Archive for the ‘ Blog ’ Category

Hollywood.

1. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
2. Get me Ricardo Montalbán.
3. Get me a Ricardo Montalbán type.
4. Get me a young Ricardo Montalbán.
5. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?

“The Five Stages of the Actor” by Ricardo Montalbán.

A open letter to my employer.

To whom it may concern,

Just to let you know, I’m going to be booking a week off in Easter.

Now, this isn’t;

“I’m requesting a week off in Easter so I can see my parents. Approve or deny them according to your availability.”,

but more;

“Here is my notice to you that I will not be coming into work between (and including) these dates. I will be in Germany visiting my parents. I don’t care if you don’t have the availability, I worked through Christmas. You can find someone who had their Christmas off and deny their holidays so I can have mine during the Easter week.”

In the coming week or so I shall find out the dates of the Easter break and submit my holiday “request”. I shall book my flights the same day. I shall also book a taxi to and from the airport and my excitement levels will continue to rise no-matter what your decision. I will purchase books and music to read and listen to while flying / waiting in airports and I will tell my mobile phone provider to enable European roaming and apply an International Call Saver package to my contract.

The evening before my flight, I shall pack clothes into my suitcase and will be unable to sleep with excitement. On the day of my flight I shall get up, get ready to go to the airport. A taxi will arrive and I will be driven to the airport. I shall pay the man the £20 fare and check in at the check in desk. I shall put my suitcase on the conveyor belt and show the kind lady my passport. She will look confused as to who the long-haired, bearded, bespectacled (and notably heavier) man is who stands before her when the man in the passport photograph is so thin, square-jawed, short-haired, clean-shaven and altogether sexier. I will attempt to assure her that he is me – removing my spectacles and pushing my hair back ought to do the trick.

I will then walk to the boarding lounge where I will show my British Airways lounge card to the smiling lady (I think her name is June, or at least, it was the last time I was there) and flop myself down in the deepest, comfiest looking sofa I can find. A waiter will ask me if I’d like a drink and “maybe something to eat, sir?”. I’ll have a club sandwich and a glass of sparkling water. It will be delicious. I’ll sit and read the paper, glancing up at the 42-inch plasma television on the wall every other minute or so, and wait for my flight status to change to ‘Boarding’.

I’ll fold my paper in half, get up from my sofa and throw my hand-luggage over my shoulder. I’ll nip to the loo before the flight (I hate peeing in the air) and saunter along to the boarding desk, all the while taking in my surroundings and generally not giving a fuck about anything. I’ll have plenty of time to board the flight. I shan’t worry about that. I’ll probably buy 250g of tobacco and maybe some whisky from Duty Free. The woman will ask me if I need any watches or sunglasses. I’ll smile, consider her offer but will probably decline. I already have my beloved Casio Databank 150 (a calculator watch) and Germany isn’t exactly Belize.

I’ll get up to the boarding desk, show the woman my boarding pass and she’ll smile, say “Welcome aboard, Mr…” and pronounce my surname incorrectly. I’ll beam at her and let the mispronunciation slide. I’ll walk along the gangway leading to my plane, be welcomed aboard yet again and told to turn to the right upon entering the craft. I’ll shuffle up the plane, careful not to hit anyone with my hang luggage and find my seat. Hopefully it will be just behind the wing so I can see the engines in front of me. I’ll probably open my laptop and write something, maybe I’ll pop my earphones in and drown out the murmur of the cabin and just look out of the window. I’ll wait for the doors to close and the people to settle down in their seats. I’ll watch the flight attendants perform their little “the exits are here, here and here” routine and look back out of the window.

A little while later I’ll feel the engines firing up, roaring as they go. I’ll feel how the cabin vibrates as the engine revs harder and harder. I’ll try to guess which frequencies are making the cabin vibrate and I’d wish that I’d remembered to bring my spectrum analyser aboard, but then I’d remember how ignorant some people are and the fact that my harmless piece of acoustic analysis equipment might be mistaken by some idiot for an explosive device. The idiot would then panic and start screaming in, and about, terror. I’ll feel the plane start to move, the cabin rocking left and right and the wings bouncing up and down in accordance with the bumps on the runway. We’ll approach the runway and stop moving. Thirty seconds later the engines will roar into life and the plane will jolt forward! Faster and faster she goes, my head pressed against the headrest until…

The ground becomes distant. The houses turn into Monopoly pieces. Cars turn into multicoloured ants and I start trying to spot my house. The feeling of taking off, leaving the ground, defying human limitations and the thought of where I’m bound fills me with complete and utter joy.

