THIS SUMMER...

THIS SUMMER

ONE WOMAN

RAISED BY HELICOPTERS

MEETS ONE MAN

RAISED BY LANDING PADS

THEY LAND... IN LOVE

UNTIL ONE MAN

RAISED BY ANTI-AIRCRAFT HEAT-SEEKING MISSILES

AND ANOTHER MAN

RAISED BY EARTHQUAKES

THREATEN TO DESTABILISE THE FOUNDATION

OF THEIR ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP

AND THEN ONE WOMAN

RAISED BY LIKE... TANKS?

COMES IN

AND THEN A WOMAN

RAISED BY LIKE FUCKING GIANT CYBORG MONSTERS OR SOME SHIT

AND THEN LIKE A MAN

RAISED BY LIKE LASER TRANSFORMERS

AND A WOMAN

RAISED BY FLESH-EATING MECHANOIDS

AND THEN

A MAN RAISED BY... WORLD WAR THREE

DESTROYS EVERYTHING

UNTIL ONE WOMAN

RAISED BY A BUNCH OF STICKS

MUST OVERCOME ALL OBSTACLES

INCLUDING A MAN

RAISED BY MY PARENTS

IT'S ME

THE STORY OF ME

COMING THIS SUMMER:

RAISED BY MY PARENTS

BLOG POST #5 - WHY I STOPPED DEVELOPING CRUSHES AND INSTEAD DEVELOPED A RARE FLESH-EATING DISEASE

BLOG POST #5 - WHY I STOPPED DEVELOPING CRUSHES AND INSTEAD DEVELOPED A RARE FLESH-EATING DISEASE

Many years ago I was like you. I'd fall in love, suppress my emotions until it was too late and fall into a pit of angst when it inevitably didn't work out because I'd never tell them anything out of a deep sense of dread and shame. But recently, all of that has ceased to matter, because I went to the South American jungles and contracted a rare flesh-eating disease, voluntarily.

Now I'm too busy writhing in intensive care (something I'd never give myself anyway) to bother turning my mind to their perfect face. I mean, who has time for obsessing over Facebook messages when there's bacteria literally devouring your eyeballs? It feels like such a weight off my chest, which is ironic because the chest is where the largest portion of the disease is concentrated.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!" I used to shout on an hourly basis when I was infatuated with someone, which was often. Now I struggle to produce any sounds at all, as the disease has made its way into my voice box. That also means I no longer have to endure painfully awkward conversations with the beautiful, smart, witty object of my affection and see their twinkling eyes when oh god the disease isn't working abandon ship abandon ship oh god what have I done I'm okay I'm okay, calm down.

My life is great now. True, I'm on extra-strength painkillers to combat the excruciating agony of the bacteria as they systematically gorge on my muscle tissue. But that's nothing compared to the excruciating agony I used to go through when I thought about the possibility of that delightful smile emitting words of rejection and destroying my life. And now I have a flesh-eating disease to destroy it first!

Basically, why let the fear eat you up inside when you can get a disease to do it for you? Such a relief! Besides, no one will love you with half of your skin and organs missing so there's no point even thinking about it. Not that you'll have time in between sleep and tranquilisers administered by a nurse who looks quite cute in that uniform actually I mean nurses like taking care of people so maybe oh no oh my god not again. For fuck's sake.

Nah. Nope. It's no use.

You can never escape.

BLOG POST #4 - POP MUSIC: A CRY FOR HELP

BLOG POST #4 - POP MUSIC: A CRY FOR HELP

"True, the final product you hear – on the radio, in shopping centres and supermarkets, at cafes, parties, fairgrounds, office waiting rooms, when someone on the train doesn’t realise their headphones are turned up way too loud, and at the gym – may sound like empty, brain-bashing twaddle. True. That, at least, is not up for dispute. But – and this is of utmost significance – each of these final products once had an original, untouched version, brimming with angst and soul before the industry ripped away all meaning to leave an easily sellable skeleton."

BLOG POST #3 - ALLERGIES

BLOG POST #3 - ALLERGIES

Allergies. It seems like everyone has one, or two, or, to an extent, several more. These days you can’t go two steps without bumping into one. “Oops,” you say, “I’m sorry.” But the other person has already burst into a fit of sneezes and cold sores. Turns out they were allergic to apologies. Apalergies. You quickly run away to avoid prosecution. Unpleasant, right? Right! But what are allergies, exactly?

