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No, it doesn’t make sense

My immediate reaction to the question ‘Does that make sense?’ is to doubt the reliability of what the person has just told me. Do they feel like they’ve not explained themselves properly? Is there something missing? Does it actually not make sense? Are they bullshitting me? And what happens if I say, ‘No, it doesn’t make sense, and neither do you, fuck nuts’?

Most of the time I suspect they think it makes them sound like a good communicator because they’re inviting comments. Please don’t. Just make sense in the first place and leave it at that. If I have any questions, I’ll ask them. It’s also really fucking patronising and serial users of the phrase are always slightly creepy, like an old colleague of mine, the Disney Prince, who used the disabled toilets at work as a proxy brothel for daytime dating-app hookups. He’d say, ‘Does that make sense?’ after every second sentence, and every time he said it, he cocked his head to the side and smiled quizzically like your sketchy uncle in a Smarties advert (this combination of wrongness still haunts me to this day).

The world is awash with annoying expressions people use to make themselves sound better than they actually are. For example, saying, ‘It’s like comparing apples with apples’, when you can’t be fucked thinking about the situation, or ‘I’m just being honest’, when you’ve just been a gormless shit weasel, or saying ‘you’re entitled to your opinion’ when you’re clearly not because you’re a manipulative narcissist. The list goes on.

But the absolute don of linguistic creepiness is when a sleazy man tells a group of women that ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’. This statement usually comes from a very hollow place called, Ulterior Motives Boulevard. Every man I’ve ever heard say that has also helped a woman with her golf stance, wears his polo shirt with the collar up, and believes that Jordan Peterson makes a lot of sense. Oh, and they’re into cycling. Have you ever met a male cycling enthusiast who’s not a dickhead?

Now, I’m not passing judgment on people for their linguistic indiscretions. If you’re a self-made person, who has created something that has made the world a better place, then you can pass judgement on people, but until then the best course of action is to shut the fuck up and enjoy the free lunch. However, if you ever meet me and say, ‘Does that make sense?’, I will frame you for a crime you didn’t commit, smash up your bicycle with a sledgehammer, and then, ‘at the end of the day’, tell you I was ‘just being honest’.

And BTW it’s not ‘You do the math(s)’, it’s ‘You do the arithmetic’. Let that one sink in … 

 

‘If this is hell, it looks a lot like Margate’

I wrote this before I gave up the booze but I still like it.

Every hardened drinker has had that morning when they’re lying in bed waiting for the call. Deep down you know that you’ve fucked up, but the details elude you. There are fragments of regret that kind of make sense, but the phone call will always bring greater clarity and that paralyzing regret. You don’t really want that clarity but there’s not a lot you can do about it. So, you lie there in your bed working out what you’ll do when you get out of prison.

I’ve often thought that life doesn’t have to be this way. But it is. And although I’ve tried to be a better person, I don’t like the hours. Trying to be a good and moral person looks exhausting. I’ve got this mate who’s following the moral path and he looks fucked; puffy around the eyes, sexless, skint, and eating a kilo of chocolate a day just to avoid being sectioned.

There’s this other mate of mine, who’s just had a kid and he looks all doughy-eyed with family love. Tired, yet gloriously happy with his lot. I give him five years and he’ll be smashing down the front door of a brothel with a cock that resembles a forearm that’s been seared on each side of a griddle.

So, what do you do? Take the bacchanalian path to incarceration and an early death, or the righteous path to a four-bedroom maisonette and dribbling, incoherent Christmas dinners with the in-laws? Fuck, I haven’t got a clue. Nobody does. Devout people claim they have all the answers but taking a vow of silence and living in a cave sounds boring as fuck. That can’t signify the meaning of life.

I remember the first time I had sex on a pill, I proclaimed that that was the meaning of life. Especially when we had a huge bifta in the middle of it all and I came so hard that a vein in my neck twisted around on itself and I thought I was having a stroke, while shitting myself at the same time. Shitting and cumming at the same time is magnificent but the clean-up is embarrassing and inconvenient. Cue Atmosphere, by Joy Division.

