Sometimes there just isn’t anything deep or meaningful to write about, and dredging around ones mind trying to force something out simply results in babble.  Like today.  So in place of searching for anything with a point, I will instead walk you through a typical mornings bus ride and what goes on inside my head during it.  Fascinating stuff, surely. 

The entire process is about watching, mentally noting and finally, of course, judgement.  It begins when I arrive at the bus stop.  Although the metal seating runs long enough to easily accommodate six, there are only ever three people on it, with large gaps between.  This results in a queue that stretches far out of the shelter even in rainy weather, because who wants to accidentally rub against a stranger, that’s why.  Feet seem to be the focus of my fellow travellers attention.  Feet and a spot on the shop facia just in front of them that they stare at mournfully, presumably to avoid eye contact with another human being.  Although a genuine interest in shoes and/or window displays cannot be entirely ruled out.  I like to imagine that they all suffer from short term memory loss and are confused as to how these things appeared on the end of their legs.  Or that they’re trying to melt the glass using only their intense gaze and hatred of anything that occurs before midday.

Eventually, the bus will arrive.  Boringly inevitable as that is.  We all shuffle on and take a seat, carefully spacing ourselves out to assert our individuality, until there are no lone seats available and we are forced into close contact with one of the Others.  Nobody wants to interact with another person, fair enough, but it does seem a bit much to sit right on the edge of the seat so as to create a valley of distance.  Though, to be fair, I’d rather that than you be so fat that you spill out over my leg.  As our temporary, metal prison starts to move, the majority of its contents will start to jab at their phones.  On more than one occasion I swear the person next to me wasn’t even doing anything, they were just tapping at the screen, like some sort of beak-fingered flesh creature that feeds on luminescence.  Around this time I like to make fleeting eye contact with the Strangers when they look up to remind themselves why they’re looking down.  You can see the terror in their eyes, the confusion on their brow.  It’s quite beautiful.

After I’ve bothered a few people this way  I do tend to dip into a book, which is just as much of a hiding place as a phone or tablet, but with the false impression of intellect.  If you can’t make it, fake it, that’s what I say.  However, should a remarkably stupid conversation strike up within earshot I will listen in.  This has the dual benefit of enhancing the smug sense of superiority already seeded by the book reading, whilst also making me pleasurably aware of the inane shit people talk if they happen to end up sat by an acquaintance, just to avoid good, honest silence.  Yes, I am a bit of a prick, but at least I’m aware of it.  Usually the dialogue goes something along the lines of, 

“Yeah, I had fish last night,”

“Fish, yeah, it’s good, fish, isn’t it,”

“I’m not a fan.”

Or something equally sparkling, vital and incisive.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t got anything interesting to say either, but then I’ve the good sense to keep my stupid mouth shut.  Judgement: immense fun.  Finally, we start to close in on our destination, which is work, which is awful.  I remain seated while everyone else starts to get up and move to the front of the bus.  Do they think it just slows down as it approaches?  That they have to jump and roll?  It does stop, just wait til you arrive and then get up.  Who’s so keen to get to work anyway?  No one.  Idiots.  We all thank the driver as we file off, I’m not sure why, he hasn’t driven especially well and all he’s done is the thing he has to do because it’s the thing he is employed and paid to do.  I’ve never seen anyone thank a Traffic Warden or send the local police force chocolates after receiving  a speeding ticket, and arguably those jobs are both harder and, in the case of punishing speeding, more important.  Controversial that, I’m sure, but if you’re a driver thinking ‘speeding tickets are unjust and this man knows nothing’, fuck you, you’re a moron.

And then I’m at work.  In fact, now I’m at work.  So I should go.

Most people don’t know that it’s raining until they start to drown.

The day to day of everyone’s existence just sputters along without there being enough of a disruption to draw comment. I have been called a misanthrope, a miserable bastard. The things I say and the observations I make are discarded with regularity because people don’t want to hear about the bad bits that help make up our shared reality. But once a year the town fills with so many more people, and they seep in and draw out those same realisations in other people.

I don’t pretend to be clever or somehow better, but like everyone I am clearly different.

