REPORT A PROBLEM
'Look, I understand that it has a historical tradition that arguably stretches back to the finest theatrical traditions of the Greeks. And yes, it's true that it fully developed into its recognisable modern form in the 19th century, initially as a means of entertaining audiences during breaks in riding shows. So yes, I get your point that it has a historical weight that lends it authority and credence, perhaps even beyond what I am currently wearing.'
'So what's your point?'
'My point is, I don't care how rich in history your clown suit is. It's not suitable for a wedding.'
How did it start?
I once buried an ant.
I didn't mean to kill him. It just happened. I was doing some gardening, put my hand down to support myself as I rested, and then my thumb just happened to crush the ant.
An awful feeling of guilt and despair washed over me, to the point where I felt it necessary to give it a burial. I dug a small hole and dropped the ant in it, before covering it back up with dirt.
I think that's the moment I decided that I was going to be a gravedigger.
- Okay. Look. There's this particular refrain from a song, and as soon as the first chord on the guitar hits I can feel an intense shiver start right in the heart of my stomach and spread outwards like the most gentle of ripples on a pond.
- It's like someone reached inside me and turned on a light that I thought had blown its fuse.
- And I never thought that anything other than music would be able to make me feel that way. To elicit that intense sensation.
- Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that I love you.
'What's wrong this time?'
'You know what's wrong.'
'I honestly don't.'
'This is a black tie event.'
'I am aware of that.'
'And as such, it is generally understood that one should wear formal dress. A black suit, white shirt, and some sort of necktie.'
'The issue with what you're wearing is, that you've taken a colloquialism and interpreted it in a literal manner, resulting in you looking like an absolute idiot.'
'I resent that implication.'
'I'm sure you do. But if you had wished to avoid it, you shouldn't have turned up in a literal penguin suit.'
How did it start?
I used to watch Robot Wars as a child. Did you ever see it? Essentially, a bunch of people would design robots to fight each other, with one being crowned the overall winner.
It was in an arena. And in each corner, there were these ultimate robots who would attack any robots that came to close. The best was Sir Killalot. Isn't that a great name?
Anyway, I'd watch it all the time. There were flames and blades and hydraulic flippers and spikes.
So that's how I started designing killer robots for numerous world dictators.
I know I need to write about you. The issue is, I don't really know where to start. Or what to say.
I don't know if there even is anything to say. You rang. And I picked up.
You talked. And I tried my best.
You stopped talking. And I kept trying my best.
Eventually, I had to stop trying my best and put down the phone, never to know what happened to you. Whether you talked again. Whether you didn't.
I don't know what to say. But I hope I said enough when you called.
'You're correct, it's raining.'
'And I'm not wet.'
'No, that's true. You're not wet.'
'So I fail to see what the issue is.'
'Well, I suppose that this time, there isn't really an issue as such.'
'I'm not embarrassing anyone.'
'Well, apart from yourself.'
'And how am I embarrassing myself? The rain is pouring down, soaking everyone through. It's too windy to put up an umbrella. From what I can see, this is eminently sensible.'
'That's certainly a compelling argument. It's just that...people traditionally wear wet suits when they're actually swimming. Not for rain.'
The issue with walking forever is that, no matter how well made, your shoes will inevitably snap and crack and shed like a snake without another layer.
Luckily, I've become pretty good at making shoes. I'm a shoemaker by trade, and I've had quite a lot of time to practise.
But it doesn't matter how well I make them, how perfectly I stitch them together, how strong the glue I use is, how fine the leather. They always fall apart in the end. They're not match for the marching of my feet.
To be honest, I'm jealous of them.
Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
He had been suspicious of 'perfect'. At heart, he was a scientist, and a scientist always needs proof before they are willing to accept the truth of something. He had been trying to accumulate evidence for the existence of perfection for quite a while, and had only recently been making some progress.
But on this day, he finally knew that he could stop collecting data. Everything had been analysed. Checked. Collated.
And everything pointed towards a wonderful, beautiful, perfection.
'The Gaia Theory of Earth essentially states that the world we inhabit is a living organism.'
'Well, not technically true. Instead, it suggests that the organisms on the earth interact with the non-living matter on the earth to create a symbiotic, self-regulating system that helps to maintain the conditions that are needed to perpetuate life on earth.'
'Are you going to let me finish?'
'Please go on.'
'So the Theory states that the world is a living thing.'
'I'm pretty sure I just corrected you. It actually -'
'So the earth is alive! It is alive!'
'I can see you're passionate about this.'
'I just want to finish my though.'
