Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Working For The Man

Greetings from the downslope of the credit crunch… That greasy freewheel towards realising that everything in your house is nothing more than a pawn-able bauble in the face of no food and – worse – no liquor. It is at times like these you can just about swallow working for the man… As much as you hate them, they are the reason why you don’t go home to a street corner and have to think about terribly inventive ways to use your asshole to gain money. They are the reason why you aren’t known as “Crazy Dave from down the way, the one who will beat himself up for pennies” and in times of tight belts we all do well to remember that. No longer can we entertain the fantasy of quitting in a spectacular explosion of sour grapes and moving to that BETTER job across the street to gloat at our former slavers. That better job doesn’t exist any more… The building was closed down because they could no longer pay the rent and have had to downsize. The developers circle like the vultures they are, ready to build a series of luxury apartments that can only be bought up as second homes for yuppies that consider a trip to where you live as some kind of safari…

I too now work for the man and internalise the mental breakdown that this reality causes in all of us. It is worse for me as I am now an employee of my city council, meaning I am office bound and surrounded by cretins. It is the way of the council that you fail upwards – the only people who get promoted are the terrible fuck-ups that have spent nine or so years staring at photographs of their many waterhead children while they work and have asked no questions, their inability to progress misinterpreted as a quiet inner steel despite their continual failure at even the most basic of aptitude tests. But we live in times where the most important person in the world struggles with children’s books so maybe it should come as no surprise when these buffoons are moved into that bigger office, where they have room for more pictures of more kids with glazed eyes and can sit around being carried by some smarter, delusional subordinate.

Yes, when it is public money you’re spending, what real pressure is there to spend it wisely? An ethos that only fucked a few now fucks everyone globally and the final irony is that it is our money that is requisitioned to bail these pigfuckers out. We just operate within the culture of fear and perfect our shit eating grins… Ho ho ho. I apologise for this dark cul-de-sac. These thoughts belong in another place in another time. I was making some humerous observations about working for the man. Besides, comedy is a requirement in times of economic depression or times of international crisis, even if it isn’t that funny. It would be remiss of me not to oblige.

Any analysis of working for the man needs to include an answer to the question “Who is the man?” that invariably comes up. I can’t tell you who “he” is, but I can tell you some facts that might come in useful. The man is not always a man – increasingly they are women but it is still correct to refer to them as he. The man will only speak in jargon and slogans. There is sign of the man at ground level – if you look upwards you always see the man. Despite this fact the man will ALWAYS be stupider than you are, no matter how stupid you ultimately are. The man will tell you to do things such as “pretend that your working” when you have nothing to do. The man only measures thing by how well they follow protocol, not by the results to which they lead. The man is a figure of pity and ridicule because he doesn’t even know he is the man – he believes that he is a kind of benevolent figure, a good person when you scrape away all the outer layers of skin. He doesn’t entertain for a moment that if you did this you would reveal an android…

Sound familiar? It should – because in one way or another we all work for the man. The secret is to find something in work that keeps you sane and gear your entire working day to pursuing it. I had a friend who was working for the Electricity board back in the day and he would send out crank letters to clients… Bizarre ramblings that would tell the customer that they could retain energy by drinking their own urine, or that businesses could generate enough energy to power a PC by sticking an immigrant on a bicycle wired to a dynamo and pay the peddler less than the cost in energy. It was his oasis of calm amid the insanity of the office hustle and bustle. Rules that don’t make any sense, tedious work and the ideas that management put into place to try and fool you into thinking you have it good. Such as the dress down Fridays that are supposed to inspire loyalty and improve morale, while at the same time highlighting the ridiculous conventions we all are supposed to buy into. But it’s OK because we all get to leer at the Office ride’s ass and wonder on what payday night out we can get ourselves cosied up to it.

Yes, you have to find something to occupy your time if not your mind. Council workers are not only stupid, but they are incredibly ugly… At least two of the guys in my department have mail order Thai brides that don’t belong on their deformed arms… But I did manage to find something other than hammering Cadred forums. Some beautiful piece of skirt that works way down in the post room. She brings me my mail and I like to lurk nearby as she reaches down to pick heavy parcels that have sunk to the bottom of the sack. If I see her make a break to the toilet I might go press my ear up against the door and listen to the soft porcelain tinklings… Not for any perverted reasons you understand. Just to make sure she is real. If you saw the other gargoyles that swanned around the office you too would wonder if she was a figment of your imagination. She works on the franking machine and once I have thought up a suitable pun – something better than “franks very much” at least – I may even speak to her…

Working for the man is a motherfucker. The only way out of it is to become the man or to be so good at something that the man eventually has to deal with you on your terms because they need what you have for their own ends. In the meantime keep yourself as sane as is possible by any method you choose to do so. Just don’t get caught. There is no room for goofing off down the dole office.

Monday, December 12, 2005

R.I.P. Motherfucker

Richard Pryor was the motherfucker born to say the word "motherfucker". And he's no longer with us.

He has passed away at the age of 65 after a heart attack. He had been suffering with MS for many years.

Growing up the first exposure I had to Richard Pryor were the films he did such as his appearance in the Superman franchise and his regular pairing with Gene Wilder in late night televsion classics like "Stir Crazy".

It was only as I got into my early teens when I realised that not only did Richard Pryor used to be a standup but he was one of the funniest that there ever has been. So masterful with an audience, unafraid to lapse into regular converstaion, never scared to improvise material on the fly... He was a comic genius. The only person who surpassed his skill with an audience was Bill Hicks, also sadly deceased.

As I started to watch his material it didn't really matter to me that a lot of it was aimed for black America. There was nothing lost in translation. Pryor was championing freedom of expression and attacking the dominant ideology of America at the same time as being incredibly funny.

