Swn Festival 2012 Reviews

To celebrate the diversity of Swn, we sent two very different reviewers along to the Festival.  What follows is a reflection of the wildly different perspectives that two people with similar tastes can take when looking at a modern festival.

In the first case, DAFYDD PRITCHARD takes a classic critical reviewers perspective while ADAM SMITH looks at the festival through several degrees of abstraction.

Just like the Festival, we hope you enjoy the variety!

From the pen of DAFYDD PRITCHARD

Walking into a room when Django Django are playing ‘Wor,’ one can feel like they’re strutting through the grand opening scenes of a film. The track’s soaring guitars create a stirring surf rock, with echoes of pre-psychedelic sounds and more contemporary peers such as Y Niwl.

Django Django’s self-titled album has been one of the highlights of the year, as demonstrated by its Mercury Prize nomination. Tracks such as ‘Hail Bop’ and ‘Waveforms’ show off the record’s wonderful electronically infused pop, while the jerky, energetic ‘Default’ has Cardiff University’s Solus in raptures. Switching between high-octane and mellow – yet always with an experimental thrust of broken beats and raw invention – their set gets the weekend off to a brilliant start.

There is a compelling contrast at work when the now near-veterans The Cribs entertain Cardiff University’s Great Hall on Friday. Their earlier, more recognisable tracks prompt a fanatic response, while there is disenchantment when they trudge through their newer, yet tired-sounding, offerings.

When the Wakefield act revert to type and thrash out their old hits, the crowd discovers its voice. For those whose teens were soundtracked by the wave of ‘The’ indie bands flooding the mid-noughties, tracks such as ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘Men’s Needs’ are exhilarating flashbacks. Ryan Jarman’s yelping vocals and his twin brother Gary’s riffs combine with a joyous coarseness.

Although the Great Hall audience wills The Cribs to unleash more of their frenetic old favourites, the later material is as flat and turgid as an undercooked suet pudding. ‘Nothing’ is particularly uninspiring, reducing the usually vigorous three-piece to a sub-grunge dirge. The screaming from a desolate Ryan is painful, the guitars meandering and the overall effect is a sense that this is a jaded band in need of a rest.

Happily, the awkward shuffling from the crowd seems to get the message across, and The Cribs rekindle their chirpy spirit with ‘Hey Scenesters’ – a triumphant reminder of this act’s undoubted strengths.

Chapter hosts a selection of bands as diverse as its range of guest ales on Saturday night. In the theatre, Echo Lake offer an inoffensive if not entirely memorable set of hazy, atmospheric shoegaze. Thom Hill’s guitar reverberates with an ethereal quality, while Linda Jarvis’ voice hints at echoes of Beach House to create a ghostliness in the performance.

Over at Chapter’s studio, there is an altogether more riotous affair where Islet crash around the stage. The Cardiff four-piece swap instruments, mingle with the crowd and rattle through their set with chaotic glee. There is a sense of psychedelia and hyperactivity about the offerings from latest album Illuminated People, while there are darker moments of warbling post-punk.

From the desk of ADAM SMITH

Chris Farley Lives On A rattling rush in my heart is telling me there’s no better weekend to be in Cardiff. No greater gag in this city’s gaudy arsenal, a tickling in my arm and my aorta is laughing. I tug at my wristband, loosen it, let it know there’s no point trying to hold back this blood. Blood which fizzes with anticipation and fear. Fear it’s all happening somewhere else. That it’s all going down at one of the 22 other venues while you’re watching Effluence’s frontman howl and hurl himself through a wrenching, retching set of splenetic pop songs, choking, broken, guitar barely holding him up through the jangling, strangling black hearted ballads…. And who dug up the bones of JJ72 and did they do it just to splinter them and bare the shards as daggers? And what’s more what is this all for?

