Tag Archives: apathy

The shifty librarian

I’ve actually quite enjoyed this election campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not lost my fucking mind. I haven’t been glued to leaders’ debates and party election broadcasts, desperate for a fix of election smack to see me through to the next Andrew Neil interview. I’ve quite enjoyed this one because it’s the first time in my adult life I’ve treated it with the same level of interest and respect owed to a hair-pulling girl fight at a Bolton comprehensive.

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I’d rather be Pol Pot

Everyone’s been fired.

More accurately, some abnormally lucrative contract in this barbaric government silo has been revoked, unrenewed or disavowed, or whatever the Tories do to consultancy firms in the age of tightening ringpieces. Each of that consultancy’s steeds is to be ceremonially slaughtered in favour of a set of baying replacements from a similarly rapacious private sector drone factory in the middle of next month.

I’m not part of the ruthless gang being run out of town by the Deloitte brothers, who have begun sending in a parade of precocious children in identical spectacles to replace the overpaid adults surrounding me. My contract is unaffected and they hoped I would stick around, not least to help with the ‘transition’. That simple word was enough to send me running screaming for whichever hill from which I last saw my dignity. Adopting some combination of solidarity and fear of being set up, I’ve decided to join the rest in raiding the stationery cupboard for A4 pads I’ll take home but never use – I have quit.

It’s been majestically plain for many weeks that I’m not needed here, yet their intention was to keep me on. Yes, please let me be one of the four people left from the old regime who must carry the can for the decisions of the 25 you took out the back and shot. I always thought Comrade Duch displayed a wonderful serenity in those rheumy eyes of his as the gavel came down on the 12,000 murders he’d ordered, but all things considered I think I’d rather be Pol Pot. Not for the first time.

This has lead to the inevitable demands for a ‘handover’. Having done as good as fuck all since May, what exactly I’m meant to hand over to my successor is unclear. A document filled with survival tips, perhaps. For example, how to put down the lid, sit sideways on the toilet, and position a new, fat bog roll under your head on the little ledge behind the khazi for an invigorating nap of which tales will be told to future generations. Admittedly while doing so you must breathe in the gaseous waste of men in their fifties who have as much Yule Log as fibre in their diet, but that’s something I might allow my replacement to find out for themselves.

Many of the condemned are already exhibiting the mania of the more ill-fated patrons of the Arizona Department of Corrections. One of the incoming party was today introduced to a doomed man, and met with “But you won’t need to remember my name”, to uncomfortable laughter. People are still working, though building their own gallows with reams of bubble wrap directly beneath the trapdoor. As the copywriter, there is nothing but professional pride preventing me from changing “You must bring your printed confirmation with you when you board your plane” to “We send all your details to MI6 immediately and if your confirmation is not printed on both your t-shirt and underpants you will be shot in a shed at Stansted.” I am not a proud man.

Eight months I’ve wasted in this place. Eight months where I could have been writing filth like this on websites no-one reads, as I did happily for most of 2014. I’ve pocketed the loot, and in doing so I’ve damaged myself to the point that I was ordered last month not to top myself because we’ve got a nice holiday coming up and it would be a shame to miss it. When the parlous state of things becomes that plain to other people, it’s time to accept a career in ceaselessly tedious office employment may not prove the path to contented oblivion at well past your half century.

So it’s done. There are three weeks of my notice to work out. Three weeks of 150-minute lunches made entirely of questionable brown drinks in pubs whose usual lunchtime trade involves Kronenbourg Keith droning interminably on to the barman who hates him more than the father who beat him. Three weeks of coming in late and getting out early, met with a level of disinterest that suggests I could have got away with this from the off. Three weeks of two hours’ work. That’s two hours’ work in the whole three weeks. If I exert myself.

And then we’ll all part ways and pretend that we’ll see each other again in the future, praying that we won’t. People are already asking each other what job they’ll be doing next. Am I unusual in desperately praying I can spend the rest of the year sitting about in pants that will swiftly tighten due to an increase in beer, pizza, motionlessness and porn?

