Sunday, 24 October 2010

Saturday 23rd October 2010: Brighton Part 2

As I slowly but surely get used to my new hometown of sorts, I have already developed some favourite places, an ever increasing list.

Lewes Road, the one closest to mine, is awash with both funeral parlours and twits with guitars. I hate to think of the implications. Could Brighton be the basis for a closed-circuit economy of dead musicians? It's horrible, but they've all got to somewhere, haven't they?

Apart from the obvious main booksellers', this town has tiny bookshops all around. As told before, I massively enjoy hanging around in them, and looking at the other morons without a life hanging around in these bookshops. What do you mean, self-aware?

About being a cyclist in Brighton: it's doable. It certainly is more of a workout than your average bike ride. I have as yet not experienced serious injury or caused any major accidents. Not yet, though. I have not yet found myself on the wrong side of the road. Save that one time on the cycling path though. Nothing happened! I promise! I was silently tutted, I believe, by the man coming at me and missing me by miles. That's how little danger I am on the road. I'm not sure whether that's something to be proud of, or ashamed. At least it so far contradicts the man who drove me and my belongings from the station into town, nearly a month ago (my God! a month already! And I've achieved so... yeah, let's not go into that) who said that if I, a tall man, would cycle in this town, it would just make me a bigger target. I was reminded of Carmageddon, a crap, collision based video game which I hadn't thought about since 1997 (and for good reason; it was crap) and was perturbed by the prospect of ending up as roadkill. Luckily for me, he was totally wrong.

But possibly my favourite place of them all is a tiny fruit and veg shop near the end of London Road. Run by either a habitually telephoning lady or a very, very old man, it's quaint and there's always something weird going on. As if it were a portal into a different world, like the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter (come on! You know you love it!). When I was there last, a week ago, I saw a man eating chips and grumbling at the lady who was on the phone, while I tried to pay for oranges. The man looked about 30 and was dressed very well considering the noise he was emitting. He scared me just a bit, even though he was clearly harmless. But you never know. He was either seriously unhinged or an out-of-work performance artist. You never know for certain in this town.

Apart from that, I've bought 4 books today, and I'm very happy with them, thank you. Let me live now!

See you tomorrow! Bye!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday 22nd October 2010 - Caffè Nero (and equivalents) OR: A Life in Bad Coffee

Some hangovers come on the afterbeat. I realised that I still had been drunk for all of yesterday, as I woke up shitting Guinness into the toilet bowel this morning. I heard the fizzing sound as well. If I got the divorce-papers from my bowels' lawyer in the post today, I wouldn't be surprised. But I did feel better afterwards. I then watched iPlayer from 8 till 2.

After that, cheered up considerably, considering the day before, I worked for an hour on my set and felt quite happy about that but felt most pleased with a single joke I came up with in the shower. It helped me get ready to face the world at large once more. I had thought before I fell asleep last night, that this day would be one of those days where I wouldn't leave the house at all today. Luckily I was wrong.

I went into Brighton to write, and I locked my bike against the tiny steel fence around a tree. As I looked to my right, I saw a Big Issue seller. I always feel a sting in my heart when I see them, yet in my ongoing attempt to be a bit more of a bastard I force myself to walk on and pretend not to care. It's patronising to give money to Big Issues salesmen. Plus I bought one from one of them in Edinburgh and it was disappointing. As I was fighting with the lock, I saw an old man coming up to the homeless man. I still had my iPod in, so couldn't hear their conversation. It soon became apparent that the man was very angry at the Big Issue salesman, and was admonishing him for something. I took out my earplugs. Even the people on the bench turned round.

The man, apparently, was angry at the Big Issue seller, saying that he was out of a job for years, having to live off very little. But, the old man said, he got by. He was going (I paraphrase): 'You've got some guts coming here, begging for working people's money! You should be ashamed of yourself!' Just as it looked like things could turn ugly, the old man left, leaving us feeling a bit weird about it all. I finished locking my bike and got up. The Big Issue seller went on trying to sell his paper. Knowing that I had already acknowledged his existence, he asked me if I wanted to buy one; but I, evilly, ignored him. I am a bastard. When walking away, I thought that he might punish me by weeing on my bike, which would be fair enough, to be honest.

I finally went into Café Nero, and, again, thought for too long about what to buy. Don't know why, to be honest. All coffee is the same there anyway; it's more about having an excuse to sit anywhere for a prolonged period of time. I like Café Nero and similar chains for three reasons. One: People who sit there by themselves don't really want to be there and so get the stuff done that they need to do, such as writing, reading notes or read a book and therefore waste time by going out and living instead of being inside and not doing so. I might be projecting. Two: People who sit there with others are there because they need to talk about serious stuff that they can't in pubs (which are predicated on a shared sense of fun). Three: it's a combined heaven and hell for caffeine-addicts who don't mind being patronised.

This is a bit I wrote when there: why the bum is the Air Con so aggressive? It's giving me pneumonia of the ears! I moved to the right, which unfortunately isn't as hidden as the other spot. It's slightly better on the coldness-front, though. A lady sits down at that place now. Good luck!

In conclusion: I love Caffè Nero for it's not immediately necessary to have a good time there, but ok if you do. It's also socially accepted to just sit down in by yourself and not really do anything else without being a scary stalker.

Which leads to another entry in the category: I SEE DUTCH PEOPLE: just seen two. A grandmother struggling to be nice to her chubby grandson, who only wants chocolate-based crap. She came back with 2 poshly dressed girls. I immediately hated them. By the way, note the innate sense of class warfare in my rhetoric. It's obvious. You can take a child out of Steiner School...

After I came back to my bike, I had a chat with the Big Issue Salesman; which I might tell you about, but not today. Ha! Beat that, Hitchcock! Who's the master of suspense, now?


Thursday 21st October 2010 - Good Advice for Morons

I woke up after about 5 hours sleep, not too tired, but not very awake either. I went over the embarrassing things I did last night (which, in retrospect, weren't as insane as I made out to be to myself) and promised myself 400 times to never (ever) drink again. Does this make me an alcoholic or just someone who spends too much time with my self-flagellating inner monologue? Both, probably.

It turned out to be quite an off-day; I read the set text for the course I had, but didn't really engage with other people or amount to anything apart from course work. When I did open my mouth, I usually thought the things I had said where stupid on every level.

Another tip for future exchangers: remember that when you leave the place you're from, you also take yourself with you. You don't change. If you have bad habits at home, you'll still have them when you're abroad. You might be nicer to your hungover self than I am to mine, but we're all flawed, and moving to another country doesn't immediately change you or remove your weaknesses.

I did feel like a div today and fell asleep at eight, missing a friend's performance I had promised to attend. I am abusing this medium to apologise to her. Even though she probably won't read it. I'm sorry!

One funny thing I had failed to mention thus far: on my way back from school, I always cycle on a road where someone has written in chalk: BOD IS A MORON. This never fails to amuse me. Unless there is some horribly violent back story to this quite charming epiphet, which will cause me to still be amused by it, but slightly less overtly than I am now.

Wednesday 20th October 2010 - Good Times and Performance Art

After talking about Meyerhold for too long, I had a very enjoyable lecture, after which we (by which I mean me and the rest of the class) set off on a tour of several performance venues in Brighton. This was a very nice ideas, since it meant that I didn't have to go there myself, awkwardly shuffling in, feeling out of place; like a gecko in a brewery. Apart from that: the end of the tour promised free booze. If anything gets students going, it's that (remember that; all companies in the world!).

We walked across town, seeing nice contemporary art works by local artists and snatching free coffees here and there. I very much enjoyed being there with the first-year group of drama students I am only part of for this course. Amongst others, we saw the Brighton Dome, the Basement and Komedia venues and some nice galleries. After this, we reconvened in the Basement for free drinks and talk about stuff. After the one free drink we, cheaply, decided to go on to the pub.

