Thursday, 18 December 2008
Saturday, 13 December 2008
To mark the anniversary of the dispersal of the Russian Constituent Assembly by weary but armed proletarians in 1918, No Good Boyo and I like to exchange gifts as a sign of our reciprocal respect for me.
Each year we take turns in presenting a gift to our daughter Arianrhod. Two years ago I left Boyo to his own devices, and have rued doing so with every blast on the little mite's specially-adapted Alpenhorn.
This year I suggested the distance-adoption of an animal. This would sidestep looming demands for a neglected pet of our own, and go a little way to overcome my regret at not applying for that job running donkey sanctuaries in one of the more inbred parts of England.
Imagine my delight when Boyo announced that he had adopted a Bengal tiger on Arianrhod's behalf, via the admirably unsentimental World Wildlife Fund.
With much less effort one can also imagine my reaction when Boyo wrote to the Fund asking whether for an extra "tenner" Arianrhod would have "first crack" at the said tiger when she reached "blooding age".
"A rug! A rug!" squealed my daughter on receipt of a photographic print of the beast.
The Sun may have set on the British Empire, but the occasional shadow still flits across my conservatory.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
The anarcho-syndicalist meeting had failed to convene, as usual, so I was home a little early last night.
"Yoo-hoo Boyo, it's me!" I cooed.
"Begone woman, I am at stool!" barked my beau.
I knew better than to interrupt what might be a prolonged and gruesome process, as this would only make things worse.
As I released the traps and tenderised Arianrhod's dinner, I dwelt upon the dialectical significance of what sounded like a brass band being savaged by seagulls in our bathroom.
Boyo has introduced his readers to the concept of the gosha. He failed, through the inherent contradictions of his being a man, to explain to womankind how the gosha is to be handled.
Common sense would suggest industrial gauntlets and fishing nets, but it is more a question of time than space.
Once an idea has taken root in the alkaline mulch of a gosha's mind, a woman must have the strength and patience to let it go to seed at its own pace. To try to train it into a more pleasing shape or, worse, to prune or uproot it, would drive the bravest Amazon into the apathetic rot of liberalism.
Boyo has shown little Marxisant enthusiasm for the impending downfall of Capitalism, and is busy with plans to make money. After a few canteens of Voskoboynykiv's jus de singe, he likes to "run his thoughts past me" in the hope that some might escape. I give some examples.
1. Alien-themed restaurant. Attentive readers will know that Boyo thinks all wisdom can be gleaned from repeated and drunken viewing of the films Animal House and Withnail & I. It is not so widely understood that he treats the Alien film franchise as a sort of apocrypha - not as canonical as the thoughts of imaginary frat boys and fey thespians, but nonetheless endowed with arete.
His latest idea is to deck out a restaurant like an Alien tabernacle (yes, including the minor prophets of the Alien vs Predator series), and have diners encased inside the food. They then have to eat their way out - either by climbing out of the top in the manner of the Alien "face hugger" or by burrowing out of the side like the "chest burster".
I could mention hygiene regulations. I could allude to the cost of the mountains of meat involved. I could refer to dry cleaning, as if those words meant anything to him. But I do not.
2. "Eat Like An Animal". Do you see a theme here? This brainwave predicates a television quiz show involving Lady Antonia Fraser as a contestant for reasons I don't like to speculate about.
Each victim is given a plate of food and an animal. They then have to eat the dish in the manner of the beast alongside them. The creature then "shows" them how it should be done, to the delight and edification of the audience in the studio and at home.
"This will teach the people of Britain humility before the diversity and dexterity of the Animal Kingdom," slurred Boyo over his plate of offal. "Imagine Lady Antonia or that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown trying to eat a trifle like an amœba? I can!"
I smiled brightly. I could have drawn his attention to the Food Standards Agency, the RSPCA, Harold Pinter, Heaven of Heavens and other likely opponents of his plan, but chose not to.
Boyo has other schemes, many more gauche and alarming than these. I shall pass over them in silence, knowing as I do that male indolence, grandiloquence and life-saving stupidity will overcome random enthusiasm.
Allow me to employ the techniques of multimedia to illustrate my point. I consider the Channel 4 comedy Father Ted to be a protean guide to understanding the male psyche, if such were ever to exist.
In an early episode, Father Jack Hackett is seen cavorting in some undergrowth. A policeman offers to shot him with a tranquiliser dart. Father Ted stays the Guard's hand. "No, let him go," says the clerical reactionary, "he'll make his own way back."