I knew, like all great minds, he had his demons, that he had grown up in poverty and lived in a brothel where his mother would turn tricks. It was remarked that one of the reasons that he had some of the views that he did was because every white man he met when he was young was going to fuck his mother...

I went to his home town of Peoria, Illinois when I had a stint in the states. Not much had changed. It was still a poor area with a high black population. I wasn't sure what I was doing with this kind of sub-pilgramige, but I'm glad I did. I felt that his whole outlook made a bit more sense. As a bum from a colliery town in the North East of England I knew what it was like to want to get out of your surroundings and achieve something. Anything.

Pryor started by effectively impersonating Bill Cosby who at the time was the acceptable face of Black America, being beamed into the homes of viewers all over the country. But he realised that this charade was not him, would not bring him what he wanted. He knew he needed to be tru to himself. The rest is history.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then Pryor can consider one of the most flattered comedians. Every black stand up comedian owes him a huge debt, especially those like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. Every stand up comedian who wants to talk explicitly about sex, drugs and personal issues owes him a debt too. So candid were his stand up shows that his new material regularly came from all the stories that were reported to the papers about his addictions and health problems. He would always tell the truth behind these stories on stage, even if the truth painted him in a worse light than the papers had already attempted.

2005 had already been a bad year. We lost a lot of good men. This is a bad way to cap off the year. I'm just glad he's no longer suffering.

Richard Pryor leaves a proud legacy. R.I.P.

Friday, December 09, 2005

If you thought Ratzinger was bad...

A lot of my colleagues bemoaned the appointment of a Nazi Pope. Hell, I did as well... Why elect someone - who is as powerful, if not more so than the president of the united states - who believes homosexuals are evil, is against female priests, will not budge on the contraception issue and quite possibly used to sharpen Hitler's knives for him?

I guess the idea of an African Pope just freaked the Catholics out too much. Just in case he told all those people living in countries where AIDS is rife that they can actually use protection to stop the spread of the disease. Religions evolving and adapting to ensure they remain relevant to people who wish to belong to them? Not fucking likely.

We all know the Catholic church is little more than a collection of greedy, thieving, deceitful, chauvinistic, paedophile protectors. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my comprehension, their particular brand of quaint superstitions seem very popular across the globe. But, if like me, you think a Nazi Pope is the sign of bad things to come there have been far worse:

Ratzinger is not the first Nazi Pope. Pope Pius XII was a supporter of the holocaust and was such a big Hitler fan he refused to excommunicate him for his "sins". Under Pius XII the Vatican's considerable coffers were used to protect former SS members and nazis on the run.

John Paul II, the last one to die, is often heralded as a great man. Not for me. He probably did more to ensure the spread of AIDS than any one person could hope to achieve and was known to regularly play tennis with murderous dictators such as General Galtieri of Argentina. He also instructed priests in places like El Salvador and Chile to show support for the regimes that were active there and not provide counsel for any guerrilas or insurgents.

Pope Leo X used Vatican money to fund orgies. Such were his extravagances the Vatican was starting to find itself in danger of crippling debts so his underlings plotted to have him assassinated. It was unsuccessful.

Pope Benedict IX was the youngest of Popes being elected to the position at just eleven years old. The idea was to appoint a Pope who could be controlled. Instead his reign is often remembered for the "debauchery" that took place, including orgies comprising of both heterosexual and homosexual couplings, incestuous sex and bestiality. Not convinced? St. Peter Damian says so in his "Book of Gomorrah".

Pope Sergius III murdered his successor to ensure that he was elected Pope.

Pope John XII was feared by all under him. So terrifying was his bloodthirsty nature his deacons did not dare speak out against the orgies he held on THE TOMBS OF ST. PETER and ST. PAUL! he would regularly murder hsi priests. The lucky ones were just castrated. Towards the end of his reign he reuqested that Germany declare war on Italy then when realising the Vatican is surrounded by Italians decided to retract his request. Died during an act of adultery...

Most hilarious of all, especially given that the Vatican is against female priests, has to be Pope "John" VII sometimes referred to as "Pope Joan". It wss only discovered that a woman had been ordained when she started to give birth.

So, what do we learn from this little history lesson? That the Catholic church is full of shit, has a history they should be ashamed of - it sounds more like the Borgias - and is utterly corrupt. But we knew that already.

Ratzinger has some way to claim the big Pope hat of evilness...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Best, Booze, Big Brother & Britain

Perhaps it is no coincidence that on the day liquor licensing laws are extended in Britain, allowing ceratin bars to stay open serving alcohol for 24 hours, George Best's personal physician announces he has only hours to live. You can be sure that the Daily Mail will somehow try to link the two, a depressing tenuous link leading to the spewing forth of statistics about more people dying from liver failure at a younger age than ever before...

"We shall see many more like Best before this blinkered New Labour plan is through" one grey haired cretin shall quip, truly believing that this line distinguishes him from the rest of the journalistic world as some kind if insightful genius. The Daily Mail should just stick to being plain old inciteful.

But before this digression kicks in and poisons the rest of this post, much like the internal bleeding that has ravaged the great George Best's body and left it beyond repair, let us breath deep and smell some reality.

Extended licensing laws are a good thing. If you think otherwise, you're wrong. You're probably the same kind of moron who moans about your local shop not being open 24 hours when you want to satisfy your sickening, consumer driven cravings. Alcohol is a product, something that many reasonable people want to consume at differing hours. The people who binge drink and go on to perpetrate crimes and "lower the tone" of precious middle class England, by doing things like shitting on benches in public, would be doing the exact same thing if there was prohibition in this country... They are morons, yes. But morons can still be resourceful when it comes to enbaling their moronic acts.

