Fancy a banging a few quid on the credit card or would you prefer to release yourself from the shackles of worldly existence, into a universe which will never cease and was never created but has always been. That is fucking funny isn’t it?

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Swarm

March 12, 2009

There is so much stuff in here.

The four dimensional space is filled with old rotting meat. Thick slabs of once red muscle now dry and grey. Decaying thoughts, once pure straightfoward ideas made rotten by diversions and disuse. They are useless and I need to get the shovel out. Scrape them into a skip. Tap tap tap the sound of them hitting the bottom of the battered rusty iron bucket.

 

It feels good.

 

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unprogress

May 25, 2007

I have just had a close shave.

Let me say I hate shaving although I like the effect it creates. I had a shave with a Gillette Fusion 5 blade razor.

For those of you unfamiliar with the shaving market the Fusion has five blades. I first came to know about the fusion from the ads that promised me a new kind of shaving technology. I have been following the razor wars for a while now. It has been an arms race.

In fact it’s a useful metaphor for the types of battles young men get called up to serve in these days.

In the sixties and seventies stone-faced GIs and their Ivan counterparts faced each other across a thousand silos of ever increasingly powerful nuclear weapons. We would get a thousand megaton warhead then the Russian would get a ten thousand megaton warhead and then we or the yanks would get a twenty and so on.

It’s a familiar little play us humans like to act out.

The razor war was the marketing version of this.

I Remember the bright orange disposable Bic razors of my childhood. My first attempt to shave was with one of these single blade affairs. I carried out this recce into the adult world without shaving foam and the first skirmish against the stubble left me bleeding heavily.

I chose to ignore the facial hair for a few more years after this.

The next time I encountered the disposable razor it was a happier affair. Firstly there was something to shave, which made the whole thing a lot easier. Secondly I had developed through imitation the skill required to remove the hairs from my face in smooth sweeps of the single razor sharp blade. I had arrived. I really didn’t expect much to change after this. I now knew how to shave and that was that.

Like driving or riding a bike that I had learned and that would that.

Then one day I saw an ad.

What the fuck was going on. Another blade had been added. The Gillette blue two. A new dawn in shaving blah blah blah.

The first Whizz Bang in a war I would be an unwitting grunt participant.

Initially the idea of two blades scared the shit out of me. I’d only just mastered the single bladed weapon. The memory of the teenage bloodshed was still vivid in my mind. If a single blade had done that much damage imagine what two could do. I would be cut to fucking ribbons. I imagined my face with thin strips of flesh hanging off.

Because of this I resisted the urge to buy although the argument was persuasive. It made sense right? ‘The first blade shaves you close, the second shaves you closer still.’ You couldn’t argue with the gravely voiced logic. Also as my bumfluff was barely there anyway I wasn’t too pressed to swap.

The next few years razors came and went. The bic orange stepped up to the plate with a two-er but there was obviously a rational man in charge of that company because that’s as far as they went. I resisted the bullshit for a long time. Then one day I cracked. I self-consciously threw a packet of 5 Gillette blue twos into my shopping trolley. I think it was the Aloe Vera strip that eventually did the number on me. I had recently bought some eau de toilette on a holiday in Florence thinking it would make me more cosmopolitan. How fucking stupid? The Aloe Vera was clearly designed to appeal to the idiots who had bought that whole male grooming schtick.

Suckers.

I was disgusted with myself. I had become embroiled in their dirty little game.

By now I had realised there was absolutely no fucking way on earth I was going to play the game any further than this. I could see where it was going. Any idiot could. I knew without question we would be seeing a three bladed razor before too long and the inevitability and overwhelming pointlessness filled me with a cold dread even then. There is something about the dumb simplicity of a stick with a sharp blade attached that defies the language and the promise of technology applied to it. It’s a stick with a blade on it. But they play us and we suck it up.

Sure enough with a great trumpet fanfare that would have been saved for the conquering hero in times past it came along, The Gillete Fusion and its brother, The Gillette Fusion Turbo.

How I fucking laughed.

What kind of chimps do they think we are.

Within weeks I was using one. But I didn’t come quietly. I took the brave retrogressive step of switching allegiance not to another manufacturers three-er but back to a two-er. Fuck you. Do you hear me? Fuck you. It’s a razor on a stick not a new horizon reached in the constant battle against the vicious tide of growth.

And then one day I had to go the corner shop because I had run out of cheap functional blades and I needed a shave. They only had the Turbo fusion. Bollocks. What could I do?

