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Passing

The last time I had a job interview that resulted in getting a permanent job was October 2007. The last time I had a permanent job was June 2011.

You don’t realise at the time it’s never going to be that easy ever again. You don’t think. Sure, you’ve had setbacks but you assume that somehow it will change. Things have been generally good before, you’ve struggled at times but you’ve succeeded in the end. You’re wired to think life is, generally, fair. You have privileges that help you. You don’t think that might ever end.

It ends. It’s impossible to tell when it ends but there comes a point when people look at the same cv and the same experience and the same skills and think less of them than they did before. You aren’t valuable anymore, you’re limited.

At first it doesn’t seem obvious why that might be. You think you’re a decent employee, maybe not one of the best in the world but certainly not one of the worst. You’re willing to put in the hours, and you do. You have some talents and skills you can use, and useful experience, more and more of it all the time. But it ends. You are no longer useful. You are no longer valuable. You’re limited.

Maybe it’s just those employers, you think. Maybe it’s just these circumstances. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Maybe I’m not cheerful or exciting or optimistic enough. Maybe it’s that. You try again. You work harder on it. You listen to feedback. You work on it. You do things differently even if it’s uncomfortable for you, because it’s worth changing. Everyone tells you to be flexible and adaptable and you want to work, so you do the things you’re told to do, and you can do it. But it’s not about whether you can do it.

You notice something else. There are other people who have the same skills as you, or not quite as many, or the same level of experience, or sometimes less, and they start getting the jobs you don’t get. They are men and women. They are from all different backgrounds. But they are all. Young. Younger. Than you.

You don’t want to have a chip on your shoulder or to seem bitter, so you ignore it at first. You must be wrong. The world is fair, and you aren’t entitled to anything, you have to work for it, and that’s fine, because you can compete, and you can just keep working and something will come along.

Something doesn’t come along. You have a series of temporary jobs. People, who are younger, join after you and pass you by. Everything is passing you by. You suddenly look around and it’s just you left there on the bottom rung, going nowhere. Everyone else moves on and passes you by. You don’t move on because you can’t move on. There is nowhere to go.

All of these bastards. They turn up and smile and have no worries about anything, and they take that job instead of you, and they go. But there is never anything for you. Not for you. That isn’t the way it works.

It becomes harder and harder to look at the mounting evidence without coming to the same conclusion. Because it doesn’t just happen once, or most of the time. It happens every time. Nothing you do will ever be good enough.

People say, but something will come along. But it doesn’t. And you feel worse because you bother them with your fears and worries and anxieties. So you try and hide it all. You keep it all inside. Even though it hurts you all the time, you try and keep it concealed. The thing that is eating away at you and hurting you and making you shuffle off quietly to the work toilets and sit on the seat in your trousers and cry until no tears come out. And you dry your face and come back to your desk and type some things into an email, and people talk about it their holidays, or some aspect of their more senior work that doesn’t involve you.

You feel like a shell, just a heap of old skin draped over old bones. You’re watching someone else do these things. You don’t even feel like you’re in your own body. But the only thing you do feel is the pain. Sometimes it gets more numb and sometimes it hurts more openly but it’s always there. And it won’t go away because you can’t get what you want, although you try, and every time you try you dare to hope and dare to dream that this time might be the time you get out of this mess.

You try to pass as someone who isn’t feeling this. Sometimes you can’t help it from coming to surface, a bitter word, something that sounds out of place, a sigh in the middle of a four-hour meeting that indicates something short of the compliant nods and warm interesting mumbles you’re supposed to bring to the party. It slips out. You can’t help it. You want to jump on the table and scream and kick these people in the face.

And it doesn’t stop. There is no happy ending because there was never going to be one, but you didn’t know that back then, when it seemed so simple. But you didn’t know and you didn’t appreciate it. And now it’s gone. It’s passed you by and it’s never coming back.

And it isn’t that easy to pick yourself back up every time because every time it hurts harder. And there comes a point where you have no fight left, and you want to give up and stop trying, and stop trying to care. You want to stop hurting. Maybe it’ll stop hurting if you stop caring. But it still hurts, because all you want is all you want, and all you want is what you can’t have.

Something won’t come along.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Title

You can travel in time
Every day
I travel in time
I hear a song, I am twenty-two
a darkened room
mirrors on the wall
my own breath steaming up into the ceiling, a cigarette in an ashtray
thoughts of dying.

Something is wrong,
something is very wrong
that’s what it feels like

I am twenty-one
walking out of a tube station in a dirty London suburb
chip fat in the air, punching me in the face,
an old coat that’s two sizes too small

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Repetition

It’s true that “the Daily Mail is shit” is hack; but it’s also fairly true.

