes of children; see what they see, feel what they feel, and behave as they behave.

I take the broken swans and the pieces of melting ice as a metaphor; that the artist yearns to be free, but even as he reaches for immortality itself, divesting oneself of the bounds of this earth are an illusion that soon breaks and melts in the physical earthly heat of one’s hand. I take it as a sign that I must return to my sculptures and body parts, my original calling. But I see Sharon’s love for event management, her uncanny power to make me sleep and dream, as a sign that we should continue to collaborate, and walk onwards through the valley of artistic despair, and to the elysian fields of contemporary artistic immortality. Thank you for your sincere attention.”

Artist and Critic

21 February 2003

I have just spent about two hours making the comedylounge blog look all pretty again. And I did it. Yay me.

Also, I have to share -

"Do you remember the 1990s? Ahahahahaha!"

Friday Five

1. What is your most prized material possession?
I’m quite proud of my book and video collections – they’re coming on quite nicely. I’m a hoarder – in a previous life I was probably a squirrel. I like to kept my precious things around me, and will be one of those people that are discovered weeks after they have died, surrounded by piles of newspapers and things that I have taken from bins and such.
But that’s beside the point. My most treasured possession, the thing that I’d rescue from a fire (after various pets, family members etc) would be my tiny teddy bear Chi-Chi.

2. What item, that you currently own, have you had the longest?
I have had Chi-Chi the longest. I was given him when I was born, and I’ve never left him since. He’s a tiny Panda Bear, filled with plastic beads. He’s slightly older than me, cos he was already in existence before I was born, so he’s probably about 27 years old. I’ve had him for 26 years and three months, and in that time I’ve only lost him once. My Dad had to drive half way across Ireland because I’d left him in the toilet of a hotel on our way to Galway. Apparently I didn’t stop crying until he came back. Dad sent him in a box, with a little story attached about his adventure. All I can remember about it is that Dad gave him cornflakes for breakfast before sending him on his way. He’s been re-filled about three times, is now missing most of his beads, and looks a little tired. He’s one of those Mon-chi-chi dons from the 1970s that such both their thumbs and their toes. I could talk about him for hours.

3. Are you a packrat?
I don’t know what that means, or even what it’s trying to ask, so I’m going to keep talking about Chi-Chi. In college, my flatmate Jane declared that Chi-Chi was creepy, and so her and Emma plotted between them, and one night I walked up the stairs to my bedroom to find Chi-Chi swinging from the ceiling on a tiny noose. Which, I must admit, I thought was really funny. They did it to Elmo too, and I thought that was great. Chi-Chi comes with me on the very rare occasions I take an airplane and is clutched very tightly until we land. Today, Chi-Chi lives on top of my television in my bedroom, and he is currently sucking is right thumb, which is his thumb of choice.

4. Do you prefer a spic-and-span clean house? Or is some clutter necessary to avoid the appearance of a museum?
If I had my way, I would have most of the house looking like a show room, with no clutter anywhere other than on the book shelves, which are filled with books, videos, CDs, DVDs and ornaments. That would be quite an odd show room, admittedly. Every surface would be wiped clean once every ten minutes to avoid dust, and hoovered on the hour every hour. I love things being clean, it makes me feel secure.
My bedroom, however, must always have the appearance that a deranged teenage girl lives there, with piles of things all over the place, posters covering the wall and ceiling, with no discernable pattern or logic to the arrangement. And teddy bears lurking in every corner.

5. Do the rooms in your house have a theme? Or is it a mixture of knick-knacks here and there?
We rent, so there’s no theme at all. We have a lot of tacky, plastic fish ornaments and pictures in our bathroom, which I suppose is a minor theme. Other than that, not really. I like small plastic things, so the theme of all of my possessions and decorations is “small, plastic, tacky and childish”. I might make that my new motto.

20 February 2003

And, to end the day at work, a silly bit of mucking about with a famous search engine.

A quick search through my tracker revealed a lovely example of Google Monkeybombing. Someone realised that the phrase Galactic Toss Monkeys had previously returned 0 answers on Google when searched. Someone claims it now returns 195, but really, if you do a search with Galactic Toss Monkeys in inverted commas, you'll only get 8. Although this entry should make it nine. This has been achieved by using the phrase Galactic Toss Monkeys as much as possible. I might say it again for luck.

Galactic Toss Monkeys

(Thanks to Alex for this brilliantly childish amusement)

Submitted as part of an on-going email competition between my friends entitled "My Bush Satire is Better Than Your Bush Satire" - today's winning entry is Cannot Find.

Susan has been kind enough to include on her weblog the full itinerary of what we've planned thus far for our inter-railing holiday. So that I don't have to. Nice.


Fri 21 March - Sharon gets a GNER train down to London after work. Susan hopefully meets up with her in London after seeing Turin Brakes at the Brixton Academy (if she manages to persuade someone to come).

