I went to Sainsbury's for a prawn mayonnaise sandwich. Nothing beats a hangover like a Sainsbury's prawn mayonnaise sandwich. All those tiny bodies swimming in viscous white. While I was waiting in the queue I saw a guy next to the magazine rack. He was drinking a can of Red Bull like it was medicine - quickly and deliberately, dealing with the burps as they came.
  Later, at a gallery opening, I watched a middle aged business man take photos with his mobile phone; on his face I recognised a similar grim determination.
The Kebab

I wrote a list today, it was titled, 'Things I Like And Would Like To Fill My Life With'. I won't bore you with the details, but one part of it was about occasionally being able to eat a kebab after drinking several pints of lager in a pub. I discussed the idea of a perfect kebab with a few people. There were various ideas about what constitutes a great kebab, and I came to realise that there is no 'perfect' kebab. The kebab is an experiential object, and qualitatively relativistic. Here, for the record, is the sort of kebab that would fulfil its role, for me, after several pints of lager.

  • Doner, possibly shish if:
a) I'm feeling flush.
b) It looks like a substantial amount of food, i.e. more than one skewers worth of meat*.
  • Naan bread, rather than pita.
  • Lots of salad
-Cabbage (thinly sliced, red and white)
-Cucumber (not slimy, if possible)
  • 2 large pickled chillies.
  • Good, hot, chilli sauce
  • Good, garlicky garlic sauce (mainly for chips, see below)
  • Chips - eaten ALWAYS with meat and sauce, plus possibly salad and naan if quantity allows.
*The kebab is very much about quantity, not at the expense of quality, but it is an integral part of deciding what to eat  after several pints of lager (possibly continental lager, at up to 5.2%). The kebab must act as an affirmative response to these questions:
a) Does this look like exactly the right amount of food for me?
b) Is this, in reality, way too much food for me?
Little review of 'Modern Romance', the gig I played on Sunday with House of Strange, Judas Zero and Robin Ince. Along with a scan of a biro comic I drew while I was there for 'We Are Words and Pictures'

I thought I had blood in my faeces; red cabbage.
What I think about when I think about Haruki Murakami

I just finished reading What I Think About When I Think About Running, by Haruki Murakami. I just finished reading it, about three minutes ago. I also just started reading it. I started reading it on a train earlier, and finished it just now.
  I found the book in a friend's rucksack. His rucksack was in a gallery. I went to the gallery to take down an exhibition of work that had been made by my friend and myself. It was a sort of collaboration. We made an installation together - my bit was some sound that I made out of computerised voices, and his bit was a slide projection of some photos he had taken. To put the work up, all I had to do was come along with an mp3 player and plug it in. My friend on the other hand, had to carry a slide projector all the way to the gallery in a rucksack. He isn't in London any more, and the exhibition has finished, so I had to go down to the gallery, pack away the slide projector in his rucksack and carry it on the train back to my house. And that is when I found the book.
  What I Think About When I Think About Running, is a short book, about 180 pages long. Murakami is a good writer, and he has a good translator, so it was easy to read. I find all his books easy to read. He makes me feel reasonable. I said this to my girlfriend on the phone. I had just eaten lunch, and my girlfriend phoned me. She said, "What are you doing?", and I said, "I'm reading a Murakami book I found in Ben's bag. Murakami makes me feel reasonable."

He does make me feel reasonable. He makes me feel that the world is reasonable - or, he makes me feel like that the world is not, or should not be, unreasonable. There is a lovely moment in the book. He runs from Athens to the town of Marathon in Greece, and writes about it for a magazine. They send a photographer along to take pictures, and as Murakami prepares to start running, the photographer asks him if he is going to run the whole thing, or just run for a while, get the photos, and then go back to the hotel. That is what normally happens with the these sorts of things, the photographer says. Murakami is totally astonished - the thought had never even crossed his mind that he could fake it. Of course, thinking about it, Muakami could be lying, he might not have run the marathon. He might never have run any marathons, or even run at all. The book could be some sort of hyper-meta-critique of fiction, a commentary on membrane between the real and the unreal. On further reflection, as I don't intend to do any research while I write this,
a) I'll probably never know for sure

and therefore

b) It probably doesn't matter whether it is or isn't real, as I'll never know anyway.

But if someone suggested to me that Murakami wasn't really a runner, that he hadn't run at least 26 marathons in his life as well as an ultra-marathon (65 miles), and that he had faked the book as a sort of hyper-meta-critique of fiction, then I would be just as astonished as Murakami had been when the photographer had suggested the possibility of faking the run from Athens to Marathon. That would be so unreasonable. Murakamai wouldn't have even thought of it.
  Murakami is so reasonable, and his writing is so reasonable, that it rubs off on me, and make me feel reasonable. The title of the book is a rejigged version of the title of one of Raymond Carver's books, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Murakami has translated several of Carver's books, and before he published this book, he contacted Carver's widow to ask permission to us the title, What I Think About When I Think About Running. How reasonable of him. And, of course, Carver's widow, being similarly reasonable, said yes.

When ever I read Murakami, I start thinking like his prose reads. I get all cool and calm, and like I said, I feel reasonable. I begin to crave the things he craves, mainly a cold beer. I like cold beer, and Murakami really likes cold beer. He mentions it a lot. In the summer of 2009 I was in France and they sell beer in small cans. Not like the big cans we have in Britain, probably about the size of a can of Coke. It is super cold and in the heat of the afternoon when you are thirsty, nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) beats drinking a small, cold, can of beer.
  In this book he mentions that when he is thirsty, he doesn't normally drink water, he just eats a piece of fruit. This accounts for the apple core sitting next to the headphones on my desk. It wasn't as good as I had hoped it might be. I think I prefer water for quenching my thirst. That though, is no fault of his. In the book he writes that he never recommends running to other people. He writes that he just happens to enjoy running, and other people might not enjoy running. That didn't stop me thinking that maybe I might enjoy running as much as he does, even though I'm pretty certain I don't enjoy running at all.And it didn't stop me thinking that I might prefer to eat an apple rather than drink a glass of water.

As you may have also noticed, when I read Murakami I get the urge to write like Muakami. This piece of writing probably isn't as concise and clear as a piece of writing by Murakami, but it probably aims towards something like how I think he writes, if that makes any sense.

So anyway, the reason I wrote this was to say that Murakami makes me feel reasonable. I'm not sure I know exactly what I mean by that. And, if it doesn't really make sense when I think about it, then it probably won't make sense when I write about it. If you read Murakami you might feel reasonable too, but maybe you won't. I'm not going to recommend that you read any of his books, it doesn't feel very Murakami-like to do so. And although I won't start running, and I'll probably go downstairs in a minute and drink a glass of water to quench the thirst that the apple could not quench, I'm still going to go and drink a cold beer later, and I can gaurantee that it will be the best thing I do all day.
A poem for the woman who reluctantly moved out of my seat on a (not uncrowded) train from Manchester to London.

I'm sorry
about all that with the seat.
I could have moved somewhere else
but I've done that before,
out of politeness,
and it's ended badly.

I did book that seat;
specifically requesting
to be facing
and to have a table
(with power socket).

Not that I wanted those things
that badly back then.
Or now, for that matter
as I have forgotten
to bring my laptop.