Monthly Archives: July 2011

Books that have sat on my shelf for far too long . . .

Cocaine Nights : J.G. Ballard –

One I have read before, but a long long time ago. Was talking with a friend about Ballard and it inspired me to dig him out again.

May We Borrow Your Husband : Graham Greene –

This is my girlfriend’s copy that she used at school and the margins are covered with scrawled notes. Took it off her shelf back home about two years ago, still unread.

Blank Gaze : José Luis Peixoto –

Taken from (given by) Bloomsbury while I was doing some work experience there, a few years ago now. Love the cover. Remember loving the first few pages but then never finished it. Not sure why. Definitely one to go back to.

The Book of Dave : Will Self – 

Bought second hand from Departure when I used to live down East London. Saw Self at a talk in Foyles last year, great talker, great voice, but I need a dictionary for every eighth word he uses. Continue reading


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Life in a Day – Kevin MacDonald

One film I’m very excited about seeing, even though it’s been out for more than a month already, is Life in a Day, by Kevin MacDonald. The film is composed of hundreds of clips from youtube, all filmed on the same day, 24th of July, 2010.

I’ve seen come trailers and clips, and the one that left the greatest impression was a nearly ten minute shot (I think it’s cut down to about three minutes in the film) of a Japanese father and son alone in their apartment. Watch it here.

In an interview for The Film Programme on Radio 4 director Macdonald called the clip ‘the best short film I’ve ever seen’.

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Gym time with Charlie

Charlie spent a lot of time in Camden at the gym. He mixed a shake each time before he left and would drink it as he worked out. Charlie hated the shakes, grimaced each time he took a swig. He had a giant tub of protein powder back at his flat, on top of his fridge. His housemates had their own tubs and all of them would compete to see who could finish their powder off the quickest, who could burn the most. I went to the gym with Charlie a couple of times at the beginning of the year. We would walk over, took about twenty minutes, and he would talk about what he was going to do that session, biceps or trunk or quads. At the gym  we swiped our cards and then found a space to stretch. After the stretches we’d run for twenty minutes as a warm up. Our feet would make a whispering boom as they pounded on the treadmill, Charlie’s booms much louder, much faster than mine. As we ran he’d stare at the mirror ahead of him, stare dead in to his own eyes, focused, and at the end of the twenty minutes the sweat would run off Charlie. I used to run when I was at school but smoking and asthma means I’ve got zero lung capacity now. After the run we would move on to the weights. Charlie always knew some guys there and he’d nod and say hello. One guy who was always there was called Duane, I think. He wore a baseball cap as he worked out. When Charlie and I benched we were on different weights so I’d go first and he’d stand at my head, hands out under bar just in case, and he’d say yeah, go, that’s it, push it, bit more, bit more, go on, nearly, fuck, come on and I’d feel the muscles in my chest go numb just under the armpit and my biceps grow swollen and hot and then the bar would settle in the rest and Charlie would say good job man. When I was done with my sets he’d load the bar up and shout and grunt as he pushed the extra one hundred pounds, one hundred and fifty pounds up over his chest. I stood spotting him like he did me. His arms shook and at the end of each set he’d purse his lips together and blow. On his last rep he’d push the bar up, hard as he could, but it would travel so slowly through the air and when he finally got the bar on to the rest he’d  drop his arms out by his sides and say Jesus Christ. He always dragged the ‘g’ out and his arms would splay out from the bench, like he himself was crucified.

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What I dislike about the Kindle

Without a book cover it’s impossible to tell what someone is reading when you see them with their Kindle on the tube. It makes it hard for me to judge them.

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Rules and Regulations on the Proper Cutting of Hair

The other night I shaved my head. I did it in the narrow bathroom of our flat; the clipper plugged in to an extension cable, the extension cable plugged in to a socket in the kitchen. We have a small flat.

The clippers buzzed and vibrated in my hand and the blades oscillated and bit their way through a thousand follicles, then another thousand. The wall opposite the bath is tiled with mirrors and bent over and into the bath I watched as my hair fell upwards from my reflected head, dropping into the porcelain bathtub that hovered above me.

Held upside down for a long time my face looked red and bloated, like someone had their hands around my neck and was slowly, gently chocking me. The bathroom grew hotter as I shaved, or I grew hotter. Molecules of sweat pricked out of pores and shards of hair stuck to this sweat, covering my shoulders with a soft, uneven pelt.

There were still long bits around the ears and wispy bits around the back of the neck but I stopped anyway. My girlfriend cuts my hair sometimes, normally, finishes it off by shaving the sides and back and I wanted her to finish it off this time as well, but she was out.

I ran my hand over my newly shorn scalp one way and then the other, smooth and then prickly. Soft and slightly greasy.

It’ll do until tomorrow.

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Another transient moment

The train stops and the doors hiss open. We sit there waiting, it’s late, no one speaks. People leave the train and walk along the platform, their eyes fixed on the exit ahead. A girl walks past our carriage, first passing the open doors, then the windows. She’s young, short, black. She sees me watching her in the half a second it takes to pass the door and when she appears in the window I’m looking exactly at her face, and she’s looking towards me. There’s a boy walking with her who I hadn’t seen and as they walk past the first window he throws his arm around her shoulders, he looks straight ahead. At the second window her head is still turned towards me and she smiles. The sides of my mouth turn up and I smile a tiny flicker of a smile. She smiles wider and then she passes the window and I don’t see her again.

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Note to self, buy notebook

Composed a short but excellent post in my mind last night. No pen to hand to jot it down. Today all I have is vague memories surrounding what it was going to be about. Nope, curses, gone forever.

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