IKEA and the world burning

It’s only about fifteen minutes by road from my flat to Wandsworth dump, and now I’ve got a car I’m not afraid to use it. There was a load of junk that was too big to throw in the bin. I made two trips to the dump and now I’ve got even more space in my lovely flat.

Of course the dump doesn’t call itself the dump, due to the modern trend of avoiding anything that might be considered to be in any way offensive. “I work at the municipal household waste and recycling centre”. “Oh you work at the dump!” “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use that vocabulary, it triggers me.”

I had three great big sheets of glass, but they can’t recycle them, despite all the signs telling us how “committed” they are to recycling things. “Just throw them in household waste.” says the bloke, repeatedly trying to give me a leaflet that says the same as they’ve got written on all the walls, because I’m clearly an idiot for asking. Recycle sheets of clean glass? Pshaw. Pull the other one… They can’t recycle anything that doesn’t fit in a transparent plastic bag, like the ones they collect outside your house. The bags likely get shipped off to Denmark or somewhere at vast expense and then thrown in landfill by some Dane in a green hat saying “Recyclodane”. We haven’t the facilities to sort them properly here, and nor do they I suspect but if we show a transaction on a piece of paper then it looks like we are trying so TICK and back we go to clubbing that orang-utan.

Now I’ve thrown things away, I’m going to get more things to replace them. The cycle of crap. I’m going to IKEA to get tomorrow’s junk today. My friend needs an induction hob and i “need” a load of stuff. Lights and an extractor fan. And candles. And a little wall unit. And smoked salmon. It’ll all get used for a bit and then end up in landfill along with the guts of this dying planet. But if it makes things marginally more convenient then it’s worth it, no?


Yeah so, we didn’t get back from IKEA until almost 11pm. I cooked a late night Nasi Goreng and now it’s red wine and conversation. In a bag by my foot there is a shelving unit that I’d better bloody use.

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Also a load of candies that i fully intend to burn. Also a lamp so it’s easier to read books in bed. And too many lightbulbs. All this disposable stuff. IKEA, homogenising houses worldwide. I’m surprised nobody has told me to boycott them yet. They’re huge. Surely they’re bludgeoning babies to death or making glue out of puppies or something. Doubtless there’ll be a petition before long. But I’m as bad as anyone else. I just threw red wine all over my trouser leg.  “You should take them off, change them, right now. Put them in the machine with some white wine or salt.” “Nah, it’s fine they were only £10 in Primark.” And so the world burns.

Hell, she was probably just trying to get me to take my trousers off. And who can blame her?  But what sort of maniac recommends throwing wine on trousers? Anyway those tiny hands make such usefule replaceable clothes.

Mini golf threat

I was standing on a little circle of lawn, triangulated between Bartholomew’s Hospital, Smithfield Market and the Haberdashers’s Hall. Scattered around me were various props – a little plastic house. A truck. A castle. A seesaw. A jump. Then three golf balls, three putters and a golfing umbrella. I was wearing a traditional golfing jumper and a little white sun visor. It was 3pm on a Wednesday. Keeping alert for groups of people coming around a certain corner, I spent most of my time looking like this:

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Outside of the groups who were playing the game I was a part of, nobody directly interacted with me. A few people took a moment, wondering what I was doing, but mostly they just went about their business unfazed by the very serious miniature golf player in a public space. Apart from one twitbiscuit, who apparently thought it was necessary to call the police.

I blame London underground via the met police, piping “See it, say it, sorted” paranoia on a constant drip: “if it doesn’t feel right, we want to hear from you. Let us decide if what you have seen or what you know is important.” So some small-world twonk decides it’s worth calling in a bloke playing mini golf. Because there are only 12 people in the world and everything revolves round them.

Enter policeman Dave. Short and hard, he’s a ginger and he could give me a right good kicking even if he’s pocket sized. He comes swinging round the corner I’m watching for players and I know he’s after me because his eyes are on me immediately and they don’t leave. I stand and meet his eye contact, smiling and open bodied until he’s right up on me. He’s walking very fast. One hand is on his belt of tricks. It’s been a long summer and I’ve been working outdoors, so I’m in much more danger than usual.