If they couldn't get it together to brew their own alcohol from vegetables, they'd drink cough syrups that make them drowsy. If that was cut off they'd buy sleeping pills and take them. Let's not forget the basic fact that they would also flock to cheap hashish or anything else that got them into the state of being fucked up in public.But that's irrelevant because they would find a way to illegally buy alcohol anyway.

The key thing here is that these people need to be drunk and disorderly in public, even going to the extent of faking just how "out of it" they are in a crowd, like apes trying to establish dominance in packs. They equate being drunk to being adult, wild, wacky, interesting, hip, whatever the fuck... They cover their lack of intellect and personality by operating in such a state that them and everyone around them is unable to clearly distinguish them as idiots.

This after years of witnessing adults secretly drink after sending the kids to bed, wine with meals and being told "this is for grown ups", parents down the pub for hours leaving kids with baby sitters, alcohol not covered in the curriculum in schools and whsipered about by teachers... By the time you first get your hands on a drink you think you are doing something dangerous, criminal, wild. Something that proves you are the equal of any adult. And that is all kids really want to do in all their activities.

We, as a country, fucked up in our approach to alcohol. We made it taboo. Which is odd when you consider licensing laws in the form we knew them up until this day were brought in during the war to ensure dilligence in factory work places. Can't have those drunken workers affecting the war effort. Like so many things, after the war we just couldn't be bothered to revise it.

I've travelled all over the world, and while it is a great exaggeration to say that if you bump into someone who is pissed and aggressive abroad they are always British (plenty of the French, Dutch, Spanish and Italians guilty of this on my travels) it is a depressing majority. It never makes the people rethink their licensing laws... Just how many stick aorund in tourist season.

Hey, here's a good idea. Let's film these beasts and run the shows every day on Sky, Bravo, ITV and Channel 4. Let's make minor celebrities out of the brain dead. We've been doing it for years after all. But in the pretence of highlighting the problem, the media are actually glamourising the bad behaviour they supposedly deplore. And they know it too.

We should not be fighting a nanny state/big brother government actually giving us some freedoms back, nor should we allow an idiotic MAJORITY - yes, majority folks... Look out your window - to fuck this up for those who just want a cold beer at whatever time we want one. This, along with gambling, are two vices we're actually being allowed to do. Thank god. If I wanted to live the life that the Daily Mail are proposing we should be I'd join the clergy.

I was raised in a colliery town, taken down the local working mens club at an early age, given "pub shandies" while I tried to knock the pool balls around a table I could barely see over. I was surrounded by the fat, old, defeated ex-miners that were simply content to drink themselves to death. I was surrounded by the labourers having a few quick lunch time beers to make their days toil a bit more bearable. On a night I listened to awful comedians telling jokes I didn't quite understand and witnessed the middle age drunks try and do karaoke, the weekly moment of fame in a life packed with mediocrity and compromise.

Nothing glamourous there and although it didn't put me off alcohol for life, I had peeked behind the curtain that Britain has tried to keep closed to young people and realised what goes on in pubs and clubs is not so glamorous or exciting after all.

It is a tired argument that is being used by the people who are for this legislature: "Longer hours will reuce the temptation to have that big round at last orders" they say, along with "And not everyone will be leaving at the same time, so it will reduce crowding and fighting over things like taxis". Yawn. Yeah, it might just do those things. Unless everyone decides to go for the "hardcore" route and stays until the later kicking out time, or if it's 24 hours, until they can't stand.

In the short term we will see wankers go berserk and push it to the limits. The tabloids will tell us everytime someone is drunk and disorderly after midnight now. They'll have a field day if someone actually drinks themselves to death. But so what? The people who can actually handle drinking, eating, and other basic functions without killing ourselves should not have to be dictated to when, where and what we can put in our bodies. Let's evolve, instead of de-volving, for a change and let these neanderthal morons fall by the way side. Let them drink themselves to death. Let the police do with them what they will. I want a beer when I want a beer and that should be a right we all have.

As for Best. Well, everyone's blaming his decline on the booze. This infection that has lead to the internal bleeding that's killed him is a result of the medication he's taken to prevent his body rejecting his liver transplant... Sure, it was drinking that lead him to have his liver transplant, but he fucked himself up way before 24 hour drinking. Anyone can drink at any time behind closed doors. When he dies at first they'll mourn the passing of a legend. Then over the next few days will come the editorial pieces about the tragic, booze sodden decline of a great talent... Maybe even Paul Gascoigne will get trotted out to tell kids not to drink, along with photos of Best's yellow corpse... Within a week they'll be those who say we shouldn't have any sympathy for him at all because it's all self inflicted. They're the ones who just say anything different from the crowd to establish themselves as "brilliant, witty and informed". You watch Carole Malone and Richard Littlejohn's columns. Safe bet they'll spew the poison.

But we all won't end up like Best because of extended licensing laws because there is a clear difference between alcoholism and binge drinking, one which does not seem to have been highlighted in any stage of this sensationalist, tabloid gibberish.

Enjoy it while it lasts my friends. A conservative government is round the corner. When they get in we'll go back to the old way. Maybe a few changes... Like only being allowed to drink, at home, with the lights off, under a duvet. Except of course in the sophisticated setting of the House of Commons or a Gentlemans club. After all the elite can handle their drink.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blinky Blunkett Jumps

Rejoice friends!

Good to see that Blunkett has been forced into resigning his post for the second time within a year. To think this sorry fiasco even began with "bullish defiance" according to sources at the BBC. To think he believed, even for the briefest of moments, that he had done nothing wrong. But now he concedes that violating the ministerial code, trading on his reputations and connections to improve the fortunes of a business he owns shares in and holding meetings with business associates while in office are indeed "mistakes" and "errors of judgement". Yeah, errors of judgement the same way a fox makes when unleashed in a chicken coop.

That fucker is so bent, so inherently corrupt, it would not surprise me if someone threw a tennis ball at him he'd catch it. He's told so many lies, broke so many rules, why not?

