Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Still Dying

Apparently Princess Diana is dead again. She first died in 1997 and to this day is continuing to die on an almost weekly basis. Tonight she died in a tunnel in Paris and ITN News at Ten are on the story with Tom Bradbury who seems very upset about the whole thing. More upset, you could argue, than a reporter should be. I mean when she originally died, he had every right to shed a few tears even as a supposedly hardened journalist. But this must be the seven thousandth time she’s died and he really should be getting used to it by now. It’s always in the same place in the same city and it’s always everybody’s fault. Mine because I’ve watched television and read newspapers, yours because you were breathing on the same planet as the people’s princess. We've all got her blood on our hands.

Reporter Bradbury talks to camera in a solemn Captain Kirk manner. “The last thing she would have seen, would have been the flashes of the many cameras.” He looks for all the world like he’s trying to say something deeper and more profound than his clumsy words allow him. Only his mum understands. Then he talks as every member of the press does without irony, about how the excessive press-attention upsets “the princes”.

I remember when she died for the first time, everyone was told to be upset because it was Britain’s turn for a big out-pouring of emotion. Tony Blair looked serious and said something serious about the whole thing as did William Hague because he was looking serious as well. Radio 1 stopped playing rock and pop, replacing it with classical music. But that could only relieve the pain so much.

Princess Diana’s dead - all the time dead. Never to be alive again; like all those who fell before and Saturday morning kid’s television. Dribbling over her bloody dead body doesn't seem to make her breath again. The ghosts in the Paris tunnel are bored. They're hoping we may have finally realised.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Christmas Carol Smillie - Part 1

Carol stared at her, concious she should not blink, “I wont turn out like you…”.

‘I thought I could do what ever TV show I liked and it would be OK….’ Anthea ran her hands slowly through her tired drunken hair, ‘now look at me… Stuck talking to you on Christmas Eve wearing yellow shorts.'

‘You‘re ok…you’re fine.’, Carol's eyes could no longer maintain an honest contact, they dropped blurring the vision of the washed up celebrity who stood before her.

‘It’s too late for me,' Anthea replied, she looked over to the empty marble fire place, 'Killing a colleague’s cat when I worked for GMTV because I had a hole in my coat and it was the right colour. It was wrong, I can see that now. Wrong fucking colour and the fat Irish twat loved that thing. I wish I hadn’t done it, I really do…and now…I don’t even remember the name of the TV show I work on Carol…It’s…it’s…something about me…It’s not important; only my mum watches it anyway and she doesn’t even realise I‘m in it. It’s got my name in the fucking title Carol, etched onto the BBC 3 Schedule; words on a digital tomb-stone.’

Carol stood up and walked towards her porcelain goat collection and gently stroked Handy Andy, ‘I’m not like that...I’m not…Those people asked for their houses to be decorated. I didn't use them, I didn't.’ Anthea rose steadily to her feet and smiled. She pulled her hair and twisted it tightly above her head.

‘Three ghosts you’ll be visited by tonight Smillie at the midnight hour.’


‘You’ll be visited by three ghosts at midnight. I’ll be honest it might all be a bit ambiguous and seem like a dream the next day, but go with it.’

‘But I don’t like…’, Carol turned to face Anthea but she was gone.

‘Fucking rug’, Anthea scrambled on the floor, pushing her feet down to try and regain an upright position. Carol tried to help her, but Anthea snatched her hand away, ‘I don’t need your help yer washed up Scottish... Remember Smillie, three ghooooooooooosts’, she held that word unconvincingly coughing as she ran out of air. Slowly she limped towards the thick oak front door and struggled to pull it open. 'You need a new door for fucks sake.'

'It's fine it's a..'

'Ghooooooooooooooosts'. And with that Anthea was gone into another night.

Carol looked down at her half finished cereal. ’It’s the Special K, that must be it. It’s the low fat content, delicious taste and my reliance on it for three of my three meals a day. It's making me see things.’ She sat back in her dark red arm-chair, her Scottish eyes softened and the day left her.

Carol woke with a start, she kept her head still, her eyes searching the room as best as they could. A still silhouette figure stood in the doorway. Her shaking body rattled her heavy brass bracelet. She had to slowly put the words in order in her mind before she could speak, “Are you the ghost of Christmas past?”

‘No I’m your husband Carol. Anthea’s been around again hasn’t she? You’re pissed.’


‘I can see clumps of her hair on the carpet. Where’s the cat? Is the cat ok?’

‘You’re not my husband…’

‘Don‘t be stupid….’

‘I’m not married.’

‘But it says in Wikipedia you’ve been married for sixteen years.’

‘I wrote that.'


'It’s what I believe sometimes.’

‘But not now?’

‘No…not now’

'Come with me...'

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Weeks and Trees

National days and weeks are very much the things or thing of the moment. Last week we missed National Tree week. I say we missed, maybe you didn’t, maybe last week was totally jam packed with tree related activities for you, and if it was, I hope they were both rewarding and spongy. National Tree Week did of course include Tree Dressing Day( December 3rd) where we were encouraged to “Decorate and celebrate a living tree in your street”…”show how much you value it.” I haven’t seen one living tree decorated, and I certainly have not witnessed anyone celebrating a living tree. People were throwing down beer at Birthdays, making vaguely witty comments in leaving cards and submerging babies heads in water at christenings; but I saw no body sharing a bottle of cheap red wine with a Birch.

National Non-Smoking day is one of my favourites. I’m sure the creator of this day had the best of intentions. But they didn’t really think it through in my opinion. And though my opinion isn’t important, like oxygen and eggs are, it is none the less here and available right now, and you can’t say that about oxygen or eggs. You can about oxygen and many people have eggs in the fridge, but are these people really that into eggs, or do they just buy them because the purchase of something with “free range” written on it eases the guilt of driving 400 000 miles a year in a 90 litre people carrier with built in machine guns.

The problem with Non-smoking day is that the only people who don’t smoke on it are non-smokers. And call me Shane Ritchie if you want, but I don’t think we (yes I’m an annoying, ‘you got no right to smoke in this pub while I drink my Stella’ non-smoker) were the intended targets of this event. Most smokers I know make it their mission to smoke more on National No Smoking day, like somehow by doing this they’re urinating over the fridge of the anti-smoking activists. But they’re not, they’re just smoking more.

There‘s “Real Nappy Week”, “Obesity awareness week”, “Hearing Dog Week”, “World Ocean Day”, “National Badger Day”, “International Turn of Television Week” and “Compost Awareness Week” to name but a few. So if you fancy abandoning those imaginary nappies, being aware of how fat you are, shunning deaf dogs, switching off you’re telly in an international manner or simply being aware that compost exists, there’s days and weeks available for you. And that’s lovely…