Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Cold Stories

Never in my life have I ever felt so deeply and solidly frozen as in the castle where I grew up. I remember walking down the long upstairs landing on winter mornings and pausing to scrape a finger over the thick furry frost that lay in wads upon all the window panes, testing to see if it had formed on the inside or the outside of the glass, discovering that the answer must be "both". Then there was the time my father sauntered into the bathroom one fine morning, in his checked dressing gown and his hard brown leather slippers, and did a backward flip on the black ice that habitually lacquered the bathroom floor in months with an R. He split his head open on the corner of the bathtub and had to get stitches.

The castle was huge, but in the depths of winter, we all used to sleep in one rather poky room at the end of a long landing, which my mother was permitted to attempt to "heat" for half an hour before bedtime with the aid of a small, blisteringly hot electric bar fire. The three vicious-looking orange bars of this remarkably ineffectual device would hum ominously as it singed the 2 feet of air directly in front of it, relieving none of the damp, tomb-like chill from the remainder of the room but somehow creating an illusion of warmth by radiating a strong odour of scorched hair into the atmosphere. One by one, we'd stand and defrost our rigid pyjamas and bed socks in front of the glowing bars. Despite the shivering, the ritual had a cosy, ceremonious feel to it, as if we were gathering around to toast chestnuts. Then we'd shed single articles of daytime clothing and precipitously cram the thus disrobed body parts into our pre-softened garments before the heat could disperse into the air; then it was time to make way for the next family member to repeat the ritual. My parents would take up their nightly quarters in a double bed and my brother and I went top-to-tail in a single one that was positioned crosswise at the foot of theirs.

At night, we all wore more layers of clothing than we did during the day. My own nightwear ensemble comprised a thermal vest, a t-shirt, a pair of fluffy Snoopy pyjamas, a wollen jumper, a dressing gown, two to three pairs of socks and fingerless gloves with mittens over the top. One of the main problems I remember encountering - apart from the impossibility of keeping the tip of one's nose warm while still eliciting a sufficient supply of oxygen - was knowing that once I was ready for bed, I'd be so densely trussed in overlapping layers that if I got an itch, there'd be no chance of scratching myself until morning.

During the daytime, my brother and I used like to snuggle down in the dogs' beanbag beds in front of the Aga. We'd lure them out with enticing toys, rustling bags and playful bouncing. Then, as soon as they were up and looking about themselves expectantly, we'd dive into their pre-warmed imprints and attempt to persuade the still joyfully confused creatures to lie on top of us. Under the dogs was the snuggest place we ever found in the building.

So many of my memories of the castle are associated with the cold, even though there must have been an equal proportion of summer days then as there has ever been. It is as though a whole volume of my reminiscences has been retrospectively frosted.

Here comes another: I remember my father walking into the kitchen and seeing me sitting at the table, doing my middle-school homework in fingerless gloves, a woolly hat and a scarf. He looked at me and said, "Zora, child, what are you wearing all that for? That's ridiculous! It's boiling in here!"

I looked up at him and replied, quite dreamily, "When you talk, I can see steam coming out of your mouth."

And I remember that when he replied, he spoke while breathing in instead of breathing out. He said, "You're exaggerating," and left the room on tiptoe, still holding in his breath.

Another occasion I remember clearly was a Sunday in church. My brother and I were in the choir (in fact, it would be more accurate to say that we were the choir, there being no further members). Being the choir, we were required to take communion before the rest of the congregation. On the day in question, the vicar took us aside in the vestry, just after the service, and instructed us to the effect that we should remove our gloves to take communion. To illustrate his point, he said, "You wouldn't eat a meal at home with your gloves on."

I laughed out loud, no doubt quite bitterly for one so young in years, and said, "Oh but I do - and with a hat and a scarf as well!"

He stared aghast, not at our faces, but at our starched white neck ruffles, in a state of dumbstruck disbelief. Then my brother piped up and said, "It's true. I wear mine to eat as well."

