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May 08, 2012

Experiment in Anti–Narrative pt 1

The Gods of Small Things.


CHAPTER 1

In which the Shrew God and the Vole God meet each other unexpectedly in a wooded hollow

There are a number of things that, if you cared to look it up in an encyclopaedia, or consulted your grandparents on, or possibly even asked your tealeaves, you could find out quite easily. Among these things are approximately how many tigers are alive in the wild at this moment in time, whether said tigers are or are not Coming To Tea, and precisely how brightly they will burn, if or when they turn up (this is highly pertinent in the event that you should need to purchase flame retardant chinaware). 

Other things, like How To Lose Seven Pounds in Seven Days, One Single Mum’s Cheap Trick For Whitening Teeth, or the bustiness of any given Russian Girl Looking for Love in US, can be discovered on the internet, often whether you want to or not. On this score, tealeaves can be next to useless, and although grandparents have their own ideas about these things, it is in your interests to never, ever ask them.

If you want to know the waist to hip ratio of a hummingbird, or which celebrity field mice have the best bikini bodies, or to hear Gerald the Corn Snake’s Harrowing Tale of Survival Against All The Odds After His Break Up With Gary the Corn Snake (best not to speculate why all corn snakes have names that begin with G), then you need to track down, or possibly subscribe via the internet, to Okay We’re Really Small Magazine.

It was here that I found out about the existence of the Gods of Small Things, crammed into a tiny advertisement in the corner of a page that also suggested that my life might be lacking fur implants, tail straightening powder, and a tiny machine that, if strapped to my back, would vibrate my entire body at a frequency that would make me 90% imperceptible to hawks.

The advertisement read: REMEMBER YOUR GODS! YOUR LIFE IS BRIEF AND FUTILE! It was signed by a Rev. R. Mole and underneath was a phone number so tiny that I had to barter the use of a powerful microscope from a passing scientist in order to read it. Once I had deciphered the minute script, I decided to contact Rev. R. Mole at once and question him on a number of issues that had come to my mind, such as the number of tiny Gods in operation, and whether the patrons of Okay We’re Really Small Magazine were a multi-faith community.

I wanted to know, if I were to be suddenly transformed into a water vole, or an edible dormouse (which I personally suspected was more than likely due to certain genetic predispositions in my father’s line), what my options were.

It did take some time to track Rev. R. Mole down, partly because he often suspected, due to some defect in my telephone manner, that I was a hawk, or at the very least some kind of kestrel, in response to which I pointed out that hawks using telephones would just be silly. The other problem was that he was a mole and therefore very, very small.

When we finally did encounter each other, it was entirely by accident. I was attending a minor tea party held by a dear friend, which was unexpectedly spoiled by the arrival of a number of brightly glowing tigers. I glanced wearily across the table and happened to catch the eye of an outstandingly large mole, possibly the size of a man, wearing a dog collar and a pair of rather lovely gold pince-nez.

I may have expressed some astonishment as to the handsome stature of the Reverend, who, being a mole, I had expected to be rather a lot smaller. To this he replied with some dignity that God was Great, that nothing cannot be done by those who respect the will of God, and that he was standing behind a particularly large magnifying glass.

Despite this somewhat inauspicious introduction, we were to become fast friends, and he courteously accepted an invitation to dine with me that very evening. When the time came to sit down to our meal, he was not much impressed with my diet of rich beef wellington, fine floury potatoes roasted in goose fat, and a green salad composed of asparagus and deep fried broccoli, he did enjoy the port.

It was with the commencement of the cheese course that we settled down beside the fire and began the real business of the evening. Not without some misapprehension, I began asking him a number of questions about the diet, habitats and breeding habits of small Gods, where they took their tribute, what the rules were on litters before marriage, and the possibility of resurrection from the hawk, to which he replied by gracefully holding up a single paw, and telling the following parable:

“The Shrew God and the Vole God meet each other unexpectedly in a wooded hollow.


CHAPTER 2

In which the Rev R Mole is suddenly interrupted whilst telling his story

“The Shrew God and the Vole God meet each other unexpectedly in a wooded hollow…” The Rev. R. Mole began.

“And each of them—”

At that moment, a number of tigers burst into the room in search of caffeinated beverages. Finding only port, they swiftly left again, morosely incinerating a 200 year-old chaise longue on their way out.



May 16, 2011

More of an Unnamed Thing

I can't think of a name for this. Enjoy and comment or suffer my wrath.