Unless Jeremy Corbyn successfully dismantles capitalism in the next six months, I suppose I’ll have to tolerate another office job at some point in the medium term. I’ll be planted among another group of tired, middle-class chancers making work where there should be none and producing so little of note the high point of their week is tearful acclaim of their child’s pre-school Crayola depiction of Mummy holding hands with a man they don’t recognise. Until that time I will write nonsense, drink copiously, talk to people I don’t know on topics I know nothing about, and pound my city’s streets in search of answers to questions that only matter to the lost and the damned.

In other words, live.

The disease of modern living

Next month will commemorate my 24th revolution around the sun. Already my forehead resembles a weathered ball-bag and I find myself aimlessly sprawled in front of a screen more evenings than not. This never happened two years ago. Now, like some declawed beast sedated by glossy images rolling seamlessly over one another, I lounge and gape with numb abandon, occasionally flick through Facebook on my phone and wonder why exactly people from school feel the need to repopulate the Earth with smaller humans that look like them before McDonalds ravaged their bodies. This is adult life, so I’m told, and you too are welcome to the party, please make yourself comfortable and wait for the air to run out.

Everything you need to know about me is explained by the steaming pile of cat shit that has collected outside my bedroom window. This veritable Everest of faeces makes me feel at home, as does the decapitated pigeon with its guts strewn out like a meaty party popper that’s stuck outside my office, in a location that the cleaners can’t reach. It rots there, sun-baked and spoiled, festering in the British summer.

These features of my surroundings help me to keep my perspective, much in the way that drama teachers educate young minds on what shattered dreams look like. They symbolise perfectly how much we crave our precious distractions in order to ignore the grim brutalities of life: their continued existence is damning proof. Even as I write, the gangrenous disease of modern living cramps up my hand with premature rigor mortis and spreads through the veins, pumped ever closer to the brain by a palpitating aorta that struggles against the thickening walls of tar that I have cursed it with.

Gradually I too will be pacified by the epidemic that sweeps the nation. As the world hurtles down into the belly of the abyss, we will watch with apathetic disdain as the stomach acid swirls around our ankles, melding our shoes to our feet, kicking up a mighty stench in the process. By the time we’re half digested we might reach feebly for an app to save us, but it’ll be too late and when we reach the sphincter of the universe to get sprayed out into the cosmic toilet bowl, only then will we admit that perhaps, just maybe, mistakes were made. Such is the nature of this affliction.

The first symptom was an involuntary twitch of the hand, reaching ceaselessly for the mobile phone to save me from reality. My phone-orientated spasm is akin to a phantom limb, but the ever-loveable philanthropists of Microsoft recently conducted a social study on some screen-worshipping Canadians and established that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds down to just 8, so I doubt I’m alone in the quarantine zone.

This mutated strain of the 80’s TV-borne virus could be seen as the next step towards in our evolution where we transcend our physical forms to live entirely digitally, floating around the ether poking at one another’s faces with three and half inch floppies like cognitively impaired sea-monkeys in screen-saver form. Or maybe it just marks the next step towards a society of preening, gurning blobs of self-absorbed cellulose, hopeless invertebrate wads that could grow a spine if only they found use for one.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe our jobs really do have meaning in and of themselves. Maybe George Osborne isn’t fuelled by orphan tears and it’s even possible that Adrian Chiles and the rest of TV land aren’t just a collection of gelatinous guff-wagons constructed of meat. But don’t worry about it, just distract yourself with more words.

As the disease assaults your ability to think or even dribble coherently, the modern office does little to treat symptoms. Constant reminders from HR flow in via email reaffirming our enthusiasm for the casual business Friday dress-code and advising us not to jump from the east facing window because yesterday’s pile of mangled bodies hasn’t yet been cleaned up on account of the impossible-to-reach pigeon corpse. Whatever they bleat about it’s always in the distant language usually reserved for passive alarm voices who alert you to danger in an unnervingly calm tone. By specialising the function of the individual’s job we have become more and more divorced from the purpose of the work we do, so it’s no wonder we’re perpetually left unable to explain our jobs to relatives or friends.

Graduates are forced to fight to the death in gladiatorial combat for the chance to win an unpaid role as junior deputy assistant to the intern in some useless consultancy firm, or worse they become unthinking phone monkeys in firms with indoctrination programmes that would give the US Army a hard-on. Those without qualifications are converted into compost to grow, whilst those in jobs too long are quietly bumped off in the night by obtuse phrases such as “regrettably unforeseeable internal restructures” so they’re heaped on the cat-shit mountain as well. Our purpose in employment becomes harder to find, our days flow by in an uneasy wave of tedious confusion and we leave the office without a thought in our heads except for the rush of relief afforded by brief respite.

