An English Translation of a German metaphor from the guy next to me on the plane

A logical progression from the realisation that ideals are not always ‘ideal’ (unless you’re an extreme cynic, in which case you will probably always be pleasantly surprised, unless of course you become so cynical that you fail to recognise anything positive because you’re too busy questioning it, which in actual fact probably comes full circle back to the same scenario of the optimist, who is so certain that their ideal exists somewhere out there that they spend their whole life worrying about how to get there or whether or not they will miss it as a result of being where they are, as always we come back to the same point; Balance.)

Advice on career and general life choices from the German guy sitting next to me on the plane. For the record, his name is Martin.

As always it starts with a metaphor, in German it is “stallgeruch”, which directly translates to “the smell of the cage”. In the dog eat dog career world, there are two main categories; on the one side you have the pedigrees, and on the other; the mongrels, the heinz 57s, the pavement specials. The pedigrees are born knowing exactly what they are, and they spend their lives grooming, preening and living according to the book of whichever they may be, because there have of course been many pedigrees before them and a system has been devised on how to exceed at being that particular breed – what food to eat, how much exercise is necessary, how often should one be groomed. On top of this there are certain traits that have become favourable in that particular breed, and this is what should be worked towards if one wants to become a so called ‘prized pedigree’, the absolute pinnacle point in their field. The point I’m trying to make is that everything is predetermined, there are no maybes or possibilities or forks in the road, there is one path to success and if you follow it then I am quite certain you will find it, or at least rest assured that you are moving towards it. You will make the logical progression along your chosen path and while you will of course encounter obstacles and inclines and declines and probably the odd pot hole (in varying frequencies depending on the path and its upkeep and how many people walk it, or don’t), and sometimes you may look at another breed with envy and wonder what your doing as a poodle, but the thought never occurs to you that you could possibly be anything but, and without this niggling distraction of “but maybe I’d make a better pit-bull”, all your energy can be put into being the best at whatever it is that you are.

Then you have the mongrels. The cross-breeds, as with any combination of things, come in varying degrees of complexity. You get your Labrador-cross-Golden Retriever, or your Collie-cross-Alsation, then you get that funny looking wiry thing whose mother’s great grandma’s father was a Cocker Spaniel who mated with an Afgan Hound leaving a creature with so many different genetic options that its entire being is the epitome of confusion; its fur doesn’t know if it should be straight or curly, long or short, silky or fluffy, is it a hunter or a family dog, a finder or a fetcher, well groomed or just out for a good time in a muddy puddle? Sometimes, often, too many options can lead to a state of disastrous confusion, unsure of what to choose it is very easy to end up with a crazy jumbled mish-mash of different traits and characteristics. However, in my opinion, a successful mongrel will far exceed any given pedigree, however prized, simply because they have more options to play with, they are suited to travelling along various different walks of life. It is of course much harder and more risky and more painful and more confusing and there will constantly be ups and downs and not just the potholes of one road but off all the different roads you happen to find yourself on and each time you will have to become reacquainted with the nature of the hills and potholes of that particular road and how best to navigate around them, but when you do, and when you have done that for seven different roads, you will become a master of such things. They say the more languages you know the easier it is to pick a new one up, rather than just knowing the nature of the language itself you become acquainted with the principles behind language as an entire form and…. alas, as always, as the mongrel with the pedigree great aunt Margaret, I have digressed, and completely failed to offer any explanation whatsoever for “the smell of the cage”, which is probably a lot easier to understand that my metaphorical interpretation of the English translation of a German metaphor.

“The smell of the cage” refers to the labels applied to and the interaction between people in the corporate world. The idyllic view is that you can have all your different cages containing all the different animals; horses and rhinos and elephants and cheetahs and giraffes and monkeys and so the list goes on. In an ideal world, the horse could happily trot on down to the rhino cage and be all like “hey guys, let me tell you what it’s like to be a horse.” and they would be all like “awesome, do you wanna know what it’s like being a rhino?”, and so through willingness to accept this other species and appreciating the fact that they may be able to teach you something about being a rhino, they will be able to learn something from one another, and if they work together, with their combined strengths they will be able to achieve more. But the sad reality is, apparently, that the horse will come in all proud of its horsie abilities, and it’ll be all like “look how fast I can run, look how much weight I can pull!” and the rhinos’ll be all like “we don’t give a shit, we’re rhinos and we’ve got big horns and thick skin.” This all started when I voiced my desire to try my hand at absolutely everything, in the hope that I eventually become super skilled and sought after. In the corporate world of cages however, people don’t like to mix their skills, you can be super talented at being a rhino, but if you look and smell like a horse you’re never going to be welcome in the rhino cage, well, if you look and smell like a horse you’re probably going to encounter a few more problems along your road to success, but that’s another story entirely. Actually, it’s written by Kelly with the 44 faces, and it’s called Arthur the Hornless Unicorn.

