Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Alacritous Update

My most anxious and preputial of readers, doubtless you have been worrying about my safety these last months. You were right to fret for me and I thank you for your compassion. I am having a terrible, miserable, episodic time of it in the Dundee Home for the Irretrievably Demented. Furthermore, I have no means of venting my overburdened spleen as I am forbidden from accessing the internet cobweb. It is only through weeks of planning, devious plotting, and some measure of degrading bribery, that I have managed to persuade the two hospital wardens, Perret and Sembadel, to allow me access to Dr. Biron's personal computer for just 20 short minutes. Such are the hardships I now endure. My time is limited so I must be succinct in my discourse and refrain from adopting my habital digressional mode of narration. Thus I must humbly beg my frustrated readership to weather the achingly sparse and underwritten prose you see before you now.

A grim update: it has become increasingly obvious to me that this carceral nursing home in which I am confined is, in reality, a sweat shop. We inmates are utilized as unpaid labour and are daily put to work crafting assorted luxury goods such as wickerwork, ribbon-weaving, Fuzzy-Felt collages, macaroni greeting cards, and gaudy baubles made with overmuch glitter. These are taken from us and presumably sold to wealthy merchants for vast profit, who in turn sell them to the bourgeoisie for even vaster profits. The inmates receive not one milky monetary drop from the plump udders of this cash cow.

I am languishing and dwindling in this ominous place. It has all the usual bleak accoutrements of mental institutions: white walls, nurses, restraining buckles, and a large mute Red Indian. The daily diet for all inmates is pemmican, carob, and medical gauze, all in tiny portions. As you will no doubt have observed, this diet is horribly lacking in the essential staple, bifidus digestivum, so we all suffer terribly. Further to this, we are daily pumped full of drugs which render the taker immobile and comatose. So at least it is not all bad here.

However, for the last week the wardens have devised fresh tortures for us, bringing in teams of small children festively bedecked with Father Christmas hats and tinsel, who sing carols to us in a manner that is little short of appalling. Their cacophonous screeching complete, they pass out shop-bought, budget mince pies then file out. I fear I may perish in this godforsaken place.

Thankfully, my plan to escape is nearing fruition...but, alas, I must leave that for another day because the wardens have returned to remove me from the computer. Farewell.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Temporary Farewell

My dearest and most rambunctious of readers, I have much to relate. First, the bad news: I am to be incarcerated in a mental institution in Dundee for the rest of my natural life. I have seen through all of Dr Gland's sly euphemisms ("just a little place for you to relax", "a sort of calming hotel", "a hospital where we can help you to get better") - it is the loony bin for me. They believe me to be unhinged because of my recent public duel with Doocot's beau wherein I penetrated his torso with a fencing sabre to his permanent injury.

Tomorrow morning, I am to be packed away to the Dundee Home for the Irretrievably Demented. Within those walls, there is no form of access to the outside world, so until I can work out a way to escape, I will be unable to update this electronic diary. For this I apologise. In the mean time, I suggest you read over some of my earlier diary entries a day at a time and pretend they are occuring in the present. Until I can escape, I must bid you farewell.

But before I bid you farewell (in retrospect, I should have saved such bidding until the end of this entry because this appendment now appears amatuerish and somewhat embarrassing), I will tell you of some good news that has befallen me. Yesterday I received a visit from my ladylove, my dove, Carol Doocot. She called in at my house, looking careworn but succulent.

"Horton," she said, "I have brought you something."

Her words struck a chord in my heart which sang with strange music, with music so barbaric that, frankly, I blushed to find it harmony. Have I said that she is beautiful? It can convey no faint conception of her. With her pure, fair skin, eyes like the velvet darkness of the East Neuk of Fife, and red lips so tremulously near to mine, she was the most seductively lovely creature I ever had looked upon. In that moment my heart went out in sympathy to every man who had bartered honour, country, all - for a woman's kiss. She had a couple of spots on her chin though, which let her down a bit.

"I cannot help but feel responsible for your recent hardships," she said. "It was I who encouraged you to explore your passions for the purposes of Art. Those passions overflowed and turned against my economics student boyfriend, but had I not forced you to unearth those passions in the first place, none of this would have happened. I didn't know you were...unequipped to deal with those emotions."

Here she handed me a bag.

"I made this for you," she said. "Take it with you to the Dundee Home for the Irretrievably Demented. I hope it brings you some peace."

She left. Inside the bag was a lump of clay in the shape of a fat dove.

Some might say that this is a piece of sculpture conveying the theme of peace, created by a well-meaning art tutor to gift to a poor, bewildered lunatic. However, I know different. It is surely a hollowed-out container housing Doocot's child, to which I am the father. She has placed the baby in this clay womb because she trusts me, the father, to look after it. Inside the clay dove, the baby is in a state of suspended animation. Clearly, this gift is meant to give me hope. Hope that when I finally escape from the mental institution, Carol Doocot will be there waiting for me. Together, we will crack open the dove with some manner of hammer, and we will start our life together as loving and devoted parents.

It makes perfect sense. I knew I was not mad. Now, I must bid you farewell again.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Ludicrous Charge is Levelled Against Me

Readers, not for the first time in my life, I am in trouble with the law. My duel with the suitor of Doocot was reported to the police, who have obviously been slipped some bribe because they have treated me abysmally. They have pulled out some ancient, dusty tomes of law and hooked me on a technicality: apparently some archaic statute or other still exists which means it is technically illegal for a man to commit attempted murder in the city of Dundee.

Attempted murder? you ask, italicizing the 'attempted' to convey your shock that I did not fully succeed in my quest to destroy Doocot's beau. You could equally have underlined the 'attempted' to emphasize it, but had you done so I would not have replied to your question because I consider underlining words for the purposes of emphasis to be much overused of late, and I do my utmost to discourage the practice.

Alas readers, I did not slay the beau. In the end, I merely wounded a portion of his trunk with my sabre. He survived my spirited onslaught. Thus, I have been formally charged with the pseudo-crime of 'attempted murder' which is a ludicrous notion to my mind. One would not be charged with 'attempted theft' or 'attempted forgery' or 'attempted kidnapping' (I assume), so why should 'attempted murder' be singled out and become a chargable offence?

I have been released for the moment. Dr Anthony Gland and a lawyer called Poove have had a word with the police and explained my position as a man of some clout in the community, so they have managed to ensure that I will not go to a real jail if I am convicted, but rather a plush hostelry designed entirely for the comfort of the inhabitants, up to and including padded walls.

I will keep you updated regarding this situation.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Duel

Readers, you join me as I prepare to do battle with Carol Doocot's beau whom I intend to slay in order to prove my love for Doocot. When she sees me standing over his bloody corpse, doubtless she will realise how serious my love for her is and will devote her life to me. I hope she will help me dispose of the body discreetly so that we can avoid a scandal.

I am in Dundee University Library using their computer machines to type this message. As I will be updating you on the duel while the fight is in progress, I trust you will excuse any inelegancies. At the moment, Doocot's beau is standing by the photocopier, photocopying an entire chapter from Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy by Philip Booth. As he stands there, willfully breaking copyright agreement, he remains unaware that he must shortly die at my hands.

As he was boorish enough not to respond to my invitation to duel like a gentleman, I have spent the last few days tracking him down and following him around Dundee. He is an Economics student which to my mind is crime enough. Despite being no great looker, he has somehow succeeded in seducing Doocot. Surely, Svengali-like, he has utilized the mesmeric arts to hoodwink Doocot into becoming his lover. Luckily, I am here to save her.

He goes to leave. I am now typing ths with my left hand as I use my right hand to remoive my fenciong sword from the trouser leg in which I concealed it. TH ebounder is going.

Readers, I have just shouted across the library to him. He is looking over. I am typing this just now, though, so when I get to the end of this sentence I will taunt him again.

The taunt successful, he is making his way over here. I am now using my right hand tio type this as I remove a secoind fencing sword from my left trouser leg. As I am a gentleman, I will provide Doocot's beau with a sword so that the fight will be fair.

I have just challenged him to a duel and handed him a fencing sword (actually a straightened-out wire coathanger affixed to a sieve: although I believe in being sporting, there is no call in being too sporting). He laughs in my face, the swine. I have struck him on the arm with my sword, drawing blood.

I have explained to him that I must remain seated during our fight to the death as I have an anxious readership to keep informed but he seems distracted. He is wailing and clutching his arm. He refuses to fight back, so I am forced to strike him a second time. This time, I stab him in the knee ,8ddedfbnhgdrsghL

Readers, Doocot's beau just struck me in the ear with his sword. No gentleman he! It stings like buggery but he has not managed to lop it off. As I am typing this, I am jabbing him repeatedly in the leg and groin with my sword. He is pulling me away from thhe coopomuter terminal but I hav managgerd ti kjeep hold of the keyboasrd and keep typingh. He is stomping on my legs wehich is pasinful beyond the telling of it. A security guard is aspprtoaching - - I must finish this quickly. I stab doocot's beau in the chest.

