Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bits and bobs.


As Quentin slowly felt the life ebb out of him, he ruminated that these people probably didn’t wish him well. The larger of the two men picked Quentin up as though heaving bodies from one place to another was routine (which it was) and carefully, almost tenderly placed him in the open dumpster.
The smaller man surveyed the now lifeless body of Quentin Delphonse, and paused for a moment before retracting the blade of his flick-knife, though not before wiping the bloodied blade clean on Delphonses shirt.
 “A great shame Mr Fostbury is it not?” said the small man, now standing beside his lumbering partner. “Indeed it is Mr Finbar, a most calamitous occasion. He even had the indecency to bleed all over my gloves. My very best pair too.” Mr Finbar adjusted his pince-nez slightly before posing his next question- “Have you the envelope Mr Fostbury? Everything must be in order as I am sure you are aware. You know how Mother is a stickler for protocol.”
Fostbury smiled, and silently closed the lid of the dumpster- “Oh you know me too well Mr Finbar, it is well concealed upon my person.”
If Quentin could have talked at this point, which would have been quite an achievement for a corpse he might have asked these two bizarre gentlemen why did they have to kill him. And in such a hackneyed way too. But perhaps it’s best to start at the beginning. Firstly, he had only agreed to deliver the message as a way of getting into the good books of Professor Belgravia.  The stubborn old goat taught his university course and over the past few months he had seen his grades plummet ‘A social history of inane chatter: From cave paintings to the One Show’ seemed to be much harder than first reckoned. So at the end of another interminably dull lecture when the Professor had softly ‘hemmed-hemmed’ everyone’s attention to the fact that he needed a message delivered as quickly as possible, Quentin seized the chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Belgravia. ‘This might be the way to worm myself into his affections’ Quentin thought cannily.  Quentin strode up to the Professors desk at the front of the lecture hall and tried not to cringe at him; he truly was a disgusting creature.  A round portly figure that greatly resembled a beetroot, Professor Belgravia was in possession of far too much flesh and not enough neck. He wore a black turtleneck sweater, encrusted with several days’ worth of crumbs and egg yolk and uncomfortably squeezed onto his rotund figure. He finished his look off with a pair of poorly repaired wire framed glasses that were always mounted slightly askew on his face.
“Professor Belgravia?” Quentin tapped him on the shoulder.
“Oh what my dear boy?” he turned around from his notes momentarily, “Oh it’s you. Quirrell isn’t it?”
Quentin seethed inwardly. “Quentin, Professor. I’m just wondering if I can deliver that message?”
“But of course my dear boy, it’s the envelope on my desk, just deliver it to the address in Cheapside, the details are all there.” Professor Belgravia delivered this sentence in his usual portentous manner, waving his hands about as though swatting errant flies, before trailing off and turning back to his notes. Quentin realised there wasn’t much point in asking Belgravia for further details, he seemed barely aware of his presence, and as he had made clear, it seemed quite self-explanatory.
As the last stragglers left the lecture hall, Quentin picked up the small, parchment coloured envelope and soundlessly walked out of the building. Belgravia made sure he was gone before remarking to himself- “Poor bugger. Hasn’t got a chance” in a voice quite unlike his ordinary dirge.
It was Friday, late afternoon on a cold September day, and Quentin shivered as he walked through the sparsely populated streets to the address in Cheapside. It had been foolish to just wear a shirt on a day like this. He had never been this far into the city either; he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to make it back before nightfall. He had only got this far by guesswork alone. This neighbourhood was somewhat sinister as well. It comprised of abandoned warehouses full of smashed windows, like gaps in a toothy smile and burnt out hulks of buildings. Here and there dark alleyways darted off to places unknown. What was weird too was that he hadn’t seen a single human soul here. No-one. In a city like Shorebridge that was weird. The city bustled and hummed and gurgled with all manner of human detritus. But here, nothing. Not even a cat. Quentin felt the hairs on the back of his neck bristle, and he thought about abandoning this ridiculous chore. He was alone in a strange part of town in order to do a favour for a man who put up publicity shots of Adrian Chiles in the lecture hall, without any apparent sense of irony.
Suddenly though, everything changed. “Are you alright young sir?” started a thin reedy voice from the shadows. Quentin looked around wildly. “Who said that?” he yelped, startled.
“Oh I didn’t mean to frighten the poor young sir, I was only just remarking to my accomplice Mr Fostbury here, that this looks like a gentleman in need of our assistance.” And with that, two figures stepped -no materialised almost- out of the shadows. The first figure, the one with the reedy voice was short, squat, old and almost completely bald. He wore a pair of thick-lensed pince-nez, which oddly magnified his mole like eyes.  The other figure was tall, gangly and had hair in the form of rough bristles which covered most of his knobbly, oddly shaped head. His sloping forehead led to a face scrunched up in a permanent grimace. Both wore black woollen suits, brightly polished wingtips and white carnations in their buttonholes. Quentin noticed too that the larger man wore a pair of white silk gloves.
