Sunday, January 04, 2009

Greetings from The House of Signs

I have one thing to say, only, really, and it will come as a surprise to no-one at all, but my host is really lovely.

She has shown me The Gloomy Place

gloomy place

which originally belonged to Eeyore the donkey (incidentally, the character with whom I have most identified with, in the Pooh Bear books), as well as The Enchanted Place, which looks back at this gorgeous view

enchanted place1

She's also taken me to London


after which we had fish and chips (the first portion I've had in over a decade, believe it or not). I had curry sauce with mine

fish and chips

Signs had mushy peas


(I helped her eat those).

In a word, she is lovely.

Given how lovely she is, I feel a little guilty (but only a little, mind) that I have secretly crept around her house, collecting items which, so I'm assured, when boiled in a golden pot will produce A Very Temporary Cure for Ennui. It's a nasty thing to do to a beautiful friend, but it is surely for the greater good (for at least those involved in the magic-potion brewing process).

So, as instructed, a picture of every room in her house...

house of Signs

(her kitchen has some powerful magic which only allows photographs taken from the outside)

some weird stuff goes on in the guest bedroom (you can just see the surprised visitor bravely documenting it all)

guestroom goings-on

the stairwell

stairwell with uncanny light

which leads to the sitting room

sitting room

(I'm sorry but the rooms are enormous, they simply won't fit into the camera, hence I have to do details only)

and The Study of Signs

the study of Signs

very strange things take place on her landing, too


There's also a stairwell which leads to the Inner Sanctum, where Signs sleeps (for she does indeed sleep)

stairwell to inner sanctum

- although the doors seem to open into the starry sky only, and that's where Signs spends her hours of rest. With no small peril to my personal safety (it's bloody hard balancing on the stars, you know), I have, however, managed to capture Signs sleeping

sleeping Signs

and I also managed to zoom in on a rather disturbing, yet interesting dream sequence of hers


After documenting her dreams, I clipped fair-sized lock of her hair, as instructed

lock of hair

Phew. It's hard work making A Very Temporary Cure for Ennui, but a book from her shelves

a book from her shelves

(with a glimpse inside)

glimpse inside book

and a squidge of her toothpaste (but careful - the brush is mine)


and a handful of grass from her garden (yes - weird, I tell you)


along with the optional whisker of her spirit animal, the Cat of Signs

optional whiskers of her spirit animal

complete the recipe (her favoured cup is imbued with a magic which disallows the image of it to be pulled off a memory card).

With these precious items collected, I can now lay back, think of Scotland, and hope for a better, less Ennui-filled future for us all.

I thank you.

(Englishman? Did I do well?)


Montag said...

You leave me speechless.

Your leap and your paean to Love...bloody speechless.

I saw the pictures of your journey to a mythic landscape, where not only Pooh and Eeyore dwelled, but also where the ancients celebrated May Day, Beltane, and Walpurgis Night...and Morris dancers!
And you described it in your writing as a crafty spell or antique enchantment....

bloody speechless...


But no. I mean. Wow.

Is this actually legal? No matter. What an exemplary job you've done, foreigner. I'm so excited I could just pee. I think that you should maybe visit every blogger that has ever caught my eye and compile such a dossier as this.

I can't say that I'm too surprised to learn that Signs sleeps standing up - this was always a possibility - or that her dreams are erratically erotic, but it's still nice to be given such concrete proof of these things. So this is how poets think and feel. I sort of knew it already, of course, but hardly dared articulate my fears (and hopes).

This magnificent and living archaeology may very well land you a prize. And the Very Temporary Cure For Ennui may last longer than first anticipated, too. I'm not sure it's possible to imagine myself growing tired of this. I predict extended gawping.

But what on earth is happening on her landing? Are you in any sort of danger, Anna MR? Look, if you can't speak - for fear of being overheard - then just communicate with us in here. If you can.

I don't wish to point out the obvious, you know, but there's a fish lying on her bookshelves. You may have failed to notice this detail, of course, as you breathlessly went about your sacred task, but - at the risk of repeating myself and just to be clear - there's a fish lying on her bookshelves.

Get out of there, Anna. Get out right now.

Frightened, diabolically pleased and wrongly-aroused etc...



And goodness me but you've been busy. You have surely posted a million things to your blog since I've been away? Back anon to catch up with it all. (Incidentally, how do I stop my name appearing in block capitals? It looks ridiculous. Not my fault, though. No way.)

The Periodic Englishman said...

Just testing to see if I've managed to change things.....

The Periodic Englishman said...

Bingo. x

Reading the Signs said...

Englishman, Anna is chewing on her second bubblegum lollipop and is fine, honest. It's quite true that the towels hanging from nails on the top inner sanctum landing are a bit scary, but she doesn't really have to go up there (unless she really wants to). I can't really help what I dream (it's wonderful what these new digi cameras are able to photograph) but it's quite true that weirdness and inconguity are features that are all part of the Signs Cottage experience. We are giving Anna a day off tomorrow for a day trip to Wales, but then it's back to the Edge for a spot of Epiphany weirdness.

We're mad, we are, McTPE.

The Periodic Englishman said...

