Saturday, March 25, 2006

Drunken Ramble

I went to the pub tonight, I probably shouldn't have done as I've got more work to do than an English Lit. student should ever have to face, but I did anyway, as I was bored, tired and I've spent around 40 hours in the library this week. I went because Martin Jonathan was playing and he's always good for an evening of absurdly skilled guitar playing and damn fine songs. The drink was flowing (at a modest rate as I'm modestly bankrupt) and, in one of those 'inevitable rules of nature' doohickies, the trips to the toilet were frequent.

I'm not sure whether this is because I have a small bladder or that I just jump at any excuse to get my cock out (probably the former but who knows) but when I drink beer it seems to go through me at a great speed, taking all the liquid it can find on the way with it. This means that I spend probably more time in pub toilets than anyone who isn't either a coke addict or really easy.

For men, the toilet, whether it is in a pub, in a house or in a little wooden shack at the end of the garden, is a place of quiet contemplation. I was standing at the urinal (the one at the far end, closest to the wall - only a complete cad will choose the middle urinal if the others are not occupied) and looking at the exact same advert that has been on the wall there for about a year.

Which is strange in itself considering that those adverts must be subject to the closest 'eyes front, don't look at the other guy's penis or you'll catch the gay' scrutiny that any kind of advert is exposed to - you would have thought that this ad space would be fought over and changing hands constantly. It is not, however, and so after reading the government anti smoking advert for a few seconds (the one that tells you it will make you impotent - not really an issue to me as I've not got any in a good long while and don't smoke) my mind started to wander.

Whilst in this urine smelling reverie I started thinking about toilets, as you'd expect, given the situation. The toilet, I think, is one of the few areas of life in which the norm is biased towards women. Have you ever been in a house with a urinal? I think not... unless you have some very odd friends. The fact is that the toilet is something designed to work for women and work for men, just about, if you are trying.

I suppose it isn't exactly that its design is biased towards women it's more that it isn't biased towards men, which is either the ubiquitous norm or a loved memory depending on which websites you visit. I expect that it is this conspicuous difference to the other things in the world which are biased towards men (like porn, or any number of things I can't think of because I'm drunk) that makes the toilet such a domestic battleground. I mean, let’s look at this objectively here, how much harder is it for a woman to lower a seat than it is for a man to raise one? Considering fact that they are on average lower down and so have to do less bending, and their task involves less heavy lifting, I think if we go purely on caloric expenditure it would only be fair for 'up' to be the default position. However, it is this knowledge, conscious or otherwise of the toilet as a piece of feminist plumbing that makes these disputes so heated.

I mean seriously, women have no idea, the average penis (whatever that looks like) has about all the inherent accuracy of a rusty sawn-off shotgun in a hurricane, and a normal toilet is a long way down and very small compared to the safe surface area for a piss receptacle (about the size of a hedge or, whilst drunk, the Berlin Wall) even with the toilet seat up pissing into a toilet is a risky venture. By leaving the seat up man isn't causing a major inconvenience (unless the woman likes to sit on the toilet in the dark without checking the seat is down) it is that man is trying to make the toilet more man friendly, taking away a crucial area of dominance.

I'm not sure where I was supposed to be going with this, I'm drunk and I got distracted by shiny things, but basically what I think I was going to say at this point is that the toilet is difficult enough for man to navigate without the added difficulty of putting the seat up, which often wont stay up for very long and, mid stream, will come lunging down at your penis with rabbinical intent. For women going to the toilet is already easier, by leaving the seat up man isn't trying to take away women's rights, he's just trying to level the playing field a little.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

'Don't Play God'

It really gets on my nerves when people say that, look at this

morons, has it not occurred to them that perhaps keeping someone alive on a ventilator who would, if man had not intervened in the natural order of things, be dead, constitutes playing god?