THe securityy guard haas
he;s wrestlin me off and

i will click ;publi'sh post''' the brute has a grip ojn me
doocots beau is llying derad i hav triumphed

mnb yfghjb45 /

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Taking Control of my Future

Rather than descend into a period of doldrums over my recent bad luck, I have vowed instead to tackle my listlessness head on. I will be an agent of my own change. Not for me the route of despair and denial: I will face my foes and fears with force.

The facts in this case are as follows:

1) I have somehow impregnated an Art tutor.
2) She is unaware of her gravidity.
3) I must tell her of her condition.
4) I must wed her so that the child, when born, is not a bastard (if male) or bitch (if female).
5) She has a suitor who will not be happy at my attempts to woo her.
6) I must remove the suitor from the picture.
7) Permanently.

To deal with points 5 through 7, I have written a letter to her suitor to invite him to join me in a duel to the death. Here is the letter which is blunt and to the point:

Dear chump [by using this demeaning title, I hope to rouse his fury from the off],

You have been observed making unseemly and unwelcome advances towards my gal [I use the slang term 'gal' to make me seem more like a New York tough, and hence to worry him]. You are hereby challenged to a duel. Be prepared to fight to the death. The winner takes all.

Yours angrily [here I have replaced the more traditional 'Yours sincerely' to emphasize the extent of my ire],

Horton Carew

This letter has made its way to my Art tutor's pigeonhole in Duncan of Jordanstone Art College. On the envelope, I wrote "Please pass on to the suitor of Ms Carol Doocot, nymphean Art tutor". By now it should have reached the swine. I must go and practise my fencing skills.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Engagement does not go as Planned

Yesterday's encounter with the Art tutor Carol Doocot was, emotionally speaking, a tumultuous one. With some compound of horror and hope, I approached her in the studio before the class began and stated my case. A combination of excessive nervous energy and a surfeit of fortified wine resulted in a dangerous lapse in restraint on my part: regrettably, I misjudged the situation and was far too forward, too blunt, and this discourteousy may ultimately have cost me dear.

What I intended as a fervent and passionate sweeping off of feet became a clumsy and awkward embrace. And when I say 'embrace', I mean 'an unwelcome and unreciprocated fumble', and when I say that, I mean 'a headbutt'. You see, I accidentally tripped over an easel in my enthusiasm as I rushed towards her, and consequently fell in such a way that my forehead struck her nose. Naturally I apologised profusely and, in an effort to placate her as she daubed uselessly at the rivulets of blood gushing from her broken face, I proposed marriage. Obviously she was too shaken to fully comprehend what I had said, for her only response was copious weeping.

Conscious that the situation was not proceeding as intended, I panicked and began blurting out as much of my planned speech as possible, with no thought towards decorum.

"You have my child! You will be mine! You will wed me! I will get a job! Your child is mine!"

I had no opportunity to hear her reply for at that moment into the studio rushed an alarmed looking man who pushed me away from my ladylove.

"Get away from my girlfriend pal!" the goon bellowed, allowing saliva to spray freely from his mouth in his fury. He snatched her up in his arms and cradled her head in his palm.

In terror I absconded.

I do not know what to think. Clearly, I have a rival for Doocot's affection. One who does not know of her secret - that she has permitted herself to become impregnated by another man, i.e. me (Horton Carew). I will doubtless have to arrange a duel with this cove in order to win Doocot back.

For the moment, however, I must allow myself time to weep and to claw at my scalp in anguish.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rehearsing my Engagement Speech

Tomorrow is Wednesday, the day of my Art class and the day that I must finally confront my Art tutor Carol Coocot about her impregnation. She will likely be unaware that she is with child so I will have to handle this situation sensitively.

I must make my intentions plain so that there is no room for misunderstandings. I will march into the studio, grab her firmly by the wrist as though I was a smouldering and impassioned Rock Hudson, and state boldly and decisively the following:

"Carol Doocot, as far as can be ascertained you are pregnant with my child. Thus, I will wed you whenever is convenient with you. You will have ample time to finish off any paintings you might be working on and so on and so forth. It is my intention to begin gainful employment as soon as possible so that I can support you and your child financially in the coming years. I have settled upon the name 'Gordo' or 'Aubrey' if the child is male and 'Meemsy' or 'Debs' if the child is female, but I am prepared to hear your suggestions. Assuming this satisfactorily squares with your expectations, I will begin preparations directly."

Once she agrees to be my spouse, I will reward her with an engagement ring which I have modelled from clay. As she is an earthy artistic type, she will appreciate this personal touch.

Wish me luck readers for I have limited experience in engagements and begin to suffer from nerves.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Contemplating my Future as a Husband

Now that I am to be a father of a baby child, I must take my place in this world more seriously. My carefree batchelor days will soon be over for I must now wed the art tutor Carol Doocot whom I impregnated. If I am to offer stability and a healthy upbringing to a baby child, it will be essential to have some form of wife who can feed it milk and help it learn quadratic equations and such.

Although a mere quirk of fate has cast myself and the Art tutor Carol Doocot together forever, I must confess that I rather like the idea of owning a wife, baby or not. I will be able to visit public houses and talk about my wife to other men. I have decided that although I will doubtless dote on my wife in private, when I discuss my wife with other men I will adopt a tone of comical downtroddeness and refer to her as "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and "The Old Ball and Chain" and similar epithets because that will make me appear to other men as though I am unemotional and that I would not necessarily have chosen to get married but was somewhat coerced into it by circumstance. This routine will engender a sense of camaraderie with other married men, who might buy me a pint of bitter and eventually invite me to join them in a game of golf and ask me to their family barbecues, etc.

Although Carol Doocot is obliged by her pregnancy to accept my offer of marriage whether she likes it or not, it is not my intention to be a boorish husband. I am keen to show her that I am thoughtful and caring by giving her an engagement ring and kneeling, which I understand is considered romantic. Once she has agreed to be my wife, she can move into my Dundee home at once and prepare the house for my baby's arrival by cleaning my rooms and redecorating the bedroom upstairs, which has needed a lick of paint for some years now.

A comical metaphor for married life that I will employ to appear worldly in front of other men

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Truth is Revealed at Last

Tonight's art class provided the perfect opportunity to ascertain whether or not the art tutor Carol Doocot had indeed been impregnated by me. Sufficient doubt remains in my mind as to the precise mechanics behind how a woman becomes heavy with child, but as I have seen Carol Doocot naked once and consequently experienced a spasm, I felt that a pregnancy was probable enough that I could not afford to ignore the likelihood.

But how to ask her? How was I to frame such a question, the answer to which might very well bind the woman to me in perpetuity and change the course of my life forever? Just thinking of it caused me to bite my lower lip and fret. I eventually decided that there was no need for me to ask Carol Doocot directly and that I could establish the truth covertly. I have seen enough soap operas to know that there are ways of discovering pregnancy using small white plastic sticks that change colour when urinated upon. It was such a method that I chose to employ this evening.

Having no Home Pregnancy Testing Kit available in my Dundee home, I was forced to improvise by affixing a strip of litmus paper to a toothbrush: as the final product visually approximates a Home Pregnancy Testing Kit, I assume it is also functionally identical.

When I arrived at Duncan of Jordanstone Art College, I was greeted by Carol, who welcomed me into her classroom and asked if I had made a full recovery from my spasm. I used this opportunity to quickly check her over for any signs of pregnancy, such as having a swollen abdomen or emitting a womanly glow, but she was found wanting in both departments. Further measures were needed.

It was then that I realised my Home (-made Home) Pregnancy Testing Kit was of limited value for its success depended entirely upon the Art tutor Carol Doocot introducing the Kit to a stream of her urine and I could see no way of persuading her of this course of action without arousing suspicion. I would have to be wily.

Thus it was that I snuck into the women's toilet immediately after she had used it and daubed my Home (-made Home) Pregnancy Testing Kit around the toilet bowl. The litmus paper changed colour. Readers, I tremble as I write this... the paper turned red.

I am to be a father. Carol Doocot is pregnant with my child.

I celebrated by buying a fish supper on the way home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Did I Do in the Great War?

I find that the above poster by Savile Lumley still works its propagandist magic, for its message has played heavily on my mind today. If my own child, full of wonder and pride, asks me what I did in the Great War of 1914-1918, I will be obliged to answer that I did nothing, which will humble me and make me adopt an expression of consternation just as the troubled father in the poster is doing.

Through consulting the newspapers and the internet cobweb, I was delighted to be reminded that Britain is technically at war just now. Although it is no 'Great War', I will surely be able to do something to help the war effort and hence avoid an awkward, shamefaced silence when my baby becomes a child and asks me what I did to help the nation.