(A few – Jesus Christ, ten – years ago, I started writing a blog about how newspapers were evil pieces of shit designed to sell you a pack of lies and reinforce prejudices, for money. I wrote the same thing and the same thing until I became the thing I hated, repeating the same story in slightly different words every day. I hen did it for money and it was even worse. But believe me, I started off being right.)

Anyway, I find myself in the position of not quite being able to not care enough to be able to leave today’s miserable little shart from the Daily Mail alone. They say:

DSNuyGcWsAAKHH7

Like I say, newspapers don’t really exist to tell you news. They exist to tell you types of story, or versions of myths they’d like you to believe. Which is why you can look back through story after story after story about how antidepressants are bad. But what’s the point? You know they’re there. It’s just selling a story to people who’d like it – specifically, the kind of “never did me no harm” boiled-faced cunt who happily dismisses mental health issues as weakness, or “a Daily Mail reader” as they’re also known.

Oh, there I go again, insulting people. Ooh Steve, you’ll never get them on-side if you’re mean to them. Poor Daily Mail readers, they’re only racists and pensioners and general arseholes with a cruel streak for a minorities and an inability to form human relationships, what’s so bad about them? At least they’re voting, aren’t they? Why not be nice to them, they might listen to you. You mustn’t call them all terrible cunts, or for some reason you’ll have lost the argument, because while they’re dismissing your entire humanity, you’re using naughty words, so, you see? Do you see? They are better than you. And you have lost the argument by using words that they might consider beyond the pale, while still being racist and terrible and hating other people. Do you see? Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they Steve. Do they. No. So don’t call them cunts. Some of them aren’t cunts. Admittedly, I can’t think of any off hand but I’m sure there are some. Probably. Who aren’t complete cunts anyway. Maybe they buy it for the crossword. And the racism. And Fred Bassett. Or the sport. And the racism.

Look, this kind of thing is the kind of thing that I can’t leave alone. I wish I would because then it would mean I could spend my time doing more interesting things than writing, which I’d kind of given up anyway. But they’ve got me going now, haven’t they? They’ve won. The fuckers. And yes, I realise that by drawing attention to their tedious, predictable and inevitable contempt for people who might need to take antidepressants, I’ve let them win. Well, they’ve won. And seeing as they’ve won, let’s let them win.

You’ve won. Yes. You don’t take tablets. Good for you. You don’t hurt all the time. You don’t feel like shit a lot of the time. Well done you. You won. You’ve won. You’re better than me. You’re a better person. You’ve never had to make yourself get out of bed in the morning, or stop yourself from dying, or something like that. Good for you. It must be a tremendous sense of an achievement to think about the number of ways in which you’re superior. Astonishing and brilliant and correct. All in one go. Silly bastards, trying to stay alive. Fuck us, eh. We don’t matter, we’re just nothings. If only we’d go and pull our socks up and get ourselves back together and be normal, like you are, we’d be alright and you wouldn’t be able to look down your noses at us. You are superior and we are not.

I wish I could try and describe the ugly necessity of “happy pills” but I can’t. Imagine you’re in pain all the time, and then it’s only some of the time, but you don’t know when the pain is going to come or how painful it’s going to be, and even when you’re not in pain you don’t know how long it’s going to be before you’re in pain again, but you’re pretty sure even when you don’t feel any pain at all that you’re going to be in pain again soon, and there’s something inside you making all this pain and you don’t know what it is but it’s there inside you, always inside you, and it isn’t going to go away. Imagine that. Imagine that pain always being there. Imagine that pain that couldn’t go away. Or maybe it could, or maybe not go away, but be tolerable, bearable. Imagine you had a way of making it possible to exist with that pain because there was something that made it, if not alright, but just acceptable, possible, turned it from something that wasn’t worth suffering to something that was worth suffering… because you still suffer. Fuck me! If only they were “happy” pills. If only I could walk around with a massive fuck-off goofy grin on my face, skipping around like a joyful lemon-scented doily all day. I would love it. I would love that so much. But guess what – I can’t. No one does. No one is made happy by happy pills, which is why calling them that reveals the contempt.

No, they aren’t happy pills. No, I’m not happy. But my feeble, brittle, fragile existence is held up by threads of the thinnest wire, and that’s what it feels like to be on antidepressants. You have some sort of a chance. That’s all it is, a chance. All you have is a chance, and that’s all you can take sometimes. But it’s not a happy pill and it doesn’t make you better and it doesn’t cure you and it doesn’t mean that it’s some kind of sweet that doctors put in little glass bowls in the waiting room like they’re after-dinner jellybeans. Fuck off. It’s not like that at all.

