Friday, December 22, 2006

Season's Greetings

To you all, from me. Who could have predicted in August that the nation would be transfixed by an abandoned bath mat for five weeks later in the year? Quite literally nobody. But we were and a lot of it was due to being spurred on by your comments. So thank you.

And I may be appearing on the radio over the festive season, with Annie Mole from the excellent Going Underground blog and possibly a pigeon in an interview about unsung blogs. I think it will be on Anita Rani's show on Boxing Day at 10pm on BBC Five Live, but it might not be. Maybe there will be some kind of listen again feature on the website. I have appeared on the radio before, and I should warn you that the BBC use very poor-quality microphones that turn my rich, deep, sonorous voice into something a bit high-pitched and nasal.

Shower Scene

My girlfriend and I are staying with friends who have two young children. Because of this they do not have a lock on their bathroom door. Because of this I am always slightly nervous when I visit them, and when possible I like to let people know that I am going to use the bathroom. I do this quite casually and naturally (I am a gifted conversationalist), but I leave everyone in no doubt that that is where I am going and that under no circumstances should anyone even come near the bathroom door.

This, however, is the first time that we have stayed overnight with them, which necessitates a full undress and shower in the morning. I had thought that I had made it reasonably clear that that was what I was going to do – not only did I say, “I'll just go and have a shower then”, but I had a flipping towel over my shoulder! It was therefore with some surprise that I look through the completely transparent shower curtain to see a small boy telling me that it is time for breakfast.

I have three simultaneous thoughts:

– It would be wrong to make a big deal out of this. The human body is a natural thing, and if I shriek and cover myself up he will have a view that willies are dirty and shameful and will grow up to be the kind of person that doesn't like people seeing his willy and gets into a complete state when a small child accidentally sees his willy.

– I don't want him to see my willy! They are dirty and shameful!

– This could go horribly, horribly wrong and I could spend the next 25 years picking glass out of my food. What if he mixes up “I saw Salvadore's willy” and “Salvadore showed me his willy”? It's a subtle grammatical difference that I think might be lost on a 5-year-old, but not on 12 of my peers.

Maybe it would be better to get my side of the story in first. But even a man of my conversational talents might find it difficult to segue from “Tea or coffee, Salvadore?” to “I wasn't masturbating!”

Instead, I casually, but strategically move the loofah and say that I'll be down in a minute. And hope that they at least spell my name correctly on the register.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Funny Things That I Have Said That Really Deserved a Wider Audience #2

I was in the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, watching a football match with some friends. This, of course, was the venue of the controversial 1936 Olympics, the highlight of the opening ceremony of which was a flypast by the Hindenburg, the largest aircraft ever to be built.

And what did they have at half-time? A radio-controlled model airship flying around the stadium. It was pretty impressive, though I assume that health and safety regulators had insisted it be filled with helium, like the Hindenburg was originally designed to have been. I assume this as, with no sympathies for any survivors or relatives of victims who might have been present, the person flying it proceeded to accidentally crash it into one of the goals.

This was a golden opportunity for someone as quick-witted as myself. How many times in my life would I witness an airship crash, particularly in such resonant circumstances as that day's? But what were the chances of my friend having at least a passing knowledge of Herbert Morrison's radio commentary of that tragic event from 1937?

I had to risk it. I turned to him and, in my most anguished tones, wailed, “Oh, the humanity!”

He just stared at me. By the time I'd explained it all the second half had kicked off.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Funny Things That I Have Said That Really Deserved a Wider Audience #1

I do not often suffer from l'esprit de l'escalier (coming up with the right thing to say far too late). Instead, I suffer from something whereby I say funny things at exactly the right time, but to a particularly small, unappreciative or incomprehending audience.

Some time ago I was with a girlfriend who had a bit of a problem in her “lady area”. It was the kind of problem that can be cured with the help of natural yoghurt, so when we were out she popped into a shop and bought some Greek-style yoghurt. When she showed me her purchase, quick as a flash, I said, “Surely if it's Greek-style, you'd stick it up your arse”.

This is quite possibly the quickest that my wits have ever worked, but the audience was (a) just one person, (b) who didn't know the non-dairy product meaning of “Greek-style”, and (c) who wasn't in the best mood for laughing anyway, what with having a poorly front bottom.