My homeland becomes smaller and smaller. Towns are barely an inch long. The country is hidden beneath cloud and the bright yellow sun floods into the cabin. The texture of the clouds is that of meringue. The peaks of white fluff cast shadows and add colour and texture to the scene. The sky is an endless blue. I’ll take a picture. I’ll remember how much I love flying. I’ll remind myself for the thousandth time that I’m going to see my parents. It’s definitely going to happen. I’ve left Glasgow and all that city entails. I’m going to see my parents.

I’ll see my brother, my sister. I’ll hug them and tell them how much I’ve missed them, a smile on my face so large it hurts. I’ll shake my Dad’s hand, but we both know it’ll turn into a hug. I’ll tell him how much I love him. I’ll kneel down and hold the muzzle of Dennis, my Springer Spaniel, in both hands. He’ll lick my face and probably knock me onto my back in excitement. And then I’ll see my mum. I’ll be in tears at this point. I’ll probably drop my bags and leave my suitcase on the driveway and run to hug her. I probably won’t say anything until a minute or so later, at which point she’ll offer me a cup of tea.

What I won’t be doing, however, is talking to idiots about cross-network minutes, data allowances, 14-day returns policies and PAC numbers. You can bet this month’s wage that I won’t be telling the same person over and over again that “it’s the best deal we can do, madam” or “no, we can’t match your renewal price, sir” and I definitely won’t be getting an earful from Mr. Jones in Dagenham about how his iPhone hasn’t arrived and how utterly furious he is and how we’re “an absolute shambles of a network” or some such tripe.

No. I shan’t be dealing with any of that.

I will be found in my parent’s kitchen, laughing with my family, a mug of tea in hand and a Spaniel at my feet.
Just so you know.

Yours truly,

DV.

A complete, unified theory.

Now, if you believe that the universe is not arbitrary, but is governed by definite laws, you ultimately have to combine the partial theories into a complete unified theory that will describe everything in the universe. But there is a fundamental paradox in the search for a complete unified theory. The ideas about scientific theories assume we are rational beings who are free to observe the universe as we want in order to draw logical conclusions from what we see. In such a scheme it is reasonable to suppose that we might progress ever closer toward the laws that govern our universe. Yet if there really is a complete unified theory, it would also preseumably determine the outcome of our search for it! And why should it determine that we come to the right conclusions from the evidence? Might it not equally well determine that we draw from the wrong conclusion? Or no conclusion ar all?

Because the patrtial theories that we already have are sufficient to make accurate predictions in all but the most extreme situations, the search for the ultimate theory of the universe seems difficult to justify on practical grounds. (It is worth nothing, though, that similar arguments could have been used against relativity and quantum mechanics, and these theories have given us both nuclear energy and the microelectronics revolution!) The discovery of a complete unified theory, therefore, may not aid the survival of our species. It may not even affect our life-style. But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.

– Stephen Hawking, ‘A Brief History of Time

C14H19NO2 (They’ll tell you it’s not a real illness).

This is the result of a mad flurry of typing after spending the early hours of this morning fretting terribly about the direction in which my life is going. I apologise for incoherence, badly constructed sentences, spelling errors and so on. I also hope none of you are offended at all, it was certainly never my intention. This is unedited, hopefully some of the distress and concern that went into writing this will be reflected in its form.

~

In much the same way that someone suffering from depression looks to anti-depressants for respite from what ails them, so it is that I should look back to Ritalin for a similar result.

Having been off the drug for almost a decade, I find that when I look back on my achievements, the way I’ve handled taxing situations and the mistakes I’ve made, I can’t help but feel that I could have avoided most of these issues had I been medicated at the time. I originally came of Ritalin due to a desire to join the army as an officer. The army requires their recruits to have abstained from class A drugs for a minimum of three years before being accepted, so I cancelled my prescription and flushed what I had left down the toilet.

