Monday, 3 December 2012

For my friend Martin Dawson. With love.

Before I started to write this I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how on earth I was going to explain what sort of person Martin was. And how much he meant, not just to me, but to everyone who knew him.

There aren't really enough adjectives in the English language to describe how vital, energetic, passionate and enthusiastic Martin was about everything - friendships, music, work,

But one phrase in particular kept buzzing round my head; 'he was the life and soul'. The life and soul.

And I got to thinking about how significant those two words in particular were. Life. And soul.

Martin did 'life' well. To everyone who knew him it was obvious he enjoyed life immensely. He consumed it with an enormous appetite. Provoking it like an excited child; 'What else have you got for me? What else have you got for me?'. Until life, like a weary and careworn parent, would have to rouse itself from any temporary respite it might have been seeking. Realising it had no choice but give in to his demands for 'more, more more!'. For only then would Martin be satisfied.

I remember when we all went to New Zealand together for the first time, for the wedding of our friends Steve and Bec. In the days before the wedding they had organised some sightseeing and activities to show us the great Kiwi outdoors. One of the things on the agenda was a bungee jump. A daunting prospect for most. But while everyone was making up their minds and trying to summon the courage to make the leap, Martin had already strapped himself in and was ready to go. An adventure like that was something to be grabbed with both hands. No time for contemplation. No umming and ahhing. Just do it!

It is a testament to Martin's adventurous spirit that I can't quite remember whether he ended up doing one bungee jump or two. It seems entirely plausible that he did two. Just to show life who was the boss.

When we first moved to London and I shared a house with Martin, he wasted no time in getting a job. Those records weren't going to buy themselves and the success he was to enjoy later in his music career was still a few years away at that point. His work ethic was strong even back then, when the rest of us late-teenagers were still sleeping until noon every day. By dint of sheer nepotism I managed to bag myself a job at the same place. A call centre in the middle of London. It was pretty dull work but enlivened on a daily basis by Martin's interesting choices of attire.

No boring, drab suits for him. Oh no. Martin's concept of work wear was a mustard coloured tailored jacket accessorised with bleached, spiky hair tinted bright red at the ends.

One day the CEO of the company visited our office. He took some time to wander through the rows of call operators and he very quickly spotted Martin - the peacock amongst the battery hens - and singled him out for a chat. I was desperately trying to earwig on their conversation in between making my calls. Slightly concerned that Martin might be in trouble for so flagrantly flouting the company policy of grey, grey, grey and more grey.

However by the time I got off the phone Martin clearly had the CEO eating out of his hand. They were laughing and joking, the CEO very much in thrall of Martin's charm. Rather than scolding him, the CEO was delighted at Martin's punk interpretation of office wear. "We should hire more people like you!" he laughed as he shook Martin's hand. And I remember feeling so proud. So proud that he was my friend. I wanted to tell everyone. To lean across to the person at the desk in front of me, who was no doubt earwigging too, and boast 'I know him'.

I still feel like that.

But a Tiggerish capacity for fun and thrills was only one side of Martin. He was also very mindful; very emotionally and spiritually intelligent. He had a gentle soul. And he shared this side of himself generously too. He wanted to understand everything. To interrogate it; pull it apart, examine it, put it back together in a way that made sense. From the technicality of music theory to the philosophy of religion, no subject escaped the scrutiny of Martin's keen intellect.

His talent for music and performance was closely interwoven with this thoughtfulness. I remember when he sent me his first album. I put in my earphones and gave the whole thing a listen in one go. And I was surprised at how moved I was by his music. By how good he was. But more than anything I was surprised at myself for seemingly having underestimated him. Because although I never doubted my friend's brilliance, he proved himself to be just that bit more brilliant than I ever knew. In retrospect, I suppose that shouldn't have surprised me at all.

But now Martin's life is over. He has finished living it. And although he finished living it too soon, it is impossible to harbour any regrets for a life lived so well. What's not to celebrate? What's not to be thankful for? I only hope I can do his memory justice by living even just half as vibrantly as he did.

Martin's soul is still very much present. In our thoughts, in our memories, in his music. Just like the image that remains when you close your eyes after looking at a bright, brilliant light.

He was the life and soul and we loved him.

As the poet Phillip Larkin wrote: what will survive of us is love.

And it does now. And it will forever.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

My daily briefing with Number 10

If the government really wants to know what I'm doing in cyberspace, then why not make it easy for them? I've got nothing to hide. And the founding principle of our justice system is the presumption of innocence until proven guilt, right? So I'm sure they don't mean to be treating everyone as suspected terrorists, it's just coming across that way. Maybe that's because they just haven't got used to online 'netiquette' yet. LOL! n00bs.

To be honest, they could find out most stuff just by befriending me on facebook. But because David keeps declining my friend request, the only option is for me to give them a daily status report. Which I've been doing every day this week.

Here's this morning's.

Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2012 10:05:21 +0100
From: My email address
To: David Cameron via the Number 10 website
Subject: The next installment...

Hi there,

I was in meetings most of the day yesterday and I had a date with my boyfriend in the evening, so I didn’t spend much time online.

I did buy these shoes on Ebay though. Nice, aren’t they? I could see Samantha wearing them.

