Issue #52 - October 17th - 23rd
Sister Janice-Cosmic Adventuring Advice Dispenser
The long lost diary of Miss S L Gleaden (part 12)
Waiting for the Moon and My Oblivion, Tindersticks, Beggars Banquet 2003
Sister Janice, the Advice Dispenser
Sister Janice is the Friends Of The Heroes agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career.
These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed. Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer...
Well, my little sonars of scrumptiousness, I hope you fared well whilst I was away. I'm sorry you had to read all that nonsense about strange Scottish bands, but be assured that your Advice-Dispensing Cosmic-Traveller is back, with all the help you could possibly need. Your must learn to see your problems as merely opportunities, my dears. Opportunities to change the way you live, into something more pleasing and productive.
With that in mind, I have dropped the title of 'Agony Aunt'. Agony isn't my bag, kids.. I bring you Redemption and Retrospective Dance Music, and advice from a distant star. See above for my new job description. I dispense advice, and I explore the galaxy. If you're looking for help, here's your choice - ask someone who has seen the underside of a Saturnian Bar; who has watched the supernovae come and go; who has danced with the Plutonian 24-hour Rave People... - or ask some bird who writes for the Sunday Mirror.
Anyway, it has been quite a fortnight and, apart from a brief altercation in the Friends Of The Heroes office last week, it has been rather a fine one. It started with a send-off from my friends at the convent. I think I can call them that now, my friends, the nuns. Strange, how it took several journeys around the cosmos, a few solitary space-walks and an arrest for aggravated assault - oh, and a miracle - before I got to this stage.
I couldn't believe it - the sisters gathered together, they bought me flowers, they sang me songs (hymns, and i'd have preferred a gospel choir singing 'Galaxy Of Love', but its the thought...) they re-furbished the Space Shed, after a rather unfortunate landing that didn't do the decor any good at all (nun style - black and white, with a predilection toward hard wood and a lack of soft-furnshings but again, its a start..) AND they gave me a vat of convent wine.
I wish I knew what had happened to that vat of convent wine. I remember having a couple of drinks one night, leaving to visit one of the more lively bars on the Rings Of Saturn, and waking up the next morning with a bunch of....Things With Tentacles slumped all over the place, and no booze.
I blame Roger, my ship-mate. I'm sure he's secretly drinking all my alcohol. I'm worried he might have a problem.
But, my function is to solve problems. I'm an Advice-Dispensing Cosmic Traveller, and, with that in mind, here's a letter I received just this morning:
'Okay Sister Janice, oh great and mighty Disco Queen, here's my problem.
There's a car in my neighbor's basement.
Really, truly, that's it. Not half an hour ago, some guy lost control of his car in front of my house, hit my curb, veered across the street to hit a telephone pole, and then veered back to this side of the street. He slammed into my neighbor's car, spinning it completely around and smashing the back end all to hell. Then he drove through their fence and into the wall of the next house down. The car broke through the basement wall and now its nose is poking into their basement.
The driver walked away from the car, so it doesn't look like anyone was hurt, but boy howdy, all of the inanimate objects that were in his path sure don't look too happy just now.
Now, I am POSITIVE I was NOT standing in front of the window naked when this happened, so surely it can't be my fault. It's too cold these days to be standing anywhere naked, anyway, except perhaps under a nice hot shower. At any rate, I doubt anyone but the insurance company cares whose fault it is. I have a bigger concern just now.
What I want to know is this - what is the etiquette involved in commenting politely to one's neighbor on the fact that said neighbor's house has a rather large car-shaped protrusion emerging from the wall?
"Wow, Bob, that's a nice addition, did it come with a free air freshener?"
"Gee, Frank, I never knew how good tire tracks could look across your lawn ..."
"Well, you always WANTED a gate in that fence right about there, didn't you?"
See? I'm just not coming up with anything, here ...
Worried, of New York
well, you see.... some things aren't NECESSARILY problems. Viewed in a different light, they can be opportunities. I think you're missing the, rather glaringly obvious, fundamental opportunity in this particular situation.
That opportunity is, of course -
Well, first let's take the side issue. Standing naked in front of your window is certainly perfectly acceptable. I used to do it all the time, at the convent. Less so, at the prison. I tried it once and got disturbed by the way the warders kept winking at me after that. Sure, the nuns didn't like it, but we're all friends now, me and the nuns - so it can't have been that unacceptable, can it? Okay, so perhaps the odd visiting cardinal took offence, and the papal emissary didn't like it much that one time, but that's the problem with missionary men - utterly unreasonable, and terrible bores.
I think your problem with this comes from your suppressed guilt at the fact that you were thinking about standing naked in your window when it happened.
Sister, you must release that guilt, move on. You are not to blame, any more than I was to blame for accidentally poisioning the Mother Superior that one time. Feel free with yourself, and good about your body. Take your clothes off, right now, and dance, free as the air!