'And if the Earth is...'alive'...then that must mean that there is, somewhere contained within it, DNA. And within that DNA must, I think, be the information necessary for every action that has ever, is ever, and will ever happen in the world. So what I'm trying to say is, I think us meeting, us being together and falling is love, was written into the very DNA of the earth.'
'You realise you're wrong.'
'I don't mind. Because saying it feels right.'
Words are, essentially, malleable. All you have to do is look at the various different denominations of various different religions, all based on the same text, to see that words can be interpreted in whatever way you would like them to be.
Which means that anything I write here with a meaning, a message, can be interpreted in a way that I could potentially find horrific. In a way that entirely goes against my personal philosophy, but could still be attributed to me through the interpretation of another.
Words are dangerous, difficult things. There has to be a solution.
So, in an attempt to combat the difficulty with words, please see the poem below:
Caa naa, saa booli,
Aapooli lok na groop,
Sa fana, si fala, de dala,
Twee ni, ro follie, gree floop.
Waana ba, wanna ba, wanna baba,
Wanna safa, rafa nafa, helli tepo
Wanna tata, wanna titi, wanna jaja,
Wanna freeeee, ti peeeee, heeeee jo.
Falla trepo, legropinola, fromolippi,
Lep yella, yellaframa, hevalala,
Trenopoloi gre dramo, dre grelapa,
Ip sipi, de dipi, granabala.
Arcranama, delamnaha, detrelio,
Cromotrollo, quellisilly, ahp li froo,
Tremogrlla, jelligrompo, shashaframilli,
De friyiloppo, zennihappa, telliloo.
'I'll stay on the phone with you.'
A phrase said by someone else, sometime else, in an entirely different set of circumstances.
But it immediately sent my mind scurrying back to what happened, and what I said to you. It wasn't exactly the same, but it was close.
'I'm still on the phone.'
Close enough for it to worm its way through my eyes and scramble through my brain and bite back up the memory of you.
I didn't think that would happen. I didn't think that all it would take would be a phrase spoken by another.
Effervescent is a word that has been on my mind for quite a while.
Sometimes words get stuck in my mind in the same way that sticky sweets can get stuck in my teeth. And it seems that no amount of determined poking at it can possibly dislodge it from all my lobes.
When I think of the word, I picture bright young sparkling people dancing, laughing, twirling and shining, drowning in the early morning sunlight until their laughter builds up into a crescendo and they all burst into dozens of bubbles that float away on the wind.
People have always said that a change in perspective can dramatically increase your quality of life. They say that it opens up new interpretations for previously unsolvable problems, allows you to greater empathise with those around you and helps you appreciate aspects of the world that you would otherwise have ignored.
That's why I've taken to walking around on my hands.
Trust me, you've never lived until you've intensely eyeballed a pavement. True, my personal held beliefs have yet to really be challenged, but I have managed to pick up £32.19 in change. That's not to be sniffed at.
The grey fur of the squirrel seemed to shift in colour, from the light craggy grey of the mountainside to the dark rolling grey of a cloud pregnant with rain.
It had established its nest in my apple tree, like a small temple where it could meditate on the matters of the world. Bringing an offering of seeds, I approached the squirrel.
'Oh wise and noble animal! What is the meaning of life?'
The squirrel scratched itself behind the ear and twitched its tail.
'Nuts? I mean, I think nuts are pretty good.'
'You truly are a wise sage!'
'Please, wise Master, reveal unto me more secrets of the universe. I know I am unworthy, but I'm determined to learn.'
The squirrel ran back and forth for a few seconds, scampering like only a truly free soul can.
'I mean...climbing trees?'
'Yes! Of course! Climbing trees! How could I have been so blind before?'
The squirrel nodded it's head, then started to nibble on the offering of seeds.
'So...you need anything else?'
'No, thank you, hermit of the woods. Too much more and I would be unable to cope. I need to meditate on your words.'
Armitage Shanks was unsure when he first started drinking. All he knew was that, at some point in time, he had taken a sip. Then a gulp. The a few more gulps. Now, however many years later, he hadn't stopped. He was worried that his body had become so used to alcohol that stopping would be the equivalent of cutting out fuel from a car. Or hot air from a balloon. Or venom from a snake.
Shanks was also concerned that, by stopping drinking, he would single-handedly put his favourite pub out of business. That would be a shame.
'Jesus Christ, is he trying to talk to squirrels again?'
'You know that's not sane, don't you? He shouldn't be talking to squirrels, should he?'
'But what can we do? We've sent him to doctors, we've given him therapy, we even brought in a priest! We've done all we can!'
'We have, darling.'
