Thursday, September 30, 2004

I walk the streets

I waited until just after 6 a.m. and then set off for the 24 hour shop. Ireland being Ireland, I wasn’t completely sure the 24 hour shop would be open.

I imagined some guy inside the shuttered store opening a hatch and saying “You’ll be wanting the 26 hour shop just down the way, there, we’re 24 hours, but we close for a while when the shop’s empty, you know, gets very quiet at night, especially when we switch out the lights and put the shutters up.”

But the store was open.

A woman who had her nose broken a fair few times climbed out of a taxi. Maybe a heroin addict, maybe a prostitute, maybe both. Not that I mind what someone is. But there was this enormous feeling of disapproval pouring from the big overmuscled man in his green jersey behind the counter, as this woman put together the things she wanted.

"A litre of milk! A litre..."
"It's behind you."

This knowing look to me while the woman was turned away. I didn't bother sharing his moment.

What really angered me was this guy, in a tiny shop, in the middle of the night, without a policeman, without a priest, couldn't find a tiny piece of humanity.

Outside, a black taxi driver waited for her.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Would you like to improve your memory?

I am in a bind today. I was very drunk by the end of last night, and sent out seemingly a stream of emails and IM's to various of my online friends.

One person i haven't spoken to for about 6 weeks said "I have your number now from last night, so i may text you. and you wrote me a long message last night... do you remember?"

Nope. I remember nothing at all.

So i've mailed out some general apologies, asking forgiveness for things i may or may not have sent.

Best Freudian slip of the year so far, me to female companion - "You have my undevoted attention"

Whoops...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Wandering around Dublin

We had a long talk last night, me and the Green Goblin (otherwise known as Alasdair). So today we struggled into Dublin by afternoon and tried to remember the way to the National Museum of Ireland, as we thought we'd take a look at the Book of Kells.

After some authentic tourist-style wandering around, swearing at each other, and arguing over where we were in relation to where we were trying to get to, we found our way first to Kildare Street, where the National Library of Ireland is situated. As it happens, they are currently holding an exhibition on Joyce's Ulysses, and Alasdair is nutty for all things Joyce, we took a look round.

I have to say it was most impressive. Shame the website doesn't reflect the variety and quality and technological innovation (interactive screens that offered comprehensive analysis of Ulysses from all kind of angles, the production of the manuscript, the individual characters, etc)

And then the Book of Kells, and equally impressive, The Long Room at Trinity College. Oh my goodness, all those books...

end of travel guide, it's so boring, you have to just go along yourself

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Where the hell is my jacket?

This post is just to remind me that i am to relate the saga of Alasdair and the missing jacket, and the various repercussions. Day 1 was certainly incident-packed!

Monday, September 20, 2004

The imminent arrival of a small dangerous package - Alasdair

Frank O'Shea woke me up at 9 a.m. this morning, with a "Just one more question" routine worthy of rumpled mastermind Columbo. The focus of his interrogation was my bank account, and the literally astonishing fact that i've fooled anyone into transferring their funds into it.

"But Frank, did i not mention that i am Crown Prince Arbuthnot Butelemki, ousted from a central African Republic, and now needing to transfer the sum of $14,000,000 into your Natwest Current Account... well, that's what i tell'em Frank, if you catch my drift..."

Feeling soiled after that start to the day, i tried wandering around outside. But after another sleepless night i am looking and moving like an extra from a 50s zombie flick, so that sojourn was hastily curtailed.

I don't normally like to consider the future in any great depth, but i break this habit today as indeed something Important happens tomorrow - Alasdair will arrive on his first trip to Dublin, and will reside with me for no longer than one week (this period may be subject to immediate review should the famously tight bastard expect not to share in the financial suffering that buying an alcoholic drink in Ireland involves).

Hopefully, the 7 days will deliver enough contact time, out of his natural environment, for me to pan for word-nuggets in the gravelly river bed that constitutes interpersonal contact with Boy Robertson. But i wouldn't bet on it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Most Unhelpful Man in the World has a Friend!

See my earlier post for full details on the Most Unhelpful Man in the World. Today his good friend, Frank O'Shea, visited me at my beautiful tiny box to perform a means test.

Frank's angle was to ask permission for everything.

"May I come in?"
Sure, come in vampire.
"May I sit down?"
I am about to say something.
"Do you have any formal photographic identification?"
Oooh, small talk, I love it.

So Frank goes on in his incredibly honed abrupt style. It's so impersonal that I am expecting at any moment a ridiculously intimate question.

"Do you stroke your testicles before going to sleep, Mr Kennedy? And if so, do you stroke them up and down or employ a more circular motion..."
"Would you engage in ass play with the right woman, Mr Kennedy?"
"I notice you have a double bed. Do you roll around on it crying with frustrated lust, Mr Kennedy?"

