Sunday, 27 February 2011

Belfast and Loose

Just left Kelly at Heathrow, endlessly zig-zagging through customs, looking, in her triangular blue coat and pink hat, like a child's drawing. And about the most perfect thing in the world. I held her all the way down on the train, which went the wrong way, rather difficult for an underground train you'd think and you might be right, but our genius train-driver managed it, detouring via terminal four. But we had plenty of time and the drivers mistake was a chance to claw back some romance from the jaws of misery.

It all went very well; we were unharried and methodical, both areas where I traditionally excel (though Kelly will tell you that I'm more inclined to exhale, heavily and often, like a put upon teenager).It was almost fun except that she's gone and gone for a week. She has requested that I sort out my teeth.

Four years ago when we met it was not my snake hipped dance moves that entranced her (now sadly replacement hip moves) nor the lustrous silver crown adorning my head ( which now resembles the ghost of a hayrick ) but my dazzling smile. My teeth. The teeth that are now fenced off to stop druids attempting to celebrate the solstice at them. My teeth. The teeth that resemble a graveyard where actual teeth are buried. My teeth: the unlucky horse-shoe, the slashed seats in the stalls; the brown cornflakes in the packet. Not so good my teeth but, four years ago...dazzling. What happened? Two things: red wine and bruxism. Which sounds like a Club of Queer Trades song. I suffer from a medical condition called bruxism (street name: teeth-grinding). It sounds harmless enough but the constant erosion of my teeth from nocturnal gurning has left my molars looking a coastal granite shelf. At night I pop in a gum-shield like a dozy boxer. I should have a spitoon by the bed. The red wine is fairly self explanatory. Added to the fifty cups of tea I drink a day and you have a fairly sound basis for my butterscoth smile. I may as well have a plaster stretched over my mouth. I mean they're not Martin Amis bad but put me in a smock and you've got yourself a relief simpleton!

Kelly is very keen on me to get them sorted. My body has taken a bit of a pounding over the last four years and it's becoming increasingly difficult to lick me back into shape - there are no takers on that one. I'm aging in dog years, time-lapse dog years and something needs to be done. She'd like me pretty again. I'll give it a go.

* * * * * * * * * * *

On the way back from Heathrow on the train. An elderly woman gets on at South Kensington. She is dressed from head to foot in fur (she even appears to be wearing fur trousers). She looks like a cross between Joel Grey in Cabaret and Edith Head. An attractive Asian girl opposite me leaps up to offer her a seat (note that I don't). The old woman isn't having it. She insists but the old woman is adamant: she's going to stand. Neither one of them seems willing to back down. They stand either side of the empty seat in a standoff until the Asian girl gets off at Green Park and the old woman immediately sits down in the seat opposite. She smiles at me.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Slow, slow, quit, quit, slow

I have found a pleasant pub in North London! The Charlotte Despard on Archway Road (nowhere near me, obv) is foody, well proportioned, with film posters on the wall and a not totally awful wine list. And there is no one in it, which is obviously the best feature of all. It is ten past four on a Wednesday afternoon so this may well be subject to change, should the knock-kneed pant-displaying multi-hatted community make the trip down from the Boogaloo, just up the road.

I'm waiting for Kelly to emerge from her psychologist's appointment in Hill House just around the corner( I exclusively and amusingly refer to it as Hell House as i'm exactly that sort of tiresome prick ). My own appointment at the same building is on Thursday - we have his 'n' hers psychologists, like wedding-present towels. Though our dirty laundry is kept under wraps!*

I have resigned from work, or at least have attempted to engage the subject of resigning, with my manager yesterday. My lengthy and pathetic e-mail got an out-of-office reply with the promise that he would be in the office today. No reply. Even my quitting after a decade of work is farcical. This never happened to Patrick McGoohan!

*he said, writing his blog...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Doesn't do whatever a spider can.

There's been a spider living in my kitchen for the last six months. It hasn't moved. It moves; it does that odd bicycling thing that spiders do that makes it look as if they're washing, and perhaps they are. But it doesn't do anything. It doesn't kill anything, it doesnt even have a proper web: it's just suspended on a St David's cross of silk, hanging there.

Robert the Bruce would still be stuck in his cave, hugging his knees with a numb arse, if he were me.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Think I just resigned. This will probably have some sort of negative impact on my life.