In a sleep-deprived stupor we’re driven to distraction, urgently seeking anything to ease our minds. It’s all there waiting for us, from kittens decorated by the mentally infirm to the online equivalent of the Dulux colour range told through pornography. And what’s more, the great benevolent dictator of the internet is only too willing to oblige us. With the frantic scurrying of a crack-addled banker trying to hide a hooker’s body we crave any blockade we can erect between the reality of the situation and the collective lie that we all buy into, known colloquially as ‘satisfaction’.

The disease of modern living is the catalysed onset of delusion, the belief that things actually aren’t that bad and that perhaps we ought to be thankful for what we have. This belief drags itself with us, a parasite on our bedraggled carcass shuffling from the tube to the bus to the sweat-stained pavements only to moor up in a desolate port with the TV on, our minds switched off and the glum cyclical nature of the horror pushed out of sight for another day as our eyes close and it’s all over.

In short, I’m becoming one of the idiots. Soon you’ll be like us, begging for distraction from the endless flurry of miseries and injustices that make up human existence. London has succeeded in dumbing me down with its isolating cost of living, alienating social conduct and the beckoning appeal to those who value money, prestige and job title über alles. We try to avoid how unfair it all seems with copies of Time Out and the latest in pop-up restaurants that only serve suffocated gelatine in plant pots and where all the cutlery is emblazoned with the face of Noel fucking Edmonds. Now I even have their haircut. It might get me a promotion.

At this rate I’ll max out a credit card on paper doilies this time next year, bragging to middle-management about the spacious depths of my new living room and how much light the bay window lets in whilst fiddling with a selfie-stick, all the time wondering why no-one can use a word of more than three syllables.

Unless we treat this disease swiftly, that is. Prognosis: amputate at the neck and leave my headless cadaver on the window ledge of a skyscraper where no-one can clean me up.

The dirty word of revolution

Sydney Lumet’s film Network is full of rants, replete with angry words, and they’re all spouted from a man losing his mind. He speaks truth to the masses and he does so from an increasingly popular pulpit – a TV talk show. His perspective is cynically exploited by mass media oligarchs but that doesn’t negate the truth behind the vitriol.

Regardless of how you look at it, anger and madness is sellable. It fits a need for truthfulness, a desire perhaps for righteousness. We’ve all heard the lies and the misinformation from government officials but the voice of an angry old man has less of an axe to grind and in his insanity we find some sort of accuracy.

It’s clear that angry words are important. Rage against the system, the chains, and the madness is needed if we are to ever effect change. Our prophets are often maligned, laughed at, and under appreciated. They are people that speak truths that are uncomfortable, truths that may be self-evident but under acknowledged, and truths that could shake our complacency if we’ll only let them.

But we don’t. Things stay the same, we seldom change, and society ticks on. We become our parents, then our grandparents, and then we die and the cycle repeats itself. Our unhealthy obsession with now, with the present moment, leads us to forget that life is a transition, that nothing is set in stone, and that we can effect change. Sometimes we need an insane old man to show us just how far we ourselves have fallen from sanity. Sometimes we need a prophet, someone who will challenge our complacency and hold a candle up to the contemporary darkness.

That insane old man can be found in our latest secular saint, Russell Brand –a one time heroin addict turned TV personality. The noughties were an odd decade for the contemporary rogue as he hopped from drugs to saccharine film entertainment. He married Katy Perry, a singer notable for squirting milk from her chest in an overtly sexual music video, and of course for the unflattering #nomakeupselfie captured by Mr Brand himself.

But Brand has rebranded since those early sobering days. Now he’s a man with a mission and one that he actively rams down people’s throats. He wants to see change; he spits out the dirty word of revolution in a tone of almost reverence, and he strives to better the world and leave behind a positive legacy. But we like to hate, so we assume that he’s in it for the celebrity status, for the acclaim and the fame.