No, sorry. There's a fish lying on your bookshelves, Signs. I felt sure I'd made myself clear.

Digi cameras are phenomenal, aren't they? It can be a bit annoying when you're just trying to capture someone crossing the road or whatever and instead take a picture of their thoughts, but this still feels like progress. I never take self-portraits. (Why alert the authorities to what's going on in my head? I value my freedom.)

Glad to hear that Anna MR seems to be doing okay, though. If you feel unable to speak freely about her, however - for fear of being overheard - then you can communicate with us in here. If you can.

But why would you give her a day off to go to Wales? You're slipping, Signs. I don't see how you're getting value for money if she's not even there to entertain you. Perplexing. (Lovely looking home, by the way.)

Anna MR - hello again. Good luck in Wales. You're either going to be playing rugby, digging for coal or singing some close-knit harmonies with an all male choir, I imagine, but then that's what Wales is for.


trousers said...

What quite amazing dreams signs has. Far be it from me to try and interpret them though.

I'm really enjoying reading all this and looking at the pictures, which is the best I can say for now - except that I hope your stay continues to be as magnificently intriguing and downright enjoyable as it appears from your diligent and exhaustive reporting.

Word ver = gipata - you didn't get one with the fish and chips and curry sauce, I take it?

Anna MR said...

Dear Montag, hello and very lovely to see you here in The House of Future and Past, c/o The House of Signs, The Edge, England, UK. Don't you be going bloody speechless, for we need your speech around these parts.

Glad you've enjoyed the pictures and the potions and the paean to Love, though. Very glad. I'll be back to our discussion of the Change That Is to Come sometime soon.

Keep speaking, please, in the meantime, though.

Kahless said...

Enjoy Wales Anna. I hope you dug out your phrase-book to polish off your language skills.

And Signs.... mushy peas? No!

Reading the Signs said...

You're right, TPE - come to think of it, why should Anna be allowed a day off? The more I think about it, the more unfair it seems - trouble is Mr. Signs was planning to drop her off at the station en route to work so he can't really pretend the car has broken down. Well she'll just have to make up for it by doing double time on the entertainment front when she comes back - we have expectations, obviously, not to mention that the photos I take are rubbish compared to hers for this reason alone (and not only her natural loveliness) she is an asset to the Signs establishment.

Of course there is a fish lying on my bookshelves. It is very fond of Byron's Poetical Works but is a slow reader.

Anna MR, the secret agent said...

Sweetest Englishman, hei, and I am more than delighted that you have given your hoof-seal of approval to my dossier. (And shhh, but yes I did note the fish on the bookshelf. It appears to be particularly focused on a fine set of poets - Browning, Burns, Byron, Celan - and I hadn't the nerve to disturb it by asking it to move a bit when I took the photo. It's not there now, though - it's moved to a lower shelf, where we find Mandelstam and various other poets. I think it's either a salmon or a rainbow trout - very hard to tell the difference, as I couldn't really stare at it whilst it was engaged in a poetry-consuming extravaganza. There are some very weird and wonderful creatures and goings-on here, to be sure, and whilst (as you so rightly pointed out) some of them appear even terrifying, I do think the underlying spirit is benign. Today, on the very same landing where yesterday that equine creature was having his manly parts mawled by two passionate feline beings, I found what can only be described as an angelic entity, playing a flute of some description. Or maybe a bassoon. Again, I didn't dare to stare outright, but I did manage to add a picture of it to the dossier I'm collecting for your reference. But shhh, we should keep this entire dossier matter very quiet, as I've a feeling S***s herself has been here not long ago.)

I am hopeful that the ingredients will indeed work out as a longer-term ennui remedy (and I'll not even mention the excitement-pee factor here). Fear not for me, Lord Horse, I shall keep up my research under the firm faith that goodness rules this stranger-than-fiction house - and if it has you extendedly gawping, it would be worth risking life and limb for, too.

I remain, as always, in your service


Anna ap MR, yn Cymraes fach said...

And on the subject of Cymru, or Wales, as it's known in the Oppressor Speak, dearest all who have mentioned the topic , namely McSigns, McTPE, and Kah ap Less, I have one definitive thing to say...

(do please click on my name).

And there's nothing wrong with digging for coal whilst playing rugby with an all-singing male voice choir, nothing wrong with it at all. And I intend to buy some bara brith, too. And eat it. Although I may bring some back to my host, too.

Anna MR said...

housut, it is lovely to know you're enjoying the mad adventures and the gonzo reporting from the totally doo-lally place. I will try to keep up the journalistic standard that you speak of so kindly and appraisingly.

(And no, I didn't think to have any gipata. My mistake. Need to go back and rectify.)

(And Kahless? Mushy peas rule. Only right after the rule of curry sauce, though, as a sort of a smaller lord of a lesser land, you know. But the rule. And that's just a fact.)

Anna MR said...

And Signs, that's quite enough of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", now. I'll come upstairs and annoy, I mean entertain, you, very presently. Except to say yes, McEnglishman, I have been busy (with putting up posts in your tear-inducing, heart-breaking absence), whereas you have been very clever (with changing the letter type of your name). Bingo indeed, sir, bingo indeed.

Kah ap Less said...