Faced once again with the crushing ediface of London. Its largeness, its dirtiness, its loping packs of feral children out knifing each other at bus-stops from three in the afternoon. The grime, the smell, the pretentiousness, its unknowability; its sprawl, its glittering, upsetting expense. Its so old. Its bones are old, even the flesh of London is old, falling away, crumbling beneath the teeming masses; the tourist exodus that keeps the shithole afloat; the migrant workforce that rebuilds and sustains its rotting flesh like so many friendly bacteria in a yakult commercial. Public transport is the worst and so therefore it is my fault that the world is so awful because I'm poor. If I hadn't wasted my time attempting to do something creative with my life and instead spent it in the aggressive pursuit of angry naked wealth it could have been a very different story. I might never again have had to go on a bus or experienced the clammy horror of the peak time tube. But this is clearly nonsense; its not like I had a choice! Those with a specific talent for making money make it in any field. Its a gift, a talent, a blessing and one that I don't have. To berate oneself for having no financial nous at all seems like an extra punishment; I'm poor and hate myself for being poor. But I'm still poor.

So I'm on the bus, I'm on the tube, my teeth fall out, my clothes go out of even the tangental relationship to style that they had and then slide back in again, squeezing themselves around my ever thickening form. And my wife has nothing and I can give her nothing. It is a crime to be poor in London. Its a crime to be poor at forty. And its a shame.

Kelly is very quiet and withdrawn at the moment. I'm sizzling with an untapped rage against the cruelty of existence. It's not a good mix. But there are moments of tenderness and serenity. We have each other, for now.I'm not going to let some bastard disease spoil that.

On the train to the spa town of Basers Basers. The Victoria line is down but other than that the journey is fine. A man sold me my ticket at Waterloo. An actual himan employee of the station. It was one of the oddest things to happen for a while: are people making a comeback?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

No B.T.? No comment.

No broadband again. I'm writing a stiff letter to BT. On cardboard.

I'm in Basingstoke again. Everyone else is at church and I'm blogging. There's a snap-shot of an existential crisis right there.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The cancer has now moved to Kelly's spine. The tumours on her liver have increased in size and she has a new one on her hip, which may require surgery in order for her to remain mobile (hip cancer? Who gets hip cancer? I never heard of hip cancer). This was her last appointment at The Royal Free and I for one am well rid of it. Nothing good ever happened there; just the slow erosion of health, her trust and belief in people. The cancer is tearing through her and nothing seems to be able to stop it. It is a horde; a host. I have no idea how long she has left, how long I have with her.

I wasn't with her when she found out; her mum was. I had a psychologists appointment. I tried to cancel but Kelly wouldn't let me, reasoning that the best person to talk to would be a psychologist,under the circumstances. I could think of a better person right off the top of my head but she was busy, comforting her mother.

Walking to the appointment at Manor House in Islington I walk past a church. It has an Alpha Church banner draped over its venerable exterior, like forgotten bunting. The poster promises an examination of "The Meaning of Life" and I realise that I don't really understand what it is advertising. Why would life have a meaning? What would it possibly be for? I'm sure they offer a more or less arbitrary framemework of non-empirical interpretation of life and a quite literal deus ex machina. But life? Why should it have meaning? Red in tooth and claw isn't fucking half of it.

My psychologist got an earful today. As per usual she looked worried throughout and wanted me to have a lot more sessions. I'm having them weekly now when initially there was nothing for about a month available. I must give good madness. It's probably a mixture of the lack of eye contact and the occasional mirthless guffaw, like a frightened chimp. I look like I could start hurling dung at the smallest provocation. I did actually cry this time. I've been weeping spontaneously in the street, watching adverts and in the library (which got me out of a fine). But never in the psychologists were I usually just deliver a stuttered speech in staccato barks.

I'm growing as a person.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

More bad news. More cancer. More medication that doesn't work. Less time left together. Another round of phone-calls. More tears, endless tears. I can't understand why nothing is working. She was fit strong and healthy and this thing is eating her up from the inside and nothing even slows it down. I'm so sorry. My poor beautiful girl.

An ology in ineptitude

Kelly spent Friday morning attempting to sort out the ongoing problems with our BT package. None of it works and every attempt to make it work makes it worse. It underscores just exactly how unsuited to the modern world I am (there is a reason why there are no pictures on my blog! I have tried, it just doesn't seem to work). Wireless Broadband seems predicated on magic; unknowable influences, probably to do with lodestones, crystals or some sort of shamanic ritual. We have no phone, no television and no internet. All attempts to fix it have failed, leading to baffled conversations with baffling BT technicians.

