REPORT A PROBLEM
I love every inch of you, every vein of you, every stretch mark, scar and flaw of you. I love you like I never loved my parents, I love you the way I dreamed of loving someone when I was too young to feel sex. I dreamed of romance, fantasy, a girl with Maid Marian hair, a girl who would take my love as coolly as if it were her right, I love you like it's an honour, a privilege, a law of nature. I love you so much it makes my heart ache harder than heartache. You. Me. Us.
I don’t scare easily but lately I have been feeling frissons of what seem to be genuine fear for the future. I think we are doomed. More specifically, I think the increasingly fragile veneer of civilisation that we in the developed world take for granted, is doomed. The internet, which should have been nothing but a boon to a civilised society, has revealed a stark truth: most people are viciously stupid. As a result, vicious stupidity has spread like a disease, and it is increasingly seeming to be a terminal one. Things are going to break. There will be blood.
“Why not visit a prostitute?”
If you have ever said something like that to a man having difficulty in finding a relationship, then you are probably a man yourself, and certainly a stupid one. The lack of understanding revealed by that flip little suggestion reveals you to be an emotional lout or a thoughtless buffoon. The fact that it seems not to occur to you that many men in this position are not simply after sex, or that they might view prostitution as sordidly exploitative to all involved, reveals a shallowness you should be, but almost certainly aren’t, ashamed of.
I have spent far too much of my life grieving about being lonely. I don’t do that anymore. You know, it’s okay to be alone. Loneliness is need, and neediness is a curse. I am a difficult, cussed, angry man, and that’s okay. Now, at my advanced age, I’d rather that than play the game of appeasing others for some shallow illusion of “popularity”. If you don’t like me, okay, I get it. It’s fine. I don’t like me much either, but I like the acceptance I’ve found. I’d rather Jack than Fleetwood Mac, if you know what I mean.
Emotional support animals? Are you serious? For fuck’s sake. When did it become acceptable to make it a point of pride to be weak? How did we get there? You don’t need an emotional support animal, you pathetic fucking bitchflake, you need to develop a sense of shame. A realisation that weakness and neediness are not things to be indulged and celebrated like a fucking superpower, they are something to be ashamed of, and to seek to correct. The best don’t advertise, they used to say, back when the world was sane. No indeed. Now only the very worst do.
I am so glad I don’t have children. Not just for the selfish reasons that initially drove my decision never to pass on my worthless genes, never to drape that obviously weighty and income-draining millstone around my neck, but because I’d be terrified for them. An apocalypse is coming. How can you still be in denial about it? Those savage dystopias we used to read and watch simply for entertainment? They’re coming. This is the legacy your children will inherit, breeders. But there you are, making your kids wear helmets before they ride their little scooters along the pavement.
The older I get, the more humbled and amazed I am that I have ever been loved at all, let alone by more than one person. I have never felt either attractive or loveable, and I can list plenty of solid reasons why. Like many shy, unconfident male teens I was genuinely convinced I would never have a girlfriend. I was an incel before it was fashionable, only without the misogyny. It made complete sense to me that women would not want me. But then some did. The deep sense of unworthiness will never leave me, nor will the gratitude.
Why is it acceptable that the media consistently refers to the Prime Minister of the UK as "Boris"? Since when was that okay? They didn't call Wilson "Harold". They didn't call Heath "Ted". They didn't call Thatcher "Margaret". They didn't call Blair "Tony". So why is it okay to use Johnson's first name? I'll tell you why. Because it humanises a mendaciously conniving mountebank. It softens him, it makes him seem like a cuddly character, a bit of a laugh, someone you don't need to fear or hate - as you actually should if you have a functioning brain and heart.
I have been called, and have accepted, the designation “Grammar Nazi”. When someone uses that term they strike me as the sort of person who recognises, even if only at a subconscious level, that they may be wanting in this area, and that it might actually matter, and that one way of assuaging the resulting discomfort is to imply that those of us who care about language and clarity of communication are the ones at fault. We are not. Language evolves, but unlike evolution by natural selection we can influence that positively or negatively. Some of us accentuate the positive.
All men who have moustaches are pussies who think they're hard, but are actually compensating for the fact that they're not.. That's why so many cops, prison officers and others in positions of authority have them. They're protected by their authority so they never have to actually prove that they're hard.
The more ostentatious or, conversely, carefully groomed the moustache is, the less hard the man is.
The mighty beard makes sense on numerous levels, but the moustache alone is always, without exception, the sign of toxic masculinity.
I have spoken. You know I'm right. Deep down, you know it.
