Tag Archives: futility

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.

Fingering Jane Austen

The first time little Willy says “Are we there yet?” in the back of the car there’s a mixture of amusement and obvious trepidation that there’s more to come. The second utterance confirms the fear; the bastard’s never going to shut up.

From the third to about the 15th, there’s anger and frustration rumbling just beneath the surface and an overpowering urge to pull over and strap the child upside-down to the outside of the car so that his forehead very occasionally scrapes the tarmac of the M25. But from the 16th onwards, it becomes a lot easier to ignore it and eventually you can serenely rise above the din, knowing that little Willy thinks he’s really pissing you off when in reality you couldn’t give less of a fuck.

No question, when the current trend for online petitions began it was laudable, effective and made everyone involved feel like they were making the world a better place. There were petitions demanding an end to homelessness, to keep countries out of wars, for equality in various shapes, colours and sizes and all those other causes that make Shami Chakrabarti’s labia minora thrum with pleasure.

And now we are all little Willy, loving how effective we are while the fucker in the driving seat ignores us completely.

At some point some pillock began a silly petition that became depressingly popular and got on the news – ‘deport John Prescott’ or similar – and that was that, floodgates off hinges. Though idiotic, comedic or attention-seeking petitions were a thankfully short-lived burden we’re now delivered a new raft of petitions every week on topics that many of us actually care about, and care about more than it takes to enter one’s name and email address into a pair of boxes on a web page.

That’s what you have to do to sign a petition now: click a link, enter two pieces of personal information, hit a button and you will be rewarded with more virgins in heaven than Obama and Osama combined. You are special because you care about your fellow men and women on Earth, and pressing a keyboard 30 times proves you’re willing to go the extra mile.

And naturally the ease of signing has made online petitions utterly redundant. I used to actually read what the petition was about but now I simply look at the headline, too-long-didn’t-read the rest and click the link if the fancy takes me. No matter how much I want to save elephants or prevent people looking at your tits on Page 3 I will almost certainly fuck right off without signing if I can’t double-click the first box and have my information entered automatically by the browser.

If we can’t bring ourselves to care about the content how are the people these things are aimed at – government ministers, usually – supposed to give a damn about how many people took eight seconds out of their day to sign it? I can picture Jeremy Hunt laughing as another 35,000 ‘signatures’ land in his inbox without a drop of ink or effort spent, begging him not to brand nurses with pound signs or whatever his latest NHS wheeze might be. Picturing that bastard laughing makes me so angry I’m tempted to start a petition to have his lungs privatised.

By far the most guilty exponents of this unstoppable petitiongeddon are Change.org. Right now their ongoing petitions include the following: ‘Theresa May: Mothers’ names should be on marriage certificates’ (I couldn’t care less if apathy paid); ‘Stop Israel from murdering innocent people: It’s time we put a stop to this diabolical act’ (and a petition is what we needed all along!); and ‘Remove Nash Grier from Vine, YouTube and Twitter’. He’s a horrible cunt, apparently, and when the petition is ‘successful’ with all of 100 signatures I’m sure ‘the internet community’ will have no problem getting him to spread his horseshit via some other medium.

There are some victories to be found among these thousands of petitions but almost every one I can find is for the type of sop you can imagine the government feeding us to keep us happy in the back of the car. My money flies into pub tills so fast I have no idea whether there was a woman on the banknote, and whether I’ve just fingered Jane Austen doesn’t strike me as a major concern as I use that afternoon’s sixth Guinness to drown my many inadequacies. While Cherry Groce’s family are doubtless delighted Chris Grayling has granted legal aid for the inquest into her death, an online petition about someone who died 26 fucking years after the riots in which she was paralysed is fairly unlikely to resurrect the old girl, unless there’s been a breakthrough in molecular immortality that passed me by.

The more people who instigate shite like ‘Bury Council: Not to start 3 weekly bin collections’ the more it’ll be impossible to make people in power take note when something that actually matters kicks off. I’ve stopped signing these fucking things, with the exception of ones about beer prices and not shutting pubs down, because if I can’t drink you’ll all suffer. I strongly suggest the next time you’re tempted to tap tap tap into the two little boxes you redirect that energy to rolling a joint or flicking yourself off instead.