How come Oscar Wilde never had this problem? Though I suppose that his partners never needed natural yoghurt...

Friday, December 15, 2006

We Interrupt This Message

Ring-ring! Ring-ring!

The telephone is ringing; this is an exciting incident in my day. I hardly ever get phone calls during working hours, and when I do they are often of a thrilling nature, like somebody offering me a job. Whoever said that bad news travels faster than good news clearly wasn't a freelance writer, in whose world crushing rejection comes in the post from people too embarrassed at the poverty of your idea to want to speak to you, but acceptance and offers of employment like to be made immediately and vocally with lots of ego-boosting encouragement. Though I am now getting crushing rejections by email as well, so perhaps whoever came up with that maxim was not only right, but remarkably prescient.

ME: Hello.

WOMAN ON PHONE: Er, hello. I'm phoning about BT Broadband.

Oh for goodness' sake! I am ex-directory and have removed myself from every possible telephone and mailing list, yet still these people get through. Do they not realise that I am a writer, and I might have been about to create something brilliant? Coleridge was once interrupted by “a person from Porlock” and never managed to recall the dream that inspired his poem afterwards. Though whether this person was flogging high-speed internet access is not recorded.

ME: Yeah, I'm not interested.

WOMAN: Oh, it's just that it doesn't work.

Blimey! This is the worst salesperson ever. BT can hardly blame the break-up of the UK telecom monopoly for their woes if this is the calibre of staff that they employ. Unless it is some amazing reverse-psychology technique that starts off by making you agree with how poor their services are, then ends up with you buying broadband, gas, electricity and a timeshare in the Algarve from them.

ME: I'm actually very happy with Tiscali.

WOMAN: Oh. Is there anything you can do?

It slowly dawns on me. This woman is not a salesperson, and is just a BT broadband customer who has accidentally called me thinking that I am the fault reporting department. All that I've done is to tell her that I'm not interested, that my broadband works fine, and that a competitor is much better.

ME: Like I said, Tiscali are quite good.

I put the phone down and go back to work.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...

Nope, it's gone.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Train of Thought

Customer Service Centre
South West Trains
Overline House
Blechynden Terrace
SO15 1GW

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to draw your attention to this picture that I took at Kingston station recently. As you can see, the sign reads “We regret that owing to a fault no information can be displayed at present”. This is confusing because this statement is itself information, so therefore the information that the sign is displaying (that it cannot display information) is incorrect.

By displaying the information that it cannot display information this sign represents a paradox – in fact, a dot-matrix version of the liar paradox that dates back to Greek philosopher Eubulides of Miletus in the fourth century BC. Another example of the liar paradox is “This statement is false”.

Perhaps you are employing paraconsistent logic and believe that the statement can be both true and false. Or maybe you are using situation semantics whereby the “negation liar” statement can be false without contradiction. Or perhaps your employees have to spend most of their time making the trains run rather than engaging in philosophical discourse. They obviously didn’t have that distraction in Ancient Greece.

May I suggest that you reword the sign to read “We regret that owing to a fault no information can be displayed at present (apart from this bit of information, obviously)”. You may have to replace your dot-matrix displays across the network with ones that have an extra line each, but that would be a small price to pay for logic. (I feel that putting the part in brackets on a separate line that you scroll up to would confuse matters further.) This will then not perplex any passing philosophers, and thus not cause them to miss their trains when they begin to question whether the 18:49 to Waterloo actually exists anyway.

Yours faithfully,

Salvadore Vincent


Monday, December 11, 2006

Things Abandoned on the Pavement Within 100 Yards of My Home That I Have Taken a Photograph of #3

This one? This one I have no idea about. Three espresso cups and two matching saucers on the pavement. Two cups upside-down on saucers, the middle cup the right way up. What is going on?

It doesn’t fall into the category of “rubbish to be picked up by council”, nor really into “things I don’t need, but someone passing might”. Who doesn't have room for three small coffee cups and two saucers?

Had I interrupted a child’s tea party? Was it some kind of middle-class version of the shell game, fleecing passing north Londoners who failed to find the organic coffee bean? Was this the day the teddy bears were going to have their picnic?

