I was roused from my sleep by a request for a report of some kind. I can't be absolutely certain of what kind - I was asleep at the time. I sort of grunted in response, I think. Mr Twinky responded with a grunt to my grunt. By the time we were both awake we had realised that one of us (ie Mr Twinky) had been sleep talking.
He's started doing this relatively recently, and it seems to be getting more frequent. Sometimes it's just a grunt or two, a guttural sound akin to some sort of proto-speech. Sometimes it's a word or two. Last night it was a whole sentence.
Here's my theory.
He's actually working for the Irish Intelligence Agency, unbeknownst to me. And he's thinking about his job all night. Part of his job is espionage, and part of it is trying to decode an ur-language, a universal subconscious method of communication by grunting. Once he's unlocked this, we have the beginnings of a truly international language, or perhaps a rinky-dinky Universal Translator. Babel will fall, or rise again, or whatever it's supposed to do.
That's what I reckon.
Crossover Fiction is a term that's used for a different range of things. The internet is full of crossover fiction. Admittedly, this is mainly short stories where the cast of Murder She Wrote meet the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance. Or where the members of N'Sync meet Gareth Gates, the writer of the story, and some poodles.
However, Bel Mooney's writing about fiction that crosses over generations. Books that are nominally aimed at children, but which adults will love too. They're in vogue at the moment.
At least, writing them is in vogue. Reading them has never really been out of fashion. These are the books that we read as children, but remember through to adulthood because they made a mark on us. It's suddenly in vogue to write the sort of book that Lewis Carroll wrote, that CS Lewis wrote, that Susan Cooper and Alan Garner and JK Rowling wrote.
The best of these will last. And it's interesting that they all have a strong fantasy element. There's been a fashion for writing children's books that address issues. Books set in inner cities, where deprived children nurse weeds into trees while coping with being the product of a broken home where the mother is a junkie and the father and his new boyfriend are trying to get custody. Very worthy, and very educational, and not at all escapist or enchanting.
By playing up the fantasy element, the setting becomes more flexible, and perhaps the book becomes more accessible. The main issues that are dealt with in children's books are timeless. By setting them in a fantasy context, the shelf life of the book is extended, and the relevance is widened.
It seems that three years ago when I was in Vietnam, I went to a bar and accidentally fathered a son on a local girl. I was unaware of this because I was evacuated pretty much immediately. I tried to get her out, but failed. She wound up shooting her cousin to protect her son and fleeing to Bangkok.
Now, of course, it's all just got so messy. She doesn't know about my current domestic situation. There's no reason why she should. I've never mentioned her to Mr Twinky, and I don't really feel that I have to. It was all over with her before I met Mr Twinky, so there's no reason to feel jealous. What I have with Mr Twinky is entirely different. In oh so many ways.
So the plan is this; I'm going to tell Mr Twinky, and we'll go to Bangkok together. We'll locate her, but in a cruel twist of coincidence, she'll meet Mr Twinky before she meets me. In an effort to get herself out of an increasingly complex and intractable knot, I fully expect her to shoot herself, leaving Mr Twinky and myself to take care of her son - who she's already said that she'd die to protect.
I know, I know, it's the same old story - boy meets girl in a crazy world - boy loses girl, girl becomes manslaughterer, boy falls in love with boy, boy meets girl again, girl shoots herself. It could almost be a musical.
Tonight, we're going to see Miss Saigon. We've seen it in the last 18 months, but that was half a world away.
This time last year, we were in Canada. We had a roast, and a cake, and family. I knew that I was coming to Dublin, but I had no idea what was in store for me when I got here. We'd spent two months travelling together, and I hated the idea of spending a week apart.
The year before, we had dinner for eighteen at the California Grill in the Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong. I knew we were talking about leaving Hong Kong, but I didn't know how serious we were.
The year before that, we were apart. But we had dinner together before we went our separate ways, in an Italian Restaurant in Cochrane Street. We were fairly secure as a couple by then, although we weren't living together, and much of our relationship was conducted via text messages. I still have some of them.
The year before that, we hadn't met. I didn't expect to meet anyone within the next six months. I didn't expect to end up where I am now. Miss Saigon in Dublin was not on the cards.
I don't know where I'll be this time next year, but I know who I'll be with.
I wanted to write a piece of analysis about Six Feet Under. It was all to do with the fact that it's aimed firmly at a gay audience. Not just because the most complex characters are the gay characters, or because of the episode aired in the UK last night where the majority of the plot related to homosexuality. The whole show is infused with small touches that are aimed firmly at the gay viewer. And I wanted to note that, to remind myself of the fact.
I've told myself that I love the show because it's a very good quality show. And that may well be true, but I'm the target audience for it, and I believed the hype.
I wanted to remind myself that I've seen through the facade. That I know that I'm just a demographic when it comes to this show. I'm advertising revenue. I'm not going to stop watching it, though.