But I’m descending into scatology and that’s so unfashionable these days. In this age of moral enlightenment, being a prick is a right prick of a job. If the Marquis de Sade were publishing his books today, he’d have legions of arty left wing types demanding that his books be burned and that his very soul be cancelled by the editor in chief of The Guardian (the keeper of cancelled souls). These are the same people who read de Sade’s books today and think they’re cutting edge because they’re old and ahead of their time, plus de Sade’s French, so he can be excused. The modern alternative is 50 Shades of Gray. Very different to The 120 Days of Sodom, which I’m sure Johnny Depp aspires to but doesn’t quite have the internal fortitude to navigate, post defamation proceedings.

Anyway, these are my Notes from Underground (yes, I know it’s a book by Dostoevsky) and I’m going to stop ranting now and tell you how I got here and why I’m destined to rot in hell.

To be continued …

(The title of this piece is a quote taken from Peaky Blinders, spoken by Alfie Solomons)

The Walking Unvaxxed

They walk among us. Not shuffling or rotting or moaning in a woeful pitch but just walking among us, with bags and stuff. The usual shit we all carry. However, these walkers are the unvaxxed and one of them could be sitting next to you right now, on a bus.

When Rick Grimes woke up from a coma in episode one of The Walking Dead, the damage had already been done. The world had already descended into chaos. This kind of happened to me at the beginning of the pandemic but it was the result of a serious bender with Jason the Manc and Greek Steve. Anyway, unlike Grimes, we’ve been eased into this new world, like an unhealthy stool wavering above the meniscus of life before it lands with a plop and a whimper into the mouth of a sadomasochist.

We’ve been living in this new world for over 18 months now, and it’s revealed some shitty things about who we are. In particular, the division between the haves and the have nots, which were always there but are now abundantly clear, even in so-called wealthy nations with egalitarian beliefs built on glass foundations.

But now the dust is beginning to settle a wee bit, we’re faced with a new social group set to be segregated by vaccine passports. They are The Walking Unvaxxed, potentially infected, but definitely armed, and dangerous. A minority created by a virus and proudly sponsored by a far right group near you! Or so I’m told. The jury’s still out on that one.

By all accounts, The Walking Unvaxxed are a noisy bunch, moving in herds across the Covid wasteland, looking to feed on the disciples of Pfizer, as they ward off these flesh eating corpses with screenshots of the Guardian and common sense. But what will this vaxxed majority say when they’re out on the town and see the unvaxxed being denied entry to a venue based on a choice they made not to roll up their sleeve and take one for the team?

Will the unvaxxed counter this snub by opening up old school speak easy’s, with secret locations protected by an arcane code? Venues you can only frequent if you’re in the know? What you might call cool places that hipsters championed all those years ago; the same anti-establishment people who are now happy to tow the party line. Fuck, they even had these secret spaces in the bowels of the Titanic, and everyone was having a lot more fun than the posh people – the establishment.

Over the coming years, we’re in for a rough ride when it comes to The Walking Unvaxxed. What the fuck do you do with them? Nobody will want to employ them, their friends and family might abandon them, and they’ll be banned from the majority of public spaces. They might not be allowed to leave the country.

So, I’m really interested to see how the authorities will deal with the Unvaxxed, without using the ‘S’ word that has been used to oppress many minority groups in the past. And ask yourself this question: Will you let your kids play with the great unvaxxed or will you baton down the hatches and say: “We don’t want your kind round here”?

Fun times ahead …

Job hunting in dystopia

One afternoon you rock up to your hospitality job with a hangover, only to find that it’s closed its doors indefinitely and suddenly you’re unemployed again. With fuck all in your savings account, you decide to drown your sorrows in the pub across the road, but it’s closed its doors too.

