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Bob Dylan was, is, and ever will be the most overrated “artist” in the history of both art and of things being rated. His lyrics are sub-sixth-form pseudo-poetic wank; his voice sounds like an old friction drive toy car being endlessly revved on a moth-eaten carpet, and his harmonica “playing” sounds like the desperate dying breaths of a coronavirus case on a malfunctioning ventilator. The vast adulation of this charlatan’s invisible clothing was one of the first things to clue me in to the fact that most human beings are dumber than a bag of hammers.
I used to have a friend who punched parking meters. He punched them so hard they vibrated with an audible metallic doi-oi-oi-oingggg sound. He punched them so hard it made his hands swell up and turn purple, so much so that he couldn’t grip properly for several days afterwards. He punched them so hard because, like me, he was frustrated, bitter and angry but didn’t believe in hitting people for those reasons. I didn’t punch parking meters, or anything else. I just drank myself to oblivion. I am about to be sixty-one, and I still do. I still do.
People are talking of Covid isolation dreams, like they have never had mad dreams before. Welcome to my world, bitches. I have had mad dreams every single night of my entire life. Last night I dreamt of my old friend and former colleague Gill, who, as far as I know, is entirely unmusical. Yet there she was on a stage, in some pub, playing an electric guitar, doing mad and brilliant covers of the most unlikely songs. She finished with a one-string rendition of “Jesus Built My Hot Rod”. It was stupendous. I felt admiration and massive, massive envy.
And I dream of the warm valley between your breasts, the river between your thighs, the world of your heart, and I hate that it is now an alien world in another orbit, and it might as well be Mars with its frigid red nothingness, or Venus with its poison acid gasmosphere, and neither of those useless planets do us any good, and I am lost in space, and you are now as remote and alien as the creatures in those fondly yet barely- remembered television programs, and I feel like Dave: old and confused in the anteroom, in 2001.
And Dave Greenfield is dead, and I am old, and I am really feeling the fragility of life. There were never any heroes, at least not for smart people. There was only ever those who got it and those who didn’t. Only stupid people have heroes. But The Stranglers definitely changed my life, and I will play Rattus Norvegicus through yet again, for the umpteenth time, full volume, headphones. And I will ponder once more the many strangenesses of this futile existence, to the sound of Dave’s shimmering organic organ. These precious, brief candles. Please keep yours burning for me.
Last day of my much-needed seven days off. It has been an absolute joy not to have to go outside and run the “moron gauntlet”. It has been good for my blood pressure not to have to see a single bastard jogger. I know one week is nothing compared to what many of you have been enduring, but sometimes I think I would be quite okay with social isolation. It really isn’t very different from how I spend most of my days, normally. The worst thing has been knowing how I would have spent these days in ordinary times.
They’re coming out: the selfish, ignorant morons. More and more of them. The gauntlet gets worse every day. Seven people on the top deck of the bus today. Three weeks ago it would have been just me. And this, just because we have nearly levelled the spike. Not like other countries who waited until they brought it way down before relaxing lockdown. Oh no, not us. We are special. We don’t put up with inconvenience. We just keep calm and carry on infecting and killing people. We murder through being blase British bastards. There will be a richly-deserved reckoning.
My hair is getting a bit mad now. Nowadays, of course, the old thatch is thinner and greyer, with the added dry, brackeny brittleness that comes with age. But that only makes it more unruly. I looked at ordering a trimmer so I could give myself a home skinhead, but the barbers may well be open by the time one of these things would be delivered. Fortunately I am not vain, being aware of how absurd that would be in one so unblessed in the looks department. Still... I am not fond of the incipient Worzel Gummidge thing that’s developing.
I have just completed reading a book. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is for me, because about ten years ago I started finding it almost impossible to become sufficiently engaged with a book - especially if it was a novel - where I didn’t simply stop reading it after about forty pages. And I used to be a fairly avid reader. The book was “Sapiens”, by Yuval Noah Harari, and it was fascinating enough that it only took me two years and five months to complete.
I also do not often listen to music anymore.
They have provided us with a new type of hand sanitiser at work. It is a high alcohol content variety, which is good. What is even better is that it smells very like grappa, which makes me think of lovely meals in Italy, and Italian restaurants, and oohing and aahing over perfect pastas and carafes of rustic red; the double espresso to finish, plus, naturally... a grappa. Preferably one of those evil yellow ones that smell and taste like a barn floor, in the best way.
What is not good is that you and I can no longer have this.
Apart from you, the only things that give me pleasure any more are food, drink, and things related to them. So while I miss you, and restaurants, and pubs, and travel, and travelling to restaurants, I still have the pleasure of food and alcohol, even if they must now be enjoyed solely at home. But then, just as self-isolation is little different to how I have been living for many years, eating and drinking mostly at home is just normality, for me. Except for those much-missed trips to New York. And your much-longer-missed trips to London.
Something bad’s coming for you, son. You gonna get hairs on your face. You gonna have to shave ‘em off, every damned day, otherwise you get a beard and look like a berk. It’s harder to get rid of a beard than it is to shave every day. Keep shaving, son. The good news is that you’re gonna die one day, and on that fine day you won’t have to shave no more. Hold hard, son. Soon we’re gonna be replaced by cyborgs and shit. But not you. So ask yourself: Do you wanna be a man or a berk?
Cats are the only pet I feel comfortable with, for this reason: there is no compulsion and no ownership. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of human beings "owning" animals purely for pleasure (as opposed to for food or other functional reasons). This is also the reason I think keeping cats confined indoors is an outrage. They are not toys. They are not possessions. Cats like to roam. They like to kill small beasts. They like to claw things. They like to sniff the wind, fight with each other and shit on your lawn. Let them. Deal with it.
Jogger making no attempt to distance as you pass me: why are you such a cunt? Couple not falling into single file as we pass on the narrow pavement: why are you such cunts? Parent letting your oblivious, nasty little virus vector of a kid run around right next to me as I struggle to stay two metres away from her: why are you such a cunt? Pavement cyclist who speeds up and passes me so close he almost brushes my shoulder before I even notice him: why are you such a cunt?
Human beings: why are you such cunts?
On 100 Words I impose only one rule on myself: each entry must stand alone. I will occasionally refer back to a previous entry, but if I do it will be a recent one, and I will still try to make it obvious what I’m talking about, even to someone who has not read that previous one. The thing I absolutely will not do is use this site simply to tell a sequential story in one-hundred word chunks. That strikes me as cheating. If I want to tell a long story, I will stick it somewhere without length restrictions.
An online friend of mind is in big trouble. And I mean big trouble. Not health, love, family or money related... but big trouble. And, much to my surprise, he has reached out to me both to let me know, and because he says he has always felt an affinity with me, even if only across the wires and waves. I have felt it too, so I am touched. I am also helpless. There is nothing practical I can do, and I have no way of knowing if I even should. So I will do whatever impractical thing I can.
My sister’s sixty-third birthday. One week from today will be my sixty-first. We are in our seventh decade of awareness. A long time. A long time to have experienced so much and so little, cared about so much and so little. All these people, these animals... sitting there on the common, here on this bus. These precious, pointless, brief little mobile sparks of self-aware nonsense. And mine shines with the opposite of divine light. I consider them all, and I find it impossible to imagine how anyone can see a god behind us, or any of it.
Every single instant is a “sliding door” moment. Every single instant can set our lives on a completely new pathway. But it is the ones in which we have a definite choice to make that seem the most significant, and they are the ones that make us wonder most about how life would have turned out had we made a different choice. There are several moments in my life where I wish I had chosen differently, but only one in which I had both the choice and sufficient power over myself to do so. I wish I had done so.
“The American Dream” is, in its very essence, a wicked and immoral nightmare. It is a witless, myopic celebration of unfettered and unconcerned consumerism. It is blinkered, selfish gluttony elevated to the status of a religion. It does not recognise the limitations of capitalism: the lethal, self-destructive danger of sanctifying demand in a world of limited supply. The American Nightmare dismisses the effects of such avarice, even as they become increasingly and painfully evident: pollution, climate change, inequity, obesity, moral atrophy. Human society is doomed unless we recognise this outdated evil and attack as vigorously as we attack Covid-19.
It often strikes me how so many people seem to be deeply concerned with, and bound to, their “culture”, whether that be national, regional, local, ethnic... whatever. Such people take pride in the accident of their country, their state, their city; in the habits, songs, traditions, pastimes, behaviour and even the sufferings of whatever place they hail from. At no level do I feel this. I come from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England, and I honestly do not give the slightest shit about any of that. Cultural fetishisation seems like a sinister and somewhat repulsive form of weakness and bondage, to me.
One of my hobbyhorses is the way most people are extremely poor at risk assessment; more specifically, at
risk assessment. Like the way some people fret about the dangers of flying whilst being happy to wander down busy streets gawping at their phones. At least a dozen of my workmates have contracted Covid-19. The wife of one has died of it. So yeah, I’m careful out there. I do not worry about the irrational hysteria concerning London knife crime. I might do that when a dozen of my colleagues get stabbed over the course of just a few weeks.
I think it will be a long time before theatres, cinemas and concert venues will be able to function anything close to the way they used to. These places positively depend on “packing ‘em in”, and they simply will not be able to. It will be only slightly better for restaurants and bars. They will be able to operate some sort of “distancing”, but there will be difficulties; not least those involving the use of toilets. Public transport has been tolerable during mockdown, but that is changing. Twelve of us on the top deck today. Only two are wearing masks.
I feel tired so much more often than normal, and for none of the normal reasons. I am not exercising. My job is not physically demanding. Yet the call of the early night is now a quotidian constant. And I know I am not alone in this. We are all feeling it. The low, ceaseless undercurrent of situational stress is enervating. We are all worn out and worn down by something we are barely conscious of until we stop and make ourselves think about it. And there is nothing to be done but wait it out, like any other sickness.
Exactly twenty years ago today I rose, drove at a crawl to the A3, then began the rapid remainder of the journey to my place of work in Guildford. I estimate I had been up almost two hours when I heard the DJ say “... and a happy birthday to Bob Dylan”, and only then did I realise it was my birthday too. Today I realised after about half an hour. I worked an early shift, came home, grabbed a bite, no alcohol (early shifts), chatted to Ann, then went to bed. Happy birthday to me.
Whatever. Birthdays are for kids.
It seems I am not like most other people. I do not miss physical proximity with others at all, except with you. I do not miss physical contact with others at all, except with you. I do not want to be hugged by anyone, except by you. I do not want to be kissed by anyone, except by you. Even before
I did not want these things. I have always wanted - occasionally
-that people respect my personal space at all times, except for you. I do not want to touch anyone’s skin, breathe anyone’s breath, except yours.
I feel it in the air. It’s coming. Violence. I can smell it. I have had a sixth sense for simmering violence all my life. It used to be found on the streets and schoolyards of my impoverished, frustrated hometown, and of necessity I learned to be very sensitive to it. I feel it now. The frustration of global lockdown, the loss of jobs, the loss of companionship and the trivial but now much-missed trappings of normal life. The virus has tamped it down and now I feel it burning, sullenly, under pressure. Something’s going to give. Brace yourselves.
I am so all-pervadingly angry all the time, now. This is certainly the other part of the reason I am also so tired all the time (as well as the constant, low-level stress of the situation, which I mentioned the other day). I am furious at the shameless hypocrisy and relentless mendacity of those who dare to govern us. I am incandescent with rage at the sneering, crowing pleasure the supporters of these lying, evil bastards take in their unquestioning cheerleading for dishonesty and cruelty. Somehow this seething anger must find an outlet, or it will kill me.
I will miss them, Clem and Cleo; Comfort and Mercy; those two furry little souls who did indeed provide you with comfort during these trying months. I will miss the cute pictures and videos; I will miss seeing them bounce, fight, play, and sleep around and on you, while we have our inadequate but much-needed Facetime sessions. I will miss seeing your obvious amusement and pleasure as you cradled them, and they nuzzled and purred around your face. But I know you will miss them more, especially your special boy, Clem.
I miss you. All this missing is exhausting.
Facebook memories sometimes set the mood for my day. Sometimes sad, sometimes trivial, sometimes funny, sometimes happy... and often a combination of those things. Today I am reminded that three years ago I was well on the way to knocking myself back into serious shape. That lasted for more than another year, then life went bad again, and slowly sapped the will from me. Just over two years ago my health decided to mess with me. And just a few days before that... no, I’m not ready for that yet. But I suppose I must steel myself. It’s coming soon.
“These protests are unlawful”, say the representatives of government and police forces who have trampled on and repeatedly disrespected the legal rights of the citizens they govern, and whose legal rights they are supposed to protect. So yes, they are indeed unlawful. Now you’re getting it. Because when the law ceases to be fair, or to be fairly and universally implemented, it must, and will, be ignored. And every new instance of violent suppression you attempt will induce more “lawlessness”.
Are you afraid yet? Because you should be. You should be having nightmares about guillotines and nooses, you fascist bastards.
I have always detested violence, and those who take pleasure in it. This latter group includes those who participate in, and enjoy watching, fighting “sports”. I will never like, or trust, or want to be around these people. I feel there is a flaw in their nature, and it utterly revolts me. That said, I am no pacifist. I know from personal experience that sometimes violence simply has to be met with violence in order to end it. I have both used and defended violence. I defend the violence of the rioters, now. If I could, I would join them.
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