Moving to Medium: I thought you should know

My blog has moved. I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape.

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I offend even myself.

I was recently reminded of how I biologically operate when, for 72 hours, I fed almost solely on leftover chocolate cake–delicious, rich, sticky, orange liquor chocolate fudge cake–and tea (milk, two sugar, garçon), all in all my five-a-day sufficiently covered in a supremely rounded diet, I’m sure you’d agree.

And on the third day, my metabolism chimed in with an inconvenient truth. If my anatomy were a car, it’d be a fairly light-weight, fuel-efficient make and model. Low insurance. Economic wagon.

Unfortunately, it isn’t a car. In organic terms, anything nutritional that requests a transit visa, which doesn’t facilitate my basic respiratory needs and a tablespoon more, is scrutinised by a decidedly isolationist jury of intestinal bacteria. So my body stripped this bountiful chocolate cake (a fair medium-large pizza disc-worth of confection) of it’s nuts and bolts…

… and then the sewage pipe leading from my house experienced three years of corrosion very slightly quicker than expected.

Visa revoked. Ejected from country. Cuisine non grata. No baggage claim. Sans lost and found. A one-way trip back to whence it came, as if my gastronomy were a totalitarian state governed by the despotic rule of Theresa May, bringing along to this newly imagined position of responsibility her briefcase complete with 245-page cunning plan white paper: the re-establishment the UK Border Agency within my lower intestine.

At the conclusion to this three day choco-thon, Julian Assange was urgently escaping the Bolivian embassy in London to South America through my caboose, in an alternative ingestion-themed reality where the United States was too panic-stricken by the man’s incredible platinum weave to halt his chocolate-enabled craft, sailing to the southern hemisphere, after negotiating the Great Thames Water Recycling Facilities Network.

Further research required. The struggle must go on.

Tl;dr: The Decadent West.

“An Officer has been scheduled to visit…”

There’s a letter that’s been pilgrimaging around my house for the past fortnight now. It’s a fairly plain, unassuming, thinner-than-A5 letter, with one of those see-through plastic bits that lets everyone know that the ‘legal occupier’ ought very well to take a peek inside. You wouldn’t think to flip the envelope over without examining the thing, really, to subsequently notice the diagrammatic box on the back persuading you to ‘buy yours’ or ‘find information’ on TV licensing.

Which is probably why it had been leisurely perusing the far corners of our freezing house for the past few weeks.

Eventually I rescue it from its long, chilly march to the recycling bin (being the responsible little citizens that we are) and whisk it away to my room, suddenly sensing an intense burden on my life. I feel compelled by some unnatural, other-worldly force to press on. Short of breath, I lay the envelope on the table and edge back in awe.

Look at that subtle colouring. The tasteful thickness of it.

My face creases in horror.

My god. It even has a UKMail watermark.

I eventually manage to contain myself long enough to tease open the envelope by the little folded lip at its rear, and its precious cargo slips fatefully to the desk surface.

The letter appears almost to hover a few millimetres above the surface, like a holy relic, illuminated by some sourceless spotlight of self-importance and authority. With trembling hands I unfurl the scroll-like folds of parchment document. It reads:

“Dear Sir/Madam,”

My god, they even know who I *am*.

“As you have not responded to our letters yet, you have left us no alternative…”

No alternative…? I-… bu-… please, let us be considerate, I-…

“… but to proceed with the final stages of our investigation.”

Investigation? No, please, I’ve done nothing, I’m a good man – a good man! … Forgive me padre if I have sinned!

“An Officer…”

Capitalised, like our Lord & Saviour. A newfound respect for this mystical authority.

“… has been scheduled to visit to find out…”

For which sins hast our Lord & Saviour, The Officer Almighty suspicions of guilt? What life have we led to deserve this judgement? Was it really that long ago that I told my mother and father I loved them?

“… if TV is being watched or recorded illegally.”

The hammer falls, its echoes of judgement almost audible. I can imagine it now… my head is cut free from the constraining relationship with its body, and tumbles into the basket below. Steaming, curdling blood jettisons itself from this vessel of filth and depravity into the cool, pure, TV license-complying atmosphere.

“The Officer… ”

(May we never forget His sacrifices…)

“… may visit your property any day of the week, morning or evening.”

I am Jack’s drenched pit of despair and paranoia. What will I tell my parents? What is there to say? I’ve never even *written* a last will & testament. Please, this all seems so sudden, surely there is another way-

“Yours faithfully,

His Grace, The Most Reverend John Hales, Archbishop of Leicester and Enforcement Line Manager”

I slump back in my chair, a cold flush descending from my sullen eyes down through the back of my neck, along my ribs and slicing through my heart, down further into the pit of my stomach and onto my legs, culminating at the tips of my toes.