I am not entirely sure who the enemy is - what I have been able to pick up is that Britain and the US (America) have been bombing some countries and shooting some people to help save them from tyrants. Some of the people are not grateful for being saved in this way and have been shooting back. I think they are the enemy. The tyrants are the following: Saddam Hussein, who lived in a hole in the ground, then was hung, Osama Bin Laden who has a big beard and who lives in a cave, and a man called George Galloway who lives in a house with Rula Lenska and Pete Burns, but I remain unsure of his involvement. None of this fighting in hot and sandy countries is of any use to me, however, as it is all happening at the other side of the world and you cannot get cheap return flights to Iraq from Dundee airport.

Thankfully, there is an enemy closer to home that I might help to fight: Terror. On our fair island are agents of Terror who live in Britain and who assiduously help Osama Bin Laden's Terror-Cause by inciting Terror. I only have the popular media to go by, but these Terror-Enemies seem to be some species of Mohammedan gremlin which ruins public transport for everyone by self-destructing during rush hour.

They seem to be the main Terror-Culprits, but they are certainly not the only ones. I have noticed that many other people cause needless Terror-Terror in Britain today: last night, even the BBC proved themselves guilty of helping the Terror-Enemy by showing Tales From the Crypt. What chance have the government got if the country's main broadcasting station is working for the War on Terror by further Terror-fying the populace? The bit with the murderous Father Christmas and the Joan Collins engendered nothing but Terror in me. Congratulations BBC! What a disaster for the war effort - Osama Bin Laden will doubtless be laughing when he hears of this.

Readers, my solution to the War Against Terror is the liberal application of Courage. I have spend much of today bolstering my stock of Dutch Courage by drinking endless mugs of Kentucky Bourbon, and I suggest you soon do likewise. Not only does is boost your Courage and hence reduce your Terror, but it also benefits the American economy, which I have gathered is also somehow related to helping the war effort.

I would like to see Osama show me Tales From the Crypt in my newly fortified state - he would soon realise that us Britons are made of sterner stuff! Now, when my child asks me, "Daddy, what did YOU do in the War?", I will be able to look him squarely in the eye and say, "I beat Terror, son." Then I will offer him a slug of Wild Turkey to help him beat Terror too.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Further Measures to Protect My Future Child

Readers, I must tell you that despite my initial misgivings about fathering the child of an Art tutor, I have warmed to the idea considerably. There are one or two things I fear about being a father, such as having to involve myself in the Father and Son Sack Race at school sports day. I am not proficient in athletics and worry that I will show my son up and embarrass him in front of his friends. Even if I just have a daughter, I will still be expected to give her a lift to the Brownies every week and I cannot drive. Above all, I live in terror that my offspring, whatever its gender, will develop a terrible wasting disease and die young, or that some awful calamity should end its existence, a tragedy that would break my heart. I would be unable to cope with the grief and would likely force a screwdriver into my ear to puncture my brain and expediate my own demise.

Such are the perils of parenthood. To protect my future offspring from disasterous death, I have taken further measures to ensure its wellbeing within my Dundee home. I have wedged Gluetack (a mixture of Blu-Tack and Glue of my own devising) into all the electric sockets in my home so that my baby does not electrocute itself by insering a metallic strip into one of the zapholes.

All poultry has been exorcised from my kitchen to avoid the risk of botulism. I have heard that babies cannot tolerate salt in their diet, so I have dutifully expunged my sellars and saltlicks. A grave risk to our nation's young is scalding: to remove this hazard, I have committed my kettle to the flames, and have cast away my plugholes - if a bath or sink cannot be filled at all, then there is less chance of it being filled with boiling water, and therefore less chance that I submerge my baby in it in a fit of pique.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Potential Fatherhood

Readers, I have decided that if Carol Doocot, the Art tutor, has been impregnated and if I prove to be the father of the child, then I will do the honorable thing and help her to raise our baby. As I have already intimated, I am unsure exactly how a woman becomes a pregnant woman, but I am certain that female nudity is involved at some stage in the proceedings. As I witnessed Carol Doocot in a state of undress at Wednesday's Art class, it will be safest to assume that I have indeed impregnated her until I learn anything to the contrary.

I have already sellotaped bubblewrap to all the sharp corners in my home, removed the bleach from under the kitchen sink, and hidden my revolver in a shoebox to protect my offspring from injuring itself when it arrives in this world, young children being notoriously stupid and foolhardy in such respects.

Tomorrow I will clear out my tools from the garden shed and begin preparations to convert it into a Wendy House for the child to play in. I will attach plywood turrets to the roof of my shed so that the child can pretend the Wendy House is its magical castle. If the child is a boy child, it can pretend to be a prince or king: if the child is a girl child, it can pretend to be a princess or queen. I will also plant some saplings in the garden so that a tree might eventually grow and I can build my child a tree house. I believe I will make a good father to my child.

Friday, July 13, 2007

An Art Class and a Spasm

Yesterday I promised to tell you about a recent stressful incident at an Art class. Because I am a man of my word, I will today tell you about a recent stressful incident at an Art class. My four regular readers will remember that on 22nd June I was offered a place at an evening Art class run by a graduand/graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone Art College. She had been singularly unimpressed by my efforts at portraiture, all of which she claimed looked like characters from The Munsters, and so proposed that she tutor me in the ways of Art. I made the rash decision to accept her tutelage but now regret it bitterly.

On Wednesday night at 7:00pm I arrived at the appointed room in the Duncan of Jordanstone building to be met by Carol Doocot, the tutor. Curiously she was wearing a white dressing gown, but I put this down to Artistic eccentricity. She bade me sit by the group of shabbily attired, rough looking young sorts (some of the females sported tattoos and some of males unashamedly wore earrings) who were to be my classmates. Several of the roughs attempted to engage me in conversation on a variety of topics, but I steadfastly ignored them.

"Well class, we have a new member joining the group today," announced Carol. "Horton Carew - he's the street artist I was telling you about. I'm sure you'll all do your best to make him feel welcome. Sorry to put you on the spot Horton, but perhaps you could tell the class a bit about yourself."

Happy that my reputation evidently preceded me, I grew confident and agreed to share a few tidbits of biographical information to keep the baying mob satiated, as well as offering a little advice to the scruffier elements of the group on how to present themselves more respectably.

"Thank you Horton. To fill you in, last time the class met, we'd just started some life drawing which we'll be continuing with today. Okay, if everyone could get their materials out, we'll make a start."

I took out my habitual Artistic tools - a biro and a pad of A4 lined paper from Woolworth's - but Carol informed me that if I wanted to do proper Art, I had to use more expensive paper and draw with sticks of charcoal to make my work a little more smudgy. Furthermore, it was essential to attach the paper to a wooden board with two metal clips and stand whilst drawing. Only through this method would my Art be considered acceptable.

These measures taken, I watched as Carol flitted around the room giving tips to my peers, such as to avoid using the pink pastel for skin tone, but to instead use blue and yellow. That way, it would look more Arty. The phrase 'skin tone' gave me a clue as to what our subject would be: something with skin. As it transpired, that was only the half of it. Readers, what I am about to impart is doubtless the raciest episode yet recorded in my electronic diary. If you are offended by filth and indecency, I strongly recommend that you do not read further lest you faint and crack the side of your head on a radiator as you collapse to the floor in your swoon.

Carol casually announced that she would be today's subject then promptly disrobed. With no sign of a blush, and no concession made whatsoever to cover her shame, she stood in the centre of the room completely naked. To compound this felony, none of my classmates appeared at all phazed by this unannounced nudity, and at once went to work sketching her.

"Remember to pay particular attention to the negative space; the space around the subject," suggested Carol, as though she were clothed instead of standing unadorned in a room full of people clutching charcoal sticks.

Appalled as I was, I made to leave at once. But readers, I must admit that I persuaded myself to reconsider, telling myself that all Artists must go through terrible ordeals and suffering in order to improve and inform their Art. No readers, to my everlasting mortification and regret, I elected to stay in that room among the nakedness. I had the opportunity to leave but did not, and I have paid for that decision since.

I did my best to draw the denuded Carol, starting with her head and working down. I kept my eyes focussed above her neck at all times so as not to corrupt myself more than was necessary. But readers, my anxiety continued to rise as my gaze was obliged to sink lower. Through deftly averting my eyes, I did manage to draw one of her naked arms, but when I came to draw her private chest area I am afraid I was corrupted. My heart beat faster, my breathing rose and fell rapidly and full drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of strangulation, supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion, in which my senses left me, and I became unconscious.

