death-defying Valerie

I went on a manic day-trip to London yesterday; in a fit of money-saving enthusiasm, myself and my partner decided to bring our bikes down on the train and cycle about instead of getting the tube. So we got to Marylebone, bought an A-Z, and launched ourselves into a day of running a bendy-bus-and-taxi gauntlet that tired me out even more than a day spent flinging myself into a vertical windtunnel and flailing about mid-air, spitting all over myself. Oh yes; been there, done that.

Anyway, the purpose of the trip was to check out the Tate's triennial, Altermodern, in the Tate Britain, and the Roni Horn show, AKA Roni Horn, in the Tate Modern. I found the Triennial something of a mixed bag, with some brilliant moments - my personal highlight was Giantbum 2008, Nathaniel Mellors' video installation based on an absurdist film-script where a group of medieval explorers get lost inside a giant's bod. Their spiritual leader, the Father, in trying to find a way out, goes mad and turns to coprophila to survive. You heard me - the man eats his own poo. He invents a tribe of cannibalistic poo-eaters and tries to convince his followers that the tribe, which he calls 'the Ploppen' made him eat the poo. Genius. The Ploppen rule. The videos are set up in a corridor wallpapered in brown carpet that's supposed to resemble a digestive tract, and the last room contains three robot heads that sing at you.

It does not get better than this.

I'm serious.

The Roni Horn show was also interesting, if less poo-related. She has a series of photographs in one room, close-up shots of water, called Still Water (The River Thames, For Example), and each picture is annotated with about forty footnotes, mediating on water, the Thames, and the act of viewing water or viewing photographs of water, among other topics. I loved that - but I am partial to a bit of self-conscious meta-babble. It's well worth a look.

And on the train home I finished Dear Mr Capote, by Gordon Lish, and man, am I tired today.

The Ledge

I've just read the saddest short story I've ever come across; The Ledge, by Lawrence Sargent Hall. I don't know how I've never found it before, but it's in American Short Story Masterpieces, which I'm slowly making my way through, and about a million other anthologies, or so t'internet tells me. I just did a quick search and found the story online in several parts. Have a look, but I'll add a NSFW caveat, seeing as it never seems quite cool for your boss to find you blubbing away at your desk like a big baby. Or is that just me?

R Minus Seven Weeks

Seven weeks left in gainful permanent employment; R to the E to the Dundancy! I'm quite excited about this, but I'm trying not to constantly refer to my savings account to see exactly what I will need to earn per week over the summer to pay for the roof over my head, etc. I'm trying not to encourage my natural propensity towards freaking the hell out all the time. But it is exciting anyway, so, hurray. I've also gotten quite a bit of writing done this week - though hardly any reading, even though I keep buying things and the pile is mounting up (it's at mid-thigh height now, but I am pretty short) - and I want to redress the balance soon. Roll on the weekend!


Counting from today, I have officially got eight more weeks at my current job. I've been working there for four and a half years, and for an assortment of reasons, I'm taking voluntary redundancy this summer. The countdown begins: on May 10th, c'est fini. Scary. I'll be a 'freelancer' after that, which is code for 'bankrupt scrounger' - score. In the meantime, I get to flounce about work talking about what it'll be like on the glorious outside, taunting my colleagues with talk of such mythical things as 'daylight', and, well, 'more daylight'. We're very vitamin-D deprived in my job. When I'm unemployed I'm going to lie out on the street soaking up the rays, and all the poor employed drones will have to step around or over me, on their way to their jobs where they'll do horrible, awful, things like go to meetings and pay off their mortgages. Damn mortgage, how I hate you and your accursed kind. But, suck it mortgage, the redundo-countdown is on.

50: thumbs

To the person who found this blog while on a google hunt for 'obsessive thumbs' - welcome! You are surely in the right place.


As you were.

47: thank crunchie

Friday! Brilliant. One day closer to Monday and the whole damn cycle starts again. Weeks. Crazy. But Fridays are good, nonetheless, even thirteenths. I've had a very manic few days in work, which involved a minimum of actual work, but a multitude of meetings, which is a discomfiting ratio, and a tiring one. So the weekend is a Good Thing. I've gotten very little reading done this week - actual print, that is, I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time online reading things - and so I'm making very slow progress through Bolano's 2666, which seems to have become a fixture on the living room floor next to empty cups of tea. The structure of the book is oddly episodic, and it hasn't immediately grabbed me like The Savage Detectives did. But I'm only about a quarter of the way through - if that - and at the rate I'm going it'll take me six months to finish, so expect a report sometime in the autumn. I'm determined to get more writing done in the next few weeks, however, and have already made start in that direction. I've got a flash piece that needs muchos work, though whether it'll get longer or shorter is as yet unknown. If I can get that polished up a bit over the weekend I'll be pleased. There, that's surely jinxed it already.

46: A Kind Of Intimacy

I got Jenn Ashworth's new novel, A Kind Of Intimacy, in the post this morning. Since I had the day off, I sat down to read it, and saving breaks to boil the kettle, I devoured it in a single sitting. I'm so impressed that this was a first novel. The main character, Annie, is such a strong narrator, and Jenn builds up the tension so powerfully, without ever disrupting the credibility of Annie's voice, that I found myself hunched up on the sofa muttering oh god, no, oh god, to myself at certain points. It reminded me a little of Notes On A Scandal, the way the unreliability of the narrator's voice comes slowly out and how thoroughly I became immersed in Annie's life and emotions. Brilliant stuff. I can't wait to see what Jenn does next. Bring on the squid story.

45: my lovely horse

- running through the fields - where are you going, with your fetlocks flowing, in the wind? I want to shower you with sugar lumps, and ride you over fences, polish your hooves every single day, and bring you to the horse dentist - my lovely lovely lovely horse.

No such thing as too much Ted.

I got the quickest ever reponse to a submission today - even faster than elimae? you gasp? why, yes! - a whole sixteen minutes between submission and acceptance. This was from Tuesday Shorts. I want to shower them with sugar lumps. I sent them a 99 word story and they're hoping to include it in a possible anthology. Good luck with the anthology, Kristen!