Allergies are basically the world’s way of saying it doesn't like you in very specific ways. The narrower the allergy, the pettier fate seems. For example, I'm allergic to fava beans and moth balls, which is the allergy equivalent of someone making fun of your shoelaces. I envy people with more general allergies, like cats or bread. And although they're more likely to encounter the thing they're allergic to, it's almost as if the commonness of it counterbalances the nuisance. They're more used to avoiding cats or bread and thus desensitised to how annoying it is. Especially if they're allergic to cats and bread, and doubly so if the allergy only activates when encountered together, which is increasingly likely what with the recent rise in popularity of feline toast. Compare that to old Fava-Bean McNaphthalene over here who rarely ever faces my allergens in the wild but when I do it's a horrible, harmful surprise. Like ankle splinters. Or being bitten by a duck.

Medically speaking, the concept of an allergy has been traced back to the early days of life. Bacterial cells which split and formed more bacterial cells needed some way of being put in their place. From that point on, all new life-forms had some kind of allergic reaction to their surrounding environment. When fish first stepped foot on land, their newly-formed walking appendages were not yet calloused enough to deal with the harsh coastal sand grits. Though this was less of an allergy and more just plain-and-simple stubbornness relating to their feet, something I have retained to this day (a stubbornness relating to other people’s feet).

Moving on, one out of three proto-monkeys found themselves mildly vomiting when eating early versions of the banana, which was mauve and donut-shaped. Ironically, as bananas themselves evolved into the modern yellow stick we know and love, they developed their own sets of allergies to certain movements in the earth’s atmosphere, which, even more ironically, would have rendered them perfectly safe for those poor proto-monkeys, had the latter creatures not died out due to malnutrition.

And so we move on to today, when all creatures on this bright weird rock have their own particular allergies, far-reaching and abstruse. Tonight on the train there was a passenger who was allergic to singing. If she even so much as encountered a single note she would break out in an unpleasant rash on the side of her leg. Even humming aroused welts, and she was occasionally known to twitch at whistles. Broadway was right out. (Probably for the best.) It didn't stop at people singing: parrots and even dolphins were a real and unfortunate threat. If this woman were Odysseus floating past the sirens she would still survive but end up with a nasty fever in addition to the rope burn. Understandably, she was wary of all sounds, especially those produced by the human mouth. To combat the phenomenon she was advised by an aural psychiatrist to focus her mind on noises that weren't singing if she ever encountered singing.

This particular night on the train it so happened that another passenger began a low, murmuring aria. At once the first passenger sprang up to silence the melody but the vocalising offender would not budge. Again she implored the stony-faced serenader to stop, mate, for the love of god, oh please stop. Mate. Mate. Mate. Stop it. Eventually the passenger looked up and with a frown faded out and resumed scrolling through their phone. But it was too late. There was already singing that had happened. Panicking as she could feel her elbows burning, she ran to the other end of the carriage and opened a whitegoods catalogue to imagine the clunky, emphatically amelodic whir of a washing machine. Another allergy attack averted. Phew.

Curiously, the case of the woman on the train was not an isolated incident. All over the world examples of sound-based psychosomatic reactions have been popping up with alarming frequency. In Tashkent a man will cough at the letter “t”, which is unfortunate on account of the name of his city. In Acapulco there is a woman whose eyes bleed when in proximity to gasps. And just last week I saw a baby who screamed at other screams – though I've been told that's just what babies do and they'll grow out of it naturally. I guess what I'm trying to say is: be careful with noises. You never know what they might do.

Do you have an allergy? Statistically yes. If so, let me know what it is – unless, of course, you are allergic to telling people about your allergies. In which case just keep it bottled up until you die. And if you don’t have any allergies, please let me know what allergies you don’t have. Sometimes these are the most interesting of all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat a slice of feline toast – which I am thankfully definitely not allergic to.

