Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life Through a Lens

It is time to say goodbye to an old friend that I have known for four years. It is the Post-it note that is stuck inside the bathroom cabinet where I make a note of whether I have replaced my contact lenses each month. I should only wear each pair for a month, so it is important not to forget to change them, but it is also important not to forget that I have already changed them and waste a pair. Life can be tricky without a system such as this to keep it in check.

Looking back, I have often wished that I had kept a diary, but apart from a few brief, horribly introspective months in 1988 I never have. I therefore have to rely on my memories of certain events, such as the time I walked to the north pole, or the time I went out with Cindy Crawford. But this is a kind of diary if you just look hard enough.

Look back at my innocent handwriting in July 2004. How could I have known what the world would be like four years later? My girlfriend hadn’t moved in with me, babies were just an abstract thought and ... I am much happier now. Much happier. Much happier. Much happier.

Is it even possible to gain an insight into my state of mind? Look at my handwriting in December '04 and early '05 – what kind of crazy drugs was I on then? I was out of my head! Though obviously not so out of my head that I was neglecting my ocular hygiene and forgetting to change my contact lenses on a regular basis.

One of the reasons that the Hitler diaries were exposed as fakes was that Hitler’s handwriting showed no change when his arm was injured in an assassination attempt. I suffered no such injury in the last 48 months (unless I was so out of my head from Dec '05 to Jun '05 that I have forgotten about it), so unfortunately it is not possible to validate this Post-it note in that way. You will just have to take my word for it that this is an accurate record of when I changed my contact lenses.

I remember making a decision in July 2005 that I was going to get four years out of this Post-it note and deliberately narrowed my writing. I could have easily just gone for three columns, but it is this kind of forward planning that will save me a whole Post-it note every 12 years. Yes, I have done the maths. It is the kind of thing that I like to do as I am rubbing my contact lenses clean each night. (Don’t bother telling me to switch to daily disposables, these are special extended wear ones that you can wear for longer hours.)

I am also pleased to report that this Post-it note has still got its stick. Perhaps 3M (the manufacturers of Post-it notes) will send me some free Post-it notes for this ringing endorsement. Though at an average usage rate of less than three per decade I don't really need any more, so they probably shouldn't bother.

What can we say about the ratio of pen to pencil usage? Well, pencil is clearly more popular (I am writing on a vertical surface, and sometimes pens don't work well like this), but in 2007 pens had their most popular year with five months out of 12. Still not a majority, but perhaps I had a pen last year that was quite good at writing on vertical surfaces. I can't recall. I should also mention that my handwriting isn't usually quite this bad - please remember that I am writing on a vertical surface. And of course my vision is still a bit blurry each time as I've only just put my contact lenses in.

I had thought about folding the Post-it note over and continuing on the back, but then it wouldn't be as high as it would be folded over, and I wouldn't get the neatness of having one year per column. Aha, but then I realised that this Post-it note is square (please note that 3M do make them in other shapes and sizes - perhaps I'd like some free samples after all), so I could rotate it by 90 degrees and still get three columns out of it, even with part of it folded back on itself. But when I tried this, it flapped around a bit in an unsatisfactory manner, even when I ran my thumbnail along the crease. So it is definitely time for a new Post-it note.

For the next Post-it note I have designed a better version that does away with the redundancy of repeatedly writing the month and year every time. I am going to have a grid with the months down the left-hand side, and the years across the top, and I will just enter a tick in the relevant box each month. I reckon I could make this new Post-it note last eight years. Maybe even 10. Who knows? Though of course the first half of the first column will go unused as we are already six months into 2008, which is a bit of a waste. But maybe no system is perfect, and this is certainly an advance on the previous method. And I am sure that by the time I need bifocals I will have cracked it!

Expect an update on this story in June 2018. Who knows what will have happened in the world by then? Expect to see my tick style change as I get excited by the Olympics getting ever closer, the purchase of my first jet-pack, or getting out of my head on even harder drugs that still let me remember when to change my contact lenses etc.

Watch this space.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Have in My Hand a Piece of Paper ...

... from a local estate agent. Even in these days of credit crunches and plummeting house prices we still get regular missives from different companies saying how they've just sold or let a neighbouring flat and if we are considering doing the same to call them. I was just about to throw it in the bin with all the others when I noticed something unusual about the address they had sent it to:

Apparently there was a coup overnight and I AM NOW LIVING IN NW2!!!

