Thursday, 5 August 2010

Brain strain

I look up from Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale on the laptop to see that the white lino floor of the kitchenette is undulating. No, more than that, it's writhing. A quick mental check of the drugs I've taken recently confirms, only 2 beers, so WTF? Oh, I remember, I'd run out of dishwasher detergent so had improvised with the liquid stuff, seemed a good idea at the time but isn't, the dishwasher is pumping out foam by the gallon.

Remember, I screw up so you don't have to.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Living la vida loca

I've known Charlie since we were 2. Now he's a corporate litigator in mid-town Manhattan; when Consolidated sues Amalgamated Charlie's in there chopping someone off at the knees. Saving widows and orphans? Don't be silly, they're poor. At lunch we discuss my legal encounter of the previous day, which was a phone call from Carlos' lawyer asking, can I be in court tomorrow to do my bit as a character witness. Well with more than 24 hours notice it would have been a pleasure, but I'm in NY. Carlos doesn't know anyone else respectable (trust me on this, I honestly am respectable, really boringly so) and I wanted to help; he is a, er, shall we say less polished version of my brother and it would be a shame for him to go away.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


I'm spending a few days with my mother; my brothers and I have been taking turns doing this since our father died earlier this year. Of course, the rota is approximate, since life gets in the way (not as much as death I suppose), but that's fine. We even managed to arrange the funeral without fighting. The point is not to be useful (fixing windows, throwing away unnecessary correspondence, suggesting that maybe that bill should be paid, doing it myself if the reaction is too hostile) as it is just to be there and reassure her that we don't plan to put her in the poorhouse ("Mum I don't think they have poorhouses any more").

Anyway we're not here to be useful we're here to be interesting. Aren't we?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Feel the fear

I watched the England-Germany game until it got to 4-1, then stopped. It was embarrassing, like watching an animal that's been run over twitch and die. I know nothing about football and could understand less of what the manager said. That is, he sounded scary and impressive, but while what came out of his mouth was grammatically and syntactically correct, it conveyed no meaning, especially after I thought about it. Is that why the English players looked so terrified?

"Christ what does he want us to do now?" "I've no idea but I'm really really afraid and I'm going to cry, please will that nice referee blow his whistle."

Oh btw I'm taking a break from poker. Recently I've encountered some significantly bad luck (no excuse, the paradox of the gambler's ruin is that even a skilled player is highly likely to encounter a terrible run of luck some time) and this has made me play much worse, tentative yet rigid. Let's see if I can stick to that resolution.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Precision Handling is dedicated to public service and the extermination of adverbs. In the first vein here is one in an occasional series of personality tests.

You are a science nerd if when you overhear people discussing chemistry it disappoints you that the subject turns out to be sexual attraction and not the stuff involving, you know, actual chemicals that smell and explode.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Ash and cash

Mme and Mlle Inkspot, plus girl cousin, went to New York to have some fun and are stuck there by the Icelandic earthfart. Of all the thousands (millions?) of people in this situation they are some of the luckiest; they have grandparents to stay with and a beautiful (especially in the spring) city for entertainment. God knows how long they'll be there, so I had an idea: enroll them in school. Precisely, put them in Hoboken High School (the grandparents are in Hoboken, across the Hudson from midtown Manhattan; when planes crash into the World Trade Center or land on the river my father-in-law doesn't have to move from his desk to photograph it). I read that HHS is New Jersey's second most improved public school of 2009, so they should acquire valuable life skills such as buying drugs, smuggling boyfriends' weapons past the metal detectors and catching STDs. Completely brilliant though I say it myself. The girls put their feet down at this prospect of re-enacting West Side Story so they're going to a completely reasonable school elsewhere in town, starting today.

And what are the mice doing meanwhile? Playing poker it must be admitted. Last night was a catastrophe, wiping out most of the previous week's gains. Swings and roundabouts, roundabouts and swings.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Second set

It's 11-30 and Mlle inkspot (15, and conscious of it) isn't answering her phone. She'd said that a bunch of them were going to Ollie's house so eventually I phone there. No says Ollie's dad, I thought they were at your place.

Eventually she does phone in.

