Journal Entries

What to do if you are not you

The first thing you should do if you find out that you are not you is to find out who, if not you, you are.
The second thing you should do if you find out that you are not you, and you have failed to find out who you are is to find out if someone else is you. If someone else is you then this may be why you couldn't find out who you are, because someone else is you. If you find out that someone else is you then you must confront that person and make them be someone else so that you can once again be you.
The third thing you should do if you find out that you are not you, and you have failed to find out who you are and you are sure that no-one else is you is find out who you would like to be, if you can't any longer be you. Then you can become this person who you would like to be. However, this does mean that the person you will become will now no longer be him or her and will then have to become someone else.
The fourth thing you should do if you find out that you are not you, and you have failed to find out who you are and are sure that no-one else is you and can't find anyone you'd rather be is to accept that you are and will ever be a nobody, not you, and not somebody else. Just .
The best thing to do therefore is to never be anyone but you, and then you will never have to worry about what you would have to do if you weren't.

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Latest reply: Apr 19, 2006

Toast and butterflies

We are all aware that of all the great inventions to appear in the latter part of the second millennium the toaster must rank at least in the top few thousand. We only need to look back at the horrors of the crusades to realise what life would be like without the toaster. Would Jerusalem have fallen if the defenders could have had a couple of slices of hot buttered toast in the morning? I think we all know the answer to that one, don't we?

So yes, we know the toaster is great. but what is perhaps less known about this technological marvel is it's parallel in the natural world. For while the toaster has been in existence for, relatively speaking (I leave it to your own imagination to provide something to be relative to, I can't do everything for you, you know), only a very short while the inspiration for it has been around for many thousands of years, just waiting for the right person to see, and know. And finally that person did, and the toaster was born.

And if you yourself have not yet seen the reason for the toaster's birth then I shall enlighten you, for that's the kind of guy I am. Think of me as your (living) spirit guide. If you are reading this after I am dead (and I expect you to check) then you can think of me as just a normal, everyday, though slightly less than averagely Native American spirit guide. The toaster is a chrysalis.

I apologise for the bluntness of that revelation. I accept that there will be those amongst you who were not prepared for such a shock and you may need time to adjust. If that's you then please feel free to step outside for a moment, take some deep breaths (if you live near Chernobyl take much shallower breaths, or just use your gills) and compose yourself, I'll still be here when you're ready. I'm very patient.

Yes. I know. It's obvious now you can see it. First there is bread, the caterpillar, useful and functional in its own right but without great beauty.

Then, when the time is right, the bread/caterpillar enters the toaster/chrysalis and time passes. Who knows what occurs in that confined and secret space? All we can do is wait, hope, and see what we shall see.

Later, in it's own time (providing you avoid the cancel button) the chrysalis opens, the toast pops up, and an entirely new entity is revealed in all its glory. Where before there was functionality, mere existence, there is now beauty, glory, gracefulness. In all the colours of the rainbow (but mostly brown) the butterfly/toast takes flight, into the sky and into the imagination. An ugly caterpillar no more.

So my thanks go out to that unknown person who finally saw what was always there, and gave me toast.

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Latest reply: Feb 2, 2006

Follow-up to Fenceposts

It seems that I was wrong. Well, not wrong, perhaps just not as right as I could have been. It would appear that my research was not quite as thorough and my list not as comprehensive as I had hoped. I am referring of course to the overwhelming amount of mail (e- and snail) I have received concerning an article I posted some months ago entitled ‘Fence-posts’. The aim for that article, as those of you who have read it (a hearty thank-you to all four of you) will know, was to produce a (near as dammit) definitive list of possible fence-post uses. It is a recycling age we are living in now, nothing is sacrosanct. In this respect it would appear that I have failed as I have received literally dozens of suggestions that somehow slipped through my net the first time. So, for all of you that have written to me, and especially for all those that meant to, but haven’t got round to it yet, I present part two of the definitive fence-post uses list. Read, learn, and enjoy.

No.7. A clock. Yes that’s right. With nothing more than a fence-post and some ground (available right outside your door, right now) you can create a primitive but still effective clock. Just insert the pointed end of your fence-post into the ground with the shaft aiming upwards and watch the time drift by. Not only does your fence-post clock keep a reasonably accurate tally of the hours in daytime (as long as your expectations weren’t high) but it will also tell you when it is night time as well (that’s when you can’t find your clock). Don’t get worried if you can’t hear it tick, remember your clock is only a stick.

A big thank you to Mr. G. Eves from Worcestershire for that suggestion. I especially liked the scented envelope. Sour cream and chives was it not?

No.8. A tiny maypole. Is it May already? Are you uncommonly small? Can’t get a pole for love nor money? Fear not my vertically challenged friend, just grab yourself a fence-post and scare up some coloured ribbon (an old kite or a multi-hued doorway-hung fly confounder is good for this) and within minutes, or hours if you need to get a ladder, you have a fully functional and adequately undersized maypole ready and raring for action. Get the lads round, get the beers in and let’s dance!

Eric Moore of Cambridge, and R. Nee of Essex both got wise to that one. Thanks for the heads up lads.