The vicar's face remained rigid. He now seemed to be glaring in abstracted reproval at a thread that dangled from a button half-way down my brother's cassock. Feeling unsure of the exact nature and severity of the sin I was rebutting, I tried nonetheless to clarify matters with the emphatic protest, "You have to at our house or the forks would freeze your fingers!"

He continued to glower at the black thread for several mute seconds during which my brother and I shrugged at each other in bemusement, and then, coming to himself with a lurch of concentration, said, rather gruffly, "Yes. Well. All the same... you cannot partake of glory with your gloves on, you know. It just won't do."

Amen to that.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Creation of Pola-Girl

Readers, this is all rather confusing. Here is the story so far: yesterday, I stabbed right into my hand with a scapel while trying to open some Polaroids. I had dropped the scalpel and it had fallen sideways onto my legs, and as I reached down for it, it somehow simultaneously flipped up with the blade pointing skywards. It was so sharp that it slid right into the skin of my palm without the least resistance and - at least while it was going in - without the slightest warning twinge of pain. The entire blade was embedded, just below my ring finger. At this point, I said "Ow!" And then I had to grasp the shaft, twist my face into a grimace and yank it out like an arrow-struck 1950s cowboy. The blood spurted everywhere. It was all rather satisfyingly dramatic.

My hand seems to be working fine today, luckily, but now I am having disturbing thoughts about what might be going on underneath the plaster I stuck over my palm - I mean, now that the Polaroid chemicals on the blade have entered my bloodstream. I mean, especially now, when the world is post-Fukushima and the Polaroid in question was probably a little bit radioactive. I mean, we all know what happens when radioactive things bite you.

What I'm wondering is, when I peel off the plaster, will a picture have developed on the skin beneath it? A picture of what? Of an approaching scalpel? How scary is that? And where exactly does it all go from there? Do I end up turning into a freaky (but aesthetically fascinating) superhero with photosensitive skin? Will my skin start developing images of everything that happened in front of it two minutes ago? Will caustic paste ooze from my feet? How do I set my aperture (and do I really want to know the answer to that one?) Also, when I take off my clothes, will my breasts look like a picture of the inside of my bra? And exactly how will this help me catch criminals?

I am more than a little concerned now, Readers, because if I am actually going to transform into Pola-Girl, the only practical crime-fighting use I can come up with for my imminently burgeoning superhuman gifts is the option of using my remarkable photosensitive skin to take evidential pictures of miscreants, viz by tearing off some clothes and flashing them whilst they are in flagrante delicto. This in itself will be somewhat embarrassing - not to mention illegal; and not to mention draughty - but the main problem here is that such heroic deeds will surely ultimately lead to me being subpoenaed and compelled to stand up naked in court as evidence for the prosecution: "Would the jury please be so good as to examine Exhibit Z?" So, as I said above, it is all more than a little confusing.

Monday, 20 June 2011


I'm quite jealous of Oscar Wilde. I'm sure he must have had all manner of hangers-on who scuttled around him constantly, eagerly harvesting all his best quotes for posterity. I wish I had a little man to follow me round with a notebook. Because I can't possibly jot down all my own pithy nuggets for humankind. I'm far too busy. (And generally too drunk to wield a pencil when I say them. And too wieldy to drink a pencil when I don't.)

So would anyone out there like the job? Today, for example, you would have written down the following gems:

"Testicles are like diamonds. You can never have too many of them and when you have lots, it's lovely to plunge your hands into a bucket of them and feel them slipping over your outstretched fingers."


"I would name a girl after the place of conception, in the manner of pop stars' brats. So basically, Fallopia or possibly Endometria, depending on your precise definition of conception.


"It must be before 11, because my hand still smells of cock."


"Chuh! There'll be plenty time for monogamy when we're dead."

And finally:

"Excuse me but your testicles appear to be eating my sandwich."

(It was an exceptionally good day for testicles quotes.)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Blue Suede Nights

Things happen when you travel alone. Especially at airports. Especially when your travel plans have already gone awry. And most especially of all if you're anything like me and you attract lunatics like moths to a flame.

