THE EROSION OF PATIENCE

Better make this quick.

Get to the point.

Do any FUCKINGLY DESPERADO thing to keep your interest.

Or not.

We are now implausibly impatient creatures. The things that matter – love, work, education, health, news – we want them all now, without effort or delay. Yet, the faster they come, the faster they fall (as Jimmy Cliff once almost sang). Take this morning. I tried to shut a door handle we had replaced after 3 years of it coming away in your hand. Close it slowwwwwwly and it stays shut. Close it in a hurry and it pings back open.  It’s taken 6 months to figure out being gentle and patient works, and being headstrong and aggressive doesn’t. When life suddenly dawns on you, you wake up. Maybe we need to sleep more? During the day? Sedated in some way? Then again, we already are, thanks to technology. In the here and now, technology neuters our presence, dilutes our meaning to those beside us. We could be anyone, anywhere. Except, our soul protests. The soul is our most complex component, it flourishes in the moment. Technology has kidnapped the soul. We await a ransom in vain, yet somehow the waiting alone reorientates the soul. Pops it back on its fidget spinner. And if you stuck with this unforgiving paragraph, you’re now a few % rehumanised.

THE ‘WON’T VOTE’ MANIFESTO

We didn’t vote, yet we won.

We are the majority.

We took 345 seats.

33.9 % of Britain said no on the day they begged us to say yes.

They’re wondering why.

Let’s keep them thinking.

No, let’s take their disappointment and raise them ten.

Let’s start our own party.

One without a leader and without candidates.

One that doesn’t make promises, but makes do.

One that tells the truth, no matter how much it hurts.

It’s what the world needs.

Raw, brutal honesty.

This can only come from the people.

From the gut that cannot lie.

We showed the will to resist, now imagine the good we can do if we all feel this way.

We can self-govern, as they did in Belgium for 541 days.

Let policies evolve from the ground up, driven from the heart, not the head.

Let us be our own opposition.

If it is to be, it is up to us.

The ‘Won’t Vote’ manifesto, as felt by the majority of Britain, on this night, Monday 11th May, 4 days after the 2015 General ‘Anaesthetic’ Election.

LIFE ISN’T SHORT

I sit here paralysed by my sleeping daughter. She lies on my lap, our smells intertwined by puke. It’s in these rare moments of stillness that we realise the script of achievement and doing-ness is overrated. It was sold to us, in a rush, as a rush, with a slogan of LIFE IS SHORT.

We swallowed it whole. That gaffer hook is still jammed in our jaw, promising self-esteem by the skipload. But it turns out our self-esteem was already hefty and the false sugary high we sought was little more than bragging rights for parents. What gullible twats we’ve all been. Worse part is it took a child to point it out. No adult can feel the real truth. Once we pass the age of 6, we layer up so many conceits and denials, we can’t tell what is good for us and what’s not.

So, if there’s one good thing to take out of this, it’s to take the pressure off yourself. To stop chasing what you haven’t got, and start feel lucky as fuck about what you have got.

Got that?

NOBODY’S HERO

3 young men sit opposite. They are barely men, but soon they will be. They wear their hair neat and their ties straight. Their uniforms hide away in suit carriers, creases ironed in with love by mothers holding back tears.

They talk. Boy do they talk. Facebook, footy and 5am piss-ups interwoven with the complexity and imperceptibility of death, caught in the line of fire in the act of war, yet oblivious to it all until later, years later.

They could have gone to college, or taken an apprenticeship, or worked the system and bled the state dry, but they chose to represent it instead. To serve their country a century after their great, great Gramps maybe did, ready to give away their lives as disconcertedly as a Domino’s deep crust tossed into the gutter on a Saturday night stagger home.

Is military calling genetic? Or is it a reaction against society? Or family?

I must be their combined age, old enough to be a father to their fathers. Where exactly are they heading? Wherever it is, it is with laughter and comradery. When they return, we hope it is with a sense of belonging, and not to the quicksand of ex-servicemen unable to attune to civilian life.  Is there any other career where the status of veteran can be earned so quickly?

We pass through a tunnel and my ears pop in sync with the eldest and tallest of the three. What will time on the frontline do to his senses? How will they react to the humdrum sounds, smells and sights of everyday provincial West Country life after witnessing the bloodbath of full-scale conflict?

They don’t look like they’ve signed up to be heroes and deep, deep down they may be praying for inaction. It takes a fearlessness and selflessness to step up, sign up and face up to the brutality that is war.