No.9. An arbitrary device for measurement of distances and heights. Should you ever be fortunate enough to delve deep into the lush jungles of Borneo or the Amazon there is always the chance of discovering some lost tribe of natives who (besides needing directions) will not be aware of our civilised weights and measures system (though hopefully will at least speak passable English). It is no use explaining to these people that London is 8000 miles away. For one thing you’d be wrong, but more importantly they wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about. No, what you need is some more easily demonstrable way of showing distance. Enter the fence-post, stage left. “I am two fence-posts away from you, and Hopscachewuchewan is four fence-posts from that crocodile…two…one…toothpick?” Measurement and scale combined in one easy to carry multi-purpose tool, how far will your fence-post take you?

Thanks go out there to Messrs R. O’Neib and R. Kerr of Wiltshire for that, even if they did have the nerve to ask to be paid as researchers! And while we’re on the subject of money, Ronald E. Corr bet me five pounds I wouldn’t put his name down. That’s a fiver you owe me Ron!

No.10. A very bad joke. Not the kind of thing I normally indulge in but it gave me a surreptitious chuckle and it came with a very nice letter so I thought I really had to include it. It’s very specialised and really only attains any semblance of relevance if used when introducing relatives. You’re guiding your new boy/girlfriend around one of those tedious family gatherings to which we’re all subjected when you finally reach your mother’s least favourite sister, the one who drinks too much and smokes like a kipper, and who happens to be standing next to the drinks cabinet (there’s a surprise), which is fortuitously where you placed your fence-post earlier: “this is my cousin, this is my uncle, this is my auntie, and this is my…” No, I’m sorry, I couldn’t finish it, there are some puns that really shouldn’t see the cold harsh light of day. I’m sure we agree that this is one, yes?

Despite my wimping out I am extraordinarily grateful to Mrs. V. Crieves and Miss. B. Obmore, old timers from my part of the world who obviously know how to have fun. Thanks girls.

Well, that’s it for this time, though I really should apologise to all those whose suggestions I couldn’t put forward. Rest assured I do research all of your ideas and test them thoroughly for accuracy and possibility. At this point I must make mention of a certain M. P. Ithor. Not for monetary reasons this time though. I accept that your suggestion is possible Mr. Ithor, but for other reasons I can’t include it in this article, and anyway, what about splinters? Ouch!

Anyway, thank you for all your ideas, and should there be any other fence enthusiasts out there who spot something I have missed then please, keep me posted.

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Latest reply: Oct 22, 2005

Pink-purple pixie-elves

Pink-purple pixie-elves. Are they real? Do they exist? Can the millions of people around the world who stubbornly fail to continually report sightings of these increasingly mythical beasts really all be wrong? Much as I would love to be able to answer with an emphatic yes for to all of these questions, for the sake of journalistic integrity the answer must needs be no. Actually, even that can not even be correct. The true response to the questions posed above is more than just no. I’m afraid it’s no cubed.

And so, with such unpleasant and bubble-bursting pleasantries out of the way we move on. What, you may well not ask, with ill-disguised boredom (oh yes, I see you), is a pink-purple pixie elf? And I would congratulate you on the posing of such a pertinent question. Because with that you have, if you’ll pardon the expression, hit the nail right on the head (not good for the nail but bully for you). What is a pink-purple pixie-elf? A very good question, and one which brings the inevitable but still heart-breakingly disappointing response that of course, for starters, straight off the bat as it were: it’s not.

The pink-purple pixie-elf, in bitter confrontation with the standard laws of nomenclature, is not pink, or purple. It is neither pixie nor elf, and nor is it anything in between. And oh yes, of course, lest we forget: it’s not real. That’s the deal-clincher right there. That’s what takes the prize. They don’t exist. You can go through your cutlery drawer (that’s the drawer where you keep your cutlery, for those not in the know) with a fine-tooth comb and the Hubble Space Telescope and you won’t so much as catch a sniff. (Not with a telescope you won’t; wrong piece of kit for the job in hand is that. What you want is a nose.) And why won’t you find any pixie-elves? Because there aren’t any there, that’s why. You are looking, my fine but nose-less friend, in the wrong place.

Just you swing that enormous multi-million pound optical star-gazing device round through 180o and you might just give yourself a chance. That’s right. That’s where you want to be looking. If you’re after the enigma that is the pink-purple pixie-elf then you want to start off looking right inside your own head. That’s the natural habitat. That’s where they thrive. That’s the place to be. If you will insist on looking for something that doesn’t exist, your head’s the place to go.

Pink-purple pixie-elves, as you’ll discover when you finally spot one, are, in fact, as near to green in colour as you can get without actually leaving red behind. As I said, they aren’t pixies or elves and if you’re looking for something for a physical comparison then I’m afraid the closest I can give you is a heavily deformed camel with a very pronounced limp, an over-inflated ego, a very strong tail-wind and a speech impediment. If you happen to know of or (god forbid) own an animal that answer roughly to this description then what you may well have (apart from very bad luck) is a pink-purple pixie-elf which has escaped from your head. Threaten it with some amusing pasta shapes and see what happens. (What? Some people are that gullible.)

