Tag Archives: boredom

And then I woke up

I’m running through this field, right? Chased by something, I don’t know what it is. Desperate for a piss. There’s this cow then suddenly I’m in my old bedroom at home, Mum’s talking about my diary, I can’t believe she read it, I don’t even have a diary.

Then you, yeah I know, you turned up and want me to go out in the car but there’s no petrol and I’m desperate for a piss, so I go to the toilet but it just won’t come out and you’re on about this car. We get into town and you go off with John and I’m going down this alleyway and there’s a girl, she’s off Silent Witness, pigtails, about 11 probably, looks a bit like Michael Barrymore. She’s got this knife and she’s trying to stab me and I do this roundhouse.

And then I woke up. Mad, no idea what that was about.

Continue reading And then I woke up

Under threat of castration

Against the odds, the better judgement of society and the collective will of my financial captors, I’ve survived another birthday.

The main event itself proved to be a rather hellish, godless experience in which I came to realise how far behind in the great race of life I’ve wilfully fallen. For my 24th birthday I acquired the body of a malnourished teenager with the face of Dorian Gray’s portrait glued on to the top bit that scientists refer to as the head. My facial hair is scoffed at by unnaturally haughty unborn foetuses as they stroke their mutton chops and eat out of tubes.

Meanwhile the sole of my shoe flaps in the wind, I’ve had to put crucifixes on the door to keep the bank at bay and then plaster Nun-porn all over the front door to ward off the Christian sales reps. The majority of household pets eat better than I do and my job is as stimulating as a mild static shock to a phantom limb. This has been my shambolic attempt at ageing and it feels as though the world has been trying to kill me for 24 years, yet I’m still trying to bite the invisible hand that feeds.

This same invisible hand reaches up your sphincter and ass-hooks you out of bed in the morning. It’s the invisible hand that sits you down and coerces you into forcing out a shit at a time when you’d rather be unconscious and horizontal. It’s this same invisible hand that dresses you like a well-groomed performing guppy each day, before the cage comes down for another round of gainful employment.

When you’re younger this hand has less influence and is easier to resist, thanks to that voracious appetite for life that later seems reserved for puppies and charity muggers. That energetic passion that seems to dwell in tiny humans before they establish how futile their life will become is what allowed us to stray the path and escape the clutches of the invisible hand. The hand wants you to go to school and wash after every visit to the little boys’ room, but the hand’s desires are overcome by the single-minded determination to scoop the mushy stool from the toilet bowl and hurl it at girls (who are decidedly yucky) and teachers (who are mere pawns for the hand) in an event that will later see you dubbed a coprophiliac by a state-appointed psychologist.

But as the elastin and collagen starts to sag and decay under the weight of our accumulated years, the hand becomes more potent, more ruthless and exponentially more domineering. In many ways life is like a very glitchy video game, with the first 10 to 14 years being the equivalent of the crap tutorial level where everything is spoon-fed to you to avoid premature expiration or a home visit from social services. Years later the hand decides to abort you from the comfortable womb of higher education, you’re flushed out into the sewage of the real world and all that was pure, beautiful and true in life suddenly reveals itself to have been a fleeting wet dream, but instead of a sticky wad of gunk in your bed sheets, it’s a crippling anchor of debt, a total loss of purpose and the promise of unending drudgery that you wake up to.

It is here at your most educated and vulnerable that the hand grabs you by the scrotum and pulls you this way and that until, under threat of castration, you hop aboard the unicycle and play your role in the tired old carnival of life. From this testicular stranglehold it can control your every move; before you know it you’re caring about spreadsheets, working at home in the evenings to get that big presentation just right or laughing at the jokes made by the other inmates in your workplace.

A colleague recently confessed to me that he was only at work for the money. I was baffled because I could think of no other coherent rationale for turning up every day. I don’t spend 10 hours a day inside a colossal phallic obelisk in the middle of a diseased London haggling on the phone with people who say with all sincerity “let’s do brunch” out of a chronic addiction to the company of gutless buffoons. There’s no part of my soul that yearns to be crowned with a plastic microphone headset, nor do key performance indicators induce a Ron Jeremy-worthy erection and there’s not a thing about synergistic management solutions that I even want to understand. This is all the hand’s doing.