I take up the fight on Saturday morning. On each occasion my profile is raised, I am further prioritised, my customer status is enhanced. In practice this means nothing, of course: I'm still endlessly repeating my name, address, a short biographical sketch and the telephone number I'm calling about. An hour and a half on the phone, four BT technicians and one dash in a hailstorm to top up my mobile, and I'm told that my system will be fixed by the 18th "at the latest". This is the twelth. I'm then sent a confirmation text with the caveat that if the fault isn't with BT equipment I will be charged £130. I sent a short and direct text back.

* * * * * * * * *

We're moving. Kelly's drugs have been approved by Belfast Medical Association so we're away to Norn at the end of March. My new life beginning at forty. This should be interesting.

* * * * * * * * *

Life without the internet is odd. I'm reading "Darwin's Island" and watching "TV Burp", both laudable, but I feel as if I should be doing something else...this blog is like something someone giving up cigarettes would do to keep his hands busy. If I can't slag off adverts on telly, while watching telly, what the hell use am I? Colgate Sensitive pro-relief is getting off scott free! The Vodaphone Bees! The fucking Vodaphone Bees! (what's the story there anyway? Why bees? Aren't telephone communication masts supposed to be fucking with the bees navigational systems? Isn't that twisting the knife a bit. Poor the bees.)*

* * * * * * * * *

Michaelangelo was known as "The Inventor of Pork Things" by his contemporaries because of his need to stick cocks on all of his statues. This is a somewhat unrelated note, by the way.

* Further perusal tells me that these are in fact "Free-bees" or "Freebies" to indicate the range of high value offers available to Vodaphone customers. It's a pun, then. That's all right then.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lumber up, limbo down

Trip down south to see Doug and Gwen and Eirlys. I take an age to get ready, luxuriating in the empty flat. It makes no odds: I look awful. I'm aging like David Hemmings did; quickly and cruelly. There's no more blush on the rose and a lot of little pricks pointing it out to me. I've done a month of not eating, not drinking and exercising every day and actually appear to have gained weight.

I shift my jaw around under the living room lamp. The bulb is low energy and consequently the room is lit like a Michaelangelo. I look for the angle in the mirror, the one that used to make the jowls recede.But I can't find it. I need a cryptanalyst to crack the cipher, or a go on the Turing machine to chase it down. But it eludes me, lost to the ages.

Tiger Woodn't

I am obsessed with the Gillette fusion pro-glide advert. To the extent that I watched an American man on Youtube take the "Pro-glide Challenge". The results were disappointing. Firstly he had a goatee: I have nothing against goatees of course; they're just hair; blameless innocent hair. My massive problem is with the people who grow them. The only people who should have goatees are deeply conservative stage magicians and snooty Grandees. Any one else is either a poseur hipster or somebody trying to cop the allure and mystery of a stage magician without the the credentials. If you're going to grow a goatee learn a card trick or how to pour a glass of water into a rolled up newspaper. Or if you're aping a Grandee then be seen as often as possible smoking a cheroot on a balcony. That's what Grandees do, in my experience. So I assumed the worst when confronted by this character, with his Utah flat American voice and his shapeless plaid shirt; I assumed he was taking the "challenge" ironically.

There is a misconception amongst a particular brand of ham-headed middle English bore that Americans don't DO irony. They think it is an adjective describing the Flat-Iron building. The opposite is true. Since Americans developed, in a beaker, paid for with NASA dollars, a pure strain of irony in the late fifties it has been endemic. Nobody knows if they mean it any more, man.

But this guy DID mean it! He had had a bad shave with a previous Gillete product, tweeted about it, and Gillette had sent him the Pro-glide and asked him to accept the challenge. And he had, filming himself while doing it. He then proceeded, ploddingly, to give himself the worst, most cack-handed shave I have ever seen! He slathered a thin gruel of suds over the bottom half of his face and began randomly scratching away in a criss-cross formation, occasionally running the razor under the tap to remove the foam - he hadn't even filled the sink.

Unsurprisingly the shave wasn't too great, something he noted with every stroke: "It's still quite rough. It's still dragging" he intoned mournfully. It was like watching amateur pornography stolidly undertaken by a man who thinks a blow job really relies on exemplary blowing. And like a lot of amateur porn I didn't make it to the end.

