You've Got Wombles, Mate
In the cold light of day, a little light went on in my head, and I remembered the existence of the Wayback Machine.
And so, this, dear readers, is why Armando Ianucci is "the Womble bloke" and why, given half a chance, I totally would... because this still, even years later, makes me laugh.
You've Got Wombles, Mate
Monday June 1
Woke up at 3am to interminable scuttling sound coming from my loft. Rang Council Pest Control Offices in the morning, and they sent a man round with equipment and small cages. He took one look upstairs, then came down and said "I'm terribly sorry, but you've got Wombles." I said that couldn't possibly be true, and he said: "Yes it is. Haven't you noticed your house has been that little bit neater recently?" I thought about this for a minute, and realised I was dealing with something greater than all of us. I asked the man to leave his traps and show me how to work them.
Tuesday June 2
First tell-tale sign of Wombles. A mound of Womble droppings found in the snooker room. I can tell they're Womble droppings because they're little white pellets with a "W" written on each one. I lay my traps out upstairs, and put poison in each snooker pocket just in case the vermin characters fancy a game.
Wednesday June 3
Hear a sharp crack in the middle of the night and a heart-wrenching squeal. I run upstairs and find one of the traps has worked. Madame Cholet is lying juddering inside a metal box, her stomach severed by a line of razor blades attached to an apple. She is still alive, gurgling up moist felt from her throat and still trying to pick up litter. I watch her die in front of me and notice she is operated by a human hand inside her which stops moving at the moment of death. It is both frightening and beautiful. Wished I'd filmed it.
Thursday June 4
More success. Came down to the snooker room to discover Tobermory and Uncle Bulgaria dead from poison. They had been playing in the night, and choked on their own vomit. The carcass of Uncle Bulgaria was still frozen in the act of trying to use my cue to sweep the vomit into a neat pile. The stench from the children's characters is enormous. Find two partially decayed human hands in each one.
Friday June 5
Receive a letter from Smurf Liberationists telling me not to continue with the genocide of Wombles. It says the Liberationists once did nasty things to a cosmetics factory that manufactured make-up from Clangers' testicles. They show me two graphic photographs of the testicles. Each one is bleeding into a lipstick packet. I can see the remains of two tiny human hands working inside each one.
Saturday June 6
I find Tobermory's leg twitching in a trap. At the free joint are teeth marks, and traces of scuttling into a corner. I notice my dustpan and brush have gone missing. Yesterday's letter has frightened me. Am still determined to rid the house of the neat midgets, but feel I am interfering with balance of nature in some hideous way. For a while, ponder what I'm doing. Once fantasy and illusion have been poisoned what is left? Are we the human hand that sits inside the bumpy shell of puppetry? Take away the magic,-and is all you have left merely fingers? As I doze off to these thoughts, a baby Womble craps in my eye. I stare, and through the miasma of animated faeces see its miniature form scurry stupidly up a lamp looking for a mop as I think "No, they're real, and I want them out of my house." I smash the lamp to the ground and squish the infant with a book.
Sunday June 7
Early morning. Horrible. Too, too horrible. I wake up to find next to me in my bed the severed head of a children's entertainer. A note pinned to its chin reveals this to be another bloody warning from the Smurf Liberationists, who obviously had fatal access to Andy Peters's house. I am shocked but more resolved than ever to rid the planet of the monsters who did this. Can't help looking at Andy Peters's head and am puzzled to note that the insides have been scooped out, leaving enough room to put my hand in it and work it like a glove-puppet. The next hour or so provides enough amusement from this activity to more than make up for the earlier morning trauma in my bed.
