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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Best. Graffiti. Ever.

30 November 2007

Girls toilets, The Borderline in Soho, last week. I have no idea what it means.

Sorry. There's a lot of swearing in this one.

29 November 2007
On Tuesday, when trying to get through the barriers at Liverpool Street to get on to my train home, some git face jumped the queue and pushed in front of me at the last moment. This isn't particularly uncommon during rush hour - I've noticed that there are a large number of people who seem to have very important jobs that require them to be in places at very specific and urgent hours of the day and night, but inexplicably also require them to travel by public transport rather than, say, chartering a private helicopter to rush them from point A to point B.

These people gad about train stations, not watching where they're going - and why should they, they've got a lot on their plates - bashing into people, never apologising, rushing to the front of queues, swearing audibly when announcements are made regarding delays, tutting and staring at their watches, rolling their eyes and calling various people to tell them that their precious time and resources are being wasted by the uncaring train companies that probably don't even realise how important they are. I'm assuming by their behaviour and demeanour that these people must be incredibly important. Heart surgeons, no doubt, perhaps brain specialists. Peace brokers who have finally come up with the solution to all the world's problems. Secret service agents, possibly. I would accept midwife or nurse as an excuse, possibly paramedics rushing to the scene of an accident, but inexplicably taking the overland train during rush hour rather than risking the roads and all of that traffic.

Funny, though. They all look like Shoreditch twats, media wankers, fucking art students and bastard bankers to me.

But that can't be right. People like that don't have precious time to waste. They, like me, should be well capable of queueing without the hysterical pushing or shoving; they should be able to sit quietly if the train is slightly delayed (rather than, as one woman did yesterday, standing up when the train driver announces that we're being held in a queue waiting for a platform just outside the station, swear at the top of her voice and stride down the carriage, slamming the door behind her as if that was going to help in any way); they should sit quietly, perhaps reading their book or soaking up the drivel from the free paper they unwisely picked up at the station. They should, in short, be more like me and the rest of the normal, unimportant, unassuming commuters. But fucking no.

And so back to Tuesday evening, when the man who had previously been behind me at Liverpool Street was now suddenly in front of me, between me and the barriers and was struggling with his ticket. He put the ticket into the slot, the ticket came out, he drew the ticket out, but instead of opening, the gates kept him trapped there. However, thanks to the fact that I had been all ready to go with my Oyster card because until he jumped the queue, I was actually next in the motherfucking line, I had already touched it down on the pad, which opened up the gate in front of him, letting his ignorant arse through and leaving me with no choice but to try and run forward before the gates closed across me. Which is of course what happened.

And so I had to limp on to my train before it left the station, the proud owner of three new bruises to my arms and legs and a right chip on my shoulder about fucking ignorant queue jumping bolloxes.

Cut now to last night, when I was on my way to my counselling class. The steam was building up in my head already from the moment I headed down on to the Picadilly Line trying to get to Kings Cross. This line is particularly filled with people so pissed off they can barely breathe. Honestly, the next time someone actually blows up on the tube, it may well be me, when finally all of my pent up rage suddenly bursts, causing me to spontaneously combust, taking half the carriage with me in my pointless unexpressed fury. Kings Cross is also a version of hell on earth, with a mixture of street savvy Londoners who know exactly where they're trying to get to, surrounded by bag wheeling tourists just trying to find the overland station and stopping to stare at each other every 10 seconds while using their bags to block off all remaining space on the platform.

Having battled my way to the ticket barriers, I was once again poised and ready to go with my Oyster to get the heck of there and be on my merry way, when once again another fucking suited and booted late-20s smug bastard with slicked back hair and pointy cheekbones insinuated himself in front of me in the queue. I was so incensed that, without really thinking about it, I kicked out at him.

I saw red, and I fucking kicked out at him, ladies and gents. I'm not proud.

Well, okay, I'm a little proud.

My foot landed squarely on his tug along laptop bag which he was casually strolling away with. Although my kick was delivered with all the fury I could muster - and that was quite a lot of fury - he was walking away at such a pace that I wasn't able to get more than a slight brush off it. Still, the force was enough to make the bag jump up slightly. He kept on walking and didn't notice a thing.

About five people behind me, however, laughed out loud, which was enough to both release the rest of the fury within me, and also snap me back to my senses, considering that, if the dude had wanted to take up my attempted damage to property right then and there, I wouldn't have had a friend in the world to defend me.

And that, ladies, gents, mother, is why I need to get the fuck out of this city as soon as is giddily possible.

