Sunday, 15 January 2012

Blog Carnival — Come Ride My Elephant

I struggled with this ‘language’ prompt for several weeks—all good writing to me makes language intrinsic to its purpose, how could it do otherwise? Then I thought about amusing misunderstandings had with people from different countries. None. All the people I’ve met from Italy, France, Africa, America, even Wales, have spoken clearly and without fault. My own incompetence with identifying accents is slightly amusing—I once mistook an Englishman for an American (hahaha) and corrected a French Jehovah’s Witness’s grammar for a ten minutes (hahaha—priceless!) OK. Not that funny.

Instead, this post is about unspoken languages, conversations we have with people in our heads that comprise an entirely subconscious system of communication conducted with ourselves that we hope other people might share and respond to via telepathic intuition. This will make sense as the piece progresses, I hope. If not, think bad things about me.

1. Librarians

I have a telepathic communication system with librarians. The books I withdraw are usually ultra-cool, intelligent and amazing. That’s how I roll on the book front. No harlequin robots in Indian climes for me. Whenever I bring four or nine books to the counter, I absorb the begrudging respect behind their noncommittal glances. Each stamp, scan and swish I know means ‘what a cool guy, he’s withdrawing books I’ve never read, and I’m a freaking librarian!’ And when I return these books a week later and send them trotting off to fetch my reservations, I know they secretly rub the books against their crotches or press them into their skin so their essences waft at me from the pages. I know.

2. Pavement People

I have the most sorted walking style in the world. Instead of weaving all over the place, making way for others, letting old women or wheelchairs pass, I am the city stealth cruiser. Here’s my secret: I always walk extremely close to buildings, until I’m practically brushing against the walls. This gives walkers the impression I am forever about to turn into a shop, giving me right of way at all times, allowing me to walk in a straight line on crowded streets. Whenever I pass people, I see a gleam of admiration in their eyes, wishing they’d been so ingenious as to think up that foolproof way of never getting out the way. (Note: This technique works only if there aren’t things in way, which there often are).

3. Shoplad

When I lived in Edinburgh, I used to have problems at my local shop. There was a teenage boy who worked in there who, one night when I bought some spaghetti and Fruit Pastilles, remarked on the oddness of this culinary choice. At first vexed, I then realised he admired me with burning love. The next night I returned and bought rice and a bag of marshmallows. His little eyes swelled up, bursting with pride at such unconventional choices for supper material. Later, I blew his tiny mind when I went in there and bought a Mars bar, some hummus and a lemon. He’s a chef now, working under Heston Blumenthal.

4. Girlfriends

I’ve developed a form of reverse polarity with girlfriends. I will interpret every direct command as a plea for me to do the exact opposite. Whenever a girlfriend tells me to stop reading so much and look at her for a few minutes, I bury my head in a book and rarely acknowledge her existence. She tells me to go out and get some exercise, I lock myself in and read four books back to back. She tells me to stop recommending books to her because she doesn’t read, I tell her to read Alf MacLochlainn, Ewa Kuryluk and Micheline Aharonian Marcom. She tells me never to critique her writing and I give her detailed notes and watch as she storms out the door calling me an arrogant ballsac. Girlfriends!

5. Christopher Allen

When Christopher Allen reviews my stories, we have a secret understanding. When he tells me to move certain lines after dialogue one or two lines down, I delete the comment and then drink some cider. When we read pieces we’ve made notes on in print and we notice NONE of our suggested changes has been implemented, we cackle and drink bottled water. That’s how we do things in our crazy writing worlds. Thank you for reading and please check out the other posts in the carnival!

[Part of the Blog Carnival, hosted by Mister Christopher Allen at I Must Be Off!]


  1. You do not drink cider. You might drink a metaphorical cider, but I don't believe for one minute that you drink an actual, wet and apply cider.

  2. Funny. I like imagining the cider and the bottled water. And riding the metaphorical elephant at your carnival too.

  3. Cider and elephant rides for all!