This time going back wasn’t so easy.

Heroin addicts talk about the amount of relapses they have in them. As if the resistance required to avoid a life beneath a dirty blanket was a finite amount. This is how I felt now. I didn’t know if I could get back to the two-er. In fact it proved impossible. I am still here on Three Blade Island. An influential factor to my inability to get off is that the incident described above occurred at the same time as me getting a new job.

A step up. Playing with the big boys and all that shit. It played on my anxieties and my feelings of self-worth. Would I still be able to do my job if I wasn’t properly shaved? It gets you like this.

Sad sad sad. Kill yourself now.

Then I saw another ad. This one so preposterous I laughed so hard I thought I was going to puke.

A fiver had been made. With a lubri-strip and a single trimming blade on the reverse of the razor head.

How many more blades can they feasibly squeeze onto these things? The logical extension, (because there is no conclusion to this line of thinking), is that in two years The Brand New Gillette Lothario Twenty micro blade disposable razor with adrenal gland pump action lubristrip with reverse double trim vibrablade will have to delivered in a special van to your house every morning because it’s so fucking big.

I laughed hard and then one dropped through my door. They’ve been watching me you see. They know my habits they know I’m ripe for exploitation. Through my debit card transactions they can track my reluctant climb up the blade ladder. They know I’m the kind of brainless chimp that thinks once they try a five blader I’ll find it impossible to back track.

So they delivered one to my house in a cardboard box.

‘Have a free razor. Try it you might like it.’

I sat with it in front of me for a long time. I know I am vulnerable. The implications of using the Five-blader were extremely serious. Money for a start. (A pack of five units for the new five blader costs eight pounds compared to the three quid I handed over for the two-er.) The money was an issue but I felt profoundly this is the jumping off point. If I didn’t leap now then there would be no escape for me.

More than this though. If by using this thing sitting on the sink in front of me it would be proved beyond any doubt that the five was indeed a step into the future of shaving then they would have won. The whole nonsense would be proved to be true and a strongly held view of the world would be undermined and lost to me forever. Conversely I figured I had no choice. I couldn’t walk away from this confrontation. If I did they would have won.

I went ahead.

The thing is too big for my face. The section of blades is too fat for my top lip. It is like trying to park the space shuttle outside the supermarket. It doesn‘t fit on my face. It’s a joke.

Ha ha, fuck you Gillette and your stupid five blade razor.

Like the huge planes that Howard Hughes built it is impressive but usless. A perfect example that just because you can doesn’t mean you should, a pristine example of the pointlessness of modern life.

An idiots idea of the future.

Love you

April 30, 2007

In every relationship there is a good person and a bad person.

The good person will behave as they are genetically designed to.

They are considerate. Generally thinking of the other person before themselves.

The bad person knows this.

They are attracted to the good person as strongly as the good person is attracted to the bad person.

Each person knows whether they are good or bad.

Which one are you?

rumbled

March 16, 2007

They found a new mammal.

The clouded leopards discovered by scientists to be living in the trees and feeding on monkeys on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo represent a new species with more than 40 differences in its DNA to the now distinct mainland clouded leopard.

How fucking good must they be at hiding?

Or how unobservant must the scientists be.

Either way the news made me happy then sad.

The joy that the world is showing stuff to us if we just choose to see it is quickly replaced by the stone cold realisation that inevitbly this poor beast will now be tracked and traced and hunted and phtographed and tagged.

What is it with us?

My human reaction is instinctive. I want to get closer, I want to see it up close. Not too close of course, behind a glass wall would be better, don’t want to get eaten now, do we?. As big cats go it looks great. Dark grey to black ‘cloud’ markings on a very cool golden bakground. It looks like it was constructed by a german engineer in a Zahia Hadid designed factory just outside Munich.

The black, grey and gold look like an artfully sprayed paintjob.

That I subconsciously make those connections is the reason why it’s over for humans.

We adopt a mantle of the prodder and poker. Immediately placing ourselves in self selected supposedly higher status of scrutineer. We see it as our job as to place the creature under a glass bell jar to study it and see how it behaves.

Who the fuck do we think we are? Is it impossible for us to not treat every new discovery as a new toy to fool around with until we are bored with it.

What difference does it make?

Just for a change why can’t we leave it alone?

There will be a thousand different justifications why this cannot be the case. Each person with a vested interest will say their piece and in doing so will prove that it is impossible for us to see ourselves as just another species on a diverse planet.

