Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Keep calm and call batman

“Superheroes were born in the minds of people desperate to be rescued.” – Jodi Picoult
Trapped on the top floor of a hotel in Gotham City, forced to walk the ledge alone because the ‘sweet’ guy from the club you were just in decided to... pick you up, bang your head and throw you into the back of his truck. You awoke here, to the sound of heavy drums. Wait,  that’s just the the blood in your body pushing its way through the swollen vessels in your brain.

It’s freezing in here, and there’s a gross smell coming from the corner of rotting cabbage (at least you tell yourself it's cabbage). You fumble about the room in a drowsy frenzy. Your eyes unable to focus and your hands rummage around the floor. You are looking, searching for a way out. But, as your thick clumsy fingers glide across the cheap dusty- carpeted floor of this hotel room they encounter something slimy. Still warm and wet, it sends shivers down your spine. There’s a noise from the corridor, a droning sound of a man’s deep voice and the whimpers of a higher pitched voice. Your heart is in your mouth, racing. But... Then you see it a yellow colour lights up the room showing you the way to the curtains, you pull them back and peer out the window to see the night sky lit up by an illuminated yellow sign.

Your heart drops down to your gut and the voice in your head repeats: ‘Don’t fear my dear- Batman is here’. You make the lunge from the window to the ledge that connects you to all the other windows on this level. Just in time too. As your left foot departs from the shadow of the smokey room the key of the door twists in its lock. The cold night air hits your lungs and sends shock waves through your system. High above you on the opposite building you can see the caped crusader, a black figure standing strong against the largeness of the city; you know you will be safe now. You stand on the ledge of the building – exhilarated – waiting to be saved by your favourite superhero.

Super heroes, begin in the mind of the creator and grow in our imagination. Batman is one of the most realistic superheroes. He in fact does not adorn super powers. Instead he uses human intelligence in the form of technology and physical prowess to safe the citizens of Gotham City.  He leads a double life, and the people of Gotham City are left in awe as they wonder who Batman really is. His true identity lies with us. Bruce Wayne, son of a billionaire. As a child he watched his parents die in a gun-down in Gotham City and since then has fought to save the lives of those who need him most.

But where was Batman last Saturday Night when faithful fans gathered in a cinema theatre in Denver Colarado to see The Dark Knight Rises?  The caped crusader was nowhere to be seen when one villain entered the screening and shot into the darkened terror of the red seats lined with people. 12 people were shot dead at the scene. All of those gathered had one thing in common, their interest, fascination and perhaps love of The Batman, "The Worlds Greatest Detective". Film fanatics who had booked their tickets weeks, months perhaps in advance, sat together in excitement under the big screen, and watched as the fear and violenceof Gotham CIty poured through the film screen and into their reality. This time there was something amiss.

From their childhood perhaps they watched the programme series on Saturday mornings, played with Batman figurines on Christmas day and read DC comics during their teens. However, in their moment of need there was no yellow illuminating light, no batmobile, no caped crusader or ringing in their ears that said: ‘Don’t fear my dear- Batman is here’.  Instead they lunged to the floor of the cinema and remembered Batman’s teaching, his words ‘No miracles. No Mercy. No Redemption. No heaven. No hell. No higher power. Just life” batman.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Fire Hazard

Hazard sat on the couch in his apartment. From here he could just about make out the sound of the fire alarm out in the corridor.
            “Jeeze, that’s not very alarming,” he thought to himself and carried on watching ‘The Simpsons’.  Little did Hazard know, as he sat engulfed on the couch that the apartments in his block were evacuating the building. The fire alarm did little to ignite any interest of his, not even a spark. He was far too consumed with Springfield’s dysfunctional family to pay any heed. This was typical of young Hazard’s behaviour, whose high notions and aspirations of himself were difficult to extinguish. In his mind he was gorgeous and handsome, fit to be famous; his picture would one day hang in the hall of flame. This blaze of glory was too ‘cool’ to participate in a silly fire drill.
            Outside onlookers watched as the building went up in flames.  Johnny searched around him but could not see Hazard amongst the group of people! He looked towards Hazard’s apartment and caught a glimpse of him. Waving his arms he shouted:
            “Fire Hazard, Fire Hazard.” Unfortunately, through the window Hazard’s face showed no sense of rec-ignition.  Johnny was not in his line of fire.
            “What are those flaming idiots doing down there?” Hazard posed the question as he looked out his window. He gazed down among the blazing commotion below. A rapid smile spread across his face as he tried to make light of the situation. People were shouting and roaring at each other, things seemed to be getting a little hot and steamy. Hazard decided to go down to see what all the fuss was about. He bolted down the fire exit only to look behind him and see his apartment engulfed in thick black smoke.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I know but one freedom ...

