Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Uncomfortably Numb

I don't really do Nights Out In Town.

Years ago, NOIT tended to end in disaster for me. For instance:

Walking into a canal fully-clothed at the Water Witch in Lancaster and then trying to persuade a cab to take a dripping, stinking girl home;

Ending up in hospital for a week with concussion, after a shoulder ride race round university campus ended with my forehead meeting a low beam and the back of my head meeting a pavement;

But that was a long time ago, so I wasn't particularly apprehensive when, for the first time since moving to East Lancs 13 years ago, I planned a NOIT.

We went to see Think Floyd at the local Met, following up a trip to The Australian Pink Floyd Show earlier in the year in Manchester. They were fantastic.

So far so good.

It was Ginger Rick's birthday, so we had all arranged to meet up after the concert at a local cellar bar to celebrate. Or so I thought.

Apparently dimly-lit, slippery flights of stairs and three inch wedge heels don't mix and I plummeted unceremoniously down the steps to the bottom.

The results from A & E read as follows:

2 bumps to the head,
Cut cheek - now scarred
Cut and bruised arm
Bruised knee
Severely bruised thigh
2 cracked ribs.

I'm thinking I might leave it another 13 years before doing it again.

And in a twist of ironic fate, while the Little Ducks are holidaying in Mexico, I got Flu last week - the coughing from which has re-cracked my ribs!

Thank you and good NOIT.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back To The Future

After school each day a motley collection of under 10's with grey shorts and scabby knees dump their schoolbags and congregate on the street.

There is a patch of wasteground by the ginnel with shoulder-high grass and climbable trees - perfect for dens and hide and seek. It's also home to frogs which are carted in tupperware tubs back to home-made habitats in buckets.

Leslie, the icecream man, in an ancient Whippy van signals the children for 99s with raspberry sauce and flakes every Wednesday.

They spend hours making sand out of rocks by grinding them on the pavement.

They build dams with sticks, stones and leaves when the cars get their weekly wash and streams of soapy water trail down the gutters to the drains.

They use traffic cones for goalposts, bins for stumps, and play endless games of Tig, requiring no props save laughter, enthusiasm and the ability to dodge and weave.

Sunny days bring swim shorts and water guns for running battles in the cul de sac.

They trade football cards and Go Gos, ride their bikes in endless figures of 8 and knock on for any child who hasn't reappeared outside within 10 minutes of arriving home.

No, I'm not reminiscing about my childhood in the 60s. This is 2009 in Friendly Drive.

In the 2000s, if the Daily Mail is to be believed, your stereotypical child sits in front of a screen for entertainment - playing Guitar Hero and befriending 400 people on Facebook. He watches TV on demand, takes no exercise and is losing the art of conversation, his social skills and his childhood.

Unless Friendly Drive is in a time warp, I beg to differ.

And I'm glad.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Vanishing and Mass Suicide

I watched a great BBC4 documentary recently about the fact that 1/3 of the UK's and US's bees have died.*

The Acting State Apiarist - (what a great job title) explained that they are calling this phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder.

Am I bothered? I asked myself. I don't have a sweet tooth, so I don't like honey. What's the big deal?

The purple gardener in me should have known better. Bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination in the world.

In the world of flower sex - bees are the King Pimps in gold chains and Hummers. Without them, the planet's flora goes celibate, frustrated and ultimately barren.

Forget global warming. This is literally the end of the world, unless we all pitch in with Q Tips and endless patience, or stick velcro on the backs of wasps to catch pollen so that they can finally perform some useful function on the planet.

In the US, bees get shipped endlessly around the 50 states, purely to allow plants to procreate. The entire almond crop of California alone, which is a mindboggling 80% of the world's output requires 10 billion bees each year for 3 weeks to bear fruit, and almonds are the #1 horticultural export of the US, worth $2 billion annually. The Death of Bees is a seriously-serious economic problem.

I can sense that I still haven't entirely captured your interest yet. I don't like almonds either so it doesn't seem like a great loss. But here's the thing.

The bees are not just dying........

they're disappearing.

There are no bodies.

There is conjecture that it's a virus, or chemical poisoning from the years of ingesting pesticides and whatever else they spray crops with these days, but that does not explain the lack of corpses.

Beekeepers are checking their hives, only to find them suddenly empty, save for a few scattered bodies. And we're talking billions and billions of missing bees - worldwide. If I tell you that it takes 2,200 trucks to transport California's almond bees alone, you can get a sense of the scale. The landscape should be knee deep in stiffening workers and drones.

So theories:

Where are they all?

Have they gone into hiding, fed up of globe-trotting prostitution as a lifestyle?

Are they being stolen to some purpose? Are Evil Rabbits planning some elaborate world takeover?

Have the 456 swapped their drug of choice for getting high from children to honey?

Answers on a postcard please.

Things have taken an eerie turn on Friendly Drive as well. I came down the other morning to discover that the stick insects have committed suicide en masse. All inexplicably dead, in one go. No change of diet or environment or anything.

I can only assume that they've heard about the bees and chose death before privet deprivation.

*Clearly I have no life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Secret of Love - Part IV

No prizes for guessing that when head, heart and ladybits all intersect, I believe you get Love in all its finest glory.

"When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of Heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with Night and pay no worship to the garish Sun."

Now I know Shakespeare would never have made it onto the back of a £20 note and his sister wouldn't have formed a band, if Juliet had stood on the balcony and said

'My head, heart and ladybits are all intersecting with love for you' instead of the whole stars, night and sun speech.

But the sentiment is the same. It's Heaven and Earth and everything that falls in between.

It's not an exact science, but the triple intersection is the smallest section of the diagram, perhaps reflecting the amount of people lucky enough to experience it and how precious it is.

That is all.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Secret of Love - Part III

Swap the heart for the head, and you're left with this:

Friends With Benefits, or more commonly - Fuck Buddies*.

Now this relationship should definitely carry a Government health warning on the wrapper. This really is not for everyone.

But I do know friends for whom this has worked very well. Both parties are compatible intellectually - they're friends, but with an added spark of sexual connection. That underlying tension heightening the senses and weaving insinuation and invitation through every conversation like a scarlet satin thread caressing the skin.

They can act on it, knowing that the encounters will be charged with passion, but without the emotional baggage the heart brings to the party. Anything involving the heart has drawbacks as well as benefits. It's never a win-win.

But it's the trickiest combination to manage. Locking that heart out is well nigh impossible and if one partner fails and emotions sneak in, the delicate balance is destroyed.

The road to Fuck Buddydom is paved with broken hearts and ruined friendships.

* Sorry mother. Look away now.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Secret of Love - Part II

So we've covered friends.

Let's look at another combination.

I love this one. The cause of more tears, sighs and broken hearts than any other, but we wouldn't be without it.

When heart and ladybits collide, you get this:

Crush, or infatuation - whatever you want to call it - it means fireworks.

The butterflies, the loss of appetite, the increased heart rate.

The 24/7 obsession that's never going to end, it burns so brightly.

But sadly, without the head - the meeting of like minds to fuel the flames of passion, it is consumed quickly and the fire dies.

This is the stuff of holiday romances, movies and rites of passage.