Tag Archives: existentialism

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.

Bear traps in the fruit and veg aisle

On a daily basis the eerie silence of London amidst my morning commute is torn asunder by the bipedantical clamour of nauseating fun-running clods of decaying human meat. The bastards are ripe for the picking along Victoria Embankment on any given weekday, fetch me the blunderbuss. It seriously makes me question my choices in life that I too should be caught up amongst these smug, sweaty, cheek-puffing jizz-rags at such an inhumane hour of the day, but such is the power of money. Hast thou found me mine enemy?

So shivering and trying to hold in that liquid shit that I didn’t have time to release before boarding the bus, I’m confronted with masses of fluorescent Lycra-clad health freaks stampeding along the path like a demented city-wide power ranger appreciation party. Some trundle along with their arms limply hanging in front of them like the useless extremities of a Tyrannosaurus while others pound the ground as if they’re wearing motion capture suits for the next Terminator film. Either way they have no concept of life outside of their skid-marked spandex and probably hold me in lower regard than they do road sweepers or the average amoeba. Quite rightly too, I’m just as insignificant as you or anyone else. We’re all just particles of shit floating about the great ass of the universe with no purpose, no reason and certainly no need to look good whilst we decay, nor any great need to run anywhere.

The point is, I recognise this and accept it. Those skin-tight sprinting dunderheads are deluded, not to mention obnoxious and painful to look at. They think they can outrun death?

“Oh, but it’s healthy and good for you,” fuckitty great! So you’ll live longer and continue to haunt these pavements for an even greater span of time? You’ll continue to leech off the Earth’s resources for longer, go about rotting minds with your health-conscious ‘values’ and eventually spew out your own bastard recreations of yourself with a fistful of ejaculate so the whole cycle of arrogant fuckwits can continue well into the end of days? Just think about it, these people probably have functioning genitals. Terrifying prospect, the bastards might yet win this war unless we plant bear traps in the fruit and veg aisle at Waitrose.

The most redeeming feature of our species is that we die. Think of the horror that would ensue if we lived forever – we’d never stop making adverts and given current trends they’d probably become more insultingly idiotic as we went along. Nope, the responsible thing to do is accept that you a worthless clump of matter and will one day be buried alongside other inconsequential heaps of ex-meat in the great process of desiccation that we call life. I’ll go one further: the responsible thing to do would be for all of us to die now and be done with it. We’d solve a lot of our problems that way I think. Plus the smug, panting grin of the fun runner would turn to pained anguish as they realise they’d wasted their lives going nowhere; literally nowhere, just back and forth up and down streets for no good reason.

Folks could argue that spending 8 hours a day sat at a desk, followed by 1-2 hours being herded like cattle to sit about on public transport before slumping out in front of a TV and then sleeping in order to be able to repeat the process 5 days a week, 50 weeks of the year for 49 years of existence requires some form of activity in order to survive longer. Admittedly this is true; a sedate life needs meaning, but spending every waking moment in gym shorts, sweating and feeding your own vanity isn’t much of an ideal.

These people poncing about on pavements, pontificating about press-ups and endlessly counting calories as though they were tumours are missing the point of life – that there is none and achieving the peak of physical fitness comes at the cost of your life. Work harder, eat better, sleep well, exercise regularly so you can work for longer and die having achieved nothing seeing as how that beautifully sculpted body will invariably rot away under the ground after a life of menial toil, all of which is tinged with the loathsome loss of any real fulfilment as you shuffle back and forth over and over allowing life to become one long montage of Rocky training clips interspersed with the odd scene out of Fight Club where Eddie Norton sits glumly at his desk.

Between this, the staff memos and warnings surrounding the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, idiotic comments overheard about Instagram (“Oh yeah, follow Ella, she’s a great photo liker!”) and my own bumbling ineptitude leading to me being declined by two payday loan companies has led to me wonder; where the bloody hell-fuck is all the sanity of this world? Once we were inventing wheels, now we’re running around in them, taking photos of ourselves on them and adding filters to make it look as though we’re glistening in a sepia tone sunset like an oily sod of faecal matter that’s been made over by Gok Wan and then deep fried.

Or maybe we’re just sticking our genitals in all the wrong places. If the experimental eroticism inspired by Fifty Shades of Dullard plays out then perhaps there’ll be fewer people with reproductive capabilities or personal liberties and we may be spared the nightmarish reality of living through the same shit again but with younger, fatter versions of the twats that already pollute our pavements.

So if you’re thinking of jogging, hire me and I’ll chase you with a harpoon gun giving you something to really run about and then we’ll see how effective those early morning training sessions have been. Until then silence your broccoli hole and do something meaningful with your life you arrogant shambling carcasses. Pour me a drink.

The precipice

The bittersweet tears of the first of London’s autumn rains drip down the window, as I stare at the computer screen staggered that I could type such scalding horseshit in a sentence. It is nonetheless autumn, which is edging ever nearer Christmas and will probably last for around three weeks before the world freezes for months and Nigel Lawson pops up to remind us how he told us all along global warming was a load of bollocks.

