Strangers in the night (no, really)

Walking home alone in the rain, with a headache, after a good night, it usually feels like there is nothing more to expect but cold bedsheets and a nice nap. To avoid thinking about the delightful company I’d just left, I strove to remember what I’d loved most about the shows I’d seen.

Trudging on past the green man at the traffic lights, I couldn’t recall why I’d enjoyed some of the shows. 

Crossing the threshold of my building, young faces looked at me with indifference – I was just someone else they’d not met yet. I glanced back, but marched on, stopping only when a young lady headed for the same door leading to the lift. In a peculiar act of chivalry, I let her pass first; this comes naturally to me – I thought it was the right thing to do, to the point that I didn’t even think about it.

I then noticed she was taking the lift, which I would have taken too but I know it’s a slow lift. It was on the 4th floor according to the number display above the metal doors.

For some reason, as I ambled on toward the stairs, I decided to explain to her that the lift was very slow, and I did not feel it was worth waiting for. Probably tiredness…

Climbing the stairs, I heard the bleep of the lift in the background, thought to myself “I’m almost at my room, almost there”. 

Upon emerging on my floor, I saw a flash of grey – she was wearing a grey sweater – as the door swung shut. 

She was my neighbour! This beautiful girl, with dark brown eyes and ebony black hair, and a lovely smile was my neighbour!

Moments later I had to snap out of the thought because she was talking to me.

“You live here? When did you arrive?” 

“Yes, I live right here.”

I pointed to my door.

“I’ve been here for a few weeks, but I’ve been out at night, so whenever I’m in early, I just try to sleep.” What are you saying you idiot??? End this now, before it gets worse!

“Good night. See you round.” 

I smiled sheepishly, feeling the expression settle on my tired face like dust on a shelf. Opening my door, I darted inside. After all I’d done to avoid the awkward lift conversation (or well… conversation in general), our paths crossed again within five minutes. The forces of the universe are up to something again. 

Strangers in the night

Do we ever really see people?

Do you see who your neighbour of 10 years is, in that brief, polite, ‘hello’ you shout or wave when you notice him/her across the street?

Do they see you?

Can you truly say you know them?

What about people you don’t know? People you pass on the street?

The beggar round the corner. The shopkeeper? Do you really see them, or are they just forms and shapes that pass by?

A gentleman’s Code Morum

[N.B.: This is a post I wrote a while back for an older version of my blog.]

A while back, I uncovered a ‘code morum’ that I had stolen from GQ magazine. Obviously there’s not much in the way of morality one can learn from a mainstream men’s fashion/lifestyle magazine, but at the time, I thought it would be a good start. Besides, I was trying to be fashion savvy and learn how to behave properly anyhow. My parents taught me a lot in the way of proper behaviour (gotta give them credit for that) but sometimes it falls away into obscurity where relationships and personal taste are concerned. Although I can’t say I’ve applied it to the letter, I do follow some of its rules without actually thinking about it and have added some of my own.

Here it is for your consideration:

1. Pay attention to detail as a way of life.
2. Take pride in your appearance.
3. Leather shoes must be highly polished.
4. Spend enough time on personal grooming but don’t be vain.
5. Sacrificing quantity for quality is no sacrifice.
6. Do not follow fads but rather update classic fashions. [I agree!]
7. Keep jewellery to a minimum!
[I get annoyed with bracelets jangling anyhow…]
8. The right handshake!
9. Don’t get drunk!
[I never do… well, reportedly have never had a hangover, but sometimes got a headache after one or two beers, which is usually where I draw the line anyhow]
10. Be up to date with current affairs (you will always have something to talk about).
[As a journalist, this is a must… :P]
11. Invite someone on an a date, then you take the bill.
12. No swearing.
[Not even a little bit? 😦 I am human,y’know!]
13. Your environment has to be clean and tidy (desk, car, home).
[OK, that could do with a little – well, a lot – of work]
14. Develop and use your network.
[Especially for HR, PR, journalism professions!]
15. Get to know your tailor and barber.
[Don’t have either at the moment…]
16. Always show genuine respect of others.
[Human… can only do it so many times; especially with people who screw you over]
17. Know when to stand for a lady.
18. Understand your values and stick to them.
[I’m trying!]
19. Know your national anthem.
[Really? Do I haaaaaaaave to? It’s not that important to me. o.O ]
20. Understand why and when less is more.
21. Learn how to identify quality (products, services, advice).
22. Never miss an opportunity for new life experiences.
[Well… need to work on that. There’s some life experiences I’d rather not have in my spectrum of things I lived through, thank you very much]
23. Stop making excuses!
[I do that a lot… but sometimes you just can’t tell people you don’t like them/don’t want to hang out].

Why typography?

I love typography

As a writer, I feel it is essential to examine typography, since it is what makes an article, a short story, or a book, attractive to a reader. 

I think we underestimate the subtle beauty of it, because all of us select what we read without really considering why we choose to read one thing instead of another. Obviously, with books, the content already sells it to the reader – if you are a fan of Stephen King, you will try to read his books.

But if you are a blogger, why should someone read your stuff instead of somebody else’s?

Again, sometimes the content and your reputation can sell it (e.g. an article about finance, or an article written by a certain journalist may draw you in) but let’s face it, if you’re like me, about to try to break into the business, nobody except your friends and family know you.