I got massively drunk, this being the first time that I was seriously smashed on British soil since Edinburgh 2009. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I very much did. But I also made the mistake of forgetting to eat and over-drinking. It's very bad.

My saving grace was that I wasn't the only one getting smashed. We all did, and had a great time. And I got home, still being able to cycle and process words, but not to stand, at half eleven. I was quite happy with having made new friends and spending time with other people and fell asleep not much later.

Tuesday 19th October 2010 - A History of Oneself in Some Random Objects

The main reason that it look a little while longer for this daily blog to continue unabated, is because of today. On days I've got seminars, I'm mainly focused on those, so don't really experience life apart from that. So I could write about The Revenger's Tragedy, which I read in its entirety today, my Making Theatre coursework or the presentation on Vsevolod Meyerhold I overprepared for. That was my life today; and little else, to be honest.

I sometimes wonder how I would have survived without the internet. I would have read more, watched more day-time television, possibly played more video games. This last one only really works if I would have been here about fifteen years ago. In the 1970s, I'd have been fucked. Not literally, I mean with ways of wasting my time. But they did have drugs then, and that was all fine in that age, apparently. If it had been the 1920s, I probably wouldn't even be here. Mainly for class-reasons. And because I'd have been a highly inept farm worker (you can't change some things) instead of a student, with a grant and full support by the government (to all government officials reading this blog: I do actually deserve this, I provide services to the arts, free of charge. You can't cut me! I'm like a cultural attaché for Dutch comedy! The highly rare and unmarketable sardonic style that is).

Speaking of me as a farm worker; I'm ridiculously inept at garden-based work. This is annoying, since I spring from a long heritage of farmers, who for at least 450 years have lived in and around the town of Jutphaas which is now the very sexy Nieuwegein (see! I can be ambassador!). Over the years, I've tried helping family members with activities like weeding and harvesting things. It usually ended up with me angry, panting (bad stamina) and hating all multicellular life. Including algae, who are shits. I hate gardening. I used to have dreams about me being sent to some kind of garden in hell, where I had to do weeding until the end of recorded time; with the roses stinging me and the ferns laughing at my ineptness.

Ironically, when I was at Steiner School in the early 2000s, I succeeded in getting my reaping-diploma. I'm now officially qualified to work the scythe. That will come in handy, cause if my artistic plans would fail; my official plan B is being the lord of Doom.

Speaking of Steiner School; reading about Meyerhold made me think about a book-sale I once organised at my school. It went fine, future employers, it was a victory of common sense over a meaningless and chaotic world (i.e. I am Best). Apart from ironic braggadocio (wonderful, wonderful word); in between the stuff we tried to sell, I found an LP with the title: Socialist Songs of Victory, by the Worker's Choir of Amersfoort.

The sleeve amused, scared and fascinated me in equal measure. Never having lived through a period of time where communism was actively working (arguably) in Eastern Europe (disregarding Belarus; which is a scary dictatorship (take that!)) and was therefore close, it was alien to me. This LP of overly earnest songs on it made by people who are now either dead, very embarrassed or very proud about having made it (there seems to be no middle ground with this kind of thing). I never listened to it, but was sufficiently fascinated by it, that I remembered holding this very alien thing in my hand, while reading about an equally earnest Theatre Practitioner. I've also gotten into BBC's A History of the World in a Hundred Objects. Although I doubt whether they'd let me write for the next series.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Monday 18th October 2010: A Non-Angry Blog (for once)

Can it be? A blog that isn't angry or miserable in any way? Yes it can. And today will be that day. Tomorrow: back on the misery-river (sly Tom Waits reference there, for anyone who cares, which is no-one).

Today I finally succeeded in seeing some comedy, in a basement near the seafront. I was there far too early (as per usual) so I went to the pebble-based beach to look at the ocean and just enjoy it. The last vestige of Steiner School education is an unnatural attraction to large natural objects and the ability to enjoy these on a metaphysical level. I'm ashamed of it but I do. Maybe I'll grow out of it one day. So as I was standing there, for nigh on ten minutes, I let my mind wander; as I saw the waves crashing down, rumbling loudly very quickly after one another. The tide was going out. I felt into my pocket and found a clove of garlic. Now, if I were five years younger, I'd say that was a sign. For something or other. Not sure what. For me, most superstitions need an incongruous amount of research. I forgot to throw it in the sea though, and walked back.

As I walked back from the surf, I looked at one of those outbuildings from the Boulevard onto the beach. It was in the same neo-classical style as the bulk of Brighton's seafront, but after a seriously rare unforced double-take, I saw it was a gym. An actual gym, near the sea. Pretty cool, yes. And it made me laugh, because it was so unexpected.

I did get there on time (a bit early even, still), checked the lock on my bike a second time and went in. It was busy, and I wondered whether I would be unlucky again, like last time. Fortunately I wasn't. The gig was in a basement, very dark, so I even I could hide in a corner, in that lovely Gollum-esque way that I have. I didn't, and grabbed a chair right in the middle of the path to the toilets from the bar, as it turned out. To counter that, I moved slightly forward, so everyone had to pass behind me.

I did enjoy myself though. I hadn't been in a comedy club since the Fringe, and always enjoy the slightly clandestine nature of it. There's something terribly sweet about 50 people packing themselves into a basement to laugh at one of their number on a slightly raised step. I remembered why I came to this country, to do this. This is the best thing in the world. Well, no, DOING comedy is the best thing in the world. But Zoe Lyons and Sean Walsh weren't far off.

More happy next time! Bye!

When wondering if he would be able to actually attend the night's gig (see his indelible track record), Jorik was wondering what to write about for that day's blog. Then, as he went into a supermarket, he saw a small boy with the stupidest haircut he had ever seen. A spider's web, on the back of the boy's head (who can't have been older than about 9) and an actual spider on the front, in the spider-man style.

Now, a couple of questions need to be asked. Why would anyone have their own head as a way of advertising an already overexposed cartoon character (who, I must admit, was my favourite superhero as a child too and always will be). How could his mother agree with that plan? But most importantly: Spider's don't even have hair! They're arachnids (not insects, you idiot!)! Strictly speaking, only mammals have hair, and spiders (along with some caterpillars) have hairlike protrusions from their bodies but not actual hair. So this vain and self-regarding combination of hair and Spiders was incongruous and erroneous. There. And after he said that to the child, he was arrested and spent the rest of my life in prison.

Still angry, eh? No worries, better luck next time.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sunday 17th October: Libraries part one

As I needed to do some work on a project, I went, as I did yesterday, to the library on the campus after finishing my blog (and, granted, some iPlayer). It always seems to be easier to actually get work done while you're out of the house, even though I'm still carrying the main problem (a laptop) with me. I really enjoy working in this library, partly because it reminds me of the library I used to frequent as a child which was decorated in the same style (i.e. wood, brick and brownish grey carpets. I'm a master of description as you can see...). I like libraries as a whole, and if everything goes wrong, I might end up working in one someday. Although I never excelled at the being quiet-bit. I mainly like them for the same reasons everyone else likes them: because all other people are quiet. They're a great way of pretending to be around people in the outside world while actually being very anti-social. Plus, again, you get some work done.

But libraries are more than a way for me to get work done, they're refuges, places of quiet in confusing big cities. When I was in Edinburgh the last two years, I liked to go to the library on the South Bridge (correct me if I'm wrong, but the one just off the Royal Mile) and just walk around and browse. It's the only way to get away from overly aggressive mime-artists and expressionist modern dancers in the street.

Libraries are also the last bastions of those quixotics trying to make sense of the world by dividing it up and naming things. Yes, genres. Every book in the library has its place, it's there for a reason. It knows why it is there. But only larger libraries can afford to place specific genres on say, a specific floor. Every smaller one has to compromise. In Edinburgh for instance, the left side of the building was devoted to Travel, History and Politics, signified by a small plaque. One can understand this system, for these three tend to overlap.