Dizzee’s Oi Mark Greaney – is there anyone left alive who remembers him? Or am I embarrassing myself by mentioning his name? No time for dusty memories tonight, strapped onto the spokes of a spinning wheel. The New. Years measured out in the passing of fads and where are the Memphis Kids now?

It’s Better To Ben Doubt Than To Faye Dunaway not upstairs watching The Experimental Tropic Blues Band and I can see why. I’m inching my way to the door trying to escape the Mark Knopfler penis measuring competition but I keep tripping over tapping feet which are attached to nodding heads, all rocking in time to this plodding pug-wash punk… ‘They have toured Europe and North America relentlessly, earning quite a reputation for their wild stage antics along the way. The trio promise an expressive live performance, and with song titles such as ‘Burnin’ Hell’ and ‘The Best Burger,’ it’s not out of the question to expect an entertaining concoction of rock and roll, blues and all-out mayhem’.

Pareidolia I’m yawning so hard my head might split in half but let me pick up my jaw so I can drop it again because, what’s got me aghast, is that even now when YouTube has eaten all our myths and illegal downloading has strip-mined all the magic from the earth the spell of rock and rock apparently remains, still uttered, still sending 2D clowns stumbling across the planet in a storm of pleather, pulling out spontaneity on queue for half crowds of smucks, drawn to the display by the promise of penny drop debauchery… Take a bow Messrs. Dirty Coq, Boogie Snake and Devil D’Inferno. Our appetite for plod is fiercer than even the Quo could have known.

Things To Do In Cardiff When You’re Dead upstairs in Clwb there are dark graffitied scenes of beer fountains and ruined suits and Petula Clark and asking “who are your heroes?” and who indeed? and more so, who cares? So then there’s Cardiff Arts Institute where I got viciously dumped by the girl with one eye. A trendy wine bar now. Oh and Buffalo Bar where if I close my eyes I see a tuxedo out of focus before the florescent four letter word and he’s clutching an Espresso Martini and a Black Keys record. All of life spread out within the city’s modest radials but who am I and where do I fit in among all this majesty and music and no I don’t want to see Charlotte Church.

You Can’t Quit You’re Fired I’d rather see A Girl Called Ruth, because of all the songs on the BBC Radio Wales playlist I’m less sick of You I See than I am of Say It’s True. And Ruth, if that is your real name, I love the way you walk around the room after your set asking everyone if they enjoyed it OK and handing out business cards and telling me to send you a Tweet and talking about how you listen to the aforementioned radio station and heard all about dogs with high cholesterol.

Deconstructed Wardrobe upstairs at the student union and past a battalion of freshmen in full camouflage, thinking that I’m glad the Long Blondes were right, and inside with the inescapable stink of hot dogs, and up to the security guard who asks ‘are you here for Jingle Jangle’. Indeed.

Efexor but I always knew I’d end up in Glam with cavemen singing along to songs written when they were 10, rubbing shoulders with guys who think personality and bravado is one and the same and girls who mistake arrogance for charm and a line from a Martha Wainwright song is going through my head over and over and over and…

Hits From The Camera ‘small cities, yeah yeah, easy to get around, small cities, yeah yeah…’ Kutosis’s stunted robot rock is as much of Cardiff as Clark’s Pies and Ninja and What It Is Is this is the best I’ve seen the flannelled three – band T-shirts are beyond passe hadn’t you heard? – and I can’t wait to see they take things with their next record because they’ve got that triptych glory, that stripped down, focused thrust which is near impossible to stop. 

Sigmund and the Family Freud Liars of course come from the ultimate big city and their ideas rise as wild skyscrapers with seemingly limitless cash to prop them up. And so none of the instruments sound like they’re suppose to, and they’re all the better for it, and most of the vocals sound less like voices but rather fleshy wails from within a finely tuned machine. They even have a backing video, yeah a backing video, a Brechtian one capturing the band in the rehearsal room, setting up and then playing and then packing up after, taking it all down, stripping away the glamorous facade and showing that behind all great music there’s a lot of lugging stuff about. Which I guess is a test of your nerve. And is it important that it’s all shot from the perspective of the keyboard? was it just a nice angle or is it meant to signify the centrality of that instrument to their sound. And now the camera is sticking, the flickering form of Angus Andrews leaping through the air and I’m thinking maybe this video is preposterous and contrived and uh, uh, inauthentic and they play Plaster Casts of Everything and nothing much matters anymore.

