Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Two Things I Saw Today That Made Me Glad.

I like to think there's a story between the two.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Tollgate Cafe

There was a short period of time, after I had dropped out of university in Cape Town and moved to London to live with my now husband but before I landed a decent-ish media job-with-a-future, where I worked in a little cafe, called the Tollgate Cafe. It was owned and managed by an Iranian, the head chef was Moroccan, the kitchen hand Korean, and my fellow waitress was Polish. I was the only person there whose first language was English. The Korean was a nice guy who had worked with the previous owner for years before she sold it on. But the Iranian was rude and abrupt and had no idea about how to run a cafe. They would get very angry at each other and shout in broken, frustrated English until they gave up trying and slunk away to opposite corners. The Korean worked from 6 in the morning to 6 at night every day, 7 days a week. He pretty much did all of the work while the Moroccan talked and smoked. The Moroccan made snide comments about the Korean, which did not go unheard and there were similar useless, feeble outbursts. One time I thought the Korean was going to kill the Moroccan, a timid man when not thoroughly provoked, he was all the more terrifying when his eyes blazed and his face turned crimson with 40 years of rage simmering in his gut. I asked him why he worked so hard and through much struggling of his foreign tongue said his family were poor and had no work, and what he earned in this trifling cafe paid for them to live and go to school and wear shoes in Korea. The Moroccan wore pointy boots, he had very small feet and hands, like a woman's. In fact he was small in general, like his growth was stunted at 14. I thought that is why he was an asshole to everyone. His lips curled when he spoke, like a sneer disguised as a smile. There was an element of something predatory and sexual about him that made me wince outright, but he was basically a lonely, bitter and weak old man. The Iranian, on the other hand, was terrifying. I never wanted to be left on my own with him, he had a murderous look. When he spoke he stood very close, so close you could smell his awful body and breath. He did this to intimidate others, it was effective. He mumbled when he spoke, as if he was too lazy to articulate the cobbled together sentences, and when you didn't understand he refused to repeat himself. He always looked tired and would gesture desultorily at customers confused by his behaviour and mumbled words. The Polish girl was very sweet. She was round and pink with big blue eyes like a doll, and a fiendish smoking habit. She swore under her breath a lot at the Iranian. She always helped me. This was a very queer time for me. One of those times that have a sound and a smell. Even though I only worked for four hours some days it felt exhausting, I hated the work and I hated the interlopers I worked amongst with whom I could barely communicate. I felt like I was a long way from home and alone. When I feel useless now I think of how much space I've put between me and then and I feel slightly better.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Pre-Lunchtime Musings.

gah my head hurts. It feels like a great pressure is being applied to the crown of my head. I suppose that is gravity, but I'm sure I'm not usually so acutely aware of it. My eyes feel like they may burst from my skull. Something in this office smells of the elderly. That smell that exists between the skin and the clothes of the elderly, that you can smell when stood near to them and they move and the air is suddenly expelled from them, air that has remained in these pockets and folds for an amount of time, enough time to take on an odour of stagnant smelling slow death. I watched the rubgy this weekend, which is something I normally don't do because I have a natural aversion to the weird culture of The Sports Fan. The colours, the battle-cries, the solidarity between vicarious winners and losers. But rugby I can watch, it turns out. Those men built like oxes, grass stained and bleeding. Rugby is not a game for anyone, like football which I find dull as fuck and the fans even more alarmingly over-zealous. At least, you can appreciate that these men are made to play rugby and nothing else. There's no posturing or much celebrity. It's rough. My head hurts. Blood Meridian is an excellent book, I'm not even halfway in and I feel safe saying that. I want to read more but am trapped at this desk like a cripple in a wheelchair.
"Anything going on?"
"Not as yet my darling."

Lunchtime soon.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Bob Takes a Cigarette Break in a Doorway on Old Compton St.

Bob draws on his cigarette and wonders what cancer feels like.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Wild at Heart and Weird on Top.

There's an advertisement on my email page that has a picture of a bear and these words:

"Some people want to drain his bile
through a permanent wound in his abdomen.
is that ok with you?"


Monday, 8 October 2007

Super Monday Fun Times

I feel hostile today. Not in a bad way, but really in a sort of bemused way. I came in 15 minutes late. I missed 15 minutes of nothing, I got to spend 15 more minutes with my book and private thoughts. I think it was worth the disappointed look from my boss. He knows there's nothing for me to do at 9.30 in the morning.
So my colleague comes in, sits next to me, time passes. Still nothing happens so I pick up my nail file and smooth the jagged edges of the nail I broke yesterday when it collided with a desk, my hand not being in the place my eyes told me it was. My eyes lie without remorse.
I absently work at the nail, which is now shorter than the others. Like an ugly step-child. I begin smoothing away the rest of my fingernails. I remember my colleague can't bear the sound. The thought occurs to me as I feel her eyes settle on me, seeking my attention, quietly desperate to remind me of the infraction. They stay on me, on my hand working slowly, on the quiet grinding of the nail file. I ignore her. I blow the nail dust away like ashes, feel the smooth edges. Finally her eyes turn away. I feel a sardonic grin bloom inside my chest but my face is blank and I carry on smoothing jagged edges, making each nail ugly to suit the one that wound up broken.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

The Andromeda Strain

I watched the Andromeda Strain today, directed by Robert Wise with visual affects by one of my favourite people in movie making history, Douglas Trumbull. It was an incredible film, and one I've not heard much about. The opening sequences focus on a tiny remote town in which (almost) all the inhabitants have died pretty much instantaneously. It's eerily beautiful; shots of the windswept dusty town of Piedmont dotted with fallen figures, a mechanic slumped over the hood of a car, children face down in the dirt beside one another, washing still flapping in the wind under blue skies.

Much of the film takes place in a secret Laboratory designed to deal with biological warfare. The sets are wonderful. I love nothing more than sci fi done well. I wish Douglas Trumball still worked in films, CGI has made everything possible, but at the same time made it all a bit shit. Blade Runner is a beautiful film, a whole city constructed on a miniature scale, lit by millions of fiber optics, combined with incredible matte painting, the world created has substance and an atmosphere all its own. It's dirty and real, but if it were made today I feel that all that incredible imagination and skill that came out of those limitations would all be usurped by some 3D geeks who'll turn it into something slick and flashy, just because they can. Why do I work for a visual effects company again...?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Gutter Birds

Squawking obscenities in cawing bird voices and flying at my head, beady-eyed faces full of leering malice.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Ho Hum...

cups lose their liquid before
they reach my lips
leaving messages on my shirt collar:
I can't help but make a mess of things.

Bored Mumbling

I just zoned out and stared at the space between my computer screen and my giant old wacom pad for about 5 minutes. I'll never get that time back. I resent how much time I deliberately waste every day. I feel my youth round my neck like a dead weight, constantly thinking I need to make the most of something, this moment here? This moment is shit. All I can hear is the hum of air conditioners, aimless murmers of colleagues, my own fingers tapping at these little keys like a clumsy pianist. If I were at home I'd be playing the piano, fumbling my way through a page of Chopin, not because I like the way it sounds when I play it but because I can imagine the way it should sound and if even a fraction of that, for a split second is produced by my fingers it makes me momentarily happy. If I were at home I'd find a way to be productive. But I'm at work, I've got keep up the alacritous pretense, even when I'm asleep on the inside. I've got to look busy. Bugger.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Cat's Claw

There is a small red wound in my arm. It is a puncture from a cat's claw, like a big bee sting. My cat got angry and ran all over our small flat, her fur on end, her ears laid back, looking the way I feel a lot of the time these days. Wide eyed, furious, like tiger trapped in a body that is too small.