Fuck you and your “happy pills” shit. I wish depression on you. I wish the kind of evil that mental health creates, and I wish it into your head, and I hope you suffer, and I hope you tell yourself to pull your socks up, and I hope it doesn’t work, and I hope you find yourself hopeless and lost, and I hope the shame that you’ve created with headlines like that kills you. Fuck you. Fuck you to the ends of the earth. There is no excuse. You can make a choice. You can decide whether you want to do this or not. You can decide whether it’s a good thing to be doing or not. You can decide if it’s worth it. Is it worth it? Is it?

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Nothing to add

I used to write a lot. Too much, probably. Every single thought I ever had was published somewhere, published on paper and screens. Now, I don’t really write. It was my hobby and livelihood, and now it’s nothing. I have nothing to add.

I don’t miss it, much.

Too many words. All thrown away; wasted.

Two friends have expressed something this year, though, that made me want to write. It’s something I’ve touched upon before, recently I think, the last thing I wrote. And I want to say a little more.

We are the result of the things we did, or had done to us, or made happen, or which happened to us. We are participants and actors; we are eyewitnesses and bystanders. Sometimes we see our own lives as if we’re watching everything happen to someone else. (Sometimes that’s a way of coping. But I am getting ahead of myself.) Sometimes we see others’ lives and feel it is happening to us. When that last thing happens, it’s something that’s hard to get rid of, unless you do something about it – and what I do, better than anything else I do, is write.

Listen. I don’t have a profound insight into anything, but I am beginning to learn. One of the nice things about getting older is that you keep learning, and through it you learn about your younger self. Let me tell you what I’ve learned this year. As part of my job, (which even at this moment slips away from me, like everything slips away in time) I am lucky enough to read about other people’s stories. I hear about their lives. I have become familiar with types of experiences, types of things happening, and what happens.

But I am being too opaque. I want to hide from what I want to say. Alright, let me be clearer, and less general: I work with people who have suffered trauma. I have learned about that word and what it means. It means everything. It means mental health. It means the reason why people do things that are unexpected, unpleasant, unpredictable, out of the blue, whoa-oa. A lot of us are dealing with our reactions to some kind of trauma, small or large, a one-off or a series of events, something we did or something someone else did, something we saw or something we felt.

It doesn’t just happen when you’re young, though that can be the hardest thing to untangle, or re-tangle, if you like. It can happen when you’re so young that you don’t know what happened. You can’t remember what it is, but you find yourself, older, with a series of symptoms and behaviours that seem to be unconnected to anything else, and yet… and yet… when you read about other people who present in the same way, you start to wonder, and you start to realise it’s more than about wondering, it’s about knowing. Even if there’s no proof. Even if there’s just a subdued haze of a memory, or a feeling that you don’t want to stay with for too long, because of how it makes you feel. That was the thing, the trauma, what happened. You doubt yourself, because you aren’t sure. But it was real: because you are how you are.

I don’t need to go through all these behaviours. But you might recognise some. Some people feel a fire inside, a rage, a fury, that comes from nowhere – somewhere? – nowhere except this place that other people don’t seem to have. You spend your whole life keeping it away from sight, and manufacturing this whole human being who doesn’t have that feeling, who doesn’t have that response. What response? The need to lash out. To be scared. Spooked when there’s a sudden thing, a loud noise maybe, someone close behind you that you can’t see. You either know it or you don’t. If you do, I’m sorry. But it’s there whether I remind you about it or not. Isn’t it? And where do you go when that happens? What age do you become?

BANG.

For me it is about two, maybe three years old. You can speculate on why, but it’s obvious if you think about it. I’m suddenly small. Eyes open wide, looking around. “Hyper vigilant” they call it.

It trickles through your childhood, comes out from time to time. Luckily, when you’re young, these things can be dismissed. But when you’re older, it’s more obvious who’s normal and who isn’t. Into adulthood, it carries on. How is it that you seem to be less of a “people person” than the other people you work with, in your office? How is it that you feel hot in the face, ashamed, afraid, suddenly angry, when you’re in a meeting and you feel – wrongly, it’s almost always wrongly, but you don’t find yourself able to process that at the time, in real speed – that someone else is out to get you, to humiliate you, to make you feel stupid? Do you say something stupid, raise your voice, make an ugly face that you think hides how you feel, but which everyone else can read so easily? Do you say something under your breath? Feel like you’re sabotaging your own work? Making things hard for yourself? Can’t quite get everything done, until the last minute? Make mistakes and then apologise for it afterwards, but realise that means you’re off the hook, because you never did your best anyway?

