Death Wish

40° today. I’ve mentioned this before, sorry to repeat. 42° tomorrow. Yesterday I left the apartment, which presently looks like a segment from a police crime scene documentary – all the windows open, all curtains closed, at least one fan running in each room, people walking around in their underpants in a daze. It feels like a ‘meths’ lab for teetotallers. I was heading to the supermarket to buy my dinner. And I saw something I have never seen before in my life – it reminded me of the end of time.

Pigeons are to Paris what dog shit is to its pavements. If you were to head out for a pleasant amble and didn’t see dog shit everywhere, you would think you’d been rendered in some C.I.A. blacks ops scandal, and woken up in Singapore. There could be no other explanation. If you don’t see a thousand filthy legless limping pigeons stumbling around looking for anything to eat, then something is seriously amiss. On my dinner amble, I passed a half eaten baguette, resting in what I can only imagine in pigeon parlance, as a prime location. Not a crumb or two, but half a baguette stuffed with all things good and healthy. And there was not a pigeon to be seen. Anywhere. It looked as though it had lain there for hours. Please trawl through the recesses of your brain and try and recall a time when a soiled sandwich on a city street wasn’t immediately hoovered up.

Now, I’ve seen pigeons throw themselves under buses for a Dorito. I once watched two, in London, die quick, but squishy deaths chasing a peanut. I observed the confused look of their mother as she tried to make sense of her misshapen progeny. Before, seconds later, dying herself chasing the same nut.

It’s got to be some ‘hot’ for a pigeon to regard the meal of a lifetime, and go, ‘nah, I’m staying right here next to the a/c.’

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved

The Tropics

They don’t tell you when you move to Paris, that come the summer, you might as well be living in the Philippines. Today it’s 39°, tomorrow the same. Thursday will be 42°. Imagine that, 42° in a city with absolutely no air circulation, narrow boulevards, six story buildings and no air conditioning. I remember learning that your whole body renews itself every seven years; that there are none of your original cells left. Better still, those cells that once held childhood memories have long since been dispatched. Do those cells still hold those memories now, I ponder, and where are they? I could do with them. And how come I can still hold those memories without the original cells? And does this explain why all women can read my mind? But I digress.

When summer hits Paris and the temperature builds and builds, you start to evaporate. I haven’t seen my new French wife’s daughter for weeks. She was quite small to start with; I think she’s gone. I popped to the bathroom this morning and there was a small puddle on the floor. I said my goodbyes. Your best hope is to run a cold bath and sit in it between May and October, or to leave the country. I’ve tried everything else.

If you walk the boulevards of Paris in July, you frequently see queues that go on for miles and miles, snaking from the Arc de Triomphe all the way up to Sacré Coeur. Justin Bieber must be in town you wrongly surmise. In fact, a rumour circulated that Fnac’s Opera store had the last three remaining electric fans this side of Portugal, and a couple of million people have rushed in the hope of bagging one.

So, if you find yourself in Paris next year, with the sun beating down, tripping over rotting corpses on the metro, and you come across just such a queue, here’s a fun thing to do: shout, “I’ve just been to D’Arty in Madeleine, and they had shit loads of fans in their shop”, and watch as thousands of Parisians evaporate in the stampede. You won’t regret.

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved

The Day after Tomorrow but Warmer

I was thinking about the world last night, or what’s left of it anyway. It feels that ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is finally here, except it’s going to be stiflingly hot, with a lot less skiing and tobogganing.

In my imaginary musings, we all surround the residencies of those in power who have been so hell bent on winning the next election, and feathering their own gilded beds, that they’ve done nothing about this civilization-ending calamity we are facing. Better still, I was the leader of the uprising and I had drawn up a list of people far and wide who were culpable, and I had formed a lynch squad to eradicate them; one-by-one, publicly, on my own 24 hour news channel. Many of these figures were historical, people from back in the day, who had got away with genocide or some other grevious crime the first time around, but they couldn’t resist my irresistable force now. And  when word got out that we were coming to get them, to hold them responsible for all of their misdemeanours against this planet, they all began to shit themselves. We were that powerful.

I didn’t limit myself to the obvious list. I did included Rumsfeld and Cheney and their Neo-Con cohorts. Blair was a slam dunk; a manipulative sociopathic snake who had been getting away with evil for ever (Special Envoy to the Middle East – are you having a huge laugh in the face of a million dead muslims). George Dubya Junior, of course. We had to send an interpreter to explain to him what we were going to do, and it still took a little while for the penny to drop (not the sharpest) – he was soaking in a bath of crude oil when we arrived, sticking dollar bills to his tiny cock, but we finally got the message through. “We’ll be back for you tomorrow” my interpreter told him.