It can also go awry; in the same library, another bookcase was called: Bibliography, Cookery, Militaria. Why? Who on earth would write a book combining the three of those? Only if Jamie Oliver went to war against Gordon Ramsay in an all-out, book-based melee of kitchen knives and swear words. Luckily for us, that day might never come.

It can get worse though. In a small library in Holland, I saw on one and the same shelf: Thriller, Biography and Horses.
Since when is Horses a literary genre? Can it be taught? Do people write books with Horse-based notions and conventions in mind to try and subvert Horse-based books in a Post-Horse way? Can you write about anything else than the Pony Express? What about My Little Pony? Is that Horse-based literature or Science-Horse? If so much literature has been written about horses, isn't it unfair that they themselves never have the chance to read it? We must do something about the representation of horses in literature!

Ok, that's enough now.

And what about zebras?

Shut up.

In the end, I had a great time at the library, and I will go there again someday, probably.

I'm bored now. Bye!

Today, Jorik also fell asleep over a (really very good) documentary on Chopin on iPlayer. It features a smug young pianist (who's actually 34 and an ex-city boy, so not young at all!), a great Russo-Welsh singer and lots of French people speaking English not very well. And he loved it to bits. But it was also very late. So he finished it the next morning before breakfast. It reminded him of tiny picture books his Suzuki Piano teacher used to have that told the story of great composers in a patronising way with beautiful watercoloured pictures. Nice!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Saturday 16th October 2010: Lateness part One - Audience Member-Lateness

As a person scarily obsessed with stand-up comedy, you would expect me to be a fervent and adequate audience member as well. Unfortunately, even I do still make mistakes. This has nothing to do with embarrassing behaviour at gigs (I'm way too awkward for that) but actually getting to the gig has turned out to be a lifelong struggle. You see, I'm no star at timekeeping. I'm either far too early or way too late. There is no middle ground. I used to only be anywhere too late. Now I have added to my non-existent time-keeping skills the notion of Early. I still mess up my own life.

Today I tried to go to a gig, a late night one, in central Brighton near the pier. I was there, I was 15 minutes too early, I cycled past the venue, right through the smoker's area, locked my bike, walked back, got to the front door, got stepped on by a drunk, apologised, got in, waited for three minutes at the box office, got stepped on again by the same drunk, apologised again only before being told that the show was sold out. Lucky me. So I cycled back in my high visibility hoodie (it's bright yellow. A mixture of cream and Saffron. Yes, custard. But it glows in the dark. You can't touch me Bike-light Inspector Man!)

The day before I tried to go to the same gig, only it started at 8, and at 7.45 I was still trying to get some food I'd frozen in to defrost and by the time I got to
my laptop to check the clock, it was 5 past. No use in going there anymore.

Two days before that, there was this gig not far from where I live and I got there 45 minutes early. I ended up walking a large circle around the venue, listening to my iPod, trying not to look like I'd assault anyone (cos that's my main fear. Not that I might get assaulted (I'm marginally too tall and imposing for that(...back of my head goes: huh, arrogant! Which is slightly unfair. I am a bit taller than your average person here so shut up, back of my head!)) but that people might think I'd assault them. Weird thought but there you go. 15 minutes before it started, I got in to the pub where the thing would take place. I ordered a drink and sat in a corner reading a paper, waiting for it all to kick off. I waited some more, and some more and finished my Guinness that I had intended to take up with me to the gig, when a lady came up to me and thought: 'Hey! He looks lonely! He must be here for the comedy!' (as you know; I was). She then told me that I was one of five people here for the gig. And I've been at gigs with less than five people in (especially at the fringe) but this time, the lady wasn't sure whether to carry on. She'd give it another ten minutes whilst I was so bored, I started fake-texting again (bad habit). After the ten minutes she told me they wouldn't go for it after all; which was fair enough I suppose. So home again I went without having been an audience member again.

But it can be worse. This year, at the fringe, I tried to see Robin Ince´s early show 5 times. I missed every one of them.

1. I got there on time, half an hour early even. So I rushed to a shop to buy a European Plug Adapter for my computer. I ran back, got in to the pub only to find the stairs closed off with a red cord and the words: Performance In Session hanging off it on some paper (not just words, suspended in the air! What are you thinking?)

2. I got there half an hour late. You can call it what you wish, jetlag even, but that doesn't count since I came from GMT+1. So again, bad time keeping (and toast. They did have some nice toast where I was staying).

3. I was there an actual half hour early, so I went into some shops to browse (such as the lovely Scottish Storytelling Centre; where they do have good coffee). In the end I was late again.

4. This time I was right on the clock, but me and a couple of other people were told that the room was full, so we had to go on hour way.

5. Robin had left Scotland and the show had closed. I am a fool.

So hopefully this will get to you in time, I'm going to make myself a cappucchino. Oh, yeah, look at me go!


Today, when writing his blog Jorik got so self-indulgent that it actually hurt. Even worse, the last two ones were quite patronising. Worse than that, he felt quite good about himself after writing those, so he went out and bought a paper. As the realisation of his own patronising shit-ness started hammering his braintissue, he read the Sketch-bit written by a man. This was so rubbish that for the rest of the day, he believed that the written word had lost a great power before its time. Now he knows that is not true. The written word can manage perfectly well without him and his weird syntactical structuring; making him think he's like Joseph Conrad or something. Well, he's not. He's more shit than Joseph Conrad (though not as shit as that man who wrote that sketch in the paper). Although most people are more shit than Joseph Conrad, to be honest, so that's not that good an example. Indeed, Jorik is more or less shit. What do you mean how shit exactly? Come on people! Think! Make up your own minds! I'm not going to do all the work around here, am I?

Love you, bye!

By the way, my question to the Why Do-service (see below) was rejected by the text-answering people for the following reason: "This question is not trying to find out about young people." Yes it did! Or maybe young people just can't handle the truth! Ah well, that's another one of these filled (walks away into the sunset whistling).

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Friday 15th October 2010: More Satire - Ageism 2010

I had just finished my last blog, a fairly rambling irritation at the way people identify with the Chilean Miners, as I turned on 4oD; where I saw an advert for a new texting service by O2. It's called Why Do, and it's aimed at people who want to understand Youth Culture. I went to the website, where an email-based tryout of the service can be accessed and asked the following question:

Why do young people still care about life? Why would you bother with anything since the times of prosperity are in the past and your only use is bankrolling the pensions of babyboomers?

A slightly cynical question perhaps, but I'm curious what the answering machine will send back. Ageism is current, though. In Britain, the tuition fees will be doubled, so students will be in debt for successive generations. And it is true that the babyboomers have had a great innings, and continue to do so (and with their luck, will be living to at least 139); most of them have decided to eat up their children's inheritances as well. But in doing so, they pass the check to their children and grandchildren, who are out of jobs, cannot buy any homes below 1 million (if they at least want to live anywhere with more than one wall standing). Meanwhile the young only concern themselves with drugs, alcohol, material gain and social standing (though it needs to be said: in very different social groups). So any ageism, that derides the young as wastrels and shallow enforces the babyboomers' sense of entitlement and pre-empts any pity that they might feel towards successive generations. So in that respect, this texting service would be good, wouldn't it?

To be honest, the answers given are quite sweet and openhearted and mainly reminding the people asking the questions that one day, they had been young too, and evil in exactly the same way. That is indeed true. Though the old may not accept this. I have a theory about all the squares in the sixties and seventies who did not make a lot of noise then but have now, at 55+, become the vocal majority; while those who went mad on dope and peace in those days are now either dead or have turned square as well (however geometrically unlikely that may be).

The future is either killing off the fortunate old, or have the young work off their debts for generations. I think it will be the second, since they're the majority. Life used to be good, though, and in centuries come, people will their spend nights around the fire in disused accountancy firms, telling each other stories about mythical saviours singing songs of -yes we can- and the smell of fresh cash before the elders decided to be wise and take away the corrupting influence of accursed money and hide in their châteaus with it; before being told to shut up and fling another copy of the Da Vinci Code in the fire.

