Wednesday, December 24, 2003

A trip to the shops

My Quebec winter-time outfit consists of a lot of layers of clothing that I used to wear in England, but all worn at the same time. So, I put on my multi-layered affair and head down the steep steps and onto the street to be confronted by an enormous bulldozer, heading right for me.

Of course, I was just in the way; he was really ploughing the snow off the streets. Still, the tidal wave of snow heading towards me, along the pavement, sent me scurrying along at high speed. Until I realised how slippery it was of course. Under the powdery snow is a sheet of ice, about an inch thick. It glitters, bluely, through the snow.

I calm down and the bulldozer passes me without incident, a long line of traffic following impatiently behind.

I walk down to the main street and head towards the bank. I notice that everyone is wearing less than me. In fact, I start to feel rather over dressed – no hats or gloves for the masses on Ontario Street, oh no. I feel weak and soft. Oh, hang on, there’s someone with gloves and a hat, ah, no, he’s about eighty, I suppose it’s okay to dress up when you’re old and infirm.

I manage the trial of the bank ATM (all in French) without causing too much damage to the account, and head for the supermarket. Now I notice that the whole street is singing to me. Not the people, but there is a disconnected voice everywhere singing French xmas songs. At first I thought it was just a cheerful shop, but as I walked along it followed me, the same song. I started to look around, for the source, but could see no speakers… No one else seemed perturbed. I hurried on.

The supermarket went without a hitch – IGA, which we were told stood for ‘Independent Grocers of Australia’ when we were there. God knows what it’s supposed to stand for here then.

Next stop was the ‘vrac’ shop where we buy our herbs and spices. I bought what I wanted and decided to try for the ‘coffee buy’ today. I always shy away from it as I have to ask for a ‘demi livre’, or something. Anyway I try it today, I ask for a demi-livre of moka-java-noir.

The girl stares at me for a while and then turns and points to some pens hanging near the coffee containers. She looks at me questioningly.

I point at the coffee and repeat slowly, ‘Moka… java… noir.’

‘Ah!’ She gets the idea, ‘Brun ou noir?’

When I leave the shop I decide to brave the cold without gloves or hat, to toughen myself up. I do quite well up to the first corner, when I turn into the wind. My god, that’s cold. My hands start to numb up.

I think about putting on my gloves, but I’m approaching an old man, who in typical Quebec style, is standing in his doorway (hatless and gloveless), simply watching me walk by. I think that it will be giving in, to wear the gloves now, so brave the numbness and walk by.

The pain is incredible, but I think that I’m just being soft, even if it feels nasty. I turn my hands the other way to numb my palms instead. I can focus on nothing else except my hands and the burning numbness.

Am I this soft? I wonder. It’s only minus 10 or so, I guess.

Then, a funny thing happens – the pain stops and clam descends upon me. My hands have numbed to such an extent that I can’t feel them any more. It’s bliss, kind of.

At this point I cross a road and slip, flailing my arms around like an Englishman and briefly kicking one leg into the air, stupidly. I’ve increased my speed to such an extent to get out of the cold and warm my hands that I’m almost running over the thickly ice encrusted pavements.

About ten people that just got off a bus stare at me.

I slow down.

The ploughing is still going on. There is a convoy now of three or more different types of industrial machinery, each having a special purpose in the snow removal process – one to heavily plough, one to scoop up, one to edge, one to do something else, and one to simply scare you to death as you walk by – it has a side attachment that consists of a large number of sharp spinning edges that you could easily wander into if you were day dreaming. This machine is angrily spitting out huge balls of ice and rock, grinding and screaming, as it rushes towards me.

It narrowly avoided me, luckily.

Friday, December 12, 2003


Or, ‘An Education Concerning Men, For Women, Part 1’

Men are a breast obsessed lot. This may come as no surprise to you. You may think that you know men that aren’t breast obsessed - men that don’t stare or slaver when a pair is thrust in front of them. But no, you don’t - all men (perhaps gay men aside), are breast obsessed. Those that appear uninterested are merely very devious and clever at deception.

It is something of a surprise to me when I find myself staring uncontrollably at a pair of breasts. I take hold of myself, shake myself mentally, tell myself off, debase myself at my lowness and vileness of character, and then find myself staring again an hour later.

I conclude therefore, that it isn’t just simply crapness on the part of men, but something deeper and more fundamental. I suppose it’s all linked into our sex drive, and perhaps it’s an evolutionary hangover. Who knows? It isn’t my intention to try and justify behaviour, just to observe it.

Two case studies:

1. X is in bed with a girl one morning after a particularly rowdy party, a very attractive and desirable girl. She leaves to go to the bathroom and upon her return tells X that there is a girl asleep on the sofa in the lounge, who’s blanket has fallen off her, revealing her breasts.
X is gripped with a desire to go and see.

2. Y is on an escalator going upwards in a department store. As he slowly ascends, he notices a mannequin which is dressed in a skimpy top, showing plastic cleavage. Y stares at the cleavage and thinks to himself that he’ll be able to see more as he gets higher.
Y then thinks, what the hell am I thinking?

Many women are confused by this behaviour and are not tolerant of it. Women don’t like men’s breast obsession because it is highly impersonal - men are not looking at faces, or taking personality into account. It’s how men would feel if women were only interested in pictures of penises, I suppose.

‘How many breasts can you look at before you get sick of them?’ women ask.

The answer is probably infinite. Look at the success of newspapers like The Sun and The Star, which show the same pictures, of the same type of models, in the same poses, day after day, year after year, and men still buy the paper, look at them, and even pin them up on the wall.

It’s evolutionary exploitation, that’s what it is.

Bloggers Block

It’s just like writers block. I haven’t been able to put finger to keyboard for weeks, for some reason. All writing, in fact, has ground to a halt - the book, the screenplay, the articles, Procrastizine, everything. The only thing I’m still doing is writing the Java Applet games, and one is about a week away from release as we speak.

The writing block is cyclical, with periods of extreme confidence, when I send articles to newspapers and book extracts to agents, contrasted with periods of extreme self doubt, when I feel like deleting everything I’ve written and cringe that I sent all my friends that last article etc.

This is natural.

Okay, I know that many of you literary types may not like Limericks, but I just have to publish one here that I came across the other day. You know that Limericks are an English language form that go back as far as (possibly) 1300 AD, but at least to well documented cases of around 1600 onwards. Shakespeare wrote limericks in his plays, James Joyce wrote one, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, John Galsworthy, Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Woodrow Wilson, and Queen Elizabeth I have all in fact penned limericks.

So there.


There was a young man of Eau Claire,
Enjoying his girl on the stair;
On the forty-fourth stroke,
The banister broke
And he finished her off in mid-air.