Friday, May 29, 2009

Basil Fawlty Moment #1: I Vant to be Alone

I’ve had some visitors over from UK which is why I haven’t been blogging for a few days. They are people I love dearly – and owe money to – so I wanted to put my best foot forward, but the experience has reminded me of two important axioms:

A: There’s almost nothing better than a walk in beautiful scenery

B: There’s almost nothing worse than a walk in beautiful scenery accompanied by a constant running commentary

Sorry, but I simply don’t need my reverie broken every 5 seconds by having a leaf or a twig pointed out to me and someone’s opinion given on it. (When I think about it, the same goes for art galleries and silent films.) Now, I know that any desire to do something on my own makes me A Bad Person, but sometimes desire is simply too strong. What I did in the end was stage a Basil Fawlty Moment...

... Though in my case it ran something like “I said, time after time, that we need to plan a walk that X can do as well as the rest of us; but X can’t do this one and will have to stay in the car! Right. Fine. You lot have whatever walk you want – I’m going off on my own!” Of course I had to make sure my beaming smile was replaced by the scowl when I’d returned from my glorious ramble on a Romanian hillside with nothing but chaffinches and wagtails for company. I’m simply a bad person.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eurovision Vision

Well, it’s over for another year. I’m never good at picking winners but this year’s winning song was the only one I walked out on in disgust. I half expected to see the subtitle “Based on a True Story” as Norway’s Alexander Rybak sang “I’m in love with a fairytale, even though it hurts”. (But it's probably a melodic masterwork that I'll also be humming before the week is out.) Once again the only entry which floated my own personal boat was from Republic of Moldova; after propping up the table for most of the contest they ended a creditable 14th. But quiet has now settled upon Moscow’s “Laika The Dog” Stadium, the performers have returned to their jobs in hair salons and strip clubs, and Europe starts to think already about next year’s event. Here’s my dream line-up for Oslo 2010. The songs will represent each country’s Eurovision vision, as demonstrated by their form over the last 54 years, plus a few that just popped into my head for no obvious reason. I take no responsibility for any effect these may have on the entente cordiale.

Albania: “Bring Out The Gimp” by 17 Different Words for Moustache
Andorra: “Yes, is a Country!” by Ann-Dora
Austria: “We’re Not All Perverts (Disco Mix)” by DJ Strange
Germany: “Eins Zwei Drei, Peace & Love” by Disturbingly Simplistic
Italy: “I’m not Sharing a Stage with a Bunch of Dirty Thieving Immigrants” by Berlusconi’s Second Cousin Twice Removed
France: “We’re Now The Only Remaining European Country to Have Never Really Understood Rock & Roll” by Je Ne Regrette Rien
Denmark: “Nå, Det Er Ik’ Så Ringe” by Old Gits
Norway: “We Really Wanted Null Points Again” by Øyvind Ironic
Sweden: “Ass of Bass by BAAB
Finland: “We’re Weird” by Satanic Goth Monsters from Hell
Iceland: “Nice and Icy by Ice Maiden
Turkey: “Can We Join The EU” by 2012?
Belgium: “Only” by Entering Open Debate about the Armenian Genocide and Improving Your Human Rights Record
Switzerland: “Too Neat and Tidy” by Half
Israel: “We Get to Participate Even Though We’re Not In Europe!” by Hallelujah!
Romania: “We’ve Discarded Our Rich Folk-Music Traditions” by Marcel, Giuseppe & Johnnie
Republic of Moldova: “We Haven’t, You Assholes” by Moldovan Potato Farming Collective Folk Ensemble
Hungary: “Once a Great Nation” by Treachery of Trianon
Lithuania: “The One Next Door to Latvia” by Lithuania Tourist Board
Latvia: “The One Next Door to Lithuania ” by Latvian Tourist Board
Estonia: “Öõõrt Üähäedä” by Õsžüü Ätküü
Russia: “We Should Get Plenty of Votes As We’ve Ensured There’s A Healthy (shurely shome mishtake – Ed.) Percentage of Ethnic Russians in All of Our Neighbouring Countries” by Spirit of Sovietism
Slovenia: “Holiday Homes For Sale!” by RyanAir Flies Here
Holland: “You’re Asking Us to Take Part in This Nonsense?” by You’re Kidding, Right?
United Kingdom: “Boom Bang-a-Bang Ding Dong” by Anybody Except a Half-Decent Indie Band
Ireland: “Ah You’re So Lovely So You Are” by Patrick O’versentimental
Malta: “I Love You” by Fat Bird
Spain: “Your Mum Fancies Us by Bare-Chested Flamenco Boys
Cyprus: “La Grèce, douze points” by Spiros Domestos
Greece: “La Chypre, douze points” by Stavros Asbestos

So there you go, a great line-up I’m sure you’ll agree. And if you can think of songs for the remaining countries – including those I felt had already “suffered enough” - then you’re a better racialist than I am. Here’s to 2010!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

R U Bonkers? #1

As I‘ve intimated previously, I have in the past availed myself of mental healthcare services. While this was done only to research the Great 20th Century British Novel I’m writing (that’s 21st Century now. Ed.), this still might constitute “too much information” for easily disturbed readers, so I’ll tread carefully. I’ve also in my portfolio of careers cleaned the floors, toilets and dishes in a psychiatric hospital, sometimes remembering to wash my hands between tasks. All this has given me a special insight into The World Of The Mad. I wish to reduce the stigma attached to not dealing with a full deck by a series of posts examining The Nature of Insanity. Now, I’m a big fan of self-diagnosis, so I’ll show how you can find out if You Are Bonkers by asking yourself some simple questions.

