Becoming Ugly Dog

Coinciding with my return to Tweeville, my good friend, partner in procrastination and sometime-saviour Ugly Dog has taken a temporary leave of absence from Bardland to go and not-write his essays in the sunny skirts of our cousins across the Atlantic. Let’s hope they don’t notice. 

Some people miss their friends when they’re not around. For others, this approach is too passive, too clichéd. If your friend leaves town, their (and by ‘their’, I do mean ‘my’) logic goes, don’t get down about it, get creative: start replicating all their physical tics, their speech patterns, their reactions, until you’ve essentially assumed their identity. If you really want to go the extra mile, move in with their parents, show up to their job and start answering to their name. I’m fairly certain this is in no way illegal. Anyway, the idea is that you can’t miss them if you’ve become them. Or something. Rather, the idea would be that, if absorbing traits was something over which I had EVEN AN IOTA OF CONTROL.

Put simply: I unintentionally but increasingly sound and behave like my mutt friend, and it’s starting to unnerve people (not least me). Some changes those who know me may have noticed:

  • Every conversational turn begins with an exaggerated ‘SO…’
  • Conversational turns also frequently begin with extraordinarily general references to previously-identified shared interests: ‘SO….Game of Thrones, eh?’
  • Statements become questions by virtue of having ‘eh?’ stuck on the end, eh?
  • Alternatively, turns begin with questions relating to a previously-identified shared interest, which will bear no relevance to the former topic of conversation but will be made to sound like they do by the addition of ‘then?’ on the end: ‘SO…who’s your favourite Game of Thrones character, then?’
  • Conversational turns about shared interests will be rendered creepy by reference to personal information divulged at some point in the dim-and-distant past: ‘SO…Game of Thrones and Dr Who returning on the same weekend, eh? Going to need a new pair of trousers for that.’
  • Sentences become hopelessly divided by pauses and irregular emphases: ‘Going. to need. a new pair. of TROUSERS. for THAT.’ Sort of.
  • Acknowledgement of a statement’s creepiness and demonstration of pleasure in said creepiness is indicated by jutting the head forward with eyes bulging and lips pursed in the seconds afterwards. (This one goes down spectacularly well in office conditions)
  • Outrage (such as U.D. may feel while he reads this) is demonstrated by opening the mouth as wide as you can without unlocking your jaw. Teeth showing, no drawing back of the lips. 
  • Embarrassment (such as U.D. may feel while he reads this) is expressed the same way, but usually followed by a clasping of hands with arms at full length and a turning of the head into one of the shoulders. 
  • Any well-meaning advice such as ‘don’t get your sleeve in your coffee’, ‘don’t touch that radiator, you’ll get burnt’, etc. is usually responded to with ‘MAYBE I’D LIKE THAT.’ Followed by the bulgy-eyed, pursed-lips look. (Also a winner at the office)

Am I making my friend sound like a psychopath? Probably. Then again, making people close to him sound like they’re crazy is another of Ugly Dog’s particular talents, so this probably just marks my further absorption of his personality. By inverse logic, by the time U.D. comes back from America, he will probably be doing my victory dance and writing this blog.


There’s Something About the Mickums…

As suggested at the end of the last post, I am once again in Tweeville, newly enveloped in the slightly bewildering embrace of my family. The event seems to warrant a post of its own.

Mother Mickum has taken up yoga in my absence, and now depends on her family to provide her with a steady stream of Happy Thoughts, which she is required to summon in her weekly classes. Unfortunately for Mum, her family consists of me and Dad. Naturally, we think it’s bollocks. Last week, apparently, Dad sent her off with ‘to the caterpillar it’s the end of the world; to everyone else, it’s a butterfly.’ Which turns out to be a Richard Bach paraphrase, but hey: with a little work, Mickum philophosy could become a thing.

Papa Mickum continues to age magnificently, and while I’m yet to detect any brand new oddities, his habit of creating a tunnel over the landing by hanging sheets and towels over parallel bits of string is coming along nicely. By which I mean that he’s become very protective of it, and starts to snarl slightly if you suggest removing items. 