Monday June 8
How can I recount the events of today without some sense of fear that the knowledge I'm about to pass on will destroy everything utterly? Let me tell you what happened. The man from the Council Pest Control office came back to see how I was getting on. He looked at his traps and cages and said he thought he could now trace the Wombles back to their source. He pointed at a small opening in my kitchen wall. Quickly we tore away the surrounding plaster and brickwork, and then we saw it, in a large hollow inside the wall - Bernard Cribbins doing the voices. He was wedged solid, and must have been stuck there for over a week, getting more and more dehydrated. He was lying in his own urine, apologising for the mess, and surrounded by a litter of six tiny Bernard Cribbinses. He had squashed three of them and eaten two;
One remaining tiny Bernard Cribbins was scuttling around, whimpering "'Hello' said Uncle Bulgaria'." In a thrilling mixture of fear, anger and horror I did the only humane thing possible in such circumstances, which was to smash Bernard Cribbins's head in with a hammer. And as he expired, I witnessed the first glimpse of the terrible truth, that his body yielded softly to the tool, and collapsed instantly as if hollowed out. As the skin burst, out came a line of 14 or so dejected rabbits, scurrying lamely in several directions. And that was all. No bone, no muscles. Simply rabbits.
I wish I had not performed my next act. But some weird intuition possessed me, and I had to know. Without a second's breath, I turned the hammer upon the Council official, and he fell snarling to the floor. On the fifth pummel I had my answer, as a fractured rabbit clawed out of his torn shoulder. And then another. And another. At least 60 rabbits must have been operating that official, leaving him a horrid sack of suit and skin. In torment, I smashed the hammer on to my left hand, and heard a shrill squeal of an animal coming from the finger. The skin is not broken, but I can still see a lot of running around inside.
So this is the awful truth. We are merely sophisticated puppets operated by rabbits for the amusement of animals. While things that look like puppets actually contain real human hands. I have as yet to work out the significance of all this, but I pray that God save us all.
© Armando Ianucci / the Guardian 1998.
posted without permission, but only to preserve such a fine work and keep it online somewhere other than hidden in the depths of the wayback machine.
I Totally Would (Redux)
I've mentioned before my concern about my apparently strange taste in men.
Maybe it's a result of watching too much tv, combined with over-indulgence in various cold cures, but once more, I'm concerned... and so, in no particular order, the men I've found strangely attractive in the last week:
No matter how hard I try, I really can't explain this one. His brother is clearly the better looking of the two and yet, there's something about Justin - and not just because he's the lead singer of his band...
... which leads me on to...
I wouldn't ordinarily admit this, but there's just something about him. I would also never usually admit listening to his music, but in all honesty, I have to admit that when you ignore all the macho posturing and bullshit, he has some interesting stuff to say. He didn't fall out of the ugly tree and hit all the branches on the way down either.
... and while we're on the subject of musos, next up is...
No I don't know why either... and it's not because of the Britney thing either... I dunno, I think it might be something to do with the video for Behind Blue Eyes.
He makes me laugh. A lot... and I want to know how his wife gets her hair that colour.
Good writing is sexy.
Good writing that makes me laugh out loud is sexier, and I'm so unbelievably pissed off that I can't link to the piece of writing in question, because the kind soul who put it up on their site has now taken it down.
Basically, he wrote a piece called "You've got Wombles" which cracked me up so much, and so, from then on, has been known as "the Womble bloke".
Saturday night during Britain's Most Obviously Pointless Live Event was the first time I saw him in the flesh (or as close to as TV gets), and I found myself thinking "Hrm. Y'know, I actually would".
I then stopped drinking. But still.
... and last, but not even close to least...
Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman from West Wing)
Quite apart from the fact that West Wing is one of, if not the best TV series I've ever watched, there are episodes I will watch again and again and again, because of Bradley.
I'm not normally given to overt displays of girlishness, but he can make me both squeal and sigh at the same time.
It's a sickness.
Photo Friday: Neglect
What once was new lies waste.
A gardener toiled here.
With fork and spade
she tended with care,
a garden now run wild.
Her shed, like her
Traditional Cold Cure
Since the chicken soup doesn't appear to be working, I figure it's time to change the approach.
Chicken Soup for the Flu-ridden
Chicken stock cubes
Cough, wheeze and complain.
Drag your pathetic and flu-ridden body in the general direction of the kitchen.
Locate the kettle. Probably the big white thing that looks faintly like a jug. Pick it up, move it in general direction of taps. Hold it under tap nozzle and turn on tap (hint: it's probably better if you open the lid first). Try not to drop the kettle in the sink because it's become heavy with all that water in it. Put kettle back on it's cradle, switch it on.
