Wednesday, January 02, 2008


There is something definitely strange and perhaps vulgar about a funeral being announced as an event on Facebook. The tapeworm of social networking swallows up the only single human inevitable. The Blue Whale has no real idea that the flotsam and jetsam sieved through its baleen plates are living things, dying things, dead things. Funerals have always been announced. Notes in local newsagents and front windows; letters, cards, national newspapers even. It's the formula of Facebook that feels like someone has thrown a shitty plastic wreath into the works. 24 may be attending. 43 will be attending. 14 will not be attending. Bereaved relations want to contact everyone who cared about their loved one, but the sentiment is cheaply buggered by a web developer's macro marketing template. And it's nobody's fault.

Today I had another unsettling encounter with a small portable colour television. Clearing out my room, I uncovered what initially appeared to be the same villain that haunted my sleep one month back. But it was a different one. I was leant it half a year ago. I never got round to plugging it in. It was under the laundry basket, hemmed in by three empty gin bottles (time-lined, entropic: at first Tanqueray, then Gordon's, then Asda's) and countless Amazon packing cases. Moving house is stressful; according to some statistic of unfathomable origin it comes fourth after bereavement, unwanted pregnancy and divorce. My flatmate put it simply, "well, it's just change isn't it". It really is. According to animal experts of verifiable authority, changing the location of a dog or cat causes them more stress than changing their owner. For cats this seems obvious; everyone knows the Janus-faced little bastards don't give a shit about you. But dogs really do. They love you. They just get confused. When they wake up on a sink estate in Plymouth after five years in Royal Tonbridge Wells they will be bewildered. No more line-caught Yellow Fin Tuna steak for you, Muggins, it's mechanically-recovered lips 'n' flaps now. But that flesh-coloured shape on a stick that calls it by a new name is basically the same, as long it gives them plenty of attention.

We had five cats at one point. The smart ones died, leaving only Shitbox, and his mother, Mrs. Minkles. Were Shitbox to be transmogrified into human form he would quickly be recognised as a nasty right-wing thug. He still lives with his wretched, neurotic mum and he beats her up. He can't use the cat-flap. He sits there waiting for you to hold it open for him. Rather like Nick Griffin, he wears a suit and a mask and we're not fooled.

Someone took a shit on the front steps of my new flat. Exactly halfway down; it seemed planned; it seemed human. There is a porch beneath the steps with an electricity meter. They could have gone in there. I found an empty Benson and Hedges packet (underclass cigarettes according to my friend in marketing), fried chicken boxes and a syringe. A van goes round the area. 'Sex and Drugs Litter Rapid Clean Up Team' rather too proudly on the side; bubble lettering, graffito styles, community-friendly 'Hey Everyone!' (why not cameras and a documentary? Been done already), so I'll make a call and leave it to them. St. Paul's has its unfair share of problems, yet the rents are as extortionate as everywhere else on this island. The only people who benefit are the property developers and the debt traders. Switch everything for one day and then one night, just briefly, for Karl Marx's sake, for old times, go on. Some simple old-fashioned class war. Pimp their sorry smack-sick arses at 3 a.m. in the maddening cold then send them out again the next morning to clean up the mess.

"When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed, that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills, and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual. " C. Wright Mills

"He responded to others' claims that his behaviour was boorish by behaving even more outlandishly. Critics were disarmed when he admitted to even worse character faults than he in fact possessed.. " On the character of C. Wright Mills