Unnamed Thing.

It is an undeniable fact that Paulo Averra’s problems started when he accidentally ate the holy sanctified fingernail of St Sebastien, patron saint of pencil makers and resident holy relic of the town of Sestina. It is another undeniable fact that had he not done so, he would have gone on to spend the saint’s day in a very ordinary and unremarkable way, most likely including prayer, fasting before supper, and trying not to stain his Sunday church suit. As it was, there was much weeping and wailing from his mother, unnecessary ringing of the church bells, and an overly dramatic exorcism performed by Sestina’s resident trendy priest (Father Carlos was young and had a fondness for tight jeans under his cassock and Christian rock songs played on his electric guitar).

It was all rather exciting. His family doted on him, he was excused from school the next day, and relatives kept popping by to ask him if he “felt a presence in the room”. They often brought sweets with them. And so, the next day, in order to secure a lifelong supply of sweets, and because Paulo was probably the most lazy boy in all of Sestina (and possibly the world), Paulo pretended he did feel a demonic presence, inside him.

This is the story of how Paulo Averra began his career as the Miraculous Demon Boy of Sestina: a miraculous tale of lies, truth, the Devil, and Sylvester Stallone.

As time went on, Paulo found that the benefits of being possessed by an evil demon far outweighed any disadvantages. Not only was he excused from school, but he was also able to skip church merely by remembering to act demonically in the presence of Father Carlos, whose leisurely trendiness was being sorely tested after Paulo ate the strings of his guitar. Paulo had been given his own room so that he couldn’t infernally corrupt his brother Hector, whose tendency towards incontinence and nose picking, meant that he was probably more infernal than Paulo. He was also no longer forced to play “Unicorns” with his cousin Maria to gratify her powerful obsession with pink horses (this is compulsory for most 7 year old girls but can usually be avoided by providing your children with suitably upsetting experiences with horses at a young age). In short, Paulo felt that he had never been happier.

Months and years went by, and Paulo established a kind of reign of terror over the entire town. The people of Sestina were highly religious, and kept far away from his demonic influence; in this way Paulo was able to do anything he wanted. His family, convinced he was either being controlled by the demon, or was in a brief period of “salvation” would smother him in presents whenever they thought that Paulo was in control. It was for this reason that Paulo was one of the first boys in Sestina to see Rocky in the cinema, and to own a ???, and to chew gum.

Meanwhile, in Hell, the Devil was in a state of genuine displeasure over the events in Sestina. For a being whose entire existence consists of moping around in a frozen lake, generating evil and eating traitors, displeasure may seem an emotion somewhat insignificant in the general miasma of misery; however, like a man who is carrying his obese brother to hospital on foot, and who is then also asked to carry his obese brother’s obese rocking horse, microwave, large pizza and highly visible and painful-looking sex toy, Satan had had enough. He vowed to bring the Sestina embarrassment to a satisfactory conclusion within the week.

The embarrassment originated in the undeniable fact that for two years now, no one in Sestina had gone to Hell. For the entire town was in such terror of the supposedly “possessed” Paulo that they had become three times more devout than any sensible person ever has the time and effort to be. Priests found themselves trapped in the confession box for hours, listening to the most banal and obscurely sinful confessions: “Father I whistled loudly in the presence of an old man, I told my son he needed a hair cut, I brushed my hair twice before leaving the house.” One woman even broke down into tears and admitted to dropping spoons on the floor and not washing them before serving dinner to her husband. Priests began to take sandwiches and small buckets in with them, a sin that they then had to confess to the bishop, who’d taken to hiding out in local crypts.

Beggars received so many donations that they became rich, began lording it over the other townspeople and purchased expensive watches. Blind people found themselves at the mercy of hundreds of would-be Samaritans desperate to help them across the road, often whether they liked it or not. Everyone’s right hands were exhausted from crossing themselves the whole time, and as a consequence of this the entire town became left-handed. In short, the various actual demons knocking about Sestina were so under-employed that they had started doing charitable deeds themselves just to have something to do. The insult was compounded by the fact that since modern society had invented whole new methods of intricate and painful torture, Hell had recently had to update its repertoire to include bureaucracy. And the embarrassment in Sestina was generating enormous quantities of red tape.