“As I was just saying to my partner here,” the small man gestured to the large man, presumably called Fostbury, “That this gentleman needs our assistance. You seem lost. It is somewhat risky to be lost at this hour, especially in this part of town.”
“Indubitably.” intoned Fostbury in a deep booming voice.
Quentin was quite taken aback by all this. This bizarre couple with their bizarre clothes and bizarre ways had no way to be logically reacted to. “Who are you? You’re the first people I’ve seen here.”
“But how churlish of us! We have not even introduced ourselves properly. I do beg of your forgiveness. I am Mr Finbar, and my associate here is Mr Fostbury.”
“A serendipitous pleasure, despite the inopportune circumstances.” said Fostbury, as he held out his massive, club-like hand for Quentin to shake. Partly out of politeness, but also out of a strange fear, Quentin momentarily gripped Mr Fostbury’s palm. It was like ice to the touch.
“Now we may get down to brass tacks as it were. May I ask whether it is true you have been instructed by one Ignatius Belgravia to deliver a message on his behalf?” questioned Mr Finbar.
“Well…um…yes. But how do you know that?” said Quentin. Storm-clouds of suspicion were beginning to accumulate fast in his mind.
Perhaps sensing Quentin’s growing fear, Mr Finbar continued- “Well this is a fine pickle! We are acquaintances of Professor Belgravia! He told us to find you around here, in order to assist you in your querulous chore in delivering that message.”
Mr Fostbury chimed in with his sonorous tones- “There is a shortcut to the address to Cheapside that will halve your perambulations, if you will be kind enough to follow us, we will escort you to your destination.”
Quentin knew better than to trust strangers claiming such truths, especially strangers as bizarre as these ones, but both of them exuded a strange, magnetic charm about them. They certainly seemed the sort of people the Professor would befriend. Pompous, old-fashioned, probably gay.  Before Quentin’s mind had even properly mulled over what this stranger was saying, he found himself saying the words- “Well thanks very much, whereabouts is this shortcut?”
Mr Finbar’s prune-like face crinkled into a slight smile. “Why just this way young sir.” He pointed his arm down a dark shadowy alleyway. “Just this way.” Quentin, still unsure why he was doing this, found himself walking down the long, dark alley, flanked by the ridiculous couple of Finbar and Fostbury. The alleyway kept getting darker and darker and suddenly he felt Finbar and Fostbury get closer and closer. Suddenly, somewhere in some, small sensible recess of his mind Quentin thought this had been a terrible mistake. And then the sound of a flick-knife blade being released punctured the evening air. “Just a moment young sir, this won’t take a moment.” chirped the reedy voice of Mr. Finbar. Quentin turned around in terror. Mr Finbar held a knife towards him, his smile now a sinister smirk. “I’m afraid my eyesight isn’t as brilliant as it once was, so please endeavour to remain still while I try and accomplish your death as efficiently as possible.”
Mr Finbar was right; his eyesight wasn’t as brilliant as it was. Quentin struggled rather a lot. Quentin got stabbed twenty-seven times in various locations by a maddened geriatric, before Mr Fostbury tired of Mr Finbar’s efforts and finished the job more effectively with a wrench he kept in his breast pocket for such occasions.
A few short minutes later the body was gone, and there was no evidence for Quentin Delphonse’s existence in that area, at least until the garbage-men made a nasty discovery when collecting that Monday’s trash. “May I say Mr Fostbury, I must thank you for finishing that job off for me, that wretched boy was hemorrhaging all over the place. That’s the thing with young people today, gutless.” said Mr Finbar casually, as though discussing the day’s papers.
“If I may attempt a jest Mr Finbar, that youth was only gutless due to your removal of them.” commented Mr Fostbury.
“Hmmm? Oh yes! That is a rather good quip. Do remind me to use it soon.” wearily commented Mr Finbar.
Mr Fostbury, saddened somewhat that his joke had not gone down as well as could be expected (a disappointment, he had been working on that one for a while) began walking off with Mr Finbar from the formerly grisly scene. And so they walked off into the night, out of existence. At least for now.
Somewhere in the neighbourhood, a cat mewed.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hollywood is Dead.

For the sake of argument lets say this blogpost was written under a persona of mine. And perhaps a bottle of wine.