A cold flush of remorse…

… for the time I just wasted taking in this pointless legal death threat.

It takes me five minutes to snap back to reality from visions of life in flashback montage format, and I suddenly realise I don’t even own a TV. In fact, no one in my house owns one either. Huh.

TV LICENSING INQUIRY REF: 6139215729, remember this as the day you *almost* scared an innocent student shitless by threatening to enter his home, in order to check for common electrical appliances in the name of the law and criminal justice. And thanks for conveniently glossing over my right to deny The Saviour Our Lord, Officer Steve access to my house.

Now.

Back to Have I Got News For You on iPlayer…

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”

At this point the news anchor changes her tone of voice, moving on from the report on Sino-Japanese relations resulting from the recently imposed Chinese Air Defence Identification Zone, and on to this apparently equal nugget of current affairs:

“A body was found earlier in Deansgate. Police are continuing the investigation and two people have been arrested in connection with the case.”

I ommit a low, disgruntled “hrrmgggrmr” as the report comes to a close, and we’re now bombarded by the oracle’s depressing outlook on weather developments in the British Isles. (How can anyone be this enthusiastic about 3°C minor monsoons? And for that matter, when did it become unacceptable for weather reporters to describe things with adjectives that truly summarize the situation: “shit.”)

*hrrmgggrmr*

Back on track: whoever decided that someone being knifed to death, shot or run over by a train was worthy of being national news, should be knifed, shot and run over by a train. In our minds, we know that many thousands of people will die in similarly bad — or worse — situations, on a daily basis. We’re already aware that x-thousand children will perish today due to a lack of clean water, or that y-hundred will be dis-incorporated by the explosion and resulting shrapnel spread of a Syrian Air Force bombing run, or that z-number of people in the UK will fall into their graves as a result of crime.

With this in the mind of everyone but cave-dwellers, it seems almost disrespectful to shine a light on this one incident, holding it aloft as a matter of national attention above all other examples of human suffering.

Only so apologetic for any tones of insensivitiy this view may hold, it seems to me irrelevant as a national news story. Of course I’m extremely sad for poor Sadeq/ Naomi/ Ben/ Graham/ Jamal/ Jennifer who was shanked in some back alleyway; their family must feel distraught, their community unnerved. And now that I’ve been burdened with their grief, I too now (almost) empathise with their plight.

But in the same way that I couldn’t care less who wins the lottery this week, or that someone in my town was just fired from his job, I feel really quite disconnected from the story; it … just doesn’t affect me. Worse still, I find myself desensitized, because after years of hearing about a murder or a rape incident in the news, I no longer feel a sense of dread about the fact it has occured: it becomes just another case of “shit happens”. Which could mean that when something genuinely terrible and deserving of our attention, we might very well be less receptive to the news. (Illuminati conspiracy? *Cue ominous chuckle.*)

An improvement on the current state of the news would be a weekly or monthly summary of crime in our regions, with perhaps a snapshot or singled out story. That would, in my view, truly keep the public informed, delivering to us “the bigger picture” and keeping us aware of the issues faced in the country.

Awareness is empowering, but that awareness is undermined when ratcheting tensions in the South China Sea are packaged in the evening news alongside poor Mr. Graham’s fall off a cliff in Cornwall earlier this morning, ‘not treated by police as suspicious’. Perspective is something our valuable news sources seem to be slowly losing.

Funnily enough, one of the silliest (though nonetheless entertaining) movies of the year, Anchorman 2, manages to sneak this observation into its comedy: people like to be entertained and to empathise. But those are no substitutes to being informed.

We’re lucky not to be afflicted by U.S.-stylee helicopter car chases on national television… yet. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s the same situation in half a century

Wozzit all about, answered at 3AM in stunning detail

While attempting to fall asleep, the tune of ‘Citizen’ by Broken Bells drifted into my head. I stuck it on the laptop, in a vague attempt to help me get to sleep, and it’s lyrics struck a chord (acceptable pun?)

“So, what’s it all about?” rang out the oh so deeply philosophical query, but despite my internal monologue cynical chuckle, I lay awake on my family’s cramped sofabed for the next twenty minutes wishing the mattress springs would piss off, and through the struggle began to feel a revised appreciation for the question.

I tinkered with the thought… what is it’ all about? And why am I apparently feeling so content about ‘it’ right now, sprawled on sleeping apparatus that probably wouldn’t pass under the Geneva Convention’s directives on the treatment of prisoners of war? Blessed by the constant, just-within-ear-frequency buzz of an old, overloaded extension lead? Occasionally dropping into the velvety murk of slumber, only to be rudely poked back in to consciousness by another recent reject from the Holloway Road Socially Acceptable Sobre First XI, mumbling motivational messages to himself a few yards from my window?

