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"somehow, irresistibly, the prime thing was: nothing mattered. life in the end seemed a prank of such size you could only stand off at this end of the corridor to note its meaningless length and its quite unnecessary height, a mountain built to such ridiculous immensities you were dwarfed in its shadow and mocking of its pomp."
-from 'something wicked this way comes' by ray bradbury
so, i'm in my hellish 'reading poetry' seminar and we've been handed two poems, both dealing with the holocaust: 'september song' by geoffrey hill and 'the book of yolek' by anthony hecht. we're forced into groups of three and go at it, decoding, mining out meanings and technical tricks. the former of the two poems features the line: "just so much zyklon and leather", and while i'm jotting down the word melancholic, i hear someone on the other side of the classroom asking what 'zyklon' means; muttering ensues. i look up and everyone over that side of the class is looking expectantly at me. after an awkward moment i say "um, it was the gas the nazis used to kill the jews." another slight pause before karen says "see? i told you he'd know." i'm not sure if this means my fellow students think me wise or vaguely fascistic.
and so, just before the suffocating idiocy of christmas is upon us, hostess elisabeth is offered another chance to have her spine injections. well deck the fucking halls. this time though it's to be at the royal london, whitechapel. hostess elisabeth accepts the offer and informs her work. her workmates are somewhat less than encouraging:
man: i hear you're going into hospital on thursday, good luck
with that. going to barts again?
and so it is that we find ourselves up at the crack of dawn on the winter solstice, sitting in the royal london hospital and waiting... and then waiting. when we first arrive, we're looked at as if we were just squeezed out of the back end of a dog. hostess elisabeth's name is "not on the list". ga-reat. we wait a little more, and then a little more. then an announcement is made; a chilly sense of déjà vu fills the room. could they really be cancelling us again? it turned out that for some reason of staggering ineptitude, hostess elisabeth's procedure wasn't actually due to take place until the next fucking day. clerical error. fan-tastic. to their credit, they all jump into action and after the surgeon agrees to simply work through the day and get everyone done, we're told that if we wait (e v e n m o r e) then she will be seen. very soon the shortest day of the year starts to feel very much like the longest (eventually we're there until about 6). the surgeon comes and talks to us, writes something on hostess elisabeth's back (which, i'm told, tickles) and fills us in on the reality of the procedure -rather than the watered down giving-false-hope version the other doctor had previously told us. the spine injections are not a cure as we'd been lead to believe, nor are they the first step in a cure. in fact, there is no cure. her discs are herniated and they'll stay that way. all the injections into the epidural space do is reduce the inflammation and allow the nerves to calm down a bit. they have a roughly 50% chance of working at all and even if they do she may need them every year. wonderful news. anyhoo eventually she's wheeled away to the insertion room, or whatever they call it and then some forty or so minutes later she's back. apparently the last thing she remembers before the anaesthetic took hold was telling the surgeon that she still had her pants on, and hearing him say "o don't worry about that we'll pull them down" -and then she was out like a light. we'd been told that as it was a sedative rather than a full-on general anaesthetic, she might remember the whole procedure, or she might remember none of it at all; both were normal. turns out she remembered none of it, although she was told upon coming to that she's talked throughout the entire thing. well, i mean, it was a sedative not a personality transplant. now all we have to do is wait to see if it helps...
promise n e v e r to ask me why but we were watching christmas ready steady cook 'panto special' with cannon and fucking ball when a disagreement arose. hostess elisabeth thought that, as it was a panto special, ainsley harriot should be dressed as widow twanky, whereas i thought that he should have been on fire, with his eyes pulled out and his kneecaps broken; but then i suppose that's what relationships are all about, agreeing to disagree.
ladies and gentlemen, is this the first sign of the singularity? i found the above on a bag of chicken drummers, which forced the question: is the smart oven the first step in the age of machines? answers on a postcard.