I live in Wales and have never eaten bara brith!

Indeed I had a blogger visitor last weekend, I showed off the sights of north wales, yet in terms of welsh food...

we too had fish and chips (with no peas.)

Anna MR said...

Kah ap Less, shame arna ti. Rwy'n dod o'r Finndir, yn wreiddiol, you know, and I have not only yn eaten but also yn baked bara brith yn fawr many times. Yn fawr many, Kah ap Less, and the fact I've yn forgotten the recipe (dwy ddim yn cofio'r recipe, isn't it now) is neither here nor there.

Why oh why have you not eaten bara brith? It's black, it's gummy-gooey, it's sticky, it's malty, it's bloody fucking lovely, if you want me to say it as it really is - and even if you don't, Kah ap Less, I shall say it as it is even if you'd rather I held my breath. Is this another mushy pea syndrome thing you have? Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with having fish and chips in Wales - it's as Welsh as any food, pysgod a sglodion, isn't it now? But we seem to be getting into food fights over here, for mushy peas have a perfectly good right to exist (although I do prefer the curry sauce), and bara brith is fine, child. Fine.

Now run along to the baker's first thing tomorrow morning, purchase, take home, slice, butter, and eat (with a mug of tea, perhaps) some lovely bara brith, Kah ap Less. I've a feeling much depends on it, and when I get one of those feelings, it usually means something. What exactly that elusive something is, no-one knows and even fewer people care, so it's not like you can just ignore this advice, is it now? That's what I thought, exactly.

Lovely seeing you, all the same, Kah ap Less, and a very happy new year (unless I've already wished you it - it's late. And even if I have).

The Periodic Englishman said...

Signs – now you’re talking. Truth to tell, I was absolutely astonished when you let slip that you were allowing her out for the day. It’s a bit of a liberty she’s taking, isn’t it? Cheeky cheeky. Don’t give her anything else to eat or drink until she’s interpreted her day in Wales through the medium of modern dance and/or mime. It’s the least she can do.

Anyway, most fish are pretty keen on Byron, I’m told, so there’s no real surprise there. I just worry that the thing might die if it’s out of the water too long. It would have killed you to make a few waterproof copies to put in the guy’s tank? You said yourself that your fish was a slow reader and yet you seem happy to let it flounder on the shelf – like, well, a fish out of water – for dehydratingly long periods of time.

You know how some people feed ducks? Well, I like to throw tiny little laminated copies of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage into the sea. If you want to keep on the right side of fish, Signs, then I suggest you do the same. You just never know when you might need their help. (And ducks – should you ever run out of bread – are broadly sympathetic readers of Walt Whitman. I know, it’s crazy, but there we are. Yusef Komunyakaa for the younger crowd, though.)

Anna MR – sorry about that, just needed to set Signs straight (she seems slightly loopy, if you ask me). I hope that your day in Wales is passing productively, clever Finn, and that all manner of Welsh things go right for you. Back later to respond to your finger-splurge.


The Periodic Englishman said...

Hello Snowdonian, I’m back. Seriously.

I’ve just discovered what Bara Brith is, by the way – it’s an anagram of Rabbi Hart. You would eat the Rabbi, Anna? Excuse me, but that’s how bad things start. Leave the guy alone and quit trying to lead Kahless astray.

Anyway, you called Burns a fine poet. (Yes you did, I saw you.) This puts you at odds with Jeremy Paxman, incidentally, who recently wrote off his work as “sentimental doggerel”. This was as unclever and tired as it was predictable. Too many English critics are often very obviously stumped by his Scots dialect and resort, in their lazy confusion, to a cheap lambasting and belittlement.

Although, fair to say, Burns did come out with quite a lot of excruciating finger-drivel. But then who hasn’t? Personally speaking, I’m a lukewarm fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed studying him at university and rather regret the manner in which he is overlooked in Scottish (and British) schools. I don’t regard the more predictably popular Shakespeare as his superior, for instance, because I’ve never been given reason to do so. Anyway, you’re clearly a bit more Scottish than you let on, English-Finn, so there’s mope for you yet. (Yes, mope. Look, do you want to become Scottish or not?)

Byron is Scottish, did you know that? No, me neither. He once ate a pie in Aberdeen or whatever the feck and the good people who run the Scottish Literature course at Glasgow University felt that this was more than enough to justify claiming him as one of our own. This dismal approach to categorising people is what turned me against the course. (I simplify, but still.) Could such a profoundly exiled being be said to come from anywhere? Does it even matter? It just felt a bit small and pointless to fight for his ancestry and to try to affix Scottishness to his gloriously wandering mind and blissfully erotic soul.

What is this? Poetry corner? Jesus. Enough already.

Do be sure to come back and tell us how you got on in Wales. (That was a cheap shot, incidentally, playing the Welsh national anthem. You know fine well that this song gets to me – although I prefer to hear it sung by a predominantly male rugby crowd. I was all ready to go on a Welsh-bashing binge and you wheeched the carpet from beneath me. Cruel.) And you owe Mr and Mrs Signs a dance show and explanation, by the way. You’ve let them down very badly. You may well feel that the underlying spirit in their home is benign, Anna MR, but those two can turn wild if things go against them. Their last house guests? Lord Lucan, Glenn Miller, Theodosia Burr Alston and Shergar.