A wise man once said ‘I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery). A phrase that always comes to the tip of my tongue at times least expected. I find myself repeating the words ‘freedom of the mind’, what do they mean? I roll it over on my tongue play with it a little, accidently spill my tea on my fresh white shirt and the words disappear from my mind as quickly as they will appear the next time.

They popped into my head last night, as I lay in bed recalling the sleepless hours I had spent before. Freedom of the mind, I pondered, perhaps it is the right to think what you like, to be free from things that restrain us. Is it to cast away the ball and chain that squeezes our imaginations shut, an abusive husband, a school bully, society? I like to think that freedom of the mind is the power to imagine. So what if there is no such things as ghosts? It would still be fun to visit a haunted house, walk underneath creaking floorboards, through draughty rooms, along dusty corridors and believe.

 Most people would call me delusional if they knew that last night as I lay in bed I could see the flickering of lights around my room, I could hear the buzzing of wings and there was a tugging at my feet and my arms. They had come for me, my heart lilted. The fairies were here and they had spun fishing line around my ankles and my wrists. I could hear the beating of their hearts quicken and their groans as they tried to lift me from the depths of my dream and out of my bed. I laughed and rolled over, my ankles stung and I heard a loud thump on the floor similar to the sound of a fly hitting against the window pane.

Peeping over the edge of my bed to see who was there I saw a white, bright light glowing on the wooden floor of my bedroom. It was Gem. I picked her up and placed her in the palm of my hand.
            “What’s the matter my dear?” I asked, rubbing the tip of my index finger against her cheek.
            “It’s you that’s the matter,” she sobbed. “You’re turning into an adult and won’t be able to play with us for much longer. We can’t even pull you from your bed. Soon we won’t have enough fairy dust to give you so you can become one of us.” I chuckled at the spluttering fairy as she tickled my palm with every hiccupping bump she gave.
            “Don’t be silly Gem, I will never be too old to play with you and the other Fairies at Farthen Abbey,” I smiled and from her pocket she procured her tin shaker. Fluttering around me she sprinkled me with white fairy dust. My ears began to tickle and my back felt itchy. Looking at my hand I watched as it shrunk in size. We giggled and holding hands flew out my bedroom window and descended through the night.

 Perhaps freedom of the mind is the art of not growing up, holding onto our dreams and never letting go. ‘I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.’


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Human Duties

Some use it to disguise themselves, to cover their blemishes but really it’s for scars. Not the visible scars you received from falling off a swing when you were four or from jumping over barbed wire at the age of seven. These are the scars you got at eleven playing in the school yard, the scars of rejection from your first crush. When your mother called you ugly and your friends sniggered. We try to cover them over. Try to be what others want us to be. Be what we are not. It is what is expected of us.

We walk around like clones because we all want to look the same.  Like an army of soldiers we wear the same uniform upon our face, all of us are in unison. To walk out of line, not step to the beat we would be scowled upon. 

It is used in the morning, before you leave the house, depriving our skin from the morning sun. You can put it in your handbag, in the back pocket of your jeans. You must make sure it is always near. For those moments of vulnerability when we are coming undone we find comfort in knowing it is close. We run to the toilet and procure it from our pockets in the middle of the day.

They say it’s what makes us beautiful. It hides away our imperfections. But it doesn’t last forever. It fades away. We are revealed to the world once more. We don’t like it. We fear they mightn’t like us.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Queen of Hearts

Life is like a game of poker, all about the bluffing. At this very moment a group of people sit down to a game of poker. Whether they sit around a dining room table on Wisteria lane, the old kitchen table at their granny’s home or in a dank cellar of a brothel they all play the same game. They smile to their play mate, pull out their chair and sit down confidently, gulping their drink in case the liquid gets trapped in their tight throats.

Sitting around the table peering at each other, the housewives done a brave veneer upon their faces, flawless to each other but inside less fearless. Like Alice they see one another as the Queen of hearts, the person they must face to figure out the puzzle of Wonderland.  A fake laugh, a flutter of eyelids, a tap of a wine glass and their puzzle is solved, one walks away with the money, while the others wonder where it all went wrong.

At a rickety table in the back-ass of nowhere a family sit around a table; they drink tea and play a ‘friendly’ game of poker. The beloved son bluffs his way through to the end, but his sneaky smile is a give away the others know all too well. His ends in tragedy.