MySpaz and F*c*book

23 November 2007
And it's happened again.

As ever, I got sucked into excitement of another internet trend, about two years behind everyone else, and one year eleven months after everyone else already got bored with it. I hopped on board Facebook as willingly as I hopped on board MySpace - that is to say, with great trepidation and not a whiff of enthusiasm. What's the point, I asked everyone? What do you gain from it?

Well, they explain patiently. you can get whatever you like out of it.

And I think that's where both the nub and the heart of the problem lie (if indeed you can have both a nub and a heart in the same location - I'm not sure you can. If you do, you should probably have that checked by your GP). I don't really put anything in to any of these things. For example, I never once used MySpace to find new music. Or old music. Or any music. I hated going to other people's profile pages, and finding that they had put a song on it. The song choices of other people irritate me. Sometimes, it even angers me. I know that people use these songs on their profile pages to let the readers know what kind of kerrazy, kooky, interesting, thoughtful or intelligent being they are. But, to a man, all I gain from the opening bars of every single song - before I rush up to pause the tune - is a shudder of irritation. Even if I would normally adore the song.

I just used MySpace as a kind of reminder that I wasn't keeping up with anything. I continued to miss people's birthdays, but now I was reminded that I had forgotten them, and what's more, I no longer had an excuse. Now I was also constantly reminded of all the gigs I wasn't attending, the events that I could have enjoyed but I haven't, the people I could be meeting up with but I'm not.

I thought Facebook might be better, but this time round I had already learned from the mistakes I made on MySpace. For a start, I signed up as myself, not as Shazzle, and I decided quite early in that I would only include as friends the people that I actually knew in real life, those people who, if I saw them on the bus, I would actually like for them to sit down beside me because we would actually have something to talk about, rather than those people that you kind of know, or that you used to know, or those people that used to talk to you when they thought you were important (i.e. when I used to write for newspapers) but now that you're not important (i.e. now that I'm one of the unwashed general public) they don't really know what to say.

(Honestly, it's like I've contracted some kind of social disease in the last three years. The comedians who have literally crossed an entire room to come say hi to me and offer me a drink three years ago, now look through me as if I'm wearing a massive sign that says NOTHING TO SEE HERE.)

But I hadn't considered the awful, constant stream of friends-of-friends who, seeing you in the list of their friend's friends try to add you as a friend of their own. I hate that more than anything else about these social networking sites, the fact that numbers of "friends" are counted as if they represent the size of your penis. I particularly don't understand that on Facebook, when you're already drowning under the number of fatuous pieces of information you're constantly being thrown about what your friends are up to at any given moment.

- Sally and Mary and Fiona and Nikki are all friends.
- Damon has joined the group "Look at me! I'm fucking hilarious!"
- Felicity has thrown a shit at your head! Throw a shit back at Felicity!
- Gina is organising a High School Massacre. Will you be attending?

Seriously. The only two reasons I am still on Facebook are the joy of seeing other people's holiday photos (no, seriously, I really love it. Today I saw the photos taken by my sister's gay boyfriend of their holiday in Spain and I stared at them for about 10 minutes). The other thing I love is the status update section. I never thought I'd need to know how many cups of coffee my cousin's wife has had today, or the fact that almost everyone I know, on a Friday morning, is looking forward to the weekend with a desperation that threatens to break my heart everytime I see a new update.

Other than that, I don't know why I'm still doing it. Too many parts of it baffle me. I'm not able to look at anyone else's home pages on Facebook, because people don't look after them properly. The constant addition of new applications that they never subsequently move means that their home pages are so cluttered with rubbish that you can't find their fucking wall and all you wanted to say was Happy Birthday, but by the time you have scrolled down past the fucking vampires and the fucking Harry Potter spells and the pillow fights and the fucking fish bowls, you're so angry you can't think of anything nice to say.

And please. Stop poking me.

Tough Love

14 November 2007
Dear London,

I realise I haven’t written to you for a while, and I apologise for that. You know how it is – working, studying, travelling, and that alcohol isn’t going to drink itself into an early grave – and suddenly it’s November and you seem to be annoyed at me.

Is that what it is, London? Have I not corresponded enough in the recent past? Because you seem to be sending all manner of negative vibes my way, London. Perhaps we need to talk.

For a start, London, please try and bear in mind that, now it’s winter time, that does not mean that each and everyone one of you must spend your time on the tube sneezing and/or coughing into your hands and then immediately putting said infected hand onto the handrails. But please, London, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here – this behaviour, abhorrent as it is, is preferable to the other option in which you sneeze and/or cough all over the back of my head. Into your hands be it, if that’s the only option. But I’ve a third way to suggest for you, London, and I hope you take it on board: tissues. Try them. I think you’ll like them.

