Friday, 14 May 2010

Atlantis - really messy, post-modern crap

It's 10.11am and I am fucking exhausted. Wait, am I allowed to swear in this column? Start again, Vale.

It's 10.12am and I'm quite tired. My neighbour - soon-to-be hate crime victim - was playing extremely loud music from 1am-9am this morning and it took a visit from the plod to get him to turn down his music, which I presume was from a Now! That's What I Call Monotonous Shite CD. The thumping, intense and pointlessly loud bass lines of his music were punctuated every ten seconds by a wild, piercing screech, like a coked up Ric Flair. Every. Ten. Seconds.


I will murder him.

10.16am. Still tired, trying to rack my brainfat to come up with an idea for this column. I'm on the train to London to see my friend Vanessa, so I'll have around 90 minutes there and back to come up with something. The theme this month is birth.


Well, I recently embarked on a new career as a stand up comedian; the gestation of the material I ended up sweatily reciting on the stage, and the reaction I got to it would make vaguely interesting reading, right? Let's do this.

It all started in January. I'm in Starbucks with a friend and I'm boring her with insipid details of my life so far and what I want to do as a career. I've always been a bit--

Oh god. I have to stop. I have a problem. A bloke just asked if he could sit next to me. The seat says 'Reserved' in bright, electronic letters. What do I do? Do I say no, and risk having the seat be empty for the entire journey? How would that look? I'd look like an arsehole; like I'd reserved the seat myself, just so I don't have to sit next to the filthy, feckless plebs in standard class. Do I say yes? But then what do I do when the reservee arrives and demands his seat? This guy's going to have to move, and he's going to blame me; not using words, no, he'll just shoot a disappointed stare at me, as if to say 'I trusted you, man, you let me down'. What on earth do I do? Of course, these thoughts all flash by in about a femtosecond, so I just grunt yes without really thinking about it. Great, now I've got some random guy sitting next to me as I'm scribbling away on this column. Oh Jesus, he's reading something now... It's in Finnish, or some kind of Scandinavian nonsense. It's about the lost island of Atlantis! Oh great, I've got a Finnish nutter next to me. A few uneasy minutes pass.

“Excuse me.”

Oh no. He has engaged me in conversation.


“Does this connect to the metro?”

“The Underground, do you mean?”

Oh, WELL DONE, pedantically correct the lovely foreign tourist, you jackass. Yes, of course he meant the Underground, you pathetic fuck.

“The metro?”

“Yes, the underground, you just have to head down the escalators in the station.”

“Thank you.”

I grunt back in acknowledgement, worry about my emphasis on the word underground, and try not to peer at his book. It's useless, because I can barely handle English, let alone Finnish, but I'm waiting for the pretty pictures I can stare at.

Hold on a second.

I'm reading what he's reading... Has he been reading what I've been writing?

I have to do something here. In order to stop the guy – who I'm now convinced is a Finn spy, sent to check up on the banal scribblings of idiots on trains – from reading my Very Important Work, I'm going to write in an even uglier, unintelligible style of handwriting. My sloppy penmanship, which previously resembled the depraved scrawls of a mentally ill GP, now looks like extraterrestrial hieroglyphics.

This has to stop.

You're being paranoid.

Take a deep breath.

Oh Christ. What if he just read the above? It looks like I'm talking to myself on paper. I know, I realise I am talking to myself on paper, but I don't want him to think I'm doing it because I'm deranged. Oh great, I can't even read this handwriting myself now... BLOCK CAPITALS? NO! NOW IT JUST LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE FURIOUS AND SHOUTING AT YOURSELF.

Fuck me, this is a disaster.

10.36am. Still tired. Stressed. Starving. What do I do? I need something to write about.


Okay, I've got it!

KABOOM! That, dear readers, was the sound of the Cambrian explosion. Around 530 million years ago, most of the major groups of complex animals started to rapidly appear. It's still not known what fully caused this change, so let's take a look at--

SHIT. The ticket man approaches. That's not what they're called, is it? Ticket man? Conductor! That's the one. Crap, where are my tickets? I lost my train tickets last time I left London and had to spend £80 for the privilege of being let back into New Street Station; I can't let this happen again.

Phew, all sorted. We're at our next station, people are starting to file on, I can get back to work-- oh Jesus. An image flashes by – the 'Reserved' sign inches away from my head. This is it. This is where my web of lies traps me; British-Finn relations are going to be irrevocably ruined because I'm an idiot. It's going to happen. Someone's going to get on, ask this guy to move, and I'm going to feel like a moron for the rest of the journey. Here comes someone now. He's dressed in a suit and looks slightly surly, like he might snap at any moment... But in a polite, British way. Does he sit here? Here he comes. Deep breath.

