'teenage' cygnet in hyde park today (at Serpentine)

'teenage' cygnet in hyde park today (at Serpentine)

0 notes, October 18, 2014


babies do bring out the sheldon cooper in me.

i go through my facebook newsfeed and i’m reminded of the other weekend when my very good friend points at her very good friend, babe in arm, and says: ‘isn’t he cute?’

i pause.

too long, i later realise.

then, having looked at the babe - too long - i say: ‘yes?’ with a slightly upward inflexion, not because i’m a kiwi, but because my brain goes: ‘i suppose he is, in a generic baby sort of way that babies have of being cute, as long as they’re quiet? that’s more or less stating the obvious though, is there any further analysis required of me now? if so, can you specify?’ 

as the weekend progresses, i play the scene through in my head a number of times and as i do so i gradually sense - perhaps assisted by the quizzical look the proud and not in her own right unadorable mother gives me now each time she sees me - that social protocol demands an altogether different reaction when confronted with a babe in arm and the question ‘isn’t he cute?’:

'oh, isn’t he JUST!!’ then, addressing the infant, who doesn’t comprehend: ‘aren’t you? - YES!!! goochigoochigoochigoochigoo. yeeeaaaas. hnnnn you little [something] you.’ 

that, it dawns on me over time, is what had been expected.

i failed.

and that, it now dawns on me as i look at babies lying on the grass, babies propped up in daddies’ arms, babies blankly staring into space and babies crawling around on the floor wearing altogether too much nappy and not enough jumpsuit or whatever it is that babies are supposed to wear to not make one squirm just a little, is what each of the pictures in my facebook feed seeks to elicit from me. virtually.

i continue to fail.

i can like almost anything on facebook: cleverness, satire, wit, beauty, entertaining randomness, wisdom, silliness that makes you laugh. but my brain has no wire to babies. cats it can find borderline cute, or at least comical. (though rarely comical enough to ‘like’ them). but babies: they just don’t connect.

my mind says: ‘yes, you’re cute.’ but it also says: ‘and that isn’t enough. once you start being interesting, we’ll be able to build a rapport, no problem. stand up, learn how to use the loo, eat from a plate, formulate sentences, ask me any question, all day long: we can be perfect friends.’ and we can: i get on swimmingly with children aged communication operational upwards. 

i think i may have offended the mum. i try, over the weekend, to make amends by emphasising: ‘he is a beautiful child.’ and he is: he’s got blond hair, blue eyes and he smiles a lot. what’s not to like. then again: that’s the long and the short of it, isn’t it, so, in all honesty: big deal?

at one point i see his doting dad on the floor with him, hunched over some type of xylophone. my friend’s much more interesting, because four years older, boy wants baby’s dad to play with him, but baby’s dad explains: ‘i’m having some music time’ with the baby. it doesn’t last very long. the baby bangs the instrument that may or may not be a xylophone three or four times and then crawls off into the general direction of food.

later i find myself in the kitchen, watching the kids have their supper (the baby’s since been fed and is, going by the silence that emanates from a white plastic monitor thing that sits on the kitchen side board, asleep) and reflect that i really enjoy being an ‘uncle’ and godfather. it’s a role that suits me perfectly. because they’re great, kids, and the older they get, the greater they become. before you know it they turn into proper persons that you can actually have a conversation with. or play a real game with that actually makes sense. sort of.

but i don’t have the baby button. so it cannot be pressed. then again, they’re only babies for about two or three years, aren’t they, so chances are next time i see this mum with her golden boy, he’ll be running around with the others and nobody will ask me ‘isn’t he cute’, because he won’t be, he’ll be a little monster full of fabulous ideas and stories and stuff he needs to do. and even if he is cute, nobody will want to embarrass him in front of his friends by pointing it out any more. 

that’ll be me off the hook then.



0 notes, August 23, 2013

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random london (nevern square, earl’s court) july 2013

random london (nevern square, earl’s court) july 2013

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0 notes, July 1, 2013

0 notes, June 29, 2013

#2 the sultaness

Shaped like a pear, she sits on the bed, doing make-up. Her skin is coffee-coloured soft, her eyes smile with secret knowledge, ancient and wise. She is twenty. Unrushed and unhurried she dabs the powder brush to her cheek; her legs folded. Her voluptuousness is contagious. In her lower lip a golden ring. She looks like a goddess and when she gets up her vast midriff and buttocks bounce to the stoic rhythm of her stately gait. Gracious and large, she beams life into whatever sphere encompasses her. Gorgeous is she.

I remember the Sultaness, looking up at the waitress who is taking my order who by contrast is gamine and lean and angular too. I appreciate her angularity more than I like it but then angular, so am I. Assembled in the right way we would make quite a pattern. 

I am seated at a table on my own, still puzzled as to why I am here, and she with her dark brown eyes and dark brown hair makes me feel I belong here. I order a Turkish coffee and fresh lemon juice and I’m given a moment to look at the menu to decide what to eat. I am ravenous with hunger which makes me think I maybe haven’t eaten in a while. How long does it take to get from Clapham Junction to Beyoğlu? I suppose it depends on the route.

My rational mind tells me there can be no Sultaness. Then again, my rational mind tells me I am in Kingston-upon-Thames. My rational mind is being irrelevant, I decide, and order a hamburger with chips, because I don’t remember being a vegetarian, though it wouldn’t surprise me to find that I was. The Sultaness speaks to me now in perfectly formed elliptical syllables, and she says: ‘Nearly time to make our grand entrance.’ I understand her not.

I’m trying to remember the night before. The night before is a blur. I’d come back from Ibiza. I’d been playing water polo at three in the morning with some hearty Scandinavians in the pool. That much is certain. From then on in, nothing much is. I wonder where I’ll be staying tonight but my burger arrives and puts on hold questions and queries alike.

“Our grand entrance,” she’d said. Are we in this together? I wonder have I still got my phone and I feel for it in my pocket and there it is, no missed calls. No voicemail. No text. None new, that is, I’m not friendless. Friends! I could phone up a friend, I could call Michael or Richard or David or Sam and say: hey how is it going, what are you up to and have you any idea what I might be doing in Istanbul? My rational mind says that’s a way forward but having relegated my rational mind just a moment ago I feel sheepish putting it back in charge so soon and I ask for some mustard instead. 

[Excerpt from ‘Eden’ - a Concept Narrative in progress. First published in LASSO No 5 - The Blackout Issue. As always © Sebastian Michael (2013)]

0 notes, June 8, 2013

0 notes, June 7, 2013