My dog has a habit

I wanted to mention my dog. He’s lovely, but he has a habit. He gets habitually excited when I tie my shoelaces. He likes to help, and gets his nose tied up in the knot. He goes

A bow? Wow!

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You eat what you are

“‘The more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression,’ said … Dr Almudena Sánchez-Villegas from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. People who ate the most of this type of food were more likely to be single … and work more than 45 hours a week, the study found. They were also more likely to smoke.”

I have lifted the above quote from the My Yahoo! health news pages and would request that someone runs a double-blind test on Gran Canaria residents to make sure it’s not the other way around: depressed people tend to be single because we are morose self-obsessives who don’t like to inflict ourselves on others. We compensate by working improbable hours (where colleagues invariably end up proposing to us). Smoking is a form of passive suicide… as is living; and we can’t be bothered to cook for one, supermarkets and restaurants don’t cater for singletons, so we eat junk food faute de mieux (without mustard), as the French say.

The item went on to inform us that “bakery food” is just as bad, so maybe Chancellor George Osborne is doing we depressives a favour by slapping 20% VAT on Gregg’s yummy warm gristle pasties*, on which I survive?

Finally, a more general question. Has anyone done any research on academics with preposterously long titles? I’ll bet depression sets in before the end.

Mnmmn. Now for my elevenses…

*Pasty Political Broadcast: “Yup, he did that. Then he changed his mind.”

On marmalade

What is the most pervasive element in the universe? You’re a clever person, you’ve been to school, I’d bet you said Hydrogen, right? Well, wrong actually, cleverclogs. I’d say it was marmalade.

Marmalade is everywhere. Eat one slice of toast with marmalade, however cautiously, even using a drip-plate, and it’s on your keyboard, making the keys permanently sticky and the trackpad dysfunctional. It’s on your mouse mat, your new Michael Brecker CD, that you were hoping to put back on the shelf; on your coffee cup handle. There’s a blob right there on your desk, that’s got on the elbow of your sweater; it feels suspiciously sticky between your thumb and forefinger, however often you wash your hands. You wipe it off, and it jumps on something else.

Is that marmalade on the carpet, where I just put my shoe, which has now marmalade on the sole and it is tracking everywhere through the house, little dots of marmalade that will capture fluff and grime and dog hairs and will not stop until it dries permanently in the carpet, there forever? What is this special quality of obdurate stickiness, of positional anarchy, that you don’t even find with superglue? How can it be tamed, trained, marketed, inducted into the System?

Marmalade is awesomely random, my friend. Praise it.

Keeping the economy in shape

Well, thank me, today I spent a shedload of money to keep the economy going. I bought a car, a red Alfa Romeo 147 1.9 litre JTDm 16v, preloved of course. It’s being delivered Thursday. Then I bought a new rucksack, just in case I need to walk anywhere ever again – God, it’s been great without a car for three weeks.

Then, I have just been online again to buy a laptop, to replace the one I had that died last week, carrying with it into the sunset my half-finished novel, my almost-finished autobiography — my bookmarks, and the PDFs of over 600 songs, words and music, many of which I had yet to sing.

My phone contract was due for renewal last week, so I got a new HTC phone too. I feel like I’m starting a new life, now my ex-wife has sold the house. There’s only one problem: I don’t understand the new technology. I’ve posted a new Page to ‘1,000 Words or Less’ about this, it’s called Technology: an Old Bastard Moans.

Enjoy it while you can.

PS – added later

Can you Adam and Eve it? Tuesday, I put ten grand in my account. Wednesday, Lloyds’s Fraud Prevention Team has blocked my card so I can’t buy my laptop… it takes me from 08.45 to 15.15 to get the account unblocked. Turns out some Mormon at the bank has managed to input my ex-wife’s date of birth on my file, so I keep failing the stupid ‘security’ checks. I have been a customer for 37 years but with my wife’s d.o.b. on my file I have ceased to exist. No-one can work out how it could possibly have happened. That might as well become the epitaph for our civilisation.

Racists: a view (look away now)

I wish to express my hatred and loathing of racist bullies, who crawl out of their fetid bunkers in their hundreds to post their verminous views whenever a news thread concerns foreigners, Muslims or Jews, women, the black and asian communities – anyone, in short, whom they can imagine to be lower than themselves, which would indeed be saying something.

I am reminded that pond scum, floating on the surface, does at least know the light of day; it is the primordial slime that collects over aeons at the bottom of the deepest lake, the liquefacted corpses of the long-drowned, the faecal detritus of civilizations come and gone, that is the birthplace, the mother and father of these insentient, scarcely human creatures and their repugnant misanthropy. Oh, but look, now I am doing it too. Oh dear. Sorry.

Want to change the world? Die young

I’ve developed an expensive habit of browsing album tracks on YouTube late at night. I get excited about them, and if I can find the album listed I will fire off an order to Amazon. It’s a conspiracy. Because the albums are rare, they can cost £30 to £50 each, even on basically cheap, reproducible CDs where they sound like nothing much. (My son thinks I’m an idiot, I can download the tracks on RealPlayer. Not the same!)

That’s how this week I came to own a copy of Sunday at the Village Vanguard (sorry, I know, it’s jazz) by the famous Bill Evans trio of 1961, featuring the bassist Scott LaFaro. Only 25, he and Evans, a pianistic guru who sort-of invented a new style of playing, or at least popularising, jazz, had an instant rapport. Their ensemble playing is of the highest order, LaFaro’s soloing is confident, virtuosic, stylistically groundbreaking, and the album is rated one of the 100 best of all time.

Ten days after the recording, LaFaro died in a car crash. This live session, which resulted in two albums being released, two other albums and some random demo tapes, are his legacy. Interviewed years later, interestingly, Evans, who himself was to die relatively young at 50 (from years of heroin/cocaine addiction) opined that La Faro had already peaked, and probably wouldn’t have gotten much further musically. Immediately, one thinks of another influential, innovative bass-playing genius, Jaco Pastorius, who suffered from bipolar disorder and died after starting a fight in a bar, at 28 (Wikipedia).

Jazz afficionados will be able to reel off the names of musicians who died young, the most tragic of them all being Charlie Parker (34), who became irreversibly addicted to heroin at 17 while spending six months in hospital after a car crash, being administered morphine. Classicists may feel free to counter with Mozart (34, cause debatable) and Schubert (33, syphilis); literati citing Shelley, Keats, Rupert Brooke… Jane Austen, Christina Rosetti…. (NB women added by request of Ms Brown, below. Complete list available…)

All of them in their way in the short time allowed to them had a lasting effect on our cultural history. Tragically, God seems to have ordered things so only talentless old buggers like me can go droning on into our sixties, and hopefully our nineties.

But then, I have yet to peak….

PS added later

Listening intensively to Elis & Tom, a 1974 recording by Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim, I am reminded that Regina, formerly Brazil’s top singing star, died from a cocktail of drugs and alcohol, aged 36. (Cocaine and benzodiazepam, if you’re interested). This prompts me to raise the question: can these events be predicted with hindsight, as it were? Several times on the recording she breaks down in tears, or sighs deeply as if bearing some intolerable emotional burden. It is a wonderfully human gesture, to leave those moments for posterity, most producers would edit them out, but was it not also perhaps a cry for help?