Another thing, London, that I think you might be doing just to annoy me: the road works. You’ve already dug up the Victorian watermains twice, London. You’ve done that now. You’ve also resurfaced the road, and then almost immediately dug it up again, this time to do something with the gas line. But two days ago, you started digging up the pavement, an area previously untouched in your on-going digging extravaganza, and this time round I don’t know why. London, you usually send your representatives out in DayGlo jackets that spell out for me what exactly they are doing, digging up my road late into the night with the heavy machinery that makes our building shake. But this time round, the DayGlo jackets are present, but the information isn’t there. Help me out here, London. Throw me a bone. Or are you, as I deeply suspect, doing this for no reason whatsoever, and you can’t even be bothered to pretend?

As the darkness closes in around us, as the temperature drops and everyone is in even more of a hurry to get to where they’re going, it would be really great you could stop mucking me about, London. Oh, don’t give me that look. You know what I’m talking about: yes, the trains. You know it’s the trains. Please, London, in the morning I am in no fit state to stand for up to 20 minutes in the freezing cold for a train that is perpetually about to arrive in 2 minutes time. Stop it with the empty promises, London, else I’m going to have to go elsewhere for my residential loving.

Oh yes, you heard me. I mean it, too. Think on, London, think on. There are many other cities vying for my attention. Buck up your ideas, there. Else I’m outta.

“plunge” and “death” and “screaming” and "crash" and "fire" and "bomb" and “disaster”

11 November 2007
We are sitting on the plane and my coat is over my head. My legs are crossed under me, as tightly as possible so as not to fall off the edge of the tiny plane seat, and my nose is tucked into the sleeve of the coat so I don’t suffocate. My iPod, on shuffle, keeps finding songs with the words “plunge” and “death” and “screaming” and "crash" and "fire" and "bomb" and “disaster” in them. My left hand is closed tightly around his right hand. I am not crying.

I hate flying so much that I have turned a corner in the level of fear that I feel. I used to be so frightened that I would feel incredibly nauseous, nausea to the point of passing out and/or losing control of my bladder. I would convince myself I was about to faint. I would cry silently, weeping tears that I was completely incapable of holding in. And then, about 10 minutes into the flight the fear would dissolve into a kind of agonising boredom; bored of the flight and bored of the fear itself; bored of the occasional turbulence; bored of being strapped into a seat and having the face the same direction as everyone else. Bored of my music and books and magazines and surroundings; bored enough to pass out, which I quite often did, thanks to the amount of valium in my system.

Now on a plane I feel angry. So angry I have started shaking with the rage, physically shuddering – not like when you shake because you’re cold or frightened, not that gentle shaking that happens when standing waiting for a bus in the snow, but rather the kind of shaking you do when you’ve just had to leave the room because if you didn’t you know you were going to smash a plate or punch someone in the face, or smash a plate in someone's face. So angry I want to start kicking the chair of the person in front, or punching at the plane windows, or getting hold of something sharp and stabling it into my own arm.

I channel this extreme rage by inferring rudeness in any dealing I have with anyone at any point in the preceding couple of hours before the flight – basically, from the moment we are heading towards the airport. Cars are cutting us up; strangers are giving me dirty looks; someone doesn’t hand me my change properly; the guy at the check in desk didn’t actually say anything wrong, but I could tell from his tone of voice; those people standing behind us in the check-in queue are pushing their luggage into my personal space; the announcements are unnecessarily useless; everyone is skipping the queue; those same people standing behind us in the queue for the plane are pushing their hand luggage into my personal space; why is everyone standing in the aisle while putting away their bags and blocking me; the other passengers are talking too loudly; the air hostess gave me a dirty look; if one more person tells me to take my ear phones out, I will stab them to death with their own feet; etc.

Take this irrational state of mind, and then make me do it twice in 48 hours. That, ladies and gents, is last weekend.

So, we are sitting on the plane, and my coat is over my head. I am not crying. The only reason I am not crying is because I am trying to prove a point. The point is, I might not have control over the plane, or the air traffic controllers, or the pilot, or the terrorists, or the lightning strike, or the running-out-of-fuel-mid-flight or the bird strike or the engine failure or the sudden occurrence of more gravity which just sucks the plane out of the air, or any of the 20,000 different reasons I can come up with in less than a minute for the plane to crash, but the one thing I do have control of is my tears. I may die, incredibly angry, in a plane crash, but I will not do it crying.