Why can’t they see these things about all of us – about the individual and the group and the internal and outside – until there are so many more surrounding them that it becomes harder to breathe, impossible to move as freely as is normal? Why is it so easy to ignore it again once the crowds disperse?

The others have gone. The problem is still there.

Nothing has been fixed.

It is perhaps easier to carry on and feign obliviousness, but that is no excuse once you have admitted you’re not blind. When others can see that you can too, it should be repulsive to go back to the blinkers. Of course there are enough of them to make it me who is insane, because as we know, the majority decide what is the madness of the few. A few more moments like this, sat typing, writing, thinking too deeply, and it will be too late for me to ever pretend it’s okay to pretend at all.

On the other hand, nice to hold, more people means a greater chance of finding another, or a few, that share this mind. But not in these four days a year. It would have to be a regularity, a constant crowd and also, simultaneously, a new thing. Not fleeting but not engrained. Nor engineered. It’s a hard thing to imagine, let alone find, but it’s there somewhere, here sometimes. Gone so very quickly so so very hard to grasp.

It’s funny what comes out with a temperature and a head full of lemon flavoured paracetamol. Concise, at least. All of it.

Having to work for someone else in order to make enough money to eat and drink is not desirable at the best of times, but there are occasions when the urge to burn through the office like a cleansing fire, plunging ones Bic into the necks of senior management and washing away the sins of stupidity with their blood, is almost too strong to ignore. We are, after all, told to Listen to our Bodies more than we ever have been before, and mine says remove them all from this beautiful planet before they make it unbearably, unnoticeably, skin crawlingly hopeless and dull. It’s probably already too late of course, as every atom of our existence is already infected by the sort of faux smiling, pretend-that-we’re-listening, team building, back stabbing, robotic prick that will insist that carving their logo on your forehead is somehow mutually beneficial. Actually, split the atom and more of the little tumours will spill out and each will have thought of new ways to make actual things meaningless, primarily by rebranding them. People become Resource. Strength becomes Core Competency. Honesty becomes undesirable – dangerous, even – and slowly everything becomes absolutely nothing at all.

For a collection of entities that bleat on about being approachable, open, adaptive and (swallow down that vomit) forward thinking, big businesses seem to spend an awfully large amount of their time making everything as muddied, confusing, hypocritical, rigid and self serving as is lizard-overlordly possible. It’s very much a case of say one thing, look like you’re doing another, do the thing you were always going to do that, in reality, is strikingly close to what you’ve always done.

Of course we care about what our staff think, that’s why we create the illusion of listening and reacting through our recently rebranded Feedback Culture. They feed back, we listen and if it’s piss easy to implement and doesn’t challenge the existing hierarchy and traditional cash flow model, we get proactive on that shit. Oh yes. Our customers are individuals, not numbers. That’s why we spent thousands – or was it tens of thousands, I can’t remember, you’ll have to ask someone else – on an external marketing firm so that we could split our customers into six distinct groups based on age, gender, online presence and gullibility. The environment? Fucking love it.  Hence our Lean initiative in which we fly our higher ranking CEO rimming, corporate cock sucking executives to far flung countries and put them up in disgustingly expensive hotels so that they can learn all about how to save money, while those on the office floor are encouraged to print in black and white if they absolutely must. Confusing buzzwords? Well, moving forward we aim to peel the onion through increased synergy and innovate our clear sky, open box brain melding, impacting all business segments and touch points in order to offer a more consumer manageable mind-slice.

I don’t even know how much of that I made up, but you can guarantee that if it means nothing up there in that last sentence, it will be meaning even less in conference rooms across the country before the year is over.

It’s not even the bullshit that makes me and the (hopefully) million other potential Michael-Douglas-in-Falling-Downs cross. No. It’s the lying. The bare faced, hardly trying, I think you’re a moron lying that is used to make Them feel like they know what the Sweet Sweaty Hell is going on. If you’re going to plaster everyone’s sales or efficiency statistics all over the wall for everybody else to see, don’t tell us it’s to create a dialogue, to move The Conversation along or to generate a self perpetuating environment.  Whatever the fuck that even is. Just tell us it’s so that those struggling or not really cut out for this awful, slimy world, but who are making it work in order that they can pay rent, just tell us it’s so that they can be shamed and made to feel enough stress to quit. Or be fired by some number eating, pencil pushing, dead inside cunt.

