Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shot Full of Holes

I saw my doctor last week and while I was there I asked him about flu vaccination. I'm still worried about being carried off by swine flu. Unfortunately, while supplies of the swine flu vaccine have started arriving, so far they're only being given to 'priority cases.' Like pregnant women, and infants, and people with health problems. (But I'm an author. Shouldn't I be ahead of these people?)

However, the doctor did tell me that anyone could get a seasonal flu shot, protecting you against other sorts of flu. I sort of grunted, and this grunt meant - 'OK I'll think about it for a few weeks and probably not do anything about it.'

I thought I was being quite clear but strangely the doctor misinterpreted this grunt and immediately pulled out a syringe, and told me to roll up my sleeve. Before I knew what was happening I was inoculated against other forms of flu.

I was perturbed. I don't like medical surprises. I like a long time to think about things. I don't like to take rash actions, like for instance, getting vaccinated when I wasn't expecting it. Afterwards I trudged round the shops wondering what dreadful symptoms the flu shot might cause, and counted myself lucky to make it home before being completely incapacitated by harmful side effects.

But I survived the experience. So I suppose that's something anyway. While I'm still susceptible to swine flu, I am at least protected against various other forms. I've only had flu twice in my life. Readers of my blog may remember that the second time was just last year, and it involved suffering on a scale rarely seen in this world. I endured a terrible period of illness when I was unable to do anything except lie on the couch and watch SpongeBob SquarePants.

* That's what you do all the time anyway. *

Well yes, but this time I was feeling a lot worse than normal. I was sore, feverish, and I felt very sorry for myself, and this feeling sorry for myself continued long after the other symptoms departed.

Here, for no real reason except I like Japanese electronic music with female singers, are Hangry and Angry. They just made a good album, Sadistic Dance.

Really, I’d like to walk around looking like that. For a day or two anyway. It would certainly make life interesting.

Wikipedia tells me that 'Hangry & Angry is a Japanese pop duo ….the group is a collaboration with a Harajuku fashion store, and serves to promote various products, including stuffed toys fashioned after the members.'

OK, nothing artistically dubious about that. It's credible enough for me. I wonder where I can get the stuffed toys?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mac Problems / Dolltopia

My new Macbook broke down! I count this as among my most traumatic experiences. It started running slowly, and generally not working very well. Several long calls to the Apple helpline failed to rectify the situation. Eventually I was forced to take it to the Apple Store in Regent Street, where they diagnosed a faulty hard drive. They had to fit a new one. I had to leave it there and then pick it up the next day.

Well, my computer is now working fine again, but the whole experience has shaken my faith in Apple somewhat. Their support was good, and and they did repair it very quickly - it was still under warranty - but even so, you don’t want your new computer dying after only two months. I am somehow not expecting this new Macbook to last as well as my old iBook, which marched on unstoppably for 6 years, before unfortunately becoming too out of date to keep using

After leaving my laptop for repair, I trudged mournfully down Regent Street, feeling like the world was against me. In fact, I was crushed by the whole experience. There was a man in some sort of costume outside Hamleys Toy Shop, calling out friendly greetings to everyone that passed. I scowled at him in a hostile manner, and felt annoyed that ‘Hamleys’ doesn’t have an apostrophe, which it surely should have.

Fortunately, I had copies of all my computer files, so I didn’t lose anything, apart from some recent email. Perhaps that’s not so bad. I can use it as an excuse for my long, long backlog of unanswered email, about which I have a permanent feeling of guilt.

Later I was cheered by the arrival of Dolltopia, by Abby Denson. I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I contributed a few sentences to the blurb on the back cover, saying how much I liked it. Which is something I very rarely do, due to my pathological laziness, and general misanthropy.

Right now there’s a big rainstorm here. I like that. The gutters in the road outside always get clogged, and water pours down the hill in a big river. It's entertaining.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Never Mind the Bollocks

I started to write a blog a while ago - 'On this day in 1977, the 28th October, Never Mind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols was released.' But then I became distracted and didn't get round to it. But I'm still sort of thinking about the Sex Pistols anyway, because they were such a big influence on me.

I don't think I'd have ever got up the confidence to write novels if it hadn't been for the Sex Pistols. My school, a Glasgow comprehensive, was reasonably good at teaching grammar, spelling, sentence construction, and so on. Which is a good thing. If you want to write, it helps if you can put a sentence together properly. But my school was very bad at giving working class kids the confidence to do anything with it. I can safely say that I was never encouraged by anyone at school to be creative in any way. At the time, authors, like proper rock musicians, seemed like a different class of people.

It might not ever have occurred to me to try writing books myself, if the Sex Pistols hadn't come along. The punk rock spirit of do-it-yourself, and having confidence in your own abilities, which they brought with them, were very influential. Life-changing, in fact. I started writing immediately, and this spirit of punk rock lingered in Britain for a long time afterwards. Long enough for me to still be thinking about it in 1984, when I wrote Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation.

I bought Never Mind The Bollocks on the day it was released. I already had the four singles it contained, also bought when they were first released. I still have them, apart from my original copy of Anarchy in the UK, from November 1976, which was unfortunately stolen a long time ago, in one of the many squats I lived in in Brixton at the end of the 70s.

Another memory of Never Mind the Bollocks - when it was released, there was actually a court case. Some retailers in Nottingham were prosecuted for obscenity, for displaying the album cover, because it said 'bollocks' Even at the time, everyone knew this was ridiculous. Why the police and public prosecution service ever got involved in it remains a mystery to me. When the case was thrown out of court, as it inevitably was, they'd succeeded only in making themselves look stupid. Though they did give the Sex Pistols a huge amount of free publicity.

The word bollocks has never really been an obscenity, being only quite a minor expletive, though it does remain quite popular in the Millar household. It is, for instance, often uttered during the course of my many household accidents, like smashing plates, or kicking over the teapot which I've carelessly left on the floor. It was said repeatedly - with some harsher words thrown in - in the aftermath of the recent 'getting out of the bath' disaster, an incident too distressing for me to give a full account. (But how, after a life-time of carefully protecting my groin, can I suddenly whack myself in the balls? It defies belief.)

On these occasions, there is nothing to do but retire to the couch, and play on my PlayStation. I've been doing this a lot recently, having discovered that there were two sequels to Prince of Persia. Am currently swashbuckling my way through Warrior Within, though I've come to something of a standstill, due to repeatedly being slaughtered in single combat by the Empress of Time. But this is not really a fair fight. I mean, the Empress of Time looks like this -

And it's quite distracting. The Empress's underhand tactics of revealing huge cleavage are very off-putting. I'm sure this is the reason she keeps defeating me. I may be stuck on this level for some time. And when you consider that the Prince of Persia, earlier in the game, also has to fight Shahdee, who looks like this -

- then you can see that the whole thing is very difficult. But perhaps the Prince is going about things in the wrong way? Surely he should not be engaging in combat with these women? Were it me, I'd try and reach some sort of understanding, and would not be waving a sword at them.