The hand stretches out a big dumb smile on my face to mask the crushing despair that settles in every time I’m reminded that Made in Chelsea is produced in a country that possesses nuclear weapons. When you want to stand up on your desk and kick the monitor into the face of the person opposite for being such a callous money-grubbing consumer-whore, or enter into mortal combat with middle management personnel, you don’t – the hand keeps you seated, reminding you of the powerful urge to eat some time this month. It reminds you of the bills, the rent, the need for further employment beyond this particular moment of disgusted fury. And what’s worse, it paints this exercise in restraint as sanity.

Like a general of an army of one, you sit enraged in the cage to which the hand holds the key forever out of reach, and survey the battle; sustained losses on all fronts. The hand pushes you past all those dreams, ambitions and things that you once deemed important in order to further its own twisted goals, which seemingly involve reducing humanity, the world’s deadliest predator, into a collection of cash-worshipping, screen-fed mega-monkeys.

So it goes on beyond the workplace and out into the vast belching, scoffing void of life. Before you know it you’re drooling over an IKEA catalogue, perusing the turtle-neck rack in GAP in a bid to emulate notoriously celebrated child-enslaver Steve Jobs or getting an early night for the sake of a village fete cake stall that you offered to run in aid of a religious charity. The hand will push you down the aisle, will tickle your bum during the procreation that allows the minibus of life to chug on and ultimately lays you to rest atop your queen-size deathbed in your moderately priced home with the southern-facing garden and double garage.

It may occur to you at this point that you’re unsure exactly how you got here or how you ever exerted so little control in your own life, and now too in death. But by then it’ll be too late and your grieving loved ones will be greeted with the stench of shit when your bowels empty as you pass from this world.

The hand wins in the end, no matter how many fingers you think you’re chewing on.

Duravit

It’s stamped on the divider between two urinals: Duravit. Purveyors of bathroom porcelain, presumably. They must wake each morning with the pride of a thousand New Horizons engineers.

The word has come to symbolise everything I hate about my current existence, because these urinals are at the office I’m tethered to and every time I see the word I’m filled with the pain and sadness of millions of voices suddenly crying out in terror, and being suddenly silenced by some fucker saying “I’ve booked room 2 for our 10.30”. Someone could flash the word Duravit at me on a piece of paper walking down Charing Cross Road and the spirit of Pavlov would likely make me grab the nearest rifle from our freshly armed ‘terror cops’ and spree myself into the Guinness Book of Records, before leaping in front of a number 24, urinating throughout.

Despite my lofty goal last year to prevent having to do this ever again, I have for the last few months been a member of the office tribe, ostensibly employed as a copywriter. I have virtually no work to do. The little I am given to do makes Peter and Jane look like tortured Tolstoy creations.

Everyone around me seems to be creating work for themselves because they live in a constant state of dread that someone will notice they’re really not contributing anything and they’ll be out on their arse. This suggests they fear they’re utterly replaceable, which of course they are because these jobs could be done by sheepdogs. This is where capitalism has led us to: unending worry that we are a single unwitting stumble away from unemployment and destitution – every one of us, all of the time.

Obviously I’m not trapped here; I can leave any time I want. It’s not as though they’ll seek my arrest on negligence charges because they barely notice my presence anyway. It’s not as though they couldn’t replace me in this farcically easy job with absolutely any recent Humanities graduate, at a quarter of the cost.

But in order to drink as much as I need to, I need money. And in 2015 the quickest way to get that money comes about through staring at a printer 50cm from my face and pleading with it to churn into life, because who knows what thrills it might spit forth? It could be the agenda for a meeting I won’t attend on the arcane principle of only going to meetings I think there might be a point to. It could be a spreadsheet that doesn’t quite fit the page and you just know that those missing numbers are the ones that make the whole world make sense. It could even be the printer itself deciding it’s time to test the toner. AI has moved on so much in recent years, it’s almost as though we don’t need to be here.

And of course we don’t need to be here. My usual complaint is that I could do this ‘work’ from anywhere – from my bed or the pub or some combination of the two. But really, what of this needs to be done at all? Of the 40 people in my field of vision, which of them is planning the placement of a new shopping centre? Which of them is waiting for their next call to save a stricken infant from the back of an overturned Dacia Sandero? Are any of them doing anything other than daydreaming that the last time they were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the asker had it in their power to grant that job, not just smile wistfully at the memory of their own smashed dreams?

For reasons of past employment I have a Linked In account. It has just this afternoon emailed me that someone I was drinking with on Saturday has a new ‘skill’ – ‘portfolio management’. I can’t begin to imagine what the hell that is. I’m hardly the first person to make the point that the amount of real, meaningful work people do in offices could be done in less than half the time but when I see words like ‘portfolio management’ I can’t imagine how there’s enough to fill a morning. Per year. Leap years only.

