Monday, August 31, 2009


The Queens Of Leon

I have just come back from Reading Festival, it was a horrible, horrible place. Rock music is a dreadful racket ranging from a walloping, thudding, fingers-in-ears, thud-thud-thud, to a whingy old drone-on. I hate Rock Music, but I hate Rock Stars even more. The new Rock Stars at the top of my shit-list are the Kings of Leon. Despite playing to a stage, cram-packed with screaming teenagers, fainting and moshing away and fighting with each other and singing along "I was coming around la la la la whatever" to their miserable, lugubrious tunes, the main one from the Kings of Leon got the arse with the crowd, halfway through his set. He shouted to the children watching: "You are fucking crap - if you don't like the music why don't you fuck off". And at the end of his performance he crushed up his guitar and flicked the V sign and shouted "Fuck off Reading" to all the bewildered kids in the crowd.

I don't understand. If the man doesn't like singing on a stage in front of children, then he should get another job, I don't sing on a stage for a living, because I would not enjoy it. I don't like singing much and I would find it tedious hopping about like I had ferrets in my drawers, and I am not interested in drugs at all, so really, it's not the career for me. Equally, if, like the King of Leon there, I appeared to dislike crowds and had a very highly strung personality, I would consider a job as a librarian, or I might think about working in the back of Argos, fetching the boxes down, where human interaction would be at a minimum, or if it really were more noise I was after, then I would seriously consider operating a large drill, working on the roads.


Saturday, August 22, 2009


Via Nova Crucis

I updated the stations of the cross a bit. I did it while I was at a boring wedding, sitting at the back, not listening.

1.Jesus is condemned to death
2.Jesus is given his cross, which is pretty heavy.
3.Jesus falls the first time
4.Jesus meets His Mother, who tells Jesus to mind his back carrying that heavy cross.
5.Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, just to see how heavy it is.
6.Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7.Jesus falls the second time, and this time grazes his knee really badly
8.Jesus asks for some Savlon
9.Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem
10.Jesus falls the third time
11.Jesus is stripped of His garments
12.Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
13.Jesus asks for Savlon for a second time
14.Jesus dies on the cross
15.Jesus literally shits himself
16.Jesus' body is removed from the cross and cleaned up a bit.
17.Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense, largely to hide the smell.

Ball Bag

Monday, August 10, 2009


Number One Chinese Anticlimax

I lived in China for several years during the late nineties. It was a pretty interesting place, I was often, utterly fascinated by my surroundings, and then there were times, when I just wanted the billions of people gawping at me and asking me for visas, and rabbiting on about cultural imperialism, to just fuck away off.

My low tolerance levels for chiselling behaviour were a bit of hindrance, as I found the Chinese people monumentally pushy. They would ring at six o'clock in the morning and ask to visit. They were consistently, hours early for social appointments and expected the same wacko punctuality from their guests. They ate breakfast at dawn, washing down foetid beancurd and fried breadsticks with heavily garlicked cold spinach and rank, millet porridge. They ate lunch at 11 and dinner at four. Their concept of distance was generous spirited, many people I knew thought nothing of driving eight hours across a province, just to have lunch in a mediocre restaurant, or to take a photograph of themselves in front of a sign. I found the Chinese entirely knackering to be with - well intentioned, but absolutely fucking exhausting.

One evening, I found myself out for dinner in a small town some ridiculous distance from where I lived. There was one street with a few stalls, doing their trade to the warbling reverb sounds of bad karaoke, drifting from an open kiosk. A woman was sitting on the ground with a blanket in front of her, piled with round fruits each about five inches in diameter. I was grabbed sharply on the upper arm, by one of my party, who thrust me towards the blanket in great excitement:

"You must buy one of these melons. They are a great, great speciality. Melons that you punch"

"Melons what?"

"That you punch" (she made a punching movement with her fist) "hit with hand, then break open and eat. Very good flavour"

Now - the Chinese word for both melons AND gourds is "gua" which means "a melon or gourd like thing". In order to establish whether you are dealing with something fruit-like and suitable to eat raw, or something watery and like a glorified vegetable marrow, one must look at the prefix to the word gua. For example, xi gua is watermelon and nan gua is a pumpkin and a huang gua is a cucumber. Being aware of these delicate linguistic differences, I checked with the woman what type of a gua this thing was

"The flavour of this melon - is it like a watermelon. Can you eat raw, or must you cook like a nan gua"

"Eat raw. Hit it with your fist, break then eat. But flavour very special, not like watermelon. Unique"

I bought a bag of these things, to oil the choppy tide of jabbering excitement from my companions and to boost the melon woman's profits. I duly took a melon and punched it. It didn't give.

"Punch harder. Like man" said my companion, helpfully

I walloped the thing with a full downward blow from my fist. It split enough that I could break off a piece the size of my hand. The whole shopping street of people, by now, had entirely given up wandering around aimlessly and were instead, frozen in
their tracks, watching me closely. Silence issued from the karaoke parlour, as three faces popped around the door.

"Now eat", said my friend. "Not skin"

I was quite used to eating in front of an audience. I had recently eaten a packet of salt and vinegar crisps in Tian'an men square, to a crowd of about two hundred peasants. I felt famous, to be honest, famous and important, just for eating stuff. This time, with the melon, was a small, provincial show and I was quite comfortable with the situation.

The fruit did not look particularly exciting. Its flesh was a very pale, grey-green and seemed to be slightly cushioned. I had been prepared for a generous douche of melon juice to issue from the slit side of the fruit, as I thumped it, but it was menopausally dry. I brought the piece of fractured melon to my lips and gnawed and the flesh with my incisors. It gave a little, and was quite difficult to separate from the toughened skin. It took some detaching, but I got a mouthful and chewed. It tasted of nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. Less flavour than a raw courgette (which, if you have never eaten one, is of minimal excitement). It was just leathery enough that it did not dissolve immediately in the mouth, the outer membrane required a little chewing, but once perforated, the inner matter was squashy and vanished without making a great impact. I dished out the rest of the melon to people standing about, hoping to see what they made of it. Each person gnawed and slavered at the melon appreciatively.

"Very good" one of them said

"Very good flavour. Excellent taste"

I just didn't get it. It was the most boring melon in the world. It wasn't even fun punching it open - I hurt my knuckles the first time and the heel of my hand the second and I got stringy bits stuck between my teeth and it was a big yawny thing. I wondered briefly if it might have been a wind up, but if it was, it was a very mild and rather pointless practical joke. I never saw another punching melon while I was in China and I have not seen one since. It was the vegetable equivalent of someone who likes watching birds, going on about a new colour variety of chaffinch, or someone who likes whittling things, discovering a new, sized blade for a knife which turns out to be a bit blunt and not a very helpful size for getting a point on things, or someone who likes swearing discovering that "Hell's bells" is a synonym for "damn". I want to say "I hate punching melons" but I don't. I just think they are a little bit gay.


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