I’ll still want to stab you to death with my biro, but at least we’ll both know why.

We’re not all on the same wave length.  That fact is, of course, evident throughout every waking day but sometimes it feels especially pertinent, particularly tall, wide and heavy. So very heavy. We all think differently – subject, depth, intensity – and we’re all a complicated mass of synapses, vitally firing the meaning of existence around our cavernous skulls. Now, I’m aware that this recent realisation is, in part at least, down to another rewarding Psilocybin adventure, and even more alert to the possible warping of any wisdom found within, but a realisation it is never-the-less.

This time, rather than taking my expanded and visually enhanced consciousness out into the world (specifically an ill advised, busy Friday night bar), myself and my companions sat in the relative comfort and safety of my flat and our own minds.  Immediately after consumption a brief walk hastened the assimilation of the active agent into our systems and, returning to some gentle optic fireworks, we all settled down. I went straight for my pen and paper, feverishly scribbling line after line of what seemed likely to be nonsense.  The pages swirled around but I continued, oblivious to both the words sprawling out below and the other human beings in the room.  I heard the distant murmur of music and chatter. I even engaged in parts of a conversation I had no real anchor in, adding relevant one liners and seemingly coherent soundbites when apparently necessary. I wasn’t present though, not at all. I was too busy being me.

Intermittently, I returned to what was currently passing for the real world. Personalities were clashing, or at least that’s how I was perceiving it. Either I was having a bad trip or someone else was, but those particular details seemed irrelevant somehow.  Something was awry. We were brushing up against each other’s rough edges and the rash was starting to appear. Then, back on the pages, I had it: in our desperation to be understood we were becoming incomprehensible. The rush of thoughts and times, the heavy flow of ideas, structure, importance, looseness and utter irrelevance – it was too much to crystallise. If we ever shared a moment of clarity it was never at the same time. A topic certainly bridged individuals, both in understanding and interest, but not at once, not between. Not together. And I didn’t care. I sat and watched for what seemed like weeks, as one fumbled their message while it was misheard by the other, seeing myself on both sides, screaming at a void and catching parts of a perfect, complete picture.

It doesn’t matter if I get what I mean across as long as I get it. Wry smile. It’s not important whether I can describe in detail every minute facet of each impossibly detailed ponder. Gentle laugh. Who cares? They don’t. I don’t. We’re all to busy trying to work it all out. Close eyes. Comfort. It would be nice to feel this all the time, I remember thinking. Not all of this though, because of the nausea, hunger and lack of direction, but that one thread of the rope.  That lack of fear and uncertainty, if they are in fact two different things. That would be nice indeed. Then a brightness and feeling of being clean somehow, and back to sobriety. The thread still wrapped around a finger, slowly slipping off with the hours that pass.

We’re not all on the same wavelength, obviously. I’m not entirely convinced that I’m on my own a lot of the time, but sometimes – and definitely during what I refer to as Occasion #2 – I feel like I understand myself a bit better and concern myself a bit less with everything else, which lets me enjoy both a bit more.

So.  You go watch a few hours of stand up comedy that resonates through your existence.  Some of it so true that you laugh just so as not to cry.  You go out after and talk and titter and drink for an hour or two, because that’s what you do after such an event.  Then you remember that someone who embodies winning, someone who doesn’t care, doesn’t worry, doesn’t think about the surface grind, has a night in a room at the back of a local pub.  So you go, and you drag a friend along, and you dance and the friend eventually leaves and after a while you start to wonder if the person who’s won at life has won at anything at all.  If you’re able to see through all this in the state that you’re in, then what fucking right has he to cluck around the place like some sort of Jay Gatsby.  Why doesn’t everyone set fire to the façade and cheer as the flames and heat consume the lies and confusion.  What good is a dance when no one knows the steps?  What’s the point of acting if everybody left knows of the fiction.