I awoke to find a now-robed Carol hovering over me, asking if I was all right. She apologised, saying that the room can get very warm and that she should have opened a window. In terror, I grabbed my Artistic apparatus and fled that den of iniquity at once.

Readers, I confess that I have no experience whatsoever in matters such as these and am largely ignorant in the ways of love and the mechanics of human procreation. I am not entirely certain what happened to me on Wednesday night, but if I am correct in my suspicions, I fear that Carol may now be pregnant with my child. If that is the case I will either have to marry her soon in order to save face, or flee the country and disavow all knowledge of her.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Eight Facts About Me

Readers, soon I will tell you about my traumatic experience at an art class, but in today's entry I must indulge a brief digression. I was recently 'tagged' by an internet entity who told me that I must share with my readership eight facts about my miserable life. Though I cannot be sure, I believe it to be a legal requirement that I share these facts or else risk the gaol. At any rate, I have researched the internet cobweb and discovered that this practice of writing eight facts about one's life is something of a fad on electronic diaries at present, so I think that if I go along with this, it will make me more popular.

Eight Interesting Facts about the Life of Horton Carew.

1. I am a male person.
2. As a youth, I once caught a crab at Lunan Bay, which I christened Mortimer.
3. I have never committed a murder of a man.
4. I have two permanent diseases.
5. In the past, I have feigned an allergy to brine in order to impress a bully.
6. I once appeared in an episode of To the Manor Born.
7. My favourite food is lovely.
8. A childhood accident involving a calliper has left me unable to correctly pronounce 'Cincinnati', 'plinth', and similar words.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rebuilding Dundee

You will note that I have of late been providing you with detailed descriptions and pictorial representations of several Dundee landmarks. Because of this recent diversion, one reader has written to me (for some of my readers can also write) to ask me if I am trying to do for Dundee what James Joyce did for Dublin. By that I assumed that my correspondent meant that I might eventually have several walking tours around the city named after me, but this was not the case. Of his populist trash Ulysses, James Joyce apparently boasted, "I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book". My correspondent wondered if I intended something similar for Dundee with my electronic diary.

Of course, I sent that reader a vicious and abusive reply telling her to mind her own business and not to be so damned nosy in future. After a while, however, I began to worry about what might happen if Dundee did suddenly disappear from the earth, and all that the architects and planners had to go on was the information contained in my electronic diary. Clearly, they would be unable to make much headway on the project.

Thus, to help those builders, and to best Mr Joyce and his lowbrow penny dreadful, I will begin to use this electronic diary to furnish the reader with detailed topographical information about the streets of Dundee.

Today for example, I walked from East Whale Lane to Euclid Crescent. First, I departed from East Whale Lane by turning left into the Seagate where I walked for approximately 0.01 miles (0.02km) before bearing left for a further 0.05 miles (0.08km), then I crossed at the Marketgait roundabout and bore left for 0.05 additional miles (0.08km). At this point, I turned right into Sugarhouse Wynd which I strolled along for 0.06miles (0.1km) before turning left into the Cowgate. There I ambled for 0.09miles (0.14km) until the street became Panmure Street. I walked along Panmure Street for 0.13miles (0.21km) then bore left for 0.03 miles (0.05km), where I successfully turned right into Euclid Crescent.

Here is a map for further information:

That should be enough for the builders to make a start if Dundee should disappear tonight.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Great McGonagall

Despite today's atrocious weather, I have managed to produce yet another Artistic gem, albeit one soggier than usual. It would perhaps be immodest to say 'masterpiece' at this stage, but as you have pressed me, readers, I admit I can find no other suitable word to describe it.

As local readers will note from my masterpiece below, I have been to Dundee's Magdalen Green today to add the statue of William McGonagall to my folio of masterpieces. Local readers, I know the following will be painfully familiar to you already, but I would ask you to be patient while I describe to ignorant non-local readers the tradition associated with this statue.

Statue of William Topaz McGonagall, Magdalen Green. Ignore the smudges - it was raining heavily when I drew it.

Non-locals are often curious as to why the statue, erected in 1912, has two right hands and outlandish headgear. Well my foolish non-local readers, I will explain why this is. During World War: Part 2, people all over Britain tore out metal railings and sacrificed milk pans to help the war effort. This metal was made into tanks to destroy Germans or something. Many Dundonians felt that McGonagall's statue, being made of valuable metal, should be melted down and turned into bayonets to help the brave tommies doing their bit for King (and country). The council forbade this course of action but this did not prevent one Lochee man from sawing off McGonagall's left hand and donating it to a scrap metal collector. For its own safety, the statue was removed from public display and kept in Barrack Street museum for the remainder of the war.

When McGonagall came to be displayed again, the statue's missing left hand proved problematic: metal shortages thanks to the war made sculpting a new one unfeasible. As it happened, at the foot of the Wellgate steps there used to stand a statue of Janet Keillor, the Dundonian who invented marmalade, almost all of which had been commandeered by gung ho citizens and eventually melted down to make several Goshawk engines. The council had only been able to salvage a knee cap, a portion of inner thigh, and a right hand. As a temporary measure, McGonagall's statue was fitted with Keillor's right hand. Over time, Dundonians grew to love this eccentricity and have resisted any attempts to give McGonagall a new left hand.

The outlandish headgear is easier to explain: from the 1970s onwards, Dundee's student population began decking McGonagall out in various hats as part of a drunken prank. This sort of thing passes for humour among students. Initially, traffic cones and bobble hats would find their way onto McGonagall's pate, but over time the hats became more elaborate. On Hallowe'en for example, he would be seen sporting a witch's hat, whilst on Christmas Day, a Father Christmas hat would be his headgear of choice. And so on.

Today, students still take responsiblity for his hats, and the position of Group Organiser for the Dundee University McGonagall's Hat Society is now highly sought after. McGonagall now has enough hats to enable him to wear a new one every day of the year, and some of the more extravagant hats designed by Art students can take several hours to set up. As you can see from my drawing, he was still to be found wearing a faux-crown in honour of the Queen's visit to Dundee on Monday. Her Majesty was said to be "slightly amused" at the spectacle.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Dundee Dragon

The most recent piece of sculpture I have turned my Artistic eye to is the Dundee Dragon, just outside Waterstone's (formally Ottakars, and formally Pottakar's during a recent Harry Potter promotion).

The story goes that in times of old, a Dundee farmer sent his daughter down to a well to fetch water. She never returned so he sent another daughter who also failed to return. Thus he sent another daughter who did not return either. Rather than go down to the well to investigate his daughters' disappearance himself, he sent all nine of them down to the well one after the other until all were lost.

Well, as the title of this tale is 'The Dundee Dragon', some readers may have guessed that the cause of the daughters' vanishment was that a dragon had devoured them all with no small amount of greed. A hero was called for who, after some difficulty, killed the beast, as heroes typically do.

To commemorate this dragon, the city of Dundee commissioned sculptor Prentice Oliphant to create a statue in its memory. Oliphant's Dundee Dragon is designed to be interactive: children are welcome to clamber over it, pensioners are encouraged to sit on its snout and enjoy a rest, city workers typically grab a quick lunch leaning against its wings. A particularly ingenious aspect of The Dundee Dragon's interactivity is that when a button under its chin is depressed, a brief flame eminates from a tiny tube concealed in the tip of its mouth. Dundonians can frequently be seen using the sculpture's intriguing mechanism to light cigarettes, cigarellos, cigars, and pipes.

I have ensured that my drawing of the statue shows it being used as the Artist intended. I am very happy with this drawing and do not think that there are any contemporary Artists operating today who could do better than me. I hope people viewing the drawing at my street artist stall will agree with this assessment, for I mean to charge £20.00 for this one.

The Dundee Dragon

My drawing of the Dundee Dragon, featuring a young Dundonian lighting a cigarette

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


New visitors to Dundee will perhaps be surprised to note the preponderance of penguin statuary in the city. However, if they have the foresight to read the explanation contained in this electronic diary entry, they will not be surprised and will instead be well-informed. At the time of writing, over thirty sculptures of penguins can be found around Dundee and environs. Here are some photographs showing just a few of them:

St. Mary's Tower, Nethergate

Riverside Drive

Dock Street (sculpture donated by Roy Castle)

Dundee Law, next to War Memorial
I will now tell you a little about Dundee's connection to penguins. I have decided to do so in the manner of a tourist guide book so that you all pay attention. Dundee's famous association with penguins stems from 1905 and Dundee's ultimately doomed attempt to establish a zoo. Plans for an internationally-renowned attraction in Dundee, featuring hundreds of exotic species and an area selling candyfloss, had been in place for several years. Suitable animal habitats had been constructed in Camperdown, but insufficient funding meant there was a great paucity of animals to delight the people of Dundee. The biggest draws were a tawny owl and a shrew, but both died after only a few months in captivity.

