Monday, October 31

reading and writing books

After I enjoyed reading The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis, I looked for articles on the web. In one interview, there was a list of Amis's advice to writers, for example:

• "Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as the previous one. That goes doubly for sentences."

Everyone who reads this blog has written a book, except me. I wonder if I have what it takes to write. Looking at the rest of Amis's tips:

• "Watch out for words that repeat too often."  I think he forgot to add that words like "it all balances up" are so important that you can never have too much of them.

• “Never use ‘amongst.’ ‘Among.’ Never use ‘whilst.’ Anyone who uses ‘whilst’ is subliterate.”   I couldn't agree more.

• "You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule."  What if you want to read pornography?

• “You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.”   I rest my case.

So on the evidence, I could easily write a book. I can only see one problem: a writer needs to be an effed-up sort of person. All creative people are riddled with addictions, contradictions, and mental problems. A normal well-adjusted joe like me is happy just getting on with normal things.

I read another book recently called Are You Boys Cyclists? I couldn't put it down, as they say. Actually I had to put it down, but only to eat. I continued reading on the bus to work, laughing aloud. I hope nobody was reading the graphic parts over my shoulder. A hugely enjoyable book by someone who knows how to write. Honest and depraved. Who would have thought a postmodern novel could be so much fun!

Tuesday, October 25

good call, albert!

When I turn down a deifheid invitation and the cellmate goes on her own, I sometimes get a nagging suspicion that I may be missing out on something wonderful. Maybe a world class jazz muso would have been at the dinner.

Turns out that the dinner was everything I thought it would be, and more. Even the cellmate, the most optimistic and charitable person I know, came home indignant. Apparently there were two alpha deifheids present, and the competitive self-aggrandizing filled the stage.

Kindly, the sweetie deifheidette sent me a piece of her home-made pecan-pear-chocolate cake, so I was still able to savour the only positive part of the affair. Good call, Albert!

Saturday, October 22

friday night

When summer hits these shores, air conditioning systems take a few days to catch up. After working all yesterday in a boiling building, I had to go to a stifling theatre at night. Sitting bolt upright to keep the back in tune, I blocked the view of the folk behind, but maybe they enjoyed puzzling over the lumps out of my head.

It was an Australian play, apparently an old classic. What can I tell you? I didn't pay for my ticket. And there were two intervals. I stayed on in the bar after the first interval.

An empty theatre bar during a performance is a spiritless place, but at least you can enjoy the private soap opera between the bar staff. I found a table under a fan, and read The Independent on the phone. After finishing my beer I started on someone else's half-empty bottle. In the tropics you need to keep up your fluids. At the second interval, our little group emerged wilting and sweating.

I went back in for the third act, and was able to pick up the story perfectly. Is that the mark of a good play perhaps? This time I stood at the back, by the draught of an open door.

Today we're going to do a repeat of the recent 3 hour walk round the lake, and this time I'll remember to take photos. Now to fuel up on carbs and black tea. Things are looking up. Tonight's the night I don't have to go for dinner at the deifheid place.

Thursday, October 20


I had to go away to a hotel for the weekend, for the cellmate's birthday. I behaved myself, except for a few bedroom beers - a whole bottle and a half on Saturday night, and I finished the second one in the morning.

My companion was at her best. I don't have her permission to publish any details, but here's a disguised image at the seaside cafe breakfast.


She ordered some kind of seafood creation, and I read the paper.

One good thing about going away is the coming back home. Even going back to work on Monday is good, especially when you know you've got Tuesdays off. And Thursdays. And Wednesday mornings. Hurray for the ebb and flow in the job.

Then next weekend there's an invitation to dinner at the complete and utter deifheids' place, to hear ad nauseam about their 6 week euro tour. The pretext for the invite is a belated celebration of the cellmate's birthday, but I reckon if they chose to be overseas at birthday time, that's their loss. I'm too old now to waste a single evening, so I've told them to go ahead without me. Last weekend I was on birthday duty, now it's their turn. Of course now I feel a bit mean, and it'll be a shame not to see the female deifheid, who's a sweetie and only deif by association.

PS - newcomers to the concept of the deifheid may wish to consult the Taxonomy Of Deifheidism.

Monday, October 17

a deifheid taxonomy

The specialist literature describes three kinds of deifheid.

CLASS C - a Class C Deifheid is somebody who's physically deaf. The modern term is hearing-disabled. Some of them are clients of mine, and I think I usually get on well with them, perhaps helped by the fact that, with my speech disability and accent, I already rely on body language and hand signals all the time. Class C deifheids are the only deifheids deserving of compassion.