Collapse onto the floor from the effort of filling the kettle. Squeak as bare skin touches cold tiles. Remember that you threw off your pj's in the middle of the night because you were too hot. Shiver. Crawl across carpet to put on three pairs of socks, two tshirts, a fleece and the warmest pair of sloppy tracky bottoms you own.
Crawl back to kitchen.
Find pot from cupboard (hint: this is probably best done before you stand up again, because if you bend down you'll probably fall over), put it on cooker, turn cooker on.
Check that the pot is on the ring you've just turned on.
Pour boiling water into pot.
Fumble with foil around stock cube.
Lean against the worktop, still struggling with foil coating.
Pick up large knife and stab stock cube in fit of temper.
Squeeze contents of stock cube out through hole made in foil.
Wonder why you're bothering and just throw stock cube into pot, foil and all, figuring the water will dissolve the stock and you can fish the foil out later.
Strip off fleece and one tshirt because the exertion has made you all hot and feverish again.
Open fridge. Insert head.
Open fridge again. Remove head.
Poke noodles with spoon until they seem like they might be soft.
Turn off heat.
Make sure that you actually turned off the ring that was on, not turned on the one next to it.
Open cupboard door without hitting your head with it. Find bowl.
Attempt to spoon noodles into bowl.
Use fork instead.
Fish out foil from bowl, burning fingers in process.
Spoon stock into bowl on top of noodles.
Pick up bowl and contemplate going back to sofa to eat it.
Decide that's too much effort.
Sink onto kitchen floor again, this time clutching bowl.
Put bowl on floor.
Reach up and open cutlery drawer. Rummage around until you feel like you might have found something to eat the soup with.
Proceed to eat noodles with fork.
Try to drink stock from bowl when noodles are finished, but wind up dribbling it down your front.
Put bowl down on floor.
Put self down on floor.
Say a small prayer of thanks to your deity of choice for cool, smooth tiles.
Wake up shivering and crawl to sofa.
Photo Friday: Morning
The Perfect Sunrise
The Perfect Breakfast
The Perfect Walk in the Park
The Perfect Morning - A Tryptych
I'm not the world's biggest fan of the Tate Modern. It tends to depress me.
That said, it occasionally has things which are worth seeing, and the Weather Project is absolutely one of those.
If you haven't gone to see it yet, you really should make the time to go - and make it soon, because it's due to finish on Sunday.
As Tom says, possibly the best part about it is watching the reactions of people as they enter the space, and how they use it once there.
One of the most lovely things was the delighted laughter echoing through as people lay on the ground and made shapes and letters with their bodies, gazing up at their reflection in the ceiling.
Absolutely wonderful, and a great shame it's not permanent. I only wish I'd gone earlier.
More of the obligatory pictures can be found inside.
Photo Friday: Clean
After the Party - A Tryptych
hypocrisy - or why my mum is becoming Catholic
n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies
The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
An act or instance of such falseness.
This post is going to be a long one and a serious one. It will discuss matters of religion and personal belief. If this is not your thing, turn back now.
As a baby, I was christened at the Church of Scotland, the Church my mum had attended since her childhood.
Throughout my early childhood, I was taken to Church with my mum, and attended Sunday School as soon as I was old enough. I knew the ten commandments before I could read, write or count.
One Sunday, when I was maybe three years old, a van pulled up in our street, and my friends got into it. I wanted to know where they were going, and if I could go too.
The next week, I joined them in that van, and started going to the Salvation Army Sunday School. It was noisy and happy, and exciting.
For a few years, I attended both Churches. Church of Scotland in the morning, and Salvation Army in the afternoon. Eventually, I didn't want to go to the Church of Scotland any more.
Both Churches taught pretty much the same thing - despite the fact that they weren't singing from the same hymn book, the bible and its teachings remained the same. Despite that, even from an early age, I became uncomfortable at the differences between the two congregations. At my mum's church, I didn't get the same feeling of warmth and welcome as I did at the Salvation Army. I didn't see the same level of interaction between the members of the congregation. Certainly, there were groups and events - The Choir and the Boy's Brigade, the Council and the Women's Friendship Circle - all the ingredients of the perfect middle-class protestant congregation, but it just didn't feel the same.