My thoughts exactly.
You may study the exchange at 58" on this clip:
Sunday, 16 November 2008
No Good Boyo escorted myself and Arianrhod to our local commemoration of an English backyard auto-de-fé last night, at which pink-faced plumbers ate pork products as their children danced around a bonfire. It looked like any given Saturday night in the High Carpathians to me.
Boyo was intrigued to see that our neighbour's wife had broken her leg. "Does that mean you're housebound and unable to run fast?" he asked politely.
We returned home shortly afterwards for a variety of closely-linked reasons.
Boyo sought to comfort me with an offer to have the choice moments of my web blog published in book form. "The postcard format is making a comeback," he explained.
I laughed until he'd stopped crying.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Constant reader Gyppo Byard has asked me to list six random things about myself. I regret to say that he did not ask me exclusively, but rather mentioned me in a list of his fellow cyberdrones. I will nonetheless give a response:
1. The most random thing in my life is No Good Boyo. Partner, chauffeur, unwitting food-taster and guerrilla gardener, he seems to leach logic and consequence out of everyday events.
2. I am a follower of the dialectic, but cannot match it in relentlessness. Sometimes I like to relax at our family's ruined laboratory in the Carpathians with a pile of Will Self novels on a nice warm pyre.
3. Boyo is my married name. My maiden name is one of the most widely-defaced on the cartouches of 18th Dynasty tombs
4. My father says I was conceived ("if that's the word") one heady night in celebration of the Soviet correction of the "Prague Spring" rightist deviation in both Czecho and Slovakia - a full year before that fraternal intervention occurred.
5. A border guard dog was named after me on the Uzh section of the frontier.
The circumstances that led up to this honour were the subject of my primary school essay "How Many Objective Banderites I Found Hiding in Bushes in the Closed Border Zone During My Summer Holidays With Comrade Uncle Colonel Jajcabiy", which won the Menzhinsky Prize for the under-sevens.
6. During work-experience with the People's Militia information dispersal department, I suggested expelling Esperantists from the state youth movement.
The reason I gave was that our tolerance of Esperanto was making the Socialist Bloc look like a haven for the mentally underequipped rather than a Vanguard of Progress. In fact I was rather taken with Volapük at the time - the original Schleyer version, not the infantile De Jong revision. I admired its purity.
If the organs had taken my advice, the Warsaw Pact might still be intact.
The rules suggest that I should to pass on these "meme" to six others. I shall do nothing of the kind. Instead I ask that my readers should try to think of six non-random elements to their daily lives. And meditate thereon.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
No Good Boyo has decided to beat the recession by diversifying his multimedia portfolio. He is writing a "sure fire" screenplay for a Hollywood film.
On Friday, after an extended lunchtime, he came up with the title - "Escape from Bikini Island".
Over the weekend he fretted that this did not meet his usual standards.
Last night he announced in triumph the new, improved title:
"No Escape from Bikini Island".
I pass this on without comment.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Some readers have confused me with Boyo's imaginary social secretary, and have passed on congratulations for his appearance on the normblog profile and his winning of some special needs Welsh blogging award.
"Does Boyo feel proud to have joined the blogging aristocracy?" petitioners have asked.
This autumn finds me uncharacteristically expansive as I cherish the falling leaves and house prices, so I am willing to reply to these broad inquiries.
Boyo's sole source of pride, judging by his all-too-public declarations, is that he is "hung like a Grand National winner".
Whatever one of those is.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
My company respects the many varieties of Ruthenian public holiday, and the recent four-day Feast of St Trjaxodjev gave me a chance to catch up with the recordings made by my domestic closed-circuit television security system.
The recording of our daughter Arianrhod's room solved the mystery of the whereabout of my father's Luger, and the two cameras mounted in the potting shed provided me with more information that sanity allows about No Good Boyo's morning ablutions - information that I am happy to share.
On surfacing from the remoulade of breasts and megalomania that is his subconscious, Boyo's first act is to grasp the shifting contents of his underpants - assuming gravity, decay or rodents had not already disposed of such garments.
I postponed discussion of this matter until a few moments before Boyo was about to address the Caversham Conservative Association. He seemed genuinely surprised and confused, until I recalled that this is his default reaction to anything I say.
"It's primæval behaviour," I remarked.
"Ta, love!" he beamed, proudly wresting the microphone from my hand.
This need for reassurance that one's lower depths are intact is clearly a male instinct - like lying, inept concealment, blondes and recourse to drink.