"Where are you, I've been worried?"

"Don't worry dad, we're at Ollie's house."

Oh my god she is totally busted. At least she sounds sober, so above all I'm thrilled at being ahead in parenting tennis, it's the first time.

"Oh my god you are totally busted. At least you sound sober, but I'm cross, this isn't a game you know."

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Life at the top

To Precision Handling's promotions committee again. I'm there to give the minority view. Well, my view's in the minority and I give it. Maximum Boss comes in. He's meant to be even-handed and impartial and all those other things that nobody ever is and proceeds at once to nobble me. I'm from the same branch of PH and he's particularly supposed not to nobble me.

"I hope you're going to promote Buggins [also from our branch]."

"No I don't think so, the letters are negative [and even libellous]."

"Doesn't matter you should promote him anyway."

This happens in front of everyone so is easy to resist. Which is my point: if you're going to nobble someone shouldn't you at least do so competently? That is, privately, with hints of blackmail? Anyway it didn't work, hurray.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

King's Lynn

Urgent text: "Dad can i get my cartilidge pierced, ada's mum is taking her."

No you can't. Not until you can spell cartilage anyway. That held her up for 5 seconds, thanks internet, love-15, god you're rubbish at this Inkspot, ffs raise your game. I phone Ada's mum, who is certainly not taking Ada anywhere near a piercing parlour, Ada's been grounded for various teenage-type infractions. 15-all, that's better, I might even break her serve. My real objection is that the idea nauseates me, who cares about that.

"Right i'll get pregnant and do drugs so you'll have a spastic baby to raise. And then i'll get its tongue and belly-button pierced."

Christ it's a bit early for the nuclear option isn't it? 15-30 anyway. So I find internet sources saying how painful it is. There are even more sources saying it's a doddle, 15-40. So no you can't because I say you can't and it's illegal without parental permission until you're 16.

"Right i'll go to kings lynn and get it done illegally, you can get anything illegal in kings lynn."

Game over. But what is this with King's Lynn? It's a completely harmless small port on the east coast of England, miles from anywhere, too dull even for Eliot to write a poem about. How did it get this louche reputation?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Special needs

Last week I had an appointment with Arry ("with a haitch") at the gym. He's a strength and conditioning coach; these words have not been part of my life so far. What I was doing on the not-a-bike is irrelevant to Arry who has given me horrible things to do which are as horrible now as they were at the start. I think I hate Arry and want to kill him, only he's a nice guy and Hayley (with the profile and engagement ring) might not like it and I don't want to upset her. So I'll just swipe feebly at his ankles as I try to get up off the floor. The worst thing is the realization that if Arry and Hayley are professors of gym then I am in year 3 (= 2nd grade) and sat at the special needs table. On the other hand I've put on weight so at least I can say to Arry, look how useless your fucking gym is, I'm even fatter than when I started.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Happy new year

I've started going to the gym. It is, of course, ghastly and the sort of thing that no sane person would choose to do, except that there was a photograph the other day that left no alternative. First I had to be inducted (induced?) which meant that a trainer person (wonderful profile, I could have looked at it for hours, but an engagement ring too) took 75 minutes explaining the equipment to 4 of us. But if anyone asked, but what should I do personally, me, inkspot, the unproud owner of several chins, oh I haven't got time to answer that. When I go to the US there is a similar gym where I work and there, in the most litigious country in the world, induction means signing a chit promising not to sue if you drop a weight on your foot.

So I've no idea what to do. There's a machine with strings and pulleys and weights and I pull at that until it hurts and then I go to another machine with pedals and handlebars only it's not a bike and I press buttons until it tells me I'm doing something called cardio. It also asks me how old I am. Damned impudent, and I'm so vain that I lie to it. Yes, I lie to a fucking machine, that's how vain I am. Cardio is 85% but of what there's no indication (fat burning is 60% if that helps). Anyway if I can read it right I'm usually beyond cardio so, given how I feel, it's 85% of dead. The only funny thing is that the not-a-bike is situated in front of rather a cleverly lit mirror so while you're getting all red and sweaty and dizzy you can look at yourself and pretend that you can see a cheekbone.