My only other theory is that it was some kind of semaphore signal that Russian spies are leaving for each other. Down/saucer, up/no saucer, down/saucer perhaps meaning “Send more polonium-210”.

I had to know what was under the cups. I looked around for the hidden cameras and steeled myself for anything – the cups being superglued to the saucers, the saucers being superglued to the pavement, my fingers being superglued to the cups...

And what was underneath? Nothing. Nothing under the saucers either. The next day they were gone – either one lucky neighbour is sipping espressos with two friends (one of whom doesn't take sugar), or the teddy bears went down with radiation poisoning.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bathmatwatch: A Tribute

(Watch on YouTube here.)

After a minute's silence, please sing loudly at 1201GMT on Friday 8th.

And did bare feet in recent times
Walk upon this old bath mat blue?
And has the rain of shower or bath
Now been replaced by morning dew?
And did the naked and the wet
Stand forth on this absorbent weave?
And is where dampened bodies dried
Among the fallen autumn leaves?

Bring me my towel; And now my pants;
Bring me my talc (my feet perspire);
Bring me my Lynx deodorant!
Bring me my dressing gown of fire!
I will not cease my Bathmatwatch,
Nor shall the words of doubters scotch,
Till we have somewhere warm to stand
In every bathroom in the land.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bathmatwatch: A Nation Mourns

It is my sad duty to inform you all that the bath mat has disappeared. Unconfirmed reports at 1145GMT suggested that the bath mat was not there any more. This was confirmed at 1150GMT on the way back from the shop. A thorough search was made under cars and in nearby front gardens, but to no avail. There was a glimmer of hope that perhaps it had gone back to its original home, but that was cruelly snatched away with the circulation of this photograph earlier this afternoon:

Tony Blair has paid tribute to the bath mat in the House of Commons, saying “It was the people's bath mat”. The Queen has ordered all flags on royal palaces to be flown at half-mast, and all bets are off for the Christmas number one as Elton John has announced that he will be recording Bath Mat in the Wind.

The street where the drama of the last five weeks took place was quiet this afternoon, though it is understood that floral tributes are now being laid by the wall at the bath mat's original home.

Nearby streets are suspiciously clean, but when asked to comment on the movements of street sweepers in the past 24 hours, a local council representative said, “Er, I'm not really sure. Can I call you back?” No call came, and one angry fan has already pointed the finger of suspicion, declaring, “It was the street sweeper, in the road, with a broom”. Meanwhile, Mohamed Al Fayed has blamed Prince Philip for the disappearance, and Oliver Stone is busily scrutinising the grassy knoll area in the upper right of the photo.

This is not a time for recrimination though. This is a time to remember the happy times that the bath mat has brought us all and to reflect on its passing. There will now be three days of official mourning – please sign the book of condolences below. As a mark of respect, the Scrappy-Loo and matching bath mat (available in blue or cream) will now be donated at random to one lucky mourner.

Bathmatwatch: Day 36

Bath mat “missing”. More soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bathmatwatch™: Day 35

As you may have read in the business sections of the Sunday papers, Bathmatwatch, like MySpace and YouTube before it, has been taken over by a massive media conglomeration. There was a frenzied bidding war between News International, Google and Yahoo, each keen to expand their portfolio of Web 2.0 sites, but the outright winner was JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary.

Evil media magnate JonnyB, who allows the Chinese to censor his blog, and who smashed the comedy sidekicks’ union by bringing in Short Tony as scab labour, has insisted that this blog start turning a profit, so to this end I have introduced a number of revenue-generating promotions that will happily sit alongside the innocent daily picture of an abandoned bath mat. Honestly, you will barely notice the difference.

Text alerts! For just £1.40, get a daily text alert for a whole week about how the bath mat is sent straight to your mobile, BEFORE the rest of the world gets the blog posting. Invaluable if you are on holiday, or just away from your computer.

Picture alerts! For just £3.50, get the daily picture of the bath mat sent straight to your mobile for a whole week! Again, this will be BEFORE the rest of the world gets the blog posting. Imagine the envy on your friends’ faces when you tell them that you know where the Honda Civic is!

And remember that every donation made before midday on 8th December gets entered into the prize draw where you could win your very own Scrappy-Loo. People really are giving money, so don’t delay – it could be you! And the more you give, the greater your chance of winning!