That’s when you realise you’re truly alone.  There are no heroes or humans aloof.  Nothing can detach you from this game that you simply can’t win.  The only person who’s won is he who has slunk off early to lie next to his bride, to just revel in the warmth of another.  No expectation.  No deliverance.  Just body temperature and knowledge.  Belief and faith.  Waking up together.  Continuing as such.  And to see that is beautiful, pure, embarrassing, humbling.  Swift.  You watch a being you felt was oblivious, crumble and drift, to form the patterns that you know make no sense, but to allow them to distract and transfix.  A pretty face that will never accompany you, a body that can only accept you temporarily.  And for what?  For a fleeting moment that can find the same satisfaction from a sock or fist.  All that grief, all that effort, all that time and self.  Wasted on a dream.  The truth is you could open a drawer, twist and heave, and the end result would be as is.  Empty.

You smile and you walk away.  You’re aware now that nothing can end well here.  That the best that anyone can hope for is to stumble home, sleep deeply, and hope that the morning will bring a heaviness that grants distance.  A history that celebrates not just the victor, but the idiot who remembers it, regardless of the facts fresh in his mind.  Then carry on as if it never happened; the character of your creation.  Hair and T-Shirt and vapid little routine.  Start and filler and death, all constructed by you, all painted by numbers that don’t quite add up and have no discernible key.  You might be sleeping without company tonight, but at least the space is honest.  At least you understand that gap.

Somewhere, not far away, the dance may be continuing.  It may have moved to a house or flat.  Words and desperation might have got as far as a mattress, a pleasure, a regret and awkwardness tomorrow.  But somehow, amongst the envy and petty lust, you begrudgingly accept that this is what is right.  The headache, fried food and catch-up television of Saturday morning alone is more than you deserve, and you smile again, because you feel like you’re starting to understand something.  Even if you’re not quite sure what it is.  Even if a part of you longs for the touch of the deceit of the animal.  Even if understanding is just you.

And you sleep.

One of the wonders of the modern age is how easy it is to access various types of entertainment, and how instantly they can be stuffed into our look-and-hear holes.  The other night I sat in front of the television, Playstation controller nestled in my sweaty paws, scrolling through the films and TV shows that Netflix offers a vaguely content single man like myself.  While I idly flicked between genres on the big screen, an ever increasing mound of crisp crumbs gathering on my chest, I simultaneously purosed the PS4 games currently on sale, through the slightly smaller – but no less miraculous – screen of my smartphone.  I couldn’t find anything to watch or buy, but I did pass quite a large chunk of precious, precious time.  Heady days indeed.  At that moment, for a reason that will never be fully understood, I felt a pang of something.  Not loneliness, not a bottomless pit of spiralling one-ness.  Not that.  But the belief that I should be with someone.  People find love all the time.  Katie Price seems to have made a career out of it since the fact she increasingly resembles an aged titty oak tree has made modelling a less viable source of income.  So I opened up the dating app I hadn’t even thought about for about two years, and, just so as not to limit my options, registered on another site that claimed it could find me my soulmate.

For the next hour or so I skipped merrily between Netflix, the Playstation store, various salted snacks and probably hundreds of female faces.  There was nothing to watch, I’d seen everything I wanted to and who has the time to try something new, right?  There were no games I hadn’t played a thousand times before, or at least not at a price I was willing to pay.  None of the women were good looking enough to entice me, to tempt me to click ‘like’ or send a stupid gurning emoticon or a vapid, obvious message to.  Don’t the owners of these websites know how busy I am?!  This is absolutely outrageous, why is there never anything I want in stoc- Oh shit.  I’m looking at pictures of people – actual real life, human, meat-and-mistakes people – as if they’re toasters in an Argos catalogue.  And I don’t even really need a toaster.

As depressing a realisation as this was, I found some comfort in the knowledge that I did at least have more crisps in the kitchen.  For some reason, though, I found it impossible to drown out the critical internal voices in synthesised Prawn Cocktail.  I was out of options: I was going to have to face this head on.  Now, I was born and have continued to live as a man, and as such can only really speak from that viewpoint but single people, in general, are sold the concepts of Love, Romance, Sex and Togetherness in a way that makes it clear that solitude is failure.  On top of that it seems we are also being made to think of the process of meeting someone, courting them (yes, courting.  Shut up) and joining with them on the journey to death, at least the online process, as a sort of On Demand thing.  Everything in quick, clean sound bites, flatteringly cropped photos and statistical criteria.  Make an order and await the delivery.  By drones soon, I should imagine.  It’s as if dating has been given a makeover by Westminster and now the best, or only, way to get ahead is to airbrush, dress up and outright lie, because once they’ve voted it’s too late.  They’ll just have to live with the truth until they pluck up the courage to vote you out next year, and even then, tactically it might be better to just stay with the selfish, water burning, erectile dysfunctioning devil they know.