Whichever rich bastards are in charge this cycle need us to be boxed up all day, to prevent what they’d call idleness and the rest of us call real life. Too much time on our hands can only lead to sedition, because after a while chess, bird-watching, fornication and whatever else people get up to at weekends gets dull and only riots remain.

Last week there was a tube strike that meant nobody could get here on the Thursday. A couple of days before, some management prat said “Please remember we work in an Agile environment, which means we need to work collaboratively so we must all make every effort to come in”. Because if we can’t see you for one day out of five, we can’t be sure you’re not actively enjoying not being surrounded by blue swivel chairs with inexplicable stains where groins usually go, indecipherable hieroglyphics on tragic whiteboards and a selection of wonderful mugs brought sadly from previous jobs by people who are having no more fun here than they were before they told their previous boss to fuck off.

My three-month contract was up at the end of last month. In order to agree to renew it I asked that they let me drop down to four paid days a week. They insisted it remain at five, that there’s plenty of work to do if we cast the net a little wider around projects I have no experience of, interest in or influence over. They did that. I am up to around 40 minutes’ work per day. I know I could do other things to fill time here, but my motivation is being drawn from me like the seed of a Geordie on an 18-30.

Try to explain to anyone you’re uncomfortable with your lack of purposeful activity, that trying to milk an employer like a Norwegian Red is not a long-term route to self-fulfilment, and you’ll be met with the anger of office workers who have so much to do it’s ridiculous. That we’re in the same boat, doing work of so little value it would struggle to pass quality control at Poundland, is lost in a shriek of disdain that I’m getting away with it while others are forced to dig a massive hole every day and fill it in the next, because you never know when there’ll be a hole shortage or surplus and we all have to do our bit.

Why do we, the massive majority, put up with this? What in our collective psyche has allowed us to be coerced into believing these tasks we perform have a purpose beyond making sure we’re where we’re expected to be? There have always been pointless jobs and people willing to do them, but we have Thatcherism to thank for making it the norm.

Would it be so awful to give us a specific amount of work to do each day, and once we’ve completed it we’re free to go? Or if not go – sedition, remember – just let us read or paint or kick cutlery around the canteen, anything other than staring at Word documents with titles like ‘Digital Inclusion Scale’ with the resigned face of a man standing outside an engaged toilet cubicle listening to straining and plopping sounds.

This staggering tedium, this complete waste of a huge portion of a life already sure to be curtailed by a diet of bitter and batter, is the great scandal of our time. The highlights of my day are the occasional seconds I spend at the urinal. And I live, and I die, and a voice quietly screaming that you’re all fucking mental for putting up with this will be silenced and you’ll be free to sit there, doing that, day after day, for decade after decade, in peace.

Enjoy your Duravit.

Guy Pearce-era Neighbours

The more films or TV shows you watch, the more you realise that everything follows a pattern. The couple that seem to hate each other will get together. The plain Jane will suddenly scrub up to be beautiful. Remember Guy Pearce-era Neighbours and you get my gist. Soon you start to notice lazy plot items, and the end is sure to be nigh.

Impressionism appears to have passed the popular film media behind. Never will you see a mundane act tackled without it leading to the same fucking conclusion. If a character is washing up, you can guarantee they will cut themselves on glass or a sharp knife. Should a cut occur, the house will have a full first aid kid with bandages and rafts of gamgee. A burst water pipe in the garden? Clearly a dead body is down there. Milk is either off or empty. Rubbish bags always burst. Mobile phones have no signal or no battery. Mundane always leads to a plot twist.

Has anyone ever just used a bathroom in a film without needing to talk to themselves in a mirror? If someone announces they are washing clothes, secret love message will be scooped out of a pocket. No one just reads a book, it has to be a metaphor. Bills are always overdue. Getting drunk means clutching a toilet and refusing to move for a few days – strange, as I know people who get drunk, don’t vomit and manage to go to work with a hangover. Even eating isn’t safe – ketchup is pulled by gravity out of a bun onto a shirt or tie. The majority of film stars just hilariously burn food, and don’t get me started on crisps put in bowls. In bowls? Why?