The next morning you jump on Seek and the world is your oyster. You’re presented with page after page of life-changing employment. Here there are fresh opportunities and the lure of cold, hard cash that’ll elevate you from cask wine to bottled wine; from two-minute noodles to a main at Sushi Noodle Guy.

On day two, once you’ve updated your CV and written a cover letter, you start pumping out the applications. After two or three hours you actually feel like you’ve done a day’s work and sit down for a glass of cheap white and a hearty bowl of posh Mi Goreng two minute noodles to celebrate.

When you rise on day three, you eagerly scan your email account for all the replies you dreamt about during the previous night’s slumber. Yes, Seek has sent you a ‘Job Application Confirmation’ email but no, your future employers are apparently also in lockdown and oblivious to your brilliantly written cover letter and excellently formatted CV.

So, you try CareerOne, LinkedIn, Indeed, ArtsHub, something called Neuvoo, you even try Gumtree, for Christ’s sake, and suddenly you’re surrounded by a flurry of virtual paper swirling around your head, cartoon-like, with daytime television and, in particular, Ellen, sitting cross-legged and calm on her Covid-19 chair, taunting you from every corner of your mind.

Ellen stands up and begins to dance. The audience loves it. Ellen: funny, popular (was), rich, employed, Ellen. You decide that job hunting is like having your own TV show that nobody wants to watch. You dance like Ellen, but nobody wants to dance with you.

After a week of moping through multiple applications on multiple sites, you find yourself reluctantly calling Centrelink (the dole) for your Customer Reference Number and being on hold for two hours. You can smell the desperation, and, what’s worse, you’re now a part of a dreaded system where you become accountable for your every inaction. In Centrelink, no one can hear you scream. Well, they can but they just call security.

A month passes and maybe you’ve embraced unemployment and decided to use this time to write a novel or covertly photograph some street art at dawn with the help of a friend who’s always unemployed and likely to be rejoicing at having more friends around to play with. Once the project is underway you become elated and regard it as your job (and so you should). You pass off this time of unemployment as an opportunity to explore yourself and your art. Your life develops greater meaning. Until…

Just as you begin to regard yourself as a serious but potentially homeless artist, a recruitment agency call you and invites you to participate in a Zoom interview, and you’re excited but have no idea which job they’re talking about. You rake through your wardrobe for your interview clothes nonetheless (just the top half). Your suit jacket and business shirt need an iron and smell stale, so you spray them with deodorant and leave them out to air (fuck knows why).

The next day you download Zoom onto your laptop and dazzle the recruitment people with your experience and devastating repartee. They like your jacket and shirt and have no idea you’re wearing only stained underwear down below. They smile at you with twenty-first century teeth and promise you the employment equivalent of a rose garden. You quit Zoom, pour yourself a cheap white and a week later you walk into an appropriately socially distanced call centre to start your new job. A team leader greets you wearing the new K-mart range of office wear, and you join five others in a training room to watch a video about telecommunications etiquette.

For three months you endure minimum wage and enthusiastic team leaders who speak in jargon and say, ‘does that make sense’ fifty times a day. You don’t smoke but get in with the smokers because they’re more fun and hate the job as much as you do. You go home each night and drink a couple of bottles of Bowlers Run Chardonnay because it’s less than five dollars a bottle.

One morning you wake up to a call from the recruitment agency advising you that the call centre no longer wants you, muttering something about ‘attitude’. You quickly decide self-isolation and being on Centrelink is better than listening to corporate bullshit all day and selling your soul to a two-dollar shop version of the devil anyway. You roll over and go back to sleep.

A few days later you jump on Seek again, but deep down you know you’ll be dragging out that arts project in less than a month. You get up, use your Covid-19 exercise time to walk to the bottle-o and buy a four litre cask of Golden Oak medium dry white, before heading quickly home, and turning on the television.

Ellen dances towards you.

*This was also published in Troublemag, where some revisions and additions were made by the editor, Steve Proposch. This is the version from Troublemag: https://www.troublemag.com/hey-covid-19-thanks-for-the-good-times/