It’s not quite that bad of course.  We still have to meet face to face to confirm the binary identities we’ve fabricated.  But in twenty, ten, maybe just five years, I’m sure they’ll pass some sort of law that means once you’ve agreed to it online, that’s it.  Eternity with that lying chubby bastard who only took photos from above, in what at the time was unsuspiciously dark lighting.  So I’ve adjusted my profile.  It now draws attention to the whole production line, make-me-a-product, catalogue like edifice of Internet chatting up.  I state that I’m lying a bit and that they are too.  I’m not smiling in my picture, and after a lengthy search I’m fairly certain I’m the only one.  No one smiles like that, all the time.  It’s like thumbing through the Nitrous Oxide College yearbook.

I won’t get a date, but that’s faintly reassuring.  At least I’m not getting a date.  And there’s still the fall back of going out, getting drunk and bumping into someone just as drunk and confused as me.  Besides, failing that I’ve bought a bumper variety bag of Walkers.

There isn’t an afterlife, fate is just stuff happening and the concept of love is almost certainly just that, a concept. I don’t claim to understand how the universe works, or even that it works at all, but I am comfortable in the belief that things are as they seem, if that is, they seem entirely of this world. Having said all that, and completely and utterly meant it, there do seem to be some things that pop up again and again at key points throughout a life. Sometimes those things are people, and, often, those people are members of the opposite sex with whom you once had, or believed you once had, a deep and meaningful connection.

So it was that I found myself opening up the life destroying potential of Facebook at a particularly self reflective moment and being confronted with the face of a woman, Moirai Doom, who does this to me all the fucking time. Fortunately, the recent use of mild hallucinogens had made me deeply at ease with all of my past and future mistakes. The present was another matter, but as time was virtually at a stand still, I felt confident that the Now was a non issue. Still, there she was. I had been in a relationship with her many, many years ago, the termination of which had left me, essentially, a hermit with chronic weeping problems. Character building, or the origin story for Misogyny Man.

Fast forward a few years and I have just ripped the still beating heart from an unfortunate young lady’s chest. I return home, fire up the laptop – don’t judge me, there was a lot of pent up emotion and it had to go somewhere – and decide to check my emails. There, recently deposited in my Hotmail, a message from Moirai, sent at almost the exact second I dealt the death blow to that most recent coupling. ‘How are you? Been thinking about you. Hope you’re ok’. Not brilliant. Oh, really, because I absolutely never think about you and I’m very well adjusted. We’ve covered this. Coincidence? Yes. But: for fucks sake.

Another jump in time. This time – ha! – about a decade. A bit less but it’s easier to write ‘a decade’, though the follow up explanation does void that. In the interim I have met someone, gone to university, put a baby in that someone, dropped out of university, struggled to make the family unit work, and found myself in a bit of a slump. Yep, Facebook again, and guess who? If you didn’t guess bloody Moirai Doom, you are an imbecile and I’d like you to stop reading and go and jump in front of the fastest moving vehicle you can find, because it was. It was Moirai bloody Doom. ‘Hey! Long time no see! How are you? We should meet up’. Oh, totally. We should totally meet up. That couldn’t be destructive in any way. There’s no way that could result in an eventful but innocent meeting in which you say that you wish I was single, messing with my mind over the subsequent weeks and months, resulting in the dissolution of that current relationship. Couldn’t happen. Nope.

Did though, obviously. Not a big deal ultimately, as with or without Moirai, the relationship that begat my wonderful miniature human was, ironically, doomed to fail. Still though, a tad weird. A soupçon peculiar. A tiny bit familiar, suspicious and, well you get the idea. The wrinkles of time and space seem to have conspired to remind me that I can make awful decisions, that they can ripple through future awful decisions and that people I have met often reappear. Or at least that’s how I choose to see it. It could be angels teaching me about, I don’t know, letting go or true love or some shit.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.