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.

Quennell.

Avatar Clennel

Every day I drive to work.

Shocking I know, right? When I’m driving I use my eyes to see things like a lot of other drivers. I tend to use my regular eyes instead of all the other pairs that I have lying around. They only have a finite lifespan after all and who am I to liberally chunter off an expensive set of peepers for my own benefit?

There is always one thing that sticks out when I drive to work and that is this:

Everything else looks and behaves fine. If there’s a zebra crossing it behaves like a zebra crossing. The roundabouts are standard, the kind that you would see anywhere else. See that junction over there? It’s functions as a junction. It’s a functional junctional. The clennel though, I’m not buying it.

Firstly it’s not a word. I’ve tried looking it up and there’s nothing there. It’s definitely not a name or a surname. It’s as though someone misspelt the word ‘kennel’ and nobody bothered to correct it. I’m pretty sure it’s not a breed of dog or a type of salmon or the spoon on the table when you go out for a fancy meal that you never use. It’s not an illness; you can’t be off work with a spot of clennel. It’s not a film by Federico Fellini. It’s not a perfume or aftershave by Jean Paul Gautier.

What were they thinking? Does anyone else know about this and can they see it? It’s a clear indication that something isn’t right and I am convinced that there’s something or someone hiding down Clennel Avenue, a hidden thing that might be sinister and otherworldly like a sock that can tell the time or a bee that hums French fancies. I want to know the secrets hiding in plain sight and yet I know that some things man was not supposed to know. It eats away at me, day after day, the chewing on my elbows is unbearable. Don’t listen to your gut. Don’t go down the Clennel. Leave it alone and you’ll be fine. Wipe the sweat from your brow and go back to thinking about whistle pops and candy whistles.

There it stands as a monument to things that do exist but probably shouldn’t. I hope to God that I never find out the truth.

Avatar English Wine

What do dogs know that we don’t?

Spend any time with a dog, as I sometimes am privileged to do, and it’s immediately clear that there is some deeper mystery behind their eyes. There’s something else going on that you just can’t quite name.

Kev used to say the same, I’m sure: after a long day grooming one poodle after another, looking into those glassy eyes at the ever-present enigma of the dog conspiracy would wear him down, piece by piece, paw manicure by paw manicure, and he’d return home a shadow of himself to drink himself to sleep.

I think I’ve found a clue. A few days ago I met Digby while I was heading to the shops. Digby is a small dog. Digby was friendly enough, and he was also wearing a striking fluorescent waistcoat that said “follow me for English Wine”.

I feel like Digby’s indiscreet attire might give us all a clue about what exactly dogs are up to.

Are they operating vineyards? Do they press grapes when nobody is looking? Are they all perhaps members of elite wine clubs, secretly laughing at the unbelievable tastelessness of their owners who they see pairing a Beaujolais with fish? Or perhaps they are ruthless sales hounds, hustling for money here and there, tirelessly shifting units to make a secret doggy living?

Digby went in to a sort of shed, and I didn’t want any English Wine, so I didn’t follow him. I suppose that means we’ll never know.

Avatar Take a seat

It’s been a long day. Would you like a little sit down? Of course you would.

Lucky for you, while walking around at work, I’ve found a wide range of places to sit, offering delightful opportunities to rest in relaxing surroundings.

Where would you like to be seated?

Avatar Pirate alert

He’s going to shiver your timbers
He’s likely to buckle your swash
His pieces of eight count big numbers
His galleon’s full of his dosh

A roistering-doistering fighter
His enemies all have been sank
He’ll make your pockets feel lighter
Just before you walk the plank

It’s not like he wants to be Bluebeard
It’s a lifestyle that he just got trapped in
His parrot got fed up, his crew’s weird
He’s Ian the daft Pirate Captain

Avatar Four Word Reviews: ‘Til Their Eyes Shine

I started these reviews when I got sent a Wang Chung album as a joke, and Kev and Sarah had just reviewed a Papples album in this format, and I thought it was a fun thing to do with a CD I’d been sent. Then more CDs started arriving. But I never thought we’d end up here. The CDs that arrived were just crap albums, and I would write reviews of how amusingly bad they were. Until now. Now I’ve been sent… I mean, what is this? It’s called “‘Til Their Eyes Shine: The Lullaby Album”. It’s a 1992 charity compilation of slow, snoozy numbers by female artists that will supposedly put a child to sleep, though for my taste half are too lively for that and the rest are too disturbing.

Am I being punished, somehow? Is this horrendous mush the price I pay for some indiscretion I committed? I don’t know. I just know it was awful.

Read More: Four Word Reviews: ‘Til Their Eyes Shine »