But I'm only twenty-two, so what do I know. Nothing, that's what. Now where are those drugs?

Reading list: nothing much else, but I did enjoy a documentary on BBC Four about Zeppelin bombings during World War One called The First Blitz. So find it, if you care (which after 519 words of patronisation, you might not, to be honest).
Love you all! Bye!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thursday 14th October: Bandwagon (or: Minecart!) Jumping!


The subject of the Chilean miners being freed has been used by every blogging idiot in the world for the last couple of days. I now add myself to this pathetic bunch by talking about it as well. I'm nothing if not desperate for more google searches.

I was talking to some people ('Aw, bless. Speak to other people, did you?' ..yeah? 'So you CAN speak to other people, and not just the nameless, faceless internet which doesn't shout at you and calls you a pathetic loser every other minute' No I can do that myself, thank you very much) and the subject quickly turned to the Chilean miners. But after the usual words of empathy with the miners and their families, people started talking about what it would be like if you yourself would be stuck in there. Everyone has a story about that. Everyone likes to think they'd behave nobly in such a predicament. I blame Daniel Defoe (next on the reading list btw). But people, being people, tend not to do that.

For seventeen days, the miners were cut off completely from the outside world. In these seventeen days they had to make due with a teaspoon of tuna a day for food, and eachother for company. Knowing nothing about their families, the mania which would make them arguably Chile's most successful export since Isabel Allende and the jokes about miners having sex underground made on twitter.

Meanwhile, we were more interested in ourselves, how we would cope with a teaspoon of tuna a day. What would we do? Would we catch bugs and blind amphibians (if they're around, which, it being the Atacama desert and the driest place on earth; they probably wouldn't)? Would we start licking the rocks for minerals like a camel does? Would we eat one of our number? Would we hide his remains in the back of the mine, use the old feather boa we bought for our Better Midler-theme party to dress him up as a budgie and say: Oh, it was that old carbon monoxide again, never mind. But could hunger actually drive you to that horrible state? What would be the threshold between civilisation and cannibalism? And after how many days? Two, probably. I don't really like fish.

That's the main thing I believe. Hunger is something so alien to most people nowadays that they wonder if, after a days' deprivation of it, people would go feral. This state of starvation-induced ferocity is frankly unrealistic, because if it were true that hunger would drive people mental in that way, Jonathan Swift would have been right and the world's overpopulation would be far less taxing on the environment. (see, I could have had a cheap shot at anorexia-sufferers, but I went for a literary reference. I am brilliant, I know. Bow before me, you cattle. No, you can't, I forgot, cows lack specific joints most animals use for kneeling, such as knees*).

In the meantime, the media has tried to convince the world, through the near death of more than 30 people; that life isn't as bad as it sometimes looks. Yes there may be famine, racism, abuse, violence, war, terrorism, a broken economy and a dying planet but hey, the world can be a wonderful place. LOOK AT THOSE PEOPLE HUGGING THEIR FAMILIES! CRY FOR YOUR OWN DEATHS! BUY OUR STUFF NOW!!!

That was pretty satirical, wasn't it (in that bad 1970s way that it has. I am ashamed of myself. Happy now?)? Ah well. Best of luck to the Chilean (and one Bolivian) miners anyway (although I think if you're reading this crap, you're wasting your time. See you tomorrow for something less angry, I imagine.

* not true. I saw a wildebeest bow for baby Simba in the Lion King®, so a cow must be able to, surely. That film was right about everything.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wednesday 13th October 2010: Sirens Blaring

No, this is not a chapter in a clichéd crime-novel. One of the most significant sounds in British city life is the near-constant sound of sirens blaring. For the first couple of days, I thought that everytime a siren went off, there had to have been a crime somewhere. Or something terrible. Or a fire. Mostly the last one. Since I, for the last three years, had lived in the 'middle of nowhere', this sudden increase of sounds in general and sirens in particular has been unexpected. Still fun though. I was woken up this morning by a siren (and realised my body was aching, but didn't know why. Then I remembered that yesterday (you know, the day this blog is about), I did 10 minutes of classic drama school-type warm-up excercises. I was never good at any of them. It was a fixed, biweekly amount of pain which was, in its way, good for you. Ah well.

Yesterday (or Today, if you keep with the date of this blog) I was cycling home from campus. That morning, I was already surprised to see a substantial amount of police around the main road I use to campus. What were they doing there? Was there some kind of police outing? Were they all going to have a barbecue? It wasn't as whimsical as that. On my way back (howzat for tense-jumping?) I then saw why. A collonnade of police officers was standing in between me and the rest of my journey. I was unsure if I could continue, so I asked an officer what was going on. Apparently it was some kind of anti-war demonstration. I responded with: 'Well, that's good, isn't it?' The PC remained neutral: 'We're not here to judge son, on you go.' So I did, and continued on my way. There were several prostesters, surrounded by dozens of policemen. Around them stood camera crews and journalists. It looked a bit weird, and slightly scary.

Not a 100m further, there were about 20 people sitting down in the middle of the street, surrounded by police officers. The atmosphere seemed grim and the amount of police present surprised me. But not so much that I didn't dare to pop in to the local supermarket to get some muesli.

I later read that the reason for the demonstration was the continued production of war-materials in a factory near Brighton. If raising awareness was the goal, I think the protesters were successful (and me, now writing about it before breakfast might be partly responsible for that as well).

There goes another siren. I stopped caring I think. First signs of inter-cultural integration: Foreigner stops caring about sirens. That'll be the first chapter of my book on moving to Britain. Which I will never write. Or someone would have to pay me. Haha. I am evil.

I'll have some muesli now and finish Ibsen. Haven't you got anything to do with your life? Go out and do some work! (and after you finished, come back here. I need this!) Bye!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tuesday 12th October 2010: Confessions of a Serial Procrastinator - Part 1: Brainfood TV

Hello, my name's Jorik and I'm a se... No, Jorik. No, wait, Jo... That's J-O-R-...

One of the best ways of procrastination (and you can tell this is an expert speaking) is watching factual/educational tv (or, in my case: iPlayer). BBC Four is a beautiful thing, making one feel like one has learned, has become deeper aware of one's own, deepest, most true, err, truths, yes, truths. I'm sorry, did I just momentarily turn into Virginia Woolf? I'm sorry, this happens. I do apologise.

As a way of passing time before/between/after reading for classes, I watched a documentary on Cosmology, a walky talky lectury type program based on the living cell and a David Attenborough special on the world's dwindling fish stock. By the way; I luv Attenborough. His is a fine line between the erudite and hopeful and the crushingly depressive through his righteous fury that because I'm watching this program now, a penguin will die. And it's all my fault. Ah well. Next program!

But this is the crux of the matter. After an hour's worth watching stuff about art, science, history or the animal kingdom (stuff about literature is a bit too close to work during term time, to be honest), I don't feel stupid. I don't get angry at myself like I do for watching some kind of panel show or a film or a comedy show which fiercely misses the mark and the excitement of live stand-up (it's starts with an -M-, and the colour is Bland. Guess who!). I feel a bit intellectually nourished, convincing myself that I might use this one day, in a sketch, for some stand-up or some other kind of writing. I know I won't, it's ultimately just another waste of valuable living hours. I'll either forget this interllectual hoo-ha or it'll turn up in the trivia-bit of my brain which can regurgitate random facts for all it's worth. I once won a backpack filled with a blue, plastic bucket and spade at a camp with a very shortlived journalism study in 2006.