'You know what would really help? A girl. But what girl would want to date a man who speaks to squirrels?'
'Perhaps a rodentologist, darling.'
'Don't be ridiculous, Richard.'
'This is serious, you know.'
'You're not helping.'
I have my father's eyes.
Everyone said so when I was younger. It terrified me. There was a part of myself that wasn't mine. I wasn't 100% me. A small part of someone else had taken over my face and there was nothing I could do about it.
As I got older, I realised that it was a figure of speech. I didn't actually have his eyes, they were just startlingly similar.
And so, when he died, I made sure to nab them before they lowered the coffin.
I like looking at them. It's like looking in a mirror.
'I think the whole purpose of modern art is to be a reflection of yourself. Rather than simply being pretty, it holds up a window against your soul and challenges you to understand why you react to it the way that you do. It forces a deeper introspection than one might normally find in more traditional pieces. And yes, that makes it more challenging. Harder to consume. But ultimately, it can be an incredibly worthwhile experience.'
'It looks like the arse of a chicken to me.'
'Yes, but why does it make you think of the arse of a chicken?'
I shaved off my beard and cut my hair and now I look like a thirteen year old trying to pull off looking seventeen.
I still go to touch my beard. Reflexively. My fingers go to tug at non-existent strands of hair, and end up having to be unsatisfied.
It's funny how we can get so used to something that they become ingrained in our very actions. They become such a part of us that we can't even understand that they're gone.
Maybe that's why I still reach out my hand for ours, even when you're gone.
My room is bare. It looks like the walls have been painted to look as generic and cold as possible. The furniture is wooden, like the face of a bad actor.
It doesn't feel like my room, not now. It feels like a place where I get to stay for a period of time. I can't currently picture what memories I'll form of this place, what I'll look back on and enjoy with a smile.
But when you're here, it feels like our room. Because really, the room isn't important at all. What's important is you. That's all I need.
I never knew people could be so loud.
There were so many people all crammed in to one room, and the noise just kept swelling and growing and cracking through the air. I had to shout to be heard and strain to listen. I don't like doing either of those things. It doesn't come naturally. I have a quiet voice, and I know people just smile and nod when I try and talk.
It was tiring. There was just too much noise.
I wanted to curl up with you, because you make just the right amount of noise.
I can't breathe, which is the most frustrating experience in the world.
I don't just mean that my nose is swollen. I mean that I literally cannot breath any more. My lungs have stopped working and no fresh air has entered this body for months.
It was odd, at first. I didn't notice it for quite a while, I was so busy. But I eventually realised that I wasn't breathing.
I miss fresh air. I miss the burning sensation in my chest when I ran so hard that I thought I would pass out. I miss feeling breathless around you.
Armitage Shanks was temperamental.
It wasn't, truthfully, on purpose. He never set out to shift his emotions faster than the ocean shifts sand. It was just in his nature, and what sort of man can fight his nature?
Not the sort of man that Arimtage Shanks was. Shanks was true to his nature, which people often think is a positive. Unless a murderer is true to their nature. Or a thief or a liar or a crook.
Nature is varied and wonderful, chaotic and sublime. And Shanks was all of these things, and true to every single one.
'Okay, I understand that in other circumstances, I've worn an inappropriate outfit. But this time, I know for a fact that you can't possibly complain about that any more.'
'Well...yes, but -'
'No buts! I've taken great pains to ensure that I cannot possibly wear the wrong thing. You cannot complain, you cannot chide, you cannot try and act morally superior because you think that I'm an idiot due to my clothing. Forget it! I've finally figured out a way to beat your system!'
'I mean...I suppose that's technically true...'
'But only because you've turned up naked.'
There's a small little fire in my chest.
It keeps me going, in the same way the furnace on a steam engine keeps the wheels moving. Sometimes it gets dim. Especially on Monday mornings. Then I can barely move, my fingers freeze and the cogs that keep my in motion grind with a horrific screech.
I've had this fire for years. I thought I new everything about it. How it worked, what it could do.
And then you came along, and it turned into a furnace. Now I can fly to the moon and back again in a single breath.
You suggested doing this. You want me to say something romantic don't you?
Google defines romance as "a feeling of excitement or mystery associated with love".
But I'm not exciting or mysterious. Does that make me not romantic?
You write spontaneously. You write from your heart.
In your words, I craft. My writing is rich, yet unfaithful.
My writing is beautiful, yet flawed. My writing is the product of an unsuccessful perfectionist.
Your writing is the product of an artist You write articulately, and metaphorically, in a way I aspire to.
But I'm lucky. You're a wonderful teacher.
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