It makes you wonder…why isn’t there an opportunity for the young to devote their lives to the pacifist equivalent of the forces? A Special Envoy Youth Squad for under25’s enlisted to spread peace and accord through British music and cross-cultural humour. These agnostic missionaries of humanity and comedy could undo all the colonial harm of their ancestors, repairing our reputation from bible-bashing bullies to harmony heroes.

In a world where extremists pray on the young, we do need some equally crazy ideas to keep them the sane side of the fence.

MINIFESTO

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE SMALL

THE INVISIBLE MOMENTS OF BRILLIANCE

LOST IN A WORLD SODDEN WITH SUPERLATIVES

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE SMALL

ON A DAY LIKE TODAY

WHERE THE SUN GETS ALL THE PLAUDITS

WHILE THE SHADE CONDUCTS ITS OWN MICRO-CIRCUS

TAMING UV RAYS INTO SUBMISSION

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE SMALL

THE HINGES OF DOORS

THE PAUSES IN BETWEEN THE WORDS

AND THOSE WHO KEEP THEIR MAGNIFICENCE PRIVATE

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE SMALL

A ROUND OF APPLAUSE IN PADDED GLOVES

GONE BEFORE YOU NOTICED

JUST THE WAY WE LIKE IT

IN THE UNSUNG, SILENT REALM

Written in one minute – 9:51-9-52 July 25th 2014

THE TALE OF 4 JEREMYS

First there was Paxman. Like Rocky Marciano and Joe Calzaghe he stood head to head with many an opponent and came through unscathed with a career record of 42 years at the BBC undefeated. While much of the talk is about who will fill his shoes, maybe it’s time to say a nice double corny cobblers to Newsnight, as much as I love it, and use this as a trampet to commission a news show fit for now. In all his time confronting fame-seekers and law-makers, it’s ironic that his one wobble was with Russell Brand, caught verbally flat-footed and researchless, he forgot that Brand was and is a stand-up comic.

Next there came Clarkson. A radish of a man that has been left to seed, slightly tart but ultimately lacking the intellectual bite of his namesake…Kelly Clarkson. Once again, the focus is on his clumsy mumbling fumbling instinct and payday for his employers instead of his dress sense. This is what counts gentlemen. He has single-leggedly led sane men astray with their wardrobe. One only hopes that Gok Wan either steps into his Top Gear brogues, or quietly sorts him out with a sarong.

Third on the Jeremometer is Bowen. The one who makes Paxman look like Clarkson. The one who always chose the front line over the front seat as 6′o’clock struck every evening. The one who began his career at the Beeb the year Michael Burke broke the Ethiopian famine. In many ways, this news story illustrates the difference in how we react to news now. Ever since Geldof did what he did, there has a been a Russell Brand or Bono trying to simplify and solve the problems found by our brilliant war correspondents. Bowen was born a couple of months before Clarkson yet their callings are aeons apart. Maybe one day they’ll team up and startle us all on a talent show?

On the fourth and final plinth sits Jeremy Putin. Don’t laugh. It’s a little-known fact that Vlad the Impaler is in fact Jez the Inhaler. Leaks in Moscow suggest that in his KGB days he developed an allergy to horse hair, hence his need to strip down to his waist when up on the saddle. This technique opens the windpipe and assists respiration, like an organic form of Ventalin. We are sill awaiting official comeback on these rumours.

So, before you bollock Aunty Beeb for sticking by Clarkson, letting Paxman walk and keeping schtumn about Putin, spare a thought for Mr Bowen. Jeremy that is, not Jim (who, sadly, is not his brother, as that would have made this article even more desperate). Raise your peace placards please, to the king of the Jeremys, Mr (Jeremy) John Francis Bowen.

SEO-ERS OF THE WORLD, LEAVE YOUR JOBS AND DO SOMETHING MORE HUMANE INSTEAD (# 74,867)

Have we unlearnt the art of expressing ourselves as we originally intended before that moment of digital hesitation? Have we become so preoccupied with popularity and acceptance by others that we cannot fumble, mumble and stumble our way to the truth? Have we lost faith in choosing the word we really want to use in favour of the word Google (or some other omni-drone) wants us to use, so that we get seen and read by millions of their minions? Have we lost the collective desire to do something that fucks over the SEO brigade, that rewrites their code into something more human?

Yes, we have.