No. It's not him. He walks on. I finally manage to exhale. There's an ever-tightening stress knot in my stomach; I feel sick, and I haven't eaten yet. I want coffee, I want a panini, I have to settle for peppermint chewing gum. Here's a businesswoman. She looks more relaxed, oh joy, she's holding a copy of the Guardian! Oh, this is going to be fine! She's going to understand about the mix up, she'll ease the tension, and she probably has a rudimentary knowledge of Finnish. I can calm down. It's all going to be okay, I can get back to--

oh fuck off

She just walked straight past. Well, this isn't going to work, is it? I can't take this shit at every single stop to London. The stress alone is going to kill me, and I've never going to get this thing finished.

10.46am. Still tired. I have nothing. Birth. What the hell can I write about revolving around the theme of birth?


I entered and won a competition called Film Dash in March. I could talk about the birth of that film, right? That's not at all a horribly laboured interpretation of the brief, is it? No sir! Hahaha! Oh god, I'm grinning and writing 'hahaha' on a notebook. If I didn't look certifiable earlier, I must do now. Okay, so the Film Dash involved writing, shooting and editing a compete film in 48 hours. We had to include the theme of happiness, a bicycle, and at least one line of dialogue: she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts.

We decided to do a film about a group of amateur film makers entering a film competition and trying to work out what they were going to do. Yeah, I know, horrible. It was all very meta and was going to be about how difficult it was to interpret a theme so vague and produce a film in such a short period of time. It was going to involve zombies, pirates, zombies fighting pirates, action, adventure, comedy... Alas, we didn't really have the time or resources to finish it in time, so we ended up making a Lost in La Mancha-esque documentary about making a film; meta as fuck, yo. I hurriedly wrote a script in about 20 minutes (and boy, doesn't it show?), we shot the remaining scenes, edited it and stared at the PC in terror as we waited for it to render. We had around 45 minutes left to get it done. It was way too big to email, so we hastily whacked it on a DVD and rushed to The Victoria pub, where the organiser was waiting for us. The rest is tedious history, really - we won. The competition was strong, but the judges (the talented, intelligent, sexy and probably alcoholic judges) decided to--


The Finn is staring at me.

“Yes?” I tentatively inquire.

“What are you writing?”

“Oh. Um. Just a column for a magazine.”

“Oh, really, which one?”

“It's called Dirty Bristow.”


I stumble and repeat the name, realising I don't quite know what it means. Well, this is going well; he's interrupting me with his Finnishness and probably thinks I write porn.

“Oh. What are you writing about?”

“You know, I have no idea.”

“Do you know if there's a bus that goes from London to Birmingham?”

Okay, that was an abrupt change of subject.

“Like a coach?”

Oh, here we go again, attacking the poor guy for using a poorly-chosen synonym. My god, you are sub-human scum.

“Yes, a coach.”

“Yes, there should be, on National Express.”

“Is it cheaper?”

Why am I the information point for this guy?

“Yes, if you book online in advance, it should be much cheaper.”



Silence. Uneasy, tense, horrid silence.

10.59am. Still tired. 30 minutes until I get into London and I still don't have a column written down, just a hurriedly assembled collection of thoughts, ideas and neuroses. My hand is killing me, my stomach is crying out for food, and I'm about to chew my arm off from sheer frustration and annoyance. I need a break. Time for some music. Time for some gum.

11.20am. Still tired. Almost into Euston. I've got nothing. Nothing... except an image. It's not a nice image, but in my exhausted delirium it's an image that's keeping me going, keeping me amused. A friend of mine once told me that someone she knew described birth as 'shitting out a watermelon'. Now that's all I can picture.

Dirty Bristow - The act of tonguing a male anus whilst reaching around to wank them off.

I've been trying to write something, but now all I'm left with is the image of an woman squatting over, screaming, trying to push a watermelon out through her arse. It's not a bad image, considering the title of this publication, and I never thought I'd write the words 'tonguing a male anus' in public. We're almost at Euston now. I've admitted defeat in my battle to write something. Just as I'm about to pack my things away, the Finn leans over and gently elbows me; because I'm insane, I take this as an act of war. What the fuck does this sneaky, spying motherfucker think he's doing, invading my personal space, interrupting my writing, physically assaulting me and generally just being annoying?

“Thank you for your help today. Goodbye.”

He has a wide smile on his face.

He gets up and leaves.

God, I'm an asshole.

1 comment:

  1. I also now have a very wide smile on my face, if only for the recognition of what a minefield of etiquette your average cross-country train journey is. Compare that to when you had your own compartment and could chill the f*** out...