Mostly because I promised Ugly Dog I’d provide such a thing, but also because cataloguing my family’s quirks amuses me, I’ve prepared a brief, imprecise and incomplete guide to life with the Family Mickum.  Y’know, so that you might better understand our ways, and one day live amongst us (or at least get through 24 hours) without us turning you into one of the nervous people who cry all the time in our basement. One jests, of course – we don’t have a basement.

Tea is sacred. It arrives, whether you’ve asked for it or not, at whatever time Dad feels like every morning – usually while the rest of the house is unconscious. Walking to the kitchen with a cup of cold tea is a thing of great shame. Subsequent tea-making throughout the day is mandatorily social – there’s no such thing as a cup for one.

18:00 is booze o’clock. Its arrival looks something like this: 

If Aladdin is a wine bottle and the elephant is my mothe….let’s back away from that one.

‘Go teeps’ is a considerably more serious instruction than ‘Go the fuck to sleep’. 

Quotes from (or paraphrases of) The Wire account for about 60% of our means of expression. I’d like to say that we’ve all mastered the Baltimore accent, but that would be such a big lie it’s hardly worth telling. Withnail and I, Father Ted, Twenty Twelve, Coupling, Pride and Prejudice, Winnie the Pooh and pretty much anything directed by the Coens are also frequently referenced. 

News is sacred. It shall be watched at least four times a day. Interruptions, even the fourth time round, will be admonished with the Waggly Finger.

The appearance, or even mention, of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to be accompanied by loud ‘squelch!’ noises, to acknowledge the fact that the man gives off the air of an infant who’s particularly proud of the most recently produced contents of his nappy. I never imagined this blog would ever link to the Mirror’s website, but to gain a better idea of what I’m talking about follow this link and scroll to the second image.

Mum always has four potatoes. At mealtimes, that is, not just generally – that would be weird even for us. Everyone else’s portion has to be calculated according to this. She eats other stuff too, I hasten to add (‘Father/daughter pair arrested for cruel starvation of loving mother’), but potatoes, when on offer, shall number four. 

Post-dinner chocolate is to be placed in front of dad’s ‘box’ by whoever has been assisting the washer-up. The chocolate is then distributed by Father Mickum, who hurls pieces across the room at other family members with the aim of getting them to land and rest perfectly on our stomachs. Unfortunately, his aim is often far from precise.

Books are sacred. We do not give them away, we do not destroy them, and if we lend them out and they are returned to us in less than pristine condition, we will hunt down the perpetrators and…the basement thing. Sans basement. (If we had a basement, it would be full of books, just like every other disused part of our house, and most of the used parts too.)

Although it deserves another mention as a substantial part of our subculture, I don’t really want to explain the trouser thing again.  

Are You There Internet? It’s Me, Mickum.


It’s been quite a while. It’s been quite a semester. A summary? Argh, you are so demanding…go on then…Remember those essays?

Essay 1: ‘Er, yes. Sorry, did you want me to elaborate? Yes, but it’s not always a good thing.’ Essay 2: ‘Sex is kinda deathy, apart from when it’s not, and maybe it’s actually weirder when it’s not…SEX.’ Essay 3: ‘I like fairies and want Shakespeare to be my dad, lalalalala.’

A Very Mickum Christmas, December 24th. 2012.

Those essays? I ended up doing spectacularly on them, if I say so myself – spectacularly enough to have coasted through most of the second semester in their glow, right up to the present, where I am, once again, staring down three essays, on which I am, once again, nowhere. Essay 1: Demons are everywhere, or do we just think they are, or are they because we think they are? Essay 2: History happens, sometimes people write plays about it but make bits up to make it exciting and funny. Essay 3: Puck is sexy, let me write about my sexy, sexy Puck. I’ll mention porn, promise. 

