How Badly I Wanted The Hat

When we are in the shop, we spot the hat.  It is a fine hat.  We try it out on my head.  “Nah,” I say when you ask if I am going to buy it.  No, even though it suits me perfectly.

We leave and look in other shops, consider other things, things that are not hats.  But damn, I think.  I want that hat.

I have my reasons for not taking it.  It costs more money than I intend to spend, especially with the ownership of hats feeling like such a fragile thing – it is so easy for them to blow away, or for someone to quickly swipe it from your head and run away laughing.  They get lost so easily around the house, there being no logical drawer or cupboard in which to store a hat – and when out and about it is easy to set a hat down somewhere and then forget to pick it up when leaving.

And still.

We look at things that we have planned to buy, but I am not paying full attention to these things, thinking constantly as I am of the hat, which I could always go back and get, only it would now feel a like a defeat.  A small one, but still a defeat.  If I was going to buy the hat, the time to do it was when I first tried it on, a glorious moment of spontaneity, consequences-be-damned, lets-just-buy-a-hat.

Now, I would have had to make a special trip back across town, creep in to the shop under the watchful gaze of the shopkeeper, and a thin smile would creep across her lips… there would be no need for me to try on the hat, to go through all that usual tomfoolery of putting different hats on my head, which is the whole fun of the hat-buying process.

I give only short, disgruntled answers as we discuss purchasing the things we have actually come to buy, and my lack of input in these discussions leave us having made decisions with which I am not fully happy.

As we make our way home, the hat and any idea of hat ownership now long gone, I try to rationalise the situation.

.357

It’s William Faulkner’s birthday today.  Here is a Lego version of the author, posing with a Lego version of the author of the .357 project, which I have recommended a few times here before.

Today, in a rare press release (which included the above picture), the author of 357 wrote:

As today marks the upload of the 357th blog post, archiving a longer text from 1997 (Faulkner’s centenary!), I thought I should at least mark the occasion with some attempt at drumming up a little genuine traffic.

So here’s what might pass for a Lego version of me (caught somewhere between getting ready for bed and going to an aerobics class) endorsing .357 by toasting it with what appears to be a flask of weird green fluid.

There’s a lot of words on that website, so if you want to tackle the whole thing you probably want to get comfortable with a coffee and / or whiskey.  But if you’re looking for a super-short post to get started, I recommend this one, which made me laugh.

Epitaph For A Thought

Without having the thing in front of him he could not be certain it was of value, but having lost the thing it began to feel important, or potentially important.  He could not remember the details of the thing, but he did know when he had had it and where and who was there and what had been happening-

“it was when we were talking about…”

-though it may have been that the thing had nothing to do with any of that.  At least it might be possible to recreate the conditions, to get everyone together again in the same place and strike up a similar conversation-

“I mean, if that’s ok, if you can make it, it would be…”

-and if all of that was in place, maybe he would find the thing again.  In the meantime, he continued searching, trying out words, the idea being – it felt – on the edge of his tongue, a thin slither of hair away, a distance of only a few words.

In The Shadow

In the morning it’s raining so you don’t go outside – you just open the back door so the horses can go out and run around. You spend all morning in the shadow of lunch, which has been set to bubbling on the stove whilst you mend things.

When everyone is hungry, you ladle lunch out – only then you have to de-ladle it because someone has sounded the warning. You call in the horses, set lunch back on the stove.

Afterwards, you re-ladle lunch back in to the same bowls, though it is now late. The horses whine to be back outside, but you don’t let them, not just yet.

Pizza Box / Art Object

The pizza comes in a box with the words, ‘Your fresh baked pizza!’ printed on top of the lid.  He takes a felt tip pen and crosses out the ‘y’.  Though this is still incorrect, being the plural.  Whilst he eats, he watches whatever is on, which turns out to be a program about dinner parties.  Once the pizza box is empty and he is full, he takes the felt tip pen again and decorates the grease-stained cardboard with the names of all his favourite naked women from the internet.

The Function Of Telling

They tell each other all kinds of things.  The function of this is not clear.  They do not take notes, but then most of the telling they are doing is not the telling of facts – it is ‘thoughts’ and ‘feelings’ or things that exist somewhere on a sliding scale between the two.  But then, the act of telling is established as fact, a certain reality has been constructed.  This needs writing down to make sense of it all – and afterwards it cannot be denied that it has been written, though all other details surely remain up for dispute.

Seems

We see each other, years later, after everything.

“How are you getting on, how are things?”

“Oh, you know.  Everything seems to be going fine.”

The word ‘seems’ hangs there in the air.

On the street we see people who have lost their minds.

There is no standard unit for measuring difficulty.

Day #11793 – Goodreads Updates, Fiction Update

PatiencePatience by Daniel Clowes

On the back cover, Patience is given the subtitle, “a cosmic timewarp deahttop to the primordial of infinite love”.

To which, I might expand: an anxious, obsessive suicide mission splattered across time, vivid with elemental injustice, powered by gloriously unexplainable impossible-improbable technology and revenge, populated by fatally-flawed heroes, illustrated with raw conviction, oddly unputdownable trip towards a Hollywood happy ending that remains characteristically unsettling.

Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)Mort by Terry Pratchett

Revisiting books you read as a child / teenager is always strange. Mort is the fourth book in the Discworld series and I was probably about twelve when I read this for the first time. The idea of Death looking to employ an apprentice is a trademark Pratchett conceit and he sets it up and then sets off on an adventure. The ensuing story is not as rich as later Discworld novels – Pratchett definitely became a more ambitious and complex storyteller as time went on. But the playful tone, the patter of dialogue, the jokes and wry observations are all as artfully realised as ever, and throughout this surprisingly short book (surely it’s lost a hundred pages in the last 20 years – I remember it being longer) it is clear that the author is enjoying writing.

Bret Easton Ellis and the Other DogsBret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs by Lina Wolff

At times, I wasn’t sure whether this book was supposed to be a novel or a collection of short stories strung together by an ongoing narrative. But I think part of the point of it is that it doesn’t have to decide one way or the other.

The late-teen narrator Araceli and her neighbour, a writer named Alba Cambo, are the twin drivers of the narrative and perhaps the books flighty nature can be ascribed to the teenage protaganist. We hear stories told by various characters connected to these two, stories that would seem to function as standalone pieces. There is also a short story by Alba Cambo, and some tales from Araceli’s time attending a college for translators. These various stories are interconnected, but they certainly do not come together towards a cohesive ending. They also all share a sense of unease, a smidgen of macabre and comic despair.

Wolff delivers all this with enough charm and wit to carry it off, and it ends up being a great advert for work not being mangled in to a more acceptable shape, and just being allowed to be what it is supposed to be.

View all my reviews

Summer Beach Read / Everything Is Fine Back Home

He sat on the sand to eat his ice-cream, despite the fact he was wearing office clothes, because… well, it didn’t matter anymore did it?  He checked his phone but there was no news and he could only assume that his wife had not returned home yet, or that the neighbours had not raised the alarm – perhaps the fire had been contained inside the house? Admittedly he didn’t know as much as he could, or should, about exactly how a house fire spreads, though this was maybe something he could have researched during the day, as soon as he had realised his mistake.  He cursed himself again, if only he had remembered to turn off the-

From along the beach, he heard children’s squeals and looked just in time to see a horse roaring out of the waves, and it took a moment to realise that the horse’s owner was in attendance and was now patting the animal and gently introducing it to the children.  At this point he revised his initial reaction and accepted that the horse had not roared out of the sea at all, merely emerged, trotting – and the fact that he had not been expecting a horse to appear did not make this was a violent act.

Once he had finished his ice-cream, he headed for home.  It was strange, he reflected, that everything seemed so normal – no black smoke in the sky, no conference of fire engines in the road.  He felt tired, as he stood at the front door and slipped the key in to the lock, looking forward to lying down, even if it had to be on a charred black stump of a bed.  His wife greeted him cheerfully, walking towards the door through their unburnt home.  And now it felt like he had slipped off a burdensome coat, shed troubling realities and whatever had really happened here today, it had righted itself and realities had done what realities can do.

Numerous Zeros

There was a crisis in the football tournament – all the games were finishing 0-0.  No one was scoring any goals and no one was conceding any goals.  There had been nine games so far, and so far there had been no goals.

The final scores in the games had been 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0 and 0-0.

At first, fans and pundits alike denounced the tournament as boring, but it soon became clear that now everyone was anticipating the first goal so much that they were rapt as never before, their eyes glued to the action so as not to miss it.

As far as the players were concerned, they were nervous wrecks.

The attackers had seen attackers on other teams fail to score and had lost all confidence in their ability – it now seemed impossible to imagine that anyone could ever score a goal again.  They tried as hard as they could, but now they were trying so hard that they could barely function – when they received the ball they were so tense they could hardly move.

Meanwhile, the defenders were more focussed on keeping the ball away from their goal than ever before.  It was clear to them that to be part of the defence that finally conceded the first goal of this tournament would be a source of eternal embarrassment.

Three more games finished without a goal being scored.  0-0, 0-0, 0-0.

It was beginning to become something quite beautiful.  When fans were filling out their wallcharts, they could see each little white box filled with a perfect round zero.  They watched the games from the edges of their seats and now when the players contrived to come close to scoring, they did not pray for that elusive goal, instead they crossed their fingers and hoped that the ball would somehow stay out, that the run would be preserved.

And so, just when it seemed that there was nothing anybody could do to guarantee that a goal would be scored at some point, the realisation dawned that there was nothing anybody could do to guarantee that a goal would not be scored.  In fact, it began to seem dully inevitable.

0-0, 0-0.

And then.  In the fifteenth match of the tournament.  A defender, perhaps now lackadaisical in the asumption that a goal could not be scored, let the ball run past him.  It allowed an attacker to run through.  He, perhaps now carefree having given up all hope of ever scoring, swung his foot at the ball.  He struck it cleanly, it arced up in to the air, beat the keeper and hit the back of the net.

For a moment, none of this seemed real, but once everyone realised it was, the overriding feeling was one of disappointment.  Even fans of the team who had just scored turned away in disgust, before turning back to hurl abuse at their players.

There were some minor riots in the streets.

Nobody paid any attention whatsoever to the rest of the tournament.