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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Detached a little

Its a sad thing but the older you get the crustier you become and the less caring you can be about what Ive come to label detached death. Detached death is when someone, not in your family or immediate circle of friends passes away. Usually its an ex-colleague or workmate or somebody you happened to know briefly due to an artificial or transitory social situation, most likely based around your employment. Youve probably not seen them or heard about them for while and then along comes the news, borne by someone wearing a suitably glum face that old Bob or Jenny who worked the copy machine or Fred the truck driver have died.

Immediately you go into respectful reflective glum mode and talk in low and serious tones. You ponder a little on your knowledge of them, try to figure out how old they were and under what terms you last saw them. You realise that you didnt really know much about them and great swathes of their lives are imagined badly and ignorantly by you. Maybe even as a black and white movie but what else is possible, you dont know Jack about them. Then you feign for a while. Feigning is trying to appear upset or caring when really youre not at all affected. That person has died; you know their family will be feeling bad, all the usual things will be happening and thats pretty terrible for them but you know that had you never seen or heard of that person ever again you wouldnt really care. They are of course more than a face and a name or a staff number, theyre precious human beings, but they really dont mean anything to you. Particularly now that they dont work here, or you dont have deal with them or worse put up with them because they were irritating. In truth they were dead already; they died the moment they quit, or retired or moved on and of course the exact same thing will happen to you when your time comes.

Here we are shuffling along like penguins, we know and recognise the ones close by, they keep us warm, protect us, we do the same for them, we laugh and chatter and journey together, we share a common love. Penguins on an ice flow making noises. Those others though, farther out to the left or the right, just a little beyond our reach are something else; they have their peer group, their helpers and their own pace. We may nod or wink or blink towards them, they may politely return but their journey is their own. When they fall we cant halt and turn to pick them up, there are too many others in the way and we are moving away all the time, each of us caught up in our own blinkered piece of progress. So we feign, a second’s hesitation, a thimble of respect and then we go on.

I doubt if the Queen cares about the medals or awards or knighthoods she gives out, the numbers are too big, the production line is relentless, she is a machine and they are passing cogs. Clicking and whirring and having a moment, the Queen is the champion of the feign and unfortunately as I get older and cogs and wheels continue to obit at a distance or pass me by so am I. Im sorry for anyone who has some of my detached death going on but that sorry cant generate a real tear, cant put me off a ham sandwich, discolour a holiday day dream or stop me looking forward to getting home. My survival instinct is strong enough to know where and when I must spend my emotions, at what point I can empathise; the odd charity, African water shortage, natural disaster or donkey sanctuary gets through but few of them stick

Its not religion or charity we need, its perspective.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dangerous wiring

Wiring diagrams and the random samplings of cheesy baguettes: Those stumped by the antics of their Twitter alter egos remain bemused, their sharp and pithy messages resonating around cyber-voids and causing excessive stimulation to some or is it that the are simply transmitting clues to a huge, sprawling crossword puzzle than none of us, earthbound and blinkered as we are, can actually see?

God has given us dangerous minds. They say that people who have had religious experiences early in life and then moved on (as life's rich tapestry of strange beauty and disaster unfolds), still cling on to their spiritual wreckage remaining passively obsessed with god and their abject failure to find him or even some close approximation. I'm not sure who it is who is saying these things but I wish they'd stop and allow the likes of us a little head space in which to explore other less fuzzy, less furry and less fussy modern conundrums. Modern life is quite simply a quiet conundrum, a game with shifting rules, narrow windows of opportunity, possibilities that we cannot grasp and because of this, huge potential. Imagine my pleasure therefore at discovering the Swiss, bespectacled boffins at Nescafe (a division of some bigger and uglier thing) had devised sample sized sachets of coffee, milk and sugar molecules fuzed into tiny pieces that could be activated by the simple addition of a small quantity of boiling water to form a tasty and invigorating hot beverage. It has a name but as it is so close to that of god's own (secret) name I dare not even speak it or write it down. I shall call it a supreme guilty pleasure and say no more.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Ticket

It was the raffle prize of a lifetime, a seat at the top table at the Grand Vizier's Garden Party. She could hardly believe her luck. It was of course the social event of the year, all of the cream of society would be there, the weather would be perfect (it always was) and the whole event was the most marvellous spectacle and experience. She nursed the ticket in her open hand and mused a little more over her good fortune. What should she wear? Who would she be sitting next to? She thought of some the wonderful anecdotes she'd heard about previous winners, how their lives had changed, how their fortunes had improved, VIPs they'd met, some had even married or travelled to other planets and even strange countries as a result. (I should point out that interplanetary travel was considered relatively normal for most people but a local passage from country to country had become a lot more difficult and unusual these days, this was mostly due to diplomatic rather than technical travel issues).

She put the ticket back into the metallic blue envelope and locked it up in her fire and ant proof safety deposit boxes. (You had to be very careful about ants, there were many tribes of highly intelligent ants operating in the area and being ants they were inclined to acts of burglary or simply just carrying things away, you had to take sensible precautions. The good news was that a small bowl of sugar could be left out and that would distract the ants, in fact if they ate enough of it they became drunk and were then relatively easy to apprehend and capture them). The last thing she wanted was the ants to carry away her prize and then try to sell it all across the Inter-ant Net System to whoever or just hold it to ransom. She pushed the box keys and entered her security digits. “Phew, the ticket is now as safe and ant proof as I can make it.”

She made herself a hot banana chocolate and allowed herself a deep, smug, happy and satisfied smile. She flicked over the catalogue pages and thought a little more about her dress.