We are not the masters. We are capable of the same terrified look the clouded leopard had when it it faced the lens of a camera for the first time.

Safe from harm

March 14, 2007

Beep Beep Beep Beep.

It’s all I can hear. From down here. There are other noises but I can’t make them out as clearly as the beep.

It is predictable the beep is the most obvious sound.

Down here it is deep dark and solid. The pressure of my surroundings is unbearable. The black is physical. Down here I am not human. I have given up that state. The air is so dense the normal physics of matter do not apply. Down here I feel I as if I were to open my mouth and speak the words would have difficulty moving through the air. They would leave my mouth and pile into each other like crashing cars.

So much of our lives is unsurprising. The beep for instance is the same beep I have heard in a thousand tense melodramas viewed at various points throughout my relatively short life. Like the many times I have said ‘I love you’ I thought it was going to be different. In your head it’s always different, more powerful in your imagination but then when it finally happens it’s always exactly as I presumed it would be. Like I said unsurprising, predictable.

I am so far down. This is a big joke because in spite of appearances that might suggest I was present in my life and maybe in other people’s I have actually been living in this place since I was about eight.

About eight? Who am I kidding? I even lie to myself. I can tell you the exact time on the exact day when I chose to come here and sit down in the dark. I ground to a halt that day. I was stopped in my tracks.

Other things happened to me on the outside but I stayed here.

I went through the rest of my school, I grew a beard, I got taller, I shaved off the beard, I got a job, I got married, twice, I got divorced once, I even fathered children for Christ’s sake but all the time I was down here. Walking round and round in circles not being able to understand why that happened to me.

During that period of time, which amounted to sixty years, I said plenty of words. Lots of words and not one of them expressed who I was or how I felt. The language required to say those things was not available to me.

I used to see photographs of myself and they were difficult to look at. Always the same smiling idiotic face. The thing about smiles is they are fucking wonderful things but they are really slippery. Take it from me; a man who smiles too much is hiding behind the smile.

I went to see a shrink once and the first thing she says to me at the door, before I’d even got into the room with the couch and the chair and the books on the shelf. Before I’d walked into the room the first thing she said to me was: ‘Why are you smiling so much?’ I had walked along the corridor with my arm extended as I always did. My big broad smile working perfectly as far as I was concerned and the bitch saw straight through it. It was like being punched in the stomach. The wind removed from my sails. I sat through the most uncomfortable hour and never saw her again.

I had been found out.

You might be familiar with the scene. I had ended up in that room like so many men during the difficult thirties. The drugs and the drink so prevalent in my twenties had enabled me to get to a place where I had miraculously persuaded someone to marry me. She was a desperate as me I suppose but in a different way. Like we all are desperate in different ways.

So I found myself in a marriage and the drugs and the drink weren’t working anymore. So you go to see a psychiatrist free on the NHS. After that uncomfortable experience with the one who sussed me I went to see another one. A ‘He’ this time. I smiled at him in the same way but he ignoreed the despair and decided to just see it as a smile. ‘What’s the problem?’ he said and we were off.

He was a push over. I just talked about the symptoms. I talked about them for ten years. ‘I smoke too much weed.’ ‘I drink too much.’ ‘I can’t have a successful relationship.’ ‘I’m not happy.’ And that was about it. In fact he made a lot of cash out of me banging on about the drugs and the drink and the marriage and the kids and the parents and the colour of the sky and the seasons and the; Well you get the picture.

I talked about everything but the fact that at five o clock in the afternoon of May the 10th 1970, a week after my eighth birthday Mr Godfrey had fucked me against my will in his office of the boarding school my parents had sent me to. Also against my will I might add.

That was the day the words were stolen out of my mouth.

I knew all I had to do to undo the damage this process was to find the correct sequence of words to tell someone that this happened. All I had to do was to say the words written there and I would be on my way.

But the words were not there.

The shadow grew darker and the mountain got bigger and the sun went out and I sat down and stopped.

I watched myself in motion talking and living. I sat in my own cinema and watched my life played out on a big screen. Some of it was funny but mostly it was tragic. I felt for the person up there, he was doing his best but it wasn’t even close to good enough. The lie was transparent and when people I was talking to caught a glimpse of it I would see them recoil immediately. They would look down knowing they had seen something beyond words. A glimpse of hell in the dark eyes of a young man. They sometimes indicated they would quite like to help me. But to be honest they couldn’t be arsed and we both knew it.