To use these services, just send your UK mobile phone number in along with your PayPal donation. You will get seven daily text messages or picture messages, though I’m not responsible for network delays or incompatibilities, or the bath mat disappearing, or the fact that I might be away at Christmas. I promise never to give the number to anyone else. Nor will I use the number for making dirty phone calls to you – anyone who says that I will is lying.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 34

Click for answer

Spot the bath mat. The Honda Civic owner is not making things easy for any of us. (Click photo for answer.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 33

I might have to rig up some floodlights till the clocks go forward...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 32

Bathmatwatch continues with its invaluable work of providing a daily photograph of an abandoned bath mat. But this work comes at a cost – shoe leather, broadband fees, danger money etc. So today I am launching Bath Mats in Need and asking you for donations to help this work to carry on. It's easy to give – just click the 'Make a Donation' button on the right and pay via PayPal. Every penny you give goes towards helping Bathmatwatch continue.

And as an extra incentive to give, one lucky donor will receive their very own Scrappy-Loo, an actual blue toilet mat in the post. The more you give, the higher your chance of winning, so please be generous. This is a game of skill, not a lottery – to enter the draw just answer this question in the PayPal Note box: What is the subject of Bathmatwatch? (a) It is a bath mat, or (b) I am an idiot and wrong – it is something else like a carpet sample. Only correct answers will be entered into the draw. All private information such as real names and email addresses will be kept secret. The draw will be held on December 8th 2006.

NB Scrappy-Loo prize does not have eyes or mouth, nor does it speak in any way. Your statutory rights are not affected. Probably.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 31

A month in to Bathmatwatch, and I think that this is a good time to recap, and also to let new readers catch up with an FAQ.

What is Bathmatwatch?

Bathmatwatch is a series of daily photographs of an abandoned bath mat in north-west London. It began on November 1st 2006, and is still ongoing.

UPDATE: Bathmatwatch finished 35 days later when the bath mat disappeared on December 5th 2006. A moving tribute is posted here.

UPDATE: The bath mat made a transubstantiated reappearance on February 9th 2007.

UPDATE: The bath mat sent another message from the afterlife on August 5th 2007.

Is it a bath mat? It looks a bit like a carpet sample to me.

It is a bath mat.

Has the bath mat ever moved?

It made some small movements on Day 2, Day 4, Day 7, Day 10 and Day 14, then a giant leap into the road on Day 22, then an equally giant leap along the road on Day 26. In fact, go back to Day 2 anyway. Doesn’t it look young?

Is the bath mat trying to spell something out with these movements?

So far it has spelt ‘L’. We can only speculate as to what it is trying to say and hope that it uses some abbreviations. At this rate it is like Stephen Hawking using a Ouija board. I would like to think that it will say “Love everybody”, but it might say “Leave me alone”, “Leyton Orient rule OK” or “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch". Though if the latter it will end up in Essex and it will cost me a fortune to see it every day.

Why did the bath mat cross the road?

Because the chicken wanted a bath?

Whose was the best picture drawn in the gallery on Day 11?

The joint winners were Ellie and Doris. Well done, Ellie and Doris. John Plato’s entry was, to be honest, a bit scary. Is that a green cat?

What did you see in the bath mat and then draw on Day 11, Salvadore Vincent? Was it a dog or a mouse?

It was a dog.

Has Bathmatwatch inspired any spin-offs?

There has been one rather poor quality spin-off: Suitcasewatch. Please note that this is not officially endorsed by Smaller Than Life.

How many people in the world have bath mats? If only somebody would do some kind of poll that also expressed that figure as a percentage.

The results of such a poll are here. You can vote in the poll here.

What is Bath Mats of the World?

Bath Mats of the World is a project to collect a picture of every bath mat in the world and plot their positions on a map. So far I have collected over five pictures from more than one continent.

Of the pictures sent in so far to Bath Mats of the World, which is your favourite?

They are all great. Interestingly, it has only been women who have sent in pictures of their bath mats. It is a good job that I am not someone who gets sexual thrills from seeing pictures of women’s bath mats who has set up a blog with the sole purpose of getting people to send in pictures of their bath mats, and just deleting any from men. I am not such a person, and anyone who says that I am is lying.