The problem is; they're just incredibly well made, especially the BBC ones. The exciting camera-movements, the over-exited (and probably coked-up) presenters, the shifts in perspectives and camera angles (which mean that sometimes you can see so far up the presenter's noses that it's like watching a snow globe through a lock (that was a cocaine joke. Not a very good one. But it still counts!). Unless of course it's Andrew Marr. One of few British celebreties I can imitate with relative easy, because his voice is mainly produced through the vibration of his lower jowls, much like a pelican. Yet I love those shots of brainy looking people, walking around staircases and staring awkwardly at the railing above while trying to say something relevant about Henry VIII.

By the way, fact fans: Aristotle, the loony mother's only child's favourite beardy faced dead Greek guy (who lived in the 4th Century BC) liked giving lectures whilst walking around. That's why his followers soon became known as the peripatetics (from the Greek for wandering around. Not to be confused with peripeteia, which is something alltogether different). There, you can't say I didn't teach you anything today.

But for all their obvious merits and my great love for them; I know I am just wasting my time watching educational TV. It a waste of time. It'll never lead to anything. And most importantly it's just a cunning way my procrastination-gland wants to bypass my significant self-criticism gland. And it works. Unfortunately, my obsession with edu-tv has already led to this blog. Why God, will you never let me win?!

P.S: Sorry for being a bit rubbish yesterday. I was literally falling asleep when I was writing. Still, I was angry at myself for two hours afterwards for writing such a rubbish blog. You happy now, internet monkeys? (GRUMBLES AND STRIKES FIERCE DUKE NUKEM LIKE POSE WITH A SUPERSOAKER FILLED WITH THE ELEMENTAL SQUASH OF WISDOM). Oh, yeah.

P.S.S: Reading: I'm currently in an Ibsen-based wonder of a first week at uni. Just read An Enemy of the People and I'm working through A Doll's House. As funny as they are engaging, dramatic (in the best possible sense) and punching you in the brain with their density and complexity at every corner. I luv Ibsen. I luv him. Yeah, I'm into dead Norwegians, and what? You just can't handle the truth, can you? You can't handle the truth! ..Sorry did I just turn into Jack Nicholson there? No I didn't; I couldn't if I tried.

See ya! Bye!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Monday 11th October 2010

Some people have the natural ability to get up before the alarm bell. I do, sometimes. The sleeping part of my brain weirdly enough adjusts to the time I decide to get up the next morning, and wakes me up slightly beforehand. This is usually mid-dream. This morning, for instance, I was in a dream, being shot at, and I could feel the oranges (some people were throwing oranges at me for some reason) hitting my head. I can remember it hurting a lot and I awoke with a start. After a quick wee, I inspected my phone and I saw I had two minutes until the alarms would go off. I then switched off the alarm and went back to bed, thereby destroying my body's intentions (ha! Take that hippocampus!). Unfortunately for me, I couldn't get to sleep so I got up anyway.

You can't win in those situations.

But still, why oranges? I know of books with doves and roses on the cover claiming to hold the truth about your entire subconciousness. They sell incomprehensibly well, seeing as it can never be a science, looking up words and random phrases and saying: Your mum was a dog in her previous life, and you resent her for that. Why? You used to be a cat.

Why is it that in our imagination dogs and cats fight? They're on the same level in the food chain, so they could have rivalry but not as much! It's not like mongoose and snakes (which are, do all intents and purposes, better suited in an ultimate battle-style showdown of the creatures of the jungle). It might be something to so with the weather or cartoons in the 1920s. I am not qualified to do anything other than speculate on that.

No I didn't do much today, no. Sorry about that.

Before I go: Bread used to be a quite successful soft-rock band in the 70s. I was wrong to mock them, they should be worshipped for being quite good instead of mocked (no, I wasn't targeted by the two surviving members of the California-based band).

Monday, 11 October 2010

Sunday 10th October 2010: 10 10 10 10 10

When in the future, someone asks me where I was 10 minutes past 10 on the 10th of the 10th of twothousand and 10, I will say behind my desk, looking at the tiny little clock-bit near the bottom of my screen. I had been trying to write something for an hour or so and I was procrastinating, going on the web, pointlessly looking up rubbish. Then I saw the time and thought: Hell, at least give it a look in!

There's always a slight fear going on in the back of my mind as these weird dates and times pass. I do know that the calendar and the clock are man-made phenomena, utterly subjective and meaningless in an endless and expanding universe. Yet I do know exactly where I was at 20:02 on 20-02-2002. I was actually doing my paperround, wondering whether the world would end after this specific moment in time. As much as I try to fight this instinct (and I fight it with zeal and rigour), it still exists within me, anxiously googling the date 2012, obsessed with random facts (i.e. lies), quietly wanting to believe astrology even though every bone in my body says it's rubbish. I blame the Millennium Bug.

As an annoyingly precocious child (and one that loved animals, but not in a weird way (not in a weird way?! I was 7! What are you thinking! What are you thinking? Go away you peculiar porn-obsessed internet-monkey! (sorry about that))) I watched the children's news on Dutch tv (het Jeugdjournaal, for all you Dutchies in tha house! Make some noise! Who-hoo! (which I won't be able to hear because of a sea between us and the inherent lack of immediacy in this text-based medium)) from a very early age. This was in the early to mid-nineties so it was usually about terrible things happening in the former Yugoslavia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the general degeneration of the planet. And, I admit, it sometimes got to me. Even though the presenters tried to dress it up nicely or follow up the horrors of death and destruction with an item about a cat knitting or something, the impact was still considerable on my young mind.

But then, later in the nineties, people started talking about the millennium bug. And eschatological stories started cropping up the nascent information superhighway (what a great word!), like they had done in people's minds on every imaginable occasion (1499-1500 was particularly grim, I read). I, unaware of this, was terrified. The whole world would collapse, savage people would tear up the fabric of civilisation and Jennifer Lopez would not be able to finish singing her shitty song at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (5 points for getting the reference. Good. 5 points to you).

The nine year old me was unaware of this (and of Jennifer Lopez, luckily), when he first heard of the millennium bug from the nice bespectacled man on tv in the shiny studio. What would happen? What could I do? I was just a WNF-Ranger! A member of the Dutch Kids' WWF (no, not a wrestler. Look it up!)! I was only armed with a smile, a chequebook and slight environmental misanthropism. And as WNF-Rangers go I was pretty insignificant, too! I couldn't save the world! I didn't know how!

So I thought; if the world goes before I do; better be ready! And, not noticing the central flaw in my argument, I started preparing for the apocalypse. I dressed up my stuffed animals in fighting gear, drew an escape route out to the woods with crayon and started to make a plan for an underground bunker for me and all the animals where no humans would be allowed (again, fatally flawed argument). And, as usual, after an hour I just forgot about it. Yeah. That's how much I cared. I was nine, don't judge me!

But sometimes, when I was on my bike, the thought still hit my young head. What if? As we all know, the millennium bug turned out to be much less serious than it appeared to be. I, like most others, was a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing. But I still wanted to know. I still watched the news to see if New Zealand was still standing, on 01-01-2000; which it was. The reporter looked slightly annoyed with her lack of newsworthy comments, or, more likely, she was still slightly hungover from the massive party the night before.

So, I conclude; the best possible way of curing end-of-the-world scenarios in your own head is alcohol. And logic.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Saturday 9th October 2010: Living the Good Life (part one) + Promise

I've been writing these blogs in a frankly lovely little pub in Rottingdean, near Brighton. It's about 30 minutes cycling (including peaks and troughs on a bike stuck in first gear, so I look like a hamster in a wheel) from where I live. Very enjoyable though. After the promenade ends, the cliffs come in to view, which is beautiful. There not as white as the Dover ones though. More yellowy, like the ones on the French side of the Channel (or Manche, if I ever wanted to annoy people). Still pretty though. And quite high (if my prematurely aged lungs and unfit calves can be believed) at that.

Cycling over the cliffs is a great way to spend an otherwise futile day. The skies are unforgivingly blue and the horizon is endless until it blurs before you could see Brittany. Yet, due to it coming in from the south, you can barely smell the sea.