BLOG POST #2 - THE MAN WHO COULD LICK TIME (AKA TIME TO GET A NEW WATCH)

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BLOG POST #2 - THE MAN WHO COULD LICK TIME (AKA TIME TO GET A NEW WATCH)

Today I imagined myself as a man who could lick time. Every nanosecond throbbing gently against my tongue in the manner of a fine, grainy liquid, not unlike a cheap protein shake. I sat there, licking, noticing only as the past and future swirled together and collided on the tip.

They say, apocryphally, that the tongue is divided into five major segments, each with its own unique taste receptor: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the recently uncovered umami, from a Japanese word meaning savoury. When I licked time, what I tasted was death. I think that falls under salty.

Slurping away at individual hours, I felt them wash over the inside of my mouth and lips. Noon on the fourteenth of June, nineteen ninety-seven was particularly tangy. My tongue became overwhelmed with moments, like the sensation you get from a fizzy sherbet only more intense and less artificial.

Moments, devouring my tongue. Every globule of saliva encrusted with every minute of my childhood spent figuring out cheese (I did). Or the evening I rode a bicycle backwards to see if my thighs would hurt less (they didn’t). Or the weekend I did a jigsaw where every piece was identical. All of them like infinitesimal maggots crawling in the flesh of my tongue.

I imagined booths where the public could sit and lick a scientifically concentrated form of time by appointment. At first, entire calendars and diaries would be pulped and transformed into a lickable formula which would be pumped into the booths. Shortly after that, log books would be kept saying how long people licked for, and then that information would be fed back into the booths for the next person to lick, and so on. It would be the first ever self-sustaining time-based commodity.

Soon vending machines and vans would dispense time on a stick and replace ice-cream as the primary item designed for licking. The beauty of mass-produced time products, unlike ice-cream, would be that each person would take as long to lick them as the next, in accordance with the principles of relativity. Children, who have experienced almost no time at all due to not being alive for very long, would take more time to lick each fragment, while the elderly, who have experienced more time than they can handle, would spend hardly any time on their respective individual pieces of the frozen temporal substance.

Once time had been converted into a lickable state, it would be only a matter of itself that it would be used as fuel. The past is accelerating away from us at precisely the same speed as the future accelerates towards us, and so it made sense to put that in cars. As I licked and licked I imagined people driving their vehicles as the time they’d put in them would be gradually running out.

And of course, where there is fuel, there is war. At some point, The United States of America would try to invade the estate of Albert Einstein in order to gain a stranglehold on the source of our contemporary conception of time, but they would be too late.

It was all drawing me ever nearer to the realisation that change was irrevocable and inevitable and everything moves slowly forward and you can't go back and it doesn’t matter when our lives end because there will always be things you'll never do. The more I licked, the harder this epiphany flooded my mouth.

I kept it up for a while until, eventually, I looked down at my watch and saw that I had wasted yet another afternoon aimlessly pondering and also remembered my watch wasn't waterproof and so it shouldn't have been in my mouth that long. I guess that means it's time to get a new watch.

I only hope the new one tastes less salty.

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5 HERBS THAT BEAT ANXIETY

5 HERBS THAT BEAT ANXIETY

  1. Oregano. The hardest-working herb, oregano was plagued by the stress of overexertion coupled with the urge to always achieve more. It now takes beta-blockers and its productivity has tripled.
  2. Coriander. Understandably anxiety-ridden given everyone hates it, coriander has doubled down and gone on a five-day yoga retreat. We wish it luck.
  3. Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass. The knowledge that they'd never be as famous or regarded as other jazz ensembles stunted their development as a group but they soon learned to embrace their B-status thanks to a wise, pep-talking manager.
  4. Bay leaf. Overcame its dysphoric anxiety and is now technically a spice.
  5. Dill. For years, dill would cry through sleepless nights at being a synonym for an idiot. Fortunately, it was assuaged by several rounds of therapy and also by the fact that no one uses "dill" to mean "idiot" anymore.

BLOG POST #1 - WINTER

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BLOG POST #1 - WINTER

Ah, winter.

The dark months. The dank moths. The cold, the shivers, the heating bills. The season of contracting diseases and metal. It’s the quarter of the year where we’re allowed to feel bad without a more reasonable excuse. “Oh, it’s winter,” we pout, “which is an unhappy time,” we pout, “therefore my unhappiness is inherently forgiven,” we pout once more, without stopping to consider the overarchingly dreary state of the other three quarters of our lives. Or maybe it’s a blood pressure thing, where the decrease in barometric pressure during winter plays havoc with your veins. I think I heard that on QI. However, chances are that you’re feeling miserable and lonely regardless of the weather. Though that could just be me.

