Thursday, July 12, 2007

It'll end in tears



There was a time when I was fairly bristling with blog topics but these days, I can barely think of something for Elegantly Dressed Wednesday. This morning I woke up and remembered that I had been to the Surreal Things exhibition at the V&A a couple of weeks ago. Why had I not written about that I asked myself. Myself had no decent response. I was as stumped as Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown at Prime Minister’s question time. In fact, if I’d had a ginormous sheaf of papers about my person, I would have shuffled them obsessively and wondered how I’d ever got a job like this. Then I remembered that I hadn’t got a job and so there was no excuse whatever for failing to think.

This is one of the wonderful Elsa Schiaparelli dresses on show. It’s called The Tear Illusion Dress and was one of her collaborations with Salvador Dalí dating from 1938. As well as making dresses out of imaginary tears, Schiaparelli also made them out of monkeys – not one of her more endearing activities. It’s a wonderful exhibition with lots of soft, funny, intriguing and daft things in it. I even bought something. I bought a pair of Miró cushion covers and some Magritte fridge magnets. The cushion covers remind me on a daily basis that the world is not necessarily as boring as it looks. As long as you also remember to stay out of ASDA and visit Paris every once in a while, you can enjoy reasonably decent mental health.

Since I finished that last little job two weeks ago today I’ve been able to think of little else but how great it is not to have to go to work. I would have made a very good surrealist I think or member of the shabby aristocracy. Then Wimbledon was on and I could only think about how much fun it would have been to be a tennis pro. I love playing tennis but I don’t like collecting the balls which is what I have to do a lot of when I play my friend Carole. Carole only has two shots – winner and straight into the net. I know the whole point is to win but it’s also nice to get a ball in play occasionally. It’s not very sporting of me but I like tennis lessons far more than I like games. Tennis teachers tend to be quite good at returning the ball and you get to hit at least fifty of them before you have to go collecting and even then, there’s a big basket with a hole in the bottom of it that saves you from bending down and picking them up. I’m not very good at that trick where you flick balls up between the racquet and foot.

It’s only this week, after all the strawberries and cream and champagne had worked its way through my system that I got some order back into my routine. There were onerous accounting duties to complete which I endured stoically. Around this time of year John the mild-mannered accountant turns into John the sheep drover. I start to receive warnings about the October deadline for my accounts at the beginning of June, at which point there are about 200,000 minutes left in the countdown. I figure I’ll only need around 400 of those minutes to complete the accounts so what’s the rush but John insists that leaving it to 'the last minute' would be a disaster so we have leeway of about 196,000 minutes. Sounds like a safe margin to me.

The last time we spoke of Ben Webster, the hero of my novel now in its fourth triumphant draft, I believe I had just shot him. Like Ibsen, I had set myself on a course where I could do nothing else. I had shown a gun so I had no choice but to use it on someone important. I’d previously shot two minor characters which clearly was not going to satisfy the rigours of serious drama so Ben bought it. At present though he’s learning to love again after his painful divorce and move to Spain. He’s getting neon signs made, meeting gangsters and drinking with bullfighters. You don’t need Hemingway in a Schiaparelli dress to tell you that it won’t end well.

You may have read today that Sebastian Faulks has become the latest Bond author. The Ian Fleming estate has commissioned a steady series of writers to carry on the money-making tradition of the Bond franchise since its patron’s rather selfish demise. Why should authors’ deaths mean no more lolly for their lazy relations? JK Rowling – let this be a cautionary tale. Mostly the brief has been to stick to the tried and tested format – an impeccably attired Bond drinks a lot, fucks a lot and kills a lot and never misses cocktail hour. Easy enough you’d think but Kingsley Amis, whose writing and drinking habits were almost parallel to Fleming’s missed martini time with his attempt Colonel Sun.

More recently Charlie Higson slammed like tequila with his adolescent Bond books. Even though I have plenty to do, I would like to offer a proposition to the Ian Fleming Estate. Since I am now very good at shooting people on the page and strictly observing G&T time, I would like to put myself forward to author the post sex-change Bond. Oh yes, didn’t anyone tell you? ‘She’ is now Jasmine Bondi, proprietor of a small surf shop at the dodgy end of Bondi Beach. You know how it will end…


Surreal Things is on at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 22nd July.

24 comments:

Ann O'Dyne said...

1. Bondi beach is dodgy at both ends and the middle.

2. "You don’t need Hemingway in a Schiaparelli dress to tell you that it won’t end well."
... so the tears were made by bull's horns?
Nobody since, has come near to the heights of old Schiap. what a star.

I never did find out whose gown it was, with the dagger and blood design, worn at an award night by Catherine Deneuve, but i do love Goggle so I'm off there to find out - thanks for the memory trigger.

PS: have a paris stopover before you cross that ocean, you know, just to see you through.