Autumn matters to me for a number of reasons. It signifies the beginning of the busy period in a social life that revolves around music and drinking, as bands from faraway places such as Bolton and Brighton simultaneously try their hand in the Big Smoke in order to shift a few festive units. It also signifies the darkening of days and that glorious moment where, once a year, I find out whether I’m going to go mental.

Every year around this time, the retirement of the sun from most of our days either triggers the joy of a man who basically really fucking hates the sun and all it stands for (heat, happiness and the continuation of life on Earth) or brings forth his more sunny colleague, who greets the fireball hiding with a mixture of horror and outrage. I don’t know which of these two clowns will inhabit my brain for the next few weeks; I don’t get to choose. They both show up, there’s a duel around mid-October and the winner spends until at least mid-December gloating over the vanquished corpse.

Sometimes it will be a happy autumn. I genuinely like rain, much as the fact stuns those very people who shower every morning yet greet outdoor water from above with terror, scattering to doorways as though it’s still the 80s and acid rain is still a real thing. Walking the streets of London in a downpour can, some autumns, be one of the joys of my life.

Other autumns I may hold my hand out to catch a few drops, squeeze them to death in fury and then punch the nearest lamp post just to ensure the last few water-based microorganisms have been extinguished. Even if I get to be an old man, punching inanimate objects will never get tired or seem futile, logic be damned.

Some autumns I will surround myself with friends in pubs, acting the way I always do in pubs, cracking imbecilic one-liners and behaving in ways best classed as ‘low-level hooligan’ for the amusement of others, all the while wanting to be anywhere but there. Anywhere but a pub; I know, I can barely believe I typed that either. Some autumns I’ll be watching the next big rock band at a toilet venue in Camden, watered-down Strongbow in my hand, one of my favourite pastimes, and spend the entire gig thinking of nothing more than a nice family-sized tub of aspirin and an ice-cold Jeff Buckley album to wash them down with.

Tonight I’m going to the pub with a group of people I know well, though they are still mostly in the realm of colleagues rather than friends. Nice people, pleasant bunch, and it’ll be fine. Yet if tonight was two weeks from now, I might either be gulping happily at my fourth pint of ruby red ale or putting on the type of rictus generally worn by a Carry On actor before the cameras stop rolling and he sprints for his second bottle of gin that afternoon.

There’s probably a clinical diagnosis to be had here, perhaps some pills to take, but being the type of bull-headed idiot who’d rather die of rectal cancer than let a nurse look up my hole – an average man, in other words – I prefer to soldier on until that special October snapping sound that alerts me to a decision. What will the fortune cookie say this year? ‘All clear’! That’s brilliant, that’s fantastic, I couldn’t be more oh wait no it just says ‘Run’, I wonder what that could mean?

Yes yes, just get on with it, I know. People have far worse lives etc. My issue, though, is that it could go either way. If I was a miserable bastard who couldn’t be around people, pets or anything with a pointed edge at least I’d know. But there’s a choice coming, and it’s not mine to control. Will this be the year I run screaming from the football at half time and find myself sitting on a bench in Regent’s Park the following afternoon with little idea how I got there? Or will this be the greatest run-up to Christmas since the year Bad Santa came out?

We’ll find out, in due course. This is the precipice. I sit and watch the autumn rain tumbling down the pane, each drop reflecting the fear in my eyes, safe in the everlasting knowledge that at least I can finish this bloody sentence however I like.

I don’t own an axe

What sort of cunt writes a blog anyway? I’d always wondered this before feeling the itch myself. Because let’s face it, who gives a fuck what you think? What I think? Or what anybody fucking thinks? It’s surely one of the most self-gratifying things you can do in this ever increasingly anonymous age. But I decided to give this a go to try and disprove my own theory. Maybe it isn’t self-gratifying at all and it can just be used as I intend it to be. as a method of self-help, therapy if you will.

I suppose it’d be courteous to introduce myself, but I’m not gonna do that. What I can tell you is that I’m a guy very much struggling with everyday life at the moment. I’m unhappy. I have no particular reason to be unhappy, which makes me more unhappy. I hate where I live, I hate my flatmates, I hate my job, I hate my boss and I hate the fact that I hate at all. Boo hoo hey! Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t some note I’m leaving before going on a killing spree, this isn’t American Psycho, I’m not listening to Phil Collins or Huey Lewis and I don’t own an axe. Shouldn’t I be grateful that I have a house and a job? Yeah sure. But we want more don’t we?

I’m currently sitting at my desk at work wondering how I’m going to waste the rest of the day rather than face the monotonous tasks that await my attention. My boss (who recently had his head shaved so he now bears a striking resemblance to Lex Luthor) sits opposite me reading the Financial Times and drinking ginger tea. What a premium bellend he is.

“Check your Norton subscription now.”

Even my trusty laptop is on my case today.