I made it to Rottingdean, a lovely little village. I was walking along the High Street, looking for an ATM machine. I walked along the entire length of it, bike in hand, just enjoying the narrow streets and old, endlessly renovated houses (a couple of them going on at that very minute) and missing the ATM machine all together. Only on the way back did I find it. I went into a tiny little pub, opened my laptop and started typing. After 3 minutes the barman said: 'Oi! Aren't you forgetting something?' which admittedly, I had. By I did enjoy it there. I started writing straight away and got a half-pint of Sussex Old Bitter (a half one mind, no need to go mad) to help me along.

I wrote nearly all of these blogs in the 2 hours I was there and only when the sun started setting did I leave. Unfortunately, there was more cloud around and we didn't have the ridiculous sunset of Wednesday, but still pretty good. Near the amusingly both sad and picturesque Brighton Marina (a new built attempt at Venice with more concrete), I saw a sign standing at the edge of the cliff which made me giggle. It said: Is Life Getting You Down? You're Not Alone!

Now that can only be one thing: that's the people of the Brighton Marina saying: right, we can't have more people flinging themselves of a cliff after seeing our summer houses. We are sick, sick to the stomach (in more ways than one) of having to scrape human remains off our nice tiled roofs every April because some people can't stand the sight of it, let's call the signmaker! I do have a very sick sense of humour, yes. Thank you, I do apologise.

Ah well, it's been a day. That's all I can say.


P.S. Will keep this up more frequently in future.

Friday 8th October 2010: What did I do today? + Executive Bastard-ising

To use the words: 'nothing much' would be an overstatement. I knew there were a couple of things I wanted to do, such as writing these bleedin' blogs, but I just didn't. I spent the day in my own funk (not literally. That would be adhering to stereotype, and I'm too good for that (oh, are you?) sorry, retake; too proud for that (there, that wasn't difficult, now, was it?), while a completely new shower was put in. That was the main thing that happened today. That and me, in my room, watching the entire second series of Whose Line Is It Anyway.

It's strangely addictive. It also makes me laugh satanically behind a laptop, in a not particularly sound-proof room. The days where I could watch Woody Allen in the middle of the night are over. Oh, joys of living alone! That, and strange dancing in one's pants on the carpets after 2 o' clock when one can't sleep. And lest not forget the omnipresent awareness that if I'd ever choke on some crisps while watching Woody Allen in the middle of the night, it would be at least a day until someone might find me, and that packet of crisps, strewn over the carpets like a stranded whale. At least I now know some people might hear me falling down the stairs before they'd shrug and go back to sleep (just kidding! :-D Jokey! FUNNY! Ahum).

God, I sometimes have days like this, I know. But life is short (at least when you're young. When you're older (Grandpa's Storybook Night right here, people) you become acquainted with the notion of regret and start living your life to the full (-er) but then realise you're too old so just stop. This is unfair of life, and in doing so, life is a bastard. If I could say anything of any merit in this blog concerning a day of nothing, it would be that. Life is a bastard. There, I said it. But I am saying this as a foreign exchange student living on a grant (still awaiting but never mind that) going to a university and with the access to food, a bicycle and the wondrous world of the internet. All things I don't actually deserve more than anyone in a less fortunate position. So I'm basically a bastard for saying life's a bastard. God. I can't win. That's a bastard, innit?


Thursday 7th October 2010: Birds and Verbal Self-Defence

I started writing this blog on the day itself (note: serious procrastination issues need to be resolved!) and I quite liked the beginning, so that's not going to waste anytime soon: There's either a lady with a high voice or a very repetitive cat saying Hello 47 times in a row just outside my window (48), as I'm sitting here (49), writing this. Pretty annoying as well (…). Don't know why. (49. It stopped).

In the afternoon, after dropping off some postcards in a letterbox (and yes, I did use my rubbishy accent with the lady in the post-office. People do think you're essentially nice but a bit thick if you have a slight foreign accent, whereas with my learnt, studied and grafted accent I wouldn't have gotten away with being the total shambles that I am in official places); I had my third seminar of the week, about Modern & Postmodern Drama.

It was very enjoyable. We were talking mainly about Ibsen's A Doll's House and the feminist implications of it. In a group of four people I was the only man, and soon the conversation turned to the oppression of women through the ages. I agreed with everything but one of us got really in to it and when speaking, she couldn't constrain the intense longing to point her finger in my direction. As everyone who knows me knows, I am the first to apologise for the serious crimes me and other men
inflicted on women (and continue to inflict) since the dawn of time. We are shits and we know it.

But after a while she caught herself and started apologising. I then (very unprofessionally) acted like I was offended (the ability of my face to convey no emotion whatsoever has been noted, but very close to that face is my: mildly indignant + exasperated-face. That was the one I was using. No good idea) because I thought that was funny. So she might still have thought that I was shocked, if I didn't go for a coffee with her afterwards, to explain. Still, a belated sorry.

Occasions like this happen possibly because I am, to all intents and purposes, foreign. So whenever I say anything offensive for a laugh (ironically, always. I'm too twee to ever really believe the horrible things I say), people go: Are you really like that? That is a bit racist of them, admittedly; but since they (non-racistly) believe that everyone is different, they might think that against all odds and impressions, I might be a bigoted dick. I'm very much anti-that. So it's my responsibility to move my jokes into very much non-bigoted areas. The thing is, a lot of people are bigots and believe horrible things (and are convinced that everything they believe is somehow noble) that when you joke about them, they can be taken at face value as well. Horrible. How can we ever defeat these dicks? Oh, I just called all bigots dicks. That makes me a dick too. Yes it does. But not as much as them.

Now, I've talked myself out of this conundrum (and, as Stewart Lee wrote in his brilliant book; 'And in a single bound I am free' which might have been a Spiderman reference. Ah well. That's another google knol, there) so where was I? Oh yeah. Coffee. Weirdly enough, there was no hot water available on all the campus. Also, kettles were out. There was absolutely no coffee or tea available. Glad to live here, glad to live here.

I finished the day by making fried rice that would last me another day. That's how I roll people. It's a good time.


Wednesday 6th October 2010: Semi-Professional Randomising

Apart from the ridiculously early start (who ever invented 9 AM?) I hugely enjoyed the second seminar as well, about making theatre. I've definitely made the right decision, coming here (at least on an academic level). The seminar ended at 11, so I had a day to kill. I did a lot of stuff I still had to do on the admin side on campus, before I decided to scour some bookshops in town and maybe buy a paper and have a coffee somewhere nice. In the end, I didn't even have a coffee. Just enjoyed the surroundings and saw some things. I thought about these, and a couple of them are written down here.

As a foreign exchange student, life can sometimes be a bit difficult. But I've got a secret weapon. If I want people to do things for me, I just use a slightly less professional form of English. It helps so much. If you don't mind feeling slightly patronised, it's a ball.

I saw a man in the street with a Sainsbury's Bag going 'ow' every fifth step. Why every fifth step? What could have hurt him so much on an odd number of steps? Why was it so painful that he had to make the facial movement of pain but not painful enough to entice him to make the appropriate pain-related noise? The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that he probably wasn't going 'ow' every fifth step, but 'f***' step, step, step, step, 'off', step, step, step, step, 'f***', (you get the general idea).

I saw this Fighting Fantasy Shop in Brighton advertising itself as: Adult Creche. Brilliant.

After this, I'd went in to Aldi. Yes, you may laugh, but one day, the Debt Fairy might come and take away your money too! I'm a student! I don't have the means to be middle-class! Now.

The first thing I saw, when I got in, was an old lady with bag, ensconced in the trolley-bit, one eye closed, asking me very politely to help her get to the busstop outside. Now, I wasn't prepared for this. I was listening to music, and I was a bit lost in my own head. She brought may straight back to earth. So I thought about this for a split second, until I obliged. But I was still a bit paranoid. The lady had caught me off-guard. Whatever could she want, apart from me helping her to the busstop? I went through my Not-Lose-Stuff ritual of Phone, Keys, Wallet, Bag (x3). I learnt that at 18, to stop losing stuff all the time, so I now check about every 3 seconds. I'm still horrible with losing stuff. Today, actually, I was frantically looking around for my keys, only realising after about 4 minutes that I had been holding the keys in my mouth. I know! It's hell to live with me. And that's me, saying that. I get so annoyed with myself!