Because you don’t value yourself. You are nothing, and you have nothing. If you keep nothing, you have nothing to lose. If you try to take a risk, and have hope, and have something to gain, or work hard, or do everything you can, or open yourself up, you know what might – will – happen. The same ridicule, the same shame. The same stupid hope crept out, and hurt you again. Like you did, when you were little. Do you wanna build a snowman? Not that bit where you sing, but where you don’t even knock on the door. That’s it, right there. That’s when you know you’ve trained yourself not to hope. That’s when you’ve become what you are.

BANG.

You take yourself to that place often. Fingernails stick into your flesh. If you hurt yourself, you control the pain. If you hurt yourself more than anyone else could ever hurt you, then you control the level of hurt. You are in charge. You can make yourself the person who decides what happens. But you can never decide when. You never decide when the feelings come out. It can be every day. Every morning of every day. You feel it. Every other day. A week without it. A month. A happy time, a season, a holiday.

You go back straight away.

I worked in a school, a little while ago, for children who have behavioural issues. Some people are scared in there. I was scared, but I wasn’t scared like normal people are scared. I was scared because I knew. I knew the threads that tied those children up were the ones that tie me too.

BANG. There it is. There it comes. Here it is again.

Other things happen. You might hurt yourself. Obviously, deliberately, in ways that cut you or bite you or bruise you. In other ways too, though: a disrespect for your body, making it something that can overwhelm you or kill you, making it bloated or large; making it something that’s like a giant flesh cushion to make you feel protected. Or is it protected? Is it just that the less good you feel, the less harm you feel anyone could do to you? What does that mean? You could think about that, or… you could just leave it alone. Maybe leave it alone. Don’t tug at that loose bit of skin, because you know what happens when you pull on it. You know what happens when you’re curious, when you’re small, when you want to be loved, but that love isn’t there, and something else is in its place. Do you know how that feels?

Everything is a choice. Every way we behave is a choice. Every interaction is a choice. Every moment can be a blank page. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Wouldn’t it be perfect if you could bring yourself, a bag of bones with no memory of anything that had ever taken place before, to every new situation, and treat it like a new day? Isn’t that possible? You think to yourself, of course it’s possible, and when you find it isn’t possible, it’s not because it isn’t possible, it’s because you did it wrong. You failed at it. You could have made it work, but it didn’t work, and it was what you did, and it went wrong again, and there isn’t anyone else to blame; just change. Change and it will be okay. Change and forget. Start again. Start it all again. Be someone else. Don’t be yourself. Be you, but better. Why can’t you do that? Why can’t you just imagine that thing, that thing never happened? Or things. Or whatever it was. Or however it felt. Or the things you carry around with you, inside you, that you can never get out.

Sometimes you can escape. Sometimes you can be someone else looking at you, like you’re driving yourself by remote control. Sometimes you can react as that perfect, true self, the person you dream about being, the person you are in your dreams, who is better than you, who forgets it all and just behaves the way everyone else behaves, who isn’t brittle, who isn’t always waiting for that

BANG.

Sometimes, you know that the way you feel is risible and ludicrous. You know that the things you do and how you present yourself, this shambolic child that emerges every once in a while, is a mess. You know you’re a mess. It’s the knowing that makes it worse, in a way. Knowing that you want to be better. Knowing that you are better. Knowing that you are better than the things that happened to you, the things that happened, the person you were. Why must you still be the past? Why must it still keep reaching to get you, even now?

That’s all I have. I don’t have any more, for now. I don’t write, because it hurts too much. I started writing in the first place because there were things I wanted to say, to tell someone, anyone, but didn’t know how. Sometimes I hoped, in the swirl of all the words, someone would see and someone would know. We are all trying to confess something. Everyone who writes is writing a confession. We’re all working our way towards saying that thing, that hurtful thing, we just have to keep going until someone listens enough, or doesn’t interrupt, or asks a question, or simply stays with us.

I don’t think pain ever goes. But I want to find out. And I want to try.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

What happens 

I need to tell you something. 

Well that’s not right. I don’t need to tell anyone anything. I don’t need to speak. It might make more sense just to say nothing and exist in a void. But there I go, stopping myself. All my life, stopping myself from talking, from saying. At the same time, writing: a need to get out every little thought. 

I get it now. All those years clinging on, trying to be normal and trying to be nice and trying to blend into the background. Stay quiet and you might be ignored. Don’t speak up or you might feel stupid again. You prick. You stupid prick. 

I’ve worked in education for years, and before that, medical records. You work in jobs that you can learn about yourself from. I learned about children who were a little broken because something happened to them. I kept seeing something in them, something in the way they behaved, some sort of pain. Something I could see that other people couldn’t see. It was like I had a gift but it wasn’t a gift. It was a shared knowledge, a sense of the familiar.  

