Archive for the ‘Arty Crap that Nobody Understands, Myself Included’ Category

Induction

September 16, 2013

I knew that you knew.

You knew that I knew that you knew.

And in a fraction of a second, infinity unravelled in both our minds.

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Bleak

May 8, 2012

A fruit and veg aisle in a supermarket. A few strands of wilted parsley in a chipped water-glass, some grimy water sloshing about in it. A sign: “Parsley, 49 forints/bunch.”

It’s not the obvious inedibility of the thing itself, not even the less than appetising packaging. It’s the fact that they expect you to pay for it.

Urmaş

September 21, 2011

Ever since dating a lump of rancid but exquisitely sculpted butter by accident, Kleinbahn has been cautious about relationships. His acute Geordie accent notwithstanding he was handsome in his own ways, in which he was also set, being the tambourmajor of the fire brigade brass band, and as such, a respected Bürger of his hometown.

His first encounter with the magical kingdom of law came early in his childhood when he was accused of indecent exposure by a photographer, who turned out to be of ill repute and such an unreliable witness that he himself was fined for contempt of court. Upon seeing this glorious triumph of Truth at the altar of Justitia he fell to his knees and would still be kneeling there, had the usher not yelled “Kortreiß!” (local dialect for court rise) in his left ear.

He rose then, and continued rising throughout adolescence and here he is now, in front of our very eyes, the burden of responsibility heavy on his shoulders, for by and with the advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal he became a cleaner at the Privy Council.

‘Most Honourable they may be’, he grumbled, ‘but not one of them knows how to correctly dispose of food packaging. No-one should be allowed to rise to such high office without knowing the basic rules of snacking in public.’

‘Eduskunnan päätöksen mukaisesti säädetään’, replied his assistant, who liked to be cheeky but wasn’t brave enough to do it in a language anyone in the room can understand.

‘Right, that’s enough for me today’, said Kleinbach, ‘I’m off to the doctor, my memory foam mattress has amnesia.’

And so he went.

August 11, 2011

Haiku in English
People think it is clever:
Absolute tossers

Revelation

April 23, 2011

The High Priest of Gorleben clambered out of his bulky ceremonial uniform. The steel-toed outer boots always gave him grief, but it was all part of the sacrificial ceremony. The Salt Gods demanded the soul of a rat every ten years and the once shiny overall, the mask, the gloves and the boots were all required to keep the wrath of the Salt Gods at bay.

For the Salt Gods are angry, vengeful gods. They live under the ground and turn the stone around them into salt. What had sparked their ire is not known but ten days later the rat was always dead. The Prophet said when a rat finally survives seven times ten days, Gorleben will be appeased. But Gorleben wasn’t the only Salt God, there were dozens: Agnes, Richton, Bruinsburg and many more.

Although a man of duty and devotion, the High Priest was also kind by nature and he didn’t like the idea of the painful death the rat was facing. He knew it was painful because when he was a small boy, he heard the story of the looters who found a hole in the ground near Richton’s sanctuary, descended into it despite the warnings of the local priest.

When they emerged, they had burn marks all over their bodies and barely conscious. They said everything tasted like iron. They got better but one by one they all died in the coming weeks. There aren’t many people who don’t believe in the Salt Gods, but once or twice in every generation someone tries to defy them. Their fate is the same as that of the rats. It was an uncomfortable thought, but he knew that the vivid depiction of their suffering made his job so much easier.

Not that he had to work hard, he admitted. Life wasn’t too hard in general, the vast fields and forests provided enough food for their small town. Although he suspected that many years ago there had been a lot more people around, because wherever they started to dig, they found traces of human settlements. The Box in his study was one such trace: a hollow metal cube they found when they were rebuilding the temple.

As I expected, I didn’t get the government grant for my project. A blessing in disguise probably. They don’t know how to run an ordinary scientific project, let alone starting a cult. Placing the matter in the hands of the UN proves how clueless they are. Where will the UN be in a thousand years? If it was up to them, all the locations will have been forgotten by then.