Which is why you need typography and graphic design skills! At least, in my humble opinion…

Make me a man…

After a heated debate with Gareth about who was to see Black Sun Drum Korps, then the chat with Peter McMaster about what a man is, got me thinking.

What is a man? He is flesh, he is blood, but he also has a certain way of thinking and behaving.

The morning call I got yesterday from one of my best friends, Q, pretty much summed up what a man was not – in my head, at least.

A man is not someone who drinks and acts like an asshole to the woman who has waited so long to see him again. I can’t expand further since it is not really my story to tell. Yet there are examples of what men are not all the time.

Then again, I always end up speaking of the ideal; a human has flaws as well as virtues, so this ‘man’ I speak of must be allowed some error, but then… are we all condemned to strive towards perfection which is never feasible or are we meant to find perfection and beauty in our imperfections?

What is the mark of a man? I think it is not up to me to ordain myself a man. I can’t just wake up and say ‘I am a man now’, that is not how it works. But then, aside from the biological side of it, what is the difference between a man and a boy, between a man and a woman? What allows one to say ‘that is a man’ and ‘that is not’?

All this thinking led me back to Shakespeare. Admittedly I am biased; he is my favourite playwright.And of course, I turned to Macbeth.

When challenged and being taunted as a coward by his wife, as he is hesitant to adhere to his oath to kill his king, Macbeth snaps back a response that has tormented schoolchildren and scholars for years:

I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.

[Macbeth, Act I, Scene 7]

But then… what is a man?


“Get thee to a nunnery!” Cried Hamlet.

Perhaps Ophelia’s beauty drove him up the wall, or perhaps, as they say, he was pretending to be mad. Or perhaps he wanted to protect her from the evils of he world, including himself. It would keep her safe, and out of reach. Or perhaps i’m just reading too much into an old quote.


I have spent the past few days trying to make sense of my actions and write, and since neither of these has worked, I will take refuge in fiction.

When in doubt, take the escapist route. Escapism is never far from reality, in my opinion.

He sat in his room, flicking through blog posts, wondering to himself about the people outside his door. He knew they had knocked – they were the flatmates he hadn’t met – and they probably knew he was pretending not to be in. Then again, they had tried to open the door, which didn’t make sense to him. Even if you know someone, you don’t just barge into their room, do you?

Perched on the purple desk chair, he glared at the words on the page, his ears open for any semblance of sound. He could hear them clearly through the thin insulation and they could probably hear him, coughing and spluttering his life away like a dying motor engine coughing up . He was a smoker – a chain smoker for that matter – and had caught a cold. The last thing he needed was a bunch of people asking him what he did for a living, and trying to make conversation with strangers he’d never met before.

Strangers he’d met before were people who called themselves his ‘friends’, but only one or two actually mattered to him. And even then, they didn’t know all of him. All they knew was the young man who was quite cheerful most of the time… Yet he saw himself falling into old patterns of behaviour that he thought he’d outgrown, the kind that made him think he was not quite so ‘gentle and kind’ as everyone thought he was.

Could it be he was a fraud who was so great at lying, he lied to himself?

Anyhow, he was ill. He didn’t need people at the moment. Or well, ever.

Why do people need people? he wondered.

Was it so terrible that he just wanted to sit there and read? Was it so bad that he wanted to be left alone?

He coughed again, and muted the music he’d been playing. Sluggishly, he moved to the bed and collapsed, trying to slip into sleep.

Looking For Inspiration

I am stuck and have been stumped for a week or so. I am looking for inspiration, my muse, but have been thus far deceived and have ended up writing, deleting, writing, and deleting. I am going through change – trying to get used to a new city, a new lifestyle, and new responsibilities – and yes, it takes a bit of effort, but when it comes to writing, it feels like someone pulled the rug from beneath my feet. Or rather, my writing has been stolen from me.

A few days ago (Sunday) Gareth asked me what I wanted to do with writing and such, as we were trying to discern the purpose of an imaginary magazine we’d put together (in our heads). I pointed out that originally I’d wanted to write fiction – short stories, and novels – but I chose journalism as a compromise, and it intrigued me too.

After an absence from the fiction realm, and a few weeks of no reflective writing due to preparations (or lack of stimuli?), I have no idea what to do to get my inspiration/muse back. Yes, I have checked under my mattress and behind that heavy piece of furniture (it works in my head), but I haven’t found it. Must’ve left it someplace – or maybe it’s dormant and just needs a kick to get going again.


New city, old friends, new life

Sunday night saw me land in Glasgow, by far the largest student city in Scotland. Time to get serious – a master’s is no laughing matter, apparently.

Today, after a day spent trekking across the city, buying new things for my flat (well…room), and cleaning aforementioned flat (room), I met up with dear friend and my Skinny boss, Mr. Gareth K Vile. For those of you who don’t know what The Skinny is, look it up:

Gareth – Mr. Vile to you – introduced me to his radio show “The Vile Hour” a year ago, when he needed an extra host to entertain dancers and burlesque performers at the Fringe 2011. It was fun to be there amid the Fringe madness, meeting the coolest and the smoothest of dance and physical theatre. However, after the Fringe, problems with university, relationships and generally life, as well as the fact that I was in Edinburgh and the station was in Glasgow, meant that we did not resume any joint radio activity.

Mr. Vile was kind enough to bring me in for the first Vile Hour of 2012/2013, along with four guests, mainly friends of his from all over the place including Fielding Hope of Cry Parrot, otherwise known as the “busiest man in Glasgow”.

To listen to the radio broadcast: