A few months ago, I started getting paranoid about the number of pictures featuring me going up on Facebook for the worldâ€™s consumption. Suddenly it was possible to meet me on a Saturday and by Monday be perusing pictures of myself aged 6, 18, or 21. A potted history of the Groover all contributed by unreliable witnesses, snapping off shaky digital camera shots and publishing them with little thought of whether I thought it appropriate to be pictured maroot in hand or with my arm draped around some hapless girlfriend, long since ashamed to have known me.
When the number of such photos reached 48, I decided to take definitive action, locking down my profile to a Fort Knox degree, so that it is now pretty much impossible to view anything more than my name and my profile photo. You canâ€™t write on my wall, and I certainly wonâ€™t be joining any efforts to kill vampires, cowboys, gangsters, or super poking you.
Then I tuned out of Facebook completely. It had become infested with people I hardly knew insisting that I was their friend. It felt rude to refuse them, but I began to realise that I was collecting up faces for my virtual book, without ever emailing them. A sort of human Pokemon where the playing cards were all people who I had talked to once at sixth form and never ever thought about again. Some of my real friends (primarily those in doss jobs or unemployment) are still in their element with it, firing off wall posts and collecting items for their aquariums, but mostly they fall into the easily distracted category, just killing time, or poking about with other human relations because the boss is out for the afternoon.
Iâ€™m being a bit cynical, because I do see that there is fun to be had with this social networking thing. I do still check it every couple of weeks for salient communications from people who I do actually know, but whose email addresses I’ve lost. Iâ€™m just saying Iâ€™ve stopped counting how many friends I donâ€™t really have.
An old man once told me that the only truth in this world was in the behaviours of animals. However, having spent the last few months working in a house full of cats, I beg to differ. Duplicitous little fuckers, they feign affection on the off-chance of some scraps of food and then when you donâ€™t give them any, they wait until you are looking the other way before sticking needle type claws into your legs.
Actually, I am getting to like cats, because they look nice, they are quite soft and you have to admire the cheek of them really. Still, I vastly prefer dogs, which though pretty much imbecilic by nature are dependent are enough on you that it makes you feel like you are needed. Popped over to the parentalsâ€™ house the other day to be greeted as ever like a long lost celebrity by my dog. Despite his advanced years, the little bugger insisted on raising his heart/breathing rate by tearing around the house with a number of soft and squeaky toys, urging me to wrestle him for them before throwing them into another room, to cue a mad scramble towards recapturing them again.
These are pretty simple pleasures really, but I admire my dogâ€™s refusal to acknowledge that he is anything other than a puppy. Despite rheumatism, greying coat, confused mind etc he seems unfazed and very much determined to go on generally acting the goat, biting postmen and sleeping in the one patch of sunlight that hits the lounge carpet in the mornings. I have been preparing myself for the inevitable for some time, but I truly think that when he goes it will be a pretty dark day and may lead to much whisky drinking, crying into my sleeve and smashing up of Estate Agents cars.
A mature reaction to grief has never seemed right to me, as despite the inevitability of all things coming to an end, it still seems deeply unfair. A good friend of mine, recently lost a close relative far too early and all I could think was â€œwhat a gypâ€. What a colossal rinseout of everything right and decent. I started to envisage God as some semi-illiterate pikey, stealing lives from their rightful owners so that he could trade them in for a wide screen television for his caravan. I havenâ€™t thought of a better vision than this, so Iâ€™m prepared to stand by it. Truth, beauty, epiphany, these are all noble words and powerful sensations, but then so is taking ecstasy and that can kill you as well, along with sex, going out, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Spending time with your pets seems pretty wholesome on that basis (unless of course you are some kind of animal fiddler), so maybe the old man was right after all.
I semi-swore to myself that I wouldnâ€™t do a bah humbug itâ€™s Christmas post this year, but seriously how likely was that to happen? Yes, bah humbug it is indeed Christmas.
The streets of my village metropolis are teeming with people rushing around carrying a number of bags, the look of desperation in their eyes as they go hunting for the perfect economic transaction to make the day of their nearest and dearest. Jostling for space in the cold meat section of M&S, poking trolleys into gaps that are too small for wheeled cages, and harrumphing mightily when you grab the last jar of branston pickle before their slow hand can dart in.
You know itâ€™s a strange time of year, when you slow down the car to let a couple of PCSOs cross the road only to have one of them jump into the road and do a little dance, strangely misconstruing your act of kindness for an attempt to run them over. Caffe Nero is full of old-aged pensioners sheltering from the cold and young girls with too much make up and giant moon boots.
I for one am making a decent effort to avoid most of this excitement through the twin tactic of a) working so hard that the weeks spin by and Christmas creeps up on you without you noticing any of the preamble and b) not doing any Christmas shopping. My plan is to swoop somewhere towards the middle of next week and buy up all that I need to avoid family exile. This should work fine, but I must confess that the sight all around of other people making more timely preparations is giving me the fear to some degree.
Ah well, this is the season to be jolly, so perhaps itâ€™s somewhat inevitable than in my usual cantankerous fashion I seem to be nestling around the edges of depression. Seems like the time has come for the buck to stop here or something like that, but lacking most of the energy to do it. Everything seems a little bit tawdry and washed out and I have the feeling the only solution is for some more big decisions, the resolve of a lunatic and just the right amount of magic. The lazy, low-self-esteem apart of me is bricking it about this to a substantial degree while another more optimistic part looks on with excitement, willing for new opportunities and new joke to be caught. A veritable powerhouse of demonic energy, smashed glass and mouth wide open laughter. Yes, it is long overdue to repeat the words of the good doctor: â€œwell, here we go againâ€.
Striking, as you well know, is a recognised institution in France. So much so that students do it, as with the “CPE” business last year, where French students pretty much closed down the university system for four months protesting about changes in the terms of the employment contract they could expect to receive for their first job (can you imagine British students having this foresight? I think the only thing that could have roused me into action during my student years would have been something horrific like an alcohol ban or a 9 to 5 week). In any case, they succeeded and the government backed down, only to slip the legislation through on the quiet a few months later, during the obscuring smugness of victory. But that’s another tale.
They are at it again now, against a reform of the university system on the whole. Ironically, although this one affects them in the here and now, there is much less united support for this ‘blocage’ movement (literally, this is where students move into the university buildings and refuse to leave/let anyone in). Although the current reform does not claim to do this, what they are ultimately afraid of is the introduction of selection at university level (that’s right, as it stands anyone can go to Uni here with the basic minimum “pass” from high school (the bac)). For the idealist, the lack of selection means that those of us who failed to get their proverbial sh1t together at school are given a clean sheet at Uni. For the realist, this means a potentially infinite number of free, retaken first year’s, a total disregard for study really, and, for the lucky ones who can afford it, plenty of booze, drugs and fromage…
Anyway, the students at Celine’s Uni in favour of the ‘blocage’ were aggrieved at the lack of media coverage their numerous demonstrations and the likes had gained, so they took further action. What did they do? You’d never, ever guess. They dressed themselves up as ghosts to represent their invisibility to the media and posed in front of the mairie. The doss c.unts. Then, get this, they dug a grave and ceremoniously buried the university constitution…Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhh! Monkey face!!!!!!!
In the noble intention of providing an island of banality in the intellectual maelstrom that bolo has recently been wound into, and as a way of slowing the juggernaut of creativity careering towards the little terraced house at the corner of sanity terrace, Middle Wallop I would like to point out that, if you bite the end off of a Mars bar and leave it in the fridge for a minmum of 24 hours (ideally 36), the exposed edge turns into Double Decker. Try it when your brain’s hurting.
Actually, as for that juggernaut – I stand as much chance of slowing it as a half-asleep possum could Christopher Biggins in stampede. But why would I want to anyway? Brain’s hurting, I guess – having to be used in many unfamiliar ways of late (thankfully not work-related), which I will divulge only once bolo’s current capacity for boredom has been increased somewhat. That’s too much from me already – my Gawd, was that an I’m a Dick Emery, get me out of my own arse reference?!!!! Wonder if the Mars bar thing works in reverse….
The day starts slowly in the Outzone as the light from a distant star is reflected across the galaxy by a series of giant mirrors, rotating in minor increments to simulate the beginnings of light round about 3am on the place I call home. The old sun was moved for tax reasons a long time ago, its warm glow a distant memory, depleted by the early millennium attempts to brand it. The first giant coke logo went quite well, merely creating a dark zone in Africa where the kids grew up with no resistance to sun, an almost preternatural ability to see in the dark and an intense hatred of caffeine based products. The second mission from Nike went rather less well as halfway through drawing the â€˜Swooshâ€™, a part of the sun blew off taking out the colonies at Rigel 3 and making the decision inevitable to move it to somewhere where its supernova brightness wouldnâ€™t ruin the experience for tourists quite so much.
So now the light bearing down on the lonely figure comes from further away â€“ Alpha Centauri and beyond, moving out in light tunnels ten thousand miles wide, bouncing off of the reflectors at the light hub constellations, increasingly known for their lawless behaviour and the threat of someone putting the light out, before hitting the filtering station at Saturn, which removes some of it radioactive properties, colours it according to the telephone vote of the previous day and sends it onward, warming people lying by the pool and enabling people going about their business to see. Branding is much easier these days because you can apply your logo directly at the filtering stage, removing much of the risk of destruction and merely causing waving of fists in the areas of the planet that end up shaded for up to a month by the ligature points of a logo, before the advert changes to something else.
Of course, none of this light stuff means all that much to the figure because he is totally blind and anyway, doesnâ€™t really give a fuck about sunlight. An early convert to the virtual brainsets of 2042, photorealistic head pods that plugged directly into your brain to stimulate every experience of a game or televisual experience as though it were real life. Why go outside and meet people when you can load up fourth life and walk around wearing better clothes, meeting attractive women/men (delete as appropriate) who hang on your every word. Why not go out on a three day coke session when it doesnâ€™t hurt your nose? Why get a job when in the world of the screen, you rule a mighty army, youâ€™re hanging about like the rat pack, throwing out epithets like confetti, an endless hullabaloo.
Inevitably, thereâ€™s a catch because all the while you are hooked up to the mainframe, talking to the digital recreation of Lindsay Lohan, having custody battles with Britney Spears and scheming on caving in Pete Dochertyâ€™s face, somewhere back in your flat, your body is sitting in a heap, sweating and voiding itself, your eyes peeled back and your eyes slowly drying out from lack of blinking, your brain dying from lack of thinking about anything other than what colour tie goes best with a cerise Ralph Armani suit.
It was common around about that time to see the decaying bodies of the half alive slumped in the vid kiosks, their only hope that their phone credit would run out and some half scrupulous character at the banking corporations would pull their overdraft before they went past the point of no return. This rarely happened because the workers in the banks were on commission and anyway since the buyout by Starbucks had to divide their time between paying in cheques, giving unsuitable mortgages, not answering the phone, with making lattes and playing awful middle of the road jazz albums.
Patrick was lucky in some respects, 30 days into his epic voyage, 30,000 miles under your consciousness, a carrier of the B3 disease, saw him for a soft touch and attempted to pick his pockets on breaking into his apartment looking for a place to crash and shoot some mendephol. However, having no hands he fucked up the extraction process, pressing the wrong button on his hover cane, pumping a few 100 volts of electricity into Patrickâ€™s piss stained tracksuit bottoms instead of magnetizing out his wallet. The result for Patrick was that his fucking of Shannon Docherty was interrupted as his headset rebooted, confused by the introduction of too much power. For a fleeting second Patrick knew who he was again, knew where he had been and knew that he was in trouble (at the same time he was regretting that it had all been a dream).
The B3 carrier sensed his targetâ€™s vulnerability was fast fading, dived in with both stumps, managing to put one in Patrickâ€™s throat and one in the squishy part near the kidneyâ€™s. Patrick took umbrage from this, tore the headset off his face before bringing it down in a clattering fashion on his assailantâ€™s head. After 30 days he was intensely weak, but he was lucky, B3 sufferers have soft heads from a chronic deficiency of iron and the erosive effects of the disease. The head in question popped like a grape and Patrick was left lying in his own filth, covered in stinking brains and rapidly starting to realise he couldnâ€™t see shit. His headset was blinking out an unseen â€˜Game Overâ€™ message, his bank account was empty and that meant the enforcers from Claims Direct were already on their way.
I was feeling just about as low as I cared to feel on a Sunday. Old time urges to get the monkey off my back and retrospective thoughts about other paths I could have taken, other people I could have been. I was at a point in time where it felt like I knew too much, but had so little ability to act on what I knew. I was like a clown without a clown suit, left trying to make mime jokes without an audience, without hands and without an appreciation of mime. Fuck mime, I hate it.