funny world

In sun-worshipping days, we might have felt a tad unloved of late.  But this week, we have SUN! What the ballyhoo are you doing sitting inside (presumably), typing, then, Imp?

A fine question indeed. I am working. But not for long, hence the brevity of style, the economy of manner, the inherent apology about the questionable quality of this posting.

I seized the sunnynessing earlier today and went for a run. I altered my usual route and galloped, knee-jerkingly idiotically, down some very steep fields. They were so green! Two magpies winked at me (better than the 8 in their circular parliament I’d seen ten days earlier. Very creepy). And on the way down the hill, a lady held the gate open for me.

“Isn’t this wonderful?” I beamed. I always try to be a little ray of sunshine myself. But you knew that.

“Oh, yes,” she said, grey bun on head, like the kind of lady who might be a fairy godmother in disguise.

“Aren’t we lucky?” I shone, pushing my luck while emanating (an irritating) joie de vivre and (also irritating) sweat.

“That’s it, ” she said. “That’s our summer.”

There’s nothing like a fairy godmother in a cheery mood, is there? (And that was nothing like it.)


Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don’t have time.”

– Talullah Bankhead

How terrible that I have been AWOL for so long. Was it Oscar-fever? Snow-blindness? Work-fatigue? Nay, nay and thrice nonny-no. I have no excuse at all, save a lack of inspiration. Not one muse breathed into me; not one geni did me drench with its deep light. And has today been any different? Today, in part, appears to have fallen down the plughole, like the baby of the song. “Whatever will the neighbours think?”

Of course, being an Imp, I am not over concerned at this apparent lack of ertia. For why? Because away from this page, there’s a world apart, of course!

It’s like diary-reading: those secreting pages (if truly written for the writer’s eye only) show only the pulse of a thought moving through the synapse. It is momentary, a flare in the night sky – not at all a landscape painting  that captures a lasting essence. No, blog posts, on the whole, give the car-passenger’s view of the world: passing moments only.

So while you might not know it, one of us has been  daydreaming or sleeping for most of this journey. But I’m glad we’re awake just now.


Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

– Auric Goldfinger (yes, the baddie in Goldfinger)

Remember the fractals? In “Seeing the Curl“, I suggested that coincidence could be a fractal curl.

In the last week, I think I’ve been falling down the fractal slide, a little like Alice down her rabbit hole. Either that, or I’ve slipped into Cheap Tabloid Horoscope World.

“This week, Piscilibrarians, you’ll uncover money you didn’t know you had. And watch out for technology. It’s not your friend!”

Every IT problem that could come to pass came to pass. In fact it didn’t pass. Each one of them set up shop, moved in the lover, had brats, who all got ‘flu… The mac, the laptop, the tablet, the printer, the ‘phones. I’m surprised the traffic lights didn’t start telling me where to go: “Don’t bloody walk. No! OK – now!” [just as a 10-ton truck careered out of control].

Mind you, the money wot was hid was good. I’d massively overpaid the tax man and ridiculously underpaid my expenses. It’s not new, it’s not gained any interest, but it’s honestly mine, so I’m not complaining.

But you know how you can go for months without anything ever “happening”? For some people, life just butts its way into thrills and excitement, doesn’t it? Being discovered as the wild face of yesterday while picking your nose in the photo booth, or perhaps eaten by an escaped and rabid dolphin at a beach party -good examples, both, of life just “happening”. So often, you just get on with it, though, don’t you? You know, you think, eat, have feelings, do more or less the same thing as you wander along. You make things happen yourself; you are – you believe – the agent of change. External interference seems minimal (“ah, but is it?”); nothing happens. Well, irritating although the IT cauchemar [pretentious French for ‘nightmare’; I can’t call it a nightmare without putting tongue firmly in cheek] was, its seeming randomness was definitely a happening. As was the cash being refunded – and in both cases, I felt as tho’ they’d happened without me doing anything.

And there’s the widgimaflip*: the sort of thing that scriptwriters (and novelists) love. The events’ seeds had been sown way back (idiots overpaying their taxes, for example) and forgotten. Only the beloved honesty (anality) of the tax man altered the single-minded (egocentric) unravelling of the Imp life. And you see, there’s the fractal! The butterfly flap of Swindon’s finest junior tax inspector caused a minor earthquake in the Imp household (I splashed out on some  fine peanut butter, in all probability).