Long ago the wonderful and undeservedly forgotten cartoon series 'The Critic' put forward a simple solution to solving Hollywood's dearth of good quality films- 'If you stop going to bad movies, they'll stop making bad movies.' Sadly almost twenty years not enough people have heeded this timely advice. Hollywood is no longer the place to find good quality movies. The reason why this is is that the studios are giving us what we want. A film is successful at the box office, maybe critically well received as well. The studio bosses see dollar signs and as much gold and rare jewels as they can eat, and stick to the time honored formula, which is daubed on the walls of all major Hollywood studios boardrooms, most probably in the blood of a recently slaughtered virgin- 'If they like it, give them fifty of the same.' MORE SEQUELS! MORE ADAPTIONS OF TV SHOWS! CARTOONS! BOARD GAMES! (why does anyone even attempt to try and take 'Battleship' seriously? It's such a ridiculous premise and such an awful film it seems as if it's a bad parody of a  blockbuster done by Saturday Night Live or something) MORE ADAPTIONS OF COMIC BOOKS OR SUPERHERO FILMS! I'm sorry, I'm especially biased against superhero or comic films, mainly because the source material bores me to tears in the first place but also because they take themselves far too seriously for their own good. Batman may enthrall millions, but to me a vigilante billionaire going about in what is effectively custom-made bondage gear does not deserve my suspension of disbelief. No real attention is granted to the script or characterizations, the money is sunk almost immediately into the bottomless well of cash reserved for special effects, explosions, CGI and making it look pretty for idiots. That and these films almost always demand a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy, no matter how badly the film performed critically. Michael Bay continues to create films, (in much the same way a four year child finger-painting would create a Mona Lisa) because he knows the public will watch it. If he threw in some explosions and some shots of some easily exploitable female actress he could do a third installment in the Human Centipede series and it still would be a smash hit. Everyone still doesn't get it. Don't humour lazy directors and lazy film companies by going to see these movies, and maybe they'll take the hint and make something different. Maybe not something worth watching, but that's what happens when people take a risk and are willing to experiment with the means of narrative, character and style, not just sticking to the bland, but tried and tested formula.
Now I am aware I am sounding like the biggest prig imaginable, dictating my middle-class bourgeois pretenses onto everyone like the massive snob that I deny I am, but I am right so screw you all.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Doctors, and the tactlessness of.

Once I've got to know people well enough, the issue of depression inevitably comes up. They might make a comment on why I'm so miserable all the time or say some patronizing nonsense ripped from a self-help book like "Cheer up, it might never happen." Luckily this isn't the case with my friends, who either unfortunately suffer from depression themselves, or are tactful enough not to blab on about something they know nothing about. It doesn't stop jerks from trying though, like a former housemate who once angrily shouted at me whilst drunk that the cause of my depression was my vegetarianism. Quiet awkwardness for the most part is what I get when I tell people I suffer from depression. I don't really mind as such, I would be too if I was in their shoes, but what really makes me sad is when this occurs at the doctors.
Excursions to the doctors generally don't end well for me. This is due to the fact, like most people they exist in a impermeable bubble of awkwardness regarding mental-health issues. I find this goes one of two ways, the doctor pupils dilate as soon as they see me come into their room, their breathing increases and their eyes dart about in search for the nearest exit, rather than be trapped in a room with a sadsack like me, (either that or they've noticed my nail polish) they grab their prescription pad, granting me another months or so worth of delicious drugs before willing me out of their nice surgery as soon as possible. This I prefer to be honest. I don't like waiting around for my medication and it generally doesn't allow for the tactics offered by the doctors of the second ilk. The second type of doctors I usually see I can't seem to fathom whether they are well-intentioned, but ill-informed, or just priggish for the sake of it. These doctors usually have no idea about mental health issues, have no experience of dealing with mental health issues and probably don't really care about dealing with something as wishy washy as depression. Characteristics of these doctors include mindless tactlessness "Oh! So you thought less about self harm this month? How surprising!" and a mindless obsession with taking surveys. "So can you tell me whether you've thought about killing yourself more than 10 times this month, 5-10 times, 1-5,  or not at all?" I have heard both of these over the years I've been to the doctors. Regardless of how the confrontation ends, it ends with the doctor giving me a suspicious look, as though as I'm grinding the pills down to make a super-drug or something, then printing me off another prescription. 
I really thought doctors would be more understanding with mental health. They seem more than competent with the physical qualms that the bin-bag of mayonnaise that is my body has from time to time. Depression seems to pass them by somewhat, which surprises me considering the large percentage of the population that suffers from mental illness. Surely it would be easier for doctors to pick up more than a rudimentary knowledge of mental illness? Or at the very least some bedside manner?