Something for the Weakened

Archive for May, 2008

The Unpleasant Thing

May 24th, 2008 by

What follows below was turned up during a trawl through my archives of aborted creative writing projects. It was written about two and a half, maybe three years ago over a particularly bored and angry weekend (the cause of the narkiness is lost to me – probably just a general malaise). I seem to remember that the premise was for me to create a single paragraph of utterly hopeless, squalid degredation. Don’t know if I succeeded, I haven’t read it in two and a half, maybe three years. Lets see shall we.

Terry was not having a good morning. He had somehow managed to set his alarm an hour later than he had planned. While hurriedly exiting his bed, his bare foot had managed to locate the only patch of floor containing a plate covered in some kind of matter he had no recollection of ever previously owning. It was, of course, extremely sticky, whatever it may have been. Hopping speedily towards the bathroom, he managed to bang his elbow painfully on the jagged right angle of the desk in his room. Clutching his arm in pain, while trying not to spread the effluent on his foot around, he eventually made it to the bathroom. The absence of water when he turned on the shower taps should have come as no surprise. The stack of unopened red letters tumbling from his desk should have given him at least an inkling that at least one of the services were soon to be cut off. Yet it hadn’t. He examined the showerhead briefly, played with the taps for the sink for a while, before a dull realization came over him. He thought back to the clock, remembering again how late he was. He scraped the muck off his foot with a towel, pausing briefly to sniff the brown mush he was removing. Concluding that it was probably beef based, he dashed back to his room to dress. Striding down the corridor back to his room, his nakedness was brought to his attention by his landlady, Mrs. McTavish, rounding it’s corner. The cup of freshly poured tea flew from her hand in astonishment and, with what was becoming a dull inevitability, upturned itself on his chest. Terry squealed as the scolding liquid set light to his torso and genitals, but barely slowed his pace as he dived into his room. As the door slammed behind him he could hear the sounds of the wrinkled Scot; a mixture of shock and apology that he didn’t have time to deal with. There would probably be some demand for money following shortly afterward, but he had already tuned her voice out of his head. Wiping the tea off on the curtains also proved to be an error of judgment. The fact that he pulled them open in the process, combined with the fact that the primary school across the road had just begun it’s morning break would eventually lead to an encounter with the police. But that was not today and at least he was flaccid. Dry, though uncomfortably sticky (Mrs. McTavish’s tea was renowned for being thirty percent sugar), Terry addressed the matter of clothing. His eyes darted around the room, finally alighting on the outfit he had considered to be most appropriate for the day. Rather than being on the hanger he remembered leaving it on, it had somehow made it’s way to the floor. There it lay, crumpled beneath an upturned plate. There appeared to be a footprint on the back of the jacket. He scrabbled around, hoping to salvage something of it. The trousers that had hung inside only had a small splodge of beefy matter at the base of a leg. Terry wiped it on the jacket and deemed them serviceable. The shirt that had gone with the ensemble had vanished altogether, dissolved by the plate’s contents he reasoned. He searched the room for something he could get away with. Since the launderette had discontinued his line of credit, it had been a while since anything had received more than a quick rinse under a luke warm tap. Finally he turned up a white shirt with a red wine stain in the bottom right hand corner. It would be unnoticeable if tucked in to a ludicrous degree. He grabbed a can of deodorant to spray on himself and the shirt. It sounded as if it was down to it’s last millimeter of fluid, so, having shaken it for all he was worth (an action the school children could only just make out and unfortunately misinterpreted), he aimed at the shirt and fired. The cold wet sensation in the palm of his hand told him everything. The last few pathetic drops dribbled down the tin and the only sound he could hear was that of a pressurized breeze. He cursed loudly, whipping around to the toilet bag that contained all of his emergency toiletries. A tube of toothpaste with half a squeeze left in it. Razor blades he had bought when he first started shaving. Two inches of comb. A packet of condoms, four years past their best before date. An unused flannel his grandmother had given to him one Christmas. His heart sang when he found what he was looking for; a unisex roll-on deodorant he had stolen from his mother some years previously. He kissed the dusty plastic, uncapped it and vigorously rubbed it around on the shirt. In lieu of any proper washing he grabbed two tissues (one unused) and scraped them around in opposing armpits, before applying the roll-on to each in turn. From a sitting position he yanked the trousers up (underwear was an issue not even worth confronting) and slid into the still buttoned shirt. With all his might he squeezed out as much toothpaste as he could from the months old tube and smeared it onto his teeth with a greasy finger. Having swilled it around his mouth with saliva, he opened the window and spat (another piece of evidence he would later have to rely on in court). Socks weren’t a problem. The room was littered with them, all in various levels of distress, but thankfully all identical. Some time ago, when he had been slightly more solvent, he had acquired a job lot of fifty pairs, all in exactly the same style. Smelling them one by one, he eventually found two which met his exacting standards. Shoes were to prove to be more problematic. The left sat plainly in the centre of the room, taunting him as to the location of it’s missing brother. He began turning the room upside down, rooting through the vast piles of soiled linen, the tangles of wire behind the desk, through the forgotten objects under the bed. It was when he finally pulled back the end of the duvet that it revealed itself. As he lunged for it, it immediately became apparent that something was amiss. There was already a foot in it. Not a disembodied amputation, but a foot connected to a leg and presumably more besides beneath his downy comforter. He started back, hand over his mouth, trying to reconcile this information with any memory he had of the previous night. Nothing was immediately forthcoming. Taking another step back his hand brushed the toilet bag. He looked down and noticed for the first time that the plastic seal on the packet of three had been broken. Dumbstruck and with shaking hands he opened the box. It was empty. A faint noise from the bed grabbed his attention momentarily, but that was quickly superseded by the moist piece of rubber sticking out from under the plate. It’s contents had not been entirely cow based after all. He sank back onto the wall, trying to come up with some explanation for the possible horrors that now confronted him. He squatted in the corner for several minutes before catching sight of the clock again. He was late, but still had a chance. He gingerly skipped across the room as quietly as possible and stood at the foot of the bed. He had to get out now, mystery legs be damned. The shoe was mercifully unlaced, so slipped from the foot with ease. The figure beneath the sheets showed no signs of stirring as he tied the knot and slunk to the door. He took his anorak from the hook on the door and stepped out into the corridor. The door slammed noisily behind him.

