Avatar Cat in the way

Cats like to get in the way. Sitting in the middle of the hallway or on top of the thing you’re trying to use.

Still, I’ve never seen a cat so wilfully in everyone’s way, or giving off such a determined display of not giving a damn, as this cat.

For reasons I cannot explain, this cat is sitting right in the middle of the main entrance to the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the south of England. Everyone just had to go around it.

Stupid cat.

Avatar Murder cat

A children’s film, well as long as it’s not Watership Down (see previous post), is usually heartfelt, charming and full of whimsy and wonder. Japan’s Studio Ghibli has been making films for over forty years and they’re still going strong even if their last film was a beautiful mess and their best director is in his eighties. Play to your strengths I can understand, coming out of retirement because your company can’t work properly without you less so.

Studio Ghibli started off making marvellous fairytales before moving into stories more grounded in reality. ‘Whisper of the Heart’ is about a boy and a girl trying to encourage each other’s gifts, the former a violin-maker and the latter a writer. Shizuku discovers a figurine in an antique store called the Baron, an anthropomorphic cat dressed in a snazzy white suit, and decides to write a story about him.

As a statue he looks mischievous and playful. When he’s later animated in her dreams, he’s suave and has the benefit of being voiced by Cary Elwes.

I recently learned that a live action version of the film had been made a few years ago. When I caught a glimpse of the front of the blu ray I almost choked on my sandwich. The statue of the Baron has unfortunately been upgraded from mischievous to downright murderous.

He now has the look of a psychopath and, yes, he will cut your fingers off for a laugh and mail them to you at work.

Avatar Not Kev

A little while ago, in the comments thread of another post, Ian and I were musing about how we could get more material from Kev on the Beans, and Ian suggested we use AI to churn out some generic Kev-like material for a new “Not Kev” account.

Unfortunately there just isn’t enough genuine Kev blog material to feed in to an AI to teach it what it should be writing, so I suggested padding it out with a load of Jilly Cooper novels.

Anyway, long story short, I got ChatGPT to write us some “Not Kev” blog posts and, while they have turned out with a fairly heavy Jilly Cooper influence, they’re still basically decent enough to be posted under Kev’s name without anyone noticing the difference.

I’ve actually got three of these ready to go, but I think this is the best one.

Read More: Not Kev »

Avatar Toilet attire

As you know, I spend between six and ten hours every day commuting to and from work, because I now live in France. Sitting on the same trains day in day out for that length of time means I have become closely acquainted with the interiors – the pattern on the seat upholstery, for example, and the strangely metallic sound of the chimes that indicate that the doors are opening. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking more and more about the toilet signs.

Every carriage has a few of these, pointing the over-hydrated traveller towards their nearest convenience. I am increasingly concerned by the picture on the sign.

We will leave aside, for now, the obvious issue over the size of the people you can see. Whatever pair of binoculars we are looking through is clearly in need of adjustment, because the left lens is showing us a baby that appears to be almost as tall as the two adults visible through the right lens.

No, what bothers me is this. The baby on the left is wearing a nappy – that much is clear. The nappy is white and the baby is pale grey. We can deduce from this that the baby is clothed, at the most basic level. On the right, we see two adults, who are white all over. But we know, from our recently concluded examination of the infant, that people in this world have grey skin, and there is no grey visible.

The two adults, therefore, are covered from head to toe, and what’s more they are apparently dressed in some horrendous all-over body suit made out of nappies.

This is very inappropriate clothing for travel on public transport – the face covering, for example, is bound to lead to problems if they are season ticket holders because the conductor will need to see their photo ID and match it to their appearance. It is also extremely inconvenient clothing for any toilet visit. They will need to unzip their terry towel gimp suit and somehow extricate themselves from it in order to make use of the facilities, all within the tiny cupboard-sized cubicle on a moving train. Nightmare.

The more time I spend on the train, the more it bothers me that the baby on this sign is one colour and the people are another. You may tell me that I’m overthinking it, and maybe I am. But spending this long on the same trains day in day out will do that to you. I’m just trying to survive in this world, and my healthy fear of grey people in jumpsuits made of nappies will keep me safe.

Avatar Searching for a Nightmare

“As he entered the room, the air grew stale and cool. It was abundant that the door had not been opened for a while and neither had any of the windows. Not that you could tell there were windows given how greasy and dirty they were. Thin streaks of light tried their best to illuminate the room only to greet indifference and a smell that could only be unwashed clothes and unwashed hair.

Towards the back of the room there was a doorway without a door leading to what looked like a small kitchen area. Small grunts could be heard, awash with fear and sadness. Part of him didn’t want to know what was going on in there.

He blinked. It was starting to take shape before his eyes. Along the left and right sides were a sofa and a bed respectively upon which figures covered in blankets, jumpers and hoodies, anything to obscure their features, sat huddled. They were visibly shaking; no amount of clothing could hide that. Hesitant but also inquisitive, he crimsonly approached the nearest character and pulled back the mauve hood that separated the two.

Eyes as big as spoons stared back. Bags of a similar size hung underneath. The skin was sagging and the features were difficult to look at even for the morbidly curious. Nonetheless, he was sure that he was in the right place.

“Lycos?” he asked, “Lycos is that you?”

There was no response. Either it didn’t understand or it wasn’t there, long gone into the stratosphere with the rest of the junkies and the winos.

The heavy-breather next to it was a malnourished AltaVista.

On the opposite side of the room Webcrawler was on his knees, licking a damp patch underneath the coffee table. Clearly a spill of something important to them. He could have smashed his head with a lamp and it wouldn’t have noticed.

Most of them were accounted for except the one he had been looking to find the most.

The grunting was still coming from the back kitchen.

He took a deep breath and peered around the corner. An old man faced away from him, his hands looking for something or someone. The pile of newspapers he sat on had nothing beside it. The kitchen stank of sex and shame.

“Did you want to ask me something?” the old man queried. “You can ask me anything. I want you to, I want you to ask me.”

He turned around and the drool was let loose from his mouth. It pounded the hard flooring.

“If you ask me I’ll make it worth your while. I guarantee.”

That was all he could stand and so, with the answers he had sought, he bounded from the bedsit and slammed the door behind him never to return.”

Avatar Danger cycle

I recently got hold of a bike, in an attempt to do something energetic at least occasionally, rather than just spending literally my entire life either sitting down or being asleep.

What I didn’t count on was how dangerous it is round here. Get off the main roads and you suddenly find yourself in a terrifying danger zone of army firing ranges and other macho activities that are entirely incompatible with my naturally timid demeanour. A simple bicycle ride in the country suddenly becomes a horrifying scramble through live gunfire and explosions, like a scene from Rambo but with me in a bike helmet passing through the background.

Please find below a selection of pictures to document my emotions during a ride through this difficult environment.

Avatar Quennell

Most days I drive to the station and go to work.

Like Ian, I use my eyes while driving, both to look at things, but also to observe them. Sometimes my looking and observing is simultaneous and sometimes both have to take it in turns.

There is one thing that sticks out when I drive to the station, and it’s this:

If it was called Clennel Hill I’d know exactly where I was. We all know that Clennel is a small village and a former civil parish in the parish of Alwinton, in Northumberland, England. We also all know that a clennel is a genteel way to refer to a kind of arse flannel. But it’s not called that, it has a name that’s far more obscure and meaningless. A quennell? Nobody knows what that is.

I’m posting this here in the hopes that, having declared that this is a meaningless word and that nobody knows what it is, I’ve created the right circumstances for Kev to put the word into Google and immediately tell me what it means.