The Devil hated paperwork, as only a being whose sole responsibility used to be skipping around Heaven can. And so he sent his most devious, nefarious, treacherous and duplicitous demon (who was so devious, nefarious, treacherous and duplicitous that he approached honesty and decency from the other side) to go talk to Paulo and put the matter to rest. Mephistopheles, who was also so hideous, grotesque and repulsive that he was almost handsome, (somewhat like Sylvester Stallone) was reluctant to return to the surface “after that Faust business”, but after being assured that it would lead to no further paperwork he grudgingly acquiesced. Thus Mephistopheles stepped into his own monstrous reflection in the icy lake of Hell, and clambered out of Cousin Maria’s glitter encrusted fur lined Barbie mirror in sunny Sestina, shuddering slightly and coughing up bits of pink fluff. Things like this probably shouldn’t happen to any self-respecting demon, but since mirrors are the traditional transportation device for demons Mephistopheles had little choice.

[A note on demons and mirrors: since the beginning of time mirrors have made themselves useful as a kind of inter-dimensional highway of evil, or autobahn, with a few interesting and noteworthy results; for example, this is why any given person’s appearance is more hideous than it has any right to be in any given mirror during the hours of 6-9 am, and also why after drinking alcohol it appears greatly enhanced. Other inter-dimensional highways of evil include: cheese knives, the gleam of sweat on a politician’s forehead, and the M11 between the hours of 5 and 7 pm]

Paulo was in his room picking his nose and carefully inverting all the crucifixes his mother had hung on all the walls when Mephistopheles arrived. It is worth noting that by this time, Paulo had spent hours graphically describing imaginary demons of the most horrible kind to anyone who might have doubted his “possession”, which was probably why Mephistopheles entirely failed to impress him. The puff of emerald demonic smoke emitted from his body should probably have been a giveaway, but in a house of boys for whom hygiene was secondary to mud wrestling this may have not seemed so strange.

“Hullo” said Paulo. Mephistopheles drew himself up.

“I am a great and powerful demon called Mephistopheles, servant of Satan and Corrupter of Souls!” He declared, puffing out his so-hideous-it’s-almost-handsome chest and exuding more turgid smoke. Paulo looked sceptical.

“I don’t know,” Paulo said “To me, you look a lot like Sylvester Stallone”



May 15, 2011

Excerpt From an Unnamed Work in Progress.

Meanwhile, in Hell, the Devil was in a state of genuine displeasure over the events in Sestina. For a being whose entire existence consists of moping around in a frozen lake, generating evil and eating traitors, displeasure may seem an emotion somewhat insignificant in the general miasma of misery; however, like a man who is carrying his obese brother to hospital on foot, and who is then also asked to carry his obese brother’s obese rocking horse, microwave, large pizza and highly visible and painful-looking sex toy, Satan had had enough. He vowed to bring the Sestina embarrassment to a satisfactory conclusion within the week.

The embarrassment originated in the undeniable fact that for two years now, no one in Sestina had gone to Hell. For the entire town was in such terror of the supposedly “possessed” Paulo that they had become three times more devout than any sensible person ever has the time and effort to be. Priests found themselves trapped in the confession box for hours, listening to the most banal and obscurely sinful confessions: “Father I whistled loudly in the presence of an old man, I told my son he needed a hair cut, I brushed my hair twice before leaving the house.” One woman even broke down into tears and admitted to dropping spoons on the floor and not washing them before serving dinner to her husband. Priests began to take sandwiches and small buckets in with them, a sin that they then had to confess to the bishop, who’d taken to hiding out in local crypts.

Beggars received so many donations that they became rich, began lording it over the other townspeople and purchased expensive watches. Blind people found themselves at the mercy of hundreds of would-be Samaritans desperate to help them across the road, often whether they liked it or not. Everyone’s right hands were exhausted from crossing themselves the whole time, and as a consequence of this the entire town became left-handed. In short, the various actual demons knocking about Sestina were so under-employed that they had started doing charitable deeds themselves just to have something to do. The insult was compounded by the fact that since modern society had invented whole new methods of intricate and painful torture, Hell had recently had to update its repertoire to include bureaucracy. And the embarrassment in Sestina was generating enormous quantities of red tape.


May 13, 2011

Crown of Roses


I have done this for my portfolio and it is utterly dreadful and melodramatic and pretentious now I am going to hang myself from a tree. Comments welcome.