So much for that. There have also been some difficult decisions (my quest to become Dr Mickum will have to wait a while); another loss about which I am utterly unqualified to write; many, many theatre visits; a few afternoons of painting bits of tree purple (yes, really); a couple of birthdays; a couple of utterly unmanageable but incredibly fun birthday projects (creating a graph on which every line of Cymbeline is represented by 2x15mm of canvas inked by gel pen according to speaker was particularly insane); a frightening week in which Mickum ran out of money for food; a few fairly stunning revelations (good and bad); a remarkably messy affair, and a train journey home filled with raucous football fans and one irritated internationally renowned academic. I considered telling him about train crotching, but then remembered that eugenics is not the natural successor to irritation for everyone, and I wouldn’t want to begin my academic career under the heavy disapproval of someone who had witnessed me forcibly sterilize half the supporters of Wankerham FC. 

That’s the last couple of months and, for the time being, that’s all you’re getting of them. They’re mostly way more exciting when condensed into single clauses. With essays pressing and the Family Mickum reunited, I imagine the present will more than make up for my past absence.

A New Year Nightmare

So. Dad got a new pair of trousers for Christmas. Considering my pre-Christmas post, I almost wish I was joking. Almost.

I was going to write about how I don’t live in the lala-land of fleetingly earnest commitment to life-enriching goals to I have no real intention/chance of sticking. ‘I will give up wine and do yoga and achieve a Higher Serenity’, etc, etc. I am not a serene person, nor am I about to be bendy or teetotal. Anyway: I was gearing up to be snide and scathing (tautology, Mickum, tut), but in the event have found that I’m just too…happy. Bleurgh. I know, I’m still in the process of getting over my own feelings of disappointment and revulsion. Before anybody becomes too concerned, I am a couple of glasses of the red stuff down.

Ok, fine, I’ll give pessimism a go. Maybe by this time next year I’ll have stumbled over the precipice of despair, having been banished from Bardland into beyond the middle of nowhere with nobody but cockroaches and a sex-starved Tory cabinet for company. Across the never-ending wastes (the ones beneath the precipice: there’s a multi-layered thing going on here, keep up!) I’ll shuffle, having to always keep one step ahead of the gyrating Eton set and one eye on the armored turds scuttling around my feet. I’ll be forced to live on pureed courgettes and aubergines, and there’ll be no fresh trousers. Every so often, burning tatters of Shakespearean verse will descend from the place where the heavens would be if such salvation were available, yet none of these missiles will take out a Tory, and the only soundtrack to my existence will be my mother’s voice insisting, ‘what you need to do is…’ without cessation or any promise of relief. After a few months, I might even begin to find the cockroaches attractive. 

Basically, whatever happens 2013, I can be pretty certain it won’t be that. And that makes it ok by me.

So this is Great Britain…

Tory Britain presents to you the new entertainment show for the post-health service era: Ready, Steady, Cut!

  • Two pairs will be presented with a bag of implements/objects accrued from an ordinary household, side street, weapons factory, etc. 
  • The teams will also be supplied with a patient each.
  • In the time provided, they must try to save the life of their patient using the tools at their disposal. 
  • The team whose patient is least dead by the end of the show wins.

(Never a dull moment around the Mickum table at Christmas.)

A Very Mickum Christmas

In a fit of festive whatever, I decided to blog twice today. I have 10,000 words to write in the next two weeks: this may also have something to do with it. Essay 1: ‘Er, yes. Sorry, did you want me to elaborate? Yes, but it’s not always a good thing.’ Essay 2: ‘Sex is kinda deathy, apart from when it’s not, and maybe it’s actually weirder when it’s not…SEX.’ Essay 3: ‘I like fairies and want Shakespeare to be my dad, lalalalala.’

