Dryathlon

Here’s a thing I wrote for OhDearism on my attempt at the January Dryathlon

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Some fiction

I have been mulling over getting a wee bit of fiction down for a while. My last two are over at Middlebrow and have sat there waiting for a buddy for some time now. Both are mercifully short but took me a long old while to get down the writing exactly the way I wanted it.

I know a few people doing the ‘novel in a month’ thing but I really don’t think this is for me, splurging stuff out is good but I need to obsessively pick over what I’ve written afterwards when it comes to fiction. Not articles though – how bizarre. And certainly not this. (Soz)

Inspiration comes at the strangest of times, however when I sit down to puke it all up on paper / keyboard / whatever I hit a wall and nothing comes out. Annoying. Though I’m sure everyone who has dalliances with writing feels this way on occasion. Now I have a lot more free time, it seems like now is perfect to get writing again and maybe create something half decent. The air is chill and scrabbling around for cash means I can’t just swan off on adventures every day. I’m pretty much grafted to my laptop / iPad / phone combo so really should be using this time to be constructive with it, no? Hmm.

Anyway I’ve been writing like a fevered bastard of late for OhDearism about dogs and accessories. And vodka. Have a butchers: http://www.ohdearism.com/author/nadia-ramoul/ 

Also, here is my beloved Budgett’s frog, Chunk. What a hot piece of ass…

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Pro tip for life

I swear to you this genuinely works.

Think of someone you really dislike, or fear, or find intimidating. Just think, at some point in their lives they have probably puked on themselves. Possibly in public. How funny! Haaaa.

Now picture them puking. Blerrrgh, gross.

Feels good, right?

How can a guy (or gal) intimidate you when they’re blowing chunks all over the place?

Olympic incidental music. What?

First off I’ll admit I rarely see live sport or know much about it so if I’m wrong or just stating the obvious then never mind, just take this as the pitiful ramblings of the uninitiated.

The other day I visited Stratford’s gigantic Olympic park to see the handball, which I’m told is pretty big in Europe and my dad’s native Algeria. I had a quick shufty at the rules before going and it seemed to be a mix of football and basketball, with quite a lot of physical contact and manly grunting. (Blessedly we had the cheap seats, far away from this grunting.) We watched Great Britain get savagely beaten by Sweden and apart from one drunken woman directly behind me braying ‘go GEEEE BEEEEE!’  and coughing like a crackly voiced banshee it was pretty enjoyable.

Heck, so enjoyable we stuck around for the next match and I developed some semblance of knowledge of the rules. One thing that continues to mystify me, however, is the use of incidental music whenever something of note happened. Five second blasts of Tinie Tempah or Dizzee Rascal when goals were scored, The chorus of ‘Tubthumping’ when players were knocked over, and hilariously, ‘Under Pressure’ when penalties were taken. At first I thought this was a joke, an overzealous chap on the mixing desk putting his own flavour on the match, but this being the Olympics and all, probably not the best time for laughs at players’ expense. My dad assured me that this was completely normal, and similarly to the trashy reality TV that I love to hate (or hate to love? I never know) this music was being used to add frisson to proceedings and compliment the action. So when a guy falls over and the medics trot out a few bars of Coldplay let the audience in to how he’s feeling. or how the sound guy wants you to think he’s feeling. Some sad but uplifting stuff that we can all relate to. Can we? All very strange. If I’m in pain, Coldplay would most likely increase it. 

This made me think about Slavoj Zizek’s musings on 9/11 – stay with me here – one of his most compelling pieces, in the ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real’ collection of essays. In this piece he observes that news coverage of the 9/11 attacks almost seemed staged, so much so that it almost appeared false, like a disaster movie, blurring the lines between what we know to be real and our pre-conceived ideas of fictional cinema. The camera angles of people running away from dust clouds and huge explosions were familiar to us – we had seen them in big budget disaster films countless times before. For Zizek the event was too perfectly unreal that it became too real, leaving a lasting fascination like clips – or highlights – from a horror movie.

This, to me is how the incidental music made the handball feel, like we were already watching the highlights on TV after the fact. When watching Match of the Day (which granted I seldom do but anyways…) goals and fouls and misjudgements in the highlights are accompanied by similar songs. For me this took away some of the essential humanity and reality of the game itself, like I’d already seen it and could predict the songs that would be played for particular happenings. It removed something of the essence of the sport for me, the emotion, autonomy and effort of the players drowned out by an idea of what they should be feeling. 

This, arguably must be rather frustrating for them too, surely? It’s one thing to have an announcer explaining what is happening on the pitch (or track, or pool or whatever) but quite another to play snippets of catchy and yes, mainly annoying songs that could be very distracting. Surely the excitement of the game is enough for all concerned? 

At least they avoided that god-awful official Olympic Muse track, that really would have been a step too far.

 

Lessons learned

So I haven’t written in a while. Never mind. 