Something happened. I don’t know when or even what, I just know there’s something there in that void from birth to four. 

I get glimpses sometimes. Snatches of half-remembered scenes; horrible moments in dreams. But it’s not a memory so much as a feeling. A feeling of shame, and humiliation. Pain. 

I get it now. I see what I was like in my early life and teenage years was the result of something – something, I don’t know what or when or how or even who. But something. That anger and fear that rises even today, the need to lash out, the hostility. Or not lash out: turn it inwards. Make the pain something that I can produce, to make myself hurt more. You hurt me, I’ll hurt myself. I’ll make it worse. I’ll outdo you. 

I get it now. 

When you get it, what do you do with it? I have been a prisoner for too long. Encased in those feelings that started before I could remember and carried on long through the time when I’d learned to hide them. 

People say: you can choose. And you can. I chose to fight it, most of the time, but every now and then, when enough other things conspired, I got tired, and it started to beat me again. It’s amazing, looking back, I did as well as I did, which is to say, fucking a lot of things up, badly, repeatedly, but for some of us, that’s as good as we can do. 

Some of us have bits of us broken and missing. You live with that damage and we did OK. It’s not easy but just existing is the biggest fuck you that you can manage. 

Breathe in, breathe out. Each breath is one second further away from the time you were hurt. It lives inside you, but it doesn’t define you. 

Time to live. 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Letting go

Four years ago, I went for a walk along a beach. I didn’t know if I’d be coming back. I didn’t want to. 

You don’t really get clear beginnings and endings. It’s like the tide coming in, a series of waves gradually coming closer, until your toes sink into damper, darker sand and the cold water bubbles over your ankles. It’s hard to know when things are. Over. 

I look back now and I know things are changing. Finally, work. Finally, hope. Family. All the things that seemed impossible, because they were then. Now they’re here and so am I. Nothing and everything has changed. You become aware of the passing of time, the process of ageing; a tooth crumbles and print becomes imperceptibly harder to read. Any moment could be the start of a decline. It could be today that pain arrives and doesn’t leave. But even that is evidence that change can happen. And you’re part of it. 

If you can get through an hour you can get through a day. One sleep at the end of the day and you can get through a day. One leads to another. Sometimes you just have to exist a bit and let time pass around you. It’s not as easy to do as that. But I found I could. 

I know the thinking nowadays is to live in the moment, an endless present tense, but that doesn’t work for me. Today is held down by threads of yesterday, lifted up on the hopes of the next day, another day. You carry scars and memories. Some things change and some don’t. Some can and some won’t. But you can try.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Why we got it so right

As a columnist I am often asked, who the fuck do you think you are? What makes your opinions so much better than everyone else’s? And why are you unable to make real and lasting friendships with other humans? But mainly, I am asked about why I am so talented and if I have any tips for young hopefuls who may wish to get into being a professional opinion-haver. And as luck would have it, I can tell you.

Now, some people – bad people, who don’t have byline photos with them looking over their shoulder at the camera as if to say yes, here I am, it’s me again, and here I come with a wry sideways controversial look at the news – have said we got it wrong. About the election, you know. Articles such as “Trot bastard Corbyn will fucking lose you leftie pricks”, “Fucking hell I will stuff a blackbird up my arse and shit it into Dan Jarvis’s mouth if Labour don’t all die of shame on June 9” and “You bunch of antisemites, liars, bastards, scumbags, murderers, terrorists and wankers, why don’t you join nice people like us over here?” may have convinced you that I didn’t back Labour.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I am of course still a member of Labour, despite my column last year entitled “Why am I cutting up my Labour Party card and putting the bits into 37 different bins, each a five-mile drive from each other, just to be sure, and why you should too”. I back Labour, I just hate all their policies and wish daddy could come back and save us, but for SOME REASON people who are idiot purists and who put virtue-signalling principles above electability decided that blowing people up was in some way anything other than a glorious humanitarian liberation, which it clearly was, and actually, if you realised anything you’d see that Chomsky supported Pol Pot, so yeah, take that, leftie. Not so smug now, are we?

So yes, I support Labour, I just despise any policy that isn’t based on privatising and deregulating everything, and I certainly don’t want higher taxes for rich people. Some people – stupid people, idiots and sixth formers mainly – say this is something called “neoliberalism”. I mean, hey guys, what? That’s a pretty long word to be bandying around? Can you define it for me please? In six words. NOW. DEFINE IT NOW. YOU MUST DEFINE IT. THREE WORDS THEN. GO. CAN YOU? NO, YOU CAN’T. YOU CAN’T. YOU LOSE. I mean, it’s pathetic to try and define a huge amount of policies comng from very different places in a broad sweep of one term. Trotskyist Corbyn knows that and that’s why he is bad and wrong, and why even if he gets votes, that’s wrong, because principles are actually more important, I think you’ll find, but of course Labour hypocrites don’t see that at all, massive hypocrites that they are.