Sat 22 March - Team CL get the train from Susan's home town of West Wickham to Waterloo East, where they connect onto the Eurostar which will take them into the heart of gay Paris (pronounced gay pareeeee)

Tues 25 March - We say a fond farewell to Paris and jump on a Thalys train to Brussels where the first leg of our David Gray/Aqualung stalking tour begins. We have been kindly offered refuge with one of the clan, who funnily enough is a Scouser. Not an Irish as you would expect. The gig at the Ancienne Belgique is on the 28/3 and is now sold out.

Thurs 27 March - We take 3 trains to the small dutch town of Tilburg where that night we complete the David Gray leg of our journey at the beautiful Tilburg 013 which has also sold out. Word has possibly got out that we are going to be there - hence the quick sale of tickets.

Fri 28 March - Sees us heading back into Paris and out the other side to the beautiful city of Tours and its suburbs which are home to a huge number of Chateaux and will be home to us for three glorious nights.

Mon 31 March - Onwards and southwards to Lyon where we are only staying for 2 nights in order to break the journey to the south of France. Possibly the best bet for comedy in France.

Wed 2 April - Yet further on to Avignon and I think you will agree from that link that it looks absolutely beautiful. Granted, it won't be all that hot or sunny when we are there, but we will be there, and you won't... har har har.

Sat 5 Apr - Its back up northwards to Paris for a quick mosey around town and then back through the Eurotunnel to London.

Sun 6 Apr - Sharon wings her way back up to Scotland and we reflect on what a superb fortnight we have had.

What I am buying today -

19 February 2003

Update on the flatmate hunt - I've given in and offered it to the last person that walked through the door, because I couldn't be bothered looking at anyone else. Her name is Kate, she works in a restaurant in town, she's from just outside of London, and she seems normal. Hopefully she doesn't sacrifice children and/or animals, doesn't use anything other than Class C drugs, and is quiet when I want her to be. I don't ask for much.

President Bush launched a PR campaign to improve his image and popularity. He decided to visit a primary school so he could explain to the children his policy. After explaining his policy to them, the president asked the children if they had any questions. Little Stevie raises his hand and says,

"Mr. President, I have three questions:
1. How did you have less votes but were still elected president?
2. Why do you want to attack Iraq with no motive?
3. Don't you think Hiroshima was the biggest terrorist attack in history?"

At that moment, the bell rang and the children ran outside to play. At the end of the break the children returned and Bush once again asked the children if they had any questions. Little Eddie raises his hand and says, "Mr. President, I have five questions:
1. How did you have less votes but were still elected president?
2. Why do you want to attack Iraq with no motive?
3. Don't you think Hiroshima was the biggest terrorist attack in history?
4. Why did the bell ring 20 minutes too early?
5. Where is Stevie?"

17 February 2003

Best war protest ever -

"Careful now"

16 February 2003

Flatmates. I hate looking for flatmates. Hate it. With a capital Hate.

We've had a grand total of four people come look at the flat, out of the seven people that rang to say that they'd be coming. Another five were dismissed on the strength of the sentence "I'm ringing about the room to rent", for various reasons like they're foreign and male. What? Don't judge me - I have to live with them, not you.

I was quite excited about one of the girls that came yesterday, because she seemed quite nice, and I thought we'd get along, and she did give the impression that she liked the flat. Unfortunately, she didn't like it as much as another flat, and she rang back last night to say thanks but no thanks. Today, a bloke came over, and he seemed quite nice, and slightly older than I'd imagine a student would be, but... I've done the living with boys things. Check archives from last September through June to see how successful that was. I don't want to live with a platonic boy, that way lies madness and discomfort and unspoken tension and... feh. It's no fun.

New game! New game! Now I can fully justify spending hours on the Popbitch message board.

13 February 2003

Type name for cheap silliness

(stolen from the plastic cat)

10 February 2003

A mere one week after I began competing in the contest of Consecutive Number Plate Spotting (CNPS), I have reached a grand total of 4 – all in one day. Today has therefore been a very good day.

The problems with the CNPS game are many and varied. My first immediately stumbling block is remembering to play the game in the first place – I get distracted by looking where I’m going when walking along the street, or reading books or newspapers while travelling when what I should really be doing is staring at every car that goes past, looking for the incredibly difficult to spot “1” or “01” that will allow me to start the game.

This morning I saw it, and honestly – I nearly cried out with joy. The “02” followed rapidly. “3” and “04” appeared at lunchtime. I am now looking for a “5” or “05”, and on it goes. It’s nice to have a purpose.

For the full rules and regulations of CNPS, go here.