Fame, Fortune & Facial Bleach – An Inter-Social Travel Story Part 2. (the bit with Kate Moss, Ellie Goulding & the sparkling moustache)

In spite of myself and preoccupations with preconceived stereotypes, the whole experience was pretty fruitful. We drank copious amounts of champagne, tequila around a banquet table, ordered unreasonable rounds of room service at even less reasonable times of the day, took a taxi across London to feed at a specific Macdonald’s there at three in the morning, at which point I got on my high chair at the head of the table and irritably assured Ellie Goulding et entourage of the pure intensions behind a particularly drunk Luke, who had supposedly been staring at the Playboy Bunny Bar Staff in the previous establishment. They were serving bottles of champagne that would hold their worth against most salaries, I don’t think they minded.

Some personal achievements include:

Embarking on facial bleach episode #1.

A moment too long gazing into the impeccably lit mirrors of Liberties and attention was drawn to a certain dark shadow cast just north of the upper lip. What followed was ten minutes spent on the floor of the bathroom, donning an oversized dressing gown and a top bun secured by one of Hannah’s socks, a scraping of the thick layer of white cream from my upper lip, using as instructed the reverse side of the spatula, and a discovery that in place of the slightly darker shadow, there now perched a shimmering golden draperie.

Using new found confidence to approach Kate Moss.

Stalking Kate Moss around the miu miu hotel launch before tapping her on the shoulder, thrusting my business card at her in all seven different designs, muttering something that was meant to be complimentary (but was probably both inaudible and a little creepy) and turning on my heels to go outside and smoke a cigarette whilst battling gravity and tears.

Forcefully missing opportunities.

Managing (previous case excluded, or included depending on how you want to look at it) to give my business card to anyone who came within a two foot radius except those who may have had any sort of fame or influence, these people I ignored, disregarded, or was just plain rude to.

Holly on the other hand was enveloped in an array of make-up artists, stylists and temporary gifts in the name of Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, was there Dolce & Gabanna? I forget, whisked around back streets in shiny elongated cars (the matt black stage will come) … Sparkled, shone, premiered and through it all consistently managed to retain her particular Holly-ness safe and strong behind a fortress of white teeth, appropriate smiles and cue sexy saunters.

Luke, who has no trouble whatsoever in that regard, wandered in alone and drunk on the same night as my big speech, told the hotel not that he was staying with, but that he was Holliday Granger, before running up several flights of side stairs and breaking into the room, falling asleep in the shower over the plug hole and creating a small but persistent river that exited through the front door and brought the attention of a wandering porter who entered to find a lot of water and a stark naked Luke who was coaxed into bed as his chaos was cleaned up.

The finale to it all was a large, lone breakfast. Leaving the carnage of the night before and the stacks of cold chips, half eaten burgers and chewy popadoms, I wandered down with my laptop in my long black dress and hat, and proceeded to eat consistently and heartily for a good solid two hours.

For the foodies and the hungry, in case you were wondering, there were croissants and blueberry cheesecake muffins, pork & apple sausages, perfectly fried eggs, roasted baby tomatoes, cold meats, every sort of cheese, fruit dried and fresh, nuts roasted, salted and caramelised, muesli, cereal, fresh coffee, juice, waffles, pancakes, cream clotted & pouring, scones, jams, flans & yams. That’s a lie, there were no yams, artists rights..?

Multiple Choice Personalities – An Inter-Societal Travel Story Part 1.

A pink lady apple rolls restlessly back and forth across the dashboard… he taps his foot impatiently on the accelerator at a zebra crossing. A megabus passes on the other side of the road displaying the words “Happy Easter!” in neon yellow calculator font. It’s November 20th . We enter the dual carriageway and pick up speed, he bounces up and down on his driver’s seat complete with its own suspension in a series of hand gestures and irritable grunts. I am on my way to London to stay in a big fancy hotel with my friend Holly who one day woke up famous.

{Interlude}: Arrive at big fancy hotel, pass matt black Rolls Royce and fixed welcoming expression butler.

Several flights of stairs and a battle with a stubborn key card later I settle in a most composed manner, just slightly off centre on an elaborate sofa at the foot of a more elaborate bed in a room whose elaboration rivals only that of the things contained in it. To my left, carefully balanced on said elaborate sofa is a cup of elaborate coffee, coffee so fancy it demands its very own capsule. I chose a purple one. I then added a packet milk, half a sugar and a french butter biscuit to dip.

The sofa is an iridescent dusty emerald green (and so fancy it demands four verbs in the opening line of its description), made up of an intricately woven check pattern of reverse pile velour squares (there’s those verbs again. Sofa: 1 My own ability to articulate impressive upholstery: 0, please see below for picture and short video)

{interlude} Toilet and coffee break.

On visiting pristine white bathroom, I was relieved to discover that someone had gone to the trouble of folding the end of the roll neatly into a point.

I don’t belong here. Why?