You Make Me Question Truth a mexican wave goes up and around the Reardon Smith Theatre shortly before John Grant takes to the stage and maybe the contrast between our futile group gesticulations and his awe-inspiring individual expression says something about where he is as an artist compared to the average person, or maybe it doesn’t it, it’s just while we’re wooing and flapping our arms up in the air he’s singing songs which are so stunningly sincere and nakedly emotional that I feel like a fraud even trying to put the beauty of them into words. Because synesthetic wordplay can only cary you so far until you come up against something so inarticulately special that hanging a few cheap lines off of it only makes you feel inferior and you’re left clinging onto strangers howling,  ‘I can’t write about music anymore’. I Was A Cinnamon Tycoon

 

So hang me up in radio wires.

Watch me dance across the stars.

Wavering steps receding now.

Out of view and nearly.

Forgotten.

?

Tweets/Poems by Janna Liggan

out of cracked kitchen floors,

six dirt crusted siblings and chickenless chicken soup

she rose,

a flash of floating footsteps and a motion

of a tapering, gloved hand.

 

he followed me up to the bar

i gave him a half smile and an incline of my head.

 

i gave him a tight dress and riveting conversation.

he left me while i was sleeping

i gave him eight lines with no culmination.

 

she waited to “sober up” before driving rather than chip in for the cab back.

split four ways the fare would have been $3.

they all waited.

and they all died.

 

don’t wait.

 

why can’t we just leave well enough alone?

 

i gaze up miles of black spotted yellow.

he drops leaves on my upturned face.

 

she woke up shaking tumbleweeds from a dream of bleeding beach houses.

wind trickles over her arm hairs

 

something an ex said about me to my current bf in one of my dreams

 

when she heard she was a heartbreaker

she grinned

 

the low sun glances across the waves

and sharpens with the salt,

resting on the horizon

and the wreckage.


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Delinquent by Amy Lloyd

When the halls are empty and the school ground’s cleared I leave the toilet stall, thumbing my lighter in my coat pocket. It is cold out and this means the streets are empty all the way to the cliffs where only a few people walk their dogs, heads down and anorak hoods up. I pass by unnoticed.

There’s a sheltered bench that looks out over the sea. We don’t have much of a sandy beach, just rocks and stones and pebbles. Uglier in the grey of the day, a brown sea pushing lazy waves over a monochrome, spiky wasteland. A teacher told us that a boy she went to school with was struck by lightening on this beach, that when they found his corpse, only the bald, smouldering top of his head was visible amongst the rocks, the force had driven him right in to the ground.

Now even in the shelter the wind blows out the flame so I hunch in to the corner to light my cigarette. It starts to rain. I check my phone, I call Rob but he doesn’t answer. There is no one around so I quickly pull off my shoes and tights and take my rolled up jeans out of my bag and put them on under my skirt. With my back to the sea I unbutton my shirt and put on my t-shirt. I am transformed. Lighting another cigarette I fish out the twenty pound note I stole from Mum’s purse this morning.

The fair is closed for winter, surrounded by a rusting chain-link fence, the games and rides all boarded up, graffiti. On the entrance to the ghost train, in big red letters, “RIP Tom” because this is where he hanged himself two months ago. The body wasn’t found for weeks, until a bunch of boys saw the boards were loose and broke in to find this bloated, stinking thing dangling from the rafters. At first I didn’t understand. It must be creepy at night, shut down and dark. But then I guess wherever a person decides to hang themselves must be scary, regardless of how many plastic skeletons surround you.

