Wednesday, March 30, 2011
My first impression upon stepping over the virtual threshold of Authonomy was of a halfway house for writers. Cheerful and hygienic it might appear but there's also a furtive sense of dispossession, even seediness; a feeling one has now slipped down a social pecking order. One's most treasured possession – one's ambition - is already looking a bit more ragged here, a bit more moth-eaten. One looks around a little warily at one's fellow inmates. One is immediately suspicious of so much overt friendliness, daunted by the ubiquitous flourishes of self-belief. These clearly are people who have tasted the acrimony of rejection on a regular basis. What the hell have they all got to be so cheerful about? Slowly though one settles in. One lowers one's expectations. One begins to enjoy and look forward to the meals on offer. One finds a chair to one's liking and is content to ignore the world outside for longer and longer periods. One realises one might never get out but there's always that one chance in a million that someone will recognise one's truly unique talent....
Thursday, March 17, 2011
“Do you know what I do now? my old teacher asked, giving me a kind of self-pleasuring wink. “I watch MTV. Does that shock you? Do you ever watch MTV?”
“Now and again,” I said.
“My daughter watched MTV. It was her religion. That’s where she got all her ideas from. I realise now it formed her far more than I did. MTV is all about images. The music is incidental. Once upon a time images were created for churches, now they’re created for MTV. So why go on painting? Images are marketing tools now. Is that why I paint? So that some marketing executive can use my pictures to sell hair products or car insurance? I saw an ad that used the Mona Lisa to advertise a sanitary towel. In Italy of all places. Because even Italy can’t bear to think of itself as old fashioned. Do you know I sometimes imagine Bin Laden sitting in his cave watching MTV. And then I feel like I understand him. I sympathise with his anger and his hatred of the West. I feel like he and I could be friends. Except he doesn’t drink. Do you know what I think? And I’m going to get into trouble for saying this.” He beckoned to me to lean forward over the table and when I had done so spoke through theatrically cupped hands in a hoarse whisper. “The emancipation of women has led to a world that’s interested in nothing but a narcissistic notion of pleasure.” He sat back with some satisfaction in his chair “Is that what women wanted all along? More pleasure?” He lifted his glass. “I propose a toast. To the Taliban and Bin Laden,” he said loudly, monitoring out of the corner of his eye the response elicited by his words in the bar.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Is it a new phenomenon this mania on the part of people to impart erroneously piecemeal information they have read up on or heard on TV? I have heard a host of so-called facts lately – that asthma is on the increase because we’ve become too hygienic, that every year the earth accumulates 30,000 tonnes of space dust, that one percent of the dancing static on the TV when you zap onto a non-existent channel are residue particles from the big bang, that.21 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered to Britain’s homes each year requiring 3.3 million trees to make. All things someone will misquote to someone else on a bus or in a pub today. Did you know that 21 billion fucking people suffer from asthma and it’s caused by residue particles from the Big Bang?
Sure Barcelona utterly outplayed Arsenal and sure the statistics suggest only one team was ever going to win this game. But, let’s be honest, Barca were struggling in the final third until the officials started to lend them a hand. Two years ago Chelsea were denied four penalties against Barca all of which were more clear cut than the one given against Arsenal last night. As for the red card, it wasn’t a bad decision or a joke: it was just moronic. One silly little man gratuitously ruining an entertainment being enjoyed by millions of worldwide viewers. Fact is twice now in the past three years Barca have benefited from hugely dodgy decisions in their favour The truly great teams of the past – Van Basten’s AC Milan, Ronaldo’s Real Madrid – didn’t need large favours from FIFA officials to progress in the Champions League. So, no, Barcelona are not the greatest team to ever play football. If Iniesta and Messi personify the grace and dazzle of Barcelona, there’s Dani Alves to remind us of their playacting and cheaper tricks. If there's a more obnoxious footballer currently playing the game who is he? You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for whoever FIFA Barcelona draw in the next round – because even if they manage to hold off the blaugrana they’ll no doubt have FIFA officials eventually intervening on behalf of their opponents.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Why do we men always want women to see the pain they cause us? We always want women to feel on our behalf. Because when we feel they don’t give a shit our world caves in. We can’t just go away and weep in private though. First of all we have to make a song and dance of our hurt. We have to pour forth our pleas of please and sorry. We might start off by standing under our jilter’s window in the rain (we like it that it’s raining, the rain gives every entreaty we call up a more impassioned touch of theatre.) And, despite the hurt, the churning hollow wretchedness, we’re also secretly pleased with ourselves beneath the window. We have a soft spot for this emotion. The if-only-you’d-come-back-to-me-life-would-be-beautiful feeling. It’s the stuff that gets poetry written, religions underway. When we’re standing in the rain with our heartbreak it’s as if we’re alone under the spotlights on stage at Wembley Stadium with a guitar around our neck. We’re about to perform and we may well give the performance of our life. This one is for Katherine (or Maggie or Medusa), we say into the microphone. And we hear the crowd cheer and see an ocean of little bobbing flames. We thrash out some elegiac chords, make all our favourite words rhyme and we sing our poor heart out for the departed Katherine (or Maggie or Medusa). And if she’s not in the audience we hope someone who knows her is, someone who will tell her how much pain we’re in because she has decided to go back to her old boyfriend.