The nightmare begins when the sister dies, and stipulates in her will that she wants you, that is me (
the child-hating loner who gritted his tombstone teeth through countless family gatherings at which he, the little monster, son of my sister, persistently and consistently reminded me of why I despise children
) to adopt and raise her son, after her death. And I would have liked to believe she was pranking me, but of course I knew she wasn’t. So naturally, reluctantly, I agreed to do it. He and I will hate each other forever. But I will do it.
You are late for the flight. I despise you. How I loathe the smug selfishness of you, as you stumble onto the plane, all apologetic in appearance but so, so obviously self-satisfied. Because now you’re special, aren’t you? Now, in your miserable, worthless life, everyone is looking at you. You don’t care that they are hating you almost to the point that they would happily tear your stinking lights from your abdomen; what pleases you is that now it’s all about you. I hope your death is as ugly as your soul, and as protracted as this flight delay.
Admit you were wrong. Go on. Try it. Believe it or not, it can actually be very healing. It can be a relief. It can make you feel good about yourself. I’ve been wrong about things, god knows... well, he actually doesn’t, because god existing is one of the things I was wrong about, but you know what I mean. It seems to me that people doggedly refusing to admit error, even after the extent of their error becomes painfully obvious, is a huge factor in our current cultural and political malaise.
Brexiters: admit you are wrong. For god’s sake.
I keep putting off writing a will because, frankly, I find it hugely intimidating. People insist that it isn’t hard to do, but every time I read one of those “helpful” guides intended to demystify and explain the process, I end up feeling that maybe my old quantum mechanics textbook wasn’t as impenetrable as I remember. My life is simple and rather pathetic compared to most. Single, childless, entirely debt-free, low on possessions... this ought to be a cinch, right? Wrong. I am also as stupid as a retarded amoeba when it comes to any and all financial matters.
I miss the days when people understood that calling someone a bigot meant more than that they held an opinion you found disagreeable; that it also, and crucially, meant their opinion was an unconsidered one based on prejudice. I miss the days when serious epithets like “racist”, “homophobe”, “misogynist” and “rape apologist” were not hurled like shrapnel confetti; to hurt and silence rather than to accurately describe. I miss the days when “edgy” was a compliment, not a condemnation. And if 1984 and Newspeak came to pass, you just know there’d be smug arseholes saying “Language evolves; deal with it.”
Trudeau’s turn in the “woke” barrel, is it?
I want to see a new kind of “history detective”. Whenever some sanctimonious little finger-wagger condemns a public figure for a perceived social or cultural faux pas from the past, these detectives would immediately go to work, and leave no stone unturned until they find an embarrassing gaffe in the witchfinder’s history, then launch it all over social media, accompanied by appropriately intemperate and unforgiving condemnation. Subsequent communications with said witchfinder would begin with “How do you like it, Mr/Ms Perfect?” This would continue until either grovelling apology or suicide resulted.
I try to find beauty in the world, but it gets harder as I age. Beauty is superficial, not deep. It’s the subjective sparkings of our vain, self-important monkey brains. I don’t see a beautiful woman or man, I see veins, knuckles, sweat and snot. I see the complexity of living things but I find it disturbing, not beautiful. I don’t see sunsets, I see energy refracting in molecules; I see raw physics. And the wonder I used to feel when gazing at the heavens has been replaced by a bleakness as cold and distant as those infinite reaches.
Hash I don’t know what to do with that. Hash I have always been shy, unconfident, ugly, short and useless. Hash what I wouldn’t give to be allowed to worship you. Hash I know you find that repulsive. Hash I’m sorry. But hash this is the truth. Hash I yearn for you. Hash I dream about you every night. Hash I like to think I might make you happy. Hash please don’t left swipe. Or right. I don’t even know which way is rejection. I just know you will reject me. I have made a right hash of this.
Sometimes it’s the trivial stuff that makes me realise most strongly how not like “normal” people I am. Case in point: trainers. Or, if you are of the American persuasion, sneakers. You all like them, don’t you? And no, it isn’t just because they’re comfortable, it’s because you actually think they look cool. You do. Admit it. Whereas I think they look like the strangest, tackiest, nastiest, most grotesquely ridiculous footwear ever made. Worse than Crocs. All of them. And they stink, too. Nasty, ugly, gaudy, crap footwear. And you all think they’re fine.
I am so not like you.
Drunkenness can be measured in two ways. One has to do with degrees of physical impairment. The other has to do with loss of inhibition. Sometimes this can be a good thing. For instance, I don't think I'd have ever had a girlfriend without it. On other occasions, it ends in humiliation. One example of this is when you are that person who imagines, when drunk, that heckling the comedian is a really great idea, because everyone will be impressed at how much funnier you are than the professional who deals with gobshite pricks like you several times a week.