Where is the bath mat exactly?

The exact location is a strict secret. There are some weird people on the internet.

Who is the hero of Bathmatwatch?

That would have to be Martyn Colbeck, who spent 15 years filming elephants in Kenya. Will I still be doing this when I am 51?

Who is the villain of Bathmatwatch?

That would have to be the street sweeper. Boo!

What was this blog like before Bathmatwatch?

I can’t remember. I think that I wrote stuff like this, this and this. And this.

Is the bath from Day 21 still there?

No, it was gone the next day.

What happened to Things Abandoned on the Pavement Within 100 Yards of My Home That I Have Taken a Photograph of #3?

That will have to wait. The picture has been taken and is being stored safely, though the item itself is now long gone. If you thought Bathmatwatch was good, this will blow your minds.

Do you have a bath mat?

No. I just dry myself over the bath. In fact, if somebody gave me a bath mat, I would probably just leave it out on the pavement for someone else to take.

How did you do the CGI for Scrappy-Loo on Day 24? That was amazing!

I used a sophisticated imaging processing program that is only available to professionals within the animation industry. It is called MS Paint.

Is Bathmatwatch all true?

Every single word of it is true. It is not something that I am making up to make myself look more interesting.

Even the suitcase on Day 28? That is one amazing coincidence that it was abandoned there.

Even the suitcase. That scared me a bit.

Is there any Bathmatwatch merchandising available? eg a mug or a T-shirt.

Not yet. Would you like some?

Does your girlfriend know about Bathmatwatch?

No, and I am beginning to worry how I will break the news to her that I will have to arrange Christmas around it.

Why is the bath mat there?

Why are any of us here?

UPDATE: What is Bath Mats in Need?

Click here to find out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 30

Like The Truman Show, this is only going to end one way. Items born of the John Lewis bathroom department have but a short time to live. (I am not saying that John Lewis sell things of unmerchantable quality, by the way. They are an excellent chain, and never knowingly undersold (except by every shop on the internet, but that's an unfair comparison because they have much better customer service – eg I bought a pair of gloves for my mum's birthday today from a very nice woman. (It is OK – my mum does not, as far as I know, read this blog, and if she does, she does not know it is her son's, so I have not ruined the surprise.)). No, I am subtly using a metaphor for life.)

I don't know what I will do when it goes. It would be wrong to replace it with an identical stained, bedraggled and run over bath mat to spare your feelings. It is important that you all learn about death and grieve properly. It would also be wrong to immediately start another abandoned item watch – that would just be a rebound relationship, forever tainted with the unspoken question: “You're thinking about the bath mat, aren't you?”

We just have to take one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 29

The suitcase is gone. Gone, but not forgotten, as it seems that I have a tribute site: Suitcasewatch.

But fear not – the bath mat's secret location has not been compromised. The site is just a poor spin-off – the Joey of abandoned item blogs. In so many ways.

I am not sure that I should be giving it the oxygen of publicity, particularly when the site owner has a baby and carpenters that he should be spending his time worrying about.

Smaller Than Life is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 28

Bathmatwatch took a disturbing and sinister turn today. As I turned left into the road, I immediately saw that it would be difficult to take today’s photo. The owners of the Honda Civic were clearly loading up their car, as there was a suitcase in the road just behind it. But as I got closer, no one came out of a house and put the suitcase into the boot – it just sat there in the rain.

As I got closer still I saw that it was an old suitcase that had been abandoned on the very same spot that the bath mat moved to on Day 22.

Look! It is the same diagonal white splatter on the kerb in the lower right-hand corner! Of all the gutters in all the towns in all the world, it is abandoned here.

Is somebody trying to tell me something? Am I being threatened? Are they telling me to get packing? Am I getting too close to the truth about the bath mat? Can I handle the truth about the bath mat? Could this suitcase be full of polonium-210? What is going on?

I know that the police are busy, but I am sure that once I have explained the whole of Bathmatwatch to them they will investigate.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 27

A day of rest for the bath mat (and me), after a busy week.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 26

Once more I found myself pointing my camera at an empty space (this time under the Honda Civic), mentally preparing the obituary when I saw that the bath mat had moved two or three yards further down the road (the wet tarmac made it difficult to spot it immediately). It has cleared the speed bump's white line, and is now neatly up against the pavement.