So I stopped going to the Church of Scotland, which disappointed my mum somewhat, but she allowed it, so long as I went to a church, any church, until I reached the age of 16, where she felt I would be adult enough to make up my own mind.
So that's what I did.
My mum threw herself into her church activities, and I got heavily involved with the Salvation Army. I resented her involvement sometimes - when I felt she chose the people in the church over us, her family.
I signed the pledge, aged 7, where I declared that I wouldn't smoke, wouldn't drink alcohol, and wouldn't have sex until I was married. I joined the band, and the choir, and yes, I even played the tambourine.
In short, I believed.
I swallowed all the hype. Hook, line and sinker. They got me from an early age, and I was brainwashed.
I grew older, and I got more involved, and the more involved I got, the more the cracks began to show - both internally and externally. My innate curiosity was battling with the promise I'd made to not explore certain avenues, and it began to trouble me. I took my promises seriously, even though the vast majority of people around me didn't.
Like any group of teenagers, there was drinking, and smoking, and sex - by the bucketload - but nobody paid it any attention... and gradually the scales began to fall from my eyes, and I became aware of the petty politics that were going on. The power struggles and the put-downs. The myriad of little hypocrisies, and eventually, after much consideration, and more than a few heated arguments (and for heated arguments, read screaming matches) with my mum, I left the Salvation Army too.
My mum continued to be heavily involved in her church, and I continued not going to any church, and eventually, we reached an understanding, and she accepted that having tried both places, and given it more than the agreed timescale, it wasn't for me. I had experienced it, researched it, evaluated it and made my own decision.
In the intervening years, I never went back to the Salvation Army, and only went back to my mum's church on very rare occasions, and always on the understanding that I was there for her, not for the faith.
A month after I moved to London, I went back home and back to that church to see my parents get re-married.
Six months later, I was back again, this time for my father's funeral.
The minister came round, doing his "duty", like a vulture scenting blood. I very calmly explained to my mum that I didn't wish him to speak to me, beyond common courtesies, and that I would be very angry if he did not respect my beliefs, and tried to "comfort" me with scripture and prayer, because although she might find those comforting, I did not.
... and so, life went on. I would receive phone calls from my mum, where she would cry, and tell me how lonely she was, and I would tell her not to worry, because she had a bigger friendship circle than I had, and she had her church, and to be honest, I couldn't see what the problem was.
Six months later, my gran died. My mother's mother - and now, my mum really was alone - living on her own in a house that had once held five. My sister and I miles away - me in London, her in Dover, and even though my mum's health had deteriorated, I wasn't worried, because she had her church.
Only she didn't.
Two months ago I went home for the first time since my gran died. I was in the kitchen, probably feeding the cats - I can't quite recall now, when D came through and told me that my mum was becoming Catholic.
"Are you kidding me"? I demanded.
"No, and I don't think your mother is either - it doesn't strike me as the kind of thing she'd joke about..." he replied.
... and so I went through to the living room, and asked my mum straight out, if she was becoming Catholic.
She replied that she was thinking about it, and that she was taking classes, and had been for three months already, and would take three more months, before making up her mind whether she wished to join.
I was flabbergasted.
My mother, protestant from birth, passed down through generation, going to the chapel? Seeing a priest? Going to confession?
My mind boggled. Not, you understand, because I have any problems whatsoever with Catholics, despite being brought up in the highly sectarian West of Scotland, but because the whole practice of the religion was such an alien thing to me and seemed diametrically opposed to the Church of Scotland.
I asked her why, and quite literally felt sick to my stomach as she explained.
In the days and weeks following my dad's funeral, not one of her friends from the church had visited, or even phoned to see if she was ok. The Minister visited once, a week later. Other than that, not a peep.
Cards were pushed through the letterbox although it was obvious she was at home, the senders sneaking down the path, firm in their belief that they'd done their bit.
As my gran was hospitalised after a fall, no-one came to see if she needed anything, no-one phoned to ask why she hadn't been at choir practice, or church on Sunday.
After my gran's funeral, more cards were pushed through the letterbox. The phone stayed silent. When my mum called them, excuses were made, conversations held short. Busy lives had to be led. The Minister visited once, a week after the funeral, but after that, nothing.
No visit to see how her health was.
No-one to visit her in hospital, the many times she was hospitalised.
Not one phone call, or get well card.
At the time that she most needed her church and her friends there, they deserted her.
So how did she wind up deciding to become Catholic?
A neighbour from down the road came by and saw her struggling with her wheelchair and offered to help. Conversation flowed, and my mum was invited to the drop-in centre at the chapel. Everyone is welcome, she was told, doesn't matter whether you're Catholic or not.
... and so she went, and was welcomed with open arms, and she began to go more often, because some days, it was the only way she could be sure of actually talking to someone, face to face.
And so, at this late stage in her life, my mother has gone through the six months of classes, and made her decision.
I have serious problems with organised religion, and have a few misgivings about such a late change of church, but to be honest, what troubles me more is that it was necessary in the first place.
It deeply saddens me that an organisation to which my mum has devoted so much of her life, people for whom she would have done anything for, were it in her power to do so, turned their back on her.
It sickens me that the Minister, the man whose job it is to protect his flock, didn't have the time, or the inclination, or whatever, to comfort someone in need. Of course I understand that he's a busy man, with a large parish, but when an active member suddenly drops out of view, I don't think it's beyond the grounds of what's reasonable to expect that he might investigate why, even with just a simple phone call.
... and more than anything, it's brought home, once again, the hypocrisy of the church. The Sunday Christians - like Sunday Drivers, but with less charm. The people who go to Church because they feel they should, because their parents brought them up to, because it's what all the other people in the street/their bridge club/their social club/whatever little suburban peer group they belong to do. That chore they do, like cutting the grass, or trimming the hedge, so that they can feel better about themselves. Led by the Minister who preaches "do as I say, not as I do".
I hope that she's happy with her choice, and that her chosen method of practicing her faith gives her the comfort she so obviously needs - or if nothing else, the cracks that will inevitably be there, don't begin to show, because I'm not entirely sure what effect it will have on her to have that particular rug pulled out from under her again.
For me, it's just confirmed to me that belief in ourselves and doing what we feel is right, rather than what we're told we should do, or feel we should do to look good, is far more important and worthwhile than turning up at Church one day a week.
Kibble & Bits
Beau de Jour. Absolute genius. Finding this, even this late in the day, has completely made my day.
I can't be be the only one who thinks that lemsip is like runny washing-up liquid, surely?
Despite my deeply seated urge to be one of those awful mucus troopers, I'm lucky enough that I have a boss who took one look at me this morning and immediately sent me home.
It might have been the fact that due to the golf ball/throat interaction I can only get out roughly one syllable in three, or the fact that I looked like I'd been dead for a week already.
Still, it being ordered to go home, rest and relax doesn't mean that I can actually rest and relax, I still have that "I should be at work" guilt thing going on, but I did manage to push it aside long enough to watch Legally Blonde 2 (stop sniggering at the back, it was entertaining and I didn't have to think) and sleep all afternoon.
While in Camden on Saturday, I picked up a few books from Waterstones.
One of them was called "Marsha Mellow and me", and looked like exactly the kind of bubblegum for the brain chick-lit that I occasionally favour, as a sorbet to clear the palate of those more affecting and literary books, before embarking on the next course.
I was more intruiged when I read the blurb, which let me know it was a book about a girl who writes an amazingly smutty novel under a pseudonym and then her comic capers as she tries to tell her mother before the tabloids find out her identity.
I picked it up, becuase I figured it would be entertaining, but I can't help feeling that someone needs to mail a copy to Belle.
via Beau de Jour above, I'm entirely tickled that there's a webring for smut-bloggers called cunning linguists (if you haven't figured already, this link is probably not safe for work).