The first wife was a drinker so she hardly noticed if I was there or not which suited me down to the ground. I’m painting a bleak picture aren’t I? You probably wouldn’t have noticed anything if you’d met me. A description might have gone like this: Given to the odd maudlin mood but beyond that probably quite nice chap. Good for a laugh and a drink. Maybe the wife is occasionally a little bit too loud when she was properly pissed but then everyone’s like that once in a while.

People don’t notice do they? They just don’t. We all live separate lives. Think about the people you really know. Ask yourself do you know where they are? Are they really standing in front of you or are they like me? A little kid sitting in the dark watching a film of his own life.

Have you ever had a heart attack? They fucking hurt. Like you wouldn’t believe.

I was with my second wife, a very obedient 35 year old to my sixty. She was from an Asian country. Hers was a nationality somehow given to being of service. I put up with all the comments and filthy looks. What the fuck did it have to do with anyone else? I was not doing anything illegal. Although there were plenty of that type of man around. Plenty of little Mr Godfreys running around having the time of their lives in this playground of young flesh. Their faces lit by the multi coloured bulbs hanging in strings from the edge of the bamboo veranda. The soundtrack of waves lapping gently on the shore. One by one they would get up with their chosen companion and disappear for a short time and then they would be back to go onto the next one or to stay with the one they had chosen. A facsimile of love.

But not for me. My second wife took me from the floor of the bar to here.

Is it strange I have ended up here? Man hands misery to man.

It is a long way from the cold stone of the Scottish boarding school.

There are worse places to die. And make no mistake that is what I am doing.

A sad life is coming to an end.

Beep beep beep.

Aperture

February 7, 2007

‘If that shot gets taken out, it will literally be the end of the world.’

There is a pause.

‘Can’t you see? Am I the only one who can see how fucking beautiful that fucking shot is? It’s the most beautiful shot in the fucking piece.’

The piece. The film. Whenever I hear these words I feel embarrassed. I try not to use them. They remind me of a time when I started in this business and I heard someone talk about their latest film. I was of course impressed and then cheated when I found out the hack in front of me was talking about his latest car commercial.

It goes without saying of course within months I could be found self-consciously mumbling the word when talking about a Shreddies commercial I had written.

After a trip to the states, a classic advertising job by the way, first class to Miami followed by two weeks of endless Americans sucking up to me, the word, ‘Film’ was superseded by the word; ‘Spot’. The yanks use that word so well. In fact it’s my experience that Americans have a better ‘handle’ on this type of thing. They don’t bring that crippling self conscious English snobbery about what they do. They make spots. They weren’t embarrassed about being admen. And I liked that. I thought I would use ‘Spot’ it made me sound international, look at me climbing free from little england.

Spot hit the perfect note. It hit the perfect tone. Spot suggested a kind of easy going throwaway creativity without resorting to the truth of ‘Commercial’. With the use of that word I was sold. My soul handed over. I write spots. In meetings I will ask ‘How can we make this spot better?’

God help me.

But let’s get back to the man standing in front of me in the sound studio. The man who only a minute ago was talking about the end of the world because a shot had been taken out by the ‘stupid cunt client’, has now turned his attention to the Welsh voice on the soundtrack. He thinks the Welsh voice sounds shit. When someone else in the room asks him about this he simply says it’s not that he even knows what a proper Welsh voice sounds like but he just fucking hates how someone talking Welsh sounds.

The rant about how much he hates the way Welsh people sound of course takes place while a Welshman hired for his innate ability to sound like a Welshman when he opens his mouth sits quietly waiting for the next instruction from the ‘film’ maker.

He finally speaks to the voiceover artist.

‘Can you be less Welsh? It just doesn’t sound beautiful. I don’t like how it sounds. It’s ugly.’

As the VO does another take the man turns to the producer who has to deal with this shit day in, day out.

‘Get me an Italian’

That’s all he says. Like he was asking for an ice cream. Or ordering another lunch from the encyclopaedia-sized menu on the table crammed full of half-empty takeaway coffee cups.

Then to himself;

‘Italian sounds nice’

This man of course does not make spots. He makes films. He uses the word to disguise the fact that he is not good enough to make what the rest of the population mean when they say film. By this I mean he is far too self obsessed, far too fearful of the effort required to make a film to look at what it is like to be alive and be human

‘Get me an Italian’. And then, ‘Italian sounds nice.’

These two sentences precipitate in me a feeling of deep cold dread.