Pigeon holing. How does it work? Do we all have our little box to tick on the social acceptance form? Can we tick multiple boxes if they apply? Is there a limit to how many? Are we, by ticking that box, committing to that category, or can we make amendments, and if so how do we do that? Do we have to fill in a new form every time? I wonder what it is about not being able to define and categorise something makes people so uncomfortable. Is it a need perhaps, to predict how someone will behave, how they might react in certain situations? Aren’t we then just setting ourselves up for disappointment?

Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes to just let ourselves be surprised? But then if there’s no preconceived way in which we expect someone to behave or react, can we actually be surprised?

Inevitably what we’re creating is a contrived cycle of social pressures; a combination of disappointment and false behaviour; disappointment when people don’t act the way you expect them to, and people acting the way you expect them to because they don’t want to disappoint, just a whole load of people running around with no idea how they feel about themselves or anyone else, their own perceptions of which have been taken over by a complicated network of their own thoughts and feelings combined with how they feel they’re supposed to feel and how they think other people think they should feel. For simplicity I have broken it down into points.

How do I feel?

How should I feel?

How do you think I should feel?

How I think you think I should feel.

How do you feel?

How do I think you should feel?

How do I think you think I think you should feel?

Whose feelings are they anyway?

Nature stories, carrot tops and a call for peace & democracy.

Overt your eyes through a second, third and further glance and the wonders of existence in all their perfect, beautiful complexity, from the predetermined destiny of an ant to a single humble potato, a daring dragonfly and the vast wonderment of the woods. A collection of ironically whimsical literary miniatures, embroidered in a way that only the French can muster with an intricately indulgent wit and a sly sense of humour.

Pierre-Jules Renard was a French author and member of the Académie Goncourt in the late 19th till the early 20th century. He had a morbidly cynical view of humanity embellished in subtle humour and sharp, sometimes cruel wit, the resulting literature in spite of its whimsy is indulgently dark and strangely reassuring.

Renard Histoires Nat Vallotton 2 plats

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

– Jules Renard

 

The Innovation of Innovative Thought

Oftentimes we realise, this is just the beginning. Reggie Watts. A being of such altitudes and multifaceted brilliance he deserves to be knighted and write-d and worshipped and quoted and studied and filmed and analysed and then, discarding all of the above as empty concepts with little more than distant connotations of something meaningful, simply revelled in.

Innovations of Love and the Common Cheese Grater

She lay in the centre of her slightly-too-small-for-the-bed-matress, enveloped in duvet and memories, suspended in an air of nostalgia and the faint aroma of pine and fire. A faint sense of longing tugged at the skirts of … what was it? Lust? Love? Jealousy maybe? What was it that woman had said once?

“The meaning of life is to love and be loved, that’s it.”

So simple. Is it? For the first time in her life she had begun carefully combing through the tangled garments of her badly packed emotional baggage, and was slowly realising there was something missing, or something left out, not a gap exactly, just a longing, like there was only one left of each pair of socks and while one can quite happily get by with a whole load of odd socks, it’s nice to have a matching pair. This realisation had brought with it a series of what seemed strange reactions; a watchful eye, a brief glimpse into a future with this person or that, a burning desire just to be passionate with another, to loose all barriers and boundaries of social and sexual etiquette and really let go. Fuck the games and the mystery and the “oh I wonder if I should show how I really feel and how do they want me to really feel and if I do show my truth will that alter how they really feel and who’s feelings are they anyway?”

Fuck it. When did it become so damn complicated? Where are the days of literary French romance where everything’s just there on the surface, the heart beating wildly and provocatively on the left sleeve of chemistry and courtship? Where is the heart now? Confined to a solid iron box. Suffocated in bland custom and cautious emotion, too scared to skip for fear it may trip up on the withered strings of another washed up clump of muscle and veins. That was what would become if she wasn’t careful, we are after all just elaborate plants, each part of us thriving on various different stimulus and nutrients, only fungus thrives in the cold and dark, probably not even cold at that, and everything needs space to breathe. Growing one’s heart a mythical mushroom tho that belongs to a different metaphor, one of succulent red flesh and brightly coloured sounds somewhere on the floor of the forest. Maybe the bit we learn is the optimum conditions, we don’t come with swing tags or instruction manuals, and if we try to follow such things we wind up empty and meaningless; standardised, streamlined and just about functional, like flat packed furniture from Ikea with the holes that never quite line up with the pegs.

Right now she was probably a moderately priced kitchen unit, complete with empty drawers and their smooth sliding mechanism, ready to be filled with matching cutlery and innovative cheese graters. What she really wanted to be was a beautiful old dressing table complete with elaborate mirror and smudges of lip-stick, drawers that required a certain knack to open and close smoothly and that rattled with loose beads and trinkets from the long lost pieces of jewellery that once filled them, stains on the wood from spilt perfume and glasses of wine and maybe the odd scratch here and there, from times of momentary madness or bursts of passion where everything on its surface had been swiped off in one fell swoop. Yes, that was what she wanted, that was what she envisioned for herself, not this strange rational existence.