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Stevedor

18 September 2019 | Diary

Samara asks what a tiny home ghost story would be like.

Smol,” I say.

Once l’esprit de l’escalier has kicked in, I realise that, since the story would be set in a converted shipping container, it would have to be about the ghost of a stevedore stranded deep inland with a couple of earnest hipsters.

The ghost and the hipsters would have different points of view on, like, everything.

Jingle Jangle

17 September 2019 | Diary

Ellison mentions a book called the Jingle Jangle Tales. I don’t know what it is and I don’t care but it makes me imagine Crump-esque novel based on real and imaginary Jimmy Savile crimes, “Jingle Jangle” being one of his puerile catchphrases. It really could work. Jingle Jangle Tales: What Jim’ll Did Next.

Owly

16 September 2019 | Diary

There’s a big black tomcat who sits in the window of a flat downstairs. All he ever does it sit there on the back of a couch, watching people come and go with his big, golden eyes.

We call him Owly because (a) he looks a bit like an owl, and (b) we’re a pair of knuckle-heads.

Anyway, I’ve not seen him for a while. I hope he hasn’t died or run away. But why would he run away when there’s so much owling to be done?

That’s what we say he does, owling. He’s owling out into the street, burning holes into walls and through hedges with his piercing golden gaze.

“I saw Owly,” Samara might say when she comes in from work.

“Was he owling?” I’ll ask.

“Yes,” she might say, “Almost took my eye out.”

I hope he’s alright because who would do the owling? I don’t want to get roped into it.

Shadows on the Wall

15 September 2019 | Diary

To an arts centre (let’s not name it because I’m about to be a swine to it) for nine experimental short films from Japan, circa 1981.

In the event it’s only five films but that’s okay because I’m not sure how much longer we’d have been able to take it. And it’s not just our party of misery guts; half the audience is restless and squirming and quick to whisper to their neighbour about, tee-hee, maybe being the first ones to stand up and leave.

The problem is not that the films are naff (though they are naff, the point of screening not being to applaud their brilliance but to glimpse some creative acts whose points of origin happen to be a long time ago in a far-flung land) but that the screening room is so impossibly uncomfortable.

It’s hot and so poorly ventilated that we must all breathe air that has passed through the lungs of sixty other open-minded cinemagoers first, the oxygen value rapidly diminishing with every shallow gasp. I’ve suffered through many a Fringe sauna and leaky poetry tent in the name of ART but this screening room took the absolute cake.

Something does strike me about the films though and that is how pure and playful they are. They’re such small deals. Many short films now, though perhaps critically “better” than these five, exist either to launch careers or to show how sporting some famous director is to slum it in the upstart world of shorts.

But these are mere capsules of honest fun, almost like home movies. They are minor acts of affecting change in the world, like using your hands to cast animal shadows on the wall when there just happens to be a lamp at an obliging angle. Like my diary, I think. No biggie. Just shadows on the wall.

Why Did I Look?

14 September 2019 | Diary

I peep onto Twitter because some people have messaged with regards to the record player query.

I haven’t looked at Twitter for a while and I quickly regret it. It’s full of people talking absolute whazz in a deplorable tone. They’re not deplorable people (many of whom I know in real life and would gladly kiss on the mouth) but there’s something about social media that pumps up the blood pressure and the only way to stop it from bursting through the top of the cartoon thermometer is to tap out something horrible to the world and then to click “tweet.”

In response to my record player question, someone has said something like “fine, be a hipster if you like” and I see where he’s coming from but it’s the tone. Nobody has ever spoken to me like that at this blog or by email. I remember Tom Hodgkinson saying something about how newspapers with social media or comment sections have a responsibility to act as pub landlords, the publican being able to curate their clientele by barring the trouble-makers and designing a place that doesn’t actively attract unpleasantness. That’s ultimately what I’ve been trying to do with this website and New Escapologist.

Tomorrow I’ll send the newsletter version of this diary to 150 people, a microscopic number of eyeballs in Internet terms, but, thanks to today’s Twitter “experience”–if that doesn’t degrade the meaning of the word–I’ll be extra glad to do it. I think of Jaron Lanier saying “what if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing?”

I suggest on Twitter that maybe it would be a safer and happier platform if people could opt out of the likes system. Those choosing to opt out would never again court popularity over quality, nor would they be made to feel inferior for not winning “enough” likes. Naturally, nobody likes or RTs or probably even notices my tweet, lost as it immediately is in the maelstrom.

When I’m done dirtying myself on Twitter (some of the tweets are perfectly helpful and friendly), I go for a walk. I notice that someone has moved the bricks, not out of the bin shed but at least into a position where some of the higgledy-piggledy bins can fit more properly into their nooks. More info when I have it, bin shed fans.