At the age of 14 my dad finally said to me I could have my own bedroom. The one condition was I had to build it. So I did.

The room I built wasn’t cantilevered out from our first floor as I had dreamt, but it did live within the roof. It wasn’t the most functional of shapes. A 42ft long A-frame room with walls 12 inches high. It made a train carriage feel short and stocky. But it was my teenage home. In those days, Artex was all the rage. A sponge in a plastic bag dunked into Artex then splodged onto the sloping ceiling. After a year of sleeping beneath this shepherd’s pie texture I covered it in newspaper clippings, all 82 x 6ft of it.

The next time I really stared at Artex was on Saturday night. In the intervening 34 years I’d grown to hate Artex, but in this derelict school, surrounded by the working progress of the artists in residence, I was once again fixated by the ceiling. This is where I stop talking and start showing:


Usually the midpoint in life signifies a crisis. No change here then.

We’ve just passed halfway, the 50% threshold that denotes more of our life is recorded than not. Pretty much everything we say, watch, write, read and buy is logged without our consent. We assume we’ve played the game and abided by the protocol but no. We eat, breathe, sleep and shit data. It’s poring out of us faster than carbon dioxide – and look at what we’ve done to planet with that gas.

If we looked at data as a pollutant, as a form of digitised-genocide, might we rethink how freely we produce it about everything we do, think and feel? This very post is being monitored by several international intelligence agencies, most of who are so caught up in triple guesswork that they have forgotten how to be intelligent. Yet, this is the price for the internet being free.

There’s a clue in the word ‘user’. Anagramatically, it’s a ‘ruse’ to make ‘sure’ we don’t turn out to be a ‘suer’. But one day soon, a digital monster will be brought down by the little man. Or the belittled man.

A case will grow around the rights of one such human being to destroy data as it is added, and to make it illegal for corporations to save or store personal information on any grounds, in any form of code.

I’d sign away my name for that.


She heard sounds before they happened, maybe only a split-second in advance, but just enough to fathom she had become a ghost without ever noticing how, when or where she’d died.