Reading the Signs said...

Oh Pants, you don't need a topic - where ideas run out poetry begins, and I believe this with all my heart or I'm done for. Which isn't to imply that I don't believe in the poetry of ideas, just saying.

Perhaps you could persuade Jasmine to write a blog post for you. Already I like her.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

You're absolutely right and it's why we writers blog. I'm the first to agree on the dismantling of boundaries. My recent reticence in posting is because I've had a bad attack of the Ricky Gervaises, i.e. I'm just not fucking funny in the way I was six months ago. I funnied myself out and I have to find another thing to do until my funniness comes back.

xxx

Pants

Reading the Signs said...

As long as you don't have Ricky Gervaise's pointy teeth you can do anything. Funny is, after all, only one way to be, and you do other things too, I've seen them. But anyway. I've been considering this blogging lark myself, wondering whether to continue and thinking yes, but no, but yes - and re-thinking the aims and possibilities. Bloggers' fatigue seems to be something one has to expect. I find this strangely reassuring. It's what happens in all writing process, isn't it?

Janejill said...

I am sorry you feel disheartened as I always find your blogs very very interesting,very very intelligent and thought provoking - (funny is good too); keep on ,please x

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

I've been blogging less than a year and some of my favourites have dropped off in that time. I wonder if it's important if any of us go on for longer than a year or two.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Where there's life there's conversation. And not enough is ever said. You two birds should know that. I myself can say plenty. The difficulty is how to end. People might get to the end of your thesis, and think: "Well how's that, maybe he's right...Mind you, I wasn't agreeing, but he got me amused, the dirty dog; too amused to stop listening."

That's so pants said...

Hi Jane Jill

Not disheartened - just not funny. Things just don't suck for me at the moment which is what makes House of Pants tick. I've become passive! Things that could potentially tip me into rant mode just don't. I even watched the first PMQs last week. Not even the sight of the duckdowny one squirming his way through a string of simple yet unanswerable questions triggere consternation. Nothing, I feel nothing. I was even landed right smack in the middle of a potential ex-band related spat and... I ignored it. Yes, I ignored it. I put my bat and ball down and went home, put on slippers and opened a good book.

Hi RH

Mmm conversation.

xxx

Pants.

That's so pants said...

Hi annie

Sorry - thought I'd responded to your comment - evidently not.

Paris, ah yes, I will miss her. I have been known to go there just for lunch. Mr T is very good at sourcing cheap Eurostar deals and saving up coupons from the Evening Standard. I guess I will just have to pretend from now on.

xxx

Pants

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Hello Ms Pants, sorry I've not said anything here for a wee while (I've been "enjoying" too much Asda and not enough Paris - that's all I'm saying).

Plus, I've got absolutely nothing to say (no change there, then). Except.....stop it.

You are, without one single shadow of a doubt, one of the most consistently funny writers I've come across - and I don't just mean out here in space. (Just ask Signs, she'll back me up - I've bleated to her before about how much your writing means to me.) But that's by the by, really.

You've never struck me as a being one-trick pony, Pantaloon, and I like to read you whether you're being cuttingly funny or not. I happen to think that it is important that you, personally, carry on for more than a year or two.

You may cringe, of course, but I believe that you remain a magic example to others of the level that they should at least aspire to - not that many have a hope in hell of getting there.

Okay, I'm done spreading the love. Next time I'll be all feisty and try to pick a fight or something. Nobody likes a love-in.

Kind regards etc

TPE

That's so pants said...

Dearest PE

I'm overjoyed to hear from you. You have been so missed. Thank you for getting in touch and for the lovely things you said. I'm spending a lot of time on my book now and I think Signs is right in that sometimes when I do start writing the hook comes after a while. I miss waking up in the morning with really funny takes on things though. I think it will come back. I have found that these things come and go with me. It's always been like that with music. I'll sit down at the piano and literally have no idea how to play it at all and other times I play quite well and am full of musicality. It doesn't make a lot of sense but there always seems to be something I'm good at at any given moment, even if it's just listening to air.

xxx

Pants

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with you Pants, all the way, great writing even when the void yawns.
The Fleming Estate should gobble you up, can hardly wait for Bondi to blast amongst us.

Reading the Signs said...

Listening to air is good. I must remember to practice this more. It is probably a good Sign that your creative substance is being drawn bookwards rather than here. This is beginning (but I say this in a whisper) to happen to me, but I find myself drawn back by the lovely people (hello TPE) one sometimes gets into conversation with. My blog posts may be less brilliant, but I enjoy myself.

I suppose one ought to be pleased that things don't suck for you, but - can this be true when there is Observer Woman every month? Well, there is a whole blogsite devoted to hating it, so I suppose you don't have to. But still.

xx

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Okay, that welcome melted me a wee bit. I confess to having felt very nervous about suddenly springing up here again. Thank you, Ms Pants, you are lovely and kind.