The truth is, it’s easy for me to blame my boss for my unhappiness in the workplace but the buck has to stop with me. If I hate it as much as I say I do then I can quit and find something I actually enjoy rather than just spending the rest of my mortality as another office-bot, another statistic.

It’s not that easy though is it? I’ve gone past that age where I can go through life on a wing and a prayer. Social stigma and financial commitments mean you must remain in employment, keep on towing the line. I had a chat with a bloke in his fifties the other night who had to stop working a few years ago because of a head injury and he seemed genuinely happier than me. How is that fucking possible? How can his life which consisted of lackadaisical masturbation and drinking himself into a daily stupor provide more fulfilment than mine? In fact, scratch that, silly question.

Fear not though, as there is light at the end of my gloomy tunnel. My girlfriend (who is one of the things I do love dearly) is due to give birth to our first child later this year and I shall be moving in with her soon, which eradicates the need for me to further tolerate the bullshit of my flatmates. Yet despite being overwhelmingly excited about the birth of my child, it also fills me with dread. What sort of father can I be when I allow myself to be so consumed by hate? My father was a fuck up of epic proportions so what’s to say I won’t be the same? I’m sure there are those of you reading this who have children and have maybe had the same worries but that doesn’t make it any easier for me to wrap my head around. Do I raise my offspring to be like Lex, with the ginger tea, Financial Times and undoubted coffee enema or like the serial masturbator? Can I even guide somebody in their life when at this stage I have no idea who the fuck I am and what I want? Time will tell, I guess.

I wish there was more point to this virginal blog of mine but I’m afraid there isn’t. I just wanted to introduce myself to begin with and thereafter start writing with more purpose. If you give a shit though you might be pleased to know that hastily typing this up this morning under the ever judgemental glare of Lex has provided me with some enjoyment so there will certainly be more to come.

Not that you give a fuck of course. Why would you? I’m the sort of cunt that writes a blog.

A pigeon and a fag butt

When I run out of cigarettes a horrible shudder fills my body. It signals the start of an Indiana Jones-style mental assault course at the local shop: provider of sugary things and judgement.

As I push the door it will usually clang. When I hear a bell I turn around; not so the local shopkeeper. In there it seems no sound carries. I stand at the counter, clutching my tenner to prove I can pay. The man stands there, always on a phone. Nothing happens. I stand on tiptoe just to be sure he can see me, yet he turns to look at the television. After what seems like an hour I reverse into the standard English response. *Cough.*

The man looks at me, as a fat pigeon views a fag butt. The phone remains in place and he glazes over, seeing right through me. I look down. I don’t seem to be invisible. Maybe if I wave the tenner and smile.

“Yes?”

Ah ha, finally. “Twenty Marlboro Lights please.” Winning smile flashed.

“Ten?”

Oh my God. Every fucking time. Ten? Ten! I quite clearly said twenty. I buy twenty every bloody time I’m in here. Ten?

I feel my face blush with fury. I said what I wanted very clearly, but you…you cannot tear that fucking phone from your ear to listen to me. I am a smudge on your patent vinyl floor, my words are nothing.

I pay an extra 30p to support this local business but you make this transaction unbearable. There are only two of us here, I issued a polite response, yet you barely notice I exist! There is just me and you here. Would it kill you to give me a little bit of attention? Just 10 seconds, so this is all over quick and easy.

Every day I work as a beast, sat in pod I can’t even call my own, ignored by suited wankers every living moment. Some days I barely speak just to see what will happen. Nothing happens. No hello, no how are you. I struggle with a constant desire to swan dive under a train just so someone notices my existence. In your face commuters, you will now be ten minutes late and it’s all down to me. Problem is I know I’d fail and just roll into the gap between the rails, to become a citadel for mice.

As my mind rolls into a spiral of passive aggressive rants at my own futility he reaches for the pack. Not THE pack you understand – bloody ten. My eyes widen in horror as his arm arcs back towards the counter. He looks at the note, I look at the pack, then back at him, all the while gaping like a goldfish. Somehow I mouth in incredulation “tweeeeennnnty”. I even throw my arms around like John McCririck having a stroke.

The cunt tuts loudly, turning back to the shelf of nicotine muttering insults to his phone as if I’m not there. Again I fall into the gloom, blinking back metaphorical tears, wishing desperately that someone, anyone, would just say “Hello, how are you today? Can I help?” He freezes as he touches the white and gold, lost in a conversation as I stand stuck in time. I consider how much I am aging at this moment, what experiences I will now have lost, people who may have died, what I will look like as I stumble out wrinkled and dried up inside.

Finally the glorious pack is retrieved and thrown on the counter. “£9.60.” This must be a joke. I pass the note over doing my best fake laugh, only to be passed forty pence in shrapnel. Not enough even for a can of ginger beer. Great, so I am now also paying for the insult. Take my money and my dignity. I’ll take these outside and smoke them all in one go in the faint hope that they really do make you die young.

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.