Keep snooping and recording your discoveries, of course, but do be very careful.

Bye then, Finlander.


Anna MR said...

Deary me. There's so much material here tonight to respond to, but I'm exhausted by things Welsh (and, incidentally, Rabbi Hart seems to have gone out of fashion in Wales of Cymru, for I had to trundle around Caerdydd in search of him (it). Luckily enough, I managed to locate a stockist. But it's left me as I think I just mentioned, a teensy bit tired, and besides, I'm currently reeling about the unfairness and horror of the world and feminists and everything, having just googled Yusef Komunyakaa (in an attempt to rectify my total pig-ignorance on him), and, if you'll allow me to quote, he is said to have "faced some flak from feminists and others" after the wife he was (allegedly) having relationship trouble with had killed herself and their toddler son. Excuse me, but what the living fuck? I cannot understand how there can be people who have the total audacity to bring their own (bloody) Issues into the foreground in this utmost act of total lack of empathy, á la the Plathian peanut-crunchers. Jeeeeeeeesus. As if the poor guy didn't have enough grief on his plate without a bunch of truck-driving literature "lovers" getting all hoity-toity and saying it was All His Fault. (Warning: This comment contains opinions.)

So yes, no, I'll come back to the singing and miming and Byron and floundering and Burns and Scotland, and in particular, Scotland. But now I think I'll go and have some Dreams. Sorry about that (and my camera has had her batteries removed, so as she can't betray me again. Just saying, okay? Just saying). I'll be back tomorrow, though, right enough. (And Englishman? It seems the rugby crowds have some females in them too, but hope this one's more to your liking.)

The Periodic Englishman said...

I've always found the hounding of Ted Hughes intolerable and unhinged. The psychoplaths (come on, that's good) who take it upon themselves to judge and condemn him show an almost complete lack of decency and consideration.

There seems to be some separation, a distancing, between those in the public eye who are somehow considered fair game and the ranks of the blood-curdling masses. I mean, this was a real live person that these things were being said about. Appalling.

And now - just check out youtube and anywhere, really, in space - things seem to be getting worse. This can often culminate, I feel, in those people who go out and attack others physically, film the attack and then put it out there for general consumption.

Look at the bystanders. They're standing filming it with their phones, too. I'm no longer sure that they realise or care that a fellow human being is enduring a vicious beating. An objective distance may be good in most things, of course, but this seems like a rather hideous step too far.

Likewise, those people who feel entitled and free to trample over the private grief of others, publicly and with cold-eyed venom, seem curiously indifferent to the power of their own stabbingly vindictive words. It's like a sport, a bit of fun, something to pass the time.

Anyway, of course rugby crowds have some females in them. This, you see, is why I said that I liked to hear the song sung by a "predominantly" male crowd. Pay attention.

You were tired, I suppose, so I may take that into consideration before passing sentence.

No. I can't. Guilty as charged. Choose your last meal, Finlander, the game's up.

Bye then.

(Plathological/plathetic. I'm on fire.)

Anna MR said...

You are, Englishman (on fire), and it is (good - seriously good - brilliant, outstanding, out-of-this-world) - psychoplaths, plathological, plathetic, all of them. I bow my head in humbled-mute recognition of your spectacular linguistic-acrobatic inventiveness, creativity and brilliance.

(I think the last meal ought to be vegetarian haggis, I suppose. A good choice, don't you think? Given it's a thing I've never had, and I ought to feed the Scot in me, before the execution of my sentence brings on the cessation of my culinary explorations. And yes, Your Honour, I find myself guilty as charged, you did say predominantly, I had read it and registered it and paid attention to it, yet still had to come up with some drivel about the occasional female in the crowd, so I fully agree with the verdict and will welcome the bullet at dawn with a heavy sense of justice being served.)

I hadn't been very familiar with the work of Ted Hughes until the publication of Birthday Letters (and still haven't really read through a great deal of his other stuff, for some reason. There are so many things I haven't read. Ah well. I'm still alive, though, so I may yet have time to rectify some aspects of that) but I was always disgusted by the hounding of him, and very impressed by that book of his - not only the poems in their own right (and I thought them painfully strong and beautiful, stunningly, startlingly so) but also how they evidenced his solitary pain and grief, and the dignity with which he had carried them. There was one poem in particular, where he speaks of caring for the children, the son only a baby, in the first few days after her death - I don't know, the pain and the grief and the horror and the strength are so palpable. Juxtapose that with people who haven't dealt with their own lives' subject matter in any adequate way defacing Plath's grave, over and over again, chiselling away the name "Hughes", and writing (and talking) cruelly opinionated shite about him, the world over, decades after - it is unspeakable. Vile.