And then it hit me. No, wait, that’d probably result in an injury of some sort, and with the NHS’s apparently bollocks A&E record this winter, I might choose another metaphor…

And then it struc-… Feck…

*Breathe*

After wasting enough time mulling over unnecessary, probably distracting and certainly not impressive ways to introduce my epiphany, I wrote a quick descriptive passage recording my efforts before charging on into the already blurry main point of the article, or whatever it’d be classed as if it had any literary value beyond it’s overly bumbling meta perspective.

That was probably not what ‘it‘ was about.

*Ahem*

I didn’t realise anything, actually, beyond the comforting fact that I knew I couldn’t care less about the ironic lack of material comforts in my immediate vicinity. The less tangible aspect of the Christmas holiday period’s got to me, however; the season’s persuasive family-and-friend-gathering focus have made for a really quite pleasant end to the year. And I suppose that is probably what ‘it‘s all about.

Frankly, what else could be giving me positive vibes at 2:52AM, surrounded by half-empty wine glasses and plates with finger food on, unceremoniously dumped around the living room,  unevenly lit by that scrawny yet ambitious two foot tall Christmas tree in the corner?

Probably not much else.

And that, I suppose, is my rather long-winded, under-read, over-written, little appreciated (and to summarise: pointless) way of stating: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

For those with bad eyesight, everything might as well occur in the blink of an eye

“In the blink of an eye,” says one as the BBC reviews tomorrow’s newspaper coverage of South Sudan’s decline into civil war; The Guardian, we’re told, goes to print on Christmas Eve with the title: “The state that fell apart in a week”.

It’s hardly surprising that our society suffer from such news tunnel vision and amnesia, when the news sources we trust most suffer from the same afflictions.

When the more enthusiastic of the two men reviewing the situation commends the “first western journalist into the country,” they presumably either believe that before last Sunday evening, that part of the universe did not qualify for existence, or are subtly hinting that it’s only now sexy enough to be packaged as a news story.

I muted the TV at this point, unsatisfied with the ‘analysis’ I’d just received. A twenty minute dive into the region’s story revealed a more plausible (and expected) chain of events: the south of Sudan has been in a constant state of conflict, before even its 2011 independence from the Muslim-dominated north, roughly revolving around the economic rivalries between the Mulre, Dinka and Nuer cattle tribes. And even if now the rift has found it’s way into government and military circles, it seems much the same issue.

“Over the next five years, a number of countries in Africa and Asia are at significant risk for a new outbreak of mass killing… Among these countries, a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in southern Sudan.”

… says a February 2010 report to the U.S. Congress by the then Director of National Intelligence. Of course it does. Obviously. Because as the name might suggest, national *intelligence* looks beyond next week’s ‘trending stories’, and the sex appeal of drama in “the world’s newest country”.

So when a few chuckling fogies on the Beeb commend journalists for entering the country to “tell us of the attrocities going on out there,” and “hope that [our] government will take proactive efforts to aid them,” simultaneously neglecting to mention any contextual information pertaining to the thousands killed and suffering there from the previous half-decade and beyond, you might excuse me while I feel three distinct feelings:

Firstly, I couldn’t be more skeptical of mainstream news, and disappointed in it’s short-termist, hop-skip-and-jump, headline-orientated approach to reporting.

Secondly, I am aware of how dangerously close to colliding my testicles with the fence that I’m balancing on, dividing the hipster-operated “fuck the mainstream agenda, maaannn” cabbage patch, and the much more fertile rolling “oh look, another war” fields that most others are content to farm.

Thirdly, I couldn’t feel any more useless as a reader of the news, or on a more acute level, as a human. It comes to mind instantly, when they compare the extrapolated future of South Sudan with the Rwandan Genocide, that regardless of my awareness of these events, others ongoing elsewhere, and those of the past, I most likely have no chance of affecting anything.

It’d appear that looking beyond the facade of headline news makes for intense cynicism.

Because in 2013, we’re still gawking from the sofa at regions across world, experiencing life and death struggles on religious, cultural and ethnic grounds, whether that be in Africa over the long-term issue of cattle ownership, grazing land rights, incompatible cultural practices and political representation, or in Western Europe over the long-term issue of home ownership, employment rights, incompatible cultural practices and political representation.

So perhaps it’s worth leaving news amnesia uncured. Because regardless of awareness, intervention, reconstruction and progress, it never seems that our cherished cycle of crap will ever end.

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