It may be that the bath mat is trying to spell something important to me in its movements, like in Paul Auster's New York Trilogy. So far it has managed "L". We can only watch and wait, and hope that it uses some abbreviations.

Hubcapwatch: What sort of car does this hubcap belong to?

Please continue to send in photos for Bath Mats of the World.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 25

It is sad to see the bath mat in this state. Out of its natural environment and away from the safety of the pavement, I fear that there is not much time left. But we must remember the happy times had by it and all other bath mats.

To this end, today I bring you Bath Mats of the World. Please submit a photo of your bath mat, along with its location (it will be plotted quite precisely, so you might want to change this slightly (or a lot)), and any brief comment and URL to the email address on the right.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 24

The bath mat here demonstrates the perfect angle at which to parallel park, using, if I am not mistaken, Dunlop tyres.

Despite the recent giant leap for bathmatkind, I am concerned that Bathmatwatch is getting a bit boring. The bath mat hasn’t moved for two days, and now that you have had a taste of excitement you will only want more. Audiences are very sophisticated these days, capable of following multiple non-linear narratives, and expecting plot twists that challenge the very nature of the programme’s reality every week.

I have thus used all my scriptwriting talents to address this problem, and have decided to introduce an irritating comedy sidekick for the bath mat. He is called Scrappy-Loo, and is the horseshoe-shaped piece of mat that goes around a toilet. He is also the bath mat’s never-before-mentioned nephew, though I can’t be bothered to work out a back-story for that. He just is, OK?

Though you may not be able to tell, Scrappy-Loo is not a real horseshoe-shaped mat – he is the latest in ‘CGI’ (computer-generated imagery, like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park), and is just ‘superimposed’ seamlessly into the scene.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 23


Though the bath mat is now safe from the street sweeper. Unless he is particularly diligent and supernaturally strong.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 22 (update)

It is the sight that Britain dreaded, like the top blown off another double-decker bus, or a newspaper vendor’s board proclaiming the recommissioning of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

Today was another bright morning, the sun low in the sky. I thought that I could see the bath mat, then as I got closer a sense of panic set in. It simply wasn't there. I looked further down the street – had I miscounted the number of houses? No, this was the place that I had stood for 21 days and made my record. All that I could see was the ghostly outline on the damp pavement, a reminder of what was.

Dispassionately, professionally, I took today’s photograph. As I checked it on the screen, I briefly wondered whether yesterday’s photo would become like the fateful image of Diana in the revolving door at the Ritz, or JFK waving to the crowd in Dallas. A last picture of innocence, forever subsumed by the future-narrowing hindsight of retrospective viewers.

Then I turned around...

Joy rose in my heart once more. The bath mat appears to be heading south for the winter. But it has left the comparative safety of the pavement, where street sweepers may think that it is some kind of distant doormat, and is now playing a deadly game of chicken. Its future is uncertain, but today we should simply give thanks that it is still with us.

The bath mat may be in the gutter, but it is looking at the stars.

Bathmatwatch: Day 22

Bath mat “missing”. More soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 21

It is days like today, pouring with rain, that I wonder what I am doing. The tie that links me to the bath mat is like that of caring for an elderly relative. I might resent the regular chores, but I have made a commitment. This is my life now. Making an anonymous tip-off to the council refuse department would be just as wrong as smothering with a pillow.

And I am the kind of person who cannot give up on an idea, no matter how stupid. It is this attitude that once left me stranded in the middle of the Sahara desert, and now means that I have to leave my warm, dry flat every day, take a photograph of an abandoned bath mat, then try to find something to write about it. Will I ever learn? At least it wasn’t raining in the desert.

I sometimes want to put us all out of our miseries and ask who will rid me of this turbulent bath mat. Then, just a few doors down, I saw this, and it all seemed to make sense again.

Please keep sending me pictures of your bath mats.

And I also need a bit of spare web space somewhere where I can either have ftp access, or regularly email an updated version of a small file. For technical reasons I can't use blogger or libsyn. Can anyone help, please? It is for Something Special (not kiddie porn).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 20

Please send a photo of your bath mat to the email address on the right. We need to gather intelligence and try to work out what the downtrodden are up to.