i'm on the packed richmond train from stratford, luckily seated and reading my book. all i can see are thin slithers of stations passing by and an ocean of bodies; anoraks, scarfs, coats. a claustrophobic's nightmare. from somewhere along the carriage a man starts shouting about jesus. i can't see him but his accent is african, so that jesus comes out as "jizz-uss". he says we should accept jizz-uss into our lives, that jizz-uss loves us, that we must renounce sin etc. you know the sort of thing. it goes on and on and on. i see people shaking their heads, tutting. it goes on and on. in the end i can contain myself no longer, before i even realise i'm going to, i shout very loudly "o do shut up". i think two people applaud, another says "thank you". someone else tells him he should be in a loony bin. of course what i've done is i've persecuted the man, something that if you can help it, you should never do to a christian. you see, they like it, it fuels them. if the romans hadn't nailed up jizz-uss and hadn't fed his followers to the lions i'm not at all convinced that there'd even be a christian movement today. they love to be persecuted, it's what gives them meaning, something about suffering; masochism is undoubtedly at the heart of christianity. "you cannot poosh me, if you poosh me you push jizz-uss" he calls back. my comment didn't stop him of course, nor did those that followed. the next thing i knew a black woman (who i also couldn't see) started shouting at the jizz-uss freak, taking an altogether different and intelligent tack. she asked him how he, as an african, could dare to preach christianity, as christianity was the religion of his slavemasters -a very good point i thought. he returns with more nonsensical gibberish but then another disembodied voice, a man, also with a thick african accent starts aggressively berating this woman for having a go at the first man (are we keeping up?). it all devolves into a shouting match of "hypocrites" and "sinners" and by the time i get off at highbury & islington it sounds like it's verging on a fist fight. the unifying power of religion ladies and gentlemen.
hostess elisabeth and myself went to see a newly remastered printed of the wizard of oz at the greenwich picture house. as she's practically a gay man in a woman's body, this is one of hostess elisabeth's favourite films. and a very glossy print it was too, i noticed a few things i'd never seen before, namely the toucan in the apple tree, and the pelican in the forest. my new favourite line from the film is when the wicked witch has dorothy co. cornered and says: "the last to go will watch the other three go before them" nice.
well apparently i'm going to court on the 1st feb. the lunatic intruder from the previous diary entry has been charged with 'battery' and is to be prosecuted. first a policeman calls to tell me and then i get a letter in the post confirming the court date. along with the letter they send me a leaflet explaining things, the wrong leaflet it turns out, as its about what to do if you're charged with something, not if you're just to give evidence (chapter titles: 'your position now', finding a solicitor'). personally i'll be surprised if the loon turns up. i thought 'battery' sounded somewhat worse than 'assault' and wondered why this charge had been chosen. the venerable gude on 'battery':
"battery is actually a sub-species of assault. although an assault is a separate, independent crime and should be treated as such, for practical purposes the term 'assault' is generally synonymous with 'battery' and is used to mean the actual intended use of unlawful force to another person. generally, where there is actual as well as apprehended unlawful force, the charge will be assault by , for instance, beating, rather than "assault and battery" since the latter form is duplicitous.
a person commits an assault if he intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend the application to his body of immediate, unlawful force. an assault can be committed by words alone if they cause the necessary apprehension. the requirement of the apprehension of immediate force is satisfied if the prosecution proves a fear of force at some time not excluding the immediate future.
a person commits a battery if he intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful force to the body of another person. the slightest degree of force, even mere touching, suffices. (we had fun with this one at college, i recall, as it begged an investigation as to the type of touching one would regard as battery...). it isnt necessary that the victim should feel the force through his clothes: a touching of a person's clothes is the equivalent of touching him. did he touch you...? did he...?
without the application, however, of some force there cannot be a battery. thus causing someone psychiatric harm by a threat does not constitute a battery. similarly, the use of force merely to pull away from another does not constitute a battery.
so now you know. a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. but not as dangerous as apprehending a mentally challenged eastern european in your stairwell."
so we'll have to see...
visiting my parents in the new year i'm presented with a couple of old exercise books of mine from school, circa 1979. much to my amusement, one labeled 'spellings and tables', contains inside, in my crude handwriting, the phrase: "i hate worck". so at least my current lifestyle has some precedent.
driving back from my friend kris's, we pass a man, and not a particularly old man, walking very, v e r y slowly along the street, his trousers around his ankles. and we laugh.
a little nugget from jobless jon in japan: "the japanese for misanthrope is... (enjinsha). just so you know."
recommended: (audio) 'production and decay of spacial relations' -cd- by z'ev / (comestible) hostess elisabeth's honey, mustard & seasame dip / (visual) this / (sensorial) not partaking in the retardation orgy of christmas
reviled: (audio) cripplingly irritating 'sheila's wheels' advert / (comestible) soft centre chocolates / (visual) christmas lights / (sensorial) the stench of vase water from dead flowers
"hear a man too loudly praising others, and look to wonder if he didn't just get up from the sty."
-from 'something wicked this way comes' by ray bradbury