BLOGGER has just turned three. This means that I started using it before it was even one, and callously abandoned it while it was still a toddler.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I hate computers.
We've always had a tempestuous relationship, computers and I, ever since I first discovered that armed only with a screwdriver and a little knowledge, you could open them up and you could improve them. Like a surgeon, I would make computers better, faster, leaner and meaner. Or so I thought. Computers thought otherwise.
I spent an aeon, or so it seemed, trying to get a simple USB connection to work. I tried upgrading the bios. I tried a USB add-on card. I even replaced my mainboard. Nothing. In the end, I gave up, and bought a brand new computer. Let someone else worry about getting it to work.
And it seemed to work fine. And then I had problems with the CD Rom drive. I thought I could cope with this ailment. I should have known better. Computers win again. Not only did I fail to make any progress with the CD Rom, I managed to snap the modem cable. I've also managed to do something to the modem, so that even with a new cable, I still can't get the darned thing to work.
I hate computers.
We have two feral children who roam around our apartment complex. They're called Cormac and Miss Sophia Branstonia. Cormac's a nice enough kid; useful with his hands, and always ready to help out if we need anything doing about the flat. Miss Sophia Branstonia weighs in at around 280 pounds, and won't get out of her bed unless the scent of chicken and waffles is wafting through the air.
Feral children are good karma. Mainly, they live on hay which well-meaning locals will gather from the twin sources of Centra and Superquinn, and leave in handy mouth-height tin buckets that the council hangs from lamp posts. This allows the children to feed themselves, and rewards the providers of this food with a better afterlife. Except, for some reason, in Meath.
Most feral children are dreadfully undernourished. However, they're protected by law; they belong to the nation, rather than any individual.
Looking at this from a purely socio-cultural viewpoint, this practice is not dissimilar to the Thai custom of dressing children as small elephants and parading them through the streets at night. However, here we have no chai with which to anoint them, and the only money we are allowed to give to feral children is the new rubber Euro, which is notoriously hard to come by on this side of the Liffey.
In the mean time, Cormac and Miss Sophia Branstonia are currently working on a musical, and planning to replant some of the shrubs by the back gate.
Woke up in a state with the sun in my eyes and a pounding in my head that even the top-volume vocal stylings of sweet Ella herself couldn't fix. Dragged myself away from the encircling arms of my sultry passion-bomb and found my way to the bathroom. The warmth of the day was almost oppressive, and a salamander rolled on the terracota floor at my feet. As I splashed my face with cold water, I remembered blearily the flamenco dancers and the endless absinthe. Not good.
There was one letter - from Hong Kong - a regular communique that I get from my sources there, keeping me up to date with developments and investment opportunities. Nothing new, although the envelope smelled faintly of ginger flower. I imagined Anson herself filling the envelope, her pink tongue darting across the tart gum, her purple-painted lips sealing it with a Char Siu kiss.
Sultry passion bomb stirred in the bed, pulling the pillows around him, moving towards the warmth area where a few minutes ago I lay. I saw somthing peaceful about the eyes, I thought. But I had to go. Duty, to my country and to the world, called me. I adjusted my bow tie, and made sure that my fly was buttoned. There was work to do.
I'm sitting here with a million things to do. I had one of those meetings this morning where there was so little actually achieved that I actually made progress away from my goals. I find myself frustrated and angry and I don't want to lash out at anyone. I just want to be at home, on the sofa, in front of the television, with Mr Twinky in my arms.
I want to rise above my work problems, and keep my head when all around are losing theirs. And I'm thinking of a credo; I want to be slow to anger, and great in love. And that's hard, sometimes. There are dozens of thoughts whizzing through my head. About people at work who say one thing and mean another, and about how I react to them - at the same time I can't get Mr Twinky out of my mind. Because he's the man I love - the most important person in my life. Because right now, wherever he is, that's where I want to be.
I've said before that I like suebailey.net, or possibly suezilla.com as it seems to be this week. Today, she remarks on the not uncommon phenomena of satanic sparrows.
in a pile by the door that leads to the room where the computers live, are the books which are waiting to be read. and top of the pile is ellis peter's the sanctuary sparrow. i know what the title of this book is. so why the elvis did i just read it as 'the satanic sparrow sanctuary'?
I believe that many people suffer from this affliction, mainly through overly rapid speed-reading. You pick up a word here, a phrase there, and then your mind sorts them into an order that seems to make sense. An order that bears some resemblance to something that you're secretly thinking about.
I can't say that I was thinking about setting up a satanic sparrow sanctuary this morning, but I've spent a lot of time trying to find one on-line this afternoon.
There appears to be one in County Wicklow.
It was hot... the turgid heat of the jungle bearing down upon me, and the pounding in my head, the thump-thump-thump of Charlie at the gates.