These things are generally forgotten by the next summer. Tom isn’t the only ghost in here; a boy had his head torn off when a sign fell loose on the roller coaster, mid ride. When it stopped they couldn’t find the head, it had landed on the roof of a carnival game on the outskirts of the fair.  Sometimes around here you can see this man with an asterisk of scars from his nose to his neck and forehead, from where they had to stitch his whole face back on after the accident. At school they jeer at him when he walks past the gates, girls screeching like chimps in a cage. He was behind the headless boy, the ride ran all the way to the end.

The town is as miserable as the sea front out of season. Empty ice cream parlours and chip shops, a Blockbuster; a boy from school once shoved a dead pigeon through their return box and set it on fire. And they call me a freak. I once had what looked like a dead stingray frisbeed at me, while I stood at a bus stop, unwarranted; if there is anything that warrants such a thing. Impossible to walk through out of school hours for calls of “dyke” and “lesbo”, though I’m not half as interesting as they seem to find me.

In WH Smiths I pick up books I’ve ordered, paying with the stolen money, all gone now, and I leave for home with a bag full of Easton Ellis, Camus and Bukowski. There is not much to stay around for without Rob. We would maybe have gone to the pub with the pool tables where people huff nitrous oxide and sell bootleg videos and chunks of soapbar hash. Or he might have had money and we would have taken the bus back to the city and we’d go around all the department stores and pick the furniture we’ll put in our flat when we move out next year.

It was July when my parents took me here the first time. Charmed by the row of multicoloured buildings along the sea front and the pier with its antique stalls, they’d promised it would be better when we moved. I think my mother used the word “vibrant”. They had taken me to the new development of houses where we would be living and we toured a show-home with a ship in a bottle on the bookshelf and a stained-glass nautical window in a downstairs bathroom.

Our own house was at the end of the new estate, next door to a dilapidated Victorian place that junkies used for frequent gatherings. They eventually burned it down, the fire blowing towards our own roof so that at five in the morning my family and I stood outside in our pyjamas and coats to watch the firemen work, the rest of the street peering out their windows, pitying us.  The police found a body, a man lying on his back upstairs. They said he was already dead when the fire started, the people he was with probably burned the house when they realised he’d overdosed.

By the end of the first winter here my parents didn’t walk on the pier any more. Their commutes every day are long and the loneliness tiresome. I am often in the house alone until after six every evening, on a bad day of traffic maybe seven. Locked out of the house, my keys strewn somewhere on my bedroom floor, forgotten. I climb the back fence where my dog jumps at my legs. I insert myself in the damp shed, on the floor with the dog’s bedding, and I start reading. I know that if I don’t think about it too much then eventually time will pass.


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Some Jellyfishes Live Forever By Rhys Thomas

A jellyfish that is immortal. Observed and recorded, lab-tested and peer-reviewed; it exists. Upon reaching sexual maturity it reverts back to its polyp stage, folds in on itself, tentacles sucking up into the head. And then it is reborn.

***

How old am I? Ah! That would be telling!

You know, in the bible the world was very different. Many of the stories take place before Noah’s flood and the land is no longer the same. Things have fallen under the sea and new mountains have come up. Continental drift, tectonic plates. They find fish fossils thousands of miles inland. The say there’s a perfectly preserved triceratops skeleton right on the edge of an oceanic trench, frosted in place by calcifying coral. Forgive me but I hardly think he swam there!

If you were immortal you could be born, live your human life, the first eighty years, get through all the hard stuff with family and friends and the way things are so difficult, then you shed all that and evolve to a higher iteration, a new version of you emerging through the folds of time unshackled and free. Loneliness doesn’t come into it, not for me.

The jellyfish seldom live forever, they’ve never been observed doing so in the wild. They get eaten mostly, or ill. You have to avoid getting sick. Your cells might not die on their own but if a virus gets in there…

Would time seem faster or slower if you lived forever?