Salvation seemed at hand, however, when Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the RRS Discovery, who had recently returned from his expedition to the Antarctic, donated two valuable penguins to Dundee Zoo as a thank you to the city for building the ship that valiantly remained intact for the two years it was irretrievably trapped in ice. Thousands of Dundonians flocked to see the birds, but sadly their patronage did not save the zoo from closure. Dundee Zoo was downscaled to Camperdown Wildlife Park, which still remains today and displays only dull animals such as foxes, rabbits, and otters, and all the then-useless zoo animals were butchered and served to the homeless.

All that is, except for Gideon and Elnora, the two Dundee penguins. The public had grown so fond of them that there was outcry at the suggestion that their flesh be used to sustain the poor. Thus, to a cheering crowd, the pair were released into the Tay on 21st December 1905. Evidently, the penguins preferred Bonnie Dundee to the chill winds of the bleak Antarctic for they refused to leave Dundee's shores. There they remained for many years, rearing several penguin chicks, which similarly flourished.

Land reclamation work at Dundee's waterfront in the late 20th century displaced the small colony of penguins, but thankfully only as far as Broughty Ferry beach (still technically Dundee), where a modest penguin population still thrives to this day, each of them descendants of the original Gideon and Elnora. As the UK's only wild penguins, they are constantly monitored and highly protected. They are one of Dundee's biggest claims to fame, hence the abundance of penguin statues in the city. Here is a photograph of the birds today:

Penguin colony at Broughty Ferry Beach

And so my dearest and eagerest of readers, my latest Artistic work that I plan to hawk to tourists is one that I have entitled "Penguins". It is my intent to have this image printed onto t-shirts and sell those to people. As you will note, I have embraced all the tenets of modern design to produce a classy yet funky graphic to adorn a range of different sized tees. If you wish to buy one, it will cost you £12.99. Kindly ignore the smudges - my pen leaked.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Robert Burns (poet)

Continuing my Artistic tour of Dundee's statues, I now turn to the famous Robert Burns who sits outside the McManus galleries, seemingly thinking up new poems in perpetuity. This is one of four identical statues of Burns sculpted by Sir John Steell: the others are in London, Edinburgh, and Loblolly Bay.

Dundee was selected as one of the lucky places to recieve a statue because of Burns's famous association with the city. During his Poetry Tour of 1789, on the journey between Kirkcaldy and Monkbarns, he stopped off in a venerable Dundee hostelry known as Pudgetie Samuel's (still operating today under the updated name 'Fat Sam's') to use the toilets.

The eponymous proprietor was apparently furious that Burns has used the facilities without first buying a drink and threatened to hack the poet's cheek with a trout scaler unless he agreed to purchase some measure of refreshment at the inn. Having no money, Burns placated the irate landlord by offering to write a poem free of charge. Alas, only the opening stanza has survived:

To Dundee:
On Visiting a Howf in the Town (1789)

Thou donsie, bowfin, oorie city,
I gie your neebors a' ma pity;
Your glaikit bairns are far fae pretty,
An' reek o' pies.
No place in a' the world's mair shitty
Or mair despised.

A plaque featuring the poem can be found above the entrance to Fat Sam's to commemorate Burns's visit to the city.

Below is my drawing of the statue. Whilst all of you will doubtless look at the drawing itself and think, "Horton has triumphed again - good show!", I know that some of you might criticize my latest effort as being too commercial. Lest you judge me too harshly, remember that I am just trying to make money by appealling to the tourist market which laps up any sort of Scottishness. This is why I have drawn the national bard looking wistful with a selection of quotations from his poetry hovering above his head, as though the statue had just thought of them. It will appear to Americans and the like who will think this a fitting tribute to the great man and a suitable summary of his best works. I have entitled the drawing "Rabbie", which makes my rendering appear more affectionate and familiar, so that more tourists might buy a copy.

£5.00 per photocopy.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Admiral Adam Duncan

So happy was I with my success at rendering Desperate Dan so accurately in ink on Tuesday, I elected to continue in a similar vein today by drawing another of Dundee's famous sculptures. In doing so, I am not only sharing my Artisic gifts with the world but also providing an educational service to those readers of mine who have never been to Dundee and are thus ignorant of the many Artistic gems on offer.

Today's subject was the statue of Sir Admiral Adam Duncan, Lord Viscount of Camperdown Park (1731-1804), whose memorial sculpture is situated in an appropriately dignified location at the foot of the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral. Just beside KFC.

As you can see from the photograph, the sculptor has chosen to immortalize the moment in Sir Admiral Duncan's life during the battle of Camperdown after he had been struck on the spine by Dutch cannon fire, to his severe injury. Both Duncan's arms were dislocated at the shoulder and broken in several places. Demonstrating some of the incredible courage and fortitude for which he was later to be celebrated, Duncan lopsidedly shrugged off his injuries and held aloft a large stick of Edinburgh rock, declaring it a prize for the first of his men to slay the Dutch cannoneer who so deformed his arms. You will observe that the sculptor has done a magnificent job of capturing the admiral's freakish, twisted arms valiantly holding up the Edinburgh rock.

In attempting to draw this complexly-proportioned structure, I had my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, I succeeded spectacularly, as you can plainly see:

£15.00 if you want it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Desperate Dan

As you will doubtless have observed, I am very strong in conveying the correct proportions of the human body in my Art. Additionally, I have fully mastered the disciplines of still lifes and landscapes. However, I am not so blinkered as to think that I am the finished article as an Artist: one can always improve or hone one's skills. Admitting a weakness is the greatest strength an Artist can possess. For example, I have identified something lacking in my work which I have been striving to improve - shading. Experimenting with the effects of different lighting and shadowing in my work has yielded astonishing results. Readers, if it is not too self-indulgent, allow me to state without shame that I am proud of myself.

My extensive work on shading has culminated in the piece below. Here is a photograph of the original subject:

It is Dundee's much-loved sculpture of Desperate Dan. Here is my own interpretation of this famous statue, which I have entitled, simply, 'Dan' (by omitting the 'Desperate' from the character's name, I feel I have lent the image a warm and affectionate air):

As I trust is apparent, I have succeeded rather spectacularly in capturing the warmth of the sunlight glinting on Dan's manly jaw, and the soft and diffusing light against Dan's frame. Because this piece so obviously outshines my previous efforts at Art, I will accept no less than £10.00 for it if anyone's interested.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


As part of my ongoing efforts to extend my Artistic talents, today I decided to attempt some landscape work. Images of local sights and scenes will surely sell well. I felt reluctant about going out of doors on a Sunday in case any religious types took offence at my failure to respect the Sabbath, so I searched the computer for photographs of Dundee landmarks that I might copy.

I found this image of the Tay Bridge:

I discovered that there might be problems in using this image because the 'C' stands for 'Copy Right', an imperative meaning that whoever uses this image for their own purposes must do their very best to copy it correctly, i.e., 'copy' it 'right'. Thus, before embarking on this project, I realised I would have to respect the photographer's wishes by copying his photograph right.

To this end, I believe I have done an excellent job. Here is my drawing of the Tay Bridge, which I have entitled, 'Tay Bridge':

Doubtless, the original photographer will be delighted when he views my drawing and sees what an admirable job I have done in copying his picture right. Readers, if anyone among you appreciates Art and would like to buy the drawing, it is yours for £5.00.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Still Lifes

As my portraiture is suffering at present, I have decided to remain indoors today and try my hand at still lifes. Taking my cue from famous artists of still lifes, I went for a simple arrangement of fruit, flowers, and wine lying on a piece of crumpled cloth. To this I added a mug of coffee and a cotten reel. This selection would allow me to show off my ability to depict numerous different textures.

If I might be so indecorous as to boast, I must say that I have carried off this project very well and believe that this drawing, which I have entitled 'Still Life with Apple, Banana, Cotton Reel, Mug of Coffee, Flower, Wine, Fruitbowl, and a Bit of Cloth' (2007), will bolster my burgeoning portfolio nicely.

Here is the drawing:

Readers, if anyone among you appreciates Art and would like to buy the drawing, it is yours for £5.00.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I draw some graduands/graduates

This morning, I took up my now habitual spot outside H. Samuels at 4:00am and awaited passing trade. At 8:45am, the staff of H. Samuels arrived to open up their shop and asked me to leave. Affectionately telling me to 'p***' (piss) or 'b*****' (bugger) off each morning is starting to become a running joke between myself and those jewellers - they are a real bunch of characters. Of course, I refused, stating plainly that I had a duty to share my Artistic gift with as many Dundonians as possible for £5.00 each time.

Shortly afterwards the city square was filled with young people wearing long black robes. Druids of the Black Arts, I naturally assumed, before remembering that this was Dundee University's graduation day and these young people wearing robes were arriving at the Caird Hall to have various degrees conferred upon them by older people also wearing robes. This was an opportunity to draw some portraits and earn myself some money.