Cardinals fearful of Pio Nono's Evil Eye would shield their privates in his Papal presence, while cricketers and "rap" genre singers like Mr 50 Cent continue the practice to this day, albeit with less reticence.
During the "questions from the floor" session after his address to the local Tories, Boyo eventually agreed with my insistent inquiries as to whether he called those pallid parts his "crown jewels".
The mood of the meeting was with me when I urged him for the sake of the Monarchy to reclassify them as "state secrets".
Thursday, 4 September 2008
One of Boyo's imaginary cybershades, I forget which, asked me to compile a list of twelve films of personal significance to me. There are, naturally, no such films.
I am happy, however, to share a few flickering images of cultural decay that have caused the corners of my vermillion lips or eyes to twitch on rare occasions.
1. Cold Comfort Farm
Boyo waits until I'm at peace with the world, usually after a successful morning of supervising the evacuation of one of his sheds, before suggesting that we should visit his relatives in Wales.
I keep a copy of John Schlesinger's film at hand to remind myself of why Offa's Dyke was built and is still maintained. The book may not be set in Wales, but that wrinkled little country keeps its spirit alive (see photograph above).
2. L'année dernière à Marienbad
"Tels ils marchaient dans les avoines folles,
Et la nuit seule entendit leurs paroles".
I passed the "French nonsense" section of my International Baccalaureate with an essay positing that the Resnais/Robbe-Grillet film is a meditation on Verlaine's "Colloque Sentimental".
In fact I like it because it reminds me of my childhood family holidays.
3. Gorod Zero (Zero Town)
Mechanical tyrants, random nudity, roads that lead nowhere, both rock and roll, pools of water, suicidal cooking - this late Soviet offering is a reminder of what that Bolshevik shambles was like. It is also an approximation of Boyo's idea of a decent party.
4. El ángel exterminador
In this film Buñuel approximates my idea of a decent party.
I shall suggest a few more accompaniments to a cosy night in when it occurs to me.
Monday, 25 August 2008
Boyo has annoyed some very powerful people, so Arianrhod and I are enjoying a girly Bank Holiday at home - filing nails, attaching them to the wheels of the tricycle, etc.
I glanced through the Radio Times - a publication Boyo says he subscribes to for the Radio 3 listings, much as Americans read Playboy for the John Updike interviews.
I found a preview of "Mutual Friends" another BBC "comedy drama" about the mid-life crisis of mid-Brit people - boney, grinning men and flat-faced blondes.
"How do you embrace your mid-life crisis?" asks the chirpy accompanying article.
"Reluctantly, and only after he's showered," I thought.
Then I laughed.
Monday, 18 August 2008
No Good Boyo was very excited when I proposed a romantic weekend break in the Cotswolds. His enthusiasm wavered on the morning of departure when I said I was coming along too, but he still managed to negotiate the M4 through his tears.
It was the turn of my heart to sink on our arrival at a rectory that had been converted into an hotel, and not only because the nearby church had not undergone a similar fate. Boyo pointed to the welcome note in our room and sniggered: "Dogs are welcome".
Just as his father believes hedgehogs can sing if you tickle their bellies, Boyo is convinced that the English invented the country hotel for the exclusive pursuit of coitus with canines. He cites fellow Celt GB Shaw to the effect that all the Englishman's pastimes bar gambling and smoking can be shared with a dog.
The result is that he spends our every weekend away in speculating on which of our guests wants, as he puts it, to "canoodle with the poodle".
I chose not to join in, and reflected instead on comments by Gadjo Dilo and Kevin Musgrove - the Brains Trust of Boyo's circle of little electro-friends - on the ephemerality of life.
In brief, Gadjo had an antiquated relative who held that the world might have ended in about 1918. Kevin opined that this may have been true, and that all of our subsequent existence is a group delusion.
This ties in with my view that Boyo and his web-fellows are merely projections one of the other. The thought that we are in fact all but the dying dream of Europa is a comfort to the Spengler Within. Bolshevism, television, congés payés - all a passing nightmare.
If enough bloggers state this "simultaneously and at the same time", as the Welsh have it, will the world awaken from its slumber and finally die?
A consoling thought to get you through many a bad night.
Friday, 25 July 2008
No Good Boyo and his compatriot Sioba Siencyn - a professional moss-gatherer, I believe - have claimed a particular school of tautology for their pixie patrimony.
These "Welshisms", as they call them during mercifully infrequent forays into English, are marked by a florid declamatory style, often involving auxesis.