Awakening from their slumber for two hours between twelve and one o’ clock a pixie-elf’s day consists largely of setting up elaborate ambushes and lying in wait for bed-time before leaping suddenly and startlingly into a deep sleep. It is this extremely energetic lifestyle which keeps the pink-purple pixie-elf from falling happily into an eternal doze. Should you be gripped by the urge to trap a pixie-elf then you can do a lot worse than to try to tempt him (there are no female pink-purple pixie-elves, only males. No-one knows why, just one of life’s less important mysteries) with a hefty lump of snooze. The little beggars just can’t resist; gets them every time.

Of course, should you prove successful it would be entirely up to you what you do with your captive pixie-elf. It is however well worth remembering that whatever you decide you will never get it out of your head (pixie-elf, not decision). Dream about it; think about it; even fantasize about it if you wish (just please don’t tell me about it, weirdo) but your head is where that pixie-elf will stay. And why? Because that’s where they belong. That’s the little thing about pink-purple pixie-elves (other then the pixie-elves themselves, which are also little things). That’s what takes the prize you see; and that’s why they will never leave your head. They’re not real, you understand. They just plain don’t exist.

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Latest reply: Oct 7, 2005

They, One, The Other and Both.

When man was young and his ears were beautiful, long before the age of lobes. In a wondrous time of magic and mischief, when birds were birds and eggs were merely chicken shit there lived a boy. There lived a boy, and his friend. There was also a river, a fast, deep, wet, green river. There were fish in the river. They were cod. The boy didn’t know this, and nor did his friend, because they didn’t know their fish. Beautiful their ears may have been, but there was nothing but fluff between them. Like Pooh. With a ‘h’.

The boy was young, and maybe even younger. (At this remove it’s hard to tell. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and a lot of fish. Though the bridge came later, as may some of the fish.) His friend was the same, though slightly different. Both had parents, though he isn’t part of the tale. One of each set was a woman. In some respects little ever changes. Each mother, for so these women were, had only one child. One was the boy, and The Other was his friend. Though they lived near a river, neither of the boys could swim. They couldn’t swim, but they could sink like you wouldn’t believe. For these two boys of yesteryear, sinking was like an art form. Like Impressionism, but a bit more wet.

Early morning, Saturday, twenty-third of March. The boy and his friend were going for an early morning pre-breakfast sink, it was a ritual going back years. Each had two legs, and tended to follow The Other around, with a third strapped to his back in case of an emergency, though One had an extra finger. Inbreeding was common, and polydactyly was rife. Though evenly matched in height, weight, and inside leg the boy and his friend were as different as Each to the Other, and Each was very different. Just take a look at his legs. The Other lacked style, One lacked facial hair. It’s not uncommon, he was young. The Other’s facial hair was really from a goat anyway. Lies. Lies. Lies. They deserve capitals. Just like many (but not all) European countries.

To fill up space, the boys told each other stories. They also told Each stories, but only because he was there. The stories, sadly, were crap. When not telling crap stories or sinking the boys chased the sheep in the fields. Or hit each other with sticks (but this time not Each; it’s not cool to hit odd people with sticks) until One, or The Other became unconscious. When this happened, the conscious boy would drag The Other (or One, it depended on who fell first) to the river and drop him in. If he didn’t regain consciousness before he drowned then, then, as now, he died. The boys were tied at five deaths apiece; the sixth, Both knew (and he had told the boys, and I lied earlier) would be fatal.

It was on that sunny Saturday morn that the boys reached that mortal sixth death, together, in most tragically spectacular fashion. Butted into the river by an irate sheep seeking revenge, isn’t that the way it always happens? In a terrible chain of coincidences the boys had unwittingly made sport of the wrong sheep, a sheep that was already having a really bad day even before two young boys started to chase it round a field with sticks, and then, for the first, only, and last time beaten each other senseless with their uncaring sticks. Had just One been conscious (or The Other) when that sheep attacked they might have survived. He wasn‘t, and he wasn’t, and they didn’t. As They lay at the rivers edge he saw the two boys, One and The Other lying prone on the opposite bank. And he saw the sheep creep out from behind a shrub, with bloody murder in its heart (They could not see this; he inferred it from the following action. They had a penchant for grandiose exaggeration), and butt both boys into the fast, deep, wet, green river They, Both, One and The Other knew so well. It was over in seconds. They never stood a chance (Because they were unconscious, and because They couldn’t swim).

This is a story to show the folly of the recklessness of youth. Such disregard for danger, and such disrespect for sheep, as shown by those two boys back when man was young and his ears were beautiful resulted in two untimely deaths, one traumatic sighting (leading to a lucrative career in journalism), one friendless odd boy with three legs and one hugely satisfied but eternally damned sheep. The boys did not heed the lesson left ungiven by their mother, and they paid the highest price. I pray you heed the story told above. Don’t make the same mistakes as those two beautiful-eared sheep-harassing boys of yesteryear: learn your lessons well, and leave the sheep alone.

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Latest reply: Oct 7, 2005

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Geoff Regan

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"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

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