It was not long before a young girl wearing robes approached me.

"Hey, is that a portrait of Isaac Lidsky who briefly played Weasel Wyzell in Saved by the Bell: The New Class?" she asked. "It's a pretty good likeness if it is."

"Of course it is Lidsky," I replied. "What is more, my skill at capturing the likenesses of celebrities also works on non-celebrities such as yourself. For just £5.00 I can draw a picture of your face."

"That sounds like a blast," she said. "Will you do a group portrait of me and my two mates? They are also graduates."

Well readers, I could not let this lie pass unquestioned.

"Young woman, you misjudge me. I am aware that the graduation ceremony has not yet taken place. You have not yet graduated. Therefore you and your chums are actually graduands at present."

I allowed myself a smug smile at having outsmarted this graduand.

"Actually, this is my second degree," said the obvious graduand. "So, technically, I am a graduate. Sorry."

"Then you are a graduate of your previous degree," I countered, "But a graduand of your current degree. For you have not yet graduated in that one."

"Hmm, I suppose you are correct," the graduand/graduate admitted. "What we need is a term to describe someone who is simultaneously a graduate and a graduand. Any suggestions?"

"None at all. You are the graduate/graduand - you are better educated than me, so you should be the one to coin the term. Where would we be if we allowed un-degreed people to coin terms?" I said.

"I will give it some thought as you draw my portrait," she said, taking a seat beside two of her graduand friends.

Here is the finished drawing, which the graduands rejected as looking nothing like them:

They claimed that their portraits looked too much like The Munsters and refused to pay. Readers, I am afraid to admit that I myself can discern a certain Munsterousness about the drawing which was not apparent in the subjects themselves. I begin to doubt that street Artistry is my true vocation.

The female graduand/graduate (the new term she coined by the end of the sitting was 'gradiator', which I refuse to use) offered me a place at some evening Art classes that she runs so that I might improve. For you see, she was graduating with a postgraduate degree in Fine Art. I may take her up on the offer. In the mean time, readers, if anyone among you appreciates Art and would like to buy the drawing, it is yours for £5.00.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Celebrity Portraits

In an effort to attract more clients to my street Artist business, I decided that I would need to provide potential clients with examples of my Art. I have seen other street Artists show their own portraits of famous celebrities so that passers-by can quickly gauge how good the artist is at capturing a person's likeness, being as they will be familiar with what the celebrities' faces look like. I determined that I would also use this idea to show off my wares.

Below you will see my example portraits that I displayed to the Dundee public:

The famous celebrities whose portraits I chose to depict are, from top-left running clockwise, Isaac Lidsky who played the character Weasel Wyzell for one series of Saved by the Bell: The New Class; the novelist Charlotte Dacre who wrote Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer: a Tale (1805); Ronnie Duff who played Mr MacLeod in the weekly mini-soap Aig an Taigh (At Home) in the Gaelic language programme Speaking Our Language; Billy Quirk who played Zeke's Nephew in the 1909 film Oh, Uncle!; and Harriet Buchan who played Taggart's wife in Taggart.

I drew some stars around the celebrities' portraits and employed a 'snazzy' font to lend the portraits the glamour they deserved.

It was a slow day's work however, because I gained not a single commission today. It is depressing having to live in a cultural vacuum like Dundee where no one appreciates Art. Readers, if anyone among you appreciates Art and would like to buy the drawing, it is yours for £5.00.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I begin my career as an Artist

My dearest and flabbiest of readers, I must tell you of some interesting events that have happened to me today. This, after all, is the purpose of keeping an electronic diary.

Of late, I have become more comfortable with the idea of leaving my Blackscroft home and venturing out into the streets of Dundee, populated though they are by strange and unnerving people. Additionally, through my recent pretences described in earlier entries, I feel I have become very well aquainted with the world of Contemporary Art (CA). Given these circumstances, the most logical thing that I could do was begin a career as a street artist. Thus, today, I began my career as a street artist.

Flushed with the enthusiasm of youth, I bought a pen and some paper from Woolworths and set up a chair outside H. Samuels, beside the Desperate Dan statue for which Dundee is so famous. I advertised my skills via a sign with words on it. If you are interested, the words used were as follows: "Portraits Drawn By Famous Local Artist, Horton Carew - Only £5.00 Per Portrait". I capitalised every word on my sign because I felt that this would emphasise the seriousness of my endeavour.

After a while I received my first client: a mother who asked that I draw a portrait of her four-year-old son. The boy had just been to his playgroup prizegiving where he had been awarded a copy of Topsy and Tim Go Large for Excellent Attendance, and his doting mother wanted a special keepsake of the day. I was deeply honoured that she selected me to immortalize her son in this way, but I charged her £5.00 all the same. The little tyke was hard work, being unable to stand rigidly still in the rain for the three hours it took me to draw his miserable face. Furthermore, the sullen imp refused to smile despite my efforts to elicit a smirk through my recitation of 'The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb'.

I did my best despite such hurdles, and after three hours I had produced a portrait on which I was proud to put my signature. With a flourish, I spun the page around to show the boy and his mother the finished article, which you can see below:

Readers, I am sorry to report that the customer was no Art lover. On viewing the portrait, she lauched a torrent of abuse at me, cursing my supposed artistic ineptitude, before crumpling the paper and stamping on it. She claimed that the picture in no way resembled her son and looked more like, and here I quote directly, "Eddie f***ing Munster!" The harridan then threw a can of Tizer at my temple. She stormed off, refusing to pay me the £5.00. Disgusted at her ignorance and ingratitude, I retired for the day.

Readers, if anyone among you appreciates Art and would like to buy the drawing, it is yours for £5.00.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Short entry for balance

Again, I present a short entry in an effort to break up the tedium of the previous two lengthy entries.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Second Interview with the Postgraduate Kennie Pome (Part 2)

Readers, as promised I will now continue with my account of the second interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome. It is some time since that interview took place so naturally I have forgotten most of it. Rather than writing down only what I can remember, which is not much and would make for a stilted and aggravating transcript, I will ensure you have something enjoyable to read in this entry by making something up whenever I cannot recall exactly what was said. I am sure you will agree that this option is preferable.

Kennie Pome: Well Steve, I have to admit I've enjoyed the way in which you incorporated our last interview into the blog. It was interesting to see the way you chose to characterise me and the manner in which you distorted reality so readily. You obviously see yourself as more lamp than mirror, to borrow M.H. Abrams's dichotomy. Though in your case, the light from your lamp serves to thoroughly warp its subject through ghastly underlighting. Would you say that's a fair comment?

Me: No.

Pome: Really? That's interesting. Why not?

Me: Because I don't know what you mean.

Pome: Apologies. I did phrase that rather badly. Really, what I'm essentially asking is how much of your blog's content do you draw from real life experiences?

Me: [forgetting momentarily that I was pretending to be Steve M. R. Tubbock and was supposed to be humouring Pome's misperception that my electronic diary is fictional] Why, all of it of course.

Pome: That is very interesting. All of the strange events described in your blog have real life origins? What of some of the more outre posts? Some are really quite outrageous: what about the episode where Horton's dead mother returns as the scottie dog from Monopoly? What inspired that for instance?

Me: [panicking slightly, because of course, the actual event that inspired those diary entries was the fact that my dead mother returned as the little scottie dog from Monopoly] Oh yes Kennie Pome, I always take inspiration from everyday events. It is part of my gift. In fact, friends tend to watch what they say around me lest it end up in some character's mouth in a future book! [here I feigned a knowing chuckle] Yes, that's the life of an author - always squirreling away observations and conversations for use in some future project! It is a gift and a curse! Horton's encounter with his dead mother was inspired by a meeting I had with a cat.

Pome: A cat?

Me: Yes Pome, a cat. One Friday morning, I was in my Broughty Ferry art shop adding up columns of numbers in a jotter, when I noticed a stray cat had somehow made her way into the back of the shop. Every bone in my body told me that this cat was blessed in some way. This was a special cat. It marched boldly over to my desk and laid its paw down on a pile of papers, directly beside the name of a local artist. As it happened, I was currently debating whether or not to buy some of this artist's work to sell in my gallery. The cat seemed to nod, then bolted from the shop into the street where it ran directly under the wheels of a Vissochis ice-cream truck. I knew this cat was giving me a sign. At once, I phoned the artist and bought up twenty of his paintings. The next week I put them on display. Well, Kennie Pome, let me tell you this - so far I have sold two of them, at a little under the asking prices. That is a personal record for me. That cat gave me a sign. I truly believe that. Real life is often much stranger than fiction can ever hope to be...

Pome: And how exactly did this event inspire the fictional episode where Horton's dead mother returns as the scottie dog from Monopoly and encourages him to commit evil acts?