I guess it's OK to be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in territorial disputes closer to home Gordon Brown has appeased the fascists of Cricklewood.

We have recently had some Eastern European workmen in decorating our communal hallway. This must be the Polish Corridor they were after.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wine of the Times

We have both been quite tired recently. It isn't anything that any other parent hasn't experienced, and last week I met someone who had triplets which shut me up a bit, but our lovely son is now mobile and intent on vomiting on everything in the flat.

The icing on the cake is when I tip his bubbly bath water from his baby bath away into the big bath only to see a massive turd heading straight for the plughole which then needs extricating from/just pushing down through the complicated plug mechanism.

We finally get him to sleep and open a bottle of wine. I collapse on to the sofa and realise that my trousers are still encrusted with rancid orange juice from when I took the recycling to the supermarket and a not-quite-empty carton leaked all down my leg so I had to go around Tesco looking like I'd wet myself but didn't really care at all. I then realise that this was actually the day before, so these trousers have already been taken off and put back on again in preference to any others, mainly because all my other clothes have been vomited on and all our drying space is full of damp baby-gros.

"Does this wine taste funny to you?" my girlfriend asks.

I sniff it, take a sip, swill it around my mouth and gurgle it across my taste buds like they showed us on the wine tasting day we went to in a previous life. Then I look at the label.

"This is mulled wine."


"Well, we've opened the bottle now. Cheers."

Our son wakes us at 2am; my mouth tastes of Christmas.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Points of View


SALVADORE'S GIRLFRIEND sits in the passenger seat waiting. She drums her fingers and rolls her eyes impatiently.

Finally, SALVADORE comes out of the petrol station. But then he stops to chat to an ATTRACTIVE YOUNG WOMAN who is wearing shorts and a bikini top.

Salvadore's Girlfriend looks annoyed.

Salvadore ostentatiously takes a £50 note out of his pocket and gives it to the Attractive Young Woman, who hugs him - a real tight bear hug.

Salvadore's Girlfriend stares in disbelief.

Salvadore strolls back to the car with a satisfied smile on his face.

Salvadore's Girlfriend looks grim - this is going to take some explaining, and it had better not be another of his ridiculous "And that, darling, is what really happened" stories.



Salvadore spots a £50 note on the floor.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

London Brawling

The NW2/NW10 turf war has obviously been going on for some time. Check out this "rebel song" from 1999 by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros in which the ex-punk rocker clearly wants change "from Willesden to Cricklewood". The lyrics also contain the phrase "Come with me and be no good, be a mad man on the street", which is obviously a reference to taking a black felt tip pen and altering postcodes on street signs. I can think of no badder or madder way to behave on the street.

When will the government ban this sick filth like they did with the Pogues's Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six? Or at least have the lyrics sung by an actor not quite in lip sync with the original.

I am going to release a triple album in response - Willesdenista!

Monday, June 02, 2008

10 Into Two Will Go

The work of the Cricklewood Liberation Army continues in this Nagorno-Karabakh of north-west London. I am not sure if this was done at the same time as the sign around the corner, but it does look like the same handwriting and pen. So maybe instead of "Army" it is just "Lone Nutter".

If I hadn't seen the other sign first I would have dismissed this as a random tag, but a closer inspection reveals that the 10 has been crossed out and a 2 written beside it. It's admittedly even more hurried than the last effort, perhaps because this road is busier with passers-by, and so it's not great propaganda for the cause, what with it being totally indecipherable to anyone passing. Except of course I am now giving this/these terrorist(s)/insurgent(s)/freedom fighter(s) (delete according to your political persuasions) the very oxygen of publicity that he/she/they obviously crave. I can see why the Chinese are so keen to clamp down on bloggers - imagine how the CLA's cause could be advanced with the exposure to the half-dozens of readers of this post. Their ranks could be doubled in no time.

All this defacing is a bit like seeing signs for Londonderry in Northern Ireland. What next? Murals of Cricklewood heroes (eg Dennis Nilsen or Patsy Kensit) on gable ends? Hunger strikers? Willesdenites demanding the right to march in bowler hats up Cricklewood Broadway? A letter-bombing campaign? Though with this last one they would have to put the correct NW10 postcode on the envelopes as a defiant NW2 might result in the bombs being returned to sender, address unknown.