But we can rest easy because he will not be back in such a position again. No second chances now through his chummy prime minister pal to look forward to. Instead just a lifetime of obscurity. His talks of taking legal action against those who have characterised him as corrupt is also laughable. I would like to see it go to court, would like to see exactly what evidence comes out... Even his "friends" have appeared on news programs to underline exactly what he was doing and it sounds even worse than first feared.

This could be the start of the death of the dinosaurs... Those within the New Labour party that have sought to take away our freedoms, force through legislature the majority does not want, wage wars against countries that do not threaten us as well as get away with as much greedy money grabbing along the way. This government is for sale, Blunkett's dodgy dealings the tip of the ice berg...

It would be a much happier day if the Conservatives weren't the alternative. But, for the first time in my life time, it is sad to say that the Conservatives are to the left of the Labour party. Dark, worrying times that we live in.

But do not concentrate on that for now and just smile and share a drink. Blunkett has gone. He shall not be missed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Strange and Terrible Story of George

I was on a bench across from my local bus stop, swigging a beer and contemplating just what my next move of the day was going to be. I heard some loud laughter across the road. Not normal laughter you understand... The kind that sends shivers down your spine. It sounded like the voice of some mischievous retard who could no longer differentiate between good and evil, more than likely as a result of his disease...

I was staring at the obese, yellow faced source of this laughter and it hit home that the reason that this sound was so haunting and resonant was because the source was familiar to me. Ye fucking gods... It was him. I regressed there and then with a mouth full of cold beer as the fiendish creature banged on the doors of a bus shouting at the driver to let him in because he knew him and didn't want to stand outside.

George ****** ****** *****-******, sometimes plain old George, had been at my school along with all the other doomed ones. I gave him short shrift, putting his stammer and nervous ways down to some kind of gimmick designed to attract attention to himself. It wasn't that I was a bully like some of the others. It was just I believed that he was able to communicate properly and elected not to because of all the other problems this brings. Fuck it - if he doesn't want to endure the woe of communicating with those around him and instead would rather enjoy the altogether different woe of being marginilised then that was his call. I could entirely take or leave old George. And that's how it was.

I saw him was when we graduated from college. People were in high spirits talking about what it was they were going to do with their lives, intently dissecting each others possible new chapters. George stated quite plainly he wanted to be an actor. Sure, he'd lost weight, his stammer was less obvious and he had started wearing sleeveless t-shirts. But an actor this guy was not.

He knocked things up a notch as the beer was flowing later on in the course of the day... As former students mingled with teachers for the first day of mutual acceptance and the red faced knowledge that it wasn't all that bad... George decided to cement his reputation as an actor by declaring he was gay. And that he was moving in with a guy who was going to help his acting career really take off.

What really knocked it up a notch was when he started stripping off naked in the middle of our local bar and started to writhe like some kind of obscene belly dancer. People tried to stop him, others sat there slack jawed, aghast at the foulness of what they were seeing. It was, naturally, only a matter of time before he got thrown out... Which he did and that was the end of that chapter, right?

Apparently not - He turned up within the year, his spirit broken, his asshole in tatters and his dreams of acting nothing more than a smoking pile of ashes. He ended up being committed, to the same institution that helped claim the life of the footballer mentioned on an earlier post, and was not even allowed the occasional day release. I'm told he would regail people with tales of the non-consensual sodomy he endured in the pursuit fo his dream... I'm also told he would alternate these tales of horror with tearful outbursts pining for his gay lover who never visited him once.

Some even went so far as to say the whole sorry episode existed all in his mind and his mind alone. Who knows, or wants to know? The doctors who allegedly put the stitches into his ass are the only ones who could give us defining evidence either way.

And here he was now as I snapped out of my beer fuelled flashback and I couldn't help but feel a little bit sorry of what had become of him. The weight was back on, the skin even more yellow than I remembered and the "treatment" he had received had elft him devoid of mental sharpness. He was now a loudmouthed bufoon, unaware that his enthusiastic, childish burblings were greatly offensive and terrifying to all those around him. The bus driver had that look of fearful disgust on his face and wouldn't let him on the bus despite his enthusiastic banging. He instead was left to converse with a bag lady with whom he was on first name terms.

- 'Ello Georgie she rasped

It all made me realise that my next move was to do anything but go near the bus and risk making eye contact with this deformed ghost from my past.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Whatever happened to students?

I've been away a good few weeks re-visiting my glory days by going back to my old university. Every day of my five years that I spent there would result in some form of drunken carnage that would live long in the memory. This was, after all, what university was about... For most it is the first time the umbilical cord is truly cut, the first time you can really experiment with whatever you want free from prying eyes and fears of disappointing loving family members.

This was not the case for me but, not wanting to miss out on anything, I pushed it just about as far as I could go, a continuation of the debauchery that blighted my young life. It was a great time - a stand alone point of my life where there were no real responsibilities, no-one to put ahead of my own selfish desire...

It should have been nice to revisit this. Instead what I saw was disgusting... A sea of banality and mediocrity. A university populated by middle class students so desperate to impress with faux home county voices and sensible haircuts. Even those that touched upon being different or individual did so in a way that appeared to me to be some kind of parody, like the characters in the young ones made real. It was awful.

Attempting to make the worst of a bad situation I tried to cajole and coax these greenhorns, to explain stories of a past when students actually did things. when mayhem did not equate to having your first pint at three in the afternoon. Their eyes glazed over, I don't think they understood.

I continued to try through my time there, managing to spark a few incidents but nothing like the days of old. Why such a spectacular fall from grace? Because of student loans. I, like so many others, had to return home from university in thousands of pounds of debt only to walk straight back into the same shitty job I had before I went away, now with the added indiginity of seeing the idiots who stuck around and didn't get an education zooming past me in beemers boasting about their 40k a year incomes. The young people I work with now tell me only a chump would go to university. Despite the good times, on reflection they may be right.