Crown of Roses

Let’s start with ἀν. Let’s taste it with alien tongues, and let me explain to you its meaning: a black hole consuming all that follows, birthing a nothing. ἀν, then, is strange in our mouths; for us, it is difficult to speak in the presence of the other. It manifests in mirrors, in the gaps between words, in the skeletal ecstasy of death. Let me finish with ὄρεξις, appetite.

from thence

He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

May I also tell you of the unfaithfulness of mirrors? At the age of fifteen months, we recognize ourselves in mirrors. Until then, "Je est un autre", I is another, and the mirror is its own thing, alive and devious. In mirrors, I see myself bloated, malformed in castings of elephantine flesh, scarlet and heaving. Mirrors reflect the soul.

A kind of madness then, the other.

I believe               of heaven and earth       conceived by the Holy Spirit

Crucified, died, and buried.

In personal practice: yellow foods are forbidden, they are synesthetic to the number 95, or 95kg. Sunday: 800 calories. You must never eat either 9 or 5 things. Over time, only even numbers are permitted. Monday, 600.

Give us this day

       our trespasses

Lead us not into temptation; but deliver

In Victorian England there were the Fasting Girls. They were saints, miracles incarnate, tourist attractions. Stigmata bloomed on their open hands, they were crowned with the misery and suffering of Christ. I count calories like the beads of a rosary, grazing them lovingly with ardent fingers.

in this valley of tears

life everlasting

Wednesday 400. In the event of there being only one thing, it must be halved. You will only eat one half. Thursday 200. Paper may be eaten in the event of hunger, it has no calories. Friday 800.

the communion of Saints,

the resurrection of the body and life everlasting

world without end.

I am lying in the bath, looking at myself. Reflections are not to be trusted; at birth we can swim in water unassisted. We lose this ability as we discover our image scattered across oceans, lakes, pools and mirrors. The mirror is my shadow as I cast up my hands, incandescent and alone, the light refracting golden through wasted skin.

we send up our sighs,

mourning and weeping

             As it was in the beginning is now.

Move continuously: it burns calories. Saturday, 400. Sleep in a cold room, shivering burns calories. Chew sugar free gum to burn calories. Tuesday permits no calories.

Blessed,

 clement,

most gracious

       eyes of mercy

There once was a girl and she had a mirror, and all that the mirror said was that she was the fairest, that she was the fairest, the fairest of them all.

Crown of roses

Blessed art thou

now and at the hour of our death

In the water, my bones are lovely. Magnified and gleaming, I turn my glorious skeleton in fractious, submarine light. My scars have turned to silver.


For now we see through a glass, darkly.


Crown of Roses by Kirsty Judge




February 22, 2011

Desperation, Performed by a Poem as an Interpretive Dance.


Rice Dream Boy


I remember this much

On good days we drank rice milk from scarlet cartons

Cupping the sweetness on our eager tongues,

And sank grateful hands into cereal boxes,

Running granola mulch through our fingers,

Like soft expletives round broken teeth. It was

A better time.


I remember this much

The velveteen truffle hound in a wicker prism,

Snuffling over ankles in the dusky afternoon.

The conservatory veils, intervals in sunlight

flickering across your face; a tinted lantern

Knocking against tarnished glass,

Unbroken.


I remember this much

Painted eggshells on the Easter table

And the whisky-spiced musk of your holiday suit.

Crisp cinnamon biscuits with spun sugar constellations,

Parted lips at midnight, and finding home

In the taste of lucky strikes and raspberry,

Snaring bliss from the precipice,

I remember this much.



February 21, 2011

莊周夢蝶, or Zhuangzi Dreamed he was a Butterfly


莊周夢蝶, or Zhuangzi Dreamed he was a Butterfly


Is it a dream

when startled wings scatter livid dust

across an infinite sky?


Or is it when sticky lids unslick themselves,

exposing the midnight impotence

of some starless dark?


I cannot say; I can only hope

that delicate feelers,

softened by some rich fuzz

of dust or delighted fur,

might someday belong to me, again.



It is a Poem About Batman.


I am Batman’s apolitical elbow, restless-Lee

high-kicking to the beat of the Krakatoa dragon Heap-ing

hannibal piles of miscreants on the Gotham city floor-Ring

tossing with Robin for the rebirth of Marvel-Louse

picking the remnants of King Kong’s mane Concerned

about the barefoot vested ecstasy tablet discount-Less

than a thousand feet from ordinary; but I’ll jump.