If, like me, you are struggling to get through the wintriness of JunJulAug despite it barely having started, remind yourself that things can only get hotter (and then, again, colder). Yes, with the coldness of winter comes the dialectic counterpart of (a necessity for) heat. My favourite thing to do in winter is saw the legs off broken chairs and throw them in fireplaces, preferably burning ones. There’s nothing like the flammability of wooden furniture to instil in you a sense of your own eventual demise. At least the chair had two purposes - sitting and warmth - as opposed to you, who, meanwhile, seem to be stagnating in uselessness. Suddenly, you realise that the low temperatures of winter are just extra incentives to create your own warmth and your own energy, which are a clunky metaphor for self-fulfilment and personal meaning, and things are alright again. Then discard all that when it’s spring because it’s now irrelevant.

It’s far too easy to overromanticise the colder months. That brooding melancholy that accompanies storms and snow can too quickly be mistaken for depth when it’s really just the sky doing a piss. Winter is summer’s goth cousin - it’s not intrinsically more interesting, but at least it hides that beneath layers of darkness. But it’s important not to reject it, either. Is there really that much to dread about winter? A bit of dread can be good for your soul - it keeps you alive while wishing you weren’t. Winter is recognisably much maligned, usually by people who believe beaches are the pinnacle of modern entertainment and use tan as a form of currency. These people wish they were migratory birds, abandoning the cold to live in an eternal estival festival, forgetting that, unlike birds, we can put on more clothes and boil our own water.

Truly there is nothing better or worse about winter than there is about any other season, unless you particularly love or hate jackets. Personally, I love jackets, as they’re an easy way to make yourself look more stylish, though only if they’re not done up. Otherwise you just look cold. Of course, with fashion inevitably come fashions, which is why some jackets look nice and others are plastic and puffy. It’s also why you can still see shorter pants and ones with holes in them despite the freezing weather; I don’t know who convinced people to go round with their knees and ankles exposed during winter, but they’re surely working for Big Rheumatism. All of my pants are solid and full-length, as are my jackets. I own about seven jackets, although I think the actual amount is different. Some are thicker than others, and there’s at least three or four different colours they encompass. I realise I sound like I don’t know my own wardrobe; in fact I do, it’s just that the jackets I own are all made from chameleon skin and therefore change with my mood. Except one, which I lost in a cab ride home, and which, ironically, was made out of a car.

The one final thing I’ll say about winter is that, like summer, it’s the opposite in the other hemisphere. This can get confusing when you hear people from the other side of the world complaining about heat waves when you’re sitting there rubbing your nose on your gloves to make it feel. Until you realise they’re actually from Queensland where it’s always very hot. I think I heard that on QI. (Insert relevant local place name in that joke to make it work for where you live.)

In any case, winter shouldn’t be the time for despair. At least, not more than any other time of the year is anyway. So, then, what should it be the time for? Baths? Extra blankets? Making soup on purpose? No, you can do all of those things any other time as well. In fact, winter is the time for none of those things. Winter is the time for June, July and August. Unless you’re in the northern hemisphere, in which case it’s the time for December, January and February. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about winter.

Have fun and enjoy the cold.

— Ben

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WELCOME TO THE BLOG

Hello. Chances are you're reading this. If you are, hello. Doesn't hurt to greet twice. James Bond said that in a film. If you're not, get your filthy paradoxes out of my sight and come back with some clean ones.

This here is the first entry in what I hope becomes a regular part of this website: namely, a blog. In this section of my Internet palace, you will find thoughts, ideas and generally whatever verbal (and perhaps visual) balderdash spews forth from my brain-fingers. Please continue to check here often or you can subscribe to the blog instead/as well.

I'll leave you with this: if logs are made by lumberjacks then that makes me a sort of "web lumberjack", or "blumberjack". And with that in mind, please join hands and stand if you can and heed the not unimmortal words of my kind: "I AM A BLUMBERJACK, AND THIS IS MY BLOG"