This is unfair and it seems reductive. Russell Brand is a man who has come from nothing. He has fought for his health and sanity, and he has succeeded. Every day for him is a challenge, a struggle to stay on the path that he has chosen, but he hasn’t fucked up yet. Instead he campaigns tirelessly for better living conditions, the rights of the maligned, marginalised and broken, and he argues and uses his notoriety for good. But our society pushes back – we’d rather support Cameron’s austerity through inaction and quiet acquiescence than fight for Brand’s vision of change.

Where does this complacency come from? Why do forget that we are divine, autonomous beings with the ability to live lives of freedom? We accept the rules, the increasingly archaic religiosity of the past, and we live our lives based on received wisdom. This renders us inert, it ensures that we will always be the generation of the echo, the people who never shook nostalgia, and lived in the era of the never was. By living in the past we negate the present and we ignore the future too.

Russell Brand is a voice suggesting that there are alternatives. He’s no messiah (although he may claim to be) and all he is doing is providing us with a different vision of the future. It’s a future that requires active participation and it’s one that needs us. That’s the key to it all. We are the people behind the scenes; we’re just too quiet. Instead of understanding our innate power we simply live out our days as audience members letting our ‘betters’ talk over us and dictate our perspectives.

We let the political into the personal and it leaves us with a reality that has very few choices. In actuality there are as many opinions as there are people and each is just as valid as the rest. We should be championing conversation, dialogue, and challenging our preconceived notions about the world around us. We’re not Tories. We’re not red, white, or blue. We’re people and we don’t need saving. We don’t need God; we just need to find our voice.

Instead of shooting down those who speak up, we should congratulate them. Russell Brand is a man striving for something and we need to acknowledge that he is doing good, or at the very least he is trying. What are you doing with your life? Are you making things better or are you part of the problem?

Until we start to open our minds to alternative visions of reality we are collectively the problem. Our wages are too low, our futures are sold to foreign investors, and we’re priced out from our home cities. Our legacy will be as destroyers of legacies, and future generations (if they exist) will look back on us as world destroyers. An impressive title perhaps but the reality of our actions will be a destitute world, a place where the rich get richer and the poor go hungry, freeze and die.

Russell Brand isn’t a hero but what he is doing is heroic. He is a man that married a pop star but he’s also a man that protests side by side with the working class. That’s where he comes from – he understands the pain of poverty, but he also escaped it. In that, you should surely see why he’s a man that should be listened to. His testimony is one of self-discovery, self-healing, and selflessness.

Next time you feel like being cynical, target David Cameron or Nick Clegg. Their dreams of the future are literally our nightmares and their attempts to change Britain for the better have clearly not worked. Let’s give some more time to the voices that are untested, the voices that have no reason to lie to us, and let’s hear them out. Change is coming but it’s up to us to determine if it’s for the better.

The invisible, immortal Priest of Time

So, here we are – a ‘New Year’, an arbitrary adjectival assignation to a passage of time that allows us to pretend we have a blank slate, that the excesses of Christmas, the sins of omission and commission of the past 365 days have been absolved by the invisible, immortal Priest of Time.

You know what? Once you’ve crawled out from under your hangover, you’ll be stumbling into exactly the same shitty life you were living on December 31st. Exactly the same bombed-out mediocrity that you’ve been wallowing in for the past 8,760 hours of your rapidly-diminishing life.

“Call me but Romeo, and I be new baptis’d”, exclaims Shakespeare’s doomed hero.

Only he’s not, and neither are you. None of us get a free pass on our mistakes and misdeeds.

New Year is an illusion – firstly, an illusion that we can control time, that it flows as we dictate, and, secondly, an illusion that we can ever completely change, or ever be allowed to entirely reinvent ourselves. And the ultimate lie that paints this illusion as reality? New Year’s resolutions.

If you actually were going to lose weight/stop something/start something/get a new job, you’d’ve done it by now. Apart from getting the job, for example. Which leads me nicely into my next point – the fact that it is completely moronic and self-defeating to set resolutions that rely, in some way, on other people.

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you hang the future of the next 365 days on an action, or course of actions, that only someone else can take. People are capricious, mercurial beings, and very rarely behave as we would like them to. By all means apply for as many jobs that interest you as you can, rework your CV, take some courses that will make it – and therefore you – look better to potential employers, but don’t, whatever you do, make a New Year’s resolution to “get a new job”. In fact, don’t make a New Year’s resolution to do anything.

