Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Christmas present

My educated readers: mostly, and contrary to popular aphorism, when you are not expecting anything to happen, nothing at all happens. Rarely however in my experience does nothing at all happen not quite in the way you are expecting. It was midway through the family-Christmas-space-time continuum – an episode devoid of the normal day’s helpful interventions and change agents such as meeting someone for a coffee, speaking on the phone, and leaving – when extended hiatuses between low-level stimulation had meant that my brain was registering activity levels not inconsistent with unconsciousness, its last computations relating to those household appliances that might feasibly and subtly provide a dose of self-defibrillation - that my five-year-old cousin presented my sated, couch-wedged self with a parcel from my great Uncle Albert, a silent, heavy-eye-browed, grey man with whom I had assumed my level of affinity and mutual understanding would never be able to bridge the chasm of my and his generation’s concepts of suffering. As my pupils re-adjusted to the light in the room and I separated the present from its reindeer wrapping, I could hear great Auntie Nora suggesting that the object in my hands was somehow irrefutable proof that my great Uncle was, in safari-parlance, quite a distance from the nature reserve. Very quickly, these psychoanalytical whisperings and the potential refreshment of unpredictability travelled the room, slowing time further and swivelling the eyes even of Rex, my second cousin’s dog (thank you, cousin Oliver), to the cylindrical glass chamber in my hands. Then, into the silence, great Uncle Albert said, “Rex, my dear boy. This Christmas, I have bought you nothing, literally. The chamber is a vacuum, and so contains no matter whatsoever. Not a single particle. I have bought you nothing.” I was floored, momentarily frozen, in awe. It was then, my educated readers, that, rising to thank my great Uncle for the exquisite subversion of his non-present, I – with counterbalancing ineptitude - contrived to replace intellectual frippery with the forgettable stupidity of classic farce, by nudging the vacuum off the arm of the sofa, and watching it descend languorously until it smashed all over the wooden floor, so that nothing, so to speak, was lost.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas shopping

My educated readers: as a social commentator in training and dilettantish reviewer of life and the forms that it takes in this, the human era, I felt it was appropriate at this time of year to review the nerve-chewing frenzy that is the social phenomenon of Christmas shopping - in its pre-historic, involving-physical-effort incarnation that is. The time and place for my review was Brent Cross shopping centre in North London on the last Sunday before Christmas, where, soon caught up and carried along in the current of happiness-free automatons, I began with some tired observations on the shallowness of consumerism, and sprinkled my analysis with a few parallels between the chaotic and satisfaction-free search for the perfect object and the exercise of life itself, before finally moving on to a more extended meditation on a theme of whether (supply creating its own demand) any homo really – originally - wants any of this at all anyway - foetuses opting for oxygen over unlimited text messages; newborns having difficulty breaking down lip gloss into sugar and amino acids. The journey then took a left turn back to reality when I bumped into an attractive old flame of mine, laden with bags. She said “Rex baby, don’t you love Christmas”, and so, suppressing the urge to respond with polemics on themes of atheism/Judaism, bankruptcy, and misanthropy, I instead found myself confessing to having trouble finding just the right present to show the true depth of my feeling for my French cousins, which I parlayed into a joke about that depth perhaps equating to an itchy scarf, or a piece of off cheese. Two short hours later, and I had been transformed into the anti-scrooge, eyes glistening (indeed, almost weeping) in anticipation of the joy that the complete emptying of my wallet was soon to spread; person dripping with items that bore witness to my acute sensitivity to the souls, desires, or at the very least – clothing and furnishing predilections – of my nearest and dearest. And so it was that Lydia – who had agreed to be my elf for the afternoon - ventured, in Brent Cross shopping centre, that – given the strength of this now irrepressible instinct to sprinkle manufactured happiness on the world - one plausible (albeit genealogy-research-requiring) explanation for this transformation was that I, Rex, may be descended from none other than the great modern day messiah himself, the bearded deity of this festive season. Of course, I think we both knew that the psychology of the episode had more to do with her having dumped me fifteen months previously for – inter alia - having used a two-for-one voucher at Pizza Express for our one-year anniversary meal.

Merry Christmas, my educated readers, Merry Christmas.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

A play with the word play in the title, twice (a comedy)

I took a lady to see A play with the word play in the title, twice (a comedy) at one of the theatres around Shaftesbury Avenue earlier this week, my only prior intelligence of the evening being the play’s title, the lady’s attractive properties, and the positive reviews of both of the evening’s components provided to me by a fellow faux-connoisseur – although he qualified his opinion of my companion by saying that it was not based on an intimate acquaintance, and then further qualified this qualification with a laugh and an assurance that although they had slept together they had never discussed sixteenth century French poetry. It was midway through the second act of A play with the word play in the title, twice (a comedy), after a bit with a dog, a misunderstanding, an absurdity, a couple of one-liners and a sequence of unlikely combinations - for the play did indeed live up to its name - that I realised he may not have been joking. The give-away, so to speak, was the sideways contortion that culminated in my ear being at once probed and cleaned by the errant tongue of my libidinous companion. It is this sexual assault in a public place, my educated reader, this deflowering backed by riotous laughter – and only curtailed by a casual allusion to a secretive condition that I was at the time suffering from - that forces me to advise you against seeing A play with the word play in the title, twice (a comedy) with a whore.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Twilight saga (Breaking Dawn Part I)

It occurred to me this week, while reviewing a review of the latest offering in the Twilight saga (Breaking Dawn Part I), which was not a great review itself, although slightly better than the film, that the review, qua social construct, failed to capture the true experiential imperfection of – for me - cheap nachos, the commendable lethargy of the ticket attendant, the retardation of the popcorn spiller, and the moment of bliss when I fell into a sugar-induced micro-sleep. All things considered however, and relative not just to other cinematic experiences, but to other ways of spending those one hundred and fifty minutes – which would probably have included self-persecutions on a theme of whether I should have been flushing my life into oblivion with feeble time-killers that (amongst other things) explored the subtleties of werewolf-love and the film industry’s ability to weave tampon product placement into a film about the supernatural - it was a useful diversion.