August 31: my expression

For a number of years now the expression I’ve have been aiming to post up on my face when I am reacting to nothing in particular is disinterested but alert. Disinterested but alert.This has seemed to me to be the right solution. This works nicely with one of my new mantras which goes empathy yes; sympathy no. In the gym you see a lot of poor choice faces. Men do angry in  the gym. It is allied to aggressive, which men like to do as a default setting. Women do preoccupied. Preoccupied is part of the business of avoiding men. Hence the great fuss with the smartphone and the i-pod. However, the other day I saw myself doing disinterested but alert on a series of photos and was disappointed to note that disinterested but alert was beginning to slide into what you might call vacant and confused. And unhappy. Vacant, confused and unhappy. If I do some trick with the mouth, give it the inkling of a smile (nothing too overt, just the ghost of a smile), I might get away with it. Unhappy would go. A smile would occupy the vacant. Confused would necessarily disappear if I’m inhabited. The only problem, looking in the mirror now, is that a new attribute has arrived. Smug.

August 24: Angel di Maria and my new chess set

I do understand the problems Man Utd may have fitting Angel di Maria into their starting line-up. It may entail switching from Van Graal’s 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 to a more conventional 4-4-2 or sacrificing Juan Mata. It must certainly mean pigeon-shooting down the birdbrained Ashley Young. There are any number of issues to deal with in guaranteeing that you retain the requisite amount of steel, pace and guile in the starting line-up when a new player is acquired. Why, I myself have been going through similar logistical and tactical heart-searching with my purchase of a camelbone chess set (one hump or two? This was one question I stupidly neglected to ask of the chess shopman). I chose the particular design over the Isle of Lewes set. It has an Ottoman or a central Asian quality of florid decoration and rooks that look like minarets that fits neatly into my mainly South Caucasian lounge. But how do I find a place for it on one of the limited number of tables and surfaces availablel in the living space. A simple matter of ditching the small coffee table usually used for supporting a selection of magazines you might think, but no, as these carefully curated Zeitschriften have a key place in the global aesthetic of the room. Like Van Graal, finding my top top formation may take some considerable time.

August 16: abroad = religion and cigarettes but no tattoos

When you are abroad there is religion and cigarettes, but no tattoos. Men keep coming past in vans with loudspeakers saying something very urgent in foreign. It sounds like there is a zombie invasion. All women and children to the air-raid shelters. If you are bitten you will have ten minutes before the contamination takes its course. Do not be afraid to behead close relatives. I ask Helen what they are saying. Apparently, they are selling watermelons. There is a lot of religion that they put on loudspeakers too, to keep you up all night, because there are vigils. 15 August is the Assumption of Our Lady, the day she went up to heaven in a rocket (or died). We all have to be subjected to this strange tale for days beforehand by loudspeaker, the Orthodox cleric and his acolytes singing it for hours on end. And then she went up in a rocket. Or maybe it was more in the manner of a space shuttle, they sing. Amen. This is sung in a 4-part version for two baritones, one tenor and a bass.
On the beach (in my family we used to say the sands), on the sands I have seen one tattoo. This is remarkable. I have been on tattoo watch for some weeks and can now even spell it with two t’s. The man I saw with a tattoo was playing beach (or sands) tennis. He had a discreet triangle on one calf. You can imagine the tattooist. Ah! A customer! Just a triangle please. Christ! What was the point? All those years in tattoo school. He probably just got Stavros his apprentice to do it. Hey Stavros! Go to! Then lit up another cigarette and looked out at the long lonely beach (or sands).

August 16: If britain were a police state… or the hunger games

If Britain were a police state Clare Balding, say, would unwittingly be the Head of the Secret Police. She would say things like, This is an amazing Games. People are calling them the Friendly Games. She would ask questions like, How does it feel out there at the Friendly Games? and athletes would answer, Amazing! Sometimes they would add to this, saying, The atmosphere is amazing! Then Clare Balding might say, Are these Games important and relevent? and the right answer would be, Yes, they are both important and relevent. And they are amazing too. Or perhaps awesome. But Clare wouldn’t be the only one officiating over this police state. For example, there would be many ex-athletes and sports stars like Sir Hoy who would interview athletes and ask them how they are feeling and they’d say amazing and then he’d ask, What is the crowd like? and the athletes would say, They are amazing. Sir Hoy used to be an athlete himself . Now he has fortunately become a corporate mouthpiece. If there was dissent, like someone saying the Games were s— or not as good as some other games, this would quickly be excised by the police state and the person who mistakenly said this thing, because he is fortunately a corporate mouthpiece too now, though he is a corporate mouthpiece for himself. There would be another interview and this time the Games would be amazing or awesome again.