Saturday, 11 April 2009

TIME TO GO

As frequent visitors to the Spursphere may have gathered, all is not normal. Your daily Guide To Hate has been interrupted, various work tasks have been prolonged beyond all expected deadlines, and a general air of Fare-Thee-Well has permeated my circle. Arf arf. Yes: there is upheaval and strife afoot, and like all creatures of order and habit I. HAAAAATE. Change.

Which bodes well, really, for the future creativity of your bile-powered host.

As of this writing, I have left the sweaty streets of London behind. I won’t be back for upwards of 6 months and – in spite of all the hateful spuff coming up in a moment – I’m kinda sad to leave it. See, alongside all the crap London manages to have good sushi, several nice pubs, one or two excellent human beings, and a fascinating assortment of smells. Plus the world’s finest accumulation of things to cheerfully hate. I shall miss them all.

But it was time to go. My fiancée and I – without wishing to bait the violinists – had reached a point of general existential stress, a bitter mindset of Us Vs Everything, and a state of health which oscillated between “terrible” and “almost dead”. There are only so many times you can cheer yourself up by stamping on kittens before the ugly reality is unavoidable: Something Had To Be Done.

The real kicker arrived only recently. It came in the shape of a series of posters – THIS ONE and THIS ONE, in fact – which illustrated, in 12-foot-high horror, something which had been on the tips of our psyches for all too long. London has become a place where The Security To Remain Alive threatens to outweigh The Point Of Being Alive.

I don’t want to overstate this, but there’s a genuine and creeping sense of paranoia, suspicion and (worst of all) guilt, which imbues every part of the Urban Experience, and is not only growing unchecked but is being actively encouraged by those whose lives become easier the more we all watch each other.

Politicians make a big fuss these days about including the police in their consultations on security. Let me be nice and clear about this: If you ask a Removal Man to legislate on how Normal People live their lives, all heavy furniture would be illegal and we’d all live on the ground floor. Right? If you ask a postman for advice on National Regulations all letterboxes would be within easy reach of the kerb, all envelopes would be transparent (with special flashing LEDs on letters containing money), and all dogs over the size of a gerbil would be culled.

People want their jobs to be easier. Yes?

You Do Not Ask The Police How To Run Society, and expect it to Make People Happy. IT’S OBVIOUS, PEOPLE.

Look: the cops exist because we, the people, want them there. We have collectively agreed that we want to live in an ordered society, in which we can all get along without fear or persecution, and we have agreed that the price for doing so is to empower certain people with the right to prevent injustice and repress Fear.

"Repress" yes? They aren’t supposed to make me afraid. They aren’t supposed to make my palms go sweaty every time I pass one in the street. They aren’t supposed to send me into a crazed fit of “should I make eye contact, oh god I made eye contact, oh god now I look suspicious, oh fuck I looked away now he KNOWS I’ve got something to hide oh god oh god oh god” every time I go through the barriers on the tube. (Even though, honestly, really, truly: I have nothing to hide.)

Did you know that the average IQ of policemen is marginally lower than that of society at large?

Okay, I made that up. But it’s plausible, isn’t it? Because we all know some gimpy fuckwit from our school days who smelt of wee or couldn’t do up his shoelaces, or couldn’t blow his nose without snotting down his (clip-on) tie, who went on to become one of her majesty's finest. Or we’ve all had a run-in with some dickwit in a blue uniform, who honestly and truly believes that his shiny little badge not only permits him to a sense of entitlement the size of Nicaragua, but Actually Truly Honestly makes him More Important Than You.

They don’t just arrest you, they make bad jokes about it.

This is not the attitude I want in someone who has the right to hit me with a stick. This is not the attitude I want from an institution which can shoot me seven times in the head because my skin’s the wrong colour and I Might Maybe Possibly Oops No Not At All be a terrorist. And this is definitely not the attitude I want from the city which, most of the time, I love.

So we’re going to live on a tiny tiny Island for six months.

I’m lucky enough to have a job that has only one geographical criteria (that my hands be within reach of a keyboard, which itself is – by whatever abstract means – attached to That Internet), while my fiancée felt it was the right time to take a half-year out of A Real Proper Job, and spend some time having a Real Proper Life.

You’ve heard the expression: “Work to live, don’t live to work”? There’s a reason some platitudes become hackneyed: once in a while they’re right on the fucking money.

So there you go. We’re going to drive across Europe in a shitty £600 car I bought from a questionable source a couple of weeks ago, catch a 9 hour ferry from Barcelona, and exist – happily, I hope – on a lump of land which would fit inside the M25 with room to spare. We will swim, we will cycle, we will drink too much wine and eat a ridiculous amount of seafood. It is my sincere hope that among the sleepiness and self indulgence I’ll find something – probably in the guise of tourists – to Hate. (And yes, before you say: I shall indeed be a tourist myself. Hypocrisy does not dilute the value of a good, solid, Loathing).

There will be Internet. I will remain in touch. I shall simply be doing so accompanied to the sighing of the sea on the beach and the clatter of ice in my fresh G&T, rather than the dopplering of a passing squad-car or the squawks of a dying pigeon.

So, here’s me taking one for the team:

HATING OF THE DAY: Smug bastards who can’t fully enjoy their happy circumstances unless they fish for jealousy from others. MAY THE SUN SCALD THEIR PASTY, FLABBY SKIN.

3 comments:

Edward Kaye said...

Holy Christ Si! Those posters are insane. I had heard about the fact that they are using anti-terror laws to catch fly-tippers, but I'd not seen these before.

People in Canada often ask me why I moved away from the UK, with all it's lovely castles and pubs (how quaint). I end up going in to a rant about things like this, and how they great things about England tend to be out-weighed by shit like this, and the chav culture. It's a damn shame what the country is becoming!

Ahhh fuck, I feel a rant coming on. I'll stop.

Get out of there Si, while you still can!

Simon said...

To quote Richard Linklater, "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy". Have fun.

Matt Timson said...

In a rare moment of not talking bollocks, I will admit to your having struck a nerve there, Spurrier.

I hope you can find what you're looking for. I hope you can stay there too, if you're happy enough.

Good luck.