I had a family once. Never again.

***

Children? No, no children. I was just a teenager when it happened. From that day on I knew I’d never have children. Why risk having them when they can be so easily lost?

***

A fire. There weren’t enough bedrooms and I was home from university for the summer so they set me up downstairs. The room was so tiny you couldn’t fit a bed in there so I slept on a futon, having to curl my body around a corner at night. I had to pile my books outside the door when I slept and move them back inside come morning when I could fold away the futon and make some space. I hated it and I complained to my parents all the time but if I hadn’t been downstairs I’d have combusted with all the rest.

Ash is a fantastic fertiliser. Birth form death, the carbon cycle goes on and on. Imagine if you burned the whole world away. What would grow in its place?

But there are carbon pools too, carbon sinks, places where carbon is sequestered for long periods of deep time. Coal seams, oil fields. Immortal jellyfish.

I followed them once. I found them swimming in warm waters one bright summer’s day, just at dusk when the sun became Midas and turned the world to gold. They led me into a gully with lots of corners and when we went around the last bend I was looking down on an underwater mountain range. There were millions of the jellyfish, all swimming around or relaxing on mountain faces and I realised: was their spawning ground. Underwater vents, tubular rock formations, blasted hot steam. It was a paradise but there were no creatures other than the jellyfish, save for a green lizard with a red stripe up its back. I surfaced to take air and dived down and put my hand on one of the vents and could feel the rock vibrating. Then I turned my head and surveyed the landscape here, where the vents were, and was struck by the image not of rock but wood. It looked like a huge tree fallen sideways, the underwater vents not spurs of rock but truncated branches snapped near their bases and being spewed from their openings not water but sap.

Sometimes mountains move under the waves, sometimes it is the mountains that survive and make new oceans. Things shift and slide through time.

I think if you see something unhappy it is best to burn it away and let it start over, let it be reborn. This is the stuff of immortality. Technically we all live forever, rising and falling in the great cycle like waves. She was unhappy, her family were all unhappy. She never wanted him, she loved me.

Who knows where the places in the bible are now? Where are the Mountains of Ararat? Where is the Garden of Eden? And the Tree of Life. Where is it? You shouldn’t think me amusing, or mad. God makes and remakes. He does it with the land and he does it with his creations. Mountains push through oceans, men dissolve into the forests when they die and the forests burn to become something new. And yet some jellyfishes live forever.

***

Not really, they died a long time ago. After a while you stop missing them and understand that what happened was part of the great system.

***

I don’t miss her either. If she had been with me she could have tasted what I have tasted in the jellyfish paradise. But she chose a different path that needed to be slashed and burned. She wasn’t happy so I gave her another chance.

You can do what you want with me. I will outlast any punishment. Prisons will fall to entropy and when they do I’ll walk the world once more, a free man. I know I’ve done something awful in your eyes but you must understand that to remake someone is the greatest gift you can offer. I know this because I have glimpsed eternity, seen the twinkling dot of deep time, drank from the Tree of Life. I have become a God, ready to make and remake as I wish.

***

Of course I believe it.

***

I don’t think so. They say talking to yourself is the first sign and I don’t do that. But you tell me. You’re the lawyer.

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At the Chapel – Eluned Gramich

When we arrived, the sky had begun to darken over with grey clouds. I had driven us all here from the city: Mam, Mamgu and I. Mamgu sat next to me, and Mam sat in the back, watching the fields rush past, and the houses here and there. It was a long three hours we spent in silence. We were bringing Mamgu back to the farm after Christmas. On the way, Mam wanted to stop at the chapel to put flowers on Tadcu’s grave. It was his birthday today. I parked the car in the lay-by opposite the graveyard and we got out; my mother carrying the flowers we had bought on the journey. Two men in green raincoats were walking down the road past the chapel. Perhaps they were father and son. They smiled and greeted Mamgu and talked about the weather, before carrying on with their walk. My grandmother spent her whole life in the village; she knew everybody.