‘Am I the only one who cares about this. This fucking voice. Why doesn’t anyone care about this can’t they see what they’re doing? It’s fucking Welsh for god’s sake. Does it sound Welsh to you I don’t even know what a Welsh voice sounds like but I know I hate it.’

He turns to me and smiles. It’s what they do. They get you on their side

‘Fucking Welsh’

The repetition gives me another spike of anxiety

The sound studio we are in is subterranean. The walls have had years of plaster and paint removed to expose the beautiful Victorian brick. In my present environment it is the only thing that seems to have any integrity. And this is of course why places like this decorate like this. They want to suggest there is nothing hidden here.

The opposite is of course true.

I spend a great deal of time in places like this. They all look the same. You have probably seen them on TV programmes about places like this and they all live up to the stereotype.

Agencies and the film production companies are attracted to buildings like this. Labyrinthine Victorian structures have their insides ripped out to construct cavernous churches dedicated to thinking about advertising and making those thoughts real.

The Victorians built. They constructed. Their buildings were for a purpose. Workers cottages, railway stations, factories. Their construction measured out in tons and pounds. They existed to provide a background to precise conversations about manufacture and delivery. These same buildings have had their insides taken out and they are filled with empty conversations.

Conversations like the one continuing in front of me. I have drifted off. I have been listening to this for some considerable time now. It feels like this man started talking a month ago and he has not stopped.

I stand and walk out the studio. Being underground I feel close to Victorian London. The air is cold down here. Cold and damp, the air feels Victorian. I don’t really feel we’re supposed to be down here. It is a vanity of modern architecture that assumes we can live anywhere; we can make any place habitable.

I remember being in a meeting in New York where a glass floor had been constructed high up in an old warehouse on Lafayette. At this time it was the place for ‘edgy’ directors to have their production companies. I took the lift up and when the smiling PA opened the door the air was forced from my lungs with such a force the people who were seemingly floating in mid air in the middle of the space must have just heard a low weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee as they turned to see my stupid limey terrified ashen face.

It felt like an affront to the building to be up here. This is where the pigeons should be. Flying around shitting on the heads of the workers below. The journey across the pristine glass floor, (Do they polish it every night?), from the door to the table must have been a sight to see. Me pulling my best clench teeth smile while walking with all the grace of a badly built robot.

Other people in the meeting didn’t seem bothered we were floating 40 metres above reception. They enjoyed the chutzpah of the architects and engineers who made this floating floor so high above the ground. They enjoyed the added thrill of conducting the meeting as if they were a group of angels casually hovering as they discussed the latest celestial directive. I sat rigid; pretending I wasn’t shit scared of ending my precious life by plummeting to the floor accompanied by these idiots.

But now I am escaping to the toilet to get away from the shit. And as that contradictory sentence plays in my head I realise I am walking along a corridor that was obviously a sewer before it was reclaimed for use by a different type of rat.

If I deviate from the centre of the tunnel my head quickly comes into contact with the curved Victorian wall. The damp red brick. This far below the street everything is always damp. It will never be fully dry. There is a century plus of piss seeping through these walls that’s never going to dry out.

I walk into the cubicle and enjoy the silence. I am not in any need to use the toilet but I unbutton myself anyway and stand there. You can always push something out if you stand there long enough. A dribble finds its way free and splashes on the gentle slope of white porcelain and then into the dyed blue water. Why is it necessary to change the colour of the water in the toilet? We have become so obsessed with cleanliness even the water we shit into has to be clean.

My bladder eventually convinces me there is no alternative but to put myself away and return the stink being created in the studio. I button up my trousers and turn to unlock the door.

There is a loud breathing in. It is a sound similar to the suck of a big wave as it draws all the water it requires to form itself from the seabed. I turn to see the water disappearing from the bowl. It is gone in an instant leaving a gaping dry ceramic mouth forming a shocked ‘O’.

Silence.

I step back from the door and stare down into the hole. I turn and open the door and as I do the jet of liquid erupts. I am a scrambling flailing uncoordinated windmill. I open the door and run. I turn to take in the incredible force of the eruption and my head connects with the steel girder placed there by the architect to prop up the building that has been gutted. In a second I am on the ground clawing to stand but the level of the liquid from the three conduits to Victorian London is already a foot deep. I slip and fall. My vision is hazy and I am being strongly persuaded not to bother trying to stand again. My last sight before I am engulfed is of the sewer wall. Beautifully designed for the purpose of getting rid of waste.