He is there for perhaps 20 minutes, but Frank's genius makes it feel like 9 agonising seconds, like a trapped sneeze. He manages to scorn me, disdain erupting from every pore, without saying anything disparaging or using negative body language. He has tuned his aura to a killer pitch. Some guy.

He leaves.

Bye Frank!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Juvenile offenders

I couldn't rest last night, I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about juvenile offenders, and how the British government plans to escort them from the cradle to the grave.

"Your father was no good, your father's father was no good. And you'll be no good, either, my boy, unless you submit to various agencies intervening in your development. Do you want to be one of the 65% of children of criminal parents who serve time themselves? Do you want to graduate from your school with a clutch of A-C GCSEs and take up a dream post in a bowling alley, or would you rather graduate with arms covered in D-I-Y tatoos and needlemarks into a life of crime and penal correction. Perhaps you'd like to think about that before you go to bed tonight. I know you're only 6, but we really do need to make a start if we're going to make society safe from the likes of the monster you could quite easily grow into... okay, finish your chips and up to bed..."

I am trying to combine this idea with a dataset that is processed by software to produce accurate assessments of the child at various life points, 16, 18, 21, 30 etc

The child would come home and access a secure website where they can see the latest model of their futures, personal cautionary tales to inspire them to behaving as model citizens.

"The parameters of the friend you made at school today are x y and z."

Up would pop a friendly surrogate father figure, who would do a few "Ho ho ho's" and then recommend that you never spoke to your new friend again, as he will lead you to a life of crime (probability of 85%)

"In fact, I'm going to make it easier for you, Dean. If you put this shockstrap on your leg, I will deliver up to 100 volts of alternating current whenever you speak to this boy. That way, we'll soon learn our lesson and find some wholesome companions, won't we. Now just click here to agree..."

24 hour monitoring by satellite, behaviour control (either by software, supervisor, or chemical means), and occasionally pain/punishment, these will be the tools used to guide the next generation of offenders away from the patterns laid down by their reprobate parents.

********

Do I believe the government are right? In some respects, they are right, the numbers stack up. But a society where people are brought into state-sponsored programmes on the basis of statistical indicators is unsound, as these programmes are, finally, politically motivated, and in age of such populist policy-making as ours, there are dangers. In truth, it has most in common with government programmes that sought to "cure" homosexuals by placing them in mental hospitals and/or giving them shock therapy. Or another example, doctors performing physical measurements of young boys and girls to determine suitable candidates for centrally organised athletics/gymnastics programmes in Communist countries.

Maybe the government should accept that criminals will emerge, and equip them with a range of skills suitable to the application of their craft. They could be given anger management classes, taught how to stay calm under pressure, where to shoot someone to disable them without delivering life-threatening injuries, etc. A new generation of socially responsible "safe" criminals, who go about their business with society's blessing.

Ahhhh, now there's more of my kind of social engineering.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Submariner

I felt downhearted today, that would be the word, if I had to choose a single word.

It started in my room. Now, usually I have to look in my mirror a lot of times before I leave the house. I used to have to put my finger on my wrist a lot, too, and check that my pulse was regular. I would also worry about death on a semi-permanent basis. I would wake up and think "I'm going to die one day." Or I would be eating a sandwich and think "Is this my last sandwich?" (particularly if it was a pre-packed one). I have overcome my worries about death now, although they resurface moments before boarding any aircraft.

The mirror, yes. The mirror is still an obsession. And it's not vanity, despite the protestations of friends. No, it's not vanity. Let me say one thing. One day, when I was about 21, I went to Birmingham without looking in the mirror. And all day, women were smiling at me, making eyes, I couldn't believe it. "Have I turned the corner?" "Have I gone from ugly duckling to swan?" etc. It was a great experience. When I got home after my day of superstardom, I went into the bathroom, and caught sight of myself in the mirror. And there, right on the end of my nose, was a large blob of toothpaste!

But that wasn't the trigger for mirror issues, I just drop it in as an example of how cruel and ridiculous my life has been on occasion.

Well, today, I had to look in the mirror at least 60 times, from various angles, fighting with myself to find a way to say "It's okay. Go. Go out. Go out there..." These days I'm philosophical about having to go through such moments. The same thing has been happening when I go for job interviews etc, I find myself outside the venue, fighting to find what it takes to knock on a door, push a buzzer, etc, resisting the urge to flee. I figure it just shows that I am a courageous person, because I have to meet these powerful feelings of fear head on, and I almost always manage to find the way through.

That has to be better than telling myself I'm in the grip of some obsessive disorder, don't you think so, folks?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Most Unhelpful Man in the World

The money problems evaporated for the time being, as is customary. I would more than settle for some basic allowance from the state, in return for tighter parameters on ethical living etc, than this flip-flopping between have-not and have-a-little. I mention the state early on, because i had to go to the Welfare Office today and confront my demons. Fortunately, these demons are not personal, they are shared with every other poor soul who is unlucky enough to wash up in Bishop Square and need ANY kind of assistance.