He clocks the mini golf stuff, looks back at me. “I’ve had a report of potentially dangerous activity here. What’s going on?” RP accent to the ready. “I’m practicing my mini golf, officer. It’s for a treasure hunt. It’s all rather fun and silly actually. I’d offer you a go but you’re busy.” Dave defuses himself instantly. His weight moves to his heels. He then starts telling me about bloody mini golf. “There’s a proper course round here, you know. It’s privately owned. It’s really near. I won’t tell you where, but I stumbled upon it once. Unsecured property, you know how it is, I come round to check, 12 holes of mini golf, all sorts of obstacles.” I’m recruiting at him by now, making the right noises. He’s doing the same. We’re a pair of frauds. “Gah that’d be a lot better than this. It’s ridiculous the sort of stuff that’s hidden from sight in this area,” I reply. “I went to college round here.” (#Local!) “Went into a load of the guild halls because thy sponsored the place. Amazing. So much beauty. For so few people. Even that church over there.” I point, showing I know the area. It’s a beautiful hidden medieval church. St. Bartholomew the Great. He nods, he smiles and he doesn’t taser me even though I’m tanned and unusual. “Good. So long as nothing suspicious is going on.” He smiles, and so do I. “Haha” because we both know it isn’t quite a joke. And off he goes, still at high speed, to his next bit of business, a dangerous but friendly law-hobbit.

And I’m left wondering in what world it makes sense to call that me in the first place. “They came in the guise of mini-golfers. We never could’ve known.”

For the most part, we don’t need to be scared of the unusual. I find the ordinary more worrying by far. The biggest threats to our welfare are telling us what we should be frightened of.

“There are creatures beyond the campfire. They want your tasty juice. This charm will protect you. I’ll trade it for some tasty juice.” Surely things would be better with a bit less fear and a bit more open-mindedness? But we’d sell fewer newspapers.

Day down and thinking about camino

It’s Tuesday after the summer bank holiday. Traditionally a day when the schools go back, when people return to the grind. Not I. I spent the entire morning sleeping and reading. Pickle was thrilled. She sleeps on my bed all day anyway so this was validation for her. She got a great deal of belly stroking out of it. Then I got up about 1pm in order to continue doing fuck all in the living room, for a change of scene.

The problem with absolute shameless indolence is that it saps your energy more than exercise. I feel more tired now than I would do if I’d walked 20 miles. Who would believe that laziness could be so exhausting?

I knew I was due a crash though. Tomorrow I’ll get back on the rollercoaster. But God help us all, none of us are as young as we used to be. And my body needed to recover. To eat salad and eggs and have two baths in one day. To pour an entire packet of honey roasted peanuts into my gullet. To chew through a whole bag of liquorice allsorts. To order a pizza and eat it alone in front of Jumanji 2, lying sprawled on a beanbag with a cat by my face after far too long re-establishing how to play Dragon Age Inquisition, trying to remember what the plot is and why I’m being followed by all these weird people with bows and how fighting works even though I’ll probably leave it another year now before I pick it up again.

The only useful thing I did was to start to work out the route of this pilgrimage that I’m planning. It’s going to be a mission. I reckon it’ll take 40 days from Lourdes to Santiago, if I don’t take the piss and run myself into the ground. 40 days and 40 nights is a satisfyingly biblical figure, and very much suits my tendency towards mythic things. It looks like I’m going to walk 600 miles, and some of it through mountains. But loads of people do it, so it’s not like I’m going to be in the desert getting rabies and dying in a hole. I’m going to be in France and then Spain, moving freely through Europe while I still can.

First leg, which is just me being awkward and not officially part of it, will be about 100 miles of yomping from Lourdes to Saint Jean Pied de Port through southern France. Lourdes is where my mum got her holy water, and St Jean is where the official Camino starts and I get my scallop shell and run into a load of other maniacs. Then it’s smashing through a million places I’ve never heard of, ending up 500 miles later 12 stone lighter and with no feet left in Santiago di Compostela, delirious and probably seeing visions of the virgin Mary.

