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Friday, November 09, 2007


‘Warning: these premises are monitored by CCTV.’ Such was the note on the door of a gents’ toilet I passed in town yesterday. What gave it a warm personal touch, I thought, was the addition of a clip-art toilet under the typeface, with the lid up too (this was the gents’ after all). Heroin-dealing, cottaging scum? Get out of our toilets now. But first, a clip-art toilet I found on that novelty CD-Rom I used to make my daughter’s birthday party invitations.

A bit down the street there is a knocking shop, adjoined on one side by an outdoors shop called Wet ‘n’ Wild. Dialogue exercise: conversation between Wet ‘n’ Wild shop assistant and punter who refuses to accept shopkeeper’s explanation that the establishment he is looking for is in fact next door. Galoshes eh? And what might I be wanting with them, nudge nudge? Waterproof compass eh? And what might I be wanting with that, wink wink?

Now is the winter of our discount tents.

The reason I know about the knocking shop is because, why else, it’s opposite a branch of Blockbuster’s I use. Looking at 28 Days Later in it yesterday I was reminded of the fact that, as far as I remember, the z word is avoided in that film. It’s for the same reason the word ‘mafia’ is never used in The Godfather. The ‘infected’ community find the word ‘zombie’ offensive. Never use it in their presence. Something else about 28 Days Later I seem to remember is how the ‘infected’don’t diet on their victims’ brains. They just want them to come and play. Is it possible to have a vegetarian zombie? I very much hope so.

I was reminded of zombies mid-week when a stroll round the grounds of an East Yorkshire country house quickly led me into an apparently deserted static home retirement village. It was a terrifying experience. I kept expecting to find Daily Mail dispensers on the street corners with ‘In Case of Emergency Break Glass’ instructions on them. If I was a retired East Yorkshire zombie living there I’d eat my own brain, vegetarianism or no vegetarianism.

Still on brain-eating, I see from this week’s TLS that Faber have published a book about John Coltrane, which, Coltrane freak that I am, I’d better go buy. The brain-eating has to do with his last years, when he became quite pudgy, from a constant diet of the most disgusting food imaginable, especially brains. But then he had a kind of oral fixation, often bringing his sax to bed with him and playing it until he fell asleep. Apologising to Miles Davis once after a concert for having gone on a teensy bit too long with his solo, he explained he ‘just couldn’t stop.’ ‘You could always try taking the fucking thing out of your mouth’, Miles replied.

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