Examples they have shared with me include:
a police officer on the Radio 4 "Today" programme saying that the then-flooded village of Crickhowell was "an island, an island surrounded by water";
Mervyn Johns in the film Dead of Night referring to "a nightmare of horror";
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
I am a grown woman. I do not make my own clothes, I buy them. I have a haidresser, not a piece of netting. I believe all religion is pernicious, not only Christianity. In short, I do not read The Guardian newspaper. I do, however, have colleagues with an interest in shamanism who examine its entrails.
They recently extracted a review of apocalytic film scenarios and the realistic expectation of surviving them from the ironically entitled Guide section. In part, it treated the modalities of coping with an invasion by aliens, concluding that they were negligible. I appreciated the endearing tautology, and brought the findings to the attention of No Good Boyo.
Boyo is an afficionado of science fiction, as veteran readers will know only too well. Last night, in his interregnum of relative lucidity between monkey-juice refill No.3 and sleep, I summarised the findings of the Guardian article.
My hope was that he would abandon his fascination with fantasy and apply his pulpy mind to philosophy, child-husbandry and the 'cello.
Boyo scanned the article from his perch on the space hopper, and delivered the following response. (I have it verbatim as I record all our conversations at the urging of my lawyers).
"Fair enough, if they was insects or them lizards. But what if they was all like Valerie Leon out of 'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb', 'Revenge of the Pink Panther' and the 'Carry Ons'? Millions of them, eh? So they enslaves us like this English says, but what if what they wants is to feed on our seed, orally? Don't worry, I'd cope love. Ffyc knows what you birds would do though but. Ha ha Polly Toynbee funnel [remainder indistinct]."
Boyo's operatic ability to see light at the end of the existential tunnel almost warms my heart, and reminds me that the mind of the male is best not understood but simply observed for its curio value.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Boyo's joy at having 14 Welsh readers with fingers narrow enough to hit a computer key at a time has set me to thinking about other indices of male inadequacy.
Music is a good measure of whether your companion for the evening stands much chance of remaining at liberty by breakfast.
Adepts of heavy metal are hopeless. The lyrics rush to rhyme before the end of the first line - "Take your daughters to the slaughter", "Thunder across the tundra" - and are invariably faibles.
Jazz is always promising. Shklovsky noted that there are few plot devices, and the same applies to melodies. The ability of beboppers to riff off the most basic standards bodes well for their imagination in other departments.
What music does No Good Boyo like? I hear you ask.
He likes brass bands.
Thursday, 19 June 2008
I am having a large mirror fitted to the study wall, so that Arianrhod can practice her haka moves ahead of the Berkshire Under-Fives Rugby Union trials. I can also keep an eye on No Good Boyo's attempts to open pickle jars in the kitchen.
The various morlocks hired to fit it managed to remove the mounted wolf head with Szekler arms akimbo that my grandfather Boykopolk bequeathed to us - the result of one of his least successful crossbreeding experiments.
They failed, however, to bring the boar-tusk brackets I had specified. So the mirror is resting on a pile of Boyo's parking tickets for now.
Boyo thinks the mirror is a bauble of my vanity. Three years together, and he still hasn't noticed that I cast no reflection.
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Q: What do the following towns - Wallingford, Tamworth, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme - have in common?
A: You will not pass through them en route from our house to No Good Boyo's ancestral tree-trunk in Mid Wales, as they are far far away.
Unless you are No Good Boyo, of course.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
I gather that there has been some comment from the unemployable community as to the dearth of posts from the equally indolent No Good Boyo.
This is due to his contractual obligation to translate the next chapter of Anti-Danube by the weekend.
I recently sought to encourage him by glancing at his work in progress. "It could never be completed after your death," I cooed.
He has not left his cellar since.
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
One of No Good Boyo's little friends dreams at night of passing his lunch hour in the bar at work, drinking and talking nonsense with Boyo, "Kronie", "Dazza", "Fuel Rod" and other carbon sacks. The exquisite poignancy is that he spends every lunchtime doing little else.
No Good Boyo thinks this shows a perfect life/dream balance. For once the educated world and Boyo are in accord.
Freud said the key to psychological equilibrium is the Nirvana Principle. Some seek escape from stimulus in suicide and murder, but the well-adjusted achieve it through self-awareness, peaceful recreation and hence restful sleep.
I too have achieved this balance. At night I dream of wreaking vengeance on my current and future subordinates. Then I go to work and do just that.