And as for the beating people up, certainly bad enough in itself, but then the filming of it - and the similarly callous behaviour of the bystanders, oh God. Englishman, it would be better if you didn't delve into that side of humanity, please, for bad darkness resides there and I'd rather protect you from it (not that I can do that, of course, and am not deluding myself into thinking that I could - but still). I find there is an aspect in media culture as well which, in a way, okays this manner of disgusting behaviour, by giving it "funny" terminology names like "happy slapping" or "road rage" or what the fucking ever. (I think we've been her before. Have we been here before? I have a feeling we have.) Let's face it, I'm a funless wank who sees no fun in any of it, not even in the "harmless" thing of, say, throwing a cream cake in the face of a disliked politician, just to see (and document on film) his frightened/startled reaction (and having a good old laugh at it, rewind and watch again, and laugh and laugh again, in the supportive company of a pack of like-minded fellow beasts) - let alone where people actually really beat others cetra. It's. Not. Funny.

But oh dear, I seem to be delving into it myself here, when I actually wanted to steer your beautiful mind away from the darkness. Sorry. Look, I hope your day is a beautiful one, and not just in the way of crisply-clear sun and sky, but also in the internal crispy-clear and warm happiness and belonging kind of a way. I'll go and see if I can't drum up mopeful little moment, to practice, for I certainly want to become Scottish, I do indeed. Being, as I truly am, an ethnic Finn, does help with having some mope for me. But that's definitely somewhere we've been before.

The best things only to you, as always, and I'll be getting back to the fish and Burns and Byron (and no, I didn't know he filled his pipe once by the Bonnie Banks. It's clear I need to look into this matter more) in due course. In the meantime, love across the Irish Channel (and, I suppose, West of England and all of Cymru, in order to reach you).


The Periodic Englishman said...

A bullet? What makes you think we will finish you off so cleanly? Dream on. No, you will be made to listen to "Donald Where's Your Troosers" until death comes calling. That gives you at least five minutes of excruciating pain, I'd say.

Hello. If you have to eat haggis then yes, vegetarian is probably the way to go (not that this will give you any indication as to what real haggis tastes like, of course, but it's filling and that's half the battle and nobody in their right mind would want to know what real haggis tastes like, anyway.)

A cream pie in the face of a disliked politician is about as funny as leprosy. (Okay, maybe not leprosy, because that can actually be funny - but cancer, say.)

It's all just violent and bullying and joyless and stupid (in the wrong way) and perfectly lacking in taste. Also, it's just too devastatingly predictable to be funny. There's no skill there.

I'm maybe more of a funless wank than you, however, as I can't even stand to see people being made fun of by someone like Ali G, say. It's just too excruciating and I think of how they'll feel when they realise they've been so very publicly duped and humiliated. I just don't like it, even if some of the targets are ripe for a bashing and the tormentor himself is admirably adroit.

You fancy Ted Hughes.

Bye then.


on the topic of donald's troosers said...

Alright. I might, in the end, die of it, but strangely, and for the time being, it (being put to death by listening to "Donald Where's Your Troosers") holds a certain appeal. For the benefit of anyone who stumbles upon this here exchange, I have gone through the trouble (as part of my upcoming execution) of listening to a good few (though by no means all) of the versions of the said song available on youtube, and have linked to the one which I'd least mind dying to (I guess).

Not that my opinion on which one I'd like to die to will necessarily be asked, right enough.

Ted Hughes is dead, Englishman (hello) and I actually fancy you.

Bye then.

xx(can't do lovehearts)xx

(Oh yes I can, just invented a way: xx♥xx)

So here goes:


The Periodic Englishman said...

Did I say that Ted Hughes wasn't dead? I think you'll find I did no such thing. No, what I said was that you fancied him, Finlander. You seem to be inventing problems again.

You'd be mad - mad - not to fancy me, however, so no surprises there.

Bye then.


Anna MR said...

No. You never said he (Ted Hughes) wasn't dead. You're right (as usual), I'm inventing problems (no change there), and Donald's Troosers it is for me.

Oh dear.

I would be, yes (mad). I'm not, though (not like that, at any rate).

Bye then, yes.

♥♡♥ (not for me to tick you off)

The Periodic Englishman said...

Yes, death by Donald. It's all there is that's left for you, Finlander.

Farewell then, Mrs Hughes, it's been adequate.



Anna MR said...

Oh wail and woe. You know how the Mrs Hugheses have historically reacted to being dumped? I've a fine precedent to follow.

Yes, fare thee well, my own true love, it's been indescribably amazing.



Reading the Signs said...

I suppose I should leave the two of you to finish this thing (like who is actually going to have the last word (and Anna do not put your head into an oven just to make a point, and be careful what you say we're almost at full moon), but listen. I mean this is all going on in The House of Signs and I will therefore be held responsible if anything happens.

Ted? Stop tormenting poor Sylvia.

Sylvia? Get a grip, you can survive anything except death.

I have written a story about these two, just saying. And lived for a while in the house where she dunnit. And around the corner from her on the fateful night. And the wolves howled, and the moon struck home. Take care.

The Periodic Englishman said...

Who says you can't survive death, Signs? What a curious notion. At the very least, surely, tiny fragments of you will remain in the memories of other people? It's a start, most definitely, so don't be knocking it.

My grandfather is dead - I saw him buried - and yet he's never felt more alive to me. So hurrahs all round and let's have a session of drug-taking to celebrate. Wear comfortable clothes.

Hello. I'd love to get the last word in here, of course, but that's the trouble with other people's blogs - they are always more likely to be able to have the final say. (Even if this means adding a jibe many years after the initial stramash has died down.)