Without the impetus and frowning judgement of New Year’s resolutions looking over my shoulder, I’ve managed to buy my first house, get engaged (and set a date for the wedding), and “write more” – that vague resolution of scribblers everywhere. Vague, and easily achievable – basically, total up all the words you wrote last year, then write one more. There. You’ve achieved your resolution to “write more”.

The one resolution you perhaps should make is to read more scathing sarcasm. There’s plenty of it on the internet – sit down, leave FaceCrap and TwatALot alone for a bit, and instead have a look around for your particular brand of sarcasm.

I’m paid to be here

I know I’m probably still drunk because I start the day by putting a winky face in an email to a trader. It’s an improvement on what I was thinking of writing which was “Who gives a shit, you uptight wanker?” Instead I made a sweetly self-deprecating comment about the team I work in and how we’re really just snivelling little wretches compared to the big boys (and girls) on the front line raking in the masses of wealth, whacked the winky face at the end of it to assure him I’m non-threatening and away it went.

It’s had quite a journey, the wink. It’s gone from being a smooth yet wordless come on, through to a warning sign of a sleazy pervert and in cinema it provided the pivotal plot twist in iRobot. Nowadays we bandy winks around like nobody’s business in texts, emails to friends, and emails to professional people at work who we hate. It’s become a prolific part of the way we communicate. If you send something a bit tongue in cheek without the required wink at the end of it, you might just sound like an arsehole.

My decision not to go with something along the lines of “People are dying mate, I couldn’t give two hoots about why this error came up in the first place, just pull your fist out of your arse and fix it” was based on the plain and simple fact that I’m paid to be here.

Like so many people who find themselves working in the recklessly overpaid industry of finance, I am in it for the money. The things I really like doing which are – in no particular order – laughing, writing, drinking, chatting, watching films and trying to be nice to people, are piteously underpaid. So until I can sustain a living by doing any of the above, I’m stuck with it. I do not, I hasten to add, underestimate the fact that the industry I so despise and the job I feel draining the very life out of me is handsomely paid. Loads of people hate their job and get paid fuck all for the privilege. But let’s conveniently sideline that fact because this isn’t about them, it’s about me.

Running concurrently with the issue that lead to the drunken winky face incident was the news that a report that should have been sent wasn’t. I took the necessary steps to rectify the issue, but at no point did I feel sad, angry, hurt or worried about the outcome. A more senior colleague did care and I could sense him prickling behind me while I sat there blithely dismissing his requests about what follow-up action had occurred with the words “I sent an email, I’ll show you in a minute”, while I turned around to finish the article I was reading about the Mitford sisters to find out who the hell they were and why one of them being dead was newsworthy.

When something goes awry at work I ask myself a very simple question: “Did anybody die?” It’s a pretty solid litmus test for how you should react. There are plenty of jobs in the world where people dying is a very real outcome of someone making a mistake. Mine is not one of them.

If the answer is no then I’ll ask myself: “Has anybody been seriously hurt? Do they require medical attention?” Short of falling off a chair, getting a paper cut or walking into a glass door there’s very little in the way of danger in my immediate surroundings so invariably the answer to both of these is also no. With the facts established and with no person or persons in any real, perceived or imminent danger, I limit my reaction to that of perfunctory action. I will do what needs to be done, but there will be no tears shed or recriminations or sleepless nights, because I just don’t care.

There’s a lot to be said for taking pride in what you do and I don’t begrudge anyone that; I applaud it. Just because I have significant dissatisfaction in my lot because it is so entirely contra to my values and beliefs doesn’t mean everyone who does a job that doesn’t involve saving lives, or helping the less fortunate, should drag themselves around in a tortured cloud of misery. We’re all at the mercy of our capitalist existences and require some form of income to sustain ourselves. First World Problems abound, but bills must be paid, nights out must be had, and holidays provide a soothing balm to the tiresome ache of life for the rest of the year.

If you have found something that sustains you financially, intellectually and emotionally, regardless of where it sits on the spectrum of worthy to self-serving careers, then wallow in your smugness; you’ve earned it.

But just try to be self-aware. Try to be realistic. Try not to care too much about something that matters not at all in the wider world. Get some perspective. Be grateful for the money rolling in and out of your account like a healthy turn of the tide every month.