07 February 2003

Continuing my sporadic series of television reviews, last night’s episode of 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30

The most lucrative market for Channel 4, we all know, are those in their late teens, early 20s, bordering into the 30s – those with disposable cash and a hankering for the expensive things in life. It’s important to The Powers That Be that their channel attract this market, due to having to eek out a living by helping the people who make cars sell cars. Channel 4 has been doing quite well in these stakes, having produced dramatic comedies / comedy dramas / dram coms / com drams / fluffy nonsense like The Book Group and Teachers. Thanks to their success, they seem to have hastily cobbled together another formulaic sitcom from the same stable as Teachers, which for some reason kept the Teachers trademark of adults standing around smoking outside like they’re school kids.

I have to confess something of a vested interest in this programme, as our friend Mat appears as a gay man whose name, for some Channel 4 reason, is Conrad. The press previews of the show didn’t sound that promising, as all the telly critics seemed to think that this was fluffy nonsense by numbers – one gay man, one straight man, one blonde girl, one not-so-blonde girl, and so on. Actually, it has a neat little appeal for me, because I enjoy heavily set up and obviously plotted comedies. I don’t know why, but formula appeals to me. I see nothing wrong in seeing a joke coming – Father Ted, for example, was a programme that, most of the time, signaled jokes for scenes in advance, setting things up in the opening credits that quite often didn’t happen until just before the end.

I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t sit quite well with this show, but something wasn’t working. The pretty people were all there. The quipped jokes were all correct and present. The fluffy plot line (this week – the challenge is to “turn” someone, meaning to seduce someone contrary to their normal sexual leanings) was leaping up and down with joy for all to see. They were even all smoking in a glamorous manner, for goodness sake. And yet… eh.

There didn’t seem to be much chemistry between any of the characters, particularly between the two main characters – Conrad and Shona (the Will and Grace of the foursome). A lot of great lines were stepped upon and lost through bad delivery or direction, and over all it was just a great big disappointment. There is certainly potential there for it to develop in to a better thing – and with seven more episodes to get, I would certainly hope so – but on first impressions, this generational milestone is one that, frankly, I could do without being reminded of.

06 February 2003

As Sir Paul McCartney once so wisely sang, “She’s leaving home, bye bye”. A few weeks ago, myself and Edel had a long chat, and we decided that it would be best if she left the flat and me because, frankly, I couldn’t stand the sight of her any longer. She agreed that she was a burden upon me and my life, and with the merest of whimpers, she set the date for her departure as 28th February, as it seemed as good a day as any to bugger off and leave me alone.

That’s right. The above paragraph is me putting a brave face on the fact that my lickle sister doesn’t love me anymore, and has decided to move on for bigger and better adventures in the tiny English village of London town. Myself and Edinburgh – indeed, the whole of Scotland – will have to learn to live without her.

Since the date was set, the slow realisation that I’ll have to do another damn flatmate search has filled with a kind of rumbling despair that I have only experienced in the run-up to Spanish classes in the 1st year of secondary school. Last June, I undertook this gargantuan task, and at that point I didn’t care about who moved in, so long as someone did. This time round, I’m expected to live with whatever piece of flotsam comes spinning through the door, and will have to live with them for at least six months. Six months of living with a stranger. How my heart leaps with apathy and a mild echo of dread.

Because it entertained me so much last time, I shall be keeping an account of all the people that come through the door during the flat inspection until we pick a lucky winner – and you can help me chose, if you like. The advert will appear on 14th February, so hopefully the fun will start quite soon after.

05 February 2003

Eoin, freshly showered, shaved and unshackled following his release from prison, is sitting in the potting shed with some crayons, a ream of computer paper (the old fashion sort with the green stripey lines and perforations) and a dictionary. With these tools, he tells me he is composing his statement, for immediate release to the press once he has finished colouring in, of his version of the events of last weekend. These, it goes without saying, shall be published here immediately the press embargo is lifted.

04 February 2003

Word didn’t reach Dublin for a number of hours, due to confusion about the international dialling code for Ireland and a mix up with our event and the one next door to us, which was a talk about how lizards are the secret rules of the earth. Having been passed the message “Eoin gone mad. Hillman in hospital. Hurry”, the anti-lizard men had taken it as a coded warning that the lizards were on to them, and tried to poison-gas the entire hotel complex. By the time we heard, it was Sunday afternoon.

We have organised bail – once more – and Eoin has been returned to my care. Capron will remain in hospital for another few days while they treat him for frostbite due to having part of an ice sculpture forcibly inserted into… well, full details are not necessary here. The poor man apparently intends to sue Eoin for all he is worth – which probably isn’t as much as he expects, what with all the legal fees – and so the release of the book is being held off until matters die down. Our publicist has also been admitted to hospital, this time with a complete nervous breakdown. Apparently not all publicity is good publicity.

03 February 2003

What happened next has been collected from witness statements graciously provided to me by a lovely young policeboy in exchange for an autographed copy of The Inadvertent Twin.