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Anyone living in the south of France or with a house that has space for a car for a month, I’m going to drive as close to Lourdes as I can and leave the jag somewhere – ideally on somebody’s property so it’s safe. Anyone living in the north west of Spain, I’m going to need to die for a day or so before mustering the will to get public transport back to my car in Lourdes. All beds in that time greatly appreciated as accommodation in Santiago will be prohibitively expensive, especially as I can’t confidently book in advance knowing the random element. If my knee explodes somewhere I’ll need that hotel money to pay for the hospital.

I doubt there’s anyone I know that lives en-route – I’ve never heard of most of these places – but it’s worth putting that out there too. After a few weeks I’ll be missing familiar faces. And I’ll be taking Sunday as a day of rest. I won’t be bringing a tent, sleeping bag, stove, gas canister and ground mat because I like the idea of being capable of moving my back without agony when I’m old. So I’ll be sleeping in humongous stinking alberges full of gaseous snoring pilgrims who will probably lynch or convert me if they hear my Buddhist chanting, and will charge more than I’m happy to spend for beds made out of coathangers and piety.

The plan, barring Spielberg/The National etc, is to leave home on the 22nd September, and start walking on my birthday – Monday 24th. I’m still fuzzy on itinerary as I haven’t got elevations and these things are subject to the elements, knees, feet, and optimism. But I could walk 500 miles and I could walk 100 more. It’ll be hard to take the time off work. But work has not been banging on my door lately in any consistent sense, so maybe the walk will do me good karmically. I’ve never been one to sit and wait for the phone to ring. In the scheme of things it’s only about a month out. I’ll be back in time for fireworks. Maybe.

 

 

Road Home

God it’s good to be home. I’m running a bath because outside of the rainstorm no water has touched my skin since Wednesday night. The stench hasn’t deterred Pickle, who is being her usual affectionate self and welcoming me back from the woods. Cats really do make a home. But I’m looking forward to a good soak and a scrub.

We finally got our tents packed up at 3pm. I managed to persuade security to let me drive my car to the campsite, so we didn’t have to lug all the bags across the fields – a mercy. We were all knackered. The night before had been full of dancing, warmth and music after the rain stopped at 7. We had eventually watched the dawn, bleary and partied out, sitting round a campfire. The sight dragged me to my sleeping bag. Not a moment too soon, as one thoroughly fucked man apparently broke out a vape full of DMT and passed it round as soon as I was gone. He had been evangelizing about it earlier and I’d told him he shouldn’t mess with it. He probably waited until I was gone deliberately and I’m glad he did.

A few hours of fitful sleep, a few hours of staggering around and making conversation, but it was inevitable I was going to have to drive to London no matter how hard I procrastinated.

 

The best way to do something difficult is to break it up into small parts. I found a good pub on the way home via the internet and we stopped for lunch. The Coach and Horses in Brixworth. Hot food and a flushing loo. The heights of luxury. The festival “long drops” stank to holy hell and by the last morning some of them were unusable. The long drop just … wasn’t long enough. It all goes into a biffa bin. Thousands of people filling biffa bins with effluent. I’ll never look at them in the same way again. If anyone tries to sell you a cheap biffa bin in September, think twice.

Brixworth has an ancient heritage trail. It’s a tiny village in Northamptonshire but there are Roman ruins and a still functioning Saxon church. There’s very little to do, so a committee of retired people have stuck a load of blue plaques on buildings. “There used to be a butcher here selling tasty lard sausages. Now everybody goes to Tesco.” “A doctor in this house cured people of diptheria one time. Now it’s owned by an accountant with no friends.” “This was a poor house with 10 people in it. Now it’s flats.” That sort of thing. A little more formal.