And as for this business about getting it wrong, er, hello? Labour didn’t win! I think you’ll find that my prediction of a thumping, glorious and well-deserved majority for Theresa May, that shrewd and brilliant operator who parked her tanks on Labour’s lawn and opened up a new centre-left party for everyone that would destroy Labour and push it into deserved obscurity, was closer to the truth than yours, where you said there might be modest gains by the Tories at the absolute best. So who really got it right?

Anyway, it’s not about getting it right or wrong anyway. Cuh, what do you take me for, a bloody fortune teller? No, and this is where you might want to start taking notes, being an opinion-haver today is not about being “right” or “wrong”. It’s all about getting that hot, hot take and those sexy numbers. It’s not about constructing an argument or trying to balance different views, it’s about steaming ahead like a freight train through a primary school, ensuring you make as much noise as possible. Otherwise how are your words going to make an impact in a crowded marketplace? You need to stand out. Take out all the doubts you have and imagine that you have such a colossal, grandiose sense of your own intellect that you never need to question anything, let alone yourself. Imagine (of course, some of us don’t have to imagine!) you’re always right, and plough on regardless of any difficulties with facts or things that might turn up in the meantime.

Sure, it might mean that sometimes you have to pretend you know more about something than you really do, but that can be done. I mean I’m pretty sure I know more about most things than anyone and am significantly better than you. In fact I read a book on bricklaying and it turns out I’m better at it than bricklayers are. But I guess we’ve got to give people who didn’t go to the right schools something to do, haven’t we! Ha ha. Yes. Yes, we do.

It might mean that sometimes you come up with stupid, wrong takes that are deeply unpleasant and upsetting, but that’s just a test. That’s the moment when you’re faced with a choice. You can either think about whether you might, possibly, have been wrong to have crashed through the wall and announced your opinion on something you weren’t really entirely au fait with… or you can do the right thing. Double down, blame the people criticising you – one or two of them are bound to have sworn, the scum, which will make it look like you’re the clever one – and carry on. People will really start to hate you. Your takes will be more controversial and more infuriating. And then you’ve really won.

So, sure, a lot of it’s about talent, and luckily I happen to have an awful lot of that. A lot of it, though, is also about making sure you have that strength of character, that courage, to make sure that even when someone dares to tell you that you might, possibly, on this occasion, have been wrong about something, or not as entirely right as they might have liked you to be, you dismiss their views entirely.

And that’s why there is no “right” and “wrong” as these idiots would like to have you believe. There is only right. Your right to get it wrong. Ha ha! (Leave that bit in, that’s good. Don’t end it on an unstressed syllable, you cunts.)

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Seven summers

Seven summers since I lost a proper job. Warm weather, like this, outside. I walked down the hill into town to put my redundancy cheque – yes, a cheque – in the bank. That time of year when violet takes over from bluebell. I saw a dead fledgling, its bulging oversized face being eaten away by hungry ants, at the bottom of a tree, and I carried on walking.

You can do anything you want, go anywhere you want, and no one will stop you. That’s what you think, but you don’t end up doing that. You end up filling out forms, writing the same thing over and over. This is my name, this is what I did, this is how I am justifying myself to you. I studied here. I got these results. I worked here. And here, and here and here. Would you like me to work for you? You might? You wouldn’t. Thank you very much and I’ll try again.

You meet people in interview rooms. Some of them are kind, and others you just want to jump over the desk and punch their stupid fat wobbling red faces until they stop moving. Sometimes they have sympathy for you, but often they don’t. There’s a thinly veiled contempt, which you feel obliged to return, but there’s only anger, and anger goes nowhere but back inside. But you never do anything. You try and be yourself, and you worry if yourself is really what you should be. Some people say, don’t be like that. Be more like this. You try being more like this and less like that. It doesn’t work. So you go back to being how you were anyway. And still it doesn’t work. You move on. Another room, another interview. Can you tell me why you want this job? Well, I need money in order to buy things and pay bills, and I can do this job, I really can do it, just let me have it, I’ve worked hard, I’ll work hard for you, I might not be exactly the precise person you’re probably looking before, but I know I can do it, and please give me the money you have, please, I would beg but I don’t know how to beg. So you don’t beg, you just retreat into that forced, polite, trying to make yourself look as good as you can, and you wonder if they can sense the desperation, and if they can, whether they care, but you know that they probably don’t, or if they do, so what? They’re still not giving you a job.