You also seem able to enjoy listening to air - or, at the very least, are proficient at doing so. This is something we share in common. Hurrah. I listen to the air a lot. No, a lot.

I can see what you're getting at about being good at particular things at particular times. Hard, really, to give multiple areas one's fullest attention simultaneously, anyway - impossible, in fact, if the wish is to be pedantic. And it is.

Be that as it may, however, it is still not really possible to simply switch on "funny" or "surreal" or "morose as hell" or whatever - these things, wherever they may come from, just sort of guide the pen, as it were, and seem loathe to submit themselves to similar manipulation. Writers are the vessels, then, and our moods dictate the course. (except, of course, that what I've just said is complete nonsense, because it is possible to write by numbers and simply force the issue. But still. That sort of writing is always less fulfilling to either read or write, however, and you don't strike me as someone who would ever wish to write by numbers, in any event. Okay, I'm rambling now.)

So yes. Where was I? You may very well miss waking up in the mornings with a funny take on things readily at your disposal, but you're right to think it will come back. Personally speaking, I don't feel that you are lacking anything, anywhere, ever - but I do appreciate the way you are feeling.

I must confess, however, to feeling shocked - shocked, Pants - that nothing seems able to provoke a rantastical rantoid from your furious fingers. Reading your response to Janejill made me feel suddenly queasy. Can it possibly have come to pass that I need to now hope things start to suck for you some time real soon, in order to release your inner rant?

Pants, glorious wonder that you are, please understand the affection behind my words when I tell you how much I hope the rest of July brings you nothing but heartache and grief. A plague on your house, Unterhosen, you deserve nothing less.

Fierce regards,

TPE

(secretly, of course, I'm rooting for you with your book endeavours, but shhh.....x)

Liz said...

Ms Pants, I think you should write an alternative blog as Jasmine Bondi - I'd read it.

I read about a dozen different blogs on a regular basis and have two joint favourites; That's So Pants and It's a Dog's Life. Vastly different writing, but both brilliant. And as for blog frequency, quality is always better than quantity (hmm, maybe I should apply that to my own blog).

I hope you continue to blog, even if it is just once in a while. It works for that there Periodic Englishman(who may have directed me to your blog in the first place), he disappears for months at a time but we still love him!

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

My long-term love affair with The Guardian doesn't extend to its ugly sister The Observer but I did happen to buy it last week and so now have first hand of the atrocity of which you speak. Never again.

Dear Mr PE

What has happened to your head - your picture I mean? I roared with laughter at the thought of your conjuring pestilence on House of Pants just to get your jollies. Now that's funny. I have to say I am not best pleased that Gordon Brown has learned to speak in whole and more or less comprehensible sentences - when did that happen pray? Politics is so dull now. The only thing that could possibly cheer me is if Boris Johnson becomes the Conservative mayoral candidate.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

I can be funny anytime, or I wouldn't write a thing. Read my poem: Season(ing)s of Love.
I switched it on in my sleep.

-Robert.

That's so pants said...

Hi Liz

Thanks. Clearly I'll have to strike out on a different track as everything doesn't seem so pants to me any more. There's about 200,000 words of ranting back catalogue there if anyone should get bored of waiting for something new. For the first six months I wrote a 750 word post every day - apart from a planned Christmas break.

Hi RH

Where can I find your writings - I do look, believe me.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

You'd have to ask Miss O'dyne, a lot of it was on her old blog, but she shut it down, and I don't keep copies of my comments.

But here's a poem I dedicated to her (in times of plenty):

There may be rain
In this hilly landscape
All grass and distance
Nothing living
But riding slowly
At heart's insistence
I make my way
Back to you.

-Robert.

Very touching. Yes well one never forgets words from the heart.

And no one ever hates you for being romantic; they just think you're an idiot, that's all.

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

Nice. Cheers. Nothing wrong with being an idiot. I'm one. I should know

xxx

Pants

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Ms Pants, hello again. That's very pleasing to think of you roaring with laughter. A fine mental image.

Yes, I do seem to have lost my head, don't I? It is a significantly creepy profile picture as a result. I was trying to be cute with some manipulations on the picture, lopped off the top of my head by mistake, and then saved what was left in a fit of diseased inattention.

It remains there as a form of self-laceration. Try not to be too scared, k? I'm thinking of putting the old picture back up, but am not sure whether I can tolerate being chased by so many women again. It's a worry, certainly.

Pants - please never bet against Boris Johnson becoming the Conservative mayoral candidate or, indeed, mayor. Can you imagine? God, it makes me feel weak with horrified pleasure.

I just don't know about Gordon Brown. I also don't know how he is being received, to date, by the English portion of the electorate, as I have hardly dared to look since Tony Blair was applauded by his fellow MP's as he left The House.