I picture the director.

This time the shit is pouring into his mouth.

walking through walls

January 2, 2007

As soon as the door is closed behind me the stench is halved in strength. The sudden absence of the smell immediately makes me think; ‘How on earth did I live with that?’ But I did. Of course I did. You can learn to live with anything. Any amount of discomfort can be tolerated. Today is my 5415th day of this type of discomfort and I have learned to live with it.

The half-strength smell makes me think of the warmth of my Mum’s house and how I would miss it when I went out into the cold night to ply my trade. The cold night? What a cliché. But I’ve always thought of myself that way. And because I am such an unutterably enormous cliché so everything I touch immediately becomes the same. My Mum for instance. She’s just a Mum like many, many other Mums, but because she gave birth to me people can only see her as a caricature. The people who look at me close up, (and there have been many their prodding, poking accompanied by endless meaningless paper), ask questions about me and ask questions about her. She is of course significant but not in the way they want her to be. But they squash and they squeeze her until she becomes the cliché. It is so easy to do, any idiot could write those awful papers. I am amazed that people swallow those word masquerading as insight, but they gulp it down because they are as stupid and as obvious as the people that write the stuff in the first place.

When I was out carrying out the tasks that had been assigned to me, I would long for the comfort and closeness that the warmth represented. And now the smell or the absence of it is having the same effect on me. Physically, if a smell can be physical, part of the physical world in any case, the smell was so thick it was like warmth. It covered you in the same way heat from an open fire does. It became part of your clothes. I can smell it on me now but its power is decreasing evaporating from my clothes and the absence of it makes me feel uncomfortable.

People like me are supposed to long for this day but to be honest that is another cliché.

5415 days.

Ahead of me, twenty metres away floating a few feet off the ground is a door. I know it’s there not because I can see the door itself. I can imagine the material it’s made from though. I am intimate with this type of door and all it represents. These doors have closed on me many times in the last five thousand four hundred and fifteen days. These doors bracket these numbered days. An opening at one end to start the counting and here, now at the other end the door that will end it.

I must admit I didn’t count. Someone did it for me. And I think that was his trouble. I could never see the point. That’s what they want you to do. That’s the whole point of this. They want you to see this period of your life as separate from the rest. They remove you from your life and they expect you to spend your entire time sitting longing for your old life. But there was no distinction for me; this time has always been part of the same life. How could it be anything else?

The razor thin oblong of light marks the door. This is the door that, in their eyes, will reintroduce me to the world. It is all I can see, everything else is black. Dense black. It is so thick it seems impenetrable. It appears as if the twenty metres or so to the thin white oblong will require me to walk through a wall.

The thought makes me smile.

I have always been afraid of the dark. It is a fear that has amused various colleagues during my working life. They could never quite square it that the man pouring acid down the throat of the restrained man could be spooked by the dark.

But that is a mistake many men in my profession make. They confuse courage with fear.

I enjoy my fear. And I’ll say now I am not one of those people that go on about the Art Of War. It appears to me these people are just thugs trying to make themselves feel better about what they do for a living. Trying to elevate their status to that of a noble Japanese warrior. You know the type, live in Dagenham and have a Samurai sword over the fireplace. These people are liars as well as thugs.

It has always been my opinion that fear is a good thing. Someone I was required to put in a great deal of pain told me, before the pain began of course, that there are only two emotions in the world, fear and love. And consciously or sub-consciously we choose to live in one or the other.

Everything comes from these two emotions. And thinking about it I suppose it’s true. It is the irony of course that the pain I caused came out of a deep and profound love for what I do.

But I am in fear now. This is only because of the black, the deep black. You may think I would be fearful about what is going to happen the other side of the door. If you knew what I knew then you might suggest I should be very scared indeed.

They will be waiting for me. There will be four of them, including the driver, and the caper as far as they are concerned will run something like this. I will walk out into the sunlight. The small door in a bigger door will shut behind me and I will be free. They will approach me and they will say hello. They will be some matey piss taking as they escort me to the waiting car. A driver who I have never met before because he will be a fresh-faced recruit will not even look at me. We will drive to a field owned by a friendly farmer a large sum of money will be given to the farmer at the gate and the car will be driven to the corner of a far field. I may or may not have been there before. But it will not matter; the sequence of events will be the same. I will get out the car and I will be given a shovel. I will start digging. When the hole is the appropriate depth, I will be asked to kneel in front of it and I will be shot in the back of the head.