You lived in the house where Sylvia Plath caked herself? What a weird thing. Is this what inspired you to write a story about her and Teddy H? Or did something else in their circumstance drawn you irresistibly in?

Either way, you've probably got a bit of explaining to do.

Anna MR - sticking your head in the oven is perfectly harmless. Don't be listening to Signs - she's scaremongering. (Maybe you can keep her talking as I call the police. I've a terrible feeling that this whole Plath thing may need re-investigated. She was there.)

Bye then.

Anna MR said...

I would keep her talking, Englishman (hello), but it's frightfully difficult typing with your head in the oven. You can't see your fingers at all - if you bring the keyboard with you into the oven, it's very dark, and if you keep it on the floor under the oven door, your arms are at a funny angle. But you should most definitely call the police, yes.

Signs? This is all very interesting. I remember you speaking about being in the vicinity on the night of the murder, I mean death. Do keep talking, please - and we might need to see that story, too.

Hello and good morning and all good things to both of you (this means you, Englishman and Signs - not Ted and Sylvia, as such. They can have any sort of old day that comes to them).

x x

Reading the Signs said...

"The moon was full, as she thinks of it, but then a jagged fragment of memory overrides and pictures a thin, sharp sickle just waiting to draw blood. The moon was full, she decides, on that cold, clear night, pregnant with some monstrous notion and bored out of her skull.

The wolves knew it. A faint but unmistakeable howling came from London Zoo. A new breed had been brought in from Russia, someone had said. They looked out of the bars of their cages and found nothing they recognised but the wide black sky and the moon. It was the night of the tenth of February 1963 and the wolves were homesick.

Reading the Signs said...

It wasn't my fault. Well anyway, that's the story I'm sticking to, and you have no proof. Heh.

Reading the Signs said...

No, and sorry TPE but you can't survive death - for would you be able to smoke a cig and chew on a salmiakki, however clearly you were living in someone's memory? I rest my case.

The Periodic Englishman said...

But would you be able to prove that I couldn't smoke a cig and chew on a salmiakki once dead? No. I think you'll find that I rest my case, Signs, and that yours is just beginning the process of falling apart.

I'm adopting the tactics of the religious here, Signsy, and, as most rational people know, it is mental to engage on such a level. Feel free to take a shot, however, although I should point out that you're destined to fail quite spectacularly.

Anna MR - hei. I was just pointing out to Signs there that she's destined to fail quite spectacularly. It will be interesting to see, however, how she goes about the business of challenging the obstinately blind faith of another person.

And what are you talking about? You mean that your oven - or the oven in House of Signs, I suppose, as we're all still technically round her way (as she correctly pointed out) - doesn't have a light on the inside? That's one rattily prehistoric oven, Finny, and I'm hardly surprised you're not using your laptop in there. That would be crazy.

Happy New Year. (A positive reinforcement, nothing to be worried about.)

Bye then, I suppose.


Reading the Signs said...

Not so fast, Englishman. I could actually prove it to you, but first we would need a dead person who was in life a committed chain-smoker and salmiakki-indulger. Then we would need to sit the corpse in front of a packet of cigs and a load of black sweets, leave it for a night and see what happened. I am betting you my entire collection of marbles that you would come back in the morning and not find a single smoked butt or missing sweet. That's because the corpse would be dead, just like the ex parrott in the Monty Python sketch. Not saying that the spirit of said corpse wouldn't be frolicking in the hereafter, but there wouldn't be any cigs or salmiakki there because such things can only be found in the mundane, fallen world, and don't try to argue with me on this one because I have read my bible and consulted the Akashik records (of which we have already spoken).

My case is watertight, I think you will agree. Thank you.

(Anna, the Vegemince, like I told you, is still in the freezer and Mr. Signs will not touch the stuff so we have a domestic crisis looming unless you return at some point, just saying).

The Periodic Englishman said...

Anna MR is a committed chain-smoker and salmiakki indulger, Signs. If you can hold your nerve, doctor, then we may just have us a guinea pig. I'll get my gloves.

Anyway, what if the dead person didn't feel like smoking on the night of the experiment? They may have given up since passing over to The Other Side. Or what if they just didn't feel like supplying proof or being part of a needless experiment? What then?

Wait a minute - I'll just consult my head and all those images of dead family members and friends that hang about there: nope, you're barking up the wrong tree, Signs. These guys assure me that I believe them to be capable of smoking after death. Sorry. Your faith is no stronger than mine, Signsy, so there is no reason to give it more credence, alas.

What else have you got?

Wait - I'm getting another message. My grandfather wants to know how you know that cigarettes don't exist where he is? He only started smoking after he died, Signs. You need to raise the quality of your research, I'm afraid. It is a terrible failure of the imagination to believe that only a physical being - a body - can indulge life's greatest pleasures. Are you seriously saying that Jeesus doesn't enjoy the occasional Marlboro Light? I'm shocked.

Still, I'll get my gloves if you feel like doing The Anna Experiment for fun. It's just us down here, Signs, nobody will notice she's gone. Excited.

Reading the Signs said...

