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» Kids

An evening of culture.....
My sister, bless her little cotton socks, wanted to be a ballerina more than anything else in the world. After much industrial strength pestering from the pursuasive one, a six year old I-M found himself washed, brushed and in his best clothes in row five or six of the theatre watching be-tulle'ed tools flounce about on stage to the warbling wails of the orchestra.

Now I-M and ickle sis of I-M were in a constant state of warfare, as is right and proper with children of that age. As such the United Parents enforced a physical separation policy at pretty much all times. They were on high alert, a clean and well-presented Monkey was a bomb on a hair trigger - opposable toes do not like being in shoes!

So it was with a growing sense of schadenfreude that I watched the expression of horror slowly march across my vociferous sister's face as it dawned on her that ballerinas don't speak, sing or even get to grunt like a woman at wimbledon.

'Why...why don't they say anything?!' her shocked little voice piped - clearly audible over the scratching of the string section.

'Because they've forgotten the words, stupid!' I sneered with all the volume and authority I could muster.

PostScript: Many years later, the Parents hosted a dinner party, to which was invited a musician and his wife. He regaled the gathering with the tale of a disembodied voice, thick with the frustration of minutes wasted, who'd managed to reduce the whole ensemble to giggles in the middle of a performance.
I've never had anyone star-struck to meet me before.

PPS. Apparently it's hard to laugh through a trumpet.

Length - Way, way too fucking long. Have you ever BEEN to the ballet? Jesus, what crap.
(Fri 18th Apr 2008, 16:11, More)

» Phobias

Many things make me shudder, but only one phobia...
Spiders, popsicles with wooden sticks, people who use scissors with their index fingers and flushing the toilet in the dark all give me the willies to one degree or another. The thing that blue-screens my brain though, is heights.

I couldn't watch the end bits of King-Kong; just knowing I'm high up in a building/on a cliff/up a tree is enough to make me dizzy and I don't even have to be that high to start feeling sick. My first floor balcony is uncomfortable enough, the space-spanning escalators in Selfridges are appalling.

So when a friend rang and said 'How would you like to climb Mt Blanc?', you'd be right to assume that I laughed jovially and planned a trip to the Dead Sea instead.


Death himself, with a scythe sharpened on the slowest of sunlight could not have created a time any shorter than that between the question and my gormless mind betraying me with a 'sure!'

Off I toddled to Snow+Rock and spent some hard earned happy paper, I borrowed some crampons, I packed my pack and off I went to Chamonix. Why oh why was I there? What the hell did I think I was doing? These and many questions like them were ones I was repeatedly failing to ask myself. Instead I was joyously swimming in Egypt; denial had rendered billions of tons of rock and ice rearing above the valley floor totally invisible.

Some of the party had spent several weeks in the Alps already doing some 'proper' climbing. Mt Blanc was little more than a walk to these alpinistes, appealing to them purely because it's Europe's highest peak. Two of us had joined them just for this stage, so we used the two days we had up our sleeve to 'acclimatise'. This involved heading straight up the cable car to the Aguile du'Midi and toddling off down the ridge toward the Vallee Blanche. When we headed out onto the ridge there was a howling gale blowing, and the low cloud and snow meant I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me. It wasn't till we headed back up the same way the next evening in clear sunshine that it clicked in my mind that to my right was a vertical drop of a mile or more and I was standing on a foot-wide bit of snow.




Those with vertigo will know that the overriding desire is to make the feeling go away, and illogically the best way to do that seems to be to jump off the offending ledge. (I was at King's Canyon in the Northern Territory and I got the urge. I had to sit a long way away with my back to the 300 foot drop and sing happy birthday to myself to try to block it out. It wasn't even my birthday, just the only thing I could think of.)

Luckily for me, the sheer terror overrode all thought, and I managed to crawl up the ridge and into the safety of the station. My climbing buddy thought this was hilarious - and took great pleasure in reminding me just how crap I'd been for the rest of the day.

Did I learn anything? Did I bollocks.

The next day found me on the train up from the valley to the start of the climb with the rest of the group. I had a wobble or two on some steeper sections, but it wasn't until halfway across the Grande Culoir that the thoroughly repressed gibberings of my normal self burst through the delusions that had gotten me into this mess in the first place. Somehow I managed to cross the last remaining yards, before clinging to the nearest rock, face down, and repeating the calming litany 'I'm going to die, get me down get me down get me down I'm going to die.'

