Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Owl Parade

Today is my 30th birthday, and so on Saturday I had a party to celebrate this event which featured, obviously, an owl-judging competition. I am still in the process of acquiring photos of this hard fought (and sometimes bitter) contest, which featured an impressive range of owls from shop-bought to handmade to stuffed to weapon of choice, but I have taken photos of some of the entrants. And so here is an owl parade!

Note, this is not the full list of entrants as some were edible (Mary's range of owlet cakes and Esme and Sarah's large third-place owl cake) and others for one-night-only (Stan's beautiful stuffed owl and Edward's borrowed owl necklace, which made me look like a pimp) so I didn't get pictures of them at the time.

This graceful lady owl was a gift from Vizzy. It was cause of particular concern to my friend Emily, who claimed it was simply an owl's head stuck onto a lady's body and so was worryingly unrealistic. Needless to say, an owl's head on a lady's body is one of my greatest fantasies.

This was the number one prize-winning owl, by Jenny, winning a good bottle of wine. However, it was a very controversial choice as Jenny had claimed (though possibly in jest and I had simply misunderstood) that she had hand-made it, and only later did I discover that this wasn't true. Regardless, it's a magnificent specimen, made from shells and with googly eyes.

Emily's gleaming white and studious porcelain entry.

An adorable little felt owl, hand made by Mary, whom I know from my time in Korea, and who, with Carlos, had come all the way from Berlin for this important date in the owl calendar. She also made an owl cake the night before, for our small dinner party, but it had been consumed before the competition had commenced.

This owl candle, with its head melted off, glowed different colours as it burnt, and was quite lovely. It was given to me the Monday before, by my then-girlfriend, just as we broke up. I felt a little guilty receiving it just after we broke up, although as she told me it only cost £1 off ebay, not that guilty.

This beefy bad-boy was a gift from Mira, and was alarmingly heavy. It will undoubtedly be the first thing I reach for if I find an intruder in my flat.

Ornate yet practical, this owl key-ring was from my sister.

Poor Kitchen Mark and French Claire had, by accounts, caused a catastrophe in their living trying to create an owl from papier mache, but not succeeding. So instead they gave me this dainty little Japanese owl, with its own cushion.

The actual owl you see here, big and plastic, is my first ever owl, given to me years ago. It is modelling Rosie's owl mask here, which was part of Rosie's "human owl" entry, which consisted of Rosie dressed as an owl!

This large pom pom owl was painstakingly crafted by Louise (and Joe) and was a worthy second place, and many thought was robbed of first prize (which given subsequent controversies may well have been the case). Soft to the touch, with big innocent eyes, it may not do much against intruders but it will certainly warm up these cold winter days.

This wooden owl was made by Green, apparently greatly testing his patience. It kind of reminds me of the woodpecker in Bagpuss, and is one of the wiser of my collection.

From Martin and Karen, this tiny owl, remarkably, contains four even tinier owls inside, Russian Doll-style. The smallest one is certainly the smallest owl possible in any owl parade.

Another from my sister, this owl, innocent at first glance, is actually an owl condom! I look forward to trying this out on an unsuspecting lass.

A late entry from my PA, this owl plugs into a computer USB port, and at random intervals opens its eyes and moves its head.

From Julie, a remarkable owl collage - an owl picture made up of lots of little owl pictures. Who would have thought such a thing could exist? This now takes pride of place in my hallway.

I'll let you figure this one out.

And there you go, my owl parade, formed from my owl-judging competition. This was the main centrepiece of my party, but of course the party was full of other stuff, such as drinking, talking, dancing and smoking big cigars. Here, to end, is the choice cut of the sixteen photos that I took.

From left: me, cousin Esme, cousin Malcolm, sister Morag and brother Ian. My aunt requested this family photo, specifying she wanted it taken before we were too wasted.

Kitchen Mark and French Claire. One of my favourite memories of the party is up in my room, playing "Roni" loudly, and dancing like absolute maniacs for about ten minutes until at the point of total physical exhaustion. Roni!

DJ Green spins some more tunes.

My PA, after whipping herself up into an ever-escalating frenzy, which included drawing moustaches on girls and fake-tattooing people, collapsed on a chair under a heap of coats, where she remained until about 4pm.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Natural History Museum

On Friday, in London, I spent about three hours in the afternoon at the Natural History Museum. Only upon leaving and going round the corner, to see the actual main entrance to the museum, did I realise I'd just spent my three hours in the Science Museum. I'd wondered where all the dinosaurs had gone...

Saturday, 1 November 2008

My Flat vs Green's Flat

My good friend and personal chef J. Green has a nice flat in a nice part of town, and sometimes reflect on the dark days he lived on the "other side" of Aberdeen, i.e. where I live now. Whereas his side, the West End, glitters with class, my side, the East End, drips with menace.

However, in a head-to-head contest of unruly incidents and circumstances, Green's has been nudging mine. On my side, my neighbours grow weed in the shared attic, sometimes play their music loud, somebody from the block once set fire to the paper notices on the main door and wrote on the walls, and about a month ago I passed two policemen outside someone's door, as well as there being a steady pile-up of cigarette butts and plastic kebab forks. However, Green has been troubled by noisy neighbours - above and below - for over a year, I once found a 12-year-old boy asleep on the stairs, and his neighbour above had to be rescued from the police after attempting suicide by hanging. I think he wins. Out of doors, there's no doubt my flat on Market Street is a little rougher, with hookers parading their wares, the working class spilling out of low rent bars, and kebab sauce flowing like sewage. Nonetheless, very near Green's, I once witnessed a rough-looking girl vomit as she walked, and a nearby flat sometimes opens its windows to show off a bunch of vested skinheads playing trance at an abysmal volume.

This morning, though, saw me score some more points. At about 9.30am I left on my daily hour's walk, and at the bottom of the stairs, curled foetally, was a young gentleman with an obvious head wound. Ahead, the main door had been forced open (and now won't lock) and blood was smeared on the wall. The young gentleman was conscious, but his head and hands were buried in his hoodie and he didn't respond until I prompted him with a light shove. His response was slurred and incoherent and I thought, "Hell, hopefully he'll have crawled off and died somewhere else by the time I get back."

I pondered the situation on my bracing walk down the beach, and thought perhaps I should call the police or something if he was still there upon my return. But as I came back through the main door, I was relieved to see he'd gone. My mail was still there too. It was climbing the several thousand stairs and spotting the trail of blood that it became apparent that, in fact, he wasn't gone. He'd simply gravitated upwards, closer to heaven perhaps, in a quieter spot to curl up and die.

This is what greeted me outside my door.

Though it's not clear from the photo, his face was covered in blood, with an obvious wound most likely from some kind of "street fighting" with a fellow "tough". Indeed, not a gentleman at all. He was a little more coherent though, as he bled onto my hallway armchair, insisting in slurred tones that he was alright, and lived on the level below. I would have invited him inside for a coffee and chat but he seemed fairly settled and I was worried he might bleed over a housecoat.

I phoned the police just to let them know that there was an injured, drunk, bleeding guy camped outside my flat, and they duly popped by to ask him the same questions I had, and appear to have left him there to continue his bleeding.

Anyway, I'll leave it for you, dear impartial reader, to judge whether this levels me on points with Green or even nudges me ahead. Green - it's your move.


In fact, I do the police an inservice. They just knocked on my door and told me they'd taken him to a different address presumed to be home. His claim of living in this block seems to have been erroneous. They also admired my antique typewriter.