I always prefer Christmas Eve to the day itself, but this is the second year in a row I’ve had to work at least part of the day. Boo, hiss. Only this morning, while my mother makes pie down in the kitchen believing her daughter to be busy solving Shakespeare, I am instead putting more details of our family’s oddness on the internet.* She’s so proud of me, you know…

On Saturday, Dad and I travelled north to pay a pre-Christmas visit to my Gran. It was not a day we were looking forward to for a number of reasons, not least because it’s quite a difficult journey to do by public transport. The early stages of the day ran thusly: up at 6:20; leave the house 6:50; squelch along to the bus stop in the rain. Wait for bus. Wait for bus. Wonder ‘Where the fuck is bus?’ Wait some more, with the contents of various stomachs (well, mine and Dad’s) starting to curdle in panic (we’re not usually so easily flustered, but there aren’t too many opportunities to get out of Tweeville, particularly three days before Christmas, and we had a number of connections to make). Get on bus when it finally shows up, trying to keep some kind of lid on the ‘What fucking time do you call this?’ face. Get to station with five minutes to spare. Buy tickets with fewer minutes to spare. Run across the bridge to the far platform in the style of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, taking it in turns to hum the theme tune and do the narration. Feel thankful for absence of most of the world from Tweeville station at 7:40 on a Saturday morning (it was a little more embarrassing when we did it later in the day through a city centre). Get to platform seconds before the train arrives and, in keeping with family tradition on occasions of high stress, ask: ‘Did you bring spare trousers today?’

(It’s worth mentioning, maybe: as a family, we have something of a fixation with trousers and their contents. It’s as dodgy as it sounds. Also, to be clear, no family member’s stomach has curdled to the extent where a change of trousers has actually become necessary for a very, very long time.)

(When I say ‘contents’ ^^, I do mean front and back, as it were. We’re just as interested in rear produce at times of fear and stress as we are in forward matter, exaggerated or otherwise, in moments of supreme confidence/arrogance.)

Later on the journey, we came up with the soon-to-be international phenomenon of train crotching. ‘What is train crotching,’ I hear you ask? Train crotching is the highly precise art of standing on the edge of a platform as a train comes in and pushing forward your crotch so that it delicately grazes the train as it passes. Obviously while a flock of people film your effort. Closely related, the associated phenomenon of train licking. Dad said I probably shouldn’t say anything about train crotching on the internet because someone out there would probably give it a go. I said that I feel comfortable blogging about it and letting natural selection run its course. Incidentally, before writing this blog I googled ‘train crotching’ just to check that it isn’t already a thing. One of the results my search returned was this video, which I kinda wish I’d never seen.

Yesterday afternoon, the parents and I went to see The Hobbit. I won’t go on about how awesome it is. Instead, I’ll write about this trailer for Pacific Rim. It kinda unsettles me, as does the trailer for The Impossible, and certain sequences in Happy Feet. And that bit in The Snowman with the whale. And whenever I’m zoomed in on Google Earth and pan over an ocean and there are deep bits that look really dark and I keep panning expecting to find land but because oceans are really big it takes ages and I start to freak out. Anyway. The bit where the token tough, emotive black guy says something about canceling the apocalypse inspired this conversation amongst the Family Mickum:

Mum: Dear God, I don’t think there can be trousers in the world big enough for watching this film…

Me: These are my APOCALYPSE-CANCELING trousers!

Dad: Yes! I think you’ll find that nothing’s escaping these trousers!

There really is no way I can claim to be adopted – this sort of thing (yes, yes I do mean unhealthy trouser-concern) is genetic.

And on that note: the very best of Christmases to you all, and may your trousers successfully expand to meet the gastronomic challenges ahead. 

*So you know, I thought about making some kind of pun out of Mum making pie and being occupied, but I didn’t have the heart. Just wanted it to be known that I recognised the potential was there. 

Welcome to the House of Fun (Oh Christ, where did the exits go?)

When people meet my parents, they usually say it explains a lot. We definitely come from the same bucket of crazy, and around Christmas that bucket overfloweth once we’re back in each other’s company. While apart, the Family Mickum depends on the established weird of years past, but together new weird just keeps falling down the chimney. It actually could – we’ve had a gaping hole in place of a fireplace ever since we discovered shortly after moving in (thirteen years ago) that the original heater was about to explode all over the living room. Thirteen years ago. It’s just never been a priority. 