Working class people are taking this advice to heart, staying away from higher education. This in turn is leading to the student bodies of such institutions to become boring, bland and ultimately self-satisfied. My year was the first year that it was a loan. We didn't really look forward. We just took the loan,the overdraft and the credit card and didn't say anything. Since that experimental year people have learnt the hard way not to bother.

Not that you don't get personalities in the upper classes you understand. But put purely middle class people together and there is no reason for them to get up to anything, no-one to lead them down roads they have never previously explored.

The knock-on effect it has had on the student movement as a political force is evident as well. NUS is at an all time low, ridden with petty, self important, bickering imbeciles. It acheives nothing for its members, and dedicates way too much of its time to national issues it can't change because it echoes the debating teams they all used to be on back when they were at their private schools.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bigots find their place in the sun

The amount of times I hear people say "It's true - it was in the papers" Then you ask "which paper?" only to hear "The Sun" and they are being serious. My god.

Little Anecdote. The Sun printed a story in the build up to Christmas the Eden Project had banned Christmas from even being mentioned. All parties who were booking to have Christmas family fun there were being told that it was a "none denominational festival" that was called the "time of giving gifts". There would be no symbolism that was specific to Christmas used in any of the literature circulating about the Eden project.

This was "PC gone mad" once more and had to be stopped - and Muslims were probably to blame. SO SAYETH THE SUN!

Anyway, I rang their press office posing as a local journo - So pissed off I was at the bigots in the office mumbling "bloody muslims" and "it's PC gone mad" over their packed lunches - and got told the following.

"off the record? It's absolute bullshit! On the record - and please use this quote - it has been referred tot he festival of giving gifts because it runs from the start of December until Easter time. To use just the word 'Christmas' in our literature would be bad for business because people wouldn't think to come and visit us after Christmas had finished. It is not none denomintaional - it is multi denominational - and, of course, this includes Christianity. If you look at our current leaflets promoting Christmas parties, not only are they called Christmas parties, they have all sorts of traditional imagery on the leaflets... At no point have we received complaints asking us to "ban" Christmas" (the phrase "Sorry, Christmas is banned" appeared as the headline)

When I asked what they would be doing the press officer just said "We have seen the report, it has only appeared in the Sun that we know of, and we will be passing it to our legal team". I never knew what come of it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Generation Doomed Pt. 2

Talking about the doomed generation and the mysterious disappearance of one of our numbers triggered my memory...

I wrote this letter at the time a body had been discovered and I was certain that it would be what was left of my friend. Turned out that the identification revealed it to be the body of a local smackhead instead. The mystery was still there.

This is more than accurate description of events, however I have omitted the names for reasons that are obvious. Nobody who is one step away from grieving needs to know the truth about how the person for whom they feel arrived at wherever they have.

Well it looks almost certain that the mystery of what happened to ***** ********** is going to be unravelled fairly soon. As you may or may not know a body has been found in Nunthorpe woods, the body of what is only described as a “white adult male”. The body had been there for some time, buried under a pile of logs, not far from a footpath that although isn’t strictly for the public, is in common use anyway. ***** went missing at the back end of February; If I was *****’s family I would fear the worst…

And yet could this whole sorry state of affairs have been avoided? I mean, I spoke to mine and *****’s mutual friends and it all seems to be about money. I’d bet top dollar some of these “friends” even know more than they are letting on. What is for sure was ***** owed some very nasty characters money, and it came back to haunt him. The money was a mixture of Cocaine and gambling debts, certainly going into the thousands. And yet, even though I know the workings of the world and all things criminal, it seems incredible that a man nearly six months younger than I should have been murdered over what amounts to quite possibly the same amount of money I owe in student loans. Wasn’t there somebody he could turn to in order to secure this amount of money - He was not from a deprived background by any means. And if he knew the trouble he was in, why not come clean and tell your parents, friends, anybody, about the ugly situation you’re in? Anything to get that money, to pay off the debt that ultimately killed you…

I can’t quite get it clear in my head - But I can take a guess as to why. Perhaps what ***** never understood about this world, not coming from a deprived background, not mixing with these people on a regular basis, and certainly having no status in the “underworld” of Middlesbrough, is that these people can never be your friends. I envisage him having run up debts before, paid them off just before it got to bone breaking time, and then ended up laughing the matter off - “These people know me, they know I’m good for it. They’re good old boys. I’m exempt from the same treatment the others get”. But no, there are no friends in this business, as both you and I know.

I come to this conclusion because *****, although knowing he had the debts and obviously talking to people about the debts (not the right people as it turned out), went out and got drunk at the ********** in Middlesbrough, and it is from there he disappeared. These are not the actions of somebody with massive debts and problems, yet we know they existed despite his behaviour. He even left by himself, no back-up if there was trouble. This almost smacks of confidence. Can you picture how it went down? Did they follow him, or pull up in cars? Did they act friendly and lure him away with promises of more drugs or a party? Or did they plump for getting straight down to business and dole out the beating that killed him there and then… Coroner’s report says four “serious” wounds to the head. Naturally the flesh is in such a bad state of decomposition by now they would be unable to see the bruises that doubtlessly covered his body. The serious wounds, the ones that they can detect, broke bones. Perhaps ***** knew what was coming, and was past caring. Depressed and miserable, he went out for one last drink instead of hiding and panicking in his house…