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
I insist that he wear them only indoors, on the grounds that he is neither Pablo Picasso nor a Greek fisherman.
So, following days of unheeded pointing and whining at his threadbare garment, No Good Boyo decided to repair the rent.
After studying a sewing kit for a good few minutes he vanished in search of scissors, which I had concealed after his attempt to open a jar of gherkins with them.
Some time later he returned with a pair of nail clippers, and produced to cut off the bottom section of the culotte half-inch by half-inch.
Mr Julien Macdonald may need to revamp his Spring Collection in order to retain the title of leading Welsh couturier.
Monday, 7 April 2008
No Good Boyo drove our car, Old Mossy, to a rendezvous at midnight this weekend. He was proud of the chance to use headlights, and had studied the car manual thoroughly to this end.
Sad to say he did not read the paragraph on the car's reading internal light, and fumbled in the dark for the switch. Like most Bernsteinian revisionists he was happy to settle for any switch, and so drove out into the night with the sun-roof open.
Into the freezing Berkshire night he drove. A pale moon backlit the snowflakes as they settled on his head, muffling his sobs.
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Friday, 21 March 2008
No Good Boyo took me for our first drive the other day.
He hit a drainpipe, scraped a wall, and drove into a ditch from which he extricated the car only by taking felt off a shed roof to provide traction. He then knocked over a fence post.
Fifteen minutes later, we emerged from our drive. I am not making this up.
The highlight of the rest of the afternoon was a u-turn ("I'm pretty sure this is illegal, you know!") in a narrow country lane, performed for reasons that still escape me.
Mentions are also due for the creative use of windscreen wipers to indicate a left turn and a long and agonised search for the back wiper on a saloon car that naturally does not have one.
The trip to Highgate Cemetery will have to wait.
Monday, 17 March 2008
No Good Boyo recently passed his driving test, and so I am reading legal biographies in preparation for his court appearance. The life and work of Sir Norman Birkett, the president of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, makes one look around Britain and ask “where have all the clever people gone?”
I was struck in particular by this passage from his diary of 29 July 1946, with reference to the Nuremberg court interpreters:
…translators are a race apart – touchy vain, unaccountable full of vagaries, puffed up with self-importance of the most explosive kind, inexpressibly egotistical, and, as a rule, violent opponents of soap and sunlight…
To this one might add “incompetent lechers, virtuosi of halitosis and inept propagandists of shopworn views”. The wretched hygiene, real and political, of the translator is a function of his irrelevance. Like religion, democracy and chocolate wrappers, he serves only to hinder progress towards one’s chosen goal.
As Adorno said:
Intentional language wants to mediate the absolute, and the absolute escapes language for every specific intention, leaves each one behind because each is limited. (1)
Translation merely magnifies the defect, as anyone who has attended an international conference for other than erotic diversion can attest.
I would propose a return to the pre-Romantic ideal of an educated person’s being master of the major cultural languages of his region. And here I stake no claims for my native Ukrainian – a language of use outside our fatherland only in conversing with minstrels and war criminals.
English, French and German would apply in our European case. One, for example, could speak in English while your interlocutor replied in French – each at his ease.
Those unable to learn these languages would hardly have opinions worth conveying to others, and the sums saved on the cabals of interpreters could be usefully spent on improving vocational education.
(1). Quasi una Fantasia, Essays on Modern Music (Translated by Rodney Livingstone), VERSO, London
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Our daughter Arianrhod ferch Saisladdwr was happily hunting down imaginary guinea pigs on her rocking horse this afternoon. I paused from filing my eyelashes to place No Good Boyo's next, artfully crafted web blog entry just out of her reach. She immediately dismounted like a lady and stomped over to fold the tattered sheaf into an "airy plane", which she then guided into the comforting flames of the hearth.
This establishes that what Bakunin called "Die Lust der Zerstörung" trumps sloth among the young.
Later, I placed a pie on No Good Boyo's chest, tuned the television to Lark Rise to Candleford, moved the remote control just out of reach and retired to my bower, amused by the alternating sounds of chomping and weeping.
This gives hope to us all who seek to build a new, but not necessarily better, world.
Sunday, 10 February 2008
My favourite film at Sundance 2008 was "A Complete History of My Sexual Failures", a documentary about an English waster who interviews each of his old girlfriends to figure out why they dumped him. His project is mostly a failure and leads to various forms of humiliation, including a series of attempts to cure his malfunctioning penis. (My emphasis)