And if something does go wrong, do what you can to fix it and then just chill the fuck out. Unless somebody dies or is very badly hurt, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter you overpaid, self-unaware fuckwit ;-)

A picture of Trigger

We haven’t had a team meeting at work for months now. The gratitude I feel for this is matched only by the gratitude I feel for the fact my siblings and I lacked sufficient imagination to come up with a good enough idea, therefore never got around to writing an appealing enough letter, and were subsequently never successful in our bid to appear on Jim’ll Fix It.

We threw all sorts of ideas around, such was our desire to get on telly. I don’t remember many of them, but I know someone suggested we should ask to dress up as clowns and throw custard pies at each other. The thinking behind that one was to aim low enough to make it nice and easy for Jim to Fix It for us, thus maximising the chance we had of making it on to the show.

Not for the first time, I thank God for our collective familial apathy.

The last team meeting came at a time when our already small department was being hacked to pieces under the guise of improving efficiency. Rancidly overpaid consultants forced us to explain every detail of every pointless task we undertake, and in return we were given patronising snippets of training. The best – and by best I mean the most awkward and vomit-inducingly cringey – was on Excel.

Our consultant opened with a picture of Trigger from Only Fools and Horses and asked, with what I assume was meant to be a wry grin rather than looking as if he was having a stroke, “Does anybody know who this is?” It was a clear attempt to connect with the plebs before blowing their minds with a pivot table and a vlookup.

I dare say he didn’t know the answer to his own question and had only included it in his training material after reading a study on how to communicate with the intellectually inferior. Fuck knows how he went on to link the picture to his subject matter. My brain will have refused to absorb anything beyond that desperate and patronising opener.

Cut forward a few weeks and a meeting was called to bring together the decimated and devastated team, for us to take stock of what had gone on before and what was ahead. Weeks of watching our life-wasting jobs being picked into tiny parts, and then put into graphs and PowerPoint presentations had crushed even those of us who already knew we’re wasting every minute we spend under this strip-lighting, so we shuffled into the meeting room defeated.

It was too hot and too small so we were crammed in together like the terrible punchline to a “How many uninterested adults can you fit around a tiny table in a phone-box sized room to waste another hour of their lives?” joke.

Until this point I’d tried to mask my utter hatred of my job and industry with a tissue-thin veil of professionalism, but on this occasion I was hung over, the glass room was getting hotter and my poker-straight hair was starting to curl in the rising temperature. With every gruelling minute I had slumped lower and lower in my chair until I was almost under the table.

Across this city and the world, meetings are run and overrun by one or two droning voices. They always make up the minority of people in the room, but control the majority by raising point after pointless fucking point. On this occasion, the droning voice punctuated each point by addressing me “I’m sorry I know you don’t want to be in here”.

Who knows what gave it away. Maybe it was the rolling of the eyes, or the mournful cries each time she uttered “Can we also discuss…”, but she was quite right. I’d rather have been dangling from a bamboo, precariously balanced across the top of a live volcano than spent any longer in that room.

The laws of decency state that if you intend to detain someone in a room for a meeting of any longer than one hour, you forewarn them, or you at least provide some sustenance. Since the time spent in there will be completely wasted you might as well get a biscuit or two out of it because, sure as shit, it will be the most productive thing you do in that time.

So when we broke through the one hour mark, in a sweltering and biscuit-free zone, and I heard her say “While we’re all here let’s also…” I punctuated it with my own “Oh for fuck’s sake”, and dropped my head into my hands. It wasn’t enough to stop her so I held on for maybe a few more seconds out of politeness before standing up, announcing “that’s enough” and walking out, to the sound of her speed-talking her way through her final, worthless monologue and a few chairs scraping across the floor as the remaining poor bastards followed me out.

Since then the call for meetings has fallen silent. Maybe this was a direct result of my behaviour, or maybe it was the silent fall of a blanket of apathy across what remains of the team. Either way, it’s worth remembering apathy kept me and my family out of harm’s way as children, so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing after all.

Ten minutes to kickoff

TVs aren’t cheap. They’re cheap compared to cars I suppose, but you could get a decent number of Peperamis for the price of a TV and still have change for a packet of Angel Delight to dip them in.

