Friday, April 29, 2005

Ooh La La, J'aime Faire Le Menage a Chez Moi!



I must apologise in advance; I do get a bit silly sometimes. Usually it's when I've had too much Battenburg cake for afternoon tea. But don't you think, everything sounds so much better (and a little bit naughtier) en francais? I certainly do, which is why I use it at every available opportunity, even when doing something as mundane as housework.

As I was frantically doing the dishes today to get rid of the evidence of my tea party, I began to realise that housework is most definitely underrated, as are housewives in general (with the exception of the almighty Desperate ones). Housework is amazing- the mechanical nature of it meant my mind was free to roam where it pleased, without the pressure of implied procrastination that underpins one's thoughts when one is ruminating on one's arse and otherwise non-gainfully employed. With housework though, it's like: scrub scrub. I wonder if Britney's going to have a boy or a girl? scrub scrub. Now that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are together: will she agree to Scientology? scrub scrub. Would self-tan be a fatal mistake for...ooh, look here, I've got a lovely clean mug!

You get the picture. It's multitasking at it's best- you're doing something useful, but you still get to ponder all your juicy idle thoughts without feeling guilty. Not only that; housework is also great for mulling over weightier topics over too. Why, when I sat down to start writing this very entry I suddenly clogged up with a horrid case of writer's block. That was when I decided to attack the dishes- and lo and behold, before I knew it I felt the spark of genius upon me and was back at the computer, bashing out these words. God's truth, that's how it was.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Harrumph

Have I told you about our new houseguest yet? Mistress picked her up from the Serpentine gallery the day they dismantled the Tomoko Takahashi installation. The stupid dog acts like she's a player on the international art scene, but we both know she's nothing more than a pawn.

She's so stuck up, she hasn't said a word to me since she arrived.

What a wet blanket...and I'm not referring to that dumb blue cloth she's got wrapped around her.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I'm Feeling Supersonic, Give Me Jynnan Tonnyx



Right now any pop culture maven worth their salt is going to be counting down the days impatiently until the film version of The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy is released at their local cinema, which, for those of us living in the UK and the US, is next Friday the 29th April- Yippee!!

It's too difficult for me to explain what Hitch-Hikers is to anybody who hasn't read the books, and in any case Wikipedia does it much better. Acquaint yourself with at least the high level storyline. If indeed storyline is the most appropriate descriptor for the chaotically tangential narrative that comprises the novels in this series.

Notwithstanding the fact that, being a toy dog, I most likely won't be able to see it until it is available for Mistress to purchase on DVD, I've been trying to speed through the trilogy again before I watch the film. Of course, this being a five book trilogy it's been taking me a while. Mind you, I'm suddenly getting a lot more of these jokes now that I'm here in England. The last time I read Hitch-Hiker's I was in the storage facility of a manufacturer's warehouse in southern China. God's truth, this particular factory produced only stuffed dogs and boxed-set Chinese translations of the Hitch-Hiker's books. That was in my former life as an unloved, neglected, mass-produced toy, where there was not much else to do except squabble with your neighbours over the bubble-wrap (and since all of us were identical, it was difficult to keep track of whom you were actually squabbling with, so you ended up being in a huff with pretty much everybody), and read.

What really struck me, on reading the books again, is how prescient Douglas Adams was. He's like what William Gibson would have been if he'd written for Monty Python. In their own ways, each predicted the Internet as we know it today (incidentally, Adams started his own web-based Hitch-Hiker's guide years ago, called h2g2 , now hosted by the BBC website), only Adams' version is much funnier. Both authors' works are dazzling in their vision, and they share common elements, such as a fundamental anxiety for the future of the human race. However I must confess there are times when I prefer my sci-fi dysfunctional rather than dystopic.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Office Armchair Monologue



Though I like to fancy myself as a perceptive social commentator of world culture and events, I do find sometimes my thoughts aren't as topical or relevant as they possibly could be. This morning I was racking my brains for some analysis on the election of the new Pope, an angle on the upcoming British elections, the accuracy of Nicole Kidman's eastern European (?) accent in The Interpreter. But as hard as I tried to think about the bigger issues, I couldn't help but keep coming back to questions like: Why is Edinburgh not pronounced edinburg, but edinbra? Why don't the second syllables of Greenwich and sandwich sound the same? What a ruddy strange language English is, it must be said. I suppose it's what happens to a language that's basically a Viking house party gate-crashed by ancient Romans.

Or perhaps I'm just talking rubbish. I suppose I've been doing that a bit lately; ever since I mistook Mistress' Nurofen for breath mints the other day my brain has felt a little numb. Incidentally, that's how I came to be sitting in this armchair in the lounge room of Mistress' office. Put plainly, I overdosed on ibuprofen, collapsed in Mistress' handbag, and woke up several hours later in a room on the second floor of a West End building. After I'd gotten over my initial shock, I began to quite enjoy it. Like children, students, housewives, and anybody else who has never quite had to have an office job, I'd always wondered exactly what people did "at work". As far as I'm concerned, office workers rival the freemasons in secrecy. Have you ever noticed that they can never describe precisely what they do, no matter how much they are probed? I'll bet you anything they've got a secret handshake.

Unfortunately I can't shed any light on the situation after my day in the office. As soon as Mistress left her desk for a meeting, I ventured out of the bag for a bit, but had to skedaddle off to the nearest unoccupied room after a large group of repairmen suddenly stormed through the front door while I was in the reception area trying to work out the coffee machine. I found myself in the employee lounge, where I amused myself with an old copy of the weekend Financial Times newspaper for the rest of the afternoon. It was a godawful boring day to be honest, and I wouldn't do it again, but I did make one wonderful discovery- the weekend FT magazine. It's not a bad little read at all.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I May Be Gone Some Time



I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but although Mistress loves dogs, she's terribly allergic to the real things. That's why she has me. Unfortunately she also has the occasional blue-faced bout of asthma, and then I end up in the doghouse because I'm apparently bursting at the seams with triggers like dust mites.