He does seem awfully made-over, though, doesn't he? His edges have softened and he quite frequently makes a stab at smiling, in what is surely a startling departure from his very own nature.

Unfortunately, Pants, even before he stepped through the doors of Number 10, Broon was starting to talk in a manner that was at least on nodding terms with, you know, English.

I miss the stark impenetrability of his relentlessly jargon-tastic speeches of yore, and lament the passing of his glumness as I must mourn the passing of yours. The old days, eh Pants? How we laughed.

Hello Signs and hello Liz (thank you, that was kind)

Okay, enough already. I'll get out of your hair.

Very nice to have spent some time in your company, Pantaloony, and I hope to see you again sometime soon.

Kind regards and nice things etc

TPE

(Oh. High drama. I have a feeling that Broony, Our Leader, used to step out with our baby-sitter in Edinburgh, arriving to collect her at the door. I need to check this with my mum, though, before starting to make any claims that could land me up in trouble. I know you'll be excited, Pants, but do try to keep a lid on it. But can you imagine? I could sell the story for at least £30. Heady days, Unterhosen, heady, heady days.)

That's so pants said...

Hi Mr PE

You will always be welcome at House of Pants.

Just had a long conversation with a friend about Boris possibly being the next mayor of London. We Londoners are perverse enough to elect him and, in some ways, he'd cut quite a figure but then you have to bang yourself sharply over the head and remind yourself that he's a Tory and will stop all the free things we love. It's actually not that much of a pain to have kids riding around on the buses for free - and it's brilliant for them.

I watched Scroogie's speech the other day and you're so right - someone has been working on him. He found he could memorise - or at last they've made an autocue big enough for him to see. Once he'd released himself from the tyranny of ordering his papers, he seemed able to speak like a proper human. Less fun for me but better for the country.

xxx


Pants

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Okay, so I didn't manage to stay out of your hair for long - but still. From here, Ms Pantastical, it has always seemed particularly (and excitingly) perverse that Londoners voted for Ken Livingstone.

Thrilling, certainly, to stick one in the eye of New Labour's blandness, and a proper response, perhaps, to feeling that events are being manipulated by a governmental and Party machine. Plus, it's just funny, and that counts for a lot - I really, really mean that.

Anyway, it's not really his record in office I'm worried about (and I have always had an alarming amount of sympathy for so many of his ideas that "sensible" politicians seem to find either batty or unworkable), more the fact that he was voted for in the first place. It felt (at the time) indicative of a wider malaise and permanent sense of disgruntlement with those who choose to try to govern us (the poor, hapless chumps).


A bit like the guy in the monkey costume getting elected in Hartlepool on the back of his manifesto pledge to give all kids free bananas. Do you know what I mean? It's like the electorate are so utterly fed up that they simply refuse to take the process seriously anymore, and end up voting for anyone, really, who seems to represent a slap in the face for the straight brigade - never really troubling themselves to look at what lies beneath the gorilla outfit.

Unfortunately, this still just makes me laugh - which is a total nightmare as I try to get all earnest about it. But I am sure, glorious Pants, that it all means something dreadful. I just don't know what, exactly.

And then there's Boris Johnson. I can't help liking him, Pants, which is a real worry. I feel dirty for it, to be sure, but can't quite seem to stop myself. I even think I would vote for him (anywhere), based solely on his human qualities and fine sense of the absurd. The worry, I suppose - and the point I am taking an extraordinary amount of time to get to - is that others may feel this way, too. And all the while, as we laugh with the clowns, a plethora of toxic or simply barmy policies sneak in under the door.

I'm probably trying to say something about the cult of personality and the depressing dangers that lie therein, but I got badly lost somewhere along the line. Plus, you more or less said the same thing - only enviably concisely and sensibly - when talking of bashing yourself over the head to keep you alert to the fact that he's a Tory.

Still, it gives me a chance to say hello to you again, which is a very fine thing indeed (for me).

Anyway, I hope this comment of mine has gone at least a little way towards depressing you, Pants, because we really can't be having you happy for very much longer. I hate to see you suffer like this, my friend. I start to feel queasy and isolated if I find myself happily unflappable for any stretch of time. Some things are just too wrong.

Only good things to you, Ms Pants.

TPE x

That's so pants said...

Hi Mr PE

You illustrate just how complex it is to do a simple thing like vote in London. I saw Ken interviewed the other night and he said he would be glad of someone who would give him a real contest. You can't help but think that the Tories have finally 'got' irony. New Labour of course never did. They take the view that if there is someone out there who can win something, they ought to be in the party.

The sad thing is that they are both brilliant - and barmy, raising the question of whether these states can be mutually exclusive in British politics - ever. In the end it will probably come down to a choice of whether or not you think there ought to be any public transport in London.

xxx

Pants