Cause in the incandescent bat light of Gotham City Station

I'm a monstrous human construct or a misappropriation

Of the million million heartbeats sucker-punching expiration

To the underbelly innards of some mafia affectation

I'm no crystalline avenger or arachnid radiation

I'm a capitalist metaphor for phallic masturbation

I'm the wet-dream of geeks, check my bat-ejaculation

Or just subscribe to my blog, it's got all my information.


I am Batman’s apolitical elbow, shuttered in my bat cloak

Folded round a bat-ladder, practicing my tennis stroke

Brooding batlike vengeance in the gloomy batlike dark

Punctuating violence with my exclamation mark

I am Batman's apolitical elbow

I am Batman's incurious shin

I am Batman's black and grey basque

I am Batman's bat-rolling-pin


I am not walking home from a party at nine

Wishing I hadn't thrown up on the spice rack.




February 02, 2011

Sucking at Sonnets

A sonnet(ish) for an assignment, I can't really do the iambs but I've managed the rhyme scheme, good for me. I don't think much of it, but the story is at least vaguely interesting? Thoughts?


Wife! I Am Risen!

Having quit the business of living, and
With little else to do, Mr Gapdear
Boldly left for the undiscovered land
Wearing his best suit (though rather austere)
Sailing in his coffin, he reached a plateau
A lone pimply youth sat in a hotel
Spluttered Mr Gapdear: "Where did they go?"
"So sorry sir, but they all left for Hell-
Heaven's the dullest place to volunteer:
Hell's got fighting, sex, breast augmentation?"
(Thus Hell-bound softy swept Mr Gapdear.
Landing at what looked like Clapham Station)
"Oh" said his wife "What time do you call this?"
"Dinnertime" he said, bestowing a kiss.


I dislike the sonnet, even if the word sounds like a cross between sun and bonnet, two things I currently crave (I want some sun, but being fair I crisp up from ghostly to lobster in a matter of seconds- thus the bonnet). More bad poetry next week.


January 18, 2011

Draft Baby, Yeah

The Absolutely True to Life Undeniable Real Life Story of the First Diplomatic Address Between the Great Nation of China and the Underground Panda Executive.

It so happened that in his fourth year as a giant panda Tuan Tuan was elected ambassador for Pandakind after a somewhat lazily held meeting of the Underground Panda Executive. It was an unfortunate occurrence for him, because as a panda he had very little energy, and everyone knows that being a politician involves a lot of paperwork and scandalous behaviour. But Tuan Tuan was elected anyway, because of his handsome looks, luxuriant downy fur, and his ability to urinate on trees higher than any other panda, which is a very important attribute in any politician, but especially in panda ones. And so it was Tuan Tuan who was coerced into delivering a stern message from Pandakind to Man, and a diplomatic meeting was arranged with the Chairman of the People’s Republic forthwith.

This is the absolutely true to life undeniable real life story of the First Diplomatic Address Between the Great Nation of China and the Underground Panda Executive. I will attempt to be faithful to the way it was told to me, but you will forgive me if I embellish a little. So. Let’s put ourselves in Beijing, China.

Beijing from above looks like a shattered Christmas tree, thousands of lights looping and dancing in the smog-red night. When the sun rises across Beijing, it drags its yellowish burden of smutty cloud across dormant skyscrapers. Across the city street sellers scuttle out into the heady dawn, hobbled with wagons of sticky baozi in wicker baskets and scarlet reeking peaches. Cicadas stretch their spindly legs and begin their endless trilling, greeting the day before the raucous call of traffic can drown them out.

[Along Sanlitun the street lights dim and sputter into nothing, and the last of the drunks tumble irresolutely into the broiling heat of a Beijing summer. And in the West of the city, past the melancholy willows of the defunct Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo sweats in expectation of voyeuristic hordes.]

It was in the slick armpit of a Beijing summer’s day such as I have described that the meeting took place, and the boardroom was fetid with the hot breath of both panda and man alike. Outside, the Yangtse sang with fractured sunlight, speaking of cool water and the sweet breath of the mountains.

“Listen,” the panda said. “The other pandas and I have been talking, and we all agree that enough is enough. The Underground Panda Executive have voted and we unanimously decided to request that you desist with this conservation business.”

[The Zoo appears to be built on the site of an invisible vortex that inevitably sucks tourists and locals alike into the centre, where they are devoured by the Panda House. The crimson flush of paint on the faded artificial cave mouth makes the enclosure resemble a giant open wound.]

