Again, fantasy and reality are overlapping in my brain.
I woke up a few times during the night with my sore shoulder. Last August in Edinburgh, I tripped and fell in the dark in a crowd on the cobbles during comedian Arthur Smith’s annual fantasy tour of the Royal Mile. I fell on the shoulder which a truck had hit and pulverised in two places in 1991.
Two places in the shoulder, not two geographical places.
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the drowning of comedian Malcolm Hardee, aged 55.
So it goes.
It was announced the actress Geraldine McEwan had died, aged 82.
So it goes.
A video went on YouTube of an Islamic extremist cutting off a Japanese journalist’s head.
So it goes.
Comedy performer Ted Robbins collapsed on stage in front of 20,000 people at the Manchester Arena, aged 59.
He is in a stable condition in hospital.
I never knew him, but kept meeting him at Granada TV in the 1980s, where he was much-loved. He seemed to be a very kind man.
Yesterday, in mid-evening, I had to interchange at West Hampstead, where there are three totally separate stations on the same road, all called West Hampstead Station. As I approached the third West Hampstead station, I had to walk through the middle of a large fist fight on the pavement, where ten or twelve large men were shouting and swinging at each other. As I walked through the middle of the fight, they parted politely, then continued hitting and shouting at each other.
When I was waking up with my shoulder last night, I was having some ongoing dream in which a woman called Arlene Gorodensky-greenhouse had comedian and writer Ben Elton’s Second World War gas mask in a blue plastic bag. Ben Elton was born in 1959; the Second World War ended in 1945.
This dream happened in a single-storey building which was either a motel or a television studio.
In another room of the same building, a totally different woman – name unknown – also had comedian and writer Ben Elton’s Second World War gas mask in a blue plastic bag. The new woman looked about 45. Then she sat down and started to put on make-up and all the wrinkles on her skin started to show and her skin sagged and emptied of flesh and she then looked about 85 and was wearing a bikini.
The odd thing about this dream is that the first woman is real and her name really is Arlene Gorodensky-greenhouse. She is staging a Grouchy Club show on 22nd February featuring me and critic Kate Copstick hosting a chat show with no guests during a Jewish Comedy Day in North West London. Copstick and I are not Jewish.
The whole of that paragraph is true.
Last night, on the train home, I had an e-mail conversation with this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith. I was in London; she was in Vancouver. The e-conversation started when she sent me a link to a wet-dream-like YouTube video featuring various people in various states of undress.
WATCH XENO’s INFERNO TRAILER Anna’s first e-heading said.
Another message from Anna said:
I knew Christian Aldo when he lived in Vancouver in the early 1990s. He was constantly creating paintings and sculptures and holding parties which he videoed. After Vancouver, he lived in New York, in Windsor Ontario (where he is from) and now he runs a gallery in Toronto called the Super Wonder Gallery which holds group shows with themes such as Naughtiness and Candy.
Like many boys, Christian is fascinated by asteroids, robots, space aliens and sexy women. He also collects plastic toys from the 1960s and has made some intentionally bad films, said to be a cross between Fellini and Russ Meyer. Oh! – and he has been described as energetic and charismatic.
When the competition opened for the design of the new World Trade Center in New York, his design was two plaster torsos of topless (female) mannequins (from the waist up). They did not win the competition.
Anna then sent me three e-mails. The first was headed:
DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER IS PLASTERED WITH POSTERS ADVERTISING A PLETHORA OF BALLS!
The second was headed:
BALLS FOR THE MEN
The third was headed:
MARTINI PARTIES FOR THE GIRLS
A fourth e-mail then explained:
It’s all part of the gay festivities on now at Whistler (a local ski resort).
I then received a picture headed:
PEOPLE ASLEEP IN VANCOUVER
I replied: “This appears to be a pair of knees with no torso camping out. With this and the outbreak of balls in ads, I think your dreams and nightmares are becoming flesh.”
Are you trying to say that I dream about balls?
