HAPPY HEALTHY NORMAL

TOM OFFLAND'S POORLY WRITTEN AND INFREQUENTLY UPDATED BLOG.

WALK LIKE YOU’RE LATE

One night in America, somewhere outside of Yosemite, we had been kicked out of a folk rock festival at a gas station after it had closed its shutters and refused to sell us beer and we were walking down the side of a highway and there were no lights anywhere and there were black mountains behind us and a black desert before us and we stopped in the long grass to piss and talked about snakes and an eighteen wheeler screamed past roaring and blinding us with its headlights and Tom said he was thinking about hitchhiking then and there on the side of the road and never coming back and later, in the town, there were clouds of moths above the street lights, thousands of them, and on a shop front, hundreds more, crawling over each other trying to get to a blue neon light and we stood there scooping them up in our hands.

NOVA SCOTIA ADDRESS BOOK

In my dream, I am in the magazine aisle of a petrol station and there is this bright, syrup coloured light glaring through in cloudy slats between the window blinds and I am telling the store assistant that lately I can’t shake the feeling that I am dreaming and the store assistant is ordering and reordering magazines and turning to look at me now and then.

Do you feel like that now? He asks, half committedly.

And in my dream, as if in answer, I look around at the white and yellow glowing linoleum tiles and at the drooping ventilation pipes and the steel baskets and grey framed doors and there is a sad distance in everything, a defeat, as though everything that existed was unconvinced of its existence, or worse, indifferent to its existence and in everything that doubt and unreality and emptiness was something tangible and observed and it was like looking through steam or into shallow, soapy water.

POLICE GHOST HUNT 1976

Chislehurst caves are owned by mushroom growers. They were tunnelled into the chalk by druids and saxons and mediaeval flint knappers and soldiers from the first and second world wars. We are two hundred metres underground and it is warm and dark and dry. Above ground there are hailstones and water is surging into storm drains. I am imagining a hundred thousand mushrooms growing in the dark. And druids, in dirty robes, crawling through the chalk.

POLICE GHOST HUNT 1976 is carved into a cave wall. There are smooth, black fists of flint buried in the white chalk. They are strange and wet looking and like black sea anemones or black fruit or black peepholes burrowed in the rock.

At the sacrificial druid altar the tour guide hides in an adjacent tunnel and strikes a gong. Beside the haunted pool he describes a police officer staying up all night in the darkness and hearing something breathing behind his head and being too terrified to turn around.

On the Thames clipper, riding the black water, we hear something breathing behind our heads and are too drunk to turn around. It is the sound of the boat engines heaving or of the ticket collector wheezing in a Glaswegian accent and sidling forth towards us to coerce our fares.

There is so much space in the millennium dome they attempt to fill it with yellow cranes and drum and bass. It is on the riverside, on the reclaimed docks, the colour of wet tissues and spined with antennae as though it were beaming electronic music into the outer atmosphere for the space stations and lonely, soundless solo missions.

In Chislehurst caves, by the sacrificial druid altar, the tour guide evokes the fever of the last lost god of late Chicago house and he is simulating a Roland TR-808 drum machine with his voice and his hands and the flint and the chalk and he is smashing our paraffin lanterns and the air feels warmer and wetter and the sound is unbearably loud and we are all struck by the same vision that we are drying our hair in the bathroom mirror and behind us there is only the colour cyan and it is everything and going on forever.

Courgette Chips

She walked up to the table and said: “Did someone wearing a green scarf order courgette chips?”

And I was wearing a green scarf.

And everyone was looking at me.

Each little curl of pasta is a prayer

Dreamt that we were drinking in a pub and there were these sort of playing cards arranged in frames above the bar and the cards were the size of paperback novels and they were illustrated like tarot cards and pub signs and strange, green tinted caricatures and each card had a name and a meaning and a history and role in the game the entire crowded pub was playing.

At the centre of the pub, in a clearing of tables, the landlord stood and gestured with a stick.

“Johnson Skeleton” the landlord announced, pointing to the first card.

“He’s a liar!” everybody screamed.

“Karaoke Doctor” the landlord announced, pointing to the second card.

“He’s a liar!” everybody screamed.

“Herbal Man” the landlord announced, pointing to the third card.

“He’s a liar!” everybody screamed.

And every time the crowd screamed they got louder and louder and eventually they stood up off their chairs and dropped their pint glasses and pushed against their tables and they were spitting with anger and they were choking with tears and everybody knew that it wasn’t really a game.

I am the thames tidal barrier

Wales and Sharks

Rain thrashing on Barry Island. Tokens are a currency in the amusement arcades. The grey sea. Abandoned cloakrooms. Concrete columns curving towards the headland. Katy is holding a candy stick in her mouth. Drawing on it like a cigarette.

We are drinking by a haunted mountain. It has cragged skeleton eyes and the words LOG FLUME printed on its slopes. Advertisement banners for Christmas catering events are torn to pieces and wire-tied to the railings and fluttering in the wind.

We are drinking below a QUASAR. And adjoined to an a la carte restaurant. In the toilets there are footsteps pounding on the ceiling. The sounds of QUASAR and the sounds of ghosts descending from the haunted mountain.

Flooded country on the rails back to Cardiff. Sleeping on the train.

Animatronic woolly mammoths in the National Museum Wales. Moving like they’re being electrocuted. Their dirty red hair rotting and their strange voices playing from concealed speakers. Katy reaching out to touch their tusks.

A basking shark hanging above the wild fowl display. It’s mouth wide enough to climb inside. Basking sharks live their lives wearing an expression of amazement. Enthralled by the murky wonder of the underwater world.

We are stopped at the barrage by the edge of the sea. All of Cardiff is out walking through the docklands. The sun is setting over the bay. It is the end of the first day of sunshine. There are these giant cormorants lined up on a balustrade. And marks like fossils in the paving stones.

Mud Flats

Somehow, I managed to get my story accepted into the noncanon press quarterly!? Amazing! 

Idea

In my dream I was supposed to help Laurence with a business idea and I said I didn’t write ideas down. And we all sat together and tried to think of an idea.