Show yourself to the world! Run outside, scream 'I am ME. I am NAKED. I am WOMAN!' and gyrate what you've got to the stars, and the clouds, and anyone who wants to watch.
I'm sure, after that, you'll feel fine about talking to your neighbours concerning anything at all.
Failing that...Bob and Frank...they're together, yeah?
Tell them their new art installation is fabulous. Ask them if its an original sculpture by... (any made-up Italian name will do here, people like art more if the sculptor is Mediterranean, in my experience- although that consists chiefly of religious types, there aint too much art in the Void, but what the hell, it'll work...)
.... wow over it for a while, say you're THRILLED to have such stylish neighbours and open a bottle of something sparkling and white (preferably not sour milk) in celebration. Pretty soon, they'll be showing all their friends round, and discussing it over a tastefully-chosen bottle of vaguely expensive Southern-hemisphere wine.
Or a crate of imported bottled beer, if that's more their bag.
Sure, there SOME gay guys it won't work on, but your chances aren't ALL that bad. Hell, I'm almost buying it myself..
Look, if they're REALLY unhappy, I've got a few trappings in my Space-Shed that are going spare. Nothing much, a few tapestries of religious tableaux, and the odd bust of Mary, Mother Of Jesus. They'll block a hole. The one in the wall, preferably.
But I'm sure my original approach will work fine. And they'll thank YOU when they get the Hello deal.
Remember me, then.
Have a beautiful, optimistic week, my little pulsars of positivity, and remember, happiness is next to godliness.
Just don't ask me where godliness is.
Algebra spaghetti vs the real world
I tried to save the day but it didn't work.
Does everyone find it so hard to live in the real world, or is it just me?
From that moment on everything went more or less wrong. Things fell from my hands, I banged against door knobs and table corners, I tripped on a cable and almost knocked a coffee maker over. Soon I was convinced that anything I'd be asked to do would turn out bad. I started worrying what people would think of me, which only made it worse. The colours of the world around me changed from alright to unfriendly. Upon a casual glance I saw more fear than I saw niceness. Warmth was slipping away and the echoes of every bad thing that has happened to me so far came tumbling in. I would cry with weariness, if only I could.
And does that make me useless? Or does it make them something?
But it has happened too many times and I can't be bothered with it anymore. There - close your eyes, take a deep breath and think of nice things. If it doesn't work (which it most likely won't do) just keep out of the way and wait till it goes away. And I would cry with weariness, if only I could.
But why can people be so cruel? And what if I am like that, too? Wouldn’t I be too scared to ever try again if I found out I were?
If only I was that sort of girl.
Which I kind of am, but I kind of am not, too. At least I dream of a better world.
But the lights of the big city shine bright in front of my eyes, even as I'm just walking home. Even if I'm just getting lost on my way home, too. I'm only a little girl but I have travelled a long way to be here. Not too long a way, mind you; just long enough to make wandering around these streets worthwhile. I owe this mostly to myself so I allow me to feel a little proud.
At least I dream of a better world - I wait for it to show itself around the next corner. I’m always waiting. Always available to be let down, that is.
The early evening darkness of the season feels uncomfortable, unpleasant even, but it also feels like a magical blanket wrapping up the world around me. This reminds me of the time when I really was a little girl and for a moment the world shines like it shone then. I listen to songs about pumpkin drums and clouds as fluffy parachute sales, dream stations where journeys seem like they will last forever and sandcastles by the sea where one lives with their friends, and it makes so much sense it almost worries me.
Where the hell am I from then?
Or something like that.
And as I walk on with my discman, music in my ears and colourful images in my head I picture a world around me - the world I come from. Transparent, crystal clear, precious in the way only a home town can be and completely invisible to mostly everyone. I am most thankful for its strange, enchanted existence, and I would like to do something for it - something great and beautiful, something that would show the world what it's like where I come from and would make real life a better place.
And then maybe I could say things in the world are alright. Maybe.
But I don't know what to do, so I've come to ask you.
The Long Lost Diary Of Miss S L Gleaden
The Story So Far...
The diary of Miss S L Gleaden had peacefully travelled the world with the dippy but loveable adventurer. Its life had been interesting and slightly unpredictable, but no matter where it was S L Gleaden provided a safe corner in her rucksack. Until that is, fate insisted that the pair should part company, catapulting the diary into a whirlwind of bizarre and slightly random situations. As a result of these events the diary washed up on the shores of a small town in the long forgotten county of Cumbria. Locals were impressed by the story contained within, not to mention the book's ability to wash up on the shores of a landlocked town, and after many hours were able to track down the explorer herself and made sure that the book returned to her but not before they had read it from cover to cover of course…
When we last left the diary of miss S L Gleaden it was being snatched from the window of the english nurse Rosemary Hill. But before we find out how this event lead the reunion between the diary and Miss S L Gleaden, or what the Cumbrian Locals have been up to recently, or what happens to Miss S L Gleaden and her faithful sidekick I and E, I think it might be wise to take a look at the events that unfolded later on in the small flat of the English nurse Miss Rosemary Hill...