Me: Well Kennie Pome, I should think that that is plain enough for anyone to see.

Pome: But the two events share little, thematically, in common.

Me: Ha! Spoken like a true Hamiltonteed.

Pome: I'm sorry?

Me: In the authoring world, that is the word we authors use to describe non-authors. You simply cannot understand the world of authoring. It is not your fault. I will explain it. An author can be born of two Hamiltonteeds. Similarly, a Hamiltonteed can sometimes be born to an authoring family, though in such a case, the Hamiltonteed is more properly called a Christophertolkien . And a dark author can sometimes split up his essence and house the pieces in different objects: in the authoring world, we call such objects Horcruxes.

Pome: Fascinating.

Readers, here I will end my account of the second interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome, because I can remember no more of what transpired that day and I fear that anything else I tried to add would be mere fabrication. I will simply say that I got another £5.00 for my trouble and the promise that for future interviews, I will get £25.00. Readers, just think of all the cream I could buy with that!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Second Interview with the Postgraduate Kennie Pome (Part 1)

There now follows a transcript of the interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome. It is not verbatim, but where I have forgotten the exact wording I have done my best to invent something that looks like it fits.

Kennie Pome: Okay Steve, once again, thanks for agreeing to the interview. Can I start by asking what you thought of the exerpt from my thesis that I sent you?

Me: [having not the first clue what he is talking about] Did you send it by post? I'm afraid I have not seen it. I am sure it is tremendous though.

Pome: I posted it on your blog earlier. No matter, I have my laptop with me: I'll let you read it now.

[here he showed me the excerpt from the thesis, which you can view by clicking this weblink with your mouse cursor]

Pome: What d'you think? Obviously, it's still in the preliminary stages, but you can see where I'm going with it I trust?

Me: ... yes?

Pome: Basically, I'm touching upon Betsy Friedrich's work on blog fiction where she analyses your blog, but I'm really extending it. She's on the right lines, but doesn't quite push it far enough. Friedrich interviewed you too, didn't she?

Me: No. I have never heard of Betsy Friedrich.

Pome: Well, someone claiming to be you has certainly spoken to her. I can show you the website.

[Here I became cunning]

Me: Oh Friedrich? Betsy Friedrich? Of course! Oh yes, yes. She interviewed me. She gave me £10.00 per interview I should add.

Pome: Steve, I will give you £15.00 per interview in future if you agree never to speak to her again. I would like exclusivity on my research into Horton's Folly.

Me: [inwardly guffawing at my guile] Okay Kennie Pome. It is a deal.

Pome: Thank you. Okay, so do you agree with my basic point in that excerpt?

Me: [having, of course, no idea what his basic point was or, indeed, what any of his points were] I surely do.

Pome: I'm glad you're on board with the idea. I suspected that might be where your brain is at when you're writing the blog! You think my notion of metaheteroglossia is a sound one? Can you see it proving fruitful to further research into Horton' Folly? What I'm asking, essentially, is 'Is this going to be a sound theoretical framework for me to pursue, or are you going to be changing you style in the near future?'

Me: To that I would reply, 'Pursue away, my boy. Pursue away!'

Pome: Good. You don't have anything planned for future blog entries that will ruin my argument?

Me: Certainly not.

Pome: I would ask, if it's not too much trouble, that you keep up the same meandering style of writing and continue in much the same way for the next few years so that my argument regarding your blog remains accurate. It'd be really annoying to write up my thesis only for you to radically change your style immediately afterwards, or even go back and edit previous entries, and completely discredit my thesis.

[Here I became even more cunning]

Me: £20.00 per interview did you say?

Pome: That can be arranged. Honestly, blogs are so nebulous and malleable that it makes researching them difficult - it's not like people who research books. Books are fixed - if you're doing a thesis on Dickens, you don't have to worry about Great Expectations changing its content every bloody day! I wrote the best part of a chapter on Arabella Morte's vampire-based blog fiction, Sumptuous Agonies, only to find she'd gone back and edited all her previous entries and completely changed the storyline. I had to bin the lot! Can I rely upon you not to do the same?

Me: Of course you can Kennie. I consider you a friend now and am only too happy to help you out. After all, you are paying me £25.00 per interview. It would be churlish of me to mess you around.

Readers, here I will break off my account of the interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome because you will doubtless prefer to see it broken up into several smaller entries rather than one very long one, so vapid and attention-deficit are you.

A short post with a picture

As the last diary entry was lengthy, with the words unbroken by colourful images, I will slip in this short entry which includes an image, so that casual visitors to my electronic diary are not put off by a series of word-heavy entries.

Ralph Waldo Emerson's dentures

Friday, June 15, 2007

My improvisation skills are tested

The postgraduate Kennie Pome bought two Belgian beers from the downstairs bar of the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) and invited me to join him in a pre-interview drink. By way of small talk he asked if I had enjoyed the art exhibition currently running upstairs, a series of tartan wheelie-bins filled with garden gnomes painted blue, by the Edinburgh-based artist Farelly Rastapap. Of course, I had not seen any of this work, but I replied in character as Steve M. R. Tubbock and declared the exhibition a triumph. Pome suggested that my verdict vindicated his own, for he too had found the exhibition a resounding success on numerous levels. He claimed to follow the CA (Contemporary Art) scene in D (Dundee) closely and would review this exhibition favourably in the Stoodent Nyoos, Abertay University's student newspaper, of which he is the Arts correspondent.

"Did you get a chance to see the Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show?" he asked.

I should explain to those ignorants amongst you that Duncan of Jordanstone is Dundee's Art College and the Degree Show is the annual exhibition of graduating students' work. You could easily have worked that out from context. You are wasting everyone's time.

My alterego Steve M.R. Tubbock, the talented author of the fictional 'Horton's Folly', would certainly have gone to such an event, so I had to quickly draw upon all my skills of improvisation and rapid adaptability.

"Yes," I said.

"Did you like it?" he asked.

This deviation from the anticipated script forced me to ad lib wildly once again. I felt Tubbock was the sort of person who would enjoy the Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show, so I had to somehow indicate this, completely in-character, to the postgraduate Kennie Pome despite the fact that I, Horton Carew, had not actually been to the Degree Show at all.

"Yes," I said.

"Any favourite pieces?" he probed, infuriatingly.

Readers, when next you find yourselves in a situation where you are pretending to be an author of a fictional electronic diary in order to earn £5.00 and are obliged to present as true the claim that you have been to an exhibition of Contemporary Art (CA) showcasing the work of recent graduates of Art College (AC), when in fact you have not, and you are asked to comment upon your favourite piece, you might like to borrow my catch-all response because I found it worked quite convincingly.

"I forget the artist's name, but I particularly liked that dark series of paintings - the meditations on death. Very effective," I said. I waved my hands and nodded as I said this. I have seen the mentalist Derren Brown use such a technique to bamboozle proles so I thought I should mimic him.

"Oh yes! I agree," replied Pome. "Janet Peevie's work was well received. You're right though - very dark subject matter. Paintings of dismembered corpses are not for everyone! What else did you like?"

I was starting to become uncomfortable. All Degree Show exhibitions are bound to have some sort of thing about death in it, but what else might it include? My knowledge of the Contemporary Art (CA) scene is limited to three art galleries, a handful of exhibitions that I attended in order to procure free wine, and to seeing Tracy Emin once on Have I Got News For You. If Pome continued this line of questioning, I would doubtless be exposed as a fraud before long.

"I also liked that series of collages," I said, "I forget the artist's name I'm afraid, but his collages were a sort of dissection of popular trash culture. He made use of gaudy kitsch images from advertising to great effect."

"Oh yes! You're right," said Pome. "Dexter Sing's pop-culture collages really revel in the mire of tackiness, don't they? Loved his stuff with the retro Creamola Foam graphics. Anything else that you liked?"

Readers, if Pome had asked me to describe another piece of work at the Degree Show, all would have been lost. As it was, he stopped at just three and I was able to bluff my way through. Every Scottish art exhibition I have ever been to has always had a series of paintings or photographs of weather-beaten North East women who look like they've had a rough life of fishing or weaving or some such. The artist or photographer seems invariably to be called Mhairi something. I hoped that the work of such a Mhairi was similarly present at the Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show, because I said to Pome:

"I also liked the series of black and white photographs of aged weather-beaten North Eastern fishwives by Mhairi...someone. I forget her surname. Each photograph had a caption telling us a little about each woman. What rich yet melancholy lives they led, reflected in each portrait."

"Oh yes!" said Pome (thank goodness!) "Mhairi Luthermuir's photos were wonderfully evocative. Each wrinkle on each face told a story. Marvellous! Well, shall we start the interview proper now?"

"Do I still get £5.00?" I asked.

"Of course," he replied.