Mary – Big Rapids, Michigan, USA
These are her little brother's feet.

Alda РReykjavík, Iceland.
Do mind your feet when you get out of the bath, Alda.

Status Anxiety – location unknown

Laura – West Dulwich, London (with matching homemade monster)

Petite Anglaise – Belleville, Paris (with hostage)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 19

The twig is gone!!!

As revealed yesterday, the bath mats are preparing to take over. We must gather intelligence on them and plot their every move. To this end, please send me photos of your bath mat(s), along with their location (country, county, city, full address – whatever you want). I know that at least 47 of you have them (plus two wooden slat ones – they are like the armoured division and very dangerous, especially to toes), so get emailing.

I can then plot their movements on a big map with a long wooden stick. This will be our finest hour.

When taking photos please do not endanger yourself or others, take unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 18

Rain-sodden. More leaves. Twig still there.

Sherlock Holmes said that “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Since there is no natural possible reason for the bath mat to have remained on the street for 18 days, we must investigate the remaining, improbable theories:

1. The bath mat is covering a hole in the pavement. This hole is a tunnel that leads inside the head of Des O'Connor. After 15 minutes inside Des's head you are ejected on to the side of the North Circular. You will then spend the rest of the day humming The Skye Boat Song and thinking up chat-up lines that might work on Carol Vorderman.

2. It is a magic flying bath mat, that when stood on naked whisks you to a magical land where chocolate grows on trees and nobody has heard of Chantelle. This will be the main line of my defence at my indecent exposure trial. I will be calling you all as character witnesses, so please prepare yourselves with statements of my sanity.

3. Like The Day of the Triffids, this bath mat is a diversion to distract our attention. Then, when the eyes of the world are on this blog, they will rise up against us. According to my own survey, bath mats have already infiltrated 70% of our bathrooms. The bathroom is the most logical place for them to launch their attack, as this is where we are naked and defenceless, often with shampoo in our eyes. You must either (a) never shower or bathe again, or (b) never read this blog again.

I think that it is elementary which you should do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 17

Rain and a twig in the upper right corner.

Like a cuckoo, or Diana Ross, the bath mat is taking over. The incarnations of this record will undoubtedly be:

Smaller Than Life

Smaller Than Life, featuring Bathmatwatch

Smaller Than Life and Bathmatwatch

Bathmatwatch and Smaller Than Life

Bathmatwatch (ex-Smaller Than Life)

Celebrity Bathmatwatch

I'm a Bath Mat... Get Me Out of Here!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 16

The bath mat's location is, of course, top secret. It is like when a pair of rare eagles nest together – the public is not allowed to know exactly where in case some lunatic steals the eggs. It has been the same ever since school – one person has to spoil it for all the rest. Though I imagine that an omelette made out of eagles' eggs would be very tasty.

I fear that I have already given too much away about the bath mat's location though, and each morning I dread finding a note attached to the bath mat that reads something like “Bathmatwatch Sucks! (What about doing more stuff like your clever satires on government policies and organised religion? They were great and acted as much better calling cards for your writing.)”

I saw Se7en again the other night, and what would be even more chilling is if, like at the scene of the second murder (Greed), one morning I found that the bath mat had simply been rotated by 180°. I might not notice till I got back home and compared the photo with the previous day's and saw that the dog was standing on its head. (It is a dog, not a mouse.) I would then have no choice but to go back and look at the back of the bath mat, where there would be a message written in fingerprints that read “I am in your flat! (And what about doing more stuff about how your obsessive nature causes minor disagreements with your girlfriend? Those were really funny. This bath mat stuff is getting old.)” Admittedly, my stalker would have to have used quite a small finger.

But what if I have two stalkers, working independently of each other? Or, indeed, any even number of stalkers who all rotate the bath mat by 180° between me taking a photograph each day? I would be oblivious to their existence, and could only hope that they would get into an argument about who gets to stab me that culminated in them all stabbing each other to death simultaneously.

This is why I must be careful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 15

(You might want to open this in another tab/window.)