Friday, March 4, 2011
A week later we split up.
I soon got a bit bored with ex-girlfriend’s duplicitous charade and suddenly said it didn’t matter if she had sent me a text meant for her ex-boyfriend. That was when she went mental. I suppose it might have been a bit insensitive of me seeing as how much energy she had just expended creating her cock and bull story but even so. After explaining the meaning of every sentence in the text again – by now she was beginning to sound like Carl Jung wrapping up his views on the significance of the king, the queen and the two doves in medieval alchemical etchings - she told me it was the first time she had found my behaviour unattractive, that I was being absurd and that if this was what I was going to be like it might be better if we split up now. She still won’t admit that text was to him, she still gets angry when I bring it up. Women are the same when they betray you. Again something vicious emerges. They might look a bit sheepish at first but that doesn’t last long. Pretty soon it’s your fault. Pretty soon they’ve worked themselves up into a righteous scorn for the eternal inadequacy of your feeling. We can never quite get it right where feeling is concerned. It’s always slightly underdone or a bit on the burnt side. Women like to complain that men have always tried to tell them how to look. So why don’t men complain that women have always tried to tell us what we should feel? It seems to me most men just throw in the towel at a certain point. They can’t be bothered anymore. Disagreeing with a woman on a point of feeling is more exhausting than anything gyms have so far been able to come up with. One assumes the married man learns what’s expected of him, like a schoolboy, and generally comes up with the correct answer. Aren’t those tea cups the prettiest things you’ve ever seen, dear? Is that a trick question? It could be of course. She might just be testing you to see how well she has you trained.
At the beginning of a relationship with an ex- girlfriend she once accidentally sent me a text message meant for her ex-boyfriend. Initially I thought it was for me and its oddness might be explained by a stressful day at work. The text was sprinkled with the kind of affectionate platitudes that were they to be given a market value would provide you with a palm-full of change from a pound coin. Certainly it contained nothing to get jealous about. But when she realised her faux pas there followed an elaborate and increasingly dubious explanation as to how the text was intended for a girl she worked with. She practically told me the entire erotic history of this mysterious girl as if then there could be little doubt that the message was indeed intended for her. But even the stupidest criminal knows that if you’re going to create an alibi, keep it simple. Don’t tell the police that you spent the entire night in question with your aunt Harriet and that you remember it well because you fixed her dishwasher which was only four months old but had already begun to make disconcerting noises, that you then tucked into a vegetarian steak and kidney and pie but didn’t go much for the cauliflower, because, to be honest, you had never really cared for the stuff; and actually this weird image had sprung into your mind, while Aunt Harriet was asking if you remembered driving golf balls at the panes of glass in poor old Mr Conk’s greenhouse at the bottom of the garden, when you were a young lad of not taking a Big Mac out of the packaging, of just putting the whole merchandise, styrofoam and all, in your mouth and chewing on it because that’s what cauliflower tastes like when it’s just been boiled in a saucepan and dumped on a plate; that you finally settled down, you on the sofa, Aunt Harriet in her favourite armchair beneath the three flying porcelain ducks, two of which had damaged wings, and watched the five hour remake of The Ten Commandments but that actually you preferred the original with cant-remember-his-name in it. Even the stupidest criminal knows that’s just the quick route to damnation
Thursday, March 3, 2011
There he stands, chest inflated, nose in the air, arms outstretched with regal disdain towards all us mere mortals, the epitome of smug self-satisfaction. Anyone would think he had just discovered the cure for cancer. But hang on. Wasn’t it you, Wayne, who played like a turnip for the entire duration of the World Cup? Who was largely responsible for making the World Cup a tawdry humiliating experience for every English football fan? So next time you score a goal how about celebrating it with some boyish exuberance instead of nominating yourself for the Nobel prize?