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.