If you’re not put off by the Hellmouth at one end of the room and the demonic Christmas tree currently in residence at the other, the house is still a relatively strange place to be. One of the sofas is referred to as my Dad’s ‘box’. Where he curls up to ‘go teeps’, which I thought was a universal way of referring to sleep until I realized nobody outside the family had a single solitary clue what I was talking about. This revelation may have arrived later in life than I care to admit. Anyway: there is genuine outrage if anybody else sits in the box, although Dad does, very occasionally, extend invitations to come join him in the box. This is nowhere near as creepy as I’ve just made it sound: he normally wants us to look at some paintings he’s found or watch a music video he thinks is particularly interesting. Then we’re dismissed from the box – it’s not the place for idle chitchat, nor is Dad really the person for it.

Elsewhere, in the hall you might come across the ‘Resting Ones’. Basically, shoes Dad wore for many a moon until they started falling apart, but refuses to throw away for sentimental reasons. So they linger on in a row between the hall cupboard and the kitchen, with false hopes of one day being called back into service. Upstairs on the landing, beware the ‘Immortals’. In a refreshing change to the majority of our house’s oddities, Mum’s more responsible for these than Dad. The Immortals lurk at the bottom of the laundry basket. They have been there possibly as long as we’ve had the laundry basket. No family member will swear to them not being there when we moved house: it certainly seems unlikely that any of us would have dared to stir them from their sleep for purposes of more efficient packing. The Immortals, legend has it, were once noble clothes in (mainly) Mum’s wardrobe. But they grew proud, and started making tyrannical demands like ‘handwash only’, ‘reshape while damp’, and ‘dry flat’. Evidently, Mum just didn’t like them enough to put up with that shit: they were consigned to the wicker pit, where they have silently moldered ever since. Many times we have discussed annihilating them, but as of yet none of us have been prepared to face their wrath.

In other news, I’m super-excited that Emer’s planning to spend NYE with us. I suspect Emer may now feel differently. Just stick to the marked walkways and keep your limbs within the safety cage at all times, Emer – you’ll be fine.

The Little List of Horrors

So…at some point before the end of term, I got myself addicted to Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, and on this basis, plus the fact that I remember loving Fearless, decided to download Red. Gah. Now, I still believe Fearless is a pretty good album. Definitely more pop than the country label T-Swift likes to market under, but still fairly solid. Put another way, I never felt embarrassed listening to Fearless. I definitely do with Red. Unfortunately, I’ve become hopelessly, irredeemably hooked on the sugariest, crappiest song on the album, ‘Stay Stay Stay’. ‘Give us some lyrics, Mickum!’ I hear you cry. But of course:

Stay stay stay,

I’ve been loving you for quite some time time time,

You think that it’s funny when I’m mad mad mad

But I think that it’s best if we both stay.

Oh, the poetry. Doesn’t it make you SHIVER? Anyway, I managed to mildly appall Emer by playing this repeatedly (I redeemed myself somewhat by dancing along like a prat), before eventually making her as addicted to it as I am, to Sebastian’s great distaste, along with that of just about everyone else we know. We know it’s terrible. Really, WE KNOW. But, like Cersei and her monstrous offspring, we can’t help loving it anyway.

This unfortunate turn of events has prompted me, with enthusiastic encouragement from Emer and a kind of glazed horror from Sebastian, to put together a list of the songs I can’t help loving, despite awareness of their inherent crap factor. It’s actually been a difficult task. Anything that had a whiff of quality about it was out, so I found myself thinking, ‘I’m fairly certain this is bad, but maybe it’s actually good, I’ve lost all ability to make a judgement call…’ quite a lot. Similarly, anything undeniably craptastic that I keep in my iTunes for irony’s sake (whatever that means) but am not actually that fond of had to go. Oh, that was another rule – the tracks had to come from my existing music collection, no scouring the internet for suggestions, etc.