It was the same thing with the Terri Schiavo case (I just googled that I found that I spelt it right first time, go me.) There were all these godbotherers saying that it wasn't up to man to intervene in god's plans but, if that was what they really believed then why didn't they insist that she be allowed to die when she had the massive cardiac arrest 10 years previously.

I have no problem with people not wanting their loved ones to die, that's fair enough but why do they have to use the same dumb cliche without actually thinking about what it means.

it's a nice day though, so i can't sustain a full length rant, I'm going to the garden.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Yes, that's right, I actually got off my arse today, and whilst my feet hurt as a result I'm happy that I did so.

I woke up at about 9am today, and sat around wandering what exactly I was going to do. I was up because I'd set my alarm to wake me, something I do every Thursday due to the fact that I have a lecture at ten. It has, however, never actually suceeded in waking me up before, 9am being one of those times I consider far more appropriate as a bedtime than a start to the day, so I wasn't entirely sure what to do.

I was in a daze, like a mormon who just been asked into a house, and so wandered up to campus. It was a lovely day when I set out, all suneshiney and warm* I decided that I really couldn't be arsed to go to the lecture after all and I was instead going to walk to Whitstable.

Whitstable, in case someone new has stumbled onto this site whilst looking for gorilla porn or something, is a pretty seaside town about 6-7 miles north of Canterbury (where I live). It can be reached either by getting a bus - boring, a car - impossible - I can't drive, or walking, which is nice as it takes you down a long footpath that runs through the woods and fields following the route of an old railway line. That is the route I take unless it's really dark, scary and raining.

Today, however, it was neither dark nor scary nor raining so I put on my sunglasses (which make the world look a lot more rich and colourful) and set out to go wandering. I passed through parkwood on the way there; the new houses are odd, they tower over the rest of parkwood like a castle or something, being a good three storeys higher than anything else on that side of campus. Can't say I'm a big fan of them, although the effect that they had on the number of people in Woody's is negligible; there are actually less people in there than there were even on a quiet night last year - I went up there on a Wednesday the other week and there were only about 20 people in the whole place, I was able to sit down on pound a pint night! Which is just wrong. I think the reason is that the new parkwood flats have the highest rent on campus so they are probably filled with posh buggers who aren't really suited to the Woody's vibe.

In my head I divide the walk to Whitstable into stages; they vary in length but are generally from one landmark to the next.

The first is the walk from my house to the edge of campus - last year this only took about 5 minutes and so didn't really count as a stage. This year, however, it is closer to about 45 minutes and so I count it as a kind of warmup stage - to check for holes in shoes, forgotten wallets etc, and see if the weather is good enough. I've had two trips fall down at this point; one because I realised I couldn't be arsed, the other because I got about half way to campus before I decided it was just too damn cold and manky for me to make the trip.

The rest are just the walk from one landmark to the next. From campus to the church on the hill near Blean, this is just down a valley and up a hill, which has a church at the top a mile from the nearest town and creepy as hell in the dark. From the church to the farm with the orchards and polytunnels, For some reason I always encounter lots of cyclists around this bit, despite the fact that they are no more likely to be there than anywhere else on the trip. Then from the farm to the edge of the woods,
taking you past the cowshed containing a herd that never ceases to be amazed by me until I go out of sight; although they are cows, probably once I'm gone they stare, amazed, at the puddle in the yard. Then the walk through the woods, which is all pretty much the same, and at this time of year, not very interesting - the world is asleep. Finally the last leg from the edge of whitstable to the beach, which is probably the longest stage of all, encompassing the road right at the edge of town with the crazy ULO** that looks like a spaceship, the long path to the station and the final weaving through the little streets full of little houses across the high street and onto the waterfront by the Prince Albert (snigger).

I sat around on the beach for a while, ate my lunch and watched three planes fly over in tight formation. They were small prop driven monoplanes and sounded like Second World War fighters (bloody loud), they looked like P51s, perhaps from Biggin Hill, but that seems unlikely, expect they were just stunt planes or something. I didn't stay on the beach that long because it was making me all sad and miserable and it started snowing to just add a bit of pathetic fallacy to events.