They’re not something to just break at random, at any rate. It’s unwise to smash a TV simply because you don’t like what it’s doing; turning it off would save a lot of money. But if I hear the fey, winsome cover of the Cyndi Lauper song ‘True Colours’ come out of this TV one more time I plan to immediately kick the fucking thing to death and get myself right on down to Currys.

It’s not the TV’s fault; it’s Sky. They’re using the song to advertise an upcoming event on one of their sports channels and they keep playing it every single time there’s an advert break. Perhaps if it was advertising golf or rugby I could ignore it, since my boiling hatred of those two facile activities would drown out whatever shite was soundtracking it. But no, it’s an advert for the new Premier League football season.

You could surmise that I like football. Once a year I donate over a grand to an organisation worth £1.3 billion the last time anyone counted, for the privilege of standing in the same spot a few miles from my flat 26 times a year, and shouting until my hair turns grey and my arse falls out. I probably wouldn’t do that if I didn’t enjoy it at least a little. But I actually do it through habit, because I have for so long and the one time I don’t I’ll forfeit the right to do it again for Christ knows how many years. That’s how they keep us hooked: fear of missing out.

In truth I go to watch my football team not for the football, but for the buggering about. For a couple of hours before every match I stand in the same spot (notice a theme?) in the pub talking complete bollocks with a fine collection of gentlemen my year would be a great deal worse without. We talk about everything but football and we get quickly drunk, it’s superb fun and then someone notices it’s ten minutes to kickoff. With a degree of sorrow, at least on my part, we switch pub for stadium to yell obscenities at people just doing a job, and wish messy death on the few thousand bastards at the other end wearing different coloured replica shirts to us.

While it’s happening it’s impossible not to take an interest, but taking the game seriously at any point outside of the actual 90 minutes is beyond me now. I used to rake any form of press I could for a snippet of information on my team, and thought of very little else but who ‘we’ were playing next, and after that, and after that. It seemed to transcend almost everything and virtually all my friends were the same. The ones who weren’t were weird.

Now – almost certainly because the money in this sport has replaced any form of simple fun that used to exist, or fair play, or competition for the sake of it rather than for the prize money – I couldn’t give a shifty shit about it. There’s such a gigantic disconnect between the people running around on the pitch and the mugs forced to pay exorbitant amounts to support their team live, it’s impossible to feel any more affection for these people than I do for anyone else I spend a lot of time staring gormlessly at, like Krishnan Guru-Murthy, or Tori Black.

Every new season we’re told this is going to be the best and most important ever, as though last season was a selection of friendlies that, yes, we still had to pay a thousand pounds for. Every weekend has a ‘huge’ fixture or a ‘crucial’ or ‘must-win’ game, as though the losers will be lined up and shot through their screams of contrition. The media wallows in the notion that they’ve created a world where people need football facts like methadone, and everyone’s biased and everyone’s wrong when they disagree with you and every defeat should result in sackings and millions more spent on yet more footballers. At no point does it occur to anyone that they’re talking about people kicking a ball around a field.

The ‘True Colours’ advert involves stills of footballers moving slowly across the screen like a teenager’s bad 3D art project. People look serious; livelihoods, if not lives, are at stake. There’s sorrow on the way for the many and joy for the chosen few. And anyone who doesn’t understand how fucking important this all is should just piss off and watch the cricket.

I live in hope that at some point English football will have a moment of epiphany, most likely at the moment it realises it can see its teeth having disappeared so far up its own arse. It might realise how it’s taken the fleecing of gullible, trapped fans a little too far, by charging them five times as much for a season ticket as the best teams in Germany, Spain, Italy and anywhere else football is viewed as a spectator sport rather than an unusual form of banking. It might consider that money would be better spent on allowing as many children as possible to play and enjoy football, rather than allowing as many adults as can afford it to channel pure hatred at each other, while having absolutely no influence over some of the richest people ever to have been paid to have fun.

Or I might be sitting here 12 months from now, looking forward to meeting my mates in the pub before the first game of the season on Saturday, excited about just how ‘big’ this season will be, remembering just how small and pointless last season was in comparison, and wondering who I’ll be ordered to hate most come May. I wonder which is more likely. I wonder.