Thursday, 29 January 2009

On icy assassins

On the way back from the shop this morning I had to go through a bunch of kids having a snowball fight. They started lobbing them at me so I quickened my pace toward my building. I didn't want to start throwing back as I throw like a girl and would only have been ridiculed. But they started ridiculing me anyway, taunting me in German as they bombarded me. When I got to my building's main gate, I remembered the maintenance guy had been doing something with the lock as I'd left earlier. My key wouldn't turn, so I was left there frantically rattling the gate and looking pleadingly around for help, as the kids continued their assault. I couldn't even answer back in their language so I must have looked like some panicky deaf mute!

Also, my chair has been busted for a while, with the backrest just hanging off and useless. This morning I dismantled it and removed it completely but just now I forgot, leaned back, and went arse over tit. Wish I'd had my webcam on recording - I could have become a YouTube star.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

On ghosts and strange occurences

I've always been fascinated by anything that cannot be explained rationally, but I've been obsessing over ghosts recently - moreso than usual.

For today's brief and unexciting (I'm getting desperate for material here) tale of idiocy, a little background information is needed. A friend of mine is convinced my flat is haunted, despite having only stayed here once, and I've often felt like someone else was in my bedroom as I lied in bed, even if I was alone. Nothing too out of the ordinary though.

A couple of nights ago, something very eerie happened here.

I haven't been sleeping recently so when my flatmate had retired to her room for the night, I laid in my bed with the light on and read for a while. This was around midnight. A couple of hours later I'd turned off the light and been having coughing fits, whilst perhaps dozing for a couple of minutes before coughing woke me up again. I was never fully asleep. After one particularly nasty spluttering session I looked up to see the silouhette of my flatmate standing at the door of my room, I assumed checking to see I was ok, but it startled me so much I shrieked and said "Jesus you scared me!" She giggled and left.

The following morning we were sitting on the sofa and she asked how I'd slept, to which I replied, "You heard me coughing! I assumed that's why you came to my room," and she looked all perplexed and said she hadn't, and that she'd slept through the night. When I told her what had happened she went white.

To her knowledge, she's never sleepwalked in her life before, and it may have been that I'd seen this figure during one of my brief periods of semi-sleep, but still, it sent shivers down us both.

So, today I was alone in the flat, sitting at my desk, in darkness except for my bedroom, when I heard a slight whistling, groaning sound, like someone gasping for breath. It was barely audible though so I did my best to strike it from my ears and carry on working. But the volume and intensity gradually increased until it was all I could focus on. It was now accompanied by a spluttering sound, and was definitely not in my imagination. I began to freak out a little, looking anxiously around me. It was then that I noticed the kitchen light on and went to investigate.

On entering the kitchen I saw the source of the noise and yelled.


I'd put a pot of coffee to brew on the stove earlier and obviously forgotten about it. It had boiled over and sprayed itself all over the wall and oven top. No ghost, and now no fucking coffee either.

I told you it wasn't a good story, but while I'm on the subject I might as well fill some more space with a couple of genuine tales of terror.

It's my lifetime ambition to see a ghost, although preferably whilst I'm not alone - a) so I have someone to back up my story, and b) because I would probably scream and panic like a small child if alone - although I'm pretty sure ghosts don't judge people, and I could probably explain that I'm pretty manly usually.

I have had two experiences in years gone by where I think I may have witnessed a supernatural being, but there are probably rational explanations (care to offer anything up, science?).

When I was about 13, I was mucking about with a few mates by the river in my hometown. It was dark and we were walking along an unlit path when suddenly the lad I was walking beside got a right panic on and started frantically thrashing the air and throwing punches around. He then screamed and ran off and the rest of us being the pussies we were just ran with him.

As we slowed, he asked me in a terrified voice, "Didn't you see it?!" At that point I turned and looked and saw a clear humanoid outline in purple on the path back where he'd gone nutso. I shat it and ran with him off the path around the corner where the rest of our bunch were waiting.

Most of them were clueless as to what had spooked us, but when asked if they'd seen anything, a couple of them also described the purple shape I'd seen.

I still don't know what it was.

Weird, and terrifying in retrospect, but as I said, there's probably a rational explanation.

A couple of years after the above happened, I was walking with a friend by the same river but a mile or so away from that incident. There's a bit where the path is interrupted by a deep trench which you have to clamber down, cross the mud at the bottom via precariously balanced stepping stones, and then clamber up the other side. It's not something you can rush.

As we approached the trench I happened to glance behind and saw an old fella a couple of hundred yards back on the path. He was wheeling a bike with him, and I thought nothing of it.

My friend and I crossed the trench in the usual careful, laboured manner and began to walk the other side. I wondered how the old boy would manage with his bike and all, since it's not a simple operation even for a young lad with no bike to hinder, so I turned round again, only to see the guy, bike and all, already on our side.

At the time I didn't really think about it or consider it too strange but later that day it hit both me and my friend - how the hell had this old chap, with a bike, covered 200 yards, and crossed the trench in a matter of seconds?! Sure, he may have decided to hop on the bike pre-trench, but the mounting and dismounting alone would have taken almost as long as the time he took to ride/walk/climb/carry his bike to the other side.