I did have a proper job, for a while. It paid pretty well and I could go on holidays. But I didn’t do the right things. I didn’t want to lie about the figures. I didn’t want to lie about the things that were happening. I didn’t want to pretend everything was all right, when it clearly wasn’t all right. I was a trouble maker. I wouldn’t just put my head down and tell the good lies for the benefit of everyone else. If you just say X is Y, that will get them off our back. But X isn’t Y. And when you won’t make X Y, even when it isn’t, you’re marked down as being the wrong kind of person. You’re the kind of person they really don’t want clogging up their organisation. So soon it was time for me to go, and seeing as I really didn’t want to go, I had to be made to go. So mistakes were found. Errors were seen. The slow walk down the corridor. The feeling that something is about to go horribly, horribly, terribly wrong. The meeting. The phone call. The meeting. With regret. And all of that. And then you begin again.

Work is a thing that has to be done. Find the thing you love and do it, they say. But not everyone does the thing they love for money. Not everything you love will pay you money, and there are bills that need to be paid and things that need to be done. Sometimes you just want to stand on the warm grass in the summer and know what the next week or next month or next year might bring, without knowing the only thing you can rely on is the passing of time.

Feel the warm grass under your bare feet. Summer again. Still nowhere to go.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Cunt signalling

A few years ago, someone invented the phrase “virtue signalling”. (If I told you that this person writes for the Spectator, you might have a vague idea of the context, even if you hadn’t heard the phrase. Basically it means not being a cunt.) If you try not to be a cunt, you’re virtue signalling.

Virtue signalling has developed mission creep over the years since this terrible writer, whoever it was, I can’t bring myself to look him up, but it’s definitely a man who writes for the Spectator, invented it. So now it means anything you want it to mean, but specifically, anyone trying to have any faint trace of humanity or compassion, which you know to be risible and daft and not the kind of grown-up intelligent politics that you stand for, which completely coincidentally means you keeping a lot more of your money.

If you vote for something you believe in, you’re virtue signalling. If you think that rich people should pay more tax than poor people, you’re virtue signalling. If you think dropping bombs onto people isn’t a clever and good thing to do, you’re virtue signalling. If you think anything other than a brutal, horrible, vindictive, spiteful, cruel, unpleasant existence and hateful attitude towards everyone else is the right way to conduct yourself, you’re virtue signalling.

Virtue signalling is what cunts used to call being a “bleeding heart”, and the sentiment is similar. The “bleeding hearts” used to have weak, foolish, unmasculine traits such as caring about other human beings, thinking that killing other people or letting them die was in some strange way a bad or incorrect thing to happen. Nowadays, virtue signalling goes that little bit further. It’s not just that people dare to have these views, which are clearly incorrect and wrong and naive and foolish and stupid and should be endlessly mocked by those of us who realise it’s right to be a hateful prick; no, they have these views and dare to express them. Not in the shiny paper pages of superior right-wing political magazines, of course, because only the right kind of people with the right kind of friends get to write their opinions there – where they are transformed from the ramblings of unkind bastards into the sage savouries of bright, hilarious and intelligent men – but elsewhere. Maybe in tweets, or somewhere in a meme that gets more retweets than is deemed appropriate for someone without the proper clearance and authority; maybe on a Facebook page or on one of those news websites we can call “fake news” because it’s not done by someone in nice clothes who does the paper review on the BBC News channel at three in the morning.

It’s a phrase used by gatekeepers. It’s designed to shut down, dismiss and keep at bay those unruly plebs who are tapping at the drawbridge and demanding to actually be allowed to have a say about things – you know, plebs, morons and the great unwashed. Some of them think they’re allowed to have opinions on politics without even having gone to the right kind of Oxbridge college and studied PPE or PPS or whatever it is they grow chortling sketchwriters in nowadays. Stop these people in their tracks. Virtue signalling. You may think that, but that’s just the kind of virtue signalling a virtue signaller would use. You want other people to know that you’re a purity politics idiot who would rather believe in things than be in power; you would rather vote for things you want rather than things you don’t want by people you don’t like that might somehow lead accidentally to half-decent things, if you’re lucky, and if they aren’t too busy dropping fucking bombs on people halfway around the world in the name of humanitarian intervention – not that THAT’S virtue signalling, of course, because dropping a bomb actually creates peace, whereas wanting peace means that terrible things happen. Do you see?