I replied: “Malcolm Hardee died today. Once seen, never forgotten.”
Malcolm was famed for the size of his testicles.
I only saw Malcolm once.
I asked her: “Presumably naked?”
Yes. He was naked. All the balloons were gone but he was very professional and all he said to us (the strippers at the Gargoyle Club in London) was a cheerful “Hello Ladies”… This was much appreciated because most of the other comedians were either afraid of us or were asking dumb questions like how we could possibly be strippers and environmentalists at the same time.
Anna, who lives in a boat on a river in Vancouver, then told me without context:
I dreamed that I was lifting my bicycle off my deck and I dropped it into the river. Then I had to check to make sure the bicycle was still there. So many things have fallen into the river.
The Lesbians are not here any more. One went back to Spain; then the mother of the other one appeared.
She had never met me before, but thanked me for saving her daughter’s life. In fact, I did not save her life – people are always accusing me of that – I just did basic First Aid and got someone to drive her to a clinic.
A couple of weeks ago, I looked out the window and their boat was gone. It had not sunk. It had been un-tied. Someone told me it had been towed out and tied-up downstream near The Island.
There are two small islands down there, but we call it The Island because we only go onto one. There is nothing on them, although old docks get dumped there. It looks funny because the docks are barely attached. Some boats have been chopped up, then pieces of them float around in the tide for months.
Sometimes I see a shoe floating.
When I see a shoe floating, I check there is no foot in the shoe.
There have been almost twenty shoes (trainers) found with feet in them – men’s feet.
I do not think any of them have been identified. Do they find shoes with feet in the River Thames in London?
I replied: “I don’t think so.”
You DONT have the severed feet there?
Every couple of years, someone does a full page article about the severed feet here and then it is forgotten again.
They are studied and theories are published about whether they were severed before death or if they were broken from the corpse by wave action.
But nobody is finding corpses without feet.
They are all feet from young, adult men – a single foot (none are a pair) – and nobody knows who they belong to.
There is a new one found every few years and none has been identified as belonging to any missing person or any person missing a foot.
Some of them are found on the Gulf Islands. One was found in the river not too far from here.
This morning, when I woke up, there was a link from Anna to a website called STRANGE REMAINS which has the sub-title: HUMAN REMAINS IN THE NEWS, STRANGE HISTORY OF CORPSES AND ODD THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO HUMAN BONES
The website entry currently starts:
When a dead body ends up in water (whether by murder, accident, or suicide) the hands and feet easily detach from the arms and legs as the body decomposes because, compared to the rest of the body, the muscle attachments to the limbs are relatively weak.
If that body is fully clothed and dumped wearing sneakers, from time to time the feet will wash ashore completely articulated in shoes. The most famous case of this happened between 2007 and 2011, when a dozen human feet washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest.
At the time, there were a number of theories about the origin of the decomposed feet: they belonged to murder victims, they belonged to plane crash fatalities, or they were victims of the 2004 tsunami. But investigators from British Columbia and Washington State were able to confirm that most of these feet found on beaches from Washington Vancouver belonged to people who either committed suicide, died of natural causes or were the victims of an accident.
Forensic investigators believe that the reason why decayed feet entombed in sneakers or hiking boots can survive intact in lakes or oceans is that the thick shoes protect them from the ocean environment and prevent fish from feeding on them. Some investigators argue that the shoes are also the reason the feet wash ashore because of the buoyancy of the shoe, which is lightweight and rubber-soled.
The website continued:
Below is a list of decomposed feet that have been discovered from 2007 to present. This is an open post so that it is updated as more discoveries are made.
I stopped reading at this point.
There is a limit to my thirst for knowledge.
And I was not totally convinced I was awake.
An obviously outdated Wikipedia entry on Salish Sea Human Foot Discoveries currently states that, in the relatively small area of the Salish Sea in British Columbia, “As of February 2012, only five feet of four people have been identified; it is not known to whom the rest of the feet belong. In addition, several hoax ‘feet’ have been planted in the area.”