Again, almost certainly not a ghost, but I'm still to hear a definitive alternative.

So there are my ghost stories, and to follow and conclude here are a couple of instances of odd coincedences that I've experienced.

A few years ago, whilst living in Lincoln as a student, there was a period where clocks in films we watched would show the same time as the actual time at the point we were watching. It started with The Karate Kid I believe and happened again with about 10 other films over a year or so. Just coincedence I guess, but weird.

Also, I was once house sitting for a friend and he said, "You'll need to know the alarm code, it's..." and I finshed with, "6458?" He looked shocked and asked how I knew, but it was a total guess, a shot in the dark, and the number has no relelvance to either of us or anything.

Another time, the father of a friend of mine came home all excited and asked his son, "You'll never guess what I saw this morning!" His son shrugged and said, "I dunno? A kestrel chasing a sparrowhawk?" His dad went white and asked if he'd been followed as that was exactly what he'd seen, but I'd been with his son all day and we'd been nowhere near his dad and the birds - it was a completely random guess, and neither bird was anything like common to the area.

I still put it down to some kind of involuntary mind reading or something. 

On a change from the norm

The next few posts will see my blog take a new direction. Being unemployed, broke and pretty much a creature of solitude of late has not seen much scope for new tales of idiocy. I was hoping my Christmas break back home would but whilst good times were had, and brain cells killed, there was nothing truly storyworthy to write about.

So, observations...

Here's the first, in which I tell you of things that I don't care about as much as you do:

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I may develop into some kind of ongoing project, although I have no idea how. It strikes me from time to time that the majority of people of my own generation and with similar interests focus way more attention than me on certain things. Should I maybe care more about...

Mobile Phones

It never ceases to amaze me when people I know get a new phone, often spending hundreds of pounds on it, and other people I know are eager to examine it.

"Gi's a look at yer phone! Oh wow! Cool!"


And when people see me using mine and sneer at it's ancientness.


As long as it performs the basic functions required by a phone, namely calling people, receiving calls, and sending and receiving texts (which I actually prefer, since I hate phone conversations), then I am happy.

I've had the same one for as long as I can remember and have had perhaps 3, since my first one around 10 years ago (Yes, I got by just fine without one until I was 21 - back then I was content to arrange to meet someone at a certain place and time, and trust they'd be there).

Remember, IT'S A PHONE!


I've never owned a car. Technically I can drive one, but legally I can't. Meaning I never got my license, but stick me behind the wheel and I'm capable of driving. As with the phone thing, I have no interest in the supposed aesthetic attraction of a car - if it goes, it's good enough for me. Of course I understand that some cars provide a more pleasant behind-the-wheel experience than others, and that I can appreciate, but how anyone can get truly excited about a car, unless it flies or travels through time, is beyond me.


Now don't get me wrong, I am a football fan. I have a favourite team which I have followed for years, and I love watching football and take an interest in the latest goings on within the game. To an extent. I do not understand how certain people will put football before family, or something similar. Me and my father and brother do not have a great deal in common. If we're together, conversation generally does not flow. But switch the subject to football and those two will talk forever as if it's the most important thing in the world. My dad proudly boasts that he has "never read a book in his life, but read the biography of Roy Keane from cover to cover".

I enjoy watching football, but I do not enjoy discussing and analysing it in detail for lengthy periods of time. It's just a game.


Controversial? Maybe. I love to design, and I'd love to be able to make money from it regularly, but ask me who my favourite artist is and I'd struggle. Ask me who influences me and I'd draw a complete blank. Ask me to draw meaning from any piece of art, mine or otherwise and you'd get a blank look. If something looks nice, if it pleases my eye, I like it. I care not for meanings and metaphors within the art world.

I've been to many of Europe's finest galleries, and whilst there have of course been exhibits which have wowed and impressed, the most constant single feeling I've left with has been boredom.

I remember once I made a passing comment about my own design saying something like, "I'm no good at drawing really and don't have the motivation to practise that much," and I was reprimanded by a designer, respected here and elsewhere, saying that if I'm not prepared to put my soul into it then maybe art isn't for me. That is the most bullshit remark I ever read. I have fun designing and that's good enough.


I have three criteria when choosing clothes for myself - they must be cheap and comfortable, and they must look good, to me.

I think the most money I ever paid for any item of clothing was £70 for a suit. Following that, I once bought a pair of shoes for £50, and then I'd say everything else I ever bought cost under £30. I hate labels, and don't see the appeal of paying lots of money to advertise an already rich company - I'm sure most people here feel the same. Give me a £6 plain black jumper from Matalan over the £60 alternative from TopMan, or wherever the cool kids shop these days. If it perishes within a year, so be it, I'll buy another.

That said, I did once own a pair of apparently limited edition Levi jeans which were easily the nicest jeans I've ever owned. My mate found them brand new in his pub, tags and all and passed them on to me when no-one claimed them. The price tag stated they'd cost £150. For jeans! These have since fallen apart and shall never be replaced, and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find a nice pair of jeans - what's the obsession with all these ludicrously over-bleached patches, crease lines and holes already in the jeans?! Why would I pay £50+ for brand new jeans that look old when I could pay 50p for old jeans at Oxfam?