The smell of tobacco and cheap gin fills the grim room of the tavern cellar; the scurrying of rats can be heard by the four men as each sits around the keg of beer. They stare through each other, waiting for one to cave under the pressure. A gun is pulled, a struggle ensues and Mr Unfortunate goes home to tell his wife they are moving house the following morning.

Yes, poker is a game of deceit and trickery; one man bluffs his way to the end with a dead hand and the guy with the two aces has pulled out long ago; It is a game where one person wishes for more and the other is happy with their set of four.
 As we sit in the dining room underneath an ornate chandelier or in the old musty kitchen beside a purring cat or whether it be in the basement of an illegal brothel with creaking floorboards above our heads we watch each other intently to call each other’s bluff. Little do we know that the person beside us has it all, a full house. They sit in the dark, as their queen of hearts wiggles in their hands saying ‘off with their heads’. We take another glass of wine, heat up of tea, sniff of cocaine and the game resumes.

Until someone overdoses from their tea and the others realise the white stuff floating on its surface wasn’t lime scale from the kettle.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Planet Nedward

Nedward sit on their inflatable couch, flicking through the channels.
“Oh look Ned, were on telly they’re doing a replay of us performing Waterlone, our brilliant new song, on the Eurovision” Ward says in his irritating girlish voice, his Rs rolling over each other.  Neds face jolts to the television screen.
“OMG OMG Ward we look so good! I especially love our badassness””
 “...and the winner of Eurovision Song Contest twenty twelve iz *drumroll* Sweee-den.”  The crowd cheers, the lights flicker and Ward switches the channel.
“It’s only a load of poo anyway Ned, don’t mind them, they don’t realise who we are, wait until next year! Third time lucky eh! “

“You know what you’re right Ward, next year we will show them people from Europe how out of this world we really are,” Ned winks at Ward and pulls at the zip on the back of his neck. Pulling his face, his skin stretches like elastic from his skull and his brown tentacles emerge. His eye snaps back to place in the centre of his head. Coughing and spluttering he reaches back his mouth and pulls out his ‘voice box’.
“Thats better,” Neds raspy voice is unveiled yet again to his brother. He burps like a ribitting frog. “Get me some jelly and ice-cream Ward I’m like sooo hungry,” he orders.
“OMGOMG, like its waay to early to undress Ned, like what if someone comes to visit are you stupid?”
“Seriously Ward, chillax bro, no one’s going to travel all the way to Planet Nedward to visit, do you realize how many gazillion light years we live from earth?”
“Yeah I suppose like but I just love looking this cool! Like up this high we don’t even need wax for our hair to stay up! How cool is that isn’t that sooo cool Ned?” Ward asks his brother while he sucks some helium from a balloon and jumps around doing somersaults.
Ned turns his attention back to the television. “Three giant alien spaceships are again heading for Earth!  Scientists predict the new ships will arrive in November of  2012,” the man on the television  announces. Neds jaw drops to the black spots circling his chest. He looks up toward his brother.
“Aliens?” He asks... “But were the only aliens allowed on earth, like were the ones that are heading for world domination”
“Yeah and were going to lotsa cool stuff like hand out loony shots and give everyone free jelly and ice cream and stuff,”  Ward exclaims, still in the same high pitched voice. Ned rolls his eye and turns over the channel. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What Goes Up Must Come Down

‘Mirror mirror in my hand, who’s the fairest of them all?’ Beckie stares into her gold encrusted hand-held mirror. Eyes blinking and lips pouted, she waits for her name to be announced.
‘Well not you anyway’ replies the evil ghoul reflection. His laughing ‘mwahahaha’ fights its way around the stifled air of the room. Startled by his evil groans, her hand falls to her side and with it the mirror drops to the floor, shattering into millions of pieces.Her hands rush to her head as she grabs hold of her red curls.
‘How could this be?’ She wails and throws herself on the concrete floor, barely missing the shards of glass that now lay beside her.  

In the fragmented glass on the ground her reflection is cast around the dank room: orange overalls, to match her scarlet hair, a protruding nose and like most other witches a massive wart to accompany. From her corner hovel she rises, blurry eyed, and makes her way to the bed. A shard of glass glints in the corner of her eye and unveils the fat lump of extra skin on her nose. In a fury she scrambles through the unending shards of  broken glass to find the one that caught her eye. Success .In triumph she holds the piece in her bloodied hands high above her head, as a thank you to the gods. Squinting into it she laughs at her silly relapse and turns her head admiring her beauty from all angles.
‘Why, I am the most beautiful thing the sun ever shined on,’ she reassures herself.
            Meanwhile, outside an angry mob assembles itself, pitchforks at the ready and blazing torches to scorch the witch that hacked their telephone lines.
            ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let your hair down sweet Rapunzel,’ one man shouts from the back of the crowd.
            ‘Yeah so we can set it on fire,’ another jeers and the crowd shakes in unison with laughter.