But let’s call this what it is. What it really is. It’s cunt signalling. If they can use a dismissive little phrase to say that giving a shit about other humans is somehow invalid and pathetic, let’s have one for them. Cunt signalling. When you scoff at the idea that someone wouldn’t incinerate millions in a nuclear first strike: cunt signalling. When you tell people that actually taxing the rich more doesn’t raise significantly more money and therefore, let them keep it all, after all, it’s their money: cunt signalling. When you say that, actually, the best thing to do for the poor is to let them suffer, cut off their benefits, sanction them, stop them from getting the help they need, make it harder and harder to jump through the hoops they need to in order to be kept alive (and if a few of them drop dead in the process, well, so be it, lessons will be learned, and so on): cunt signalling.

Every time you see the phrase “virtue signalling”, used sincerely, it means that person wants you to know they’re a cunt. They’re telling you they’re a cunt. They are cunt signalling, very clearly. They don’t care about others and they want you to know that, because they’re proud of it. Happy to hate. Proud of hatred. Proud to be scum.

As soon as those two words come together, everything else disappears.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

What I run about when I think I’m thinking about running

I started running about half a year ago. It hurts. That’s the main thing. I don’t do it because I enjoy the buzz you get afterwards, and I don’t do it because it’s made me lose weight, or gives me time to myself, or gets me out of the house in the fresh air. I do it because it hurts. It’s monotonous, and repetitive, and hurts. I do it because I’m trying to teach myself to get through the bit that hurts and get to the bit where it feels okay again and you can carry on and forget that there was a voice inside your head telling you to give up and go home – or you can remember that voice, and remember that you told it to fuck off, you weren’t ready to quit yet, you wanted to carry on. I run because it hurts, and you get through the hurt, and you learn about how much of the pain you can take, then you learn that pain is information, nothing more or less, and that you can treat it with the contempt of anything else you might be told by anyone, anywhere.

You run because you want to run. You don’t go anywhere and you don’t see anything. You travel from one place to another, through the place in between, and you pass by other lives on the way, or they pass by you, like passengers on a train watching you run, and you watch the train pass under the road beneath you and you keep your eyes up ahead, where there is only grey pavement and there is only the road in front of you, where there is more pain, and you keep going, because you want to, because you have to, because some kind of arbitrary measuring point in metric or imperial distance is up there, waiting for you, or some unit of time has to be clocked off.

There is music playing, though you don’t hear it. You feel the music in your body and you feel it playing around you. You hear the rhythm of your feet, tapping out the same sound and the same sound and the same sound and the same sound, and you feel your breath boiling through your chest and the spit whirling around your face, and it reminds you of a song you once heard, or used to play, and takes you to the place where you used to listen to it, or of the time when you used to play it, maybe a summer, 1996, and the room where you used to live, and the people you knew, and the people who were there and seemed so important and are now gone, all of them, some in the ground and some just to other places – they could be around the next corner, waiting for you, but they won’t be, and they’re gone forever, just like the memory you have of the song you heard, which is slipping away, slipping from your grasp, like your sweat into the wind. Keep running.

Run. I used to think people who ran were running from something, something they wanted to forget, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore; I think they were probably most likely running towards something. You’re always running forward, always making some kind of progress, always putting one foot in front of the other, if you’re not going anywhere it doesn’t matter, you’re always making some kind of change. Change is possible. Your muscles get stronger, your endurance gets better, your speed increases, your tolerance of the pain gets better. You get better at the thing you’re doing. Unlike so many other places in life, you can improve, you can do the same thing again and again and it gets better rather than stagnating; you can actually change and be better at something than you were before. You can be better. You can be the person you want to be. You can find something, somewhere, anything, where you’re able to make a difference to yourself. You can run. You can get through the pain. You can do it.

Then you retreat back into ordinary life, and you’re still the same person, and your progress can’t be measured, or if anything you’re getting worse, and other people judge you and find that you’re not good enough and that you could be better. People tell you when to run and stop. People tell you what you should be doing and they try to encourage you to do things you don’t want to do, or to be a different person so that you would do things the way they would do them rather than the way you would do them, not that they’re trying to tell you how to do anything, but don’t do it that way, do it this way. People tell you that you could be better. People tell you that you’re getting worse. People tell you that you’re letting them down. People tell you that, unfortunately, they’re going to have to use the word unfortunately, and then the rest of the sentence doesn’t ever matter, because you’re looking at yourself sitting in a chair in a room with the door closed and you’re looking through the wrong end of a telescope, and everything seems to be getting darker. Unfortunately.

But there is no unfortunately when you’re running. You just run. You get on with it. You get better all the time. The road keeps coming to you and you keep coming to it.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Uncategorized