The dog house that I refer to is of course metaphorical (It hardly needs mentioning that I normally sleep next to her and have no requirement for separate bedding), but nevertheless extremely unpalatable. Put simply, I end up in the freezer for 24 hours because some unthinking idiot decided to post that up on their asthma website as a handy hint for minimising irritants in the home.

It's not so much the cold that I mind, but sharing shelf space with, amongst other things, smelly desiccated bonepiles destined for the stockpot. Being stabbed by frosty stalactites is none too pleasant, either. I can hardly protest though, for even if I were so heartless as to disregard Mistress' accordionesque wheezing, I'm hardly Hound-ini enough to escape this airtight Safeway bag.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pas de Sportif



Generally speaking, one tries not to associate with fighting dog breeds if one can help it. They're not known particularly for their intelligence. However, there is one bulldog currently on my radar who is quite impressive indeed; I take my metaphorical hat off to him.

He lives somewhere in North America, and goes by the name of Tyson. This is his website, which is devoted to his skateboarding hobby. I've been watching his videoclips all afternoon, shuddering with delight each time his muscular thighs push down on the asphalt, propelling him even faster down the slopes of the empty carparks he seems to favour.

Regretfully I have neither the equipment nor the right environment to attempt to imitate him. Therefore, I will just this once concede superiority to another doggy website and suggest that you visit it now.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Congratulations Millie and Chas!



Since the gorgeous queen mum passed on, I must admit I haven't been the biggest fan of the monarchy; but whenever a royal event happens I still can't help but be completely mesmerised by the pomp and ceremony of it all. Today was the date for the wedding of the year, that is, Charles and Camilla, who I do secretly like to think of as the Princess Consort (with its vague hint of impropriety).

And what a beautiful day it was. Perfect for all those flower-toting, flag-waving British children that seem to come out of the woodwork every time the royal family finds an occasion to take to the public streets. On the television, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Not that we had any of that in the flat though; mistress was hungover from the previous night and had the curtains tightly drawn.

I must say Camilla looked lovely this morning, glowing with the faint blush of a new bride (though she will never match the beauty of the Queen, whose looks remain to this day as fresh as a newly minted coin). Even Charles had a semi-smile on his face for half a second when they came out of the civil ceremony. No doubt he was thinking about his brand new conjugal rights, and no longer having to sneak his girlfriend out of his bedroom before the rest of the household woke up.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto



Does anybody else (besides my friends and me here) think it would be a good idea to merge two of the best consumer electronic products to have appeared in the last 5 years- the Sony Aibo and the Apple iPod- into a single product?

I must admit, it took me a while to become comfortable with the idea of artificial intelligence after watching Space Odyssey: 2001 . It's especially creepy when robots run low on their batteries and start talking in that 'Daaaaaisy, daaaaaaisy' kind of voice. My friends here are programmed to simply lie down quietly to conserve energy if it should ever happen to them, but it's only marginally less disconcerting to be, say, debating the relevance of the 21st century Catholic hegemony in West, and suddenly finding your rhetoric falling on hibernating ears.

Having said that, I'm very keen to push the idea out there for an 'ai-Pod', a chihuahua-sized robot puppy and personal mp3 player that can also walk, run, dance, sit, and stay. And which can also sit obediently in a girl's handbag for hours without needing to pee.

The new Aibo chien comes with special customisable memory software and 64MB RAM. So you could also provide your new musical friend with a taste for religious and political discussion, as well as a predisposition towards wee little red-nosed toy dogs.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig



Oooh blimey, but it's nice to be back in old Blighty. I've got that song by Simon and Garfunkel in my head: Jeepers it's great to be back home! Home is where I wanna be!

When we got home, Mistress went straight to the bathroom to have a hot bath. The first thing I did when I crawled out of her carry-on was to stagger to the kitchen for a nice cup of PG Tips. Now don't call me British, but you really and truly just cannot get a decent cuppa overseas- not even in the old colonies! Take Hong Kong for example, they put condensed milk in theirs. Condensed milk.

Luckily Mistress likes her baths long, so I even had time to enjoy some jam on toast with my tea, before hopping into the bed to pretend I'd been lying squashed under the pillows since she left.

Mistress came out of the bath and turned on the telly. Between doomsday stories of oil prices going through the roof, and threats of another uprising in Zimbabwe, I heard a reporter say that Terry Schiavo had finally passed away after something like twelve days without food or water. I'd followed Terri's story during my time over there, and my freshly-fed stomach rumbled in sympathy at this news. Though she wasn't actually a New Yorker, I'd always felt her situation was a grotesque metaphor for life in that city.

Apparently Terri's parents' attorney, Barbara Weller, had stood by Terri's bedside shortly after her feeding tube had been removed, and asked her something like 'Terri, if you can just say I want to live, we can just end this whole thing today. Terri, can you just try really, really hard?'. Terri, who had been in a persistent vegetative state since her heart attack in 1990, said (quelle surprise) nothing. Hardboiled as I like to think I am, reading about this incident resonated somewhere deep in the heart of my poly-fibre innards. The world out there shows no mercy to the voiceless. Being cute, being loyal, being well-meaning, or even being right- none of it's any good unless you can actually speak up and be heard.