Friday, 6 April 2007

Criminal celery, tattooed mountain women and other journeys into absurdity!

Life often appears to me as nothing much more than a wrestling match with the absurd.
Far from being a bad thing, these tussles, tumbles and teases with the preposterous and incongruous allow me to enjoy my life a great deal more than I would if I was forced to live in a rigid and rational reality.
A bit of nonsense every now and then can put a smile on your face, d'ya'know?
Over the water at my beloved Chelsea FC, while the media stalk celebrity 'Socceristas' Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich, there is a fascinating and altogether more absurd struggle going on between the fans, the police, the Football Association and the club.
After each game, the referee makes a report which he delivers to the FA.
As a result of two recent referee reports, the FA has warned Chelsea that they are investigating celery-related incidents, and that the club may suffer sanctions if celery is thrown during games.
Celery? Yes, celery.
Whilst to the uninitiated amongst ye, this may appear strange beyond reason, inside the mind of every Chelsea fan reading this, there now sings a little song.
Unfortunately, the lyrics that accompany said ditty are just a tad crude for this family newspaper, but suffice to say that upon its catchy rhythmic melody rides a suggestion that if the lady in question does not intimately peak as dramatically as she might, a little tickling of her least visible orifice with a stick of celery might just do the trick.
Some might see a football chant. Others merely valuable and imaginative advice.
But now the Law has moved in, and once again absurdity has sewn its seed and taken root on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have made a strong statement advising fans that anyone caught throwing the 'popular salad vegetable' could end up being banned from the ground. In the past, English clubs have seen idiots in the crowd throwing coins, in spiteful malicious attempts to injure visiting players.
But whereas that constitutes a physical threat, the throwing of sticks of celery, accompanied by the singing of the song itself, threatens only to make me feel proud to be a Chelsea fan.
Into the super-serious multi-billion pound industry that Premiership soccer has become, we Blues introduce a smidgen of absurdity.
As a club, we may be riding high these days, but we have yo-yoed up and down the leagues, and suffered enough over the decades to know that nothing lasts; that life is absurd and that we have to enjoy it as and when we are able.
Celery is now a banned substance at Stamford Bridge. We been officially warned by Chelsea FC that "The throwing of celery is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record."
And just to help us lose all touch with sensible reality, employing shades of RUC tactics from the bad old days in The North, the club has urged fans who spot other fans doing naughty things with celery to call their the newly-opened Celery Line.
Chelsea FC, who might have exercised a little more wit and restraint, promise "All calls will be treated in confidence.", but by taking the stick between the teeth, they have allowed a wonderful slice of absurdity to cut the austerity of reality.
Can you grass someone up to the police about a vegetable?
Does that mean you have to vegetable someone to the cops about grass?
Thanks to one of my favourite annual competitions, we have no need to stray from the wonderful wold of the absurd.
Once again, the estimable The Bookseller magazine has invited libraries, publishers, agents and ...yes... booksellers to submit their choices for the award 'Oddest Book Title Of The Year.'
Ever since 'Proceedings Of The Second International Workshop On Nude Mice' ran away as winner of the first award in 1978, I have been enchanted by the whole affair. In 1985, at the height of militant feminism, the winner was 'Natural Bust Enlargement With Total Power: How To Increase The Other 90% Of Your Mind To Increase The Size Of Your Breasts'.
Personal politics still played a part in the following year's winner: 'Oral Sadism And The Vegetarian Personality', and stayed relevant all the way to 1990's winner, 'Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual'.
Although last year's winner was the robustly original 'People Who Don't Know They Are Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders And What To Do About It', my personal favourites are 2002's gloriously titled winner: 'Living with Crazy Buttocks' and 2004's plainly bizarre and brazenly enigmatic 'Bombproof Your Horse'.
Why not join in the fun, and vote for this year's winner at
Refreshingly, the actual content of the book is wholly irrelevant. All you must concern yourself with is the book's title, and to help you with this, I print below this year's official shortlist.
And before you ask, yes, they are all real, and have all been published in the last year. Choose between:
'D DI Mascio's Delicious Ice Cream: D Di Mascio Of Coventry - An Ice Cream Company Of Repute, With An Interesting And Varied Fleet Of Ice Cream Vans' by Roger de Boer. Yes, you guessed correct. It's an ice cream history of Coventry.
'How Green Were The Nazis?' by Franz-Josef Bruggemeier, Mark Cioc and Thomas Zeller, which offers an environmental perspective on the Third Reich.
'The Stray Shopping Carts Of Eastern North America: A Guide To Field Identification' by Julian Montague is described by its publishers as a way ' comprehend the complex relationship between (shopping) cart and landscape.'
Let's invite them over to check out the contents of Irish canals for Volume Two!
'Tattooed Mountain Women And Spoon Boxes Of Daghestan' by Robert Chenciner, Gabib Ismailov, Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov and Alex Binnie. This baby is self-explanatory, as much as it also completely defies explanation.
'Proceedings of The 18th International Seaweed Symposium' has so many editors I cannot name one, and finally, a rather cheerful little tome entitled:
'Better Never To Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence' by David Benatar.
Have fun, vote wisely, and never ever forget the wonder and wisdom awaiting those who revel and romp in the absurd.

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