Euhm, yeah. So I was there, frankly obsessed with getting either my wallet or my admittedly crappy bike stolen. What would that woman want from me? I only ever saw that stuff on Sesame Street, where smug animated children would lead grateful elderly ladies across animated American streets after which the old woman would bribe them with sweets and ruffle the smug child's hair after which the already smug child will feel even better about himself, bastard. But that's not the real world! The Real World isn't Sesame Street! Otherwise high streets shops would always be subject to Thunderstorms! And that's 2, 5 and 10, there you go Mrs. Harris, (Bwroom, Bwroom) HAHAHAHAHA. And Mrs. Harris would go: Why are you doing this, Mrs. Collins, why? And Mrs. Collins would go: it's company policy, Mrs. Harris. Because that would be the world we would live in. If Jim Henson ruled the world.

But no. Where was I. Oh, yeah. I was walking this lady to the bus stop and when I saw the jealous people also waiting for the bus I wondered why I was scared to do this. This was surely the most noble, most certifiably Good thing I could do today? What was I scared of? What could be the worst thing, that woman could do? Well (very factual), she could be a thief, trying to steal my crappy bike, my wallet and my foreign exchange student-card providing me with absolutely no discounts
whatsoever. She could steal my passport, my identity and deny me access to my dingy student house. (pause) She could touch me up in the middle of the street, with her old woman hands over my genitals, look at my terrified face with a horrid glint in her one good eye and, give me aids.

And I go, Yes, but why are you thinking those things? You horrible bastard? I don't know! This is my head! I don't want to think these horrible things, but I do! I'm sorry! But before I could counter that argument, the lady asked me to go a bit further along, right at the furthest away point of the bus stop. So for 4 more horrible seconds I was stuck in this limbo, this strange combination of valour, fear, and mild sexual arousal. But when she croaked: “yes, that's it. Thank you young man. Thank you, I suppose you...?” I had already gone. I had run to safety. I couldn't bear to have my hair ruffled in that way. I take care in my appearance and rather shop at Aldi than appear unruffled in there. I'm sorry. But that's just the way it is. And yes, that is the punchline to this story.

The only thing I can add is that when I went home, eventually, the sky had turned a glorious pink, red and purple. As I cycled onto the main road leading to my house, the sky was purple with such an intensity that the street around me was shaded in that colour and the pink-shaded people seemed to be walking in a sea of Cherryade. Quite beautiful. A bit like the Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds-bit in the odd (as in strange) Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine. Beautiful in a slightly magical way. Yeah... Or maybe I just hadn't drunk enough water that day.



Well, here we are. In front of a door, waiting to go into the Seminar on Tragedy. I had texted my mum that I'd have this class and that first on the reading list was Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. She didn't text back. But I did think it was funny to tell my mum about that. My dad's probably gone into hiding now. As well he might (joke dependent on people understanding reference to 4th C BC play. If you don't get this, you are thick. Muha. ha. ha...).

I was quite early for my first class. Some people were also standing round. Looking vaguely interested at their phones, the walls, the floor, or, in my case, the ventilation system. This probably caused a process of association in the heads of the spectators from me, a tall, chubby Dutch man to the church of Scientology via the ventilation shafts, Mission Impossible, Tom Cruise and the metaphysical concept of innate scary-ness. This can't have done much good to my eventual social standing in any group from now.

The building did provide me a with a disturbing yet weirdly unsatisfying Proustian Mnemonic through the smell of the whole thing. I knew this smell from about 1996, but couldn't lay my hands on where it came from, nor did it kickstart a seven volume novel. We can therefore safely conclude that Proust was wrong (haha! Take that Proust!)

I stopped watching the Air Vents and turned my attention to my phone to write the first paragraph of this blog into. There were more people (pretending to?) text. I love mobile phones, for making it able to endure protracted silences longer than in, say, the nineties, where I eventually always walked up to the person to ask whether they too, considered Totodile to be their favorite Pokémon. Oh yeah, I am cool (by the way I still think Totodile is the awesomest Pokémon in the world and I will bite anyone who disagrees). In 2009, at the Edinburgh Fringe, I had just done a gig, and walked home while on the phone with someone, talking all the way home. The central conceit of this charade was that, uhm, no-one was actually on the phone with me at that particular point in time. I also did the -you hang up- -no you hang up-bit just before I entered the house, waiting outside to do (imaginary) kisses for a full 30 seconds. Pathetic, I know. But if that's the worst, it can only get better, can it? Please?

In the end I genuinely enjoyed the seminar. The students were all nice people, and the lecturer was very good. So all good, basically.

I tried to get to sleep that night, knowing I had an early start, but actually spent several hours scolding myself for not getting any gigs as yet (by the time of writing, I've succeeded in getting a couple of spots. When I find out how, I'll add a gig list, if you are interested). I wrote into my phone (also a great way of getting rid of some angry words that had been bothering your inner dialogue for several hours): Stupid, that the only night I've got to go to sleep on time, I spend being angry at myself for not having done any gigs yet (I've been here for ten days. … Yeah that is a bit long...). Ah well, at least that blog's writing itself (you think?).

Just one last thing: yesterday, I was looking for a bag to use as a replacement to my battered laptop-bag. I found it in a nice little second-hand shop in town. Very happy with it. As well as some weird books and smelly cd's, I found this LP, called: THE SOUND OF BREAD.
Brilliant. It was a band called Bread. Calling their Best Of (rather than The Best Of Bread, which admittedly sounds a tiny wee bit more ridiculous than the eventual title) THE SOUND OF BREAD. What IS the Sound of Bread? Can someone enlighten me? It just made me very happy, that's all.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Post 8: At the Pavillion + Rain

Sorry about the slightly lame start to this blog. I haven't lived a particularly eventful life for the last week or so. But then again most of you lot don't, or you wouldn't have the time to read this blog (zing!).

Well, that's joke one. I've never been particularly good with jokes; or with keeping diaries. As you've noticed, probably.

So it's come to this; Post 8 and I'm diving head first into the realm of cliché. I know. It's not a nice place. It mostly resembles a derelict Austrian holiday camp, unused since the early seventies and with the carcasses of disappointing barbecues and abandoned family pets strewn hither and thither across the empty, algae-encrusted outdoor pool. Like I said, not a nice place.

This last week, from the inside of my flat looking out on Brighton's main bus shelter, I've seen about 70 different forms of rain. And since I still don't have my grant (grr. Erasmus. grr!) I seem to spend my days intermittently looking out of my window and randomly reading stuff on wikipedia; which is the new nerd heaven. Not helped by the fact that my first course, starting tomorrow, is a course on Tragedy. Yeah, I'm that kind of guy.

I've seen some rain alright (enter weird gravelly cowboy-based voice). I've seen drizzle, I've seen dew, I've seen showers, I've seen mist, I've seen some good old deluge and I've seen some monsoons. I've seen flurries, I've seen storms, I've seen torrents, I've seen floods, I've seen so much rain that it gets embarrassing to mention. I've seen (and this is honestly one of the synonyms on the wet stuff (that's pathetic, isn't it? It is..

But today, the weather's fine. That's a bit annoying, since I'm waiting for a man from the off-campus building to come by and check on a leak in the bathroom. But now I am here, writing this. Swings and roundabouts.


Just days before, I got a ticket for the University's International Students' Welcome Reception. The doors would open at 6.30. I put on my suit (or what passes for it), in order not to feel underdressed. Then it turned out I was ridiculously overdressed; which was remarked upon by some people. I looked like a trainee estate agent missing the point at a casual-dress conference for Earth-based casually dressed people in an over-extended (and -dressed) metaphor. Or just the eternally drunk village poet (I love those people).