It's funny to think that if my plane hadn't been delayed and if I hadn't been stranded in Amsterdam overnight, I would never have met Elvis.

Readers. allow me to present Elvis Lovinescu to you. He's a professional Elvis impersonator, originally from Moldova. Most of the year, he works in Las Vegas, where there's regular work to be had marrying couples in the various chapels. (If any of the bridal couples baulks at his most un-Elvis-like Moldovan accent, he says he can generally pacify them with a flip of his quiff and a few of his choicest pelvis moves.)

Elvis was stranded, too. Though we were on different flights, travelling in different directions, we ended up getting free rooms in the same hotel and we ended up propping up the same counter in the same boring hotel bar, and that's how we got talking.

"Elvis" is Elvis Lovinescu's real name - chosen for him by his father, much to the outrage of the baptising minister and the rest of his extended family (who - somewhat confusingly - seem to all be called either "Mihai" or "Mihaiela" with the exception of one solitary auntie called "Dudu".)

Elvis' father was an Elvis impersonator before him. He taught him everything he knows. In fact, Elvis learned how to impersonate Elvis, not from studying The King but from studying his father. According to Elvis, despite not being able to pronounce a single word in the English language with anything approaching linguistic precision, his father was still "more like Elvis than Elvis was".

"So, yeah, you could say that impersonating Elvis is kind of the family trade," he tells me with a smile, "And when I have a son, I just know he'll be born with blue suede shoes on."

Elvis' father died one night in a hotel fire in Odessa thirteen years ago. The only possession that survived the fire was his top set of teeth, which had been miraculously preserved in a glass of water.
As the only surviving relic of his father, the dentures accompany Elvis on all his travels. They're his lucky mascot. He keeps them wrapped in a star-spangled banner. In the evenings, when he goes out, he lovingly lays his daddy's choppers into a glass on the bedside table and fills it up with a generous splash of vodka. (Because daddy still likes a drink.)

"Isn't that a bit macabre?" I ask him as he holds up the glass to show me.

"Not at all," he grins, "Look - Daddy's smiling at you. He'd have liked you a lot, I'm sure."

Despite the dissipations of this night, Elvis kindly agreed to join me in another impromptu shoot in his hotel room, early the next morning before we each checked out and went our separate ways. The series is entitled "Memphis Hotel" and I've just added it to the Polaroid Series section of my website.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Perpetual Nymph

My life has been filled with chilling transitions - points of no return that crept up on me unawares. And not just during childhood, either. They can strike at any time. For instance, I remember with a shiver of horror a time when, as if by prior arrangement, all my friends stopped living off Monster Munch and Müller Fruit Corners and started - quite seriously - offering me apples and bananas as if it was a perfectly normal thing for them to do. Then there was the bleak, barren period when all of my contemporaries started drinking responsibly and leaving mid-week parties at sensible times. Then there was the time when suddenly nobody was eating puddings or snogging strangers in discos anymore; not to mention the horrible, ominous night when everyone I knew simultaneously and permanently lost the urge to freak out for hours on end and jump up and down like a dancing fool. Terrible, terrible moments of realisation and disillusionment accompanied all these times, for I always knew that these transformations were irreversible and I could not see that they were changes for the better. I only felt a sense of something bright, buoyant and unthinkingly carefree being lost.

I think the most unnerving aspect about these transitions in life was how most people I knew just swanned through them without a backward glance or a second thought. Afterwards, I would find myself looking around at my friends and seeing that they had all metamorphosed. I would look at myself and see that I had not. But rather than admiring them and wishing to emulate them, I regarded them with a mixture of incredulity and distain - the way a small boy might look at an older brother who has just informed him that "sweet shop owner" is not a viable career choice. I realised that they had lost many of the characteristics I'd loved them for - characteristics and attitudes I'd always thought of as an intrinsic part of their natures. They'd shed their playful, hedonistic old Monster-Munch-gorging selves like husks and fluttered out as altered life forms I had little in common with. Meanwhile, I was left behind, a perpetual nymph, feeling bereft and disconnected, suspecting that I would never follow suit and knowing in my heart that I would never want to, either - but missing them and wishing them back to the way they'd been before.