It took him over a year to prize its door open. It was well worth it though, in the box he found a bunch of handwritten pages in a language he didn’t recognise. It should keep him busy for months, he reckoned. First off, he transcribed the entire text as some of the papers were crumbling badly. The alphabet and punctuation marks were roughly the same as those he knew, but the words looked completely alien.

Well, that’s the first draft of the basic prayers done then. Still needs plenty of work. There’s only so many ways you can beg for forgiveness and I’m not a bleeding poet. But it will keep them away from the salt domes, and that’s all that matters really.

Now that he thought about it, nobody else lived near his temple. There was no law that forbade it, they just built the town a mile or two further up the river. It was quite a pleasant walk and they always brought him enough food, and they came to him when they needed someone to resolve their petty arguments or just answer questions about the world. There weren’t many such questions, not from adults anyway. He answered them the best he could but he felt ashamed that he knew so little.

I’m really proud of the creation story of the Salt Gods. Born in the stars, forced to work for mankind as slaves, until finally they rebelled, what an allegory. I wish someone could appreciate it, but I’m afraid no-one will. Okay, they didn’t rebel, they were just used up and sealed into containers. They did rebel a bit though, didn’t they.

First he tried to identify the most common words and word combinations, but the meticulous book-keeping of phrases didn’t take him any closer to the solution. The commonest and shortest words were probably articles and pronouns, but that still said nothing about what the text was about.

There’s the small matter of testing how much the radiation levels had dropped. Obviously I can’t rely on them using instruments, who knows if there will be such a thing at all. Heck, there is very little chance that there will be any humans around.

Yet it was this process that brought the breakthrough. As he was muttering the words, he found the rhythm of the words and sentences familiar. He recognised them as the Litany of the Rat, the one that is chanted when the corpse of the rat is carried around the temple for everyone to see. He didn’t like this litany very much, but he knew it and all the others by heart. He found all of them in the text, some of them in multiple, slightly different versions. He knew enough words to guess the rest.

The best I could come up with is to use rats to estimate radiation dose. There are several compelling reasons to do so. They’re likely to be around wherever humans live. Anything more primitive would be hard to take seriously as a sacrifice, anything more valuable and the sacrificial ceremony will inevitably turn into a symbolic act, with no real animals involved.

He pondered a lot on what to do with his revelations. It was blasphemy. And nobody would care or understand anyway. He put the original papers back in the Box, along with his translation. He then hammered the door shut. Maybe someone will find it one day like he had. Maybe not.

At least he felt better about the rat.

Stonework

April 3, 2011

‘What have we learned today?’, turned Ug, the stonework teacher theatrically towards the class he only liked to think of “as a bunch of gracilis tossers.”
‘An algebraic extension of an algebraic extension is algebraic.’, boomed the tossers in unison.
‘One more of your cheeky rhymes and it’s cave cleaning for you all. And trust me, removing graffiti isn’t fun. So once more, what have we learned today?’
‘Stone is harder than wood?’, ventured a squeaky voice at the back.
‘Very good. Very, very good indeed, young Kruskal.’, nodded Ug. ‘Some of you little knuckle-dragging troglodytes might want to take note if you are to achieve something in life at all. You, in that ugly red pullover, what’s your name?’
‘Kuratowski, sir.’
‘How are you progressing with your chipped obsidian knife blade?’
‘Not very well, sir.’
‘Oh, dear. What is it now?’
‘I keep wondering what makes a finite graph planar ‘
‘Good fucking grief. And what makes them planar?’
‘Apparently, sir, apparently, the fact that they aren’t a subdivision of a complete graph of five vertices or a complete bipartite graph of six vertices is enough.’
‘You’re bloody useless, Kuratowski. You two at the back, ’Seymour and Robertson, don’t think I can’t see that you’re passing papers back and forth to each other. What is it that’s so bloody important it can’t wait till the end of the class?’
They’re only some theorems about minors, sir.’
‘Minors? Well, minors are fucking forbidden from now on.’
‘Exactly sir, and they characterise a family of graphs.’
‘That’s carving ten extra arrowheads for you, cheeky sod. Right, all of you get back to work now. We’ve got a mammoth to kill in the afternoon. That’s what I call a mammoth task, ahaha.’

