flann o'brien

synonymsforchurlish / posted on 1 November 2010 This picture comes up when you put ‘bicycle man’ into a Google image search. To be honest, I was hoping for more naked people, because I’ve heard there’s a whole subculture of sexual deviants into inner tubes and stuff.  I even checked that I hadn’t lost my mind and turned safe-search on in a fit of madness one night.  I guess this is a decent enough consolation prize.

So, anyway.  I spent the end of last week having a little confidence-wobble.  I put myself under a lot of pressure at uni because obviously IF I DON’T GET A FIRST I WILL KILL MYSELF, and the first few weeks of term coinciding with a new season on-sale at work and a load of family commitments sent me under a wee bit.  I’ve not said “sent me under” in years.  It was the phrase du jour amongst the teenage light drug users of Macclesfield in about 2000.  “Woah, Phil is totally going under.” “I nearly went under for a minute then but I managed to totally Zen my way out of it.”  “Your Mum’s wallpaper just totally sent me under.” The word ‘totally’ also features heavily, but then that really is a timeless classic.

Back to the point.  I had a meeting with HR and my boss on Thursday and I’m changing to a casual contract so I can continue to slowly burn my retinas away in the library, while making up a bit of money in the holidays when staff with kids head for the hills.  This has made me feel MUCH MUCH BETTER THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

However, I actually came to my blog today to tell you that there have a been a couple of occasions recently in which Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’ has popped into my head.  In it, people who ride their bikes for too long start to exchange personalities with them.  (When I ride a bike too long all I get is cystitis.) 

I did my impression of a half-human-half-bicycle for my parents in a bookshop near Nantwich on Sunday.  I’m sure you can imagine how proud they were.

This picture comes up when you put ‘bicycle man’ into a Google image search. To be honest, I was hoping for more naked people, because I’ve heard there’s a whole subculture of sexual deviants into inner tubes and stuff. I even checked that I hadn’t lost my mind and turned safe-search on in a fit of madness one night. I guess this is a decent enough consolation prize.

So, anyway. I spent the end of last week having a little confidence-wobble. I put myself under a lot of pressure at uni because obviously IF I DON’T GET A FIRST I WILL KILL MYSELF, and the first few weeks of term coinciding with a new season on-sale at work and a load of family commitments sent me under a wee bit. I’ve not said “sent me under” in years. It was the phrase du jour amongst the teenage light drug users of Macclesfield in about 2000. “Woah, Phil is totally going under.” “I nearly went under for a minute then but I managed to totally Zen my way out of it.” “Your Mum’s wallpaper just totally sent me under.” The word ‘totally’ also features heavily, but then that really is a timeless classic.

Back to the point. I had a meeting with HR and my boss on Thursday and I’m changing to a casual contract so I can continue to slowly burn my retinas away in the library, while making up a bit of money in the holidays when staff with kids head for the hills. This has made me feel MUCH MUCH BETTER THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

However, I actually came to my blog today to tell you that there have a been a couple of occasions recently in which Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’ has popped into my head. In it, people who ride their bikes for too long start to exchange personalities with them. (When I ride a bike too long all I get is cystitis.)

I did my impression of a half-human-half-bicycle for my parents in a bookshop near Nantwich on Sunday. I’m sure you can imagine how proud they were.


TAGS: books uni work flann o'brien the third policeman

synonymsforchurlish / posted on 28 May 2009

A few words about footnotes in fiction, because I’m all highbrow and shit

I just finished reading The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, which was kinda cool because it was mostly about forgetting your name and turning into a bicycle, which isn’t dissimilar from some of my own Saturday nights. I like how some literary types aren’t afraid to spazz out and write some nonsense every so often. And Lost viewers will be able to tell you how the strategic placement of The Third Policeman in an early-ish episode gave the dedicated few a heads up to the island’s future time travel. Or should that be past?