Gillette's own advert is actually worse, taking place in the same corporate macho-land that sees platinum cards ping bra straps at twenty paces and where maximum strength flu remedies are the ultimate tool in business one-up-manship. Where else would a man leaping into your bathroom, tooled up and shouting "Hey Buddy!" manage to successfully engage you in accepting a "challenge". Perhaps in prison. Being propositioned in a bathroom means nothing in corporate macho-land as there are no gays at all, just well groomed, handsome men who look after themselves. Gays probably have their own toilets like that other semi-mythical beast: Woman. The fact that this appears to be happening at work**, where it's natural to strip to a skimpy towel in order to shave, in anticipation of "Buddy" guy* and his film crew, is unsettling in itself. This looks like very niche marketing to me.

That it's based on the American adverts is obvious and we all know how Americans feel about ordinary looking people on their televisions (there are none. Except the fatty on "Gilmore Girls")and hats off to Gilette for not simply revoicing them, a la "Just for Men" or "Vanish". And don't get me started on the all-you-can-do-is-chew lip synching of the "Accident Hero". But hats as resolutely jammed on as Vlad the Impaler's accountant's, for not changing a word of the script, even, especially, down to the opening "Hey Buddy".

So who is it aimed at? Young, sporty, straight men, with office jobs. (there is much joshing and muck-about fun at the end. Gays never take their mucking about seriously) The cash rich and taste poor: Beamer drivers.

Gillette you have alienated me and my plodding American cousin, albeit for very different reasons. For shame. Buddy.

*Not Buddy Guy, obv.

** Closer inspection indicates that it takes place in a gym. No one shaves in the gym. Old men wander around with their giant balls hanging out like cocky conker players but nobody shaves.

Monday, 14 February 2011

What can I have? I can have nothing.

No broadband at the moment. No TV or landline either. BT have prioritised me and are "aware of my frustrastion" but cannot promise to have the fault fixed before Thursday! And I don't trust them to fix anything by then either. It's taken six calls and a visit from an engineer and as far as I can see they still don't actually know what the problem is.

So I'm getting diseases from an internet cafe keyboard. It's a good job I only type with one finger - though I may have to wrench it out by the root to halt the risk of contagion.

More on this, marbled with spite, when I have more time on the internet. Fucking imbeciles.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Mr Higgins Changes Trains

A trip to Letchworth Garden City. Should be a pleasant day out but the pin-pricks of annoyance are constantly there - will I ever achieve the sainted state of "chillax-dom"?

Kelly has left some medicines in my sister's house and I am off to retrieve them. It's difficult to work out which train actually goes to Letchworth. There are no signs, the monitors are all blank and there is nothing on any of the platforms. Actually that's not true: there is plenty happening on the platforms; the station is busier than at rush hour. The traditional staples of delayed trains are all in place: milling throngs of slightly disappointed people in hats, foreigners waving their hands and shouting, appearing to be far more annoyed than they actually are. There are home counties biddies with quivering pink chins and jabbing fingers and bemused back-packers prepared to sit it out. The untroubled rail-staff are as relaxed and content as a fat Southern Sheriffs, rousing themselves from hammocks, mint juleps in their fat soft hands.

But there are no delays; the train, my train, arrives unnannounced but apparently on time. I tuck myself into a seat next to the toilet and waft my Earl Grey under my nose to disguise the whiff. All I have to do is look out of the window at some of the finest rolling green golf-courses this country has to offer. Alas no. It's TOO sunny. That harsh white blinding sun that makes motorists flip their flip-down shades and make me, like fully a quarter of the population*, sneeze continually. I stop at Stevanage, which isn't worth sneezing at, but I'm off again all the way to Letchworth, alarming the posh woman opposite me, with her fur hat and Liz Tremaine novel, to the extent that she flashes me (a weak smile) and pisses off down the carriage. Hey ho.

When I arrive at Letchworth my sister isn't in.

*Q.I. trufact.


A few words gillette have missed out of their recent advertising campaign:

sweep, clench, torque, abrasive, wet, smear, blast, tunnel, fury, grist, turbine, choke, freeze, brazier, propulsion, entry, gouge, vapour trail, red rocket's glare, agile, dermabrasion, blister, glut, shrapnel, razor-blade, penis-enhancement, 8 inches on the slack, fumbled pass, single bed, Corbey trouser press, lasagne-for-one.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Here comes the science party

When did businesses start issuing "challenges" to the public? "Will you accept the "bacon and star-anais pepsi-dux challenge"?" "Can I surprise you in a public toilet with an exposed razor blade?"

