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.

We spend a lot of time thinking we should be something. I’m doing it now. Right now, I’m thinking that these words might matter in some way, and that there’s a passing chance I have a point. I know, how ridiculous, but it’s a temporary thing. Transitory. Sort of like absolutely everything. It’s the kind of opening gambit that might ordinarily suggest that the person using it was soon to kick out the stool, so to speak. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. Actually that’s not true either, it could be further, and if I’m honest, which we’ve established I’m not, I’d tell you.

Fact is, I find the remarkably short term nature of all things to be hugely reassuring. And the insignificance. Oh, the sweet insignificance. If you think about it, it’s a free pass, a permit to not give a solitary shit about anything at all, should you choose not to. I don’t actually fully endorse not giving a solitary shit about anything at all, that would be anarchy and anarchy is noisy and messy and sounds incredibly stressful. Maybe take a couple of shits and pass them on to friends and loved ones, just to make the world a sweeter place. But get a tattoo. Why not, you’ll be rotting in a hole in a maximum of about seventy years, assuming there are no incredible medical advancements in the near future, and who cares if part of the festering heap has a butterfly inked just above the derrière? And probably try some drugs. I mean, just the ones you feel comfortable with, in terms of potency or length of likely sentence. Why not? Do your research, but fuck it, really, why not?

As long as you’re covering any bases you’ve left out in the rain and are dealing with your responsibilities, you’re good. Feed your kids, then tell your folks you’ve got a work weekend away – team building or some bollocks – that you need a sitter and then load up on shrooms and see how many dimensions you can visit before Sunday at around six. Read the leaflet though because there are varying degrees of strength at play and it would be a shame to unpack in Shangri-La, and after a lengthy conversation with the squirrels, realise you can’t remember where you left the return ticket to reality.

FarCry 4. A game without intelligent spacing. A game without believable physics. A game in which an Eagle and Honey Badger are the most terrifying of foes and bleakest of realities. A game with depressingly relatable politics.

This computer game tells me, by email, that I have killed 196 humans and 173 animals. This cannot be pertinent information. There is surely no reality, in any of the multiverses, in which I need to know; in which there is any germ of usefulness in knowing how many virtual humans – or binary creatures – I have slaughtered in the name of entertainment. Are they quietly training a psychopath? Are they gently prodding me towards my destiny? Why have I been provided with these figures? What commercial gain can come of this? Do they imagine my blood lust to surge, am I to wish that I had soared to loftier heights? Should I think to myself: yes, I have ended an unimaginable number of theoretical lives, but what of the real? These fictional faces mean nothing. This mass of uncanny fodder is but a pointless and unfulfilling training ground. What next? WHY WOULD YOU EMAIL THESE NUMBERS, UBISOFT? What possible purpose could this achieve.

Then you have it politely pointed out that this week there is a live event happening within the alternative universe of Eastenders, and you realise that the mass slaughter of any number of real or created people’s is secondary only to the pointlessness of all creation. And you have a Twix and go to sleep and hope that some of the jokes on tomorrow’s television are at least slightly intelligent, because that’ll be enough. That’ll keep the voices at bay. That’ll remind me that beyond my own dangerous, biting, ever encroaching insanity there’s something far worse occurring: the complete ignorance of all of this. And I’ll sleep, and I’ll smile, and one day I’ll die and won’t have to watch all of this, all of us, dip into a void beyond repair. And anyone who doesn’t at least understand some level of this constant nagging epiphany might as well be one of the insignificant, red clothes wearing, programmed by university graduating, over paid, don’t give a fuck arseholes, that doesn’t really exist, who flips and furls away into the distance as I press X and grin and think, ‘it’s not real. It’s not here. And anyway, they’re the bad guys because that’s what the narrative has told me’.

You know you’ve had too much to drink when a slither of Jack Thompson makes any sort of sense. If only in the morning the headache made all of this untrue.  If only in the morning someone would acknowledge the constant, unsettling emptiness of this tactile pleasure.  But they won’t.  Instead they’ll simply smile and reassuringly laugh a gentle, non-commital laugh and assume that I’m as disconnected as they are.

So just talk about that dress and who should’ve won that award and which made up hideous figure will date that stubbly Penis Boat, and I’ll just go home and wonder why, even though I want to cry, nothing seems to dribble out anymore.  And then I’ll press X, until the baddies disappear in a mist of red.

“When you’re there I’m not scared of anything”. These are the words that punctured the bliss of my unconsciousness last night, a message that my child felt important to deliver at some ungodly hour I couldn’t quite bring myself to confirm. Initially, my internal response was warm pride and smug self congratulation, followed almost immediately by a return to Nod. The brain does strange things when in standby, though, and so it was that by morning it had decided that any sense of protection I was giving anyone at all was, in all honesty and likelihood, completely fabricated. Of course, I realised as my eyes peeled open, should there be any real danger, any threat of substance, I would be as much a shield as possible, but as possible is not much use against sharp edges, lapping flames and dark, dark thoughts. I have banished Under Bed Monsters simply by shoving all manner of stuffed toy and play mat under the wooden frame, leaving no room for gnashing fangs and slashing claws and, certainly, it would be a feat of no small measure for a flesh and bone intruder to make it into the building, up the several flights, through my security door and into our nightmares. However, with dedication and purpose it could be done, and in the event I suspect I would be as sturdy a defender of any body or thing as a Conservative is of the poor. That is to say, I would talk the talk and possibly even attempt to adopt the walk, but when push came to shove I would probably fall over.

I thought about my own sense of safety, what grants it and what level of threat it would stand up to. I remembered my own infancy and parental bubble, the imagined god like status they were given. Now, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t stand behind them in a snowball fight for fear that the icy spheres would tear through their increasingly tissue like skin. I rolled over and pictured a million different perilous circumstances that I couldn’t alter, and an infinite number of deadly projectiles that I would never be able to deflect. Then I got up and had breakfast.

None of those facts really matter, I decided, because she didn’t mean that I removed all fear, all understanding of wrong and evil and danger in the world. She’s a child, not an idiot. What she meant was that my existence gives hope, an anchor, a solid thing to believe in. What she meant – I think and choose to believe – is that the ability to decide not to be scared is there in part because of the very fact the danger may be unstoppable. Is unstoppable. We can all be someone’s god in that sense, requiring blind, ridiculous, unproven, undeserved faith. The shield is self created and self adhesive. She doesn’t need to worry because in one way or another I will always be there, and when I’m there, she’s not scared of anything.

Well, here we are and nothing is any different to last time. Perhaps the anonymity will lend a delicious edge or Nth dimension to proceedings, but it will probably only offer more unknown. Still, what you will see here (or will not, depending very much on whether you read) is as honest and complete as anything you chose to consume. Some of it will be exaggerated, some of it created, but all of it happened. Names may or may not be changed to protect those who could perhaps be seen as innocent if you squint, but what good are names anyway.


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