Thursday, February 22, 2007

For Some Inexplicable Reason

I was reminded of this gem today:

Once upon a time at college, a very sweet and earnest boy called Minga rang the Choreography Team leader, a much sought-after beauty.
She picked up, Hullo?
Minga cleared his throat, Hi. This is Minga and I'm calling from the Students Union..
Beauty replied, Err.. Minga? Yeah right! And this is Chinga.
Huh? No no, my name is Minga!, he protested.
Yeah and my name is Linga!, she said and hung up.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Writing Poems


My notebook, left by mistake
all night on the garden table
has been revised by rain -

blurs and dribbles swims
the lakes and swallow seas
of its brimming pages.

Put in the oven to dry
drought begins to crinkle
the lip of every puddle -

and what comes out is a shell,
crisp and hollow and curled
around a fall of rain.

- Charles Bennett, How To Make a Women Out of Water


The Notebooks

To turn again these faded pencilled pages,
Their neatly cancelled lines, precisely dated,
Their doodles of frustration, sudden rages
Or mocking self-contempt, before the next
Refining or reduction's contemplated,
And then the immaculate and final text -

This is to hear you speak, not just to read you,
Familiar words-by-heart plumbed deep and strange
Down to the nerve of hurt, the pains that feed you
Raw as they are, a present tense, not past,
Thronged with the power to strengthen through their change,
Poised to their lines we know and built to last.

- Anthony Thwaite, The Dust of The World

For He Who Thinks In Multiples

Three Promises

Between the sheets of midnight and morning
A dream

At first light there's frost
Fields of white manna

In sunlight moment by moment
The day stretches out

A dream, manna, this moment
Three promises you'll never keep.

- John Moat, Firewater and the Miraculous Mandarin

(And while I'm on the subject, may I just add, as Sting would say, sometimes I see your face/ stars seem to lose their place/ why must I think of you/ why must I/ why should I/ why I should I cry for you?)

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Collector of Oddities

I am The Collector of Oddities. And stamps, earrings and wine corks, but that's besides the point. The Oddities I collect are stories, or not even. Flecks of stories, the discarded detailing, incongruities of a different sense that go unnoticed because everyone is too busy trying to get on the bus.

In this past week, I have become just a bit richer.

Three days a week, I switch to work mode for my internship at an independent literary press that produces almost handcrafted books for a very niche audience. The office is a cozy apartment with big windows, sunlight streaming in, obscure paintings on the walls, books everywhere and beige carpeting.

If I were to ignore the number of letters I've folded, enveloped and franked, I could say that this experience is putting me back in touch with the artist in me, a side that I fear has slowly eroded since I started this masters programme. Interestingly, completely unrealistic conversations about poetry, William Trevor, survival and the art of romanticising globalisation have been enjoyable at the very least and I would even venture to say that I like the seclusion. But this Tuesday, the lack of touch with reality nudged me ever so slightly. The nudge was easy to mistake for an accidental brush but something about it made me look up and right after, I returned happily to the dissatisfied world of the social sciences.

A few neighbourhood boys were playing cricket on the street outside, a street that only rarely sees cars as it is in a residential area. My boss noticed this and with a faraway look in his eyes, said to me, 'What a novel way of playing cricket. On the street! Very unsafe though. Imagine that... Have you ever seen anything like it?'

I answered with a quizzical look on my face.

Still astonished, he replied, 'How very very unsual. How marvellous!' With that, he threw his hands up in the air and walked back into his office.

I might be stepping out of my area of expertise here but I believe they're called alpha males. They are boys who think they're the best thing to have happened to mankind, or at least to their family and friends. When you have an alpha male friend, it is your duty to stroke his ego and nod in agreement with his insinuations as to his superiority as a creation of God. Chances are, this will be accompanied by dashing good looks, a tall built body, a fairly charming personality. And you will have to smile appreciatively at being showered with physical affection when you're with other friends at a restaurant. At this point, your friends will raise their eybrows and smile, wanting to be introduced, inspite of your insistence that it would not be a good idea.

However, when you are sitting with another alpha male you've just met (for a volunteer project, by the way), who for the satisfaction of his own ego is buying you a drink and talking about how he came to be such a pro squash player, and your alpha male friend walks in, the conversation will go like this:

Alpha male friend to alpha male stranger, 'Hey, man. Who are you?'

Alpha male stranger to you, 'You know this guy?'

You, 'Yes, he's my flatmate.'

Alpha male friend, 'She's my girlfriend.'

Alpha male stranger, 'This guy's your boyfriend?'

Before you can respond, Alpha male friend, giving you a kiss before going back to his table to his latest victim, 'Alright. She's my sister. But no messing with her. She's a very special girl to me.'

A friend to whom I had lent some money called me yesterday in a curious state of panic, 'Listen, I have a problem. Remember those 90 pounds you lent me? I can't use them.'


'Because! Two of the 20 pound notes have an arrow near the Queen's face with c*** written next to it!'


'What do you mean, so? Now if I hand the notes to anyone at a store, they're going to think I wrote it! I don't think the Queen is a c***. She's a little unreasonable, yes but she's like any other sweet old lady.'

'Riiight. How about you use them in a machine to top up your Oyster card then? Then no one can judge you for what you think of the Queen.'

'Dude, that is a brilliant idea!'

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Speaking of Critical Thinking

Last night I realised that I am no longer impervious to the insidious power of the social sciences.

When I saw this cartoon in The Economist, besides finding it hilarious and appreciating the artistic genius of the drawing, I found myself pondering over these issues:

- Isn't the dragon such a eurocentric representation of China? That's right, continue to exoticise the East, you hegemonic monsters!
- Nevermind the political dimension of the relationship, why must the dragon be sitting and Bush be standing? Huh? Couldn't the relationship be conveyed through less belittling means?
- Why such a servile expression on the dragon's face? Doesn't this continue to perpetuate the image of the world terrorised by America, nations just awaiting approval...

Suddenly Alfonzo interrupted, 'SA, it's a cartoon.'

I looked up.
'Oh. Right.' I replied, sheepishly.