 From the recess of her window, Beckie stares out at the crowd below. Their hungry eyes fasten on her pale fearful face as she clenches the bars of the window in an angry rage.
            ‘No Rupie here to rescue you today my dear,’ they bellow. Unfortunately for Beckie this is no fairytale nor is it one of the twisted versions of The Brothers Grimm. Her fate has been navigated by a supreme court not by prophecy. This rapunzel will not be able to let her long red curls down the tower for her shining prince to come rescue her. From her cell window the only way out for Beckie will be her descent down the wisteria tree, which she fought so hard to climb up Once Upon a Time. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Super Tanning Mum

We have heard it all, anorexia, bulimia but the new trend to spread across America is Tanorexia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary Tanorexia is an obsessive desire to acquire and maintain a suntan, by natural or artificial methods, or as I like to put it the wish to become part of the Simpson clann.  Tanning has always been considered a characteristic of beauty to the people of the western world. Once the sun peeps out from behind those clouds we shed our winter warms for something a bit more scanty, lace some butter on our skin and allow it to melt while the sun burns holes in our skin which makes us beautiful and malignant beings.

Of course there are always going to be those few people who take it too far such as Tricia K an Oompa Loompa mother who has previously starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It turns out Tricia wasn’t actually a native of Loompa Land and spends her days on Sun Beds in order to achieve the orange chocolate brown colouring which adorned her part in the film. I think Mel Stuart, film director, deserves to get a refund from Mrs K.

Not only did Mrs K lie about her ethnicity but also about the mis-treatment of her daughter,  who suffered sun burns while “tanning with mommy”, police believe. It seems that this New-Jersey Mom has taken her tanning expedites a bit too seriously.

Tanning is not only seen as a characteristic of beauty but one of the qualities of a superhero. Yes it’s true Mrs K now stands in the same bracket as our childhood heroes: Spiderman, Superman and Batman. With her ability of turning browner then most other human beings, a trait that can only be connected to her hard-ass super hero skin, she has  been granted the privilege of her very own action figure earlier this week.  This yellow heard plastic figure with its orange beaming face is set to appear on your child’s Christmas wish list next November. Its plan: to take over every home across the world and set up a tanning booth while there.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Garden Trolls

Pop stars make more money from their death than they do during their life.  This explains why there is a little white bony man living in the shed at the end of my back garden who goes by the name of Michael Jackson. He sits opposite the 42” inch plasma, laughing his head off at Conrad Murphy whose being trialled for his supposed “death”.
            “I can’t believe the fools buy this,” he chuckles under his breath while two Philippine women shake their palm tree leaves for effect (keeping in mind it’s a frosty Irish November morning). The question that rings out in my mind is ‘Why would Michael Jackson choose Ireland as a place to live his death?’ The answer of course is unknown.
            The court case is adjourned for the day and Michael makes a call from his blackberry curve.
            “Well, Smurf,” he says in a put on bogger accent, that really doesn’t compliment the delicate tone of his voice; although it must be done for fear the neighbours overhear him. “You did well today, I’m proud of ya man. The check is in the post don’t you worry about that,” he winks at his Philippine friend, hangs up and slouches back into his armchair.
            “Turn up the heat Alexandra.” He snaps his fingers and the girl to his right throws more wood on the open fire. Yes this shed is deceiving on the outside. As they say never read a book by its cover.
To think, ‘The Michael Jackson’ is occupying a space in my back garden is a very exciting prospect, or at least was. It didn’t take me long to find out that this great “Hero” of our pop generation is nothing but a fake, a phoney, a money pincher. About two weeks after his alleged ‘death’ an old friend of mine came knocking on the door. Someone I owed a couple of favours to you see, and that is where it all began. Now Whacko Jacko sleeps at the bottom of my garden every night and counts his pennies during the day. It’s often I’ve passed his hut on a dark winter day to hear him counting “33, 35, 36, 38” in that disturbing voice of his.
            It would surprise you to think a man that has earned over $300m profit since the two years of his death is living at the bottom of my garden; it would surprise you he is living at all of course. Surviving on beans and toast and CNN footage of a court case that brings him back to life. They say that he is greater in death than he was in life. From my bedroom window he doesn’t look that great.

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