Tuan Tuan sniffed delicately and stripped a splint of bamboo with a graceful clawing gesture. The room was draped in silence for some time before the Chairman replied:

“Forgive me, sir, but I do not think it is a request which we can grant you. In fact, it is greatly within both our interests and your own that we do not. Why do you ask?”

[Tuan Tuan asks because it is festering with the teeming bodies of countless jabbering tourists of all persuasions. But it is still preferable to the home of the Ling Ling the Grizzly Bear, which is a large concrete pit surrounded by a high balcony from which children pour Fanta into her open mouth.]

“Because we have never requested conservation to begin with, Chairman, and because the Panda Nation as a whole has decided to call it quits. It is a miserable existence being a panda, and we decided a long time ago that it would be better to die with dignity than cling on in zoos or laboratories.” With this, Tuan raised his great head and stared at the stocky, boxlike man across the table.

[The rarity of the Giant Panda (or “cat-bear” as Tuan Tuan and his kind are known in their own country) has reached such legendary heights of repute that money haemorrhages from them, a fact which has been readily exploited by the Chinese government for the good of the Chinese people for many years. It means the pandas are very well treated.]

“Do you know” Tuan Tuan said heavily, a soft growl meandering around his pointed teeth, “how much bamboo I must eat every day to survive? Thirty pounds. Do you know how much energy I retain from all this bamboo? I have to avoid walking up any slopes in case I get tired! I have the digestive system and capabilities of a carnivore, yet I spend most of my time chewing on minimally nutritious sticks! I have to excrete forty times a day! Forty! My life,” snarled Tuan Tuan “is not worth living.”

[Chris Packham, naturalist, nature photographer, television presenter and author claims he would “eat the last panda if I could have all the money we have spent on panda conservation put back on the table for me to do more sensible things with.”]

“But you’re doing so well! There are more conservation programs underway for pandas than any other animal in the world. Honestly? I think you’re worrying about nothing. We recently analysed some of your droppings, and DNA coding sugg-”

“You analysed my what?”

“Droppings?”

“You rummaged through my excrement.”

“Yes… When you put it that way…”

“This is exactly the kind of thing I am objecting to. We don’t want you stealing our droppings, organising our love lives, and artificially inseminating our women. We really don’t enjoy sex.”

With this the Chairman snorted, unexpectedly spattering tendrils of brown saliva across the table.

[Outside the expensive Zhaolong hotel Zheng Wei deposits his maimed daughter so that her incandescent burns can attract the sympathy of rich and bloated tourists, and on the emerald banks of the Yangtse five businessmen sprawl in brash white trunks, hesitant toes flirting with the hungry river.]

I do not know,” said the panda doggedly, “If you are familiar with the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, but the Fourth Truth dictates that in order to achieve enlightenment it is necessary to sacrifice all cravings or insatiable desires. We pursue a strict program of spiritual renewal through abstinence. This continual pressure to procreate is absurd and rather indicative of some unhealthy fixation on your part. And I do wish you would stop feeding me Viagra. It is most uncomfortable.”

Once again there was a long and awkward silence, broken only by dust motes throwing themselves across the boardroom with helpless abandon, glimmering in the dreamy half-light, a small water cooler lolloping water through obscure internal systems, and the quick breaths of the elderly Chairman.

“You are doing wonderful things for your country, though.” The Chairman finally rasped. “Have you not heard of “panda diplomacy”? We gave two pandas to Taiwan quite recently.”

“Yes, you relocated them. You called them “Re” and “Unification”. Very subtle.”

“We thought so.”

The panda eyed the Chairman speculatively.

[He reflects that technically as a member of the ursine community it was within his rights to savage the man horribly. As a highly prized “stud panda” it is unlikely that there would be any substantial punishment.]

“And to think of all the money you make for the people of China! You must be proud,” continued the Chairman, stretching his wicker basket face into a broad smile. Tuan Tuan adjusts the suffocating suit that he wrangled on to attend the meeting, shredding it slightly in the process.

“Pandas are not interested in money. We are mostly interested in bamboo, avoiding sex, and euthanasia.”

A disagreeable frown shudders across the Chairman’s face.

[Military police straighten out and strut from the Forbidden City to Tiananmen Square and back again under the benignly winking eyes of six-dozen cameras and one giant portrait of the late and ever-modest Mao.]

“Look. The truth is-“

“Yes?”