I couldn't bear to be indoors, but I couldn't bear to be outside either, with the flies and the hawkers buzzing around me. "Hey, Mr Johnny American, you wanna buy a book". I couldn't bring myself to buy anything, and couldn't bring myself to kick them.
Thank god for Van Bich. Short, slim, and forever smiling. She was my one hope for the future in this sweaty hellhole, the bright focus that I clung to as the malaria and the hashish worked their twin magics on my brain.
And the worst of it; I wanted to come here. I wanted to stand next to my fellow countryman. I wanted to show Chris back in Little Hump what a real 'man' I was. I've lost twenty pounds to sweat and disease. My own mother would barely recognise me. What on earth are we doing here?
The first time I went to Vietnam, I was impressed by the wide range of international restaurants along the main drag of Ho Chi Minh City. I got to know the city quite well over time, but that first trip it was a random cacophony of deco and lights, a warm dry heat that spoke to me of colonial memories that I don't have. That whole evening is subsumed in an orange glow of sunset and nostalgia, and the vague memory of a mild stomach cramp, probably caused by too much rich food before I arrived.
Nothing too spicy, I said, so we went for an Italian meal. Restaurants are set up as joint ventures, I was told, a Vietnamese partner and a foreigner. Then, when they become successful, the Vietnamese partner buys out the foreigner, or throws them out (ejects them somehow - the mechanism is unimportant). And the quality goes downhill, and the restaurant closes. I suspect the place that I went to was already in the late stages of decline.
Flashing forward to the early days in Dublin, and the pizza that we had one evening in the dying days of the indian summer last year. The same orange glow of sunset, a cooler climate, and almost the same blandness in the pizza. I turn to Mr Twinky and, in my best Cartman voice, I explain "This is like the pizza I had in 'Nam"
Yes, I too was scarred by my time in Vietnam. I came away with a deep love of the country, but also an annoying habit of flashing back and inflicting it on those that I love.
There are some things that I prefer not to write about on this web page, because they're covered at length elsewhere. An example might be the UK's recent 'Big Brother' televisual circus, where several delightful nobodies became head-lamp viewing for a period of weeks. Another example might be the recent kidnapping and murder of two young girls in a small village in England. It's awful - truly an act that completely revolts and distresses me. I'm not going to comment on it here, though, but it's a necessary piece of background to the interesting side-story that has some merit in debate.
The media, you see, is lashing back at itself.
In a similar way to the events of the eleventh of September last year, there has been blanket news coverage of the events. However, unlike the events in New York, there has often been no news to report. Instead, we've seen a range of repeats - a single image has dominated headlines and bulletins, and a range of presenters and journalists have been at any scene remotely connected with the case. It must be a quiet month.
There's something predatory about the mass media, moving in to a village, not there to help look for the missing children, but to observe, to feed on the events, and to boost their own ratings in the process. This is the sort of coverage that journalists give each other awards for, after all.
Because the media often had very little to say, what little that they did have to say was often blown way out of proportion, layered with hidden meaning upon hidden meaning. And there was one clear target of this for a few days last week. The Internet.
Ah yes, the internet. Secret home to perverts and predators. Where fat balding forty-five year old men can leer cybernetically into your home and snatch your children from their beds. And all that tired old nonsense.
But there's a reason why the internet falls within the 'new media' name tag. That's all it is, really. It's a fast and efficient means of storing, retrieving, broadcasting a message. Like newspapers, really. Full of opinion - and often without the gravitas that makes that opinion feel like fact.
These events have been the sort of events that needed to be reported. Public awareness and altertness could only be beneficial, and the press and television news played a vital and important part in that. I'm not trying to belittle what they achieved. But they found the line between reporting and rabble-rousing, and stepped firmly across it.
In common with the bulk of the office-going public, I spend 80% of my time in meetings. The bulk of these are high-powered, dynamic events with ideas sparking and wit at a maximum. Some are more restrained. But almost all have a moment where the mind is engaged and the hands are not. There's a pen in your hand, a bit of paper, and not much right-brain activity going on (or perhaps left-brain - or indeed any brain - but it matters not; creative juices are untapped).
And so... small geometric designs emerge. First in a corner, perhaps, but expanding. Intricate doodles that threaten to engulf the page, to become the message of the meeting itself. Uncontained, and uncontrolled.
The business world, with its desire to control, needs to harness this creative leakage, and contain it in a margin somewhere. And the way to do this?
I'd propose notepads where half of each page is given over to Altair designs. Simple, geometric, attractive, controlled.
From the ridiculous to the sublime. It seems that Jude Law is no longer associated with Superman, and that Josh Hartnett may be up for the role instead.
