Friday, 15 March 2013

And Its Number Was...

   I listened to the scratching at my door for the duration of Judge Judy. Then I peaked out.
    There was a strange animal there, waiting. It was shaped like an umbrella, with coarse fur and a forlorn look upon its face.
    There was a small square patch shaved from the side of its head with a recipe for pineapple upside-down cake tattooed there. I wanted to kick it, but instead, I shut the door and it left.
    I dusted off my old Smith Corona and inserted a sun-bleached floppy disk marked "backup".
    I received a shock as I read a letter written to The Mouse with my name on it, thirteen years ago. It was a wonderful, convoluted, naively arrogant letter with flashes of brilliance peppered throughout. In one part, in the middle, "But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after..."  precedes a marvellous paragraph.
    I only vaguely remember writing the letter and for some reason, instinct perhaps, I googled the dingledodies - and found that I did not write the passage. It was Kerouac. I can't remember reading much Kerouac, let alone taking the trouble to quote him.
    I had an image of myself. With things and stuff lying around. Stuff and things, thin, with dyed red hair and black teeth among missing teeth.
I was not the person I thought I was, I am not the person I think I am and I will never be the person I hope to be.
    I may well give up tomorrow.
    I had also neatly worked in some sentiment from The Lost Highway, stolen from Thoreau and copied Coleridge. Like George, I never really had access to that account, only arrogance and distraction.
    I may well give up tomorrow; but then, at least I stole from Thoreau.
Still, I may well give up tomorrow.
...then again, I may well buy some large, hard pumpkins and head off into the night at high speed - before the creature comes back with friends and a second-rate recipe for Hungarian Goulash...
    ...a recipe which had been stolen from me some time ago. The patterns persist and before I had the chance to see the second episode of Judy, the news flashed at me in some modern form, by phone or on screen, perhaps piped directly into some neural circuitry I am unaware of. Another photofit degenerate pays the price of the social network today, or yesterday, or some other day, and I realise it's no longer my day. In my day he would have used graffiti on his elderly neighbour's wall, in my day he existed in a pinball machine which buffered him between regular sectioning, temporary institutionalisation, release and regular beatings from the stalwart scum of  the community. Still, the ball-bearing would eventually take the inevitable tumble and drop back into where it came from. Today, his computer is seized, he is advised that what he has written is in the public domain, never to be deleted, and that he will serve a considerable amount of jail time. Either way, the mental health facility which would allow him to watch the Magic Roundabout and fantasise about Ermetrude in peace does not, and never did, exist.
    Next up, the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder, addicted and addicted, in an endless cycle of various forms of abuse, is arrested in the north west's version of Atlantic City. She has committed an indecent act, probably for her next foil, packet or bottle of Buckfast. The focus of the news however is not the downward spiral of an empty generation whose void was opened by throwing salty burgers at a thin, damp cardboard promise. No, the appalling story is that the culprit was caught on CCTV shortly after, urinating on a war memorial. To make matters worse, when attending her court appearance to relive the moment, a crowd of ex-servicemen gather to tell her the error of her ways - the monosyllabic reply she gives completes the demonisation. People fought for her country. She has insulted them. Someone has insulted them and someone must pay.
    Paranoia sweeps across the Atlantic in the Litigation Ships and we realise that Freedom of Speech is an abstract concept in the abstract modern world. There's no doubt that they're going to get you, it's just a matter of time. Your PC has images on it you've never even been aware of, you paid your council tax late in February, your passenger side front tyre is bald, your eye lingered on a silhouette for more than the acceptable moment, the banana skin you threw in the bushes is not classed as legitimate decomposable material and don't imagine that it's only the military who have access to what the high-definition, 3-D heat-imaging satellite which can see-through-your-ceiling recorded you doing last Wednesday.
    Politics and war are predictable, Art and human nature are under the spotlight now. There are no nutters anymore. Beware. There's nothing you can do other than hide behind the freak who's going down before you...
    ...the Umbrella Beast returned. It had one of its paws removed and in its place was growing a copy of Hello Magazine. I kicked it hard with my oxblood Doc Martin, closed the door and then went to check my retractable cosh which I keep under the sink. The action was smooth... like Jackie Chan....

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