Ah…glad I got that off my chest….


*patent pending; the Widgimaflip will be 2012’s most thrilling metaphorical and metaphysical linguistic and conceptual invention….

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.

– Alan Alda

So, it goes like this.

Flat B calls Flat A on the ‘phone.

“Hi – just a quickie. Someone’s been sick all down the hallway and I didn’t want you to think it’s anything to do with me! It’s those guys in Flat C again. I’m gonna speak to the agents and get it sorted.”

“I’d never think it was you guys. Thanks and yik!”

The resident of Flat A decides to go out a few hours later, and taking advantage of the apparent lack of sick on the staircase, and the hallway’s excellent acoustics, decides to belt out a song or two. Or three. Almost at the bottom of the stairs,  hears a door open. Argh! It must be the sicky people in Flat C! There is suddenly much flustered clattering of cleaning utensils. Oops – must have woken them from their hungover slumber with my singing (yes, for it is I!)! And so A creeps ever so gently on tiptoe out of the building, closing the door very, very quietly.

Many hours later, A comes back. The stairs smell of scented disinfectant and the lights are on in Flat B. So, in solidarity, A knocks on the door and is invited in. The subject, of course, is The Sick. The tale unfolds, full of gaps and suppositions, until B says,

“And to cap it all, do you know what? That b****dy woman in Flat C had the gall – the nerve – to stand in the hallway, SINGING. High on drugs, most probably. High as a bleeding kite.”

“Err – that was me …And so, was it you cleaning noisily?”

“Very angrily indeed.”

“Oh- I thought it was C!”

“I thought you were C…”

Whether C will ever show their face again (or escape without a lynching) is yet to be seen….I wonder who was actually sick?

LOUD MUSIC, rudely, unpolitely, SHOUTily (in this case, PJ Harvey, The Piano) exorcises a house like nothing I know.

For hours today, I was living mouse-like politely in my own hole, intensely communicating away, nibble-nibble, by email, by face, by ‘phone and by smile and then  – I stopped. But  – gah, horror – the flavour of the careful listening stayed. It sat on me, squishing me down.

I turned up the volume. Some more. More, up to ‘naughty’; more, up to ‘taking the proverbial’. And now, right now, PJ (on a repeating, monomaniacal loop, but happily between the Pixies and Placebo should I need variety) is deafening anyone within range.  I can’t quite get it loud enough, tho’.

We forget the importance of music too often, I think. In the last fifty years, we must have become more singularly-visual (since TV and latterly, computers). Music might accompany  this new visual intake, but in its own right, it must receive less attention.

But music has a power over our selves which is rivalled only by great art; and the beauty is that the tinkliest pop song can bring you to nirvana (with a capital N, if you like). A combination of notes, a sequence of chords, a variation in volume, pace, tempo and instrumentation all quicken or calm the senses, evoke moods and memories, inspire ideas – it takes us backwards, forwards, down, up and inwards.

Research shows that stroke patients recover a wider range of brain functions and are less depressed than those exposed merely to language. Einstein put his braininess down to his violin playing (he was slow at school, written off by teachers – until his mother bought him a violin). And many animal species use music in ways similar to us (humpback whales’ songs are structured much as ours, although last up to 21 hours). Seals and of course, birds, also sing – and learn songs, most importantly. For them, however, it’s always social – whereas we practice (hum, howl) alone as much as in groups.

For us, musical euphoria lives in the same part of the brain as sex and drugs, with endorphin rushes. Male birds have dopamine rushes when they sing to females (girl birds don’t sing): they enjoy it.

Get up and SING – or at least, turn up the volume (not for too long, mind you; lifelong tinnitus is too hig a price!). Beat the gloomy blues (one of the search terms that has brought people to this site in the last few weeks is ‘miserable’, sadly.) Reclaim your dopamine!

Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?