Looking back as far as I can remember, I can still clearly recall the first such transition I was ever conscious of. And, being the first, it was perhaps the most painful transition of all. It was the day when I realised that none of my friends would ever again want us to play make-believe games. All of a sudden - and much, much too soon - they had turned their backs on childhood and now there was only the option of rough, sporty grappling games with the boys or of lounging and gossiping by walls in locations where the boys could see us and come over to "annoy" us. Overnight, everyone else's interests had become either physical or informational.

I had no option but to outwardly act my part, but as each playtime went by, I would feel as though multiple imaginary universes were bursting all around me like soap bubbles with barely audible "plips". Nobody else seemed to notice or care or even remember that they'd ever existed. And how I missed the way we used to run to those make-believe places and disappear into them at every opportunity. How I missed the unthinking, effortless pleasure of sharing imaginary worlds with my friends. I would sigh in secret. I would even cry a little and hang my head when nobody could see, for the world suddenly felt more oppressive and darker than before and there was noone I could tell this to. Indeed, I think that I have never in my life felt so lonely and so despairing as at that time. I'd probably have topped my wee self there and then if I hadn't already known that there would always, always be books to read; and if I hadn't, even then, felt a glimmer of hope that there might be others of my kind - that maybe, somewhere in the world, I might one day discover other creatures who were just like me.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Swedish Sunday - Epilogue

"Well helllllooo beautiful!" crooned the husky voice down the line: my ex-lover, and also the only person who could explain to me about that perplexing Swedish situation the other Sunday morning. Just the man I needed to speak to.

"I'm glad you called," I said, "I wanted to ask you something."

"About the Swedes?"

"You guessed it."

"The answer is three hours."

"But I haven't asked the question yet!" I protested.

"No, but the answer is still 'three hours'."

"But that doesn't fit my question."

"It fits mine, though. Maybe you should be trying to find out what that was the answer to."

"I'm not sure I want to know," I said, apprehension dawning.

"But I want to tell you."

"Oh God. Do you have to?"

"Yes, Zora. I think I do."

"OK. Let's get it over with. Hit me with the question."

"The question is:" he began, then he cleared his throat and put on a girly voice, 'How long was I sucking those Swedish dicks for?"

"Three hours!" I exclaimed, "You're exaggerating."

"Actually, I may be underestimating the time. I fell asleep in your office chair after the third hour, as you may remember."

"Gracious. So... erm... weren't you bored?"

"Bored doesn't come into it."

"But why were you there at all, if you don't mind me asking? Why did you come all that way in the middle of the night to find me?"

"I was feeling romantic. (I thought I might try to bang you again, if you must know.)"

"Ohhh. That little project. So: you clearly failed quite spectacularly."

"Well, yeah. It proved a whole lot harder than I'd ever have imagined to find a free orifice."

"Look, you've got to help me reconstruct the evening. I have no idea how we got into the Swedish Sunday situation. When did it start to get kinky? How did it even begin?"

"It was all perfectly normal until shortly after the part where I suggested us going back to your office to listen to my i-pod."

"Hmm. Ok. Still sounds relatively harmless so far. So we all went there to listen to some stuff on your i-pod. And then?"

"I don't know. I left the room for about one point five seconds to get a bottle and some glasses, and when I came back, all three Swedish tourists were stark bollock naked and you were just, like, totally covered in dicks and hands and - this is the really weird part - nobody was showing the least bit of interest in my music. I tried talking to you, but you didn't seem able to answer. You were just too covered in dicks."

"Oh," I said, "Well... that seems a bit... odd, doesn't it? I mean, what a funny way for them to behave."

He sighed. "Not really. I'm getting used to this stuff now. Seems to happen at least half the times I see you."