People are obviously taking this casting very seriously. After all, the role of Superman had Nicolas Cage's name attached to it for years, despite all of the wailing that I did on the subject - mainly privately, I admit. Nonetheless, it came across as one of the most woeful pieces of miscasting ever, and I wailed and gnashed teeth despite the fact that I have no proof of the casting, no idea how Cage would have played it, and basically no idea at all about anything to do with this.
I understand that many of my contemporaries would like to see Patrick Warburton in tights and boots.
When I was in my early twenties, there was this thing between me and Lara Flynn Boyle. She never knew about it, of course, and that's probably all for the best, given the inevitable disappointment that I would have been for her. She was my reason for watching Twin Peaks, her and James Marshall. But James Marshall's not important right now (and man, it's hard to write that). And why isn't he important? Because he didn't go on to become the scariest thing in the Universe. Lara Flynn Boyle did.
I'm not referring to her strange shift of characterisation in the later episodes of Twin Peaks. I'm referring to her appearance in 'Men in Black II; this time it's much the same again, but with Lara Flynn Boyle in it'. Not the role, not the character, not even her acting ability. Her appearance.
'Body of an underwear model' she says, and this may indeed be true. But her face... let's just say that time probably hasn't been kind to her, but it's very very hard to tell.
And scarily, her pasty pancaked complexion was, perhaps, the most memorable thing avout that film.
Meanwhile, James Marshall went on to appear in Soccer Dog: The Movie.
Flashback to my Manila days.
I'm sitting having lunch with a corpulent Filipino gentleman. He's a work colleague, and fancies himself as something of a ladies' man. He doesn't know that - largely due to his hairpiece - his appearance is something of a joke among the ladies of the office.
"So tell me... you're Scottish, aren't you? That means you have the kilt, yes?"
"Yes," I reply. I've got one fairly recently at this stage, for my sister's wedding. I'm kind of thrown by the next question, though, although I should have guessed what was coming next.
I've got a number of answers to this question, ranging from the evasive "It's a national secret" through to the flirtatious "Why don't you check?". In this case, I tell the truth. I have no reason not to, really. After all, I'm trying to build a working relationship with this guy.
"And the ladies," he asks. "Do they have a similar tradition?"
And suddenly everything snaps in to place, and I can once more categorise him as a dirty old man...
Walking along a corridor in the office, I pass a member of our IT support team and I am struck by the hugely unpleasant whiff of undeodorised oxter.
The odd thing is that some people like armpits quite a lot. Which is an odd thing. They're not a hugely attractive part of the body, they're clearly pungent - so much so that a good 80% (official invented statistic) of scented products are targeted at armpits. And yet... I kind of like them, myself. What is the appeal?
So here's my theory.
First off, armpits are exotic. Don't laugh, think about it. How many times a day do you see an armpit? Damn few. They fall into the category of hidden anatomy, something that people can fantasise about before they see. It's why foot fetishes are more common than finger fetishes. You can fantasise about any foot, but fantasies about hands tend to be about a particular type of hand, a hand that must be sought.
I don't know this for sure, I'm just making it up.
The scent issue takes me back to the grand conceit that attraction is chemical as well as (or perhaps rather than) physical. Scent is certainly something that can repel or attract, and there's no doubt that natural human odour can be attractive, if even only to the owner of the odour. If we can find our own farts sometimes to be not unpleasant - and no matter how much people may deny it, everyone secretly knows that their own farts smell better than everyone else's - then there's nothing to stop us finding the smell of someone else's armpits intoxicating. Is there?
Unless it's overpowering, from two feet away, while walking through the office on a Thursday afternoon.
One of the things that I was doing this weekend was de-cluttering. It really doesn't feel like it, but that's what I was doing. With my mum leading, and prompting, I went through my parents' house, and looked at every one of my posessions there. I sorted and filed, and many of the precious accumulations of the last ten years went into black plastic bags that then went on to the tip. And that purging felt good. Even when my mum stumbled across a couple of videos that she really didn't want to stumble across.
But there's more clutter there now. All of Mr Twinky's stuff arrived in the afternoon. I think that we brought in less stuff than we took away, but it's a fine, fine distinction. And frankly, I feel awful about it.
So, hopefully, the removal men will come soon, and bring all of the boxes to Dublin. We can build a fort with them.
They say that time can be defined as 'the thing that stops everything from all happening all at once'. And so, I''m going to take some time to unwind, and stop anything from happening at all. I'm flying over to Glasgow and Edinburgh for a long weekend. Should be good.
They're commemorating the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, with a fountain, that takes the form of a couple of rings of water. It's been suggested that the money spent doing this would be better given to charity, since a memorial so simple and pure and un-ostentatious is inappropriate in relation to the gaping chasm of loss that she left in the hearts of the millions of Britons who had never met her, but whose desire for blanket photo coverage contributed to her tragic death. One particularly evil suggestion is to replace the fountain with an underpass, under which people could drive at high speed.
Back on Tuesday.