Yes. Snowing. You know I said about it being a beautiful sunny day? Well it still was, hardly a cloud in the sky and none above me. I've never had the experience of Snow on sunglasses before, and I doubt I will again. After trudging despondently around the town for a while I decided to walk home again.

I encountered a large number of cats; I think they tend to become ubiquitous when there are lots of old ladies about. There was a big old ginger cat was asleep on a sunny windowsill when I passed on the way there and whose position was no different on the way back except that it was facing the opposite direction. In another window there was a very regal looking Tabby that stared at me with a look of scorn that I usually only get from teachers. Then, when wandering around a churchyard, a shockingly cute little calico kitten started hunting me; clumsily prowling low behind me, then, when I looked round, sitting completely still with an air of badly feigned nonchalance.

I've never been in the churchyard there before, it's a strange place, with less of an air of crumbling antiquity that most of the ones round here have. There were a load of military gravestones around, about four from the home guard surprisingly, and it contained one hideously ugly mausoleum and one interesting one.

The hideously ugly one was impressive, probably cost more to build than my house and was pretty disgustingly ostentatious - which was why it made me smile to see the way that it was now in a dilapidated corner of the churchyard, covered in moss and mostly concealed by trees. I couldn't make out the words over the door at all; the only bit I could see was the first few letters which read "IANVA" in heavy Romanic script, which makes no sense at all.

The interesting one was a more conservative affair, just a wall about 1 metre high enclosing a square around 4 metres across with a little statue in the middle of some naked chick looking slightly miffed. Around the inside of the wall were a series of stone plaques. Only one however, actually had anything on it, just a the name of a man described as a husband and father who died fairly young. Presumably his wife remarried, perhaps to someone with slightly better taste in commemorative sculpture.

hmmm. I just googled 'Whitstable mausoleum' and it came up with a picture of the ugly one along with this information which is interesting. Google can tell you anything, no matter how amazingly obscure and pointless. I figured there was probably someone somewhere who likes these things.

On the way back I figured I'd try and cut off a big chunk of the walk. I live in Hales Place which is basically exactly where the old railway used to go - by taking the path, which diverges from the route of the railway at about a right angle a few miles from Canterbury, I was actually adding about a mile or two to my walk. Bearing this in mind I decided to carry straight on when I reached the pumping pond. At first this worked out fine, I was headed in the right direction and a man came past walking his dog from the way I was going. After walking for a couple of minutes, however, I came to a dead end with a big sign on a fence saying: "No Trespassing! This is private land. The railway line was bought from British Rail in 1952" I had to clamber through a hedge, walk about a mile across a waterlogged ploughed field, and climb over a field gate to get back to the Crab and Winkle way. What baffles me now is where the hell the guy with the dogs came from.

The walk back through campus and home was uneventful, I saw no-one I knew, except for ultramuntygirl who I hid from and that walk is so familiar to me now I don’t even notice it.

I wanted to include some pictures in with this, but I don’t have a working camera at the moment – the little digital camera forgets pictures after about 10 minutes and the lightmeter in my big Pentax needs new batteries. I don’t think anyone reads this anymore so I doubt it matters much about presentation. I appear to have written rather a lot here. Perhaps I’ve broken my mental blockage. I’ll have to see if I can get this energy to transfer to my essays.

Back to Work.


*I don't exactly mean warm in the conventional sense of the word, it is February after all, but rather that the temperature was well suited to the amount of clothes I was wearing and the amount I was moving around, keeping me at a nice temperature. -- I know that these footnotes are annoying but that was too big a digression to fit into the main text and I felt I needed to clarify - I don't want people thinking that the UK is warm in February after all, I could get sued for false advertisement.

**Unidentified Lawn Ornament. Sorry, I just can't stop.