Anna? Anna! Where are you? Don't go near the Englishman until he has taken the gloves off, ok?

Englishman, even if you were really getting messages from your grandfather in the hereafter, who is to say that what he tells you is true? For he may be as fond of a merry jape and prank as anyone alive and be chortling away to his mates,
cigs and booze in this place, that's a laugh but lets play along with it anyway, there's nothing on today but angelic choral practice. etc.

I can tell you this for sure: there are no brand names in heaven (how could there be as capitalism is an invention of the devil?) so Jeesus can't be smoking Marlborough Light. But I sure as hell wish I were.

Reading the Signs said...

- though if we are talking about the Undead - vampires and suchlike - then that's a different thing entirely, for they of course do smoke and drink. Please reassure me that you are not consorting with any such. I know all about them from watching Buffy.

Anna MR said...

Listen, ♡♞♡, Signs, what are you two up to down here? Gloves? Salmiakki? Marlboro/ugh (Lights)? Dead people? I came here prepared for Ted and Sylvia but you two loons are wildly off-topic, it seems. Which is fine by me, for I hadn't really planned what I was going to say. Given that I was so thrown by your goings-on, I thought it best to google "salmiakki and dead people" - and spookily enough, this image (under my name) came up. Talk about coincidence, eh.

But wait. I seem to be receiving a message from beyond. Sylvia? Sylvia, is that you? Yes, yes of course I'll publish your poem in its correct form...yes yes, don't worry. Okay, yes, I've got it all down, here:

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am smoking cigarettes, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these gloves.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my salmiakki to the sign reader and my body to surgeonhorse.

Hmmm. I'd say it was an improvement on the original, Sylvia, and well worth coming back from the grave to tell us.

Reading the Signs said...

OMG Sees, you are actually communing with her. Bril. But I don't understand why she is smoking the cigs and is prepared to give away the salmiakki - oh yes I do. She is giving it to me because I have run out. Thank you, Sylvia.

So now you are both talking to dead people. That's great. But what about me? I get the exquisite corpse, that's clear.

Reading the Signs said...

I have seen the image! It is beautiful and inspired and you are a talented so-and-so. Bloody hell.

ablesc is an understatement.
subvias comes a bit nearer. Subversive, yes.

The Periodic Englishman said...

Now that, you see, is properly stunning and impressive, Anna MR. What a magnificently dark artistic vision you have. How did you do that? Teach me, please, I want to be able to do stuff like that. Do you need a special piece of software to do it? Really, utterly fantastic.

Glad you're back safely. Sorry that you may be about to die (blame Signs - she forced the issue).

Signs - no. On every level, no. "Proof" to follow, no doubt, but we must surely take a moment to enjoy Anna MR and her crazily inventive and beautiful head (before the gloves and implements come out etc....)

Bye then, people.


Reading the Signs said...

ok Englishman, here's the deal, I'm prepared to go along with your hypothesis or whatever it is, as long as you understand that it's only in order to spare the Icemaiden's life. I get some payback for this because Posterity will thank me for having saved a talented artist from untimely death, and the WVLs are calling me a sweetio.

I learned how to make my very first spag bol on the floor right beneath where Sylvia done did that terrible thing. This may be the closest I get to actual fame.

Our Lady of Implements said...

Now, now, my children, thou shalst not squabble. For lo, I am Our Lady of the Implements, and I bring you comfort and joy from the Other Plane, where smoking, salmiakki, and everything one's heart desires is not only possible, but even encouraged.

And Anna can safely be used for the Surgeonhorse's tests, for I protect her.


Reading the Signs said...

This is getting most fabulously gothic and spooky, Milady Implements. You are a talented weirdo and no mistake, and therfore a most proper lodger in the House of Signs. Congratulations, for many are called but few are chosen.

But The Englishman and I, well we like to squabble now and then, see. See it as the clash of Great Minds. Watch how the sparks fly to heaven.

(say something tpe before I drown in a sea of euphemistic babble)

The Periodic Englishman said...

No, my lips are sealed, Signs, and I probably need to see you drown in a sea of euphemistic babble, in any event. That would leave me here alone, you know, with you comfortably drowned and Anna MR salmiakking on The Other Side. Although, of course, it wouldn't, as I've a feeling that death - however it may have been accomplished - will do nothing to stop the pair of you jabbering into space.

We're being spoiled, aren't we? Anna Dali shows great invention and comes across as mildly scary and unhinged, too. A perfect combination. I've been properly gobsmacked by her creations - which helps take my mind off the uncomfortable fact that my dead grandfather may be taking the piss. Yikes, but life and death are strange and unknowable. I'm investigating, as you'd expect, but am pretty much rocked to my core.

Salvador MR - nice. Very nice. I feel a slight pang of horror that the world may be leaving me behind and that I'm artistically out of my depth, for sure, but this doesn't stop me from cooing in delight.

Don't worry about me and Signs. We're constantly fighting, even when seeming to agree. Especially then, in fact. We are like two (heavily articulate) space-tigers, circling each other warily, waiting for the other to pounce. It's an intellectual mating ritual, nothing more. I like her stripes and she likes mine. What better way to prove this than fighting?

Yes, I appear to have waded into the euphemistic sea with you, Signs - drowning, not waving; not waving at all.