Love and fear. Where am I?

The black beckons. The bottom of the grave. The thick black of those twenty metres to the door. I take a step and another. I am swimming in a starless sky. I am up to my neck in fear. The door reveals more detail to me, as I get closer. Closer still and I can see the old Victorian wood. This door has meant the world to so many people. It means the end of this world for me. I reach out and grab the door like a child grasping the edge of a municipal swimming pool. It opens without me applying any pressure and the sunlight is blinding. Being born. I suppose that’s what it is for these people. A new life beckons, so much promise this time round. You can come here and see a hundred people reincarnated every week.

As scripted they are there. Not four, just three. One in the car and two familiar faces leaning in time honoured fashion against the bonnet, playing the part. They’ve seen too many films. Just two? They must think I’ve lost my edge, 15 years has dulled the razor. I am older than I used to be, that much is true.

‘Hello Vincent’, one says. The lapels are too wide on his suit. I don’t like the way they are dressed. It looks ostentatious. Not neat, too flash it offends my taste.

‘Hello Vince.’ Says the other.

In the pocket of my camel Crombie, which has been very well looked after I am pleased to say, I have a toothbrush. I can feel it as I slip my left hand in.

My right hand is extended towards the podgy hand of the first man. I grasp it and assess his strength. Like many in his profession he has not finessed his talent. He is just big and has assumed that is enough. He has been hurting people since the playground and has never taken the time to really work out whether this is what he wants to do for a living. He has an arrogance as a result of many victories in battles with people half his size.

This arrogance is his undoing.

Holding his right hand I pull him in to me and take out the toothbrush, which has been modified so a flat piece of metal is now attached where the brush should be. This piece of metal is razor sharp. The other end of the handle now has a five inch spike, made out of a sharpened typewriter carriage return, bolted to it.

I draw the razor across his eyes and the bridge of his nose. At the end of the same arc movement I push the spike into the neck of the second man.

Stepping away from them I am pleased with my work. Very neat. The man behind the wheel of the car goes to step out but his inexperience keeps him in the car. If he is clever and serious about his work he will learn and use it the next time he is in a situation like this.

The morning is warm. The sky is blue. Leaving them on the ground I walk away. The crunch of my brogues on the wet tarmac makes me happy.

too much knowledge

December 30, 2006

I have never subscribed to a certain type of gobshit. (I’ve subscribed to loads of other types, fuck me I’m a fully paid up member of every bullshit club in the land. But I have standards so I have to draw the line somewhere and I don’t like this particular brand.)

This type is characterised by a ‘mate’ leering at you as you stand at the bar; ‘Well’ he says ‘if you want to know what they’re going to look like when they’re fifty, just take a look at the Mum.’

There was something too surrey about this. A bit too New Forest. It was a bit ‘now don’t me wrong……’ Or a touch ‘Now I’m not a racist, but……’

The comment has a whiff of the squash club and the pong of the freemasons about it.

Too many hours spent in the company of people like this will fuck you up. You will begin to see everything from the point of view of a paranoid little Englander. Men so scared of things outside their experience they take refuge behind a big fucking Daily Mail and a thousand meaningless institutions ranging from the caravan club to the conservative party all designed to keep the world exactly as they want it.

Everything Institutionalised.

People like this know too much for their own good. Or more accurately they think they know too much.

They spend their life perpetually disappointed about the outcome of things that haven’t even happened yet.

‘It won’t last……’, ‘well he’s never going to make any money selling those is he? he just hasn’t’ thought it through.’ And so on and so on until they die lonely old men with only their by now fucking enormous fears to keep them company on a cold winter’s night.

So you can see why I didn’t want to end up like them. I’m not that type of man. I like new experiences I was brought up to embrace the new. I have an constantly renewed faith in the future. ‘It’s going to be great’ I think as I get out of bed in the morning The one thing that keepps me going is the fact that whatever happens today will be new. Not experienced before. The epitome of this sense of expectation is my relationships with other human beings and the epitome of the epitome if you like is the relationship I have with my wife.

I have chosen to be with this woman because she is a constant surprise.

So to have some fat-face-fleece-wearing-rugby-playing-motherfucker lean over and tell me that my girlfriend was going to look like that, fuck off you big fat predictable boring cunt is all they got.

Imagine me now then on a car journey with my mother in law.