All three of us were dressed for winter. Mam wore a long black coat which brushed against her ankles as she walked and Mamgu had her red knitted cap pulled down over her ears. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep out the cold. Before us was the graveyard, curving alongside the chapel walls. Mam led the way to the metal gate. The grass was uncut and wet from the rain, and it chilled my legs as I walked through it. My mother told me over her shoulder that I should get water for the flowers. I went to the edge of the gate to the disused shed that stood there, nestled between the Chapel walls and the cemetery fence. The door stood slightly open. Inside, the floor was covered in bird droppings; I saw a swallow’s nest half-hidden in the corner. Cobwebs gathered across the ceiling. The empty water bottles were stored on a high shelf; I reached up and took one, carefully avoiding waking up the spiders and insects.

The tap was outside. I let the water run brown before I filled the bottle to its neck. As I did so, Mamgu and Mam slowly walked across the grass to the graves at the upper end of the cemetery. I looked up from the running tap, and I saw their figures standing still by the grave. My mother kneeled down to take out the old, dead flowers from last year. Mamgu stood next to her, leaning on her stick, supervising the arrangement of the flowers. “There,” said Mam. “Done.” Mamgu nodded, satisfied.

We weren’t alone in the graveyard as I wished we had been. There was a man standing further down, two mounds of freshly turned earth before him. As I came closer, I saw that he was a gravedigger. He was dressed warmly, in a grey coat, trousers, waterproof trousers and a black hat; a scarf muffled his mouth and nose so that only his eyes were visible. He had the radio on beside him as he worked, and an old-fashioned disco song lilted across the gravestones.

I gave the bottle to Mam and she watered the flowers. Standing next to Mamgu, I reread the words on the stone. I suppose they were remembering moments from the past, things he had said and done; only I couldn’t remember very much at all. What did I remember? Fragments of this and that – sugar on cornflakes, a felt cap, a smile over a meal, packet of crisps. Not enough for a whole lifetime. I came back to the words on the gravestone, mingling with the words from the song.

It didn’t take long before we began to make our way back to the car. Mamgu held my hand as we walked, hesitant on the uneven surface. Her skin was cold against mine and goosebumps appeared on my forearms. Mamgu stopped to greet the gravedigger, whom she knew. I let go of her hand. Mam and I went ahead as they talked, standing back from a conversation we were not involved in. Then we stopped and waited with the grass soaking our calves. The gravedigger switched the radio off; he was smiling, perhaps because it was lonely work and he was glad to have someone to talk to. The two graves, newly dug, cluttered the graveyard; a brown stain in the pure green. After a few sentences about the weather and the cold, Mamgu pointed at the grave nearest to her:

“Who is that for?” she said in Welsh. I felt as if we were intruding on someone else’s life. For a moment, I wished that my grandmother hadn’t asked such a question so openly. The gravedigger didn’t mind at all, and answered without hesitation:

“Dai Brynmawr”.

Brynmawr was a name of a place near where my grandmother lived. She nodded in recognition.

“I knew his brother,” she said.

I didn’t know what that meant, and I thought about a love affair, but then I was ashamed because it seemed a childish thing to think of, like that, in a graveyard. Then Mamgu stepped forward slightly and pointed at the next grave.

“And that one?” she asked.

The gravedigger said a name she didn’t recognise.

“I don’t know him,” she said, shaking her head.

“Someone out of town. He came from England, but he had family here.”

Mamgu shook her head and added, “I wouldn’t know him then.”

They said goodbye, and Mamgu said some things about death, about how we were all going there one day, and the gravedigger agreed. Mam was at the gate by now, and I followed the groove she made in the long grass. We waited together as Mamgu slowly came towards us; our gaze resting on her red outline moving against the grey sky.

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Crooble by Richard Owain Roberts

I open the envelopes in my mail tray.

I read a letter from a lawyer who says that my child is suing me and wishes to be legally emancipated.