It was at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall. There they had free food and drink (on coupons. I had two free Guinness. V nice) and a three-piece jazz band. A twenty-year old undergraduate claimed she felt really grown-up now, as she took another swig of her Raspberry Breezer.

A French girl was mortified at the bread that was used for sandwiches, saying: No, I can't possibly eat that. It's looks too professional. I said, what do you mean? She told me she missed French baker's bread which was usually a bit lumpy and weirdly shaped. Ah well. Embarrassingly, when I chatted with her about something French (in English) I responded to some questions with: Ah, ouais. Leading her to think that my French was much better than it actually is.

The party turned out to be of less interest than I had anticipated. After about two hours, I left. I did meet the only other person on exchange from UvA, though. She had been there for a month before I got here. She said she really enjoyed her time there so far, but had been back to A'dam. Apparently, it's still there. So they can run the country without me. Good.

So there.

FINAL THOUGHT: Even though the truth is malleable it can still be boring.

Until next time, bye!

Friday, 1 October 2010

POST 7: Brighton. Part one!

The First Days Abroad!!!!

Yeah? Finally it's here then. An account of those first days. Sorry about it not being there earlier.

So this is it, isn't it? Alone in a small room (call it cell, if you will), rather than the place I used to live in for three years and a month, in a foreign country. I've been up since seven, reading, and generally passing time. Much in the same way as I did in Holland, basically. Not having the internet brings you back to what life might have been like in the early nineties. Which is slightly more tedious. Not having television either brings you back to life in pre-1917 St. Petersburg, angry, baying for blood and revolution.

Apart from that, I can't really do anything now. It's Thursday, and I've promised I'd wait for the Broadband guy to turn up (which he will definitely do today, guarantee; apparently), and during that time, do some writing (as I'm doing right now) and some reading (been doing that quite a lot too).

At the moment I am in the Grey Room; the communal lounge area in our rented accommodation. It is very grey. Two grey couches on grey carpets with grey-coloured walls. To my left, the sun's coming over the houses across the street, being impressive, shining in from the window.

I got here on Saturday, quite straight-forward really. There were only two weird bits to the pre-flight time wasting. On Schiphol Airport I was waiting to go to the gate. As I walked through the scanner there was a weird beep, and while saying the word Random, I was frisked lackadaisically. Apparently I wasn't carrying anything metallic, I just looked like I hadn't been touched by other people for a while. I wouldn't know what I had done if he had gone all the way with the frisking. I did do a -I'm quite surprised you're frisking me-face, though.

I only got a bit on Gatwick airport, so I had ask the airport security where I could find people who would know what to do with me (as in: where to go). As it happened, I had to go find some kind of train-thing which would take me to the other half of the airport; where the main Arrivals Hall was supposed to be. It was, and I soon found a girl in a shirt with the name of my temporary Uni on it (there were some others with similar, if crucially slightly different shirts, like the university of Surrey, which I'm sure has its merits). In a packed train, with a smattering of exchange people blocking up the aisle with suitcases bigger than the average farm animal in Inner Mongolia (that's a Yak, people...), I thought about bed. As in sleeping. I was quite tired.

A young woman was sitting near the window, apparently oblivious to the amount of luggage draped around her, forming a clothes- and books-based wall around her. If the train would inadvertently crash, this would spell trouble for her, 'cause she would be buried beneath our baggage. Or she was training to be a frog and merely testing her ability to jump away from tricky situations. Yeah, it must be that.

At Brighton station I spent some time aimlessly wandering around, before finding the blue-jumpered person who pointed me to where I had to go. There was a nice man with a van who drove me to the place where I had to get my keys. They also sold bedding. This was nice, but also a bit aggressive on foreign students who, like me, possibly didn't bring a duvet with them on a long-haul flight. It was all right in the end.

The house still looked the same as it did on google maps; which isn't surprising actually, since I hadn't been informed of a fire or an earthquake. I don't think the South Coast is that vulnerable to earthquakes is it? (If it is, please let me know).

The house is nice, and so are my flatmates. The first thing we did was go mad in (nondescript supermarket) and getting enough stuff to live through the first week. But, not being able to get the cooker to work we had to go to the petrol station for M&S food. Which was nice. It's like paying 3,95 for a bit of much-missed middle-classness. After which, we did some more moaning (in the annoyed, Russian sense; not sexually) about the apparent crapulousness of the house we found ourselves in and went to bed (early. I was asleep at 21.30. UK time).

Our annoyance was based on the shared impression of things in our house not being as they were advertised (which they were, in the end) and the house-people making us live in a useless house until term actually begins. Until then, basically, we're on our own. Which was not the case.

Yet I still don't have my Erasmus grant at the moment of writing (come on!), so it's a bit hard to open an account and loading in the money for the next month's worth rent. Neither can I now get a part-time job. I can see Kafka, looking down as he does at me from his place on my bookshelf, mocking me. Well, look at you all high and mighty. You were only €3,95, a cheapo Wordsworth Student edition paperback and to top that all off; you didn't even finish it. Lah-di-dah!).


Spent reading and watching the entire first series of The League Of Gentlemen.

Later, I was trying to sleep (as you should. Are you reading this at night? Go to bed! Now! No, not a word! Bed!) but couldn't; and wrote this in my phone: I was actually spending most of the time whispering the words: duck off (sic) at the wall. The neighbours were having a party.

At about 2, I started thinking angry, evil thoughts. Why can't people who love parties leave Uni and be put to work in call centres where they belong?

Then I dreamt of them having to go on a training day in a huge ballroom type place. For their call centre jobs. Asked to lay their coat on a seat at the last table near the window. But the tables multiply, the building grows bigger and bigger too until they get crushed under the immense gravitational forces of a mega planet. Muhaha.

By the time I had written this, the music had stopped.

Day Two...

So what I basically mean is, be careful with us weirdos. Because this behaviour breeds cartoon villainy. Into phones.


Monday was the day for introductory talks and things being taken care of on a basic, administrative level. Therefore the day was ridiculously boring. But I did get the chance to be in a bus in Brighton, to the campus. Ah well.


I bought a bike from a man called Ian in central Brighton. It's a great bike and even though it gives me pride, it also confronts me with my innate and annoying Dutchness. I can't escape it!
I then got to campus for some much-needed admin and introductory speaking. This one was just for foreign students and
At night, we had a talk with our residential person. She turned out to be a very nice person, but couldn't fix the shower.
We then had a four-person house inspection of every bit we hadn't yet seen. Such as the outside bit.
The garden is filled with spider webs. Like a sea of string. I felt very much like I was in a weird Czechoslovakian Modern Dance-Production from 1985, signifying something or other. I don't know.
There is an immensely terrifying shed in the back of the garden. Can't open it, padlocked. Probably filled with six or seven giraffe carcasses.


I fixed the shower; by cycling to King's Road. It was raining, and I wore my rain-clothes, making me sweaty, but I did see the Pavilion from one side of a fence.
I finished my application by queuing for an hour, in a place. I have never queued this much before. After about ten minutes (and 80 centimetres) there was a ridiculously loud noise. Before me stood a Chinese girl and she was scared that it might be an earthquake (again, tell me about the possibility of this happening here). I told her that I, being taller than her, would bear the brunt of the building falling on our heads, giving her time to escape. There actually was building work going on, loudly. I watched Dead Set, Charlie Brooker's zombies-in-the-big-brother-house-based satire. It was very good and highly unpleasant (I hate zombie-films) at the same time.


I spent today writing this! Who-hoo! If you're reading this, I was able to put this blog online and I possibly offered a cup of tea to the cable-person. Hope you are doing fine. And 1500 words in one blog can't be bad, can it? Bye!


At last! Some internet! Who-hoo!