(Based on a true story. All the theorems mentioned have been proven.)

Fable

March 15, 2011

Once upon a time, The Man Who Had Nothing to Say got stuck in a lift.

‘This is most annoying’, he said to himself, ‘Now I’m going to miss my lunch with all those jolly court blokes.’

He would’ve carried on but suddenly the lights went out and thus his rant was cut short.

And in the dark he had a vision instead.

He saw endless hordes of people running down a hill, trampling on a sheet of translucent marbles, each one with a sparkling tiny blue twirl in the middle, falling over and sliding towards the bottom at breakneck speed, then up the next hill, then down again and so on until they arrived in a desert and trust me, sliding up and down a barchan isn’t as fun as it sounds. Realising this, most of them got up, brushed the sand off their clothes and looked around with sun-dazzled eyes and slight embarrassment, wondering what all the fuss had been all about.

The Man Who Had Nothing to Say was eventually rescued half an hour later and he emerged a hungry but nevertheless better man.

Goths

February 15, 2011
There was once a goth in Whitby
Who thought in Scarborough rather he'd be
 But his danse macabre
 Didn't suit Scarborough
There's no place for goths like Whitby.

Drinking

September 27, 2010

As per usual, the Bench and Bar (licensed to sell all intoxicating liquors for consumption on and off the premises and occasionally in the doorway)(just across the road from the old magistrates’ court) was slow to fill up.

First in, early afternoon, were the freshly acquitted, quaffing a quick quart of relief and leaving in a hurry. Or not.

Then came the triumphant claimants for damages, dutifully damaging their livers with multicoloured spirits.

At six of the clock dead the court clerks arrived, they went about their drinking meticulously. (The basic routine is as follows: always open with two pints. Idem. Ibidem gin, cf. vodka. Most orders are pro se but on a payday you might get a round ex parte. Repeat until non sum qualis eram.)

The clerks were followed by The Man Who Had Nothing To Say. ‘Good evening to you all’, would The Man Who Had Nothing To Say say with clockwork precision

The judges only popped in to say hello and grab a packet of pork scratchings for the journey home.

The barristers always came late, after they were thrown out of their inns. ‘Gentlemen, we’ve been called to the bar’, quips inevitably the one leading the procession, to which the polite answer is ‘Ah, that joke never gets old, doesn’t it?’, but the crowd just murmurs to themselves instead. (Except for The Man Who Had Nothing To Say, who was well-known for talking through the night without repetition, interruption or deviation from the subject of nothing in particular.)

They sat around a table and sung heartily until closing time. The others didn’t like the barristers very much.

Nobody really does.

Fiction

June 17, 2010

I once wanted to write a short story about being on a night train that never quite reaches its destination.

There would’ve been only the three of us sitting on that train: me, a half-drunken scouser from Kirkby and a ginger lad who is a sound engineer on an evening show at a radio station in Manchester.

The scouse bloke would try to pitch his idea of a tv channel that would show classic slapstick 24 hours a day. Every ten minutes he’d stop for breath and to answer his girlfriend’s anxious phone calls, whom he had promised to visit but he got drunk in the afternoon instead and could only catch the last train.

She’d keep asking him where the train was and he’d keep asking us.

‘Todmorden’, would the ginger lad answer once.
‘What?’
‘Todmorden.’
‘I can’t fucking pronounce that, you tell her.’, the unnamed scouser would say.

And so on.

And we would’ve been there forever, and dawn would never come.

It’s not much of a story, to be fair.