Most witness reports agree that Eoin began to climb up the lattice that was lining each wall at about 10.05pm, knocking off the fake ivy and lily flowers adorning each trellis. He began to mutter agitatedly, and as he was miked up in preparation for the reading of our prepared joint statement, this was picked up by the PA system and relayed around the room. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil,” he said, pausing momentarily to regain his balance. “Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?” He turned around, and noticing that every eye in the room was trained on him, began to shout. “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good,” he yelled, stabbing his finger towards indiscriminate people around the room.

At this moment, Brian Capron (who is the actor unlucky enough to play Richard Hillman) had a coughing fit, as a piece of toast had slipped down the wrong way. This had the unfortunate effect of drawing Eoin’s attention directly upon him. “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid,” Eoin continued, now addressing poor Capron directly, “for he beareth not the sword in vain: for HE IS THE MINISTER OF GOD, A REVENGER TO EXECUTE WRATE UPON HIM THAT DOETH EVIL!” (Romans 13:3-4)

With that, he fell from the lattice and landed on Capron. There was a minor struggle, but Eoin seemed to come out on top, particularly after he began using one of the swan’s heads as his weapon of choice. A number of other cast members tried to break up the skirmish, and Steven Arnold (who plays widower Ashley Peacock) got a black eye for his trouble. In the end, it was Tracy Shaw, ironically Hillman’s on-screen victim, who managed to separate the two by declaring to Eoin that she had come back from the dead for revenge, and demanding that Eoin let her “take care of the mother lover”. Eoin, suitably impressed, allowed the police to drag him off in hand cuffs. The night, it goes without saying, was ruined.

02 February 2003

It all began so well. Having passed out under the weight of his various prescription drugs all dissolved into a glass of Sunny Delight, Eoin was shipped off to Dublin to wake up half an hour after the event had begun. With guests still arriving, I’m told he seemed delighted to stand at the door taking hats and coats and being mistaken for a butler, until our publicists noticed him straining under the weight of so much fur, and brought him for the rounds to speak to journalists, politicians, and some people from Open House. He was apparently singing the theme tune to the Littlest Hobo most of the time and answered every question by picking quotes at random from a bible. When asked by Ian Dempsey where he got his crazy ideas from, Eoin answered “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:5-6) Dempsey seemed happy with this answer.

I myself fared better in London – now that everything had been straightened up, there seemed little to concern myself with. I amused myself by frequently drinking out of the glass of the person beside me, occasionally using a straw when unable to wrestle it from their hands. I was pleased to be told that some of the cast of Coronation Street had taken up our invitation. I wasn’t able to distinguish them from any of the other “celebrities” present on the night, being more accustomed to serious artistic endeavors like programmes with Melvyn Bragg and Simon Schama.

Having tricked Eoin into eating a burger lined with a fast acting anaesthetic, he was shipped off to Dublin airport and flew in our private jet to London. I was collected as he landed, and had a brief glimpse of him lying on the stretcher, his thumb in his mouth and clutching his Fame Academy CD.

It was only when he woke up, slightly confused and disorientated, that he must have began to think someone was trying to drug him. Having quietly searched what he thought was the same room for the people that he had been speaking to earlier in the night, and unable to find anyone but our twittering publicist (who herself was slightly confused at this point, what with the cocaine), he began to form a theory about what was happening – he decided that, having killed Maxine Peacock with the mere tap of a crow bar, Richard Hillman was obviously coming after him next.

01 February 2003
Urgh. I spent last night metaphorically up to my elbows in dead Germans. Really, it's too much. I don't know why we chose this particular events management firm, they don't seem to know what the hell they're doing. I think the manager must be an old flame of Eoin's, he did seem awfully keen to get them on board once I had mentioned the launch. I'm not convinced they're even a real firm - no one has business cards, and surely no one in their right mind turns up to a meeting wearing torn jeans and stinking of incense.

On the plus side, the guest list is looking quite good. Apparently we have confirmation of some reality television celebrities coming along - I'm not entirely sure what one of them is, but Eoin seems quite keen. He suggested that some of them might even be kind enough to sing at one of the events, but I'm
not sure that's a good idea. The only one of these shows that I've seen had gardeners in it, and I didn't think they had particularly good voices. There was lovely brass music in the background, but I was distracted by the realisation that one of them wasn't even wearing her full quotient of underwear... sorry, I'm digressing.

Now that the dead Germans have been sent to their rightful destinations I can once again start relaxing. I booked myself and Eoin in for manicures and pedicures this afternoon, and then when he went to lie down for his early evening nap, I had an anaesthetist come over to knock him out and take him to London for the first half of the night. He's more than familiar with the feeling of waking up and not knowing where he is, so I'm sure he will start to enjoy himself, particularly once he sees the swans.