Picanno - quick. Do some art. Save us.

Happy Wednesday, people.

The Surgeon

Startled Anna said...

Oh God. Here was I, thinking you were speaking figuratively, Surgeon Tiger, when you said you and Circling the Surgeons were circling each other like so many handsomely-articulate space tigers. As luck would have it, though - or maybe it was divine providence; guidance, even? - sent me out on my famed balcony for a ciggie. Imagine, if you please, the pair of you, the astonishment in which I fell upon my knees at the sight of you two there, for real. It was lucky I had my camera with me, is all I'm saying - and please admire my presence of mind in being able to document this heavenly sight.

I should be making haggis and tatties, though, so I'll be off now. Shaken and stirred, I remain, as always, yours in ether friendship

x x (one each. Squabble all you like)

Reading the Signs said...

Right. At the moment I'm bloody speechless (and veg couscous is in the oven needing attention). But just to say that this is too brilliant and a perfect likeness - perfect I tell you. It's me (esp without benefit of cigs), and of course it's Him.

C U L8er

Reading the Signs said...

Psychic Surgeon, you can remove your gloves because I have quite gone off the corpse idea - I am a creature of the moment and have to catch these things as they arise in me or it's no good. But you are right about death not being able to wither such as she and I or, presumably, you. In my case the very fact of me being here jabbering into space is living proof, for today I feel like death and am to all intents and purposes dead to the world, but look here I am anyway.

I wonder if anyone else is here too. Lurkers? Hello! I shouldn't really say welcome because it is not my blog, but it is, as it happens, my house. So hi. There is some spectacular artwork hidden beneath the surface (in the comments, I mean, not in my actual house, although there is some cool art there too as you will have noticed) that you should really have a look at. We're all mad here, we are, but some are artistic with it. Are you artistic too, Lurker? Or do you just like watching? That's ok too. Everything goes.

Asta la vista!

Anna MR said...

No, Psyching the Signs, it's just thee and me, for I see no Lurkers whatsoever - artistic or otherwise. Mind you, it is within the realms of possibility that a Lurker would go under cover of invisibility, but it doesn't feel very likely. Of course, I am now missing my cue most terribly, for I should have come here as a Lurker, but it's too late for all that now. And please note it's perfectly appropriate for you to welcome into this house whoever you feel like welcoming.

I'm sorry to hear you are/were feeling like death itself. Has it passed yet? I'm sending you sharp strength and cold waves - in the nicest possible way, goes without saying.

Mwahs from here to there.

A. Lurker said...

What do you mean there are no Lurkers? I can assure you that the Lurker family visit here regularly and intend to keep doing so. We are very busy people, as you might imagine, but find it well worth our while to keep an eye on proceedings here. Mrs. Lurker sends her best wishes, as do Master and Miss Lurker.
Assuring you of our best attentions at all times,
I remain,
yours sincerely,
A. Lurker (MSF)

Anna MR said...

OH. Kind Mr/s Lurker (I don't wish to make assumptions as to Your gender, and hence, title - for although You refer to a Mrs Lurker (hello, Madam, howdoyoudo), this is the modern blog of a modern blogger and we know that having a missus does not necessarily a Mr make) - anyway, dear Sir/Madam, what a delight to read Your kind and supportive words and the sentiment they carry. It makes this whole blogging lark just that much more meaningful when one knows one is being lurked upon. But but. What can the enigmatic letters-after-Your-name signify - MSF? I must confess I have had to resort to a bit of wiki-ing and googling, yet am not much the wiser - on the contrary, a little knowledge is a baffling thing, in this instance. What on earth can You be, or represent? Médecins Sans Frontières? Mind Science Foundation? Metasploit Framework? Master of Science in Finance? Military science fiction? Or even - my personal favourite, I think - Multi-Stage Flash?

I suppose this matter is for You to know and for me to wonder about - and please believe me when I say I do. However, the assurances of Your best attentions (at all times) which You so kindly lavish upon Yours truly do feel most comforting - almost guardian-angelish. Please, in return, feel most assuredly welcome to continue lurking wherever the mood may grab You.

I remain,
Yours faithfully,

Anna MR (BLGR)

A. Lurker said...

Dear Madam,

The letters stand for Member of the Snooping Fraternity. This may or may not give you an indication as to my gender. A little mystery gives spice and savour to one's duties, as I always say to Mrs. L when we retire. She is waiting for me now, with a mug of Horlicks in her hand and looks most fetching.

I remain, dear Ms Mr (a question also concerning your gender, perhaps?)

Yours Faithfully,

A. Lurker (MSF)

p.s. and may I draw your attention to the word verification which is respe - to which I happily add the letters c and t.

Anna MR said...

Horlicks? Hmmmm. The mystery deepens, A. Lurker, for who still drinks the stuff? Bloody lovely it is as well. Can't get it over here. Just as well, I suppose, as I'd probably be o'd-ing on it quite quickly.

This friendly nonsense-banter is intended to throw you, of course, so you don't realise I'm furiously trying to uncover your secrets - and you identity.

I remain, as always, yours most faithfully

Mongrel an' Grab, Anagrammaticist