That was when his hangover kicked in.

I’m unsettled by how much of that’s autobiographical. I’m sure you can work out which bits.

Well it makes me chuckle . . .

May 19th, 2008 by

Deadline Distraction

May 19th, 2008 by

Over the weekend I happened upon three ‘geek’ based entertainments for the first time. I don’t mean Doctor Who, Iron Man or the like, but programmes that actually focussed (supposedly) upon the lives of the ‘geek’, a demographic to which I find myself often associated and thereby find myself able to comment upon. All three were supposed to be comedies. You can probably guess which is the most important word in that previous sentence. Let’s see what I thought, shall we?

Channel Four have been showing US import The Big Bang Theory for a few months now. Having missed any previous episodes, the situation mystified me a little. Presumably they’re supposed to be in university, which for me begged the question of how old the one-what-went-out-with-Darlene-in-Roseanne was supposed to be. Come on, he was older than me during the nineties and I doubt that that’s changed much since. Am I now supposed to seriously believe that he’s suddenly in his early twenties, or is there some contrivance that he’s doing some absurd postgraduate studies that last him into his mid thirties? Maybe it’s set in the mid-nineties and I just didn’t notice. Seems doubtful. There was also no refernece as to how ‘obligitary hot girl’ ends up sharing a flat with the ‘geeks’. The situation itself was fairly obvious, though I found myself wondering how those early episodes forced that contrivance. I found myself wondering many things in fact, as the show itself didn’t really hold my attention and certainly didn’t elicit so much as a chuckle from me. Quoting Spock’s dying words from the Wrath of Kahn does not a joke make. Piss weak would be my personal assessment (and I’ve not been drinking over the past couple of days, so my piss is uncommonly weak).

The day after that I was mucking around with my On Demand facility, and noticed an episode of The Inbetweeners. I’d heard a little about the show and, with it being produced by and for E4, I was a little dubious. Much of the commentary on CAB (I am not Lala!) had been surprisingly positive, pointing to it being slightly more than another retread of the execorable Skins, so I decided to give it a whirl. To me it felt less like what I’ve seen of Skins (little, I’ll admit, but I was not amused) and a bit more like Grange Hill with added nob gags. Following, as it does, some of the ‘geekier’ members of the sixth form (is it still called that? or are they year twelvers? Christ but I’m out of touch with the youth of today . . .) of some anonymous middle class secondary school, I was surprised to see that it featured some actual jokes. Surely this must be a first for any show that E4 has ever produced. Anyone think of anymore? No? Me neither. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but there was definitely some potential there and, apart from the odd duff delivery, the three leads proved surprisingly competent for some so young. Give it a go, it’s not that bad.

The last bit of the weekend’s ‘geeking’ out occurred when I accidentally caught the tail end of the second part of Toby Hadoke’s Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf on BBC7. Speaking as someone who gets a bit starry eyed everytime the theme music starts and found himself uncotrollably weeping at the appearance of Bernard Cribbins (“Don’t you understand? He was the voice of my childhood! Plus he was in the TARDIS with Peter Cushing in Dr. Who & The Daleks and . . .” well, you get the idea) this autobiographical tale had a great deal of resonance with me. It dealt with the themes of obsessing over something that’s generally seen as being deeply unfashionable at large, that suddenly gains acceptance among the general public. This is something I’ve dealt with far less successfully with the greater acceptance of the ‘graphic novel’ (yecch) over the past few years, but which Hadoke handles far better than I. The scenes with his young son’s blossoming enjoyment of Who were remarkably touching and interspersed with resonant gags (for me at least) about not allowing him to touch his DVDs as he’d just alphabetised them. Should it be repeated again (it’s on 7, it will be and soon) I’ll try to catch both episodes.

Now I must try and finish that review I promised to finish by yesterday. I hate deadlines and will always endeavour to distract myself from them in anyway I can. Hence this ramble. Sorry Colin.

I heard this and thought of you . . .

May 11th, 2008 by

Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters – Tonight You Belong To Me

Waking Up

May 10th, 2008 by


A unkempt bedroom of the present day. Comics and CDs strew the floor. The walls are lined with videos and books. In the bed a naked man, approx. 30, awakens and sleepily wanders over to an archaic computer in the room’s corner. He switches it on, works his way wearily through a cavalcade of error messages, until arriving at a secure webpage. He begins to type.

Hello all. Apologies for the silent week or so. Please see previous excuse based posts and pick whichever one you think seems appropriate. I did start writing something about Free Comic Book Day last weekend, but became disheartened by it’s miserable tone and abandoned it. Which was possibly foolish as it also contained the information that the Contact link above is officially dead at the moment and has been for almost a fortnight now. In the unlikely event that nayone has tried to send me any feedback over the startling ‘conclusion’ of The Crow Gets Comfy, please resend it to ‘the weakened at gmail dot com’ (all one word) or if you have anything else to bug me about. I’m still planning on digging into the archive and typing up some more of my hopeless attempts at prose in the not too distant future. But first, a nap.

He clicks send, shuts down the computer and climbs back into bed. After half an hour or so we hear snoring.