When I last saw him it was Christmas time. Me, Rich and Phil had gone to a party in Middlesbrough to see a mutual female friend and ***** happened to be there. I say happened, I think it may have been his house. I was too drunk to care. I was pleased to see somebody from School, especially one I had gotten along with well, and hadn’t seen in about a year. But he didn’t come over to greet me, and instead sent over our host. She told me he couldn’t remember if I wanted to beat him up or not, if I hated him or not. These were clear and obvious signs of drug psychosis, that slow creeping paranoia that gets you eventually no matter which drug it is, just as long as you keep taking something. The mind was not built to exist in permanently altered states of reality, not after the formative child years of setting down what is real… But you can push it so far and still keep a hold of something that qualifies as reality. *****, even at this stage, had gone too far…

I explained that far from “hating” him, I was pleased to see him and would like to have a drink with him. She relayed the message and he came over to talk. He was gaunt, pale, poor complexion to how I remember him in school, and he looked a lot thinner. Increased metabolism with diminished appetite no doubt the cause, classic signs of the nocturnal drug taker. We talked about some good old days at school, football, mischief, you know the drill, and he told me about his new job (as an estate agent if I remember rightly) and what clubs he would frequent. But I could see that he was a derelict, a derelict with a child’s face. Which was the weird thing; he hadn’t aged since school, his thin build accentuating his young appearance.

When he was at school all the girls used to want a piece of him, but ***** didn’t want the nice posh girls who would let him get his fingers, or maybe even suck him off. He would opt for, and fuck, the girls from the estates, the ones who would drop mewling brats out of their boot topped cunts in record times, creating an army of bastard children all uglier and denser than the parents that sired them… He got lucky that not one of his “conquests” became pregnant. Together me and him would down half bottles of Vodka round the back of the school disco, wanting to get wrecked and face the music of horrible adolescence. Some nights, on the rare occasions, he would even take ecstasy tablets, for a school fucking disco no less, one of the few people I knew who were genuine in their drug use at this age. Despite how abnormal this may sound, all of this behaviour made total sense to me at the time and he had my utmost respect.

Yet, despite his obvious qualities and ability to not get bogged down with teenage bullshit and go his own way, he always tried to ingratiate himself into the gang of “hard” fighting kids (in a lot of cases much older than we were) from Marton and Nunthorpe. Why? He had no real reason to, people pretty much left ***** to his own devices, and he was popular enough. Who knows why? But he did start to hang round these guys who were going on to graduate from a very different kind of school we were going to - Me and him and many others like us wanted to experiment with the things we weren’t supposed to have, to prove that not only could we handle them but we could take more than the older generation that had forbidden us to touch them… Such joy from a simple agenda when young. Those kids were going to graduate from a school so brutal it makes the ones our parents hawk to us (The so called “school of hard knocks”) seem like a holiday camp. Life in these places was savage, and these kids were the product of that savagery, knowing that to make any kind of name for themselves, to secure any kind of future, they would have to be more brutal, more savage than the generation before them. Why would anybody want to become a part of that if they didn’t absolutely have to? But violence and crime can seem glamorous to those who don’t know it’s true colours.

It would come as no surprise to learn that it was one of these “old friends” that helped put the boot into ***** as he looked up helpless, held by two men both infinitely stronger than him. He more than likely tried to beg, tried to reason, maybe even went so far as to mention the good old days, but this was what these people had to do. Even with someone as ultimately small time as *****, because if they didn’t, then maybe it would be them in his position, and somebody with all their fears in their position, sticking the boot into them, as they choked blood and spat teeth and hoped and prayed for just one more chance to see their family and friends, even from the bed of a hospital.

Hell, I’ve made a lot of assumptions and conclusions, but I’ve seen this before, I know how it went down. Even if this body, by some crazy stretch of the imagination, doesn’t turn out to be *****, it is a matter of time before we do find his battered corpse somewhere. He died owing money, with money in his bank account, money that makes it look like he is dead because it has been untouched since his disappearance. Money that might have bought him time. But no, he is gone, and the money will go on something less important than keeping him alive, more than likely on his own funeral arrangements. A part of me would like to go to the ceremony, pay my respects to a kid who was little boy lost, a good guy with a good heart. But I doubt I will, because the whole thing is so fucking tragic and sinister, and the people there in attendance are more than likely just as guilty as the people who beat him to death. This could have all been avoided, that much is fact, even if everything else I’ve assumed is wrong.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Generation Doomed

I bumped into an old friend a few days ago who told me that one of the "successful" sporting graduates from my school days had decided to hang himself in a nearby sanitarium. Just how had he got there? A few years ago he was playing up front for York City and was the subject of a possible one million pound transfer to Sheffield Wednesday...

Apparantly a spiralling heroin addicition saw him kicked out of club after club until he had a complete collapse. The Ultimate in collapses. He was sectioned in our local "mental health hospital" and had access to the means to end his life. His life had not been an easy one. He was a black guy with white foster parents. Turns out, kids can be cruel.

Still, he always had his sporting talent to fall back on and while I was slugging it away in a call centre he was earning a thousand pound a week and having all his accomidation and travel paid for. Based on this I cannot see why he ever felt the need to anaethetise his pain with heroin. He had other means with which to do it, and he must have known that heroin is not exactly conducive to a sporting career.

I suspect that he never knew exactly why he was doing what he was doing. Rather, there was some kind of in built self destructive trend that he could not resist and lead him down dark paths without him figuring out why he was treading them.

Much like the guy I used to live with who now sells the Big Issue on my local streets - another product of foster care. Or an old friend from school who has been missing for 2 years. Or the best guy I ever knew, who died in the Iraq war...

