Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Excellent anecdote of the week

In 1787 Benjamin Franklin received a letter from Erasmus Darwin, Charlie D's grandpa. It was addressed to 'Doctor Franklin, America'.

Makes you proud to be a postie's sister, that does.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Prolixitas Frustrata

You would think, given the brevity of the posts round these parts, that I have some sort of aversion to putting the old words onefootinfrontoftheother. It is not true! It is not true! I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers through! (And by "bottoms of my trousers", I mean the trouser-component encased around my gallant sit-upon, if you catch my drift, not the trouser-component known in trouser appreciation circles as the trouser cuffs, which trouser cuffs, by the by, show a remarkable impregnability to the agents of trouser-wearing-through-ness.)

No, in short, I love to put the words onefootinfrontoft'other. Macrologue Harlot, they call me down at my local. Show us your verbosititty, they leer and rollick after one too many Pimms 'n' strawberries. Is that a dictionary in your pocket or are you just pleased to ... etc. And if I had my way right now I would be writing great whopping screeds about intergalactic milkpersons, I would be fictivising the history of my bigamous great grandfather (possibly without maternal consent), I would be telling the story of The Time We Towed the Calf Out of His Mother With a Dirty Big Chain Wrapped Around the Calf's Feet At One End and the Towbar At the Other. I might even be dusting down one of my three fustified research projects. Or writing here, on this excuse for a blog.

But no. I am STILL marking. For the nineteenth day in a row. And this is what wears my trousers through.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Upcat, downpen

Update! In the last two and a half hours, I have defaced five (5) essays, leaving a mere forty-two (42) to do by Monday morning, and Leonard has

1. completed her apprenticeship as a solar panel

2. rolled over.


Her collar says her name's "Tiga", but I'm reasonably certain she prefers Leonard. Beats me how I'm meant to concentrate on my marking while she's practising her poses on my daybed.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Ambiguous Modifier of the Week

"I return to my outdoor setting, badly in need of a lick of paint."

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Dumbbell Gazette

Not far from the dark satanic treadmill is the exercise bike, whereon today I observed a lass leafing through a magazine while the lower half of her body sawed away at the pedals. That's the ticket, thought I, concocting a summer schedule of simultaneous cycling and Turgenev, with intermittent bouts of Black Forest cake. But then I saw what she was reading - Slimmers' World - and my heart sank as only a heart exposed to two-words-one-of-which-is-world can. Picture, reader, if you will, the Apocalypse: hordes of benchpressers running around in pink lycra eating protein bars. One slimmer is dandy, two are hunky-dorey, three make you slightly self-conscious about your intentions vis à vis the Black Forest cake, but a whole world of them! I haven't felt this anxious since the 1997 release of Spice World, bringing platform shoes and PVC mini-frocks to a primary school near you.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Subliminal advertising

I am about to mark an essay that smells of cigarette smoke. Note that I do not regularly sniff essays. This one came into proximity with my nostrils by accident.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Last night

A car drove into my apartment block this morning. I woke up to the squeal and crash of it, the shudder of the building, and I thought "That was a car crashing" and then I thought "I'm staying in bed", and then I thought - but it was like swimming through porridge trying to get to this thought - "That was a car crash and someone should go out there" and then I realised someone might have died and I swam out through my half-asleepness, through the front door and down the stairs. I was awake enough to put my glasses on and to take out the telephone with me and to check the time. 3:50 am. Not awake enough to think to wear shoes, which I regretted as soon as I saw the thousands of little cubes of glass scattered across the footpath.

My neighbour from downstairs was already out there, and one of the passengers was on the footpath, shouting at the driver, "Get out of the car, Adam. Get out of the fucking car." There was smoke curling out from the car's crumpled bonnet and a slick of petrol idling down the hill. He was trying to lift Adam out but Adam couldn't put any weight on his legs, and I got as far as asking if someone had called an ambulance, and my neighbour nodded, and while I was trying to work out whether it was more important to get Adam out of the car in case the petrol caught on fire or to leave Adam where he was in case moving him damaged his spine, the ambulance appeared behind me. No siren, no need for a siren because there were hardly any other cars on the road. It felt like less than five minutes between the crash and the angels turning up, though the nearest proper hospital's about seven kilometres away in Heidelberg.

So I went back inside and picked the glass out of my feet and listened to the sound of the miraculous ambulance, then the police, then the towtruck, and my elderly neighbours conferring in Greek, and I fell asleep.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Stomach Muscles of Rippling Steel

I bought out the remaining months of a student's annual gym pass last week. Student has slipped a disc, her finances are straitened, my finances are adequate, and my fitness level of recent months is best described, in fitness person parlance, as "squidgy". Because this gym pass transaction has taken place behind the gym's back I have to remember that my name is Katrina.

"Have a good workout, Katrina," says Gym Man as he scans my pass and hands me my locker key.

"Ha ha ha!" I say. What sounds like the carefree laughter of a gympig born for benchpressing is in fact a precise arpeggio calibrated to accord with my new name. I try to laugh the way someone called Katrina would laugh, without technically affirming that Katrina I am.

(I've been interested in this form of dishonesty for years, the one where you're deceiving someone's socks off, but you don't say anything untrue. Dad and I had this agreement about ice-creams: "If your mother asks you, 'Did you have an ice-cream?', you should answer her truthfully, but if she doesn't ask, no need to mention the subject. And certainly don't tell her that you had two ice-creams. Unless, of course, she asks." That my mother was wise to all this complicates the levels of deception to a point beyond the scope of my analysis.)

Last night as I was leaving the gym, Gym Man asked me if I'd had a good workout. I don't know if I like the word "workout". Why "out"? Why not "up" or "in" or "beside"? But I didn't say that. I said - because I'm, like, totally down with Gym-Man-ese - "Okay, thanks. Mostly did cardio, and some weights." And he said, "Getting ready for tomorrow?" (Tomorrow, i.e., today, being Smelbourne Cup day.)

"Ha ha ha!" I said, but I'm still not sure what he was talking about. Was he suggesting that I am a horse, fitting in some last minute fetlock-stretches before the big race? Or that I'd need fully-functioning biceps in order to hold onto my fascinator in the wind?

Now I see as through a glass, darkly.

In other news, what about that US election, eh? Eh? 'Course, I don't have unalloyed faith in any of the candidates, but if that Obama wins, I'll dedicate a session on the treadmill to the good voters of Amerikay.