It’s been hard for me to think about anything but the truly dreadful state of politics, lately. British, American, European, Middle Eastern, Brazilian... I honestly do not recall any previous period in my life when there was such thoroughgoing and casual disrespect for truth, honesty and moral consistency, both in our political representatives and the population at large. People seem either not to see or not to care that hypocrisy and a dazzling disrespect for truth and fairness is rampant right across the political spectrum. I can smell the fear behind it. It smells of violence and murder to come.
What a year this has been. Well, more like eighteen months, now. I feel windblown and blasted. Every time I start to pick up, or my health seems to be improving, something else comes along and brings me back down again. This is the longest period of problems, worries and heartache I have ever experienced. I’d do better if I was just dealing with any one of these issues at a time, but they’re all there at once, and I feel like I’m juggling hot coals. I’m exhausted but just for extra fun the insomnia has also never been worse.
The romanticisation of "indigenous peoples" is a foul stew of white guilt and romantic bullshit. "Indigenous peoples" did what they could with what they had. They came up with bullshit religions. They sacrificed children to appease bullshit gods. They blathered on about respect for the animals they hunted, and it was lovely because they hadn't figured out how to build factory farms and combine harvesters. Anyone naive enough to think they would have behaved differently had they been the ones to revolutionise industrially, is a racist of low expectations.
They're no better than us. They just didn't get the breaks.
I remember a girl in a striped dress, at a drunken teenage party, and me there, seventeen and useless, yearning and useless, hoping and useless, uselessly useless, and yet she looked at me in a way no girl had ever looked at me, and I looked away, embarrassed, because I was seventeen and useless, but she came and talked to me anyway, and she made me feel noticed, first time ever, and I started to relax, and then she said "You have really lovely eyes". And then I stopped relaxing and it all became terrifying, and I lost her forever.
I absolutely adored Soul Coughing, but what made them great was so much more than Doughty's smart, street-cool songs. It was also Sebastian's sinuous elastic bass, it was Yuval's crisp and incisive drumming, it was Antoni's wild use of samples. It was Doughty's scratchy, anxious guitar, too. But it was mostly the way all those things came together to form a magical, transcendent whole. Doughty on his own sounded like the second violinist from a disbanded orchestra. He fell for the lead singer's perennial error, and blew it by overrating his own contribution to the magic of musical community.
Every day I hate my compatriots more and more, and fantasise about retiring to a more civilised, decent country. I hate British people. I hate their smug, ingrained and increasingly unwarranted sense of national exceptionalism. I hate their instinctive xenophobia; their mindless tolerance and even fondness for inexcusable moral outrages such as the monarchy. I hate their countless indolent hypocrisies. And I hate how many of them are litterers. The person who litters is selfish, lazy and inconsiderate of others. These are traits you always find in the very lowest of human beings. We are fucking ugly. Literally so, too.
Some sort of global chaos seems to be inevitable now. There are too many of us, and we show no inclination whatsoever to address that. So, climate change will continue, ice caps will melt, glaciers will calve, forests will burn. There will be floods; there will be blood. And as this grim inevitability gets closer, we respond by caring disproportionately about little things. We bridle at microaggressions, we get offended, we condemn and denounce people for trivial offences. We create “safe spaces” from fake threats, because we can do nothing about the real ones. We are pathetic, and deserve extinction.
Apparently I'm not done venting spleen about my country. This time, specifically England, not the entire UK.
We're shit. We've had our time and we can't accept it. That's the problem. We can dance around that plain fact if you like, but to do so would be dishonest. England is simply a has-been country that is now permeated by disappointment, regret, and vague, amorphous hankerings after largely illusory glories. We're a bloodless, thin-spunked breed; occasionally furious in our embarrassingly protracted senescent decline; raging against an interminable dying of the light. We're the mouldy dregs of a bad pint.
I think my libido is, finally, at the age of sixty, waning. This realisation brings very mixed feelings, but on balance I think I feel relieved. Just as men can never truly understand female sexual feelings, so you have to actually be male to truly understand male sexual feelings. And they are, ironically enough, an absolute bitch, much of the time. A daily torment and, for much of our lives, a near-constant one if you are in the position of “not getting any”. Which, for much of my life, I was. So yes, I will accept this without complaint.
I wanted to be there again. I wanted to be back on a Greek balcony watching the sun go down; the taste of fresh fish, lemon and oregano in my mouth; a glass of red wine on the table. Slinking cats and cicada static. I wanted that sense of detachment from reality, from stress, from any emotion more complex than a sense of peace; of being temporarily outside myself. I wanted to do it again last month. I really meant to. The reason I didn’t makes it okay, though. I made a different return journey instead. A more important one.
The Tip Jar