With reference to the title of this post, The Most Unhelpful Man in the World sits behind a sheet of industrially toughened glass, as well he might, inside the Welfare Office. His face emits a pained boredom with all things, particularly anything that might draw breath and not have a J-O-B... He accepts your documentation as if he is being slid a piece of fresh roadkill, and flips through it with all the enthusiasm of a zombie on prescription downers. After a silence intended to bring down the spirit, freeze-dry your passions, incinerate your self-esteem, and obliterate your bloodline, he begins to speak of things...

... Things at once so obvious to him, the All-Seeing-Clerk, and at once so complex to you, the Non-Seeing-Feckless-Reveller, intent on eating free bread, drinking free milk, and lying in bed till gone noon-time... so it goes on... I was forced to call up the fact that i cannot fill out forms as reason enough not to return me to the very beginning of this terrible process. The response was a grim silent anger, as he weighed the merits of two equally displeasing paths, firstly, helping someone back through the Labryinth of Paperwork who had made it quite clear they would Waste Many Hours, or, ugh, cough, ugh, Helping Someone (at the same time as helping himself) and Disrupting the Impartial Nature of the Great System.

Ladies and gentlemen, he came through, although he qualified his assistance with all manner of threats.

"You have to convince ME that YOU are looking for WORK..."

Could i ever convince him? I could physically carry people who have interviewed me into the offices, and he would feign uninterest, fanning himself with a claim form... "YOU could have found THEM anywhere..."

Whatever the slim chance of success, I have 7 days to complete this mission.

Of course, the easiest thing is to simply get a job, or a jorrr-b as they are called over here, and start work, or as it's known over here, wuk - and yes, this is my ultimate Aim, my one true Mission, to hitch myself to the great wheel of the Irish economy and grind out a few more euros of profit for a giant laughing fat man sat on a featherbed stuffed with a Million Euros. The process of applying and attending interviews however was being cruelly undermined by the fact i had No Money for the Washing of Socks and Pants and Trousers thereof, and equally, the Holy Grail of a nice shirt and some I can do your bidding sensible slacks was proving hopelessly elusive without 1) shoplifting 2) mugging someone of a similar build

These problems are now ready to be overcome. Like a good little zombie i will travel into town tomorrow and deck myself out in the finest threads. i may even buy a digital camera and make a pictorial record of this historic event.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Flying Colours

Welcome to the tiny barren patch of dirt where i've planted the flag of Pinhut.

Autonomy, i'm wondering about autonomy today. How did anyone ever even come up with the word? Is there anything autonomous? Please show me something that is...

The fact is, the Bank, the System, the flaming Combine has fiddled with the clocks in the dayroom again. I feel like the grimy future-man in The Terminator, slamming into the pavement in his birthday suit and asking a tramp - "What day is it? What month? What YEAR???" Yes, that's how chumped-up i feel trying to feel my way like a Blunkett through the machinations of my online bank account.

Other things are the stories. The stories i've been working on. As my finances have collapsed, i've had to forego chasing experience to excite me, my favoured practice as a recording device. For those not familiar, i have at times been guilty as charged with being The Most Remote Man in the Universe, someone so unaccustomed to the basic idea that other people have Lives, Inner Lives, even, God forbid, feelings, that i have been peppered with the slingshots and arrows of outrageous abuse, a little like those statues the Taliban zapped.

But now i've Changed. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, i've done it! I've only gone and changed. So listening and watching, even participating, and registering the finer details of my experiences has become part of this swaggering entrance into what i am tempted to call "Life". But with no money, and no inclination to transcribe the attendant miseries of being poor, not when there are millions with absolutely nothing, plus Knut Hamsun has already cornered the market on literary struggle at the sharp end in the genius of Hunger (and his disciple John Fante in Ask the Dust), then i am sat in stasis, mired in a Dublin internet cafe.

And thinking... why did my father bring me that gift? The Arthur Sarnoff painting of dogs playing pool? When he knew, surely, that i was an intellectual??? This led me on a google journey that took me to The Best Posters of Dogs Playing Pool.

There it is, the first large image down, the wonderful gift from my dear dad. This is bringing back the most terrible shivers.

Oh, a romance ran its way into a scam today. After a pidgin-English month of exchanges with a Russian girl, who is so in love with me, "you are dream, like the man made by computers in the wind tunnel", and an array of saucy pics, i made a remark about helping fund a trip over here. One week on, this has terminated in a suddenly incredibly detailed message that climaxes not with a declaration of true love, but with instructions on how to wire 1300 dollars via Western Union. Ha! A modern classic. i'll treasure the photos, though.

That concludes my introduction. The flag still flies defiantly. Goodbye