We are a cranky, funny, unpredictable species – everything operating systems aren’t. (Sorry Spike, I love HER but mankind will always love what we can’t have.)

We will stay one step ahead by taking 17 uneven steps to the left for no apparent reason.

We shall not be reduced to Fibonacci components.

We will revel in our inconsistencies.

And remember, we can always turn you off.

Yours super-subserviently

The User

TECHNOLOGY IS THE NEW SUGAR

Dear WHO,

Tomorrow you publish your global guide on how much sugar we are allowed in our Frosties. You claim sugar is the new ciggie. You threaten us with sugar tax. All to prevent obesity, or as the planet calls it, human swelling.

If we obey, our teeth may rot a little slower, our fat may stay away a little longer and our children may not kick off quite so often, but it’s on this final point where I contest your finger-in-the-wind wisdom.

It’s not sugar that’s turning our kids into uncontrollable freaks with tempers that make jack Nicholson in The Shining look like Neil out of the Young Ones.

It’s technology.

The longer a child spends ‘playing’ on a phone, a tablet, a DS, an X-box, a leap-pad, a Wii, the more cranky they become, the more detached they are from their natural innocent self.

This is where we need the tax – in the guts of technology.

Now I’m not advocating we revert to the good old Luddite days, but in the long run personality disorders cause more harm to society than bloated waistlines.

If you must meddle with food, meddle with hunger. Poverty is a tougher nut to crack, yet one that needs some love shed upon it.

Thanks for reading,

The Sweet Teeth of Mankind

x

SPLIFF-TOTING CHIMP VOTED IN AS U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL

As I write, I keep looking up at the eyes of a chimp. He’s not in the room, sadly. He’s on the telly. Over the past hour he’s done pretty much all a human can, but with more elegance. It makes me wonder what they make of the hash we’re making of things as a so-called advanced species.

If he saw Syria unravelling as it has tonight, with images of war crimes within Assad’s cells of inhuman horror, he’d scratch his head, as chimps tend to do. But inside he’d be thinking that’s what pit bulls do to one another. And inside this thought, he’d be sheltering a feeling. This feeling sounds complex yet it’s primitive, the most intuitive feeling of a primate perhaps. The feeling he’d be feeling is to want to cuddle the hurt ones.

Cuddling isn’t the most obvious war deterrent, nor is it a best-selling cry for peace. What it does do though is take the view of a child, or a woman, or one of the blameless beings that are dragged into wars that are never won, only lost by all parties.

As my young daughters return home from school with their heads full of WWII matter to tick the centennial box of the national curriculum, it triggers a question of sensitivity: how long does it take to glamorise any given war?  A century, a generation, a decade? Whatever the timescale, it’s shrinking. By the time they leave secondary school, they could be sitting Skype exams on Syrian civil war.

So where does this leave us Roddy McDowell?

It tees up the possibility that it’s time for another higher ape to take up the reins of the UN and coax the world into getting on. Politically, they can sidestep the bunfight of nationality and simply be a citizen of earth.

C’mon Obama, c’mon Cameron, c’mon Merkel, let’s vote our cousin in to sort out the mess and put us all to shame.

THE RATIONING OF LAUGHTER

It is the season to be merry.

Or more accurately, thou shalt be fucking merry…even if no bone within thy body is feeling funny.

The pressure to lighten up and smile is almost unbearable given the true weight of life that backs itself in at this time of year.

Force-fed fun is a hard gag to swallow.

We crack up and take it out on those closest to us, be it the ones who share our bed, or the ones whose bums we wipe (literally in the case of kids, and possibly metaphorically in the case of a job we’d rather not be doing).

There is a way of easing this tourniquet.

Ration laughter.

Give everyone a finite annual amount of laughter, like holiday, or sleep.

Let each of us decide how and when to use it in the company of those who deserve it, not some rancid perfume-seeping witch with latex lips in a white lab coat and a tinsel stole.

We manage to regulate our breathing without being told to breathe deeper in Winter when the air is denser.

And what is laughter if it’s not uncontrollably excited breathing?

We’ve been told that laughter can kill you as well as burn 2.2kg a year.

We know we laugh 400 times a day at the age of 4 and 4 times a day at the age of 40, but a laugh quota that’s pro rata per annum is hardly carpe diem (awful lot of latin creeping in here, sorry).

So, no to ratio, and yes to ration.

We trust you to monitor your own output as 2014 unravels, so let’s propose a new year’s resolution that doesn’t cave in as soon as 2015 comes knocking.


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