Category: Other stuff

When sleep attacks! How nocturnal hallucinations helped me bust some ghosts

Darren having a snooze, Portsmouth, 1995A few nights ago, not long after going to bed, I opened my eyes to see a man in a gorilla suit standing by my wardrobe.

I’ve had a fair few strange nocturnal experiences, going right back to childhood. I remember, as a toddler, suddenly being woken up by a rooster on the inside of my windowsill. It wasn’t there, of course – I lived on a suburban street and none of the neighbours kept chickens – but I saw and heard it very clearly. Then there was the time – I guess I must have been five or six years old – that I shut my eyes in pitch darkness, only to open them a few seconds later to find my room bathed in daylight. Thoroughly confused, I got out of bed, found my mum and asked her: “Is it morning?” She laughed. Of course it was morning. “I haven’t been to sleep,” I said. “I’ve only just got into bed.”

DVD extras: Do you want sugar with that?

Christian Bale in Terminator SalvationBack in February, when audio of Christian Bale shouting at the director of photography on the set of Terminator Salvation landed with a thwack on YouTube, I found myself sporting a new windswept hairdo, such was the force of Bale’s outburst.

Interviewed in last month’s Total Film magazine, the actor admitted that he went “overboard” that day. However, he went on to criticise the leak and make some interesting comments about “B-rolls, DVD extras and stuff like that”, bemoaning the fact that many “wonderful mysteries” are revealed far too readily. “I look at it as old-school movie magic,” he said, “and with magic you do not reveal your secrets.”

DVD cases: Plastic not-so fantastic

Hammer and pliers lying on a DVD caseWithout wanting to come across like a rubbish ‘observational’ stand-up, can I just say: what’s up with DVD cases? They’re one of the most badly designed objects in recent history.

If the clasp holding the disc in place is the ‘press and release’ type, it’s great for storage but useless for sending DVDs through the post, as there’s a good chance the disc will come loose from the spindle and scratch in transit (ie, I’ll receive a dreaded ‘rattler’). Yet if the clasp is sturdy enough to hold on to the disc in the post, it’s not likely to want to give it up when the case is in my hand either. Whatever I do – press the clasp, pinch its sides, a combination of the two, all the while bending the disc as I attempt to prise it free – it won’t hand it over until it’s good and ready.

Holiday road: On the musical tourist trail in Memphis, Nashville and Vegas

Darren by the Graceland gatesPhew, time travelling really takes it out of a guy. How’s that for a dramatic lead-in to a whinge about the joys of jetlag? Approximately 30 hours have passed since Tara and I arrived back in the UK after a 12-day gallivant on t’other side of t’Atlantic.

Our jaunt began with a week in Tennessee, a return trip (we first visited in 2004) that we decided to make with my parents, who wanted to visit Graceland, the home of Mr Elvis A Presley. The site hasn’t changed much in four years, despite being under new management. The mansion and its grounds, plus a handful of museums across the road, are worthy and moving tributes to the man, his music and his life; the gift shops (both official and unofficial) are, for the most part, giant mountains of tat.

Ears: An appreciation (or ‘boo to tinnitus’)

A ringing earMy damned tinnitus is playing up at the moment. I’ve actually had an okay time of it this year. The discomfort in my ears – the blocked feeling – is always there but it’s not something I’ve thought about much; it’s settled into the background. I’ve only noticed the condition when, like now, the noises have kicked off.

When the hammering first started, a couple of years ago, I wondered whether it was ever going to stop. It sounded like someone was continually flicking my eardrum. It irritated me all day and kept me awake at night. For a few days, it felt like my life was over – that’s how distressing I found it. Thankfully, the attacks became more infrequent, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.