I look at the letter.  The paper quality seems like it would be marketed as ‘prestige business stationary’, and using it would make people feel confident with their lifestyle choices.

I look at my stationary and think: I am not confident with my lifestyle choices.

**

My child is minus three months old and lives inside my wife’s stomach.

I feel happy that he/she has high levels of self-esteem and a go get ‘em attitude.

I feel sad that he/she does not want to pursue an official father-child relationship.

I text my wife and tell her that I plan to countersue our unborn child.

My wife texts back: okay bb but pls keep me out of this love u xxxx.

**

A work colleague called Geoff asks if I would like to join him for lunch.

I tell Geoff that I can’t eat any of the food in the cafeteria.

Geoff tells me that I can bring my own food.

I say, ‘I don’t think so.’

Geoff says he feels bad about my unborn child suing me.

I look at Geoff and all I can see is his tie.  Geoff’s tie is blue and looks delighted to be at work with him.

I don’t wear a tie.  I wear a white shirt (£6, Tesco), jumper (£? 2007 birthday present from parents in law), shoes (£12, Tesco).  My shirt is very thin.  When I stand in front of the mirror in the staff toilet I can see my chest hair and sometimes my nipples.  There are people who spend in excess of £20 on work shirts.  I don’t know if their chest hair and nipples are visible.  I don’t know if their unborn children are suing them.

Geoff says something about German techno.

I look at Geoff and can’t think of anything to say.

I am so confused by Geoff.

**

I pick up my phone and dial the lawyer’s number.

I feel conscious that I am not very good on the phone and the lawyer will struggle to understand me.

I don’t think we’ll have a lot in common, I think the lawyer will be impatient and demanding.  I think the lawyer will want to get down to business very quickly.

‘Yes, that is correct: Crooble expects immediate post-womb emancipation, and a basic salary until he graduates.’

‘He is a he?  If it was a boy, I wanted to call him Stuart.’

‘Crooble does not anticipate any problems with this.’

‘Yes. Okay, bye. I’m challenging this. Bye.’

**

I am very angry with Crooble.

I feel like this situation is absolutely not my fault.

Despite this, I feel like some people will still choose to view this situation as being absolutely my fault.

I don’t think I am ever at fault for anything.

I can’t think of a single example in my life where I have had 100% culpability for a negative situation.

I can think of several examples in my life where I have had 95-99% culpability for a negative situation.

I think: stop beating yourself up, you weren’t entirely to blame in any of those situations.

**

The decision to countersue Crooble, from a financial and emotional standpoint, proves disastrous.

Crooble writes a bestselling book about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire.

Crooble buys our family home and demolishes it.

Crooble writes another bestselling book about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire ten times over.

Crooble buys my employer’s business and demolishes it.

Crooble writes/directs a screenplay for a hit movie about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire twenty times over.

Crooble becomes a financial donor to right wing pressure groups and adds me to their mailing list super-database.

**

My wife dies.

My wife is still beautiful when she dies, but that doesn’t stop her from dying.

Crooble does not attend the funeral because he has already booked his holidays.

My youngest daughter says, ‘screw Crooble!’

The rest of us laugh.

My children and I feel very sad for a long time, but we help each other through by talking regularly on the phone and sharing our everyday stories with each other.

**

I am dying.

Crooble comes to the hospital and brings his wife and four children.

‘This is your grandfather.  Look at him.  He is just about the worst person you could ever meet.  He got a bus driver fired once.’

I am unable to talk because of the magnitude of drugs inside my body and in my brain.

I look at Crooble and think: I hate you, Crooble.

I look at Crooble’s wife and think: I feel indifferent towards you, sorry.

I look at Crooble’s children and think: I feel indifferent towards you, sorry.

I close my eyes and think about my children.

My wife.

The first time I completed a crossword.

My wife.

My wife.

My wife.

Crooble.

My wife.


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