CLASS B - Class B Deifheids are musically disabled. Through no fault of their own, they have no taste at all. Fans of Black Sabbath, or Barry Manilow, or Pachelbel's Canon - they're all Class B. The jury's still out on Brian Wilson. Surprisingly, Class B's can still live full and useful lives.

CLASS A - this is the gold standard. A Class A Deifheid is somebody who's empathically disabled. Sufferers lack the ability to listen to anybody except themselves. Put several of them together in a room, and there's turmoil. Each one wants to self-publicise, none of them can bear to listen.

A Class A deifheid is a hopeless case, a waste of space, someone trapped in infantile narcissism. It is generally accepted that the worst thing you can do with a Class A is to listen to them. You'll only feed their affliction. You can't advise them either, since they can't take in anything you say. There's nothing you can do for them, and the prognosis is poor.

Class A Deifheidism is often diagnosed with other behavioral disorders ("dual diagnosis"). For instance, many Class A deifheids suffer from NPD too. Indeed, the jury is still out over whether they are two discrete maladies or one.

Wednesday, October 12


Albert's got a hole in his head. I'd better explain.

This is what an electric hair clipper looks like with the comb attachment fitted:

But when someone forgets to fit the attachment, it becomes a shaver.

I'm not at liberty to tell you whose fault it is, so I'll just say this: never mix a domestic argument with a home haircut.

I suggested he could make the best of a bad job, and shave it all off, but for some reason he doesn't want to look like a complete blissheid.

Sunday, October 9

3 hours out of your life

Last night we had to go for a restaurant dinner. Thankfully, it was with only one other couple, and they're not deifheids at all, lovely people really. But it was three hours crammed in a noisy environment, where everyone's shouting while cupping their hands to hear better.

And when each course arrives, people ooh and ahh theatrically, as if you've just given them socks as a christmas present.

To me, restaurants and cinemas are only bearable when they're nearly empty, and when you can leave after an hour and a half.

After 3 hours sitting in the same seat, you end up despising the world and everyone in it. But at least you know it's going to end eventually. Imagine the poor criminals in prison 24/7! No wonder they go mad and stab each other to get some peace and quiet in solitary.

Last night I tried the hotboy technique of getting drunk to make it slightly less awful. But then you wake with a sore heid at 3 a.m, and blog about it on the phone. Dearie me! But I've downloaded the new hotboy ebook, also on the phone, and I must admit I'm enjoying it a lot. So I might sign off now and get back to the book, or maybe read some blogs.

Wednesday, October 5

another walk

Did a three hour walk on Saturday, all the way round a lake. Even though there were only few points where the lake was visible from the track, what I enjoyed was the variation of scenery along the way. You know (or maybe East coasters don't) how they say Arran is all Scotland in miniature? Well this was almost every kind of New South Caledonian terrain compressed into 9 kilometers. By the time I realized I could take photographs as proof, the walk was nearly over.

Unlike most national parkland here, where dogs are banned because they eat the indigenous wildlife, this one allowed dogs. The bloghound would have loved it.

Tuesday, October 4

hols again

(written last week before rain stopped play and Albert retired hurt, and we all aged another week)

I've got a fortnight off now. An hour's weeding each day should clear them all. With headphones and an audiobook or podcast, I actually enjoy weeding.

Swam twice - slightly shorter distances but faster than ever since I worked out how to get more oxygen with each breath. The pulse reaches 120, and my heart occasionally goes spastic for a second or two. I'd get it checked out, but I'm hardly in a high risk group.

Reading: short stories by Alexei Sayle. Diary Of A Madman by Gogol. When I first read it decades ago, it seemed an accurate portrayal of insanity. This time round, it's like any day in the life of Albert. I started Will Self's Liver, but gave up on it - like a smart alec Martin Amis, but too grotesque and too clever for me.

Videos. While on the treadmill with light dumbells, I've indulged myself with The Thick Of It, and e.g. The Pink Floyd Story.

Saturday, October 1


Went mad yesterday, mowing, feeding, weeding, pruning and shearing. Had to put my clothes on at the end, to trim the hedge beside the neighbour's living room. Probably just as well anyway, on safety grounds.

Managed to reactivate an old shoulder injury with the shears.

In the night I heard the possum on the roof pause at the edge, as it realised that its favourite landing zone of tree branches had disappeared.

One year, just after pruning, I heard a possum jump off the roof into where the branches had been. The thud as it hit the ground, and the crying and wailing, was awful. Kept me awake so it did.