"Oh, now that's not fair. It's much less than half the time and it's NEVER my fault. And it was definitely your fault the last time. You admitted it yourself. Hmm... still... I wonder what made them do it. Do you think one of us unwittingly used a phrase that's some kind of code in Sweden? You know, like: 'I'd be glad to show you my etchings' or 'Would you like to come up for coffee?' or 'Any chance of a night cap?'"

"So... is this your theory then? You're saying that the phrase 'Why don't we all go back to Zora's office so that I can play you some contemporary jazz fusion I have on my i-pod' is some kind of nationwide Swedish code for 'Why don't we go back to Zora's office so that you can all strip naked at record speed and shove your cocks in her face the second I leave the room, and then keep fuckin'... hypnotising her with them for three solid hours?'"

"Um. Yeah. I mean... It just seems the most likely explanation, doesn't it?"


"'Jazz' is a common euphemism. For, you know, 'jizz'."

"Right. Yeah. Yeah. That'll be it."

"And just bearing that particular ambiguity in mind, 'contemporary' (i.e. contemporaneous) 'jazz' (i.e. jizz) 'fusion' does tally quite remarkably with the events which ultimately came to pass..."

"... all over your face."

"Indeed. So I'd say we were all just victims of a cultural misunderstanding."


"Not my fault at all. Nothing to do with me, in fact."

"No. No. In fact my fault, if anyone's - if I'm following your impeccably twisted logic correctly."

"Well, yes. Now that you mention it, I'm rather afraid it must have been your fault, seeing as you were the one careless enough to utter the key phrase. Lucky for you that I have such a forgiving nature. So no hard feelings, Baby. No need to apologise. I absolve you."

"Zora, Baby, HONEY, Zora, you know I adore you, but somebody has to tell you this: Baby, you're so far gone, you're coming back!"

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Awakened by the Wanton Wind

I suppose you'd call it homesickness, this hesitant clutching sensation, like the searching hand of a timorous child; this feeling that creeps up from behind and tries to slip its tiny fingers round my lower spine as I walk down my city street. It only happens when a certain kind of breeze is on the air - of a certain speed and freshness and with an old familiar wantonness of direction - and only when this breeze combines with a scent, quite faint, perhaps merely imagined, of the warm scuffing of heather on shins, of the succulent hush of bluebell sanctuaries, of long, tough grass trampled under country feet and the ticklish waft from effusive dog tails. Then I feel this timid, hankering clutch and I mourn for my country childhood and the elusive, clever, dreaming girl I once was. And yet... at the same time, I know that I would not choose to go back. Were a magic pathway to spring up at my feet, I feel sure I would not take it. So how can I feel homesick for a place I'd never return to? How can I feel nostalgic for a past I don't want back?

Perhaps these are not really my emotions. Perhaps they belong to the child I once was. If she is not dead, but sleeping somewhere inside me, then perhaps the breeze stirs her from her slumbers and, in those few moments of wakefulness, she wonders and grows forlorn when she sees what lay ahead.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Unmade Memories

I feel a wish upon my lips that there could have been more kissing. My thighs feel alive with the desire to have been fucked. And it strikes me now that, unlike the mind - whose longing only projects into the present and the future - the body can long retroactively, too; it can yearn for other pasts and altered histories and it can ache terribly for the missed chances and the wasted moments.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sudden Kitten Death Syndrome

The worst sign, I always say, is when all your fantasies suddenly become very, very simple - almost innocent - in nature; when the idea of a stolen kiss, a hot hand on a waist or an accidental moment of nudity is enough to fuel whole mad sprees of the kitten-killing sin.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Swedish Sunday

"The address?" asked the girl one firmly. I didn't respond. I was busy and it didn't occur to me that I was the only one who knew where we were. Then the other two Swedes - the boy ones - joined in.

"Marie's on the phone to a taxi company now, Zora, and we need to know this address."