The exceptions appear to be European art films and depressing soaps. In Walford you can witness people cleaning with even more misery than you would usually associate with such a meaningless task. Watch a European Art film and everything is reversed. For hours a woman will stare endlessly at the washing up, each bowl symbolic of her wasted youth, a spoon a reflection of her aged face. I once heard of a two-hour film all about a married couple watching a potato boil. I’m not stupid, I know it’s a metaphor, but a) you do not boil a potato for two hours, and b) who the fuck watches food boil? Maybe that’s why I cant cook rice.

If art imitates life, where are the boring Sundays where all you do is eat crisps and watch Antiques Roadshow? Without wanting to sound like a Mike Leigh film, just let people talk while they do normal things. Or maybe just surprise us occasionally with a ring not falling down a plug hole.

The smell of bleach

Growing up, the smell of bleach was associated with the mystical ‘sick bowl’. This would appear when any projectile vomiting threatened the sofa or bedroom carpet, and it’s hard to know whether the smell or the virus made chunks of orange rip my throat to pieces. But the smell of bleach is something we must all get used to, because we all have to face fucking cleaning.

I’m not a slovenly soul, but cleaning can fuck right off. Life is short and the less time spent moving items from one place to another the better. There are some things I don’t mind; vacuuming is entertaining, as I watch the endless balls of cat hair desperately try to flee the bag of doom. Washing clothes is also a piece of piss that doesn’t interfere with my life. Pop it in, leave it, shake, done. The lack of an iron has enriched my life, but there it ends.

The pure hell of tidying involves moving items and the inevitable dust that flies right up my fucking nose. I will never understand the point of dusting, moving tiny particles into the air where they inevitably land just where they bloody started. Dust for me is a burglar alarm – if anything is moved, I can see it instantly.

Tidying things away is usually a waste of time. If it’s out, then I need it for something. Why put it away, then spend seconds getting it out of a cupboard again? That is plainly stupid. Once a season the many boxes get too much and I spend a weekend shoving things in bin bags, dragging them down the stairs to the bins, and does it make me feel happy? Do I fuck.

Seeing more floor means the bleach and cleaner must come out. Rubber gloves go on, the heat rises and I desperately scrub the marks which merely move from one place to another. The entire bathroom gets sponged until the fumes make me heave. Where does the hair come from? What is that stain? Did I chuck a kebab into the toilet? My skin starts to peel, my head sweats as slowly my body sucks in the dirt I am moving.

But the worst task of all is still left to do: the bloody washing up.

A large amount of my time is spent avoiding washing up. The fear of the orange goo left at the bottom of the bowl scares me more than the bomb. I shove everything in with half a bottle of Fairy to kill any germs. I deliberately own very little cutlery as I will leave everything until I am desperate for utensils. I’ve developed a unique way of eating salad with chopsticks. I pick a new scouring pad, roll up my sleeves and tentatively grab a mug. One down, another to go. Then the plates. They at least are easy. The huge amount of cleaning liquid makes them shine.

Slowly the water becomes fetid with whatever juice was on a bowl. I try to weaken it with more hot water, but it starts to overfill. I balance more and more on the rack. Oh no, a pan. I forgot the pan. It has pasta stuck on it. I just cant. But I must. So on and so forth I toil. A sodding hair gets stuck in the sponge. I look through the window at the world passing, trying not to sob at the waste of time. I’ve done many shitty jobs, I’ve flicked shit, I’ve made boxes, but there is nothing so horrific as washing up.

When it is finally done I nearly always take to my bed. I lay there in shellshock muttering about the dregs, the soggy bits of rice or unknown orange. Always orange. Why does it always come back to orange?

Headfirst into your own detritus

It’s your own fault. You sit there grudgingly, hating most of your day, wondering why you have to keep going back but still you get up every morning and do just that. Who can you blame but yourself? The system? Have a word.

You’re an office drone and you always will be. I wouldn’t care – if you want to spend 5 out of 7 days of 65% of the 80 years you have alive getting the same train to the same building with the same people and sitting at the same desk doing the same job as yesterday, before going home and spending a few hours dreading doing the same thing all over again, well, you be my guest.

I wouldn’t care, if you didn’t try to make those of us who’ve seen the light feel like worthless cunts.

I currently have a short-term contract working for someone or other doing some shit that doesn’t matter in the slightest. I’ve been asked to go into their office for a meeting this afternoon about pretty much nothing with a group of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. They won’t specifically tell me what it is they want me to do – an ask I don’t believe is too tall – before I go and sit at a desk with the laptop they’ve made me bring, and do pretty much nothing for the rest of the day. Can’t I just leave?

I can’t leave. Once I’m there, and they’re paying me, I might as well stay there, right? They want to see with their own eyes that I’m doing what I’m being paid for, which is nothing. They have to be there; so do I. They can’t leave, so I can’t leave. My contract states explicitly that I work off-site, which in reality means my living room, where there’s tea and television, music and porn and various other things that they’re jealous about. If they can prevent me enjoying those things they consider it their duty to do precisely that.

The porn, yes, that’s what everyone thinks of. I must sit there rubbing myself all day long like a Barbary ape oblivious to a crowd of fascinated zoo visitors, which is a crowd you’re a member of if you picture me sitting here wanking all day. You are that tourist with the big camera staring in awe at my lazily shifting foreskin as I toss off another civilisation without a care in the world.

And when I’m not staring proudly at my swollen, foaming member I’m doing…what? I’m doing fuck all, aren’t I? Certainly nothing productive, clearly nothing that matches the level of effort you put into your job, though when the pioneers of the agrarian revolution were developing extraordinary new tools with which to reap corn and harvest vegetables it’s unlikely they pictured as the next level of human progress their ancestors sitting behind desks bearing little signs that say Something Manager or Head of This and That.

Because, before you proclaim indignantly that you get up each day and stride into your office to do a crucial job without which the world couldn’t function while I loaf about half outside my pants, if I even bothered with pants that day, just consider what it is you create. Not what you do, not how important you are: what you make.

At the end of a day’s toil I have created a fair few sentences of words that didn’t previously exist in that order, and sometimes those sentences even make people smile. You, meanwhile, have managed. You’ve had meetings. You’ve created nothing, except work for yourself. There’s an episode of a programme called Black Mirror where a person’s job is to cycle while stationary all day long to earn sufficient points to prove they’re a valuable member of society and I hope as you read this you’re enjoying your exercise bike with Manager stencilled down the seatpost.

I get paid for being in an office occasionally but I hate it more than the diseases I’m racked with. You may really fucking love your job, but I bet you’d rather be doing it at home. Don’t pretend you’re better than me because you’ve learnt how to use a train in the morning. You are a hamster in a wheel, and if you shit yourself halfway round the loop and run headfirst into your own detritus that little chuckle you hear will be me.

It’s Saturday

Perhaps these are the days I should treasure most, because these are the days that remind me why the words at the top of this website exist.

It’s Saturday. I have nothing to do, today or tomorrow, which is Sunday and therefore by definition the most tedious fucking day of the week. Saturday, and these are the things I don’t want to do: go out; go outside at all; stay inside; do jobs around the flat; play games; listen to music; watch TV; read websites; read a book; eat; drink; masturbate.

I’m a simple man with only a limited number of things on the daily menu, and that list has ruled most of them out. So, we’re back to the question that brings us together like cattle at an abattoir: what’s the fucking point? Yeah, with a question mark, so we know it’s serious.

When you wake up in the morning and you can think of a bunch of things you could do, but each of them appeals as much as a prostate examination from a disinterested male nurse, what’s next? Anything that requires effort seems to be out so the razor blades and high tensile rope are probably doomed to spend yet another weekend in the cupboard. I’m sitting here staring out into my small garden knowing that hacking the fuck out of a few bushes is a good way to combat the interminable pointlessness of my life and yet to be able to do that I have to get the key to my small shed, go outside, open the padlock, get the weaponry out and Jesus I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

There’s a bike in that shed too, taunting me. I think the tyres are flat. Oh well.

It’s 10.57 in the morning and behind me there’s a television with a man pissing on about how the shallots are the perfect complement to the pastry that’s just fluffy enough. There will be a mango moose in a minute and the worst thing is if this was a normal day I’d want them all dead, but even murderous thoughts seem beyond me on a Saturday.

You’re expecting this to resolve itself but it won’t. I will only leave this chair in the next two days to shit and sleep. This is my weekend and it stops on Monday when everyone else goes and sits in their little boxes to do the same thing they were doing on Friday. Meanwhile I continue to try to find things to keep me occupied but free of the dismal knowledge that it’s those special two days when everyone else is happy and I’m just fucking nowhere.

Apparently the one thing I can make myself do on a Saturday is explain the hollowness of reality through these very words, though I’m having to force my one typing hand to perform by hauling it across the keyboard with the other.

Behind me they’re making something with eggs and carrots and laughing a little too hard.