Anyways, I’m not hear to talk about Lost. (Although it must be said I’m glad that Juliet’s taken her weird trout face down a hole and blown it up, for everyone’s sake.) I have to come clean because I missed out large portions of The Third Policeman because, frankly, O’Brien was taking the piss with his footnotes. One of them is like, a thousand words or more, and it carries across four pages. Seriously, you thought a footnote was the most appropriate way to communicate that stuff? About how this made-up philosopher scientist dude thought the world was shaped like a sausage and night-time was made by volcanoes? It’s not that I’m not interested in these theories (you only need to spend a couple of hours in the company of myself and a bottle of red wine to know I absolutely 100% totally want to hear about how the earth is a sausage - it would cure third world famine for a start), but how am I supposed to follow the thread of the story about the dudes turning into bicycles if you drag me off to some epic footnote about scientific theory for twenty pages? I am from the internet generation dude; my concentration span can only just cope with Twitter.

So yeah, Mr Flann O’Brien, (I know you died in 1966 and everything but I’ve just read your book so I know all about how time is screwed and we’re all bikes anyway) can you please make sure you put all the good bits into the proper story next time? Nice one.

On a related note, I’m now reading Generation X by Douglas Coupland, and he puts definitions in as footnotes. This is totally allowed because the longest one so far has been about fifteen words and how else am I supposed to know what ‘historical underdosing’ means?


TAGS: flann o'brien books the third policeman douglas coupland generation x footnotes

synonymsforchurlish / posted on 21 May 2009 I’ve not been reading much in the last week or so, and while I would like to pretend this is because I have been partying hard with the Wolfmother road crew, getting tattooed and posing with snakes etc, it’s actually just because I’ve been reading a really shit book.

Yesterday afternoon I was having my pre-Ross Noble bath and daydreaming about running away to go on the road with Wolfmother again when I realised that I’d not really paid attention to Memoirs Of A Midget by Walter de la Mare for several chapters.  And I was a bit pissed off with myself, because I totally wanted to love a book about a midget, so I could talk inflammatory bullshit and then say “What? It’s a great work of literature, you uncultured swine" when everyone just assumes I’m going on about dwarf porn again.  But then this Walter de la Mare dude just went on and on about how this girl had to have special books made for her because she was like Thumbelina or something, when I’m sorry, but I’ve totally seen loads of midgets before and if they can hold a fifteen inch rubber cock then they can hold a fucking Bible.

I’m totally going to Hell for this.

So yeah, I persevered as far as the bit where her Mum falls down the stairs and she throws a tea chest off a balcony and then finds out she’s destitute.  Nothing a good agent couldn’t cure.  

And it’s not like I need Walter de la Mare anyhow.  I’ve read Wetlands for fuck’s sake.  Everyone who sits through that shit should have “open-minded” branded onto their forehead.

So now I’m onto The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.  The cover’s pink, but the opening paragraph was about killing someone with a spade, so everything evens out.

I’ve not been reading much in the last week or so, and while I would like to pretend this is because I have been partying hard with the Wolfmother road crew, getting tattooed and posing with snakes etc, it’s actually just because I’ve been reading a really shit book.

Yesterday afternoon I was having my pre-Ross Noble bath and daydreaming about running away to go on the road with Wolfmother again when I realised that I’d not really paid attention to Memoirs Of A Midget by Walter de la Mare for several chapters. And I was a bit pissed off with myself, because I totally wanted to love a book about a midget, so I could talk inflammatory bullshit and then say “What? It’s a great work of literature, you uncultured swine" when everyone just assumes I’m going on about dwarf porn again. But then this Walter de la Mare dude just went on and on about how this girl had to have special books made for her because she was like Thumbelina or something, when I’m sorry, but I’ve totally seen loads of midgets before and if they can hold a fifteen inch rubber cock then they can hold a fucking Bible.

I’m totally going to Hell for this.

So yeah, I persevered as far as the bit where her Mum falls down the stairs and she throws a tea chest off a balcony and then finds out she’s destitute. Nothing a good agent couldn’t cure.

And it’s not like I need Walter de la Mare anyhow. I’ve read Wetlands for fuck’s sake. Everyone who sits through that shit should have “open-minded” branded onto their forehead.

So now I’m onto The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. The cover’s pink, but the opening paragraph was about killing someone with a spade, so everything evens out.


TAGS: books walter de la mare memoirs of a midget flann o'brien the third policeman dwarf porn midgets