One company is asking women, or potentially Robert Plant, to film themselves "swishing" their hair and to then download it to their web-site as a "challenge".

What they are really saying is "please try our new product"; which is what proper advertising is supposed to do but with a bit of style and money actually earned. I don't want to be challenged by my groceries - I'm only interested in whether I can afford it, whether it smells nice and whether it has an active ingredient; a liposone, or a nanosphere or some L. casei immunitas. Now that's advertising: I didn't even have to spell-check L. casei immunitas.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Being Human" has just informed me that people no longer say "fancy". Is this true? Really? Christ!

Kicking against the Brix

In the eighties Brix Smith was ray of golden sunshine in the slate grey firmament of English post-punk (it wasn't "Indie" then and it definately wasn't "alternative" (though the charts were, confusingly). She was, loosely, an ex-Bangle who moved to Manchester and married Mark E. Smith (can you imagine - worse than National Service! Like dodging the draft only to be caught by rising damp). She contributed massively to my favourite Fall era (This Nations Saving Grace, Bend Sinister, The Frenz Experiment) before leaving the band to form The Adult Net where she smiled her Californian Smile and tossed her Californian Hair behind a Rickenbacker as big as she was. And while Adult Net weren't very good they certainly looked nice with handsome Clem Burke from Blondie on drums and handsome Craig Gannon out of The Smiths on second Rickenbacker, so it was just good having them around. They were like a less good version of The Voice of the Beehive.

The other day, in the day, I turned on the television. This is not something I would ordinarily do, even in my depressive state, but the K twins were growing weary of my endless 70s

horror films and wanted to watch something involving makeovers or property.

The programme was a Gok Wan fashion roadshow. I like Gok Wan, even though in saying so I sound like a homosexual with a cold propositioning a Spaniard. I like his severe lesbian look, I like the way he feels he can do and say anything to anyone based solely on the fact that he used to be fat! (It doesnt work the other way: I cant get much leverage out of the fact that I used to be thin. Not even pity or free cakes.) And I like the way that he uses being gay to latch onto big wobbly tits. I see a lot of gay men do this and I wonder why. The only other time I've ever seen that greedy sexless need to press the flesh is a Granny presented with a chubby defenceless infant. Are women giant babies to gay men? Or is it, devoid of its sexual component, just a top laugh juggling the jugs?

So Gok is travelling the country looking to put together a catwalk collection from the high street while is rival designer must do so with posh label togs. The audience then decide, with "ready steady cook" style ping-pong paddles, which one is the winner.

His opponent was a small blonde American woman dressed head to toe in leopard skin print and carrying two of those slobbering sad-eyed dogs that designers in American family comedies about apes that live in hotels and dogs who are just dogs* always have to carry. Usually in a handbag. She was loud and vacuous and at the considerable sympathetic disadvantage of appearing on television enthusiastically buying a £9000 vintage (second hand!) dress. It was Brix E. Smith. Or rather it was somebody called Brix Smith-Start and she was playing a T.V. fashion diva, rather badly, on cable t.v.

It's been twenty years : we've all changed.I've gone from being a thin and handsome man who thought he was clever to a fat, ugly man who still thinks he's clever against all evidence. But at least I've stayed true to myself. I'm still someone that the twenty year old, poverty stricken, smart-arse, under-achiever would recognise. I spent much of the nineties dressed as a sort of mod warehouseman and much of the two thousands dressed as a television comedian. I'm now back in straight legged jeans, doc martens and an overcoat. My makeovers have failed: I'm back where I started. This is no defeat; this is astonishing self justification!

Brix may be on the telly, she may be a successful designer, she may have an unusually affirmative surname, but is she happy?

My advice to her would be ditch it all. Pick up a Rickenbacker, head back to the States and start writing songs with Sussanah Hoffs. By candle-light. In your underwear. Especially you, Sussanah. Which in my mind is where you started. You can have it all and you can have it all back again.