In this time I have been doing a level 2 course in counselling. At the start of the course the tutor told us in no uncertain terms that it would change our lives and alter us fundamentally as people. As I guess most  would, I scoffed inwardly at this. But oh hey, the guy was right. These past few months have been an amazing learning experience and I’ve got to know some lovely and inspiring folk who differ so widely from eachother and myself.

Our tutor explained throughout that becoming a counsellor alters your life considerably, your perceptions take on a new level of awareness and you learn not to sweat the small stuff. I think this has happened a little for me, and will hopefully continue to develop.

I don’t really have any finely crafted pearls of wisdom but my tutor’s advice to us all was basically to cut out all the shit. It’s OK to dislike people. It’s OK to dislike a lot of people. And it’s totally fine if those people dislike you. Cutting out those who bring negativity and niggling seething sensations in your tummy is a really good thing. Knowing that some people think you’re an asshole and being completely at peace with that is even better. 

He told us that losing fairweather friends, acquaintances and casual gossips is a great thing. If you’re isolated to a certain degree, you know that the people you surround yourself with are genuinely worth your time, and these connections are so much more rewarding. 

It’s hard at first I guess but eventually you realise that a few good people are worth countless shitty ones. 

This husky in a fridge knows what I mean.

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Recent Articles

I’ve reviewed Lars von Trier’s Melancholia for OhDearism here…

And rambled about my tumultuous love of Chuck Palahniuk here!

Enjoy!

Modernist Poem or Viagra Advert..?

YOU DECIDE.

This little treat arrived in my work inbox today…

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Inspiring stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

ALSO: New Middlebrow is out. Enjoy….

Hevy Festival

Bit late I know but I reviewed this year’s Hevy Festival for my buddies over at Middlebrow.

Aw, here goes: Hevy Festival

I’d also highly reccomend reading the rest of the articles in this month’s magazine as there’s some good stuff there. If I was you I’d also give C by Tom McCarthy a read. Pretty dense but a really unique read. Perhap I will write about it. Perhap.

 

England Riots

I first heard about the riot in Tottenham lying on my back in the middle of the tiny Hevy Festival in Kent as I slowly lost interest in Zebrahead and their piss-poor banter. The band were so terrible and I so lethargic that instead of pottering away in search of superior music, of which there was none, whipped out my battered Android and had a quick glance at Twitter. What I saw was pretty confusing; frightened Tweets from North London friends about fires and police, and myriad commentators condemning the actions of a ‘violent minority.’ The pictures we saw were shocking, but a field in bumblefuck nowhere doesn’t have the finest internet connection, so authentic information was sporadic at best. I returned to my fair city on Monday, bleary eyed and weary, straight to work with not a clue about recent events. What I learned was horrifying, and that night brought yet more unpleasantness as reports from around the country filled my TV and Twitter feed. Even my trusted branch of Co-Op got the looting treatment, but this paled in comparison to all the small businesses and lives that had been ruined.

What followed was a big ol’ heap of conjecture flying around the internet. Like many, I followed the Twitter updates of those who were there, those who had opinions and those who bravely cleaned up and offered assistance in areas that had been affected. Many searched for a political motive, and maddeningly referred to the gangs laying waste to cities as ‘protestors.’ Protestors? Protesting what, exactly? It’s been said time and time again, but smashing up a JD Sports for a fresh pair of Nikes isn’t really making much of a statement, surely? Calling these guys intent on destruction and free sportswear ‘protestors’ gives everyone else who has protested against valid causes (government cuts, teachers’ pensions, Animal Rights etc) a bad name. While it would be immensely satisfying to see those that feel it necessary to trash town centres and livelihoods get blasted full on with a hefty jet of water, this could potentially be used on future peaceful protests. It’s a very grey area indeed.

Many articles have been written recently about the causes behind a mentality that wants to destroy and steal, blaming consumerism and the link between conspicuous consumption and perceived success. I am inclined to agree with this. The emphasis on belongings as being of utmost importance is rammed down our collective throats every day from every angle and we are dumb enough to lie back and swallow it. If you are at the bottom of a company food chain, selling things you couldn’t dream of affording yourself it is natural to feel resentful. It has been said elsewhere better than I could possibly explain, but our emphasis on symbols of wealth from trainers to designer bags and gadgets is grizzly, shameful and vulgar. However envy and anger are human nature – we are all guilty at pangs of jealousy over the most trivial of things. It’s a real shame, but there you go. Cutting services for those already worst off only fosters this anger.

Reactions in the heat of the moment such as cutting the benefits of those involved or bringing back National Service (really? really?) sound alright (albeit a bit ‘eye for an eye’)  in the short-term, but surely this would only exacerbate the initial problems? It sounds barbaric to leave people with nothing, or force them into army life. Yes, this is a bunch of stuff that has already been written but maybe getting those who destroyed their communities to take part in re-building and cleaning up programmes would be a more fitting and worthwhile punishment?

 

Recent Articles

I recently wrote these:
http://www.middlebrowmagazine.co.uk/home/?p=2501
http://www.ohdearism.com/2011/07/25/arts-culture-takashi-murakami-at-the-gagosian/

HOORAY.

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