There are many others. Too many to mention, list and do justice to with a few anecdotes. It feels to me that there is some kind of in built programming that we cannot override. Maybe you can call it fate, but I look around at the faces that shine with defeat around me... We are resigned to this biological sub-routine kicking in and we know there is nothing we can do. We will be seduced by this calling. It is the old matter of time.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Piracy is Theft - FACT or FICTion

Have you ever been to the cinema and watched the whole FACT type warnings before the film starts? I’ve often laughed derisively at the warning that “anyone caught with recording equipment will be ejected from the premises and prosecuted” and the request “to be vigilant at all times, reporting those who bring such equipment into this movie theatre”. Images of some toothless video pirate sat at the back row hoping the whirring noise emanating from his Super-8 recorder doesn’t attract attention, desperate to be able to sell the latest movies months before they are commercially available in shops. It just never seemed a plausible scenario to me.

Not like the bootleg recorders you would bump into, as you would drunkenly stumble around a mosh pit at a gig. That makes a little more sense. With even lo grade equipment you will be able to capture a recording that is decent enough; you can also go so far to say that these recordings give people who have never had the opportunity to hear their band of choice in a live setting without the studio covering up their deficiencies… I remember the disgust that throttled my intestines when I heard Soundgarden live for the first time. Cornell’s voice way off, the guitars leads way too complicated and polished on the album to translate live, and long pauses peppered with twittering, drunken speeches between songs… It made me appreciate the albums a whole lot more.

A bootleg also means you get to hear those all too rare cover versions that are only for ticket carrying fans. Green Day belting out “Eye of the Tiger” for example, or Rage Against the Machine blasting out NWA’s “Fuck Da Police”. The whole notion of “cover-songs” is something that all musicians can relate to, whether it’s your first lick on a guitar from Led Zeppelin, a cover of a classic blues track played by a local pub band, or the rare glimpse of the influences of platinum selling artists.

With images it can never be so simple. If you point a camcorder at a screen in a cinema, it will capture all around it, dark murky picture, bright light reflecting, poor sound quality… So surely this has never happened. I was convinced. Then the other day I was reading about these teenagers that had remade “Raiders of the Lost Ark” shot for shot, line for line, with themselves in all the roles. All the stunts were replicated; a garage was accidentally burnt down when re-enacting the bar scene with the Sherpas. It took six long years to complete, and all they had for reference was this badly made home video from an old video recorder they had smuggled into their local backwater theatre. There is talk of this version being included as an extra on a new Criterion edition of the Raiders… DVD.

So, I had to concede, that it had least been done. But it was in America, and it was in some small redneck community. The audience will have been allowed to take alcohol and guns into the theatre with them, shoot big wholes in the screen at the Arabs digging for the ark of the covenant, while they whoop and holler at the nazis exploits… So, fuck it. “This isolated incident is the exception that proves the rule,” I thought. I then put this idle jibber-jabber to the back of mind.

I’m going into work one day and my local cabbie picks me up – A bug bear for me at the moment is if I’m on an early shift, public transport is so shabby here I have to use a taxi service – at the usual time. He’s a young Asian lad called Ricky. Moved up north from London because he had some family and friends up here (don’t they always?) and set himself up driving cabs. He’s a good guy, always on time, always talkative… On this morning we got talking movies. Not film or cinema, just movies. Our views on films, not surprisingly, differed greatly. He thought “Euro Trip” was “hilarious”. I let that one pass me by, the waft of puerile filth coupled with the stench of feeble Americanised European stereotyping kept me away from it. I asked if he liked any other movies. He said he was a big fan of gangster movies. I approached him for his opinions on “The Godfather”… He said he’d never sat through it all the way through on the grounds that it was “too slow and too long”. “Plus” he added “What the fuck is that geezer who can’t talk properly all about”. I can only presume he was referring to the late Marlon Brando. A fitting tribute to his legacy…

We got talking about what was going down well in the box office at this moment in time, and we found a mutual respect for “Spider Man 2” if for nothing more than it was pure popcorn. He leans over and pulls something from down the side of his seat while we wait at traffic lights:

“You’ll like that then” he says, and drops a CD into my lap in a flimsy, transparent casing.

Aliens Vs Predator was scrawled across it.

Yeah, for all my above talk trying to make out I’m some kind of high art cinema critic this is a film that had been wetting my appetite. A fan of both sets of films it was a crossover I knew was doomed to failure, but one I had to watch anyway. I had been praying that it would at least constitute a “so bad it’s good” viewing experience. Better that than mediocrity on all fronts.

We concluded the transaction and I did a day at work wondering just how good a copy I’d purchased and whether the film would be much cop if I could indeed sit through the copy… I thought of all my pirate video experiences… The first dingy viewing of Robocop at an incredibly young age trying to figure what was going on and what the fuss was about, but still revelling in the amount of times I could hear the word “fuck” buzzing out of the speaker… More recently a version of Troy so badly put together that all the fight scenes on sand were so bright and lacking contrast and definition you couldn’t see the participants at all.

I then got thinking about the poor jokes old stand up comics made about pirate videos during the 80s in an attempt to prove they were cutting edge:

“Got a pirate video of E.T. the other day… Wasn’t bad either… Mind you, the little alien looked fucking stupid with a wooden leg and eye patch on it….”

You get the picture. I shuddered and went about the rest of my business.

Get in, decide to whack it straight in to see it the goods are “kosher” and yeah, the picture quality is good. A little fuzzy but certainly watchable. The sound is decent enough and the dubbing is right on the money. So I settle into the chair I am sitting in now as I type this and start to watch. The film is trundling along, painfully bothering to flesh out characters that we know are fodder for the real stars of the show, then I see a flicker of movement in the corner of the screen. Something black and smooth… The first glimpse of a xenomorph? A new kind of predator cloaking technology?