I won’t lie, the resulting list looked a little different before I got home, saw all my old CDs piled up in my bedroom (still painted the same sickly shade of purple I wanted back when I bought half the albums on the shelf…) and remembered some of the shite I used to love. I’m in danger of breaking my honesty rule here: I still love this stuff. 

All list items are hyperlinked for your pleasure/torture.

1) Natasha Bedingfield – Strip Me

‘Lalalalalala, lala, lala, lala’. So fricking corny, but I would quite like it playing over the credits to the movie of my life. Too bad Morning Glory (who the hell called a film this?) got there first.

2) Taylor Swift – Stay Stay Stay

Covered it, really. More lyrics? Go on then:

I just like hanging out with you all the ti-i-ime.

All those times that you didn’t leave

It’s been occurring to me

I’d like to hang out with you for my whole li-i-i-ife…

3) Cheryl Cole – Fight for This Love

I feel like by buying this I in some way condoned the endless attention-seeking of vacuous media harlots everywhere. I’m not even sorry.

4) Anastacia – Paid My Dues

Alternatively titled ‘FEEL MY ANGST, FEEL IT!’ 

5) Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

Yeah yeah, we all know it’s shocking but addictive. I can’t always manage originality in my vices.

 6) Amy Studt – Ladder in My Tights 

To be honest, practically everything from her album False Smiles would have fitted the bill, but this takes it just for the appropriately silly title. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, shoobydoobydoo’, indeed. Like I’m not singing along.

7) Train – Drive By


8) Avril Lavigne – Nobody’s Fool

A sound dose of ‘la la la la la la la la’, teen rapping, the phrase ‘I’m for real’ – it truly has it all.

9) Daisy Dares You – Number One Enemy

More teen angst here. But I can jump around my living room to it with all the joy that comes from participating in the truly ridiculous.

10) One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

Another predictable entry to finish. I so, so badly wanted to hate this. I failed.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously the relative crappiness of any piece of music is highly subjective and however strongly worded any of the above may be, it remains my personal opinion rather than any claim to be fact – even if I use terms that make it seem like I’m claiming objectivity either out of sloppiness or for (hopefully) humorous effect. So, if this blog happens to have extended its readership beyond the three-or-so people I know check it from time to time and reaches someone who  feels I’ve ignorantly insulted a musical genius, please: no backlash. I’m only going to respect your right to disagree with me, which isn’t very exciting for anyone.

Home for the ‘Holidays’

In accordance with festive tradition, I have sacrificed all the delights of Bardland for a couple of weeks back home in Tweeville. Y’know, the place where people object to recycling bins being distributed by the council because they are ‘out of keeping’ with their faux-fifteenth-century eighteenth-century cottages. The same people have in the past suggested that they would be satisfied if the bins were wicker, which would start to bode ill for any visiting policemen in the area, if this were a more pretentious, middle-class and yet unfeasibly low-budget remake of The Wicker Man. Ahem. Anyway: being home is awesome, in that it has permitted me to temporarily relinquish all responsibility for my own welfare (thanks, parents!), and also awful, in that I am juggling an 8:30-5:00 working day with trying to prepare 10,000 words’ worth of essays, which leaves little time left over for anything enjoyable. 


I’m sorry, got a little bit possessed for a moment there. Presumably by the same fiendish energies that led me to create this Christmas tree:









Surprisingly enough, this isn’t exactly how it looks in reality. Or rather, it is, minus the red tint and blood running down my walls. Accurate representation? Oh, fine:









This looks a little less Paranormal Activity, little more Nightmare Before Christmas. Seriously, if you treat the bit of black tinsel as a mouth, it’s basically Oogie Boogie. At least two people have backed me up on this.