– Margot Fonteyn

I hope you enjoyed that period of Imp quietude. I had nothing to say. HOWEVER… that’s all over now.  What an odd blog it would be if the point was just silence. Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, he of “in Duran Duran before they made it” fame, once told Smash Hits that as a student he was asked to run a talk on anarchy. He agreed. Then didn’t show up. “‘Cos that’s the point of anarchy, innit?”. I thought that was really clever. When I was 12.

Now, today, I’d like to witter on about superstition, fate, coincidence, pre-determination, randomness. I am very grateful to the ever-patient ear of the imp’s lover, who smiled politely as my babbling brook of  consciousness tickled these ideas by the river this week, and who then pushed them to grow. Any blame lies  entirely with the author, however.

OK. Let’s take two extreme views:

Extreme 1) There is no higher power (god or gods)

  • no afterlife
  • no purpose in life except life itself (ie continuation of the organisms that make life – see past Impery on this here)
  • As one of my personal heroes said (yup, it’s Mr William Hicks), it’s just a ride.

Extreme 2) Our lives are – to a lesser or greater extent – governed by a power higher than ourselves (god or gods)

  • live life carefully, according to that power’s (moral) code, because (a) there is an afterlife and reward or retribution for your actions and (b) the code says you have to strive to be good to one another (viz. Bill & Ted)
  • your life is (again, to lesser/greater degree) determined by that higher power’s whims/grand plan [the hamster died to teach you about hygiene; your boobs fell off because you were vain enough to like them; etc etc]

Now, I’d always thought that these two extremes were just that: at opposite ends of the spectrum; unmixable. But then I was hit by a thought, inspired by going back to the idea of us just being cell-carriers, and nothing more. And that thought was this…

Part 1: Throughout nature, everywhere we look (and the better science is at seeing, the more this seems to be the case), there are patterns. Not random weirdnesses, grand exemplars of uniqueness after uniqueness, no, but each and every individual thing is made of the same building blocks, the same patterns – fractals, basically. Yes, there’s singularity – each leaf, each snail, each fingerprint, each person, is different. But when the Darleks call us “carbon creatures”, they’ve got it right. There is newness, from development and growth (evolution), but it is based on what has gone before, inspired by surrounding conditions, and born of what potential already exists within the evolving organism.

Part 2: Now here’s the bit that surprised me. What if – and remember, ideas should always seem batty at first – what if there are patterns not only in cell growth? If you think about it, we can see patterns in geology: erosion, mountains, rock formations, glaciers, caves. And in the weather, too: cloud formations; rainbows; low and high pressure etc.  So that, to me, says that actually, there are not random happenings, but rather there are sometimes huge, sometimes tiny fractal-like patterns of “nature”, that guide these processes.

Part 3: So – what if there are patterns in the way our lives flow, just as there are in these other things? Not ‘cos of a god on high (extreme 1), but in a way that also contradicts extreme 2’s view that everything is completely random? That would bring about a link between the two ideas, wouldn’t it?

Think back to your last funny coincidence, or sense of something prophetic; the strong feeling  that you just knew something would happen. If you’re religious, you might have seen it as something from your god. If you’re not, you may have rationalised it (“my brain knows how to predict things without my consciousness being aware of it”).

What about a third view (after all, being binary is so dull)?

What about it being a case of you spotting the coming curl in the fractal? And that fractal being the flow of the life that is around you? I say “the life that is around you” rather than “your life” for a reason.  It may just be a ride, but we’re all in it together, this primordial soup. It doesn’t mean that the meaning of life is determined by any god, but it doesn’t mean it’s entirely random, either. Nor does it mean that this posting draws a final conclusion…Just enjoy the ride.

It is. So very, very wrong. I just know it. There’s a sense of shame, of chagrin, even. Hence this confessional. After all, it’s what blogs are for, isn’t it? Yes, I – you will come back, won’t you? I mean, you won’t look at me too differently after this? I can trust you…?

I want to lick my own vinaigrette.

It started last night – innocently whipped a little something up, very hungry, didn’t have any bread to hand. I was very hungry, please understand. Well, before I knew it, my fingers were all over the plate. Thankfully, I stopped myself in time.

But today – well, the innocence is no longer there, is it? I know what I’m doing. I made that vinaigrette; with oil, mustard and knowledge. I won’t lie: I loved it. There. Judge me as you see fit. Food porn, here comes the imp….

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