“The truth is, you’re too cute to die. Do you understand? We will inseminate the entire world with baby pandas if we have to, but you will not be allowed to die. Frankly, you’re the most adorable thing in China, and therefore you’ve become very important for public relations. Too important.”

Pandas do not sweat, but abruptly the thick soup of Beijing summer air seemed to clot on Tuan Tuan’s fur. From the soft sylphian shadows of the boardroom emerged two heavyset angels of the Republic.

[The most popular and famous of all the Zoo’s celebrities at that time were Tuan Tuan, the devastatingly charismatic Giant “stud” Panda, and his mate, Yingxin. The two exuded the effortless, insolent charm of intelligent performers dedicated to the intricacies of their art. They looked suspiciously like people in panda suits, and cost over $1,000,000 a year to hire from the People’s Republic.]

Clearly this is a shameless work of haphazardly diluted fiction, but I am going to argue that it can be termed under “creative non-fiction” because it is also my somewhat eclectic attempt at representing the exploitation of natural resources which is part of the expansion of all would-be expanding nations. I also attempted to tie in hints of current and past conflicts between large nations and smaller ones suffering under them. I feel I was a little too ambitious to further stretch this by reversing the usual situation (small nation begs for restoration to former glory) by having Pandakind beg for the unhindered extinction of pandas, but I suppose it could be argued that by achieving death pandas would then at least have found a kind of freedom from oppression. I also wanted to point out the hypocrisy of people who wish to support the (arguably unsalvageable) panda but are then unwilling to donate towards the survival of more ugly endangered species.

My personal interest and a further non-fiction element comes through in the setting, Beijing, because this is as true an account of what it is like to suffer through a summer there as I can recount from memory. If it comes across as a little harsh, I felt this was necessary to balance put the overwhelming twee-ness of a story about pandas. The name Zheng Wei is that of a real person, and Tuan Tuan is a real panda, although he is not currently residing in Bejing Zoo, but is in fact one of the pandas given to Taiwan (the other is called Yuan Yuan). All facts about pandas and their digestive systems are also true. Zheng Wei is actually a rather nice man who once bought me lunch, but the story of the disabled girl left in front of the hotel to beg every day is true, as is the story of the grizzly bear being fed Fanta from a balcony (I even have a picture). I appropriated his name to make sure the name used was appropriate.

Although what has emerged from this attempt is a little unwieldy at times I wanted to fracture the vivid and descriptive from the matter of fact dialogue to heighten the contrast between what is truth but has the elaborate language of fiction, and what resembles real reporting but is obviously a pack of lies. I tried to use pleasing words to describe even the banal or horrible aspects of Beijing because my real intention was to inflict on the reader a real sense of the contradiction of beauty and exploitation that really smacks you in the face when exploring Beijing, and the kind of declining beauty implied by the “reeking peaches” (reddish for China) and the white trunks of the businessmen (white is a mourning colour in Chinese culture and as such is generally avoided). I didn’t want to enforce my own interpretation by rubbing an obvious moral around in the mess of it, rather present the facts in a descriptive, vivid way and allow anyone reading it to draw their own conclusions.


December 12, 2010

Escaping For Christmas.

In order to excuse a certain amount of laxness in posting over the next few weeks, I'll just say now that mostly it will be because of Christmas, but I'll also be working on my non fiction assignment which I'm not really supposed to make visible to all and sundry. Not really sure what to do this assignment on yet, I find it highly likely that whatever I find interesting will inevitably bore the socks off anyone marking the damn thing. I am already referring to the project as "that damn thing" on a daily basis, which doesn't bode well for its completion.

Having spent some time puzzling over my feedback for the last assignment, I have worked out that the one bit which doesn't seem to make any sense only fails to do so because the photocopied version has chopped off the end of a sentence. Unfortunately the only bit which has been chopped off is the bit telling me what I would need to do to improve it? Mysteries are pretty fun. It seems such a small thing to bother Maureen with an email during the holidays for.

Other things I will be working on:

The fragment I thought of the post before last,

A short story about a deer,

Practising poetry in preparation for the poetry module, which I'm already terrified of,

Building up some healthy writing habits that don't involve obsessively posting blogs at 3am,

And eating my weight in sushi (just can't find a sushi bar in Coventry, I have a massive craving so if anyone knows of one, please post a comment).

That is all. Here's a fun picture of a magician:

Magician


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