We went into the church. I like that they leave country churches unlocked so frequently, despite the many signs around the village warning that “thieves operate in this area.” I paid for a postcard – good to leave a donation of some sort when the church is open just to say thanks. I’d normally light a candle for mum, but the place wasn’t high church. No candles.

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After that, though, I could wait any longer. I was out of pretexts to delay the inevitable drive. We jumped in the jag and surprisingly made it home intact and in short order.

Now the bath is run, I’ve got some food on the go, and I’m looking forward to a few days of relative normality. We shall see.

Last night Shambala

It’s so peaceful here, under the sky, after the rain. The festival is still rolling, but we are long into Sunday night now. The moon, just off full, comes in and out of cloud as I write. I’m with friends who were strangers a week ago. We have worked hard together these last few days. Now it’s time to relax.

So… what have I actually been doing? Working at a festival. Shambala. The call came in last week. It’s a beautiful game that has run here for many years in the daytime. They needed a character referee at short notice that was willing to work at a festival and put up with living in a tent. Somebody suggested me, quite rightly.

It’s the Shambala Foxhunt. It runs on the hour every hour from 12 til 4. It’s always fully booked, with excitable children. Some of them have been doing it every year since it started, and are now awkward but very tactical teenagers. The game taps into something ancient, and works on many levels beyond the obvious. Watching loads of children running around dressed in red coats, blowing horns and shouting “Fox Fox!” was unusual. But all the kids wanted to be the fox. And there was so much joy in watching teams adjusting the rules to their own needs.

It was joyful, but then the rain. Today, constant penetrating rainfall, and my job is to run around after children with a whistle, arbitraring disputes. In the open. For hours. In the pouring rain. Having slept in a leaky tent for too long now. I still love these places, and this work, but I was close to the end of my reserves when the last game ended. I was dripping wet, right through. My pants were wet. I had two pairs of socks on and they were both drenched. My fingers were prunes. And still I was running around being enthusiastic.

Now it’s Sunday. The work is done. Some of us have left, but I can now have a party. So that’s what we’re doing. Those of us remaining. Right now I’m in a platonic bundle of warm bodies, listening to a fiddler play a mean set at Chai Wallah – one of the venues on site. The guy is on stage with 40 people. How the hell do they all fit?

This is my last night of festival, I think, for certain this year. It’s been a glorious season. I’ve done the usual list of bizarre things, and at this festival where I was a last minute replacement in a big group, I’ve opened a huge wider circle of friends. These remarkable thinkers and makers who are trying to make a game that is not only fun to play but also has a narrative thread running through it, while tapping into a word of sounds and symbols that are so familiar and ancient that they resonate understanding to us on some deep level.

There’s a party going on around me and I’m going to dive in. The internet here is atrocious. Worse even than Green Man. No way a photo will land. I’ll catch up tomorrow (Monday) evening.

Day of the Jay

THE CINNAMON BRIOCHE WERE BURNT TO A CRISP.

It’s perfectly rational behaviour, this, despite what they tell me on the megaphone. I’m only here to wait and shove all the burnt brioche down his filthy gullet.

Getting in was easy. I just lured his little cat with a prawn on a stick and then trained her to open the door. I didn’t expect his flatmate to call the police when he couldn’t get in because of the barricade. It’s only for a day or so. He’s back soon from his dirty festival. I’ll show him.

They’re offering me all sorts. “Let the cat go and we can negotiate,” said the skinny one that talks like a schoolteacher. But I know the cat is my bargaining chip here. I didn’t think it would escalate so fast. It’s because I made a baguette in the shape of a rifle. I thought it would make me look powerful. I think it might have been a mistake. Still. Hi by the way. It’s Jay. I used to cover that fucking actor’s blog for free when he went off to festivals. Can you imagine? “It’ll be good experience.” Lies. It was just thankless time. But good flour costs money and when he offered me £50 for 3 I didn’t break it down properly. Thruppence a word. Of course he plays Scrooge. Penny pinching weasel. Spending all that money on a stolen car and then only trickling down a measly 50 quid to the cake eating masses.