If only. It was the round, smooth shadow of the back of someone’s head. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then, to completely shatter everything I had ever believed, someone else gets up and walks across the screen, easily as large as the actors up there on celluloid. This pirate DVD, of a quality higher than your average one, was indeed created by the same toothless, Super-8 carrying pirate that I had scoffed at for so many years. I’m sure I’m not alone in this mockery, but I have finally seen evidence of this and will hold up my hands – I was wrong to scoff…

I shall never renounce piracy as a bad thing, never. Nor shall I buy into the urban myth-esque tales of pirate video funding terrorist organisations: In the 80s the dreaded IRA, now the even more dreaded and omni-present Al Qaeda. The same business template of distribution that pirates are condemned for is used at the top where the entrepreneurs live. Purchase the “rights” to the original, replicate en mass through technology and distribute at a cost that covers overheads to make a profit. It seems insane to demonise one set of people to the level we do, while we applaud the multi-millionaires in their ivory towers and thank them for giving us the gift of entertainment.

All I am saying is that maybe those FACT pigfuckers and all the other anti-piracy groups know something after all. Which is more than I’ve ever conceded before.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dark tidings and babble from one of the devolving generation...

Everyone was setting these things up. Usually I don't follow trends. Not because I'm some kind of true individual, but rather because I'm one of those people who says things like "Well it's totally commercialised now" or "It has become something of a cliche". I can't remember a time when I uttered the phrase "Well, I was into them/it before everybody else, but I won't put it past me.

Anyway, I set this up out of frustration. My friend Gav, a rugby player with a raging ginger beard that makes him look like some kind of 18th century fisherman, told me a tale about some Muslim guy he met in a bar. He believed that Darwin was sort of right, he just had it the wrong way round. People didn't evolve from apes, rather apes devolved from people. Gav, who isn't tolerant of other peoples views at the best of times, spent hours arguing with him, however Aqhmed could not be swayed.

So he told me the story and I laughed. We'd been drinking cheap lager all day, but I found the whole notion so patently ridiculous I think I would have laughed had I been sober. On the way home that night I encountered some horrible night creatures riding along on a slick of vomit and verbal abuse. Their incoherent anger was directed at the invisible phantoms that surrounded them as well as each other. They were totally incapable of violence yet seemed to crave it. It all made no sense, but it was typical of the scenes you see at closing time in Middlesbrough.

I woke up the next day, had my usual morning potter about (this may well be some kind of polite euphanism for wank) and tried to go about my day. Working as a call centre manager. At 25. Surrounded by people, in some cases my superiors, who were barely literate. I sat at my desk drinking the sump that passes for coffee from our vending machine - after a few uses the coffee, chocolate drinks and tea end up coming out as one brown sludge - and I started to think maybe Aqhmed was on to something. These people around me are devolving. Perhaps at a more alarming speed than people in other geographical regions...

ouldn't shake this thought for the rest of the day. Didn't want the staff in the canteen to touch my food in case I caught his devolution bug... Was it airborn? Just how contagious was it? Maybe it was too late even for me...

And just maybe it was and is. Seems my entire life has started to run backwards. After leaving university I ended up straight back in a call centre. After that I managed to get work, in another call centre - in fact the same fucking call centre I had worked in at 17. Not to worry, I had an "adult" life and some aspirations that would surely see the doom and gloom of call centre hell a far and distant memory. Turns out, that adult life had been eroding slowly without me even realising it. My behaviour was becoming increasingly juvenile, possibly a cause or result of - it's too far gone now to tell - my girlfriend leaving. The knock on effect was having to move out of my house as I could no longer afford the upkeep.

I had to shack up again with my parents, for me an utter defeat. Even more so when I realised that one of the reasons everyone else of my age who I knew had been doing it for years and that was why they appeared to be more affluent than me. They make no bones of it. It just seems people of my generation have to rely more on their parents than perhaps any other generation ever. Fitting for a devolving generation and, I suppose, amusing given that our parents lived in a time of full employement, only a subtle undercurrent of AIDS and crime that can be romanticised by historians, novelists and pub bores.

I spent the first few days alternating between refurnishing my old childhood bedroom, one I hadn't stayed in since I was 16, and reading rejection letters from the many newspapers I had applied to. Those applications are part of my "adult" life, those aspiration things... Despite my qualifications and experience (Fair enough - not that much, but I can write, edited the university magazine, got a vaguely linked qualification and actually want to do it) not one has come up with even an offer of interview. Does it not say something that I would be taking a 9k paycut? No, three lines on a sheet of cheap bargain basement laser printer paper tells you that you're not made of the right stuff.

Another reason to hate the previous generations - opportunity. You read about a icon. Turns out he just walked into the job, got it through luck, someone gave them a break. My generation will never be afforded that luxury. It is all about standardised forms and meeting percentages. Who wanted a meritocracy anyway? Don't give us a break - we're devolving. It would only be a waste when you walked into work to see we had smeared shit up the walls and were trying to mate with your desk.

Just how much had I done to get out of or prevent my situation? Less and less as I settled into a sweaty, sticky comfort zone. My efforts, had been perfunctory at best. It only adds fuel to the fire when I realise that I am part to blame for this horrible lack of evolution and development that is weighing down on me like wet sandbags.

So I have made some resolutions to myself about how I'm going to get out of this. The outlook is bleak. This is at least something that isn't typing up another covering letter, only to be told to fill in a form. It's all there on my CV and covering letter, why the form? We wouldn't want to judge candidates as individuals... Standardised forms are where it's at...It is something to do that doesn't involve me having to go out and face the horror that lurks around every corner. Maybe it might be a way of makig contact with other people that can feel this terrible prophecy being fulfilled for us all.

Or maybe I am taking another step towards becoming some horrible, shambling shut-in that will be reduced to being unable to communicate without a keyboard and monitor in front of them. You can tell who they are you know. Their fingers twitch seconds before they start to mumble.

Whatever the path in front of me, there will be articles posted up on here as well as stuff like this, that may very well get re-read and deleted when I've had some sleep and I realise it is awful gibberish.
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