‘The List’, as we called it was long, extensive and thorough, including surprise entries such as Elon Musk, who was included simply for building spaceships to colonise other worlds – what treason to imagine that he could escape this pale blue dot, and leave us to our hunger and our thirst. Jeff Bezos was on it too, less so for space, more for the implementation of robotics and the destruction of human rights.

The funny thing, and the thing that made us all laugh so much was this; many of these despots of democracy were commander-in-chief of legitimate armies, the instruments of state, their own personal playthings. Throughout history, leader after leader had been able to call upon them to defend their own ill-doings. But the world had changed, everywhere people were dying in the heat and the drought, the putrefying water and the rise of the disease. Corpses thronged the streets as the rubbish piled high. Army leaders didn’t much care for Trump and Johnson when they were busy burying their own children. They were ‘our’ army now – all of them. Ours.

Of course in no time at all we took control of the news media, so Fox went in a flash of exploding methane, along with most others. We ended up with just two channels – ‘The People’s Channel’ where all the public executions took place (very popular particularly amongst minorities), and ‘The Remembrance Channel’, where citizens watched ‘looped’ documentaries about the last Polar Bear, or the toxic death of Lake Michigan, or other such indefensible tragedies. This was our real weapon, the propaganda machine of all machines. Long gone were endless replays of ‘Wolf on Wall Street’ and other capitalist dogma – we replaced that with an even tougher brand of control. It was the perfect parallel, the death of the old regime on channel one, and ‘this is what you fucked up’ on channel two. It said very, very clearly, ‘Don’t ever ever destroy this planet again in the pursuit of the dollar – not on my watch anyway’.

So, that’s what I was musing about as I tucked into my lentil dahl and onion bhaji last night. You?

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved

14:18 Saturday 20th July

You may be wondering why I’m not on my yacht this afternoon. Instead I’m strapped to my office desk like Donald Thump is tied to the idea of his own humility. Well, wonder no more my flock. I’m here because I woke with a tremendous fear. What, I thought, would become of you all if I didn’t administer my ministrations today? How would your spiritual host suffer without divine ‘bon mots’ from your leader? How indeed.

So instead of catching Blue Marlin and dragging them astern as per Santiago in The Old Man of the Sea, I’m stifling in another Paris canicule, attending to you. I’ve attached an electric fan to my left knee and I am taking in litres of coffee through a rather neat intravenous contraption I, ‘Heath Robinson’ like, constructed this morning. I have eschewed the traditional anal method of induction, and imbibe through my ears, flooding my eustachian tubes with ‘Concentrate of Nescafe’ (four sugars minimum), giving a legal high somewhere between shoe shopping and eating emulsified lard. Sacrifices. That’s what I do, I sacrifice myself to you.

So, what existential offerings can I propose for the weekend ahead? Well, firstly, never sacrifice yourself to your congregation. Second, drop the sugar in the caffeine concentrate if you can – it blocks your inner ear, causing vertigo and a loss of balance and you might fall head first into the fan strapped to your left knee. Thirdly, carry a first aid kit at all times to stop the bleeding.

Have a great weekend my sheep!

Next week: How Post Nasal Drip inspired The Sun Always Rises.

Growing Old

I’m going grey. No problems for me. I’m getting older. However, I have of late discovered two fundamental quirks, that going forward, could have catastrophic consequences.

First and least most, greying eyebrow hair. In a moment of obscure and rare vanity, I plucked one recently with one of those eyebrow thingies. I immediately looked younger and more handsome. It’s easy being a girl I thought. You have a tree-lined boulevard running across your brow like a neanderthal arboretum – no problems, pluck and shape and tidy. The next grey one appeared, I plucked again. And then I reached a moment of perceptive reckoning. There will be a time I concluded, when the number of grey hairs will outnumber the remaining good ones, and if I pluck them all, my eyebrows will begin to resemble the outside courts of Wimbledon in week two. Partially turfed. I am going to look like a moron. Plucking is a not a long-term option. Let vanity slide I thought.

However, second and foremost, my beard. It’s going nicely grey too – I’m cool about it, ageing is fine. It’s all salt and pepper, but a lot more salt. This morning I popped to my hairdresser, had a shear, and asked for a beard trim to complete the look. As I left the barbours I saw myself reflected in a shop window across the street. ‘Wow’ I thought, ‘who he?’ And then, I was filled with a disgusted horror. Because once shorn, my salt blended in with my skin and was now unseen, but my pepper, about an inch and a half wide and located just below my nose, looked like a Hitler moustache.

Children cried and poets dreamed as Don McClean would say. I saw dogs defecate on the Parisian walkways. And soon enough, I walked alone in the shadow of the valkyries as people rushed in any direction, to be far from me.

So, as things stand, my only options are either a complete shave, to let it grow so completely that I resemble Tommy Talib, or trim as usual and lock myself in my bunker with a well-earned a cyanide pill.