Chapter 1: Are You a Member of The Staff?

The first question to ask yourself upon awaking from the insulin coma and finding yourself slumped in a “trainer-coffin” wing-armchair in a maximum-security care facility. Though it’s not as sure a test of insanity as it seems. For instance, you could believe you’re a member of staff, and lack of patients and not getting paid won’t convince you otherwise. You could be one of the following:

Doctor Davey
A distinguished psychiatrist with a white coat he’s made from his bed sheet and a celery stethoscope. He’ll tell you what you’re suffering from – it’ll always be “a very serious complaint, yerrssss” – and will then recommend some symptoms.

Nurse Nerys
She fashions herself on that Welsh tart on a bicycle, and her medical technique involves getting her breasts out and shoving them in your face. This works for everyone, especially Nerys, whose behaviour ensures that the staff wash her breasts frequently and very vigorously.

Mental Mickey
So called, he’ll point out, because he’s an expert on the human mind. He knows what you’re thinking. He also knows what cushions and button mushrooms are thinking. One day he'll be given the promotion he’s asked for but for now he’ll content himself with sucking people's brains out using his telepathic powers.

Ena the Cleaner
Rather a low-status delusion but easily maintained. All you need is a mop and hospital visitors will treat you as a normal person, nobody will make pathetic attempts to cheer you up, and the staff will let you do their work while they cackle and chain-smoke in the office.

An Actual Member of Staff
This situation is the worst of all. Patients are sensitive, beautiful human beings, but the staff are often as mad as hatters. Especially psychiatrists, who gravitate to this branch of medicine for the wrong reasons: cack-handedness, prurience, deadness of soul, or simply the desire to wear bow-ties as often as possible (oohhh, creepy). Nurses are angels and I’m not going to say a word against them.

So, maybe not quite a sure-fire test, but you've made your first step on the road to wellness - congratulations. Now, I want to end each chapter with a piece of music to lighten our spirits. So here’s Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression. He’s decided this should be a fast blues in waltz-time… he’s simply a genius.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gadjo Dilo’s Peccadillos #3: Big Bird Bumper Edition

My declaration of admiration for Romanian Hattie Jacques Draga Olteanu-Matei, and some comments on Lulu LaBonne’s blog about the sexiness of taller women, may have given the impression that I’m some sort of size queen. This is not necessarily true. If I’m honest with myself I realise that I’ve operated – non-interferingly, though nevertheless whether I or the objects of my attention have wanted it or not - an equal opportunities lechery policy during my adult life, and that larger ladies get their share. In fact, to stress how equal opportunities I am I have conflated lofty and large-boned into the same category. And here are the stand-outs:

East European Lady Tennis Players

These barely need an introduction. They’re all over 6 feet tall, blond, professional, and very much admired. If you’re a tall lady – even a gangly one - I advise you to get thee to a tennis court. Maybe you don’t even need to do that. Try wearing all-white clothes and carrying a tennis racket everywhere you go. Learn a little Russian or Slovakian. Still not working? Maybe get a job wiping old ladies down in a care home; acquire a large monobrowed boyfriend called Oleg; look very very cool 99% of the time but dance like a mentalist every time you hear the strains of I’m a Barbie Girl or Ruslana’s Eurovision-conquering Dyki tantsi Hutsul classic. Still carry the tennis racket though, especially when dancing.

Me (allegedly…)

I once had a girlfriend as tall as I, exactly 6 foot - that’s 1.8288m to you foreign johnnies – which is tall for a lass. It was also a bit Mrs Robinson, though I think the age difference was only 7 years. Anyway. One year I wanted to buy said girlfriend (who I won’t indelicately include in this list) a pair of stockings for her birthday. So I goes to a lingerie boutique in Copenhagen (where we lived) and tells the bint behind the counter “I’d like a pair of sexy stockings for a lady who’s the same height as I am”; she sniggers, audibly, “oh, and what sort would you, err, I mean your lady friend like, sir?” Ahh, ok, I see the way it’s going, and I decide to play it up, “we'll, she’s quite a hairy lady so they’d need to be something opaque and probably close-woven”, “hmm, yes, and I’m guessing she’s also quite muscular – an athlete or a body builder, perhaps? – so something durable”; “oh yes, absolutely... no, deary, those ones are latex”; “yes, lovely, aren’t they; would you like to buy some amyl nitrite as well?”

When the Fat Lady Sings

It seems to me a woman does better as a singer if she’s “well covered”. There are exceptions - the pixieish Björk for instance - but to sing as low and louche as this (though unfortunately these clips don't really do her voice justice) you need to be Yugoslav chanteuse Ljiljana Buttler. The number of larger-than-life jazz ladies doesn’t need listing here for me to prove my case further. So I’ll leave you with Macedonia's famed, fuller-figured Gypsy-Turco-Iraqi-Jewish adopter-of-orphans (sounds like hard work) and Nobel Peace Prize nominee (for the adopting, I’m guessing) Esma Redžepova, backed by the Romanian brass phenomenon that is Fanfare Ciocărlia: