Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sick Of It

It's not being ill that's the problem so much as getting better, or at least feeling better. This is a horrible realization. When you are ill, well, games up, you're flat on your back, you can't do anything but moan and be grateful. It's when you are feeling better that the problems start, mostly because you are no longer allowed to do the things that it took thirty years of practice to perfect before you so unfortunately tumbled into intensive care. I do not, for instance, want to 'take a stroll round the block' showing a sudden enthusiasm for exercise, I want to sit in the pub for hours drinking lovely pints of beer, soaking. This is what I call a problem, and so far I have yet to solve it, other than by spending mountains of money in pseudo gratification on e-bay.
Meanwhile, those loved ones who have got so used to you helpless are now uneasy at the return of your semi, even very semi, independence. This situation must have inspired the screenplay of that film Misery.
Meanwhile, we have a long holiday period and I'm sick of it, I couldn't give a fuck if celebrities can cook, can spin, can win mastermind, can piss on mountains, have breakdowns in jungles, bake bread, fall flat on their face, can make programs about their own programs or fart. I'm going straight to work entirely clad by Julie in e-bay.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Tom Wolfe

Trying to divert myself from 'Campervan Crisis' on Disc Turbo I remembered my dream last night. I dreamt my 'Unauthorized Biography of Architecture' (text now complete, but probably awaiting such additions as 'Mistakes I have Made'- the Marquise de Sade thoughtfully added that to his memoirs, and 'Conspicuous Omissions' explaining why there is no mention of Alberti or Gaudi whatsoever) had been published as one of those Commando comic books I used to love. Now an architecture graphic novel is not such a bad idea! However Asterix might be good enough for me. Then again, what Hollywood did to Michelangelo with The Agony and the Ecstasy would put anything in Commando to shame.
I'm reading Tom Wolfe's 'Electric Kool Aid Acid Test' and I doing it out of a kind of penance. it's extremely hard to write or for that matter read about people who are permanently super stoned, and on occasion, literally stark raving mad. I suspect this is why Wolfe wrote it in the first place, as a kind of challenge. He must have said to himself; 'For my first book I'm going to crawl across America cooped up in a school bus populated by a troop of crazies gulping LSD laced orange juice from the fridge all the time and deduce if this is really an epiphany for mankind..........or not. So I read it with growing respect for all the things he doesn't say rather than what he does, for instance, he never says, which all of us would have at one stage or another 'GOD I HATE THESE PEOPLE!!!' Not once, at least not yet, instead he doggedly chases that epiphany like Bernstein and Woodward, and this, from a man who famously never wears anything but a white suit (with the crazies, your lucky to get indian warpaint at breakfast). That demands respect.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Jingle Bells

So having got through that great day of mass inferiority, I reclined, thankfully, to a decent nightcap, and caught the last half an hour of Ocean's Eleven -the Clooney version- wishing peace to all men including myself.
After all Downton Abbey had finished so pitifully with happy ever afters for the ruling classes (in 1920!) how was I too feel apart from deeply historically cheated, and the neighbours who'd come round had talked of little but doctors and pills and holidays in Mediera, and the meal, for such a simple roast, that seemed to have exhausted the washing machine entirely.
So I sank in to my chair and while nobody cared anymore could watch this super saturated edifice, and eventually turn up the sound a bit. Of course I cared not a jot for the mundanities of the plot, instead I will admit to feeling transported, for there is nothing like the sound and feel of a giant casino floor jangling away, nor the chill of the Vegas desert night to inspire a passionate chorus of 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland'. For me, it remains the most beautiful of things, a non stop celebration of human frailty, orchestrated to make you feel good, and ran by those who make you feel better, mammon's cathedral with bells on.
I thought back to the days and days I've spent prowling around Mandalay Bay in search of slightly better lounge acts, or rejoiced in the Venetian with my pal Jackson the chief bar tender, striking up conversation with hookers playing speed poker wearing shades of lemon meringue, or Big Men who drive Big Machines before they hobble off to see Elton John and cry. Jackson, who's job it was to make me, and everybody else, feel absolutely marvelous. Hi Jackson, Hi Doug Twist in the Peppermill Reno, Happy Christmas! You were my Santa's for sure.
Nothing like a good Christmas film eh!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas's I've Ruined

I excused a nasty black eye as an accident during an indoor American Football game at the university when really I'd just fallen out of a cheap (but I thought 'atmospheric') hotel bed with a nice girl from Wakefield. I nearly ruined a midnight mass by joining the choir in the belfry and it was all fine until I began to swing dangerously backwards and forwards in drunken carol singing. I went to a party wearing a fur coat and my father chased me around the house with a carving knife- it was a nice fur coat - belonged to one Debbie Kopel wherever she is. Innumerable Christmas's have 'peaked too early' to the detriment of main courses, and once the dalmatian ran off with the turkey. I've eaten ready made turkey dinner to porn movies and 007. I've been stoned in Reno and loved every minute in Las Vegas, and I've probably cried my way through a few of them. The problem is, Christmas always belongs to somebody and you are always in line to ruin it.
When everybody asks you how it is, how it will be, and how it's going so far, it's almost impossible not to remember such events. By comparison settling down and paying your American express bill is hardly exotic. Cheers and heartfelt seasonal greetings to you all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Muffins, Minx's...whatever, winners of X Factor, doomed forever and everywhere, but the elephant in the room is clear, there is an odd one out, and that's a bit mean because there's only four of them, if there were five it would be 3vs2 - better odds by far. I could not help but notice that for last night's Sun sponsored loyalty contest for the Great Patriotic War that one of them clearly spends longer in the dressing room than the others to increasingly less avail. She looked like a decorated Christmas pudding if you were inclined to be unfair, and unfair I generally am to teenage superstars. They won't like you looking at them, but look at them you must, and it would be a cultural studies crime not to wince at the 'Romford look' which has her speeding effortlessly in to the slipstream of Alison Steadman (and towards a certain part in Gavin and Stacey if the little muffs don't work out) alongside an accelerated career path that appears, within a matter of weeks of embarking on a life on the boards, to have her appearing inexplicably reminiscent of Cilla Black. Meanwhile she dances like she's tugging on a rope.
Don't blame me for such cruel observation, blame the record companies who cruelly exploit these poor mites and their audience in the name of massive and easy profit and a model for the music industry in general which is now so morally disgusting one can hardly think it might once have harbored genuine concern about anything except eternal love at thirteen years of age and the size of your arse.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Less booze, more E-bay

Staying away from the booze is fucking hard this time of year. Almost everything is driven to send you to the bottle; Family life especially, and almost anything on TV. Personally I can't wait to light the candles and settle down with Julie to a good game of Escape from Colditz. We have now arrived home to our own self styled grotto and I'm not inclined to let anybody else in. We have a candle to light on Christmas Eve and when it goes out fifty hours of beeswax fumes later it's over, thankfully over.
Cards are a particular bane, cards with round robin letters telling the recipient of the years activities soul destroying.
Do not start such a missive with 'We had our flu jabs a fortnight ago..' nor end it with 'We had to buy a new television...but don't listen to any of the salesmen, we did our own thorough research and are now perfectly satisfied with our purchase! Merry Christmas!.....' Such a letter found it's way to my mum and dad, another began 'We managed to finish the glass handrail on the balcony at long last....quite and engineering feat!!' or 'I was going to go on a business trip to Dubai but would you believe it I broke my foot at the organic farm the week before...'
Fucking hell, not exactly Scot Fitzgerald is it, but it is modern life, and my jaw dropped and my eyebrows rose in horror.
E- bay, now, is addictive. Less booze, more e-bay, that is the equation.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Steve Jobs does University

If...Steve Jobs had run a university department what would it have been like? Well we'd all be sitting on nice chairs for one. I'd discount his own more zen like taste in interior decor, or that of Norman Foster for that matter, as a mere sign of Jobs, and go back to the cosiness of the garage maybe, take delight in the feel of things rather than the feel of things falling apart. The food and drink would be excellent, no more crappy quiche ever again and when you touched a table you wouldn't spend five minutes wondering what it was made of. You wouldn't have to clock in, you'd be clocked in 24/7 right at the start, and graduate when time and funds ran out. A certain idealism would be involved, there would be an air of revolution, perhaps the perfect, ongoing variety, and periodically, dated formats would be junked entirely.
But would failure mean death?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Our Tribe

I was very excited about my ebay purchase of two oak art deco bookends until they arrived today. they looked, well, err...rather more substantial and distinguished on the screen, but these two might have been knocked up last week in somebody's garden shed. I winced when I thought of the price I'd driven myself too, and the other rival twit who'd done the same.
However, I am not disheartened, this must be happening to thousands of people everyday as husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends discretely and hopefully open mucho cardboard packaging to reveal....oh.....and promptly realize the great gift is not quite what it was in the minds eye.
Still, other things have a way of being much better than expected. the most unlikely of which was a friends fiftieth birthday party last might. Thankfully he'd had the gumption to hold the event in Blush, closed for the night, upstairs at the White Horse. But before you are imagining all the goings on just stop and imagine the opposite, quiet middle aged folks noodling along as best they can, commune with their favourite dancers, bar staff and host all fully dressed and quite prim and proper munching sandwiches and so on hardly raising a dicky bird of interest, but all very pleasant to be back with the tribe (remember, I'd been away near two months). It may not be much of a tribe, but at least for Julie and I, we realize that this is ours, honorary members if you like, me and Julie, take your seat at the bar Paul, and nobody will bother you at all. Delightful.
Of course, finding your tribe can take a long time, and there are many bogus versions. I've never enjoyed the tribe of architects, even architects bar's (there was on at Bristol when I was there) they are just hopelessly tedious in a way that Christie from Southend and her pals simply are not. This is not inverse snobbery either, it's directed at those who think that people who strip for a living are somehow weird, somehow impossible, when in my experience they appear the most natural folks in the world.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Lots of television celebrities are now engaged in the seasonal quest to be overenthusiastic to the sound of canned laughter, even Sandy Tostvig, who was never funny in the first place. But I wish somebody would have judiciously placed canned laughter all over Kevin McCloud's Grand Design last week for two very pertinent reasons. Firstly, now all Mother Teressa about housing for the people, Kevin expressed distain when he spotted his mug shot high and mighty over the site hoarding, advertising his great effort. What on earth did he expect? Did he think sales would employ somebody who might agree 'yes, you know what, lets keep Kevin's name out of it - it's hardly necessary?' Clearly Kev has no idea about marketing.
The next, earlier in the irksome process, was when he confessed to us privately (!) that he'd spent £450,000 of his own money (so far) with fuck all to show for it, then parted company with his forward looking N London architects who used a vocabulary almost exclusively involving the word 'pod' to eventually come up with a flat plan that almost any of us could have given him for nothing on day one! Even then he cocked it up.
Kevin would be very welcome round at our house for some instruction. It would be a lot cheaper and less misery making for everybody.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Dear John..

Got a letter today from my GP, it says, presumably because I'm ill, that I shall have to register with another surgery rather then theirs. This is Cameron's world alright, and it's pretty fucking demoralizing. I mean I've only just begun to get to know the doctors in there, only just begun to feel at home after years of not needing them at all, then this bolt out of the blue, like a Dear John letter from a would be long-term date! It happens, actually that our address is right on the bordering street of their area, and coincidentally, after thirteen years, I have just started costing them some money. Very miserable making on a grey day, after all those years of carefree gadding about, and all that National Insurance.
I don't think I want the NHS to take on the model of the British education system, do you?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Not Howling, Dozing

I doze a lot right now, my chair and I are very well acquainted, and I fantasize about writing fabulous blogs and howling at the moon, but for some reason I haven't been doing it. Even if I was horrified to realize that to be in a rock band you needed to win Celebrity Get..... and get the drummer on Strictly Dancing, even if I was dumbfounded at newshour exhortations to read your Dickens by the shore of the Thames, even as I noticed that there was suddenly a Christmas Channel on Sky (as if we need that!), even as I hated almost everything, instead I dozed.
There is however, much to be fearful of. Inactivity breeds contemplation, activity the opposite. Right now I feel like a character who walks out on to the balcony of some Christmas party in evening dress, staring in to the sunset and exclaiming something like, 'You know........there are very very bad things on the horizon', and taking a nice slug of whisky, before the bombs tumble down the next day. I groan with the responsibility.
However I seek solace in James Madge's book on Sabbioneta - he was my old tutor, with it he rises from the dead, and in very nearly done dissertations on life in the woods with Gunnar Asplund and the corrosive effects of Grand Designs (whose author can no longer watch 'popular' television).