"Then let us begin," I said.

Readers, I have given too much preamble today, so will leave off my account of the interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome until a later date.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An interview conducted in the DCA

The second of my interviews with the postgraduate Kennie Pome was conducted in the DCA building. In this acronym, the letters 'D', 'C', and 'A' stand for 'Dundee', 'Contemporary', and 'Arts', which is lucky because the full name of the building is 'Dundee Contemporary Arts'. The building is in Dundee's fashionable West End, around the corner from Dundee Rep Theatre, where last week they were showing a production of Happy Days by Samuel Beckett, the time traveller from Quantum Leap. I wonder who they got to play the Fonz. Further up the road is the University of Dundee, which is the better of the two universities in Dundee because it is more conveniently situated for buses, etc.

For those of you who do not know, the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) is a building that has the following things in it: a cinema, an art gallery, a restaurant/bar, a gift shop, and toilets for male, female, and disabled patrons. Its cinema is not up to much because it can only afford films in foreign languages - if you want proper films in English, you are better off going to the Odeon. The DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) only has a bar downstairs, unlike Dundee Rep Theatre which has one bar downstairs and one bar upstairs, so if you are looking for a building with more than one bar, you would be far better served by going round the corner to Dundee Rep Theatre. The art gallery in the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) is quite nice, but by plumping for the 'Contemporary' part in the name 'Dundee Contemporary Arts' (DCA), they are obliged to only show art that is contemporary. They are missing a trick here because if they omitted the 'Contemporary' part and just called themselves 'DA' (Dundee Arts), they could also be showing old art too, which is better.

Here is a picture of the DCA ('Dundee Contemporary Arts' (DCA)):

As you will see from the image, immediately outside the Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) is a sculpture by Lochee artist Bilko Dervish entitled 'Man 'n' Cone', which is a photorealistic piece depicting a man and a traffic cone. It is universally hated.

I went into the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) and proceeded downstairs to the bar, because as you will remember, there is no bar upstairs. There I met with the postgraduate Kennie Pome who greeted me convivially and offered to buy me a fine Belgian lager to keep me refreshed during our interview

I will describe the interview in greater depth tomorrow, for this entry has already become overlong and I imagine your attention is beginning to wander.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A recap for the hard of thinking

Now readers, I will proceed to tell you about my second interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome. It has become increasingly obvious to me that the majority of my readers are what I might charitably describe as subnormal, which necessitates a certain amount of tiresome recapping in my narrative so that these readers do not become confused by the relatively simple chain of events I have thus far described.

Kennie Pome is a postgraduate student at The University of Abertay's English department and is researching fictional electronic diaries, or 'blogs' as he unpleasantly insists upon calling them. For some reason he has mistakenly come to believe that my electronic diary is fictional and that Horton Carew is a fictional character. To aid his research, he has requested a series of interviews with the author of this supposedly fictional 'blog'. Ordinarily, I would ignore such requests until the requester grew tired and left, but this requester has promised to pay me £5.00 per interview so I have done my utmost to accommodate this requester's requests. To this end, I have pretended to be one Steve M. R. Tubbock, the author of a piece of 'blog fiction' called 'Horton's Folly' and have maintained the pretence that I (Horton Carew) am (is) a fictional character. So far I have duped the postgraduate Kennie Pome twice and secured £10.00 altogether for myself. The first occasion in which I hoodwinked Pome was described earlier. I will now describe the second interview he conducted with me where I was once again successful in convincing him that I am an author by the name of Tubbock and that 'Horton's Folly' is a work of fiction.

That is the end of the recap. I am sure you will agree that it was scarcely necessary. Do not blame me, however - blame the dimwitted readers who cannot hold information in their heads for more than four minutes. Now that those lummoxes are suitably reminded of the salient facts, we can continue.

Readers, I must apologise. In my ire, I have now forgotten what I was going to write in this entry. I will continue tomorrow when I have had a chance to calm down and collect my thoughts.

Monday, June 11, 2007

An update on the past few weeks

Dearest readers, I suppose you will be curious as to what I have been doing with myself for the last few weeks while I have been unable to update my electronic diary. Alas, I fear I do not have the time or space to relate in full the many strange and upsetting situations in which I found myself.

The images below will explain the miserable and occasionally horizontal events of my last few weeks far better than screeds of detailed written explanations wherein I would describe precisely what happened to me, illustrating my anecdotes with numerous examples of my thoughts and reactions, using a variety of literary devices to engage and captivate the reader:

I am sure you can see what I am getting at. "A picture paints a thousand words," some people will tell you, if pressed. I have given you five pictures so you now have five thousand words' worth of explanation. I can do no more.

Aside from the terrible events fully explicated above, I had a further meeting with the postgraduate Kennie Pome a week ago, which I will tell you about in tomorrow's entry.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I make a triumphant return to my diary

Readers, I finally have access to my E-Blogger account again. The bigwigs at E-Blogger have allowed me to continue my career as an online diarist only on the understanding that I formally retract my denigrating comments about carob and agree to champion it in this diary whenever the subject comes up in future. To these demands I have reluctantly agreed. I must be humble and bite my tongue so that my readers do not suffer any longer from my absence. However, rest assured that this diary will not become a protracted advertisement for carob. I will not kowtow to these fatcats and betray my artistic integrity.

Apropos of nothing, I will take this opportunity to recommend some products that I have enjoyed recently and hope that some of my readers will likewise find pleasure in. They are delicious. Carob-based treats.

As a small reward to my patient readers who have endured a full month without my electronic diary to sustain them, I present a final image of a monkey. Cherish it for it will be the last. I feel that you can have too much of a good thing.

This monkey believes that pursing his lips and staring vacantly will draw

attention away from his ludicrously elongated arms.

He is incorrect.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


My dearest and plumpest of readers, please note: I will be unable to update this electronic diary for a number of weeks due to unforeseen circumstances that have resulted in my 'E-Blogger' account being suspended as from tomorrow.

Regular readers will remember that in my last few entries I elected to use my electronic diary as a soapbox to publically speak out against the evils of carob. I suggested that it was unpleasant and did not satisfy in its capacity as a substitute for chocolate. You will note that these entries have now been erased. The company that owns E-Blogger, I have since discovered, also owns the largest carob distribution company in the Northern hemisphere, and did not take kindly to me badmouthing their product. As a punitive measure, they have censored my carob-focussed entries and have frozen my E-Blogger account for a month. Readers, I am a victim of the bullying tactics of global capitalism!

Needless to say, I have become a communist. I rushed out at once and bought a t-shirt from River Island which has a picture of the Cubin Marxist revolutionary, Cheech Guevara, on it. It was only £14.99. I assume the money I spent on it will go towards funding a communist revolution somewhere and will not simply line the pockets of some fatcat t-shirt designer, otherwise I would end up looking like a buffoon rather than a renegade socialist, which would be terribly embarrassing.

Readers, I urge you to speak up against my situation. Rise up against the E-Blogger/Carob Distributor oppressors!

Ever thoughtful of my devoted readership of 14 people, I am aware that many of them will be appalled at the thought of having no 'Horton's Folly' to read for a whole month, and will at once begin tearing at their faces in a frenzied anguish. In an effort to assauge their despair, I will briefly return to my earlier practise of offering up a picture of a monkey. Readers, may this tide you over in the coming weeks.

A monkey momentarily fascinated by his own wrists.

"What power they wield," he seems to say.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to a Sensible Length

I must confess that although my new techniques to attract more readers to my diary has succeeded in that I now have an average of 14 readers each day instead of 10, I am unhappy with what I have become.

I have allowed myself to become seduced by the lure of possibily gaining more than 20 readers per day and entering into the big leagues. You start to think you can dip your toes into the modes of populist trash yet maintain your credibility and integrity. You start to think that you can get away with producing inferior products, and that your core fan base will indulge you such slips because they are convinced of your genius. You start to forget your true fans, and just write for the idiots. You start to think you can just post up pictures of Charlie Chalk and Martin Short for your readers to goggle at. Before you know it, your electronic diary is just a collection of links to other people's work. Before you know it, you are weeping into your lap, longing for the days when you were respected by the literary community and were berated on Late Review by Tom Paulin. Before you know it you are disgusted with yourself. Before you know it you are standing in the new Marks and Spencers in Broughty Ferry, drunk on fortified wine, your trousers on your head and your pain-contorted face slicked with aspic from three dozen purloined Melton Mowbrays.

When the police finally let me go with a caution, I returned home and vowed never again to cater to the lowest common denominator: from now on, my diary entries will revert to their usual level of intelligence. I am now going for a Radox herbal bath.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This entry is the shortest yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Short Entry

Although my last entry was short, it was not quite as short as I had intended, so I will do my best to make this one shorter.

Here is a picture that I like.