Those three years came and went and I’m still not an army officer; far from it, I’m a student working part-time selling mobile phones to people with more money than sense. At present I have absolutely no desire to peruse a career in the army, far from it. I plan for a long stint in education and to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can and for that I need to look to my old friend Methylphenidate.

I do so with a sense of excitement and apprehension.

I was prescribed Ritalin toward the end of my primary and throughout the years of my secondary education. When I was very young, maybe eight or nine, my grandmother paid for a series of tests to be conducted at an ADHD specialist center in Horsham, West Sussex. Two or three days later and my parents were told that I definitely suffer from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. There are lots of children who are diagnosed with just ADD, I was not one of them. Apparently there was now a medical reason for why I was such a shit as a child, why I was a relentless when it came to disrupting classes and why I was so miserable throughout my primary years. I was given a prescription of Ritalin and was told that this would solve all my problems. It did.

Every few months I would visit a lovely woman who’s name escapes me who I now believe to have been a paediatric psychologist. She was awfully kind and her office was a lovely shade of yellow with a duck egg blue frieze running along the wall. She once asked me if I understood what ADHD actually was. I told her I didn’t. She asked me if I tended to take the long way around when performing tasks. I nodded and said yes two or three times.

Here’s what she told me.

There once was a large band of merchants who travelled the land selling their wares to all and sundry. Each of them had a wooden caravan in which they lived and stored their goods, all except one. There was a merchant called Matthew (I assume she used my name so that I could relate) who had ADHD, he didn’t have a caravan, rather his horses pulled a large cart filled with bricks and mortar, and every time the merchants went to set up their camp, Matthew would build himself a small home in which to live.

Now, at the time I wasn’t really thinking about how much of a logistical nightmare this would have been; building and taking down and entire house whenever the band decided to make or move camp, but I was a child and I didn’t give a shit. I’ll continue.

The other merchants laughed at him for his ways, but as far as Matthew was sure he was doing the right thing. Then one evening, just after Matthew had finished building his house, the sky turned dark grey and a great storm approached. All the merchants ran into their caravans and were blown away by the fierce winds, but Matthew was safe in his house with his belongings and he was safe.

So it’s a story to make children suffering from a mental illness feel better about themselves. It made me feel better about myself, certainly. It meant that I wasn’t so ridiculous when I took the long way around a problem as opposed to the short. It meant that, while I was probably thinking about the problem too much, I’d always come to the answer eventually, even if I happened to be a little slow to get there.

I wasn’t an idiot, however. I excelled through the later years of primary school and my eleven plus examination, I managed to get unconditional offers to the three best schools in the county and to what was then one of the top three schools in the south of England. I don’t mean to brag, not by any means but I do want to show you the profound effect that Ritalin had on my standard of living. Not only was I doing well in school, I was doing much better at home. After being prescribed Ritalin I rarely, if ever fell out with my parents, the relationship I had with my brother and sister became much better as the years went on and I was making more friends than I ever had un-medicated. It got me through secondary school and the resulting examinations and, after school, got me through my first job with a reasonable amount of success. But then I stopped medicating.

The difference was remarkable. I was flagging at work who got me into a lot of trouble. I stopped reading and went to playing video games or the majority of my spare time. I stopped wanting to learn about things and, where I once would have spent an evening reading, writing or something of that nature, I’d spend hours in front of a screen chatting to idiots on the Internet or on, dare I admit it, Faceparty of all the horrific and poisonous places to be. In short, I was wasting my time.

As I’ve grown older I’ve become far more aware of the importance of educating oneself for the sake of education. I’ve also become convinced that my problem with ADHD has followed me well into adulthood. As it stands now I’m just itching to learn as much as I can about everything around me. My brain is crying out for information, yet my lazy, bone-idle self is denying it the one thing it wants. I’ll do it later, I’ll read that tomorrow, Ill finish that essay once my Hunter’s level 45; all perfectly shit attempts at procrastination which all work perfectly. I need to break out of this cycle of doing nothing with my spare time and start doing something worthwhile.

Ritalin will help.

However there is a downside to all this; the apprehension I mentioned earlier. I haven’t been on Ritalin for so long that I’m worried about what it’ll do to me. I seem to remember being much quieter and calmer as a medicated child, more reserved and pensive. In short, a whole other person.

My mother would give me time off the drug every once in a while just to run around like a fanny and be, well, a child. Mum would make sure to keep the Ritalin away when I went out to play football or rugby with my friends. Matron (yes, yes – “Pongo’s off to get some tuck from the dorm”, rah-rah-rah etc.) would keep me off Ritalin when hockey or rugby matches were scheduled for the day. I suspect it was their way of letting me loose for a while, giving me some space to be myself, to be a child again. I don’t quite know if I’m prepared to make that level of change as an adult. A lot of people like me because of the way I act around them. They’re seeing the real me and I’m not sure if I want to change.

But to continue the comparison I made earlier; someone suffering from depression can make a choice to take anti-depressants in the hopes that he or she may be able to enjoy a better quality of life, I look to Ritalin to give me a better standard of living. I don’t want to be worried about whether or not I’ll lose my job tomorrow because of just how lazy I am, how many corners I cut and how many risks I knowingly take. I don’t want to live in constant fear of my lack of dedication to anything. I don’t want my education to be washed away just because I’m lazy. It was laziness that got me into trouble in the first place and it was Ritalin that got me out of it. I want a better quality of life.

Maybe I’m just inherently lazy. Maybe I can be the change I wish to see in myself without Ritalin and maybe I can become a better person if I choose to ignore the drug. I think there’s only one way to find out.

I’m off to see my GP.

Nah und Fern.

~

I found myself lost in Gas for what seemed like an eternity.

I spent months wandering around the forest, lost and confused. Often scared, always overwhelmed. It made me feel alive but brought me down to Earth like nothing else ever has. But it is never this Earth; it is always another, a strange alteration of this one. A hyper-real, infinitely intense world – A world that feels like it could tear itself asunder at any moment, that all it would take would be a single misplaced footstep or the slightest of knocks to throw the world out of balance. It is a distorted world, twisted in such a way that you wouldn’t know that it were at first glance. You would need time. How much time, I cannot say. You would need to look hard, harder than you ever have in this world, and study your surroundings. Only then do you notice the shifting in the fabric and the hightened intensity of your surroundings: the colour, the shape, the air against your skin.  I felt always off-kilter. My shoulders were burdened with the feelings and emotions of others, people whom I’d never met, people whom I wasn’t sure had ever existed. People whom I wasn’t sure would ever exist. I didn’t know if I wanted to escape. I didn’t know if I ever needed to escape.

Occasionally I dip my big toe back into the lukewarm, glass-like water and I see my reflection. But it is always distorted, always misshapen in ways I can never comprehend.

I now find myself perpetually scared by Gas. I am scared because I know just how easily I could get lost all over again.

Mus Martis.

~

wonderful

Flight.

~

It took me less than a half a day to read this book. This is somewhat to do with the fact that it’s only a modest 112 pages long, but mostly to do with the fact that it was glorious from start to finish. Not once did my mind drift off to think of other things as it so often does when reading, a true fault of mine.

This book has bolstered my opinion that airports are truly some of the most beautiful places on Earth. To the average Joe an airport may seem to be nothing more than a means to an end, but I see them as a microcosm, a snapshot of our society contained within a shell of glass and steel. From the joy that is a child running from the arrivals gate to be re-united with his father once again, to the despair of a weeping couple who will soon be separated by several thousand miles of sky, water and earth, this book studies the most human aspects of our airports through a macro lens, all the while questioning and, in some respects, reminding the reader of why we travel in the first place.

If you were asked to take a Martian to visit a single place that captures all the themes running through the modern world – from our faith in technology to our destruction of nature, from our interconnectedness to our romanticising of travel – then you would almost certainly have to head to an airport. Airports, in all their turmoil, interest and beauty, ate the imaginative centres of our civilisation.