They spoke kindly, but I couldn't respond. My face was just too full of their filthy falukorvs and I couldn't think in terms of geography - never one of my strongest subjects at the best of times. But I started straining for the answer as I licked, down on my knees before them, moving from cock to cock, trying to make it come to me, trying to reach a point where I could make myself think and speak. It was taking me an eternity - the cocks were just too distracting - and the girl one was getting the tiniest bit edgy now. I vaguely remembered that there had been something about checking out of a hotel. And something about the airport. An imminent flight? She gathered up my hair at the back and used it to pull me gently back and away. (Such nice people, these Swedes, I thought. So imperturbable, so well-mannered. And so endearingly corruptible.)

"It's Sunday morning" I finally said, "Birds... singing. Blackbirds. Like the Beatles song."

"We need to know where we are, not when," said the Sven one with the most exquisite patience. I noticed he was keeping himself fluffed for the moment Marie let go of me. Good lad. They taught them well, up on them thar fjords.

"My office," I finally stuttered, straining towards him now, trying to shake off Marie, "right next to my office chair, on which my ex-lover seems to be sleeping. Ver-ry deeply."

I hoped he was alright. I still had no recollection of why I had come here early on a Sunday morning with three exquisitely polite Swedish tourists and an ex, but I was slowly gaining clarity. Or perhaps it was only cunning: I still didn't know my address but I could suddenly remember the taxi stand that was conveniently located right across the street. I realised that they'd see a whole line of waiting taxis if they just turned their heads away from me and glanced out of the window. And that certainly had to be prevented, at all costs.

"If you two boys both come in my face at once, I think something might jog my memory," I said with a helpful little smile and a shrug.

Sven and Petter smirked at each other. Then Marie sighed and let go of my hair.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Idea Shop

"Where do you get your ideas from?": this is a question that pursues me wherever I go.  Indeed, I sometimes suspect it even travels ahead and camps on the street, waiting for me to arrive. Having been asked this so many times, you'd think I'd have a really nifty answer by now, but usually I mumble something unhelpful like, "Dunno really. Stuff... pops up." I mean, it's not like there's this marvellous little idea shop down the road that I can recommend or some yoga position I always do while I'm on the loo. I don't cast spells or perform rituals or play poohsticks in the moonlight clad in nothing but luminous green roller skates (although, in the latter case, maybe I should).

Another problem about responding is the fact that I'm not entirely sure how the question is meant. It might not be a real question at all. People may not expect a real answer. For all I know, it might just be a nicer way of saying, "Lorks-a-lordy, woman, you must be some kind of freak, because your stuff is abnormal." On the other hand, it may mean "C'mon, spit out some secret tips. I know there must be a simple trick with a phonebook and a hatpin or something, cause you're not that clever" or "You, my darling, are an enigma, an E N I G M A, and I fear I shall go stark raving bonkers if I cannot delve into your twisted brain this instant and find out how it works." So I never answer properly. I just look harried, mumble my unhelpful stock response and then emit a desperate gargling cry of "Waiter! More wine!" Today, however, I'm in a gregarious and analytical mood. So today I'm going to try and answer the question to my own satisfaction, at least.

My theory is that ideas operate just like dreams in the sense that every single one of us has them, but some of us don't register them - they just don't surface to the conscious mind. A second category of people do register them but don't remember them for long enough to do something about them. They emerge for a few moments but then tumble back into the depths of the mind where they are locked away forever. Then there is a third category of people who register and remember them, but view them with suspicion, thinking them silly or inappropriate or even a bit unnerving. Let's face it, the subconscious can be pretty flaky at times. It can be better to banish the bizarre random visions it occasionally hurls at us - particularly any that feature vampire penguins or motorcycle slutpigs -  to shudder, shake one's head, focus firmly on the real world and say "More tea, auntie?" instead.