And did bare feet in recent times
Walk upon this old bath mat blue?
And has the rain of shower or bath
Now been replaced by morning dew?
And did the naked and the wet
Stand forth on this absorbent weave?
And is where dampened bodies dried
Among the fallen autumn leaves?

Bring me my towel; And now my pants;
Bring me my talc (my feet perspire);
Bring me my Lynx deodorant!
Bring me my dressing gown of fire!
I will not cease my Bathmatwatch,
Nor shall the words of doubters scotch,
Till we have somewhere warm to stand
In every bathroom in the land.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 14

The bath mat has undergone possibly the largest single day's movement – a massive shift to the right and a straightening back against the wall, leaving it clear of the left-hand paving slab for the first time. It is fitting that this seismic shift has happened today as there has been a lot of debate in the comments boxes about whether the bath mat is actually a bath mat or not. I am a rational person with a scientific background, so I am happy to consider the possibilities with an open mind:

1. It is a bath mat. I am the only person here to have seen it “in the flesh” so you’ll have to take my word for it, but it really does look like a bath mat. Er, that’s about all I have, but people have done more with less. Is it too small to be a bath mat? I don’t know – how big are your feet?

2. It is a doormat. No doormat is this colour or made of this material. It’s definitely the colour you’d see in a bathroom. And it’s not next to a door (there is a perfectly adequate doormat several yards up the path, next to the door – the clue’s in the name, guys), and nobody seems to be wiping their feet on it. If it had been used as a doormat in the past it would surely be much dirtier.

3. It is a carpet offcut. Zoom in and you’ll see that it’s not an offcut as it has finished edges and rounded corners. This theory is a non-starter.

4. It is a “carpet square”. Again, zoom in and you’ll see that it’s not any kind of carpet tile or offcut. And as for it being square, yesterday’s photos dispel that myth. But could it be a carpet sample?

To those who still say that it is just a piece of carpet, I say “What is a bath mat, if not a piece of carpet?” Can any of you prove that this “piece of carpet” has not been used as a bath mat?

I’m not going to suggest that the “carpet camp” Doubting Thomases be rounded up and burnt at the stake. That would probably be “politically incorrect”, even though they are heretics and clearly wrong. Instead, I will just challenge their beliefs with humour and satire – perhaps a scatological musical starring a chat show host, or some badly-drawn cartoons. Or maybe a book entitled The Kashan-ic Verses. I don’t think that any of these would cause any problems.

Ultimately, it is like the Turin Shroud. (But with the face of a dog, not Jesus. Or a mouse.) I can’t afford to get it carbon-dated or anything, but I could look on the back to see if there is a label that says something like “bath mat” or “carpet sample – light blue sculptured”.

But wouldn’t you rather have faith?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 13

There has been some discussion recently as to whether the bath mat is actually a bath mat at all. I will write at more length about this tomorrow (so long as it is still there, of course), but I would first like to just dispel the myth (some might say “heresy”) that it is a “carpet square”.

Exhibit ‘A’:

Exhibit ‘B’:

As you can see, the bath mat is clearly rectangular, not square.

And yes, that is the same 30cm (12") ruler in each photograph. Answering the question “What are you doing outside my house?” would have been bad enough, without having to face a supplementary query of “And why do you have two rulers which look superficially identical, but on closer inspection differ in length by the ratio necessary to make this carpet square look like a rectangular bath mat?”

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 12

The first serious rain of Bathmatwatch, and the bath mat is looking quite bedraggled. The dog's eyes are harder to pick out now (and it is a dog, not a mouse). Lots of new leaves on the left hand side as well, suggesting that a mainly westerly wind has blown them up against the bath mat. We can only hope that the sunshine and wind will create good drying conditions today. We are lucky that the bath mat is on the sunny side of the street.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 11

What do you see in the bath mat? The Virgin Mary? A pair of boobs? Barney Rubble? Draw what you see, email it in with your name, age and URL (if any) to the address on the right, and the best ones will be displayed in The Gallery. We're sorry, but we can't return any of your pictures.

The Gallery
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Ellie, 36 - Volcano
Stitchwort, 59 and 10 months – A worm, delighted to find an apple in the undergrowth
Doris, 30-something
Will, 25
Petite Anglaise, no age given – Dog

John Plato, 28 – Volcano

Salvadore Vincent, 36 – Dog