Well the masses have got his login now. And have broken into his flat. And have seized the means of cat.

Also my mate badger says that he’s got a van full of angry bees and he’s going to drive to Northamptonshire and find Al’s tent and fill it with bees. Thousands of the hairy little fucks. That’ll give him something to think about after all the crying his hippy friends’ll be doing at the festival about bees dying because of pesticide or whatever the fuck.

Here are my demands:

1: More flour

2: Not having to write about hippy crap

3: All my burnt brioche to be eaten by Al

4: Safe escort from the premises.

5: One million pounds.

I didn’t ask to have to break in. It’s not my fault I’m angry. It’s society.

Ow

Xxxxxhdh f ghjgh jff

Ghjv jbcgjkk hg


Helo. Iz PIkul. Cn I gett fissh? Noysy Jay tooo noysy so I dropt book on hed. Slep nwo. Likk arrs. Ssh. Nno move. Can I eet toez? RUNRUNRUNRUNNNNN O iz nuthing. Cudlez? STROK MY BELY.


Good day. I understand my little Jay has been contributing to this fanzine. Jay asked me to finish. “Write any old shit, mum, so long as there’s 500 words of it and a picture of a cake. It’s worth £50 to me. Turn the oven down to 60 at 4pm.” That was the text. So that is what I shall do, and never let it be said I’m not a good mother, despite the murders. Dear Jay. Never have children my friends begged me. But Jay is my little blessing and the cakes are lovely.

Chocolate Spider Sprinkle Bakes

Jay again

It’s Jay again. Pretending to be Al. Again. “Shouldn’t write the intro”, fool you all, gags hahaha. God. He does this every day? For almost 600 days? What is wrong with him? It’s some sort of condition. You should get him help.


Hi blogsters, so yeah I’m still hipping it up at Shambala drinking matcha with Emanuel. There’s sky and ground and I’m in between it.

Nah.

Nah. I mean really, nah. What motivates someone to write every day like this? Sure I love baking. I do that every day. But sometimes when I’m hungover and stuff I don’t bake. I take downtime. I hide. Maybe put the oven on really low just for something to go the full 24 hours but that doesn’t count. I guess he can hide by getting people like me to cover for him. God knows what he’s really up to, the bastard while I earn my measly £50. Probably sleeping. Getting me to write these so we all assume he’s embroiled in some gargantuan party when in reality he had one beer and passed out in his shit tent. Or maybe it’s the other way. Maybe he’s partying so hard it’s not about internet at all – he’s physically incapable of operating his phone right now. Can’t even pronounce his own name. Eyes like saucers. Drooling. I should get my mate Badger to fill his tent with bees.

Anyway, I made a beautiful Swiss Roll today. Then I went to Westfield with my mum, which seemed a good idea at the time but I regretted it when I realised she was buying clothes. I ended up outside the fitting room for bloody hours having to have an opinion on everything, with cinnamon brioche almost certainly going over in the oven. ARE YOU ENTERTAINED?

There Once was a person called Jay

Who didn’t like writing each day

I’m going to find

A way to unwind

I’m going to make Al Barclay pay.

I’ve not actually been to a festival. Don’t really know what they’re about if I’m honest..Singularly pointless things. If you wanna have proper fun just make a baked Alaska. Bet you can’t do it without melting the ice cream..put a load of sherry in the flan base and that’s a party right there.

Anyway. Write like me, he said. Blah blah blah blah blah. Well he likes starting in media res. So…

—I wanted so much to kiss her but something was holding me back. She shifted. The air was heavy, thick with her scent. I tried to kill the moment, but she held it somehow. “Kiss me,” her eyes said, as she widened the stance of her front hooves. The skin on her flank shivered instinctively to dislodge the constant aura of flies. I shivered with it. I knew what that mooing meant. I leant in. Her smell was earthy. Milky. The flies started to settle on my hair. My heart beat faster. I was horny. She had the horns. Her long wet tongue lolled outwards suggestively …

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Oh. 500. That’s the word limit.