Rosemary Hill was unsurprised that forensic officers found that the only fingerprints found at the scene of the crime were those of herself, and the profusely clumsy police officer sent to deal with the theft. Bill Deope, the police officer in question had charged into the investigation with the enthusiasm of a lovable but clumsy Labrador. In the process he had knocked over two pot plants, broken Rosemary's treasured antique coffee table, and completely destroyed any evidence that could have lead to the arrest of the criminal mastermind who had stolen Rosemary Hill's handbag. He then forlornly told Rosemary that she shouldn't hold out much hope that she would be unlikely to ever see her handbag or its contents again and left her to clear up the chaos he had created.
If there is one thing that anyone close to Rosemary would know it would be the fact that when she had her mind set on something it would be incredibly unlikely that she would ever back down. The simple loss of the diary was not enough to prevent Rosemary from wanting to discover the fate of miss S L Gleaden. Sitting frowning on the settee she thought to herself:
"there is more than one way to skin a cat"
Which of course is true because according to current scientific research there are 13 different ways of skinning a cat.
"there is nothing for it I'll just have to track down the infamous S L Gleaden herself"
Rosemary consulted her medical dictionary for possible diseases which would allow her time off work. In the end she opted for chronic back pain and a slight case of flu. Upon ringing her supervisor she was told that hospital had quite enough ill people coming to it for free, without needing to employ more and she should stay well away until she was better.
With that out of the way Rosemary began the serious business of tracking down Miss S L Gleaden. She looked at the facts. It did not take long. There were not many. The girl she was looking for, came from England, could be in Burma, or Bangladesh or somewhere else entirely. She had slight criminal tendencys and a peculiar abilty to pack random, but entirely useful objects. Without further hesitation Rosemary consulted the all knowing, all seeing search engine google. After trawling through 609 un-useful search results rosemary was hit with a jolt of excitement as she found a small article taken from a the website of St Joseph's Secondary School:
…St Joseph's believes that the lessons learnt in the classroom are only a small fraction of a young adult's education. We aim to encourage independent learning at every opportunity which is why we wholeheartedly surported the work of one of our former pupils Miss S L Gleaden when she at the tender age of 14 she decided to revolutionise the timetabling of our lessons. By switching to a 25 our clock we were able to finish normal lessons by 2pm on a Thursday opening up a whole day for extra curricular activities. Her idea of painting the timetables pretty colours was also pretty good idea..
There was not a single doubt in Rosemary's mind that the 14 year old pupil was the explorer she was searching for. She noted the address of the school booked herself a flight then went to bed where she restlessly stared at the ceiling.
Meanwhile the diary was not too sad to part company with the petty thief who threw it into a hedge 28 miles from Rosemary hill's house.
"Sometimes it is hard to keep believing it will all work out in the end"
it thought to itself.
But of course for the diary it did.
To be continued...
Tales From The Front Line
"Quick! Oi! Wake up! That's me kid cryin'"
How did I get here, in some floozies flat in a rather notorious district of the city of Nottingham? I have no idea. Well, no, that would be a lie, or at least it would be stretching the truth. People who say they have no idea how they would up in the arms of the somewhat dubious 'other' often use alcohol as an excuse for the temporary loss of short term memory, but the fact of the matter is that people often have the slightest notion, a tiny inkling, of what went on the night before. I have suffered many so-called 'blackouts' (look kids- it's not big and it's not clever, ok?) and I have been, on occasion, more than grateful for said 'blackout', for they have leaden me with the perfect excuse for the implausibility of my apparent copulation with the rather lacklustre affair stealing the dirty sheets in the bed beside me. But the truth is, deep within the realms of what the less worldly call their unconscious, their subconscious or whatever, buried under layers and lashings of cheap whiskey and cheaper red wine, is the knowledge that I know full-well how I ended up in the bed of this other; It was lust, not for a particularly attractive girl, rather, just for ANY girl, any, as they say, female of the species. The human species that is. I mean, even I have to draw the line somewhere…
It all began when I realised that the tickets that I had to see Arab Strap (the band as opposed to the implement, or an Arab called 'Strap' for that matter- and why would I need tickets for any of those anyway?) coincided with the day that England would play their vital Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey. Now, for the less astute among us, this could present a problem, nay, a huge fucking dilemma. The Arab Strap gig started at 7.30. The England-Turkey match would be into it's final nerve-wracking 30 minutes. Moreover, the Arab Strap gig was in Nottingham- I live a full 20 miles from Nottingham. Problem? Ha! More like an opportunity to go drinking all day in Nottingham, watch the match in a city centre public house, then stagger our merry drunken way to the Arab Strap gig. I'm sure they would approve….
As, of course, did Bob, infamous padre, who constitutes the 'our' in our story. His wife, however, had other ideas:
"Come on, get that down yer neck!"