I reckon that I fit into none of the three categories above, and this is why:
From my early childhood, I have always been known as a terrible daydreamer. I could - and can - quite happily sit in a daydream for hours. I do it by accident and I also do it on purpose. I'm one of life's born mental skivers and I do it as often as I can get away with. Waiting is never boring for me. Nor is silence or solitude. (Perhaps this is a dreadful confession to make, but only other people can bore me - people who insist on discussing intricate humdrum affairs and lengthy expert views without considering that they may be disrupting the very pleasant and absorbing daydream about pirates or pixies - or indeed motorcycle slutpigs - which their unwilling listener would otherwise be enjoying.)

Another significant aspect is that I value my daydream worlds just as highly as the outer world. Daydreams are wonderful. They are free and seem so erractic yet there is also some kind of unfathomable system to them, like ocean currents or weather patterns. They merge into one another. Themes recur, stories meander, circle back to their origins, swerve off in new directions. Time passes differently in daydreams. There's a whole multiverse in there and we can access it at any time. Quite honestly, what the fuck could be more amazing and more irresistibly compelling than that? The latest stock exchange news? Oho. I humbly beg to differ.

Now, it is a confirmed fact that it is very much easier for people to remember things that they are genuinely interested in, and my daydreams interest me very much. (Some would say I was obsessed with them.) And this means that I remember them. And because it is while daydreaming that I get my ideas, I remember a reasonable proportion of my ideas, too.

I get the impression that many people are less concerned with their daydreams and other forms of inner loopiness and more interested in what is know as "life" or "the real world" or "the big picture". This sort of thing is seen - and no doubt very rightly - as the desirable and proper attitude to have. "Not having a life" or "not living in the real world" is seen as a major fault. We are continually encouraged to "keep it real", but rarely to "make it fantastical".  All very sound thinking, no doubt, but I'm sure that's why some people don't remember many of their more brilliant creative brainwaves. They are too outwardly focussed and too quick to disown all the oddities that come from within. Now me, I'm not like that. If anything, I'm the other way around. I pounce on my oddities; I exalt and glorify them; it's the real world I'm guilty of pooh-poohing. I can't remember the name of the German foreign minister. The only European government I could comment on with any certainty is the Belgium one (which happens to be non-existent - making it wonderfully easy to remember, and I thoroughly approve of it for this reason). Outwardly, I seem to operate in the real world as well as the next person, but ask me a few simple questions and you'll see that it is but a flimsy facade. And underneath that facade I'm an unashamedly subjective fantasist. I have one eye looking outwards - mainly in order to avoid walking into lampposts or treading in dog poo - and the other looking in.

Now you could say that it was a vain and self-absorbed little world I lived in and that mine was an appallingly selfish and downright reprehensible attitude to nurture, but I'd argue that a) the inner world of a human being can be as expansive, rich and enlightening in its own way as anything you can read about in the newspaper and b) the real world is a vain, self-absorbed sort of a place, too, AND let's not forget that it is the real world which holds such mundane horrors as chirpy telephone salespeople and greengrocers' apostrophes and e-mail wit-forwarding brothers-in-law, workmates who harp on and on about their diets and all those neckless oafs who think it's dead clever to say "cheer up, it might never happen". Bearing all this in mind, I think I can be excused for not wanting to waste my entire life in such a place thank you very much.

Finally, there is one last point that remains: the idea-killer for category three folks - the matter of non-acceptance. Many people remember their ideas but dismiss them, don't think them good enough. All I can say is, whenever I told anyone in advance of an idea I intended to use, they always looked like they secretly thought it was a steaming pile of crap, like it could never work, like I'd clearly lost my touch and my marbles. In other words, every single one of my ideas sounds like total crap at first. The difference is, I just don't believe we should be letting a little thing like conspicuous crapness put us off. After all, let's face it, there aren't all that many instantly brilliant ideas left to be discovered in the world, but there are still loads and loads of slightly iffy ones up for grabs, and if you just make a start on implementing them - because even a dodgy idea is a billion times better than no idea at all - then by the time you've improvised work-arounds for all the daftest, most impractical aspects, changed the original notion beyond recognition, chucked out most of the key elements and ended up somewhere entirely different, you may well be looking at something you find unexpectedly really rather good, actually.