I say she’s my mother in law, she isn’t, she is the mother of my girlfriend but we have known each other so long I call her my wife and if she’s my wife then the person sitting next to me having a hot flush must be my mother in law.

I don’t know much about her really. So I take this opportunity to do some digging.

I start asking questions about her life.

And before my eyes she is transformed. She is my girlfriend in twenty five years time.

And I don’t like what I see. But of i don’t like what I see in her, that is nothing to the questions that start to crop up in my mind. Don’t get me wrong here. I am so squared on the whole boring lower middle class Dad – Son shit. Get this: It is done. He’s a fuck up. I’m a fuck up. But only one of us knows it. And that’s it.

Anyway it raises questions e fucking g

‘If she’s her Mum, then am I my Dad?’ Obviously the idea is terrible. We each like to think of ourselves as unique individuals. Not as a fat lump of human dough made out of every person we’ve come into contact with. But as difficult as it is to accept it’s true.

We go through life imitating people who are in our proximity at first. My son stands like I stand. He holds his head in his hand as he reads in exactly the same way as me. Then as we get older we look for people to imitate outside of the family.

A hundred million Jimmy Deans and Joe Strummers.

Is this just useful shorthand? I love the poetry of Philip Larkin. I’m sure if I ever tried to write some poetry, (hang on wordpress, it could be out there), I am pretty sure that my incarnation as a poet would owe a lot to the librarian from hull. I have chosen Larkin to express my feelings about life for me, because I’m too fucking lazy to do it myself.

All of which brings me back too my mother in law in the car. I have seen the future. I know what lies ahead.

Unless there is drastic change.

sacked

November 29, 2006

‘The message is: there are known “knowns”. There are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.’

 Where would you like to live?

 Unkonwn unknowns

 Shifts in the paradigm

This is a dangerous place. The optimist in me would like to see this world as a river of of ever more astonishing ideas. Each one building on the last. Flowing, making connections that haven’t been made before.

I am reminded of a story told by a man giving a lecture on the learning systems of primitive man. He said that skeletons of a tribe were found on one side of a ravine. Evidence was also found at this site that food on this side of the ravine had dried up, and that the tribe had died of starvation. On the other side of the ravine evidence was found that food had been plentiful. On this side of the ravine the scientists were shocked to discover two more skeletons that were clearly from the same tribe. This was obviously confusing. If two of the tribe could make it across why hadn’t the rest? Carbon dating also revealed the two on the good side of the ravine had died long after the rest of the tribe on the ‘dry’ side. Through further investigation the scientists discovered that two sides of the ravine had been joined by a fallen tree. And that this bridge was in place joining the two sides of the ravine all the time the tribe was alive.

The only deduction therefore is that the tribe simply didn’t see the tree as a bridge. They just saw it as a ‘ug’ or a ‘mingno’ or whatever the primitive word for fallen tree was. It was only when the two survivors were staring at the predatory birds picking at the remains of their bretheren their brains were forced to make the shift in the paradigm and see the tree as something else and the bridge was born.

How happy they must have been. So happy in fact they probably ate themselves to death.

But UU’s are rarely this positive. 

History, especially recent history and by that I mean the 20th and the early 21st have presented us with quite a few UU’s.  These have usually resulted in death not life.

A camp devoted to the extemination of a race, the control of neutrons or a plane reinvented as a missile immediately spring to mind.

What must it have been like to be in the room when the those ideas were suggested?

Terrifying of course, but then all new ideas are terrifying. I work in an industry that is looking for the new all the time but in fact spends its entire life regurgitating old ideas over and over again. The purpose of my job is to find an old idea that just enough people know about to make sure it is well received while at the same time hoping that not enough people have seen it to make it feel new.

Terrifying then that those two ideas were new, but also terrifying in their scale. The enormity in their physical size matched only by the scale of the imagination required to come up with them.

All this runs through my head as I sit in a ‘brainstorm’. (If only it was a storm, the collection of people in the room with me seem incapable of summoning up much more than a ripple, a ‘Brainsquall’ at most.) The purpose of this meeting is to find an idea that fits the description above. On a tv screen outside the goldfish bowl office plays pictures of an army of tiny ants overcoming a crab 200 times their size. The ants swarm over the hard shell, crawling into the cracks betwen the shell and the crab’s soft body. They begin to eat him from the inside out. It is the most audacious attack. The crab fights on. He can’t believe it’s happening. The crab knows he is bigger than the ants. He knows he should destroy this army.

He is about to come to terms with the unknown unknown.