And I also received this email from my friend who’s gone to San Francisco for a bit:

Flight was extremely bearable, even the food resembled something edible. But unfortunately I have the deluxe package of shivers, a temperature, blocked nose sore throat, all of which hit me as soon as I got here. Their drugs are crap as well ie they don't have Day Nurse. Also all their flu drugs proudly say 'pseudo ephedrine free' on the packet, as if it’s a good thing. Being ill in a foreign country sucks. Although it could be worse I suppose, I could be ill in, say, Turkmenistan.

Catch you later!


That’s it for now.


PS: Do I need to be detailing my emails to you too? I haven’t been as you’re the recipient so I figured you’d automatically count them. LMK.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Keeping the Prime Minister up to date with my internetting.

Every day this week I'm emailing the Prime Minister to tell him what I've been up to online. I figured it'd be easier than him having to sneak around with covert surveillance.

If he wants to know the minutiae of my online life, he's welcome to it! I'll make him sorry he ever asked... *shakes fist*

Here's today's update.

Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 09:48:47 +0100
From: My email address
To: David Cameron via the Number 10 website
Subject: Hi there

Hello. Here I am with today’s update on yesterday’s online antics. Enjoy!

Tuesday 03 April 2012
1000 (I had this IM convo with my friend)
Me: you know our theory about getting fat when we’re older to fill out the wrinkles?
Friend: yeah
Me: well are we old enough to start getting fat yet?
Friend: no, we decided we were going to stay slim in our 30s and then start chubbing out in our 40s
Me: oh *sadly puts down third easter egg*
Friend: so i hear you’re coming to rosie’s lunch thing on Friday?
Me: sure am
Friend: sick
Me: yes, yes it will be xx

1300 sent email to boss about how we should all have recycling bins by our desks.

1400 visited to make an appointment for a smear test as my last one was in 2008 – (or do you already know that? I just want to be thorough.)



1700 google search for ‘washrinseandrepeat’; ‘washrinserepeat’; ‘washrinserepeat london’; ‘washrinseandrepeat UK’

1800 (left work and went home)

1900 watched Embarrassing Bodies on 4OD

Hope that helps! Be in touch tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Optimus Prime Minister

After reading about the coalition government's u-turn on internet surveillance and its introduction of a new law that allows the Home Office to eavesdrop on everyone's online conversations, I thought I'd pre-empt their sneaky nosing and just ante up my info. Much quicker all round really.

So I decided to send David Cameron an email every day for the next week, detailing all my online activity for the previous day*

Here's what I sent him this morning.

Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2012 08:48:47 +0100
From: My email address
To: David Cameron via the Number 10 website
Subject: Would it be easier if...

...we all just emailed you daily to let you know what we're looking at on the internet? Like a sort of internet amnesty. It'd save lots of taxpayers' money because you wouldn't have to set up expensive online surveillance and hire people to run it all. I'm sure you've got a PA who'd help you sort through everything. Maybe ask Nick?

Shall I kick it off? I could drop you a line every morning, around this time, to let you know what I was looking at online the previous day. Let's try it and see how it goes.

Monday 2nd April 2012
1330 google search for 'can you die from holding in a wee'
1400 google search for 'why don't pandas like sex'
1430 google search for 'what did people in the olden days wear to fancy dress parties'**
1800 (I left work here and travelled home, but I did probably check twitter on my phone while I was waiting at the bus stop)
2000 google search for 'game of thrones nudity'
2030 google search for 'marc jacobs shoes size 5 cheap'

Hope that's the kind of thing you're after. I'll be in touch tomorrow with an update on today's internet activity.



*I may have fabricated most of these for my own amusement.

** Thanks EB ;) x

Friday, 23 March 2012

A mini-play I wrote for work

How to be on earth

Alien 1: I think I get it.

It flicks the page of OK! Magazine.

Alien 2: Get what?

It mutes MTV and turns to Alien 1.

Alien 1: We’ve decided we’re staying here, right?

Alien 2: Yeah.

Alien 1: So we’ll need those silicone things put in our chests.

Alien 2: Yep. And tiny versions of genus canis familiaris to put in our…what are they called?

Alien 1: Handbags?

Alien 2: Yeah.

Alien 1: Well according to this magazine we need to do something called the X Factor.

Alien 2: What’s that?

Alien 1: It’s how we’re gonna get all that stuff.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

"I know the screams are part of the fragile lady role..."

Er, what the actual fuck?

I'm hoping I'm just having a sense of humour failure about a really bad internet joke.

Because otherwise what we have here is a 1,000 word narrative of a date rape being used to sell condoms.

*brain explodes*

(sorry about the size of the image, I can't sort it out. The original is here )

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Not even Sherlock Holmes has the answer.

I didn't watch 'Sherlock' on TV over Christmas. But some people at work did. And they were talking today about how the (very few) female characters depicted in it were either sluts or mental. Not all that good really.

Then one of the other people at work who hadn't seen it told us about this thing called The Bechdel Test and asked it if would've passed it.

I'd never heard of the test before now, but it instantly reminded me about the blog post I wrote late last year about pointless female characters in films.

Essentially, The Bechdel Test is much cleverer and more succinct way of saying what I was trying to say in hundreds of rambling words:

1. Does a film have two or more female characters, with names?
2. Do they talk to each other?
3. If they talk to each other, is it a conversation about something other than a man or men?

If the answer is yes to all the above, then you have passed the Bechdel test! (And you are probably in the minority, because as you can see from the film, MOST movies are test fails.)

If the answer is no to all of the above, then you are abviously the script writer of 'Sherlock' and you have some serious work to do.