A helicopter was called and the climb, and my nascent mountaineering career, ended there.

My brains are mostly made of teh stupid.
(Mon 14th Apr 2008, 20:57, More)

» Evil Pranks

It's all about shit, when you get down to it......
I may have, in the mists of b3ta-time, once posted a story about my time in the army. It involved a (so he said) well endowed mate, underpant failure, a spade, a field latrine, khak-kleptomania, slapstick and ultimately lots of running around aimlessly because sergeants-major take a dim view of the use of HM entrenching tools being used to nick shit.... This is not that tale.

This tale is oh so different, but then again, not.

I was, a long time ago, one of the most inept cadets at a certain military academy. And it is upon my lot that this utterly appalling prank was played.
To go into the details of inter-squadron rivalry as existed at the time would take more typing than I am man for. (Let's put it this way, one of my English lecturers - who bore a staggering resemblance to Tim Brooke-Taylor - was a lexicographer. He managed to produce a 1000 page dictionary devoted wholly to our own internal jargon. Over 40 pages alone were devoted to derivatives of the word 'fuck', and this thing was written in font 12. It was an academic text, not one written in crayon for us mud-crawlers.)
Our buildings (blocks) consisted of two towers, each of three levels, joined on the first floor by a communal area, consisting of rec-room, kitchen, bathroom, IT geekery area, etc etc etc. Think H-blocks from the Maze, but vertically oriented. As our building was built on a hill, the downhill tower had a fourth level, a basement. Access to this was through a manhole cover. (Bear with me, it's seriously worth it - length joke at the end*). As going down there was expressly forbidden we turned it into our very own secret squirrel hideaway and did all sorts of naughty naughty things down there. Think ironing badly, not polishing your boots, push ups where your chest didn't get low enough - oh ok, think pissing idiotry of the highest order. Anyway, as hip clubs do, it went out of fashion.
Alpha squadron ('the relaxed professionals' was their ethic, the rest of us just thought they were lazy cunts) were, as a result of a block re-org, required to give up one of their buildings. The mighty Bravo moved their noble lads into the block. It was a great place to live. Nearest the mess, nearest the gym, nearest the lecture theatres, the seconds that saved on a daily basis were worth gold, and the alpha-twats knew it.
One great tradition, now sadly dead, was the 'bish'. In essence it meant destroying things others hold valuable. We raided one another constantly - think the Vietnam war, but with shaving cream, fire extinguishers and mud, rather than napalm and american ineptituder. The value that the departing squadron placed on the building meant that sabotage was the order of the day on handover. The hated incomers wouldn't get it without a fight. On move in day we searched the building for all booby traps.
A year later final exams were drawing to a close...
Summer was upon us. We had free time. The officers in charge posted to this career cul-de-sac were going back to the real world and couldn't have given a butter-greased prison-daddy style grudge fuck what the student monkeys did with themselves now. So we partied. And that led to Golf section getting its grand reopening.
So we prepared a decent load of contraband and prized open the manhole cover. Drunk already, the first of our number jumped in and we heard the most almighty commotion. Splashing, gasping - the sounds of someone in utter misery.
It turned out that the fuckers who had been required to vacate the premesis had been down and unhooked the u-bends from the toilets upstairs. So our mate found himself three feet deep in putrefying shit dating back over a year.

I defy hell to be worse.....

*legnth joke (sorry, my fingers are tired)
(Sun 16th Dec 2007, 2:38, More)

» Kids

Wild horses couldn't make my arse go thataway!
About 18 months ago I embarked on a short, sharp and very unwise relationship. She wasn't a bad person, perhaps not the most stable one, but then again I'm not a poster-boy for emotional cohesion. We were a terrible couple who had nothing in common, and once the initial rush had worn off we realised that we should not be making even the vaguest of long term plans together.

A couple of days before we split up we had one last futile attempt to rekindle some sort of spark. Talk about pissing in the wind, diverting an avalanche with a firm glance and a damp tissue would have been more likely.

Needless to say a bad relationship turned into a hideous breakup, and my ex no longer speaks to me except to send angry, hate filled replies to my emails; she doesn't even live in this country any more.

I wouldn't mind so much usually, but I really want to see my son.

Length - about two and a quarter minutes of loveless squelching.
(Fri 18th Apr 2008, 15:06, More)