*The Beethoven series of films. Beethoven is just a dog isn't he? He has no powers at all. The film is just Charles Grodin being embarassed by his dog. In fact Beethoven may merely represent Charles Grodin's film career.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Leper of Limehouse

The doctor was bearded and sympathetic and where he said he would be.But for the second time today I'm looking into the eyes of a medical professional who clearly thinks there "is something wrong with me". And as usual there was the lingering expectancy hanging over the question of my smoking and drinking. There must be something about my flushed and grizzled appearance that suggests that my every leisure hour is spent scouring the gutters for dog-ends and discarded cans of tenants extra. It could be the jacket and boots of course. I may think that I look suave in my velvet collared, charcoal-grey Edwardian over-coat and keenly buffed ox-blood Dr. Martens but squint and it's a navvy in a donkey jacket about to artlessly resurface your patio. In the seventies.

Actually I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the billion or so shiny reflective surfaces that Canary wharf has to offer and realised that I looked like a leading expert in my field about to be interviewed on BBC 4. Though I have no field.

I'm writing this in "The Prospect of Whitby" pub looking out at the blue, white and brown of the Thames. As the tide swells each wave the flat plane of the water turns the exact shade of Kelly's eyes in sunlight. It may be my favourite colour.

Just as Limehouse revealed no Golems and Fu Manchu or "Brilliant" Chang were not hiding around each corner there are no vampires in "The Prospect of Whitby". There is a big picture of Arthur Daly and Terry McCann giving it the thumbs up however. There aren't even any goths just toothy cockneys eating fish and chips.

One of the cockneys gets a telephone call; his ring-tone is the "Benny Hill theme". He lets it ring for a good twenty seconds before answering and I tut loudly. He answers:

"Yeah, no, back from the hospital. Yeah, no, she has to have the leg off! Says she's still got the other one though..."

I feel like a heel!

Later the same man bounds up to me and asks for a light. When I tell him I have no light as I don't smoke, he nods and farts incredibly loudly before walking away. I don't have the social aptitude to deal with this sort of situation!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

On my way to the spa town of Basers Basers for "The Cure". The cure, if my mother has anything to do with it, will be two litres of French red and a cheese course the colour of a Swedish flag. My mother knows I like three things: red wine, blue cheese and fois gras. And regardless of my dietary needs these luxury essentials are always there.

In order to avoid this I have attempted surprise visits in the past. But this has invariably lead to a long cold wait outside the house (I have no key - my brother borrowed and lost them all), a bollocking for not telling her I'm coming and then a trip to Morrisons to stock up on lark's tongue and truffle wine and a wheel of veal cheese.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Healine in today's Sun: "Return of the T.V. morons". It was actually announcing the return of Beavis and Butthead but could realistically apply to anything currently appearing on any channel at any time. Beavis and Butthead do at least have a clear and sustained critical voice, putting them head and shoulders above most modern television fodder. I expect to see them join BBC4's flagship Arts strand.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Madness of King John

Back in Canary Wharf waiting on a mysterious doctor's appointment: a doctor Philips potentially on the 9th floor of my least favourite building in London. I'm early and enjoying my first Earl Grey of the day outside Canary Wharf people watching: if these are people.

Everybody is in business or in the business of selling food to people in business so everybody is corporated to the max. The only dash of colour is from Cleo Rocos' hair as she strolls past, arm in arm with an elderly woman whom I took to be a relative or possibly just somebody who got caught up in her personal gravity, stately as she sweeps past the charcoal drones. Suits are worn like armour here, with only silly old fallible human heads sticking out the top giving the game away. Men's shoes are positively medieval; great long black swords of shoes, conical and curling. Nobody looks comfortable, nobody can walk properly, shoe-horned into this hostile environment. Only the shoe-shine guy looks content, reading to himself as nobody bothers him; these people don't need a once over with a chamois, they need a hammer and a forge.

Had my first psychologist's appointment at Hell House. My brain had tricked me into believing that it was at 9.30 instead of nine, so I was late out of the door and no bus came. A good start; I barely had time to fill in the "Are You Going To Commit Suicide in the Foyer" pamphlet before the psychologist was on me. Her name is Alice, she had big sad Greek eyes and she barely said a word for the next hour as I took her on a whistle-stop tour of my life over the last couple of years. At the end she commended me for my "calmness" and recommended that I see her a lot more often than she had originally planned so either she is hot for my sad wisdom or she thinks I'm about to cut loose with a high-powered rifle from the roof of the Finsbury Park Mosque.

Doctor number two coming up now so lets see how that pans out...there is a history of this being pointlessly stress filled so we'll see what happens.