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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Graffiti in toilets

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot

about life from the graffiti in toilets.

What better place to say what’s on your mind

To read when pissing, in a small space confined?

 

‘Prove to me God exists.’

‘Prove to me he doesn’t!’ A rebuffal

Precise, although unfair – and could only be found in the library bogs.

Clearly some of these places have had talent come to visit – a poet or artiste,

Clearly implementing two instruments at once

And dashing them both over the walls.

 

This is meant to be a public space,

So why do they humiliate us when we need it the least?

So now, I’ll have forever etched in my head: ‘Bi lad? Cock fun? 0752010882’ – one number too short.

‘Hull FC til I die!’ is all well and good, but what am I supposed to do with ‘only dead fish swim with the stream’?

Now I never trust a man carrying a pen round’ in his back pocket.

 

It is a bizarre thing, the graffiti, and the things I have learned,

they leave me wondering to myself:

What are the ladies toilets like?

 

Office Party

 

Tim

Tim is here, with his yellow lager beer

Around about, looking 10 year old boy scout,

Why can’t we just be adults for three nights a year,

Drinking here’s allowed – don’t get too loud n’ proud

 

Funny renaissance dance, Fizzy wine from France

Can’t we do some work? You’re 40, please stop

The flirt – and the scandal office kiss, stand

In yellow lager piss

Tim Tim is near, let’s quickly disappear.

 

Laugh at the boss, his jokes and the dross

Talking here and there, but no politics do share

When can we have the dance off, the hangover begin

It’s the office party joys, no hint of chagrin!

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I was prompted to start thinking about my favourite sinister characters and personalities through being reminded of Paddy Considine’s character as Mona’s brother, Phil in My Summer of Love (2004), in an attempt at my latest philosophy assignment.

The character is brilliantly acted – an underlying theme of people concealing their real personality or identity is revealed toward the end of the film, and the tension brought about by his sinister disposition is intense! Forget Ledger’s Joker, Paddy Considine is probably one of the best examples I have seen who, through what can only be drawing on his own character traits (it is partly facial expression, partly the accent and tone, etc which contribute to the impression), is able to create such feelings of foreboding, apprehension and sinisterness; and in many different roles.   Look at A room for Romeo Brass or Dead Man’s Shoes (both directed by Shane Meadows) for further examples of what I mean – and to Meadows’ credit, it is the undercurrents of boredness and apathy, and the bizarre mentality of the small Northern Town, that combines with dysfunctional characters and families to produce the general sinister feeling that all is not well.

This is a feeling I enjoy most from characters (mostly from movies) as it is so unsettling and unsure, it doesn’t even know that it is.  We know something is up, and with Considine there is always a psychological element that he is just a little bit nuts, which is actually often demonstrated by his characters’ violent and scary mood-swings, indicating that he is really just a cynic who is working on at least more than one level. This is the genuine thrill I like in this type of character depiction – once the darker character is given away (all their flaws, all their personality exposed), they simply that, and become uninteresting (like Voldemort in the last few Harry Potter books). Perhaps I enjoy it because we do conceal ourselves – me, definitely when I might meet different people, or even some people I know.

I am sort of looking for more examples (as I mentioned this is not too far away from my actual work), even just for the general feeling of sinisterness. I really think Billy Bob Thornton does a good job in The ManWho Knew Too Much and A Simple Plan (his real personality is, if not sinister itself, taking itself seriously) as well as Nick Nolte in U-Turn (possibly my favourite film), Robin Williams in  One Hour Photo, Barry Foster in Hitchcock’s Frenzy and several of Steve Buscemi’s roles.  If you don’t understand, and it helps, Hugh Laurie is exactly the opposite of what I’m talking about!  Darkness of the mind, roll on…

It comes as no surprise that it is the unchanged and unchangeable aspect of something which brings on feelings of nostalgia.  In a world that moves quickly, inevitably so for someone who is able to read this, an encounter with something (the trigger of nostalgia) which has stayed the same from long ago, re-affirms our sense of continuity with ourselves.  Through what is probably an evolutionary trait of being engaged with the present, fully conscious and ready for the World, our access to memories hosting our nostalgia is somewhat limited to the more inactive corner of our brains, triggered only by a specific instance.  The fact that feelings of nostalgia consist of retained memories or feelings often of no specific time and place, with nostalgia itself being the only function it actually serves, I think, shows why, historically, nostalgia is sometimes viewed with a slight distaste on the grounds of self-indulgence, time wasting or even depression. This has been evident in reactionary responses to the melancholy of soldiers and sailors of the past – ‘a strange sickness’ was often the explanation, so vague was (and is) the idea.  When it is sometimes noted that people are ‘living in the past’, nostalgia permits exactly this, albeit for a short period of time (which is why ‘pang’ is a useful descriptive word when the onset of nostalgia presents itself).  As one would not be able to experience the initial sensation again (which they were having nostalgia about) in the first place unless they were somewhere or someone far removed from the individual who had this initial sensation (and we must know this at the time, even if we are not directly aware of it, or else there is no continuity with the self and nostalgia would be a different feeling entirely), nostalgia is the ultimate bittersweet sensation as we reconcile our past with the present.

It is curious that the feeling of nostalgia is so closely entwined with a time when we were much younger.  We are almost certainly basking in the sweetness of pure innocence when we feel nostalgia for our youth – certain songs, in particular remind me of a place where my word-view was so completely overwhelmingly simple and different to one I possess now and remembering this is somehow, pleasing and somber. This is the realisation of change; which on reflection might seem to explain why we view our past through nostalgia with a shade of melancholic warmth; it is unique to us and for whatever reason that feeling or memory stayed with us, (something we are normally unaware of – it is only on reflection we realise that long-forgotten things have actually been retained), and we recognise what we used to be, or have, creating a paradoxical sadness. The emotional equivalent perhaps of being tickled, one is not sure whether we are experiencing pain, or pleasure or something in between. When they say you have your ‘life review’ before death, one is tempted to think it is feelings of this nature which will be recalled.  Intoxicating might be the descriptive word for a ‘pang of the past’ and it is easy to see how someone might get lost in nostalgia, perhaps for reasons of regret;they intoxicate themselves (e.g. perhaps a widow hearing her deceased partners favourite song), yet somehow it still seems a pitiful way to stay content.  The nature of nostalgia allows for it to work best when it is only an occasional occurrence, so overwhelming can be the feeling, allowing for the pungency to wear off after a period.

The gentle surprise of nostalgia to me seems to reaffirm ourselves with who we once were, along with a deep seated longing; this, a mystery which hangs on the periphery of the phenomenon of consciousness.