Anyway, since I haven’t updated much recently (either because I was staggering around Bardland in a near-permanent drunken haze or slaving away in the office depressingly sober), expect a few posts (i.e. at least one) relating to the last week in Bardland. Possibly featuring Emer, Sebastian, Ugly Dog and Sexy Wolf, depending on what I can remember.

Also, completely unrelated to anything else, but: DEAR GOD, final episode of Forbrydelsen (The Killing, to anyone who’s not pretentiously insisting on using the Danish title) was tense, wasn’t it?

Also also, this post was written in a Costa outlet while a song with the lyric ‘it’s only a winter’s tale’ played on the system WHILE I HAD MY COPY OF THE WINTER’S TALE ON THE TABLE. Co-inki-dink? I THINK NOT. Ahem. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that third gingerbread latte…

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom…

So: as I covered in my most recent post, the last couple of weeks have been pretty grim. Grim but not utterly humorless, thanks in no small part to my excellent friends in Bardland who have done everything in their power to keep my spirits up. Sometimes even without realising. Here (in no particular order) are a few things you may have missed (or, you know, not): 

Ugly Dog. No, I haven’t started using grief as an excuse to pass comment on other people’s pets. Although God knows, some people could do with being disillusioned…But no: in another stunning demonstration of his sense of self-worth, Louis, in response to the news that Dave had asked to be known as Sexy Wolf to my readership of two, has requested to be referred to as Ugly Dog. Far be it from me to deny him his wish.

Sebastian. For reasons now vaguely lost, I decided at some point that Emer’s boyfriend James (who has not given any permission whatsoever to be written about here) is my long-lost twin, and have started referring to him as Sebastian accordingly. Bless him, he went away and looked up Twelfth Night on Wikipedia, so was able to point out that this would make Emer Olivia…which means she thinks I’m a man….which is kinda awkward. It certainly puts that sleepover we had a while back in a whole new light. Anyway, James still seems to get slightly unnerved when I ask questions like, ‘Have you ever noticed an older guy following you around everywhere and taking a more than healthy interest in the contents of your trousers?’ I guess this is fairly reasonable, but also see it as mission accomplished.*

Dragons are cows. What? Oh, fine, I’ll explain. I was having a conversation with Claude last week, and somehow we got onto the topic of dragons, and how people should really take more heed of the threat they pose. We played around with the idea of a new arms race in which different factions are locked in competition to produce the biggest dragons. Then one of us had an unusually lucid moment and pointed out that you don’t see many dragons about. The other (I like to think this was me) pointed out that they’re probably disguising themselves as cows. Straightforward enough. We also somehow decided that Shakespeare was probably a dragon, and therefore a cow, and he was also almost certainly the Prophet, who would also then be a dragon, and a cow…at this point we realized we were possibly running into dangerous territory, and decided to steer the conversation into waters that were less likely to accidentally end up causing some sort of international outcry. Ponder this, though: it seems very likely that the line ‘Sometime we see a cloud that’s dragonish’ (Antony and Cleopatra, IV.xiv.2) has suffered a terrible error in transcription, and should surely read ‘Sometime we see a COW…’ Someone tell the Oxford editors, quick!**

Hedgehogs. I wish I could say more, I really do. If it’s any consolation, Emer and I find the thing(s) I’m not telling you about HILARIOUS. As does everyone else we’ve shared it(/them) with in the real(ish) world where we live (most of the time). Guess you guys will just have to wait until one or more of the people it involves are safely decomposing. (Death joke already, Mickum? In fairness, I never really stopped – the night I learnt Aunt C was passing, all I could think of was the episode of Coupling with Jane’s dead aunt ( and how nobody was going to be willing to ‘play Reservoir Dogs’ with me at the funeral. I comfort myself with the thought that she would probably have found that amusing.)

*This is not the first time I’ve freaked someone out with a Twelfth Night/twin thing. I’ll come back to that. 

**FYI: no, I don’t do any drugs. Well, apart from alcohol. But that doesn’t usually do anything more than make me go red and giggly for a bit before it sends me to sleep…