Suggested Audio Candy:
The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”
Humans are such fickle creatures. Most of us try our level best to remain civilized; keep up appearances and always look on the bright side of life. However the other day, whilst attempting to ignore a news report, I was taken aback by a headline involving the Black Friday epidemic which has found its way across the shores to the UK. Many would have been appalled by the exposé; sickened by the scenes of normal everyday people acting like they had just contracted the rage. Not Keeper; I almost pissed my breeches and found it funnier than anything Eddie Murphy has done since the eighties. To be fair it was a mixture of downright hilarity and intense fascination. I’ve spent my life people watching and even endured over ten years in the retail sector as punishment for my crimes against ambition.During that protracted period I learned many things; but one fact enthralled me more than any other. We are all but one small step from madness. As much as we attempt to appear ordinary and normally do a bang up job of convincing others that this is the case, the very moment a blackout ensues we all go looting.
I guess, when you look at the evolutionary chain, we’re not that far departed from gibbons. The thing is, we like to think of ourselves as civilized. I’m no different; day after day I walk around smiling at strangers, assisting pensioners across the crossing, and using the words please and thank you more than any other in the English language. But it hasn’t always been the case. There have been moments during my life that have seen me at a crossroads and I have chosen the most ridiculous path without procrastination. Allow me to elaborate; in my forty years I have been involuntary arsonist, caused a cyclist to take a tumble on a busy roundabout then fled the scene out of blind fear, blown myself up in a physics lecture, smoked bird seed, sipped my own urine out of pure curiosity, walked around my home town butt naked at the dead of night, been the victim of a runaway shopping trolley, farted in a crowded elevator, and that’s merely the first few things which spring to mind as I scribe this. Yet those who know me will attest to me being consistent; at no point does it appear I will be swallowed by the mouth of madness.
The way we chose to interact with others or put ourselves out there influences the kind of lifestyle we lead and vice versa. There will never be a way of appealing to every single person we rub shoulders with; the world is overspilling with such an eclectic array of personalities, that invariably some folk are just going to want to hate on you. The sooner you realize that you can’t please all, the faster you afford yourself the opportunity of being exactly who you desire to be. I’d rather play the odds and end up with a gaggle of close friends even if that means amassing a few enemies en route. Let’s not get it twisted; anybody who finds me repulsive is entirely entitled to their opinion and I do anything not to get drawn into grudge matches. But there are only enough hours in every day to achieve so much and I would always prioritize friendly interaction over dramatic interludes. The reason for this is simple; time isn’t on my side any more. Every year of my life seems shorter than the last and I often lose track of which day of the week I am currently living. Often an entire seven-day period will slip past undetected and I’ve long since accepted that this is just a natural part of growing older.
It’s easy to deduce that I have a thing for constancy; I have had many surprises over the past year and some of those have been akin to the old spring-loaded boxing glove. To be totally honest, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Yes I prefer a quiet life, no I don’t like ill-feeling or tattle, but it does keep things admittedly eventful. Life is always capable of pulling the rug from beneath your feet so, I guess, why not get some practice in with some of its more trivial incident. It all comes back to people watching; observation ultimately affords knowledge. There will always be conspiracy theorists, cynics and bigots; it’s just part of the tapestry. However isn’t it better to know your enemy than to pretend these people don’t exist? The reason why fiction comes so naturally to me is that I have done my homework on the human psyche. If you are to be a true scribe then you must learn to be unapologetic in your prose. Many of us, myself inclusive, often write semi-autobiographically and include facets of our actual lives in situations, characters and themeology when we put pen to paper.
That is fine and dandy; whatever works, by whichever means, there will never be a right or a wrong way of expressing yourself through art as it will unerringly remain subjective. However I have created plenty of nefarious characters; some of my central protagonists are beyond reprehensible and deserving of nothing but ill-fortune. Do they receive as much? Not always no and my reasoning is elementary. It’s fucking fiction! Observing people and, in particular, picking cherries whilst leaving the duds to wither, has afforded me inimitable insight and prepared me to create without apology. There are many things I have allowed to slip over the years but my thirst for learning has never been one of them. Thus, on Black Friday, when senior citizens are bludgeoning anybody in range as they reach for that 40″ plasma; I’m transfixed by their shenanigans. Ethel Brannigan may have just been accosted by the constabulary for actual bodily harm against a man forty years her junior but she may well have just done enough to earn herself a supporting role in my next parable. Do I excuse her actions? Who am I to even have an opinion? For all I know Ethel may have been purely there to pick up her bipolar grandson’s medication and, the fellow in question, culpable of penetrating her petticoat with his pinchers.
For much of my adult life I was nothing but civilized. My fuse is far more lengthy than most and, if I’m not practicing kindness, then I’m invariably exhibiting tolerance. I lose my rag historically about once every seven years or so and when it happens it ain’t pretty in the slightest. When I was twelve I was blacklisted from boy scouts for seeing red during melee with a fellow member of the troop and commencing to pound his head against a wooden surface with a maniacal look in my eyes until which time as they brandished the red card. You see, even then I was only ever one reverse rub away from losing my mind. I’d say my meltdown last year would probably see me good for the foreseeable and I have no inclination whatever towards violent outbursts. Having said such; I’m sure, on Black Friday, neither did the rabid shoppers but maybe they just needed to let off a little steam. Should they be chastised for their actions? Only if I wish to be hypocritical. If I were there and had spent six hours queuing for my shot at the new smart phone to hit the marketplace then I would likely stampede with the rest of them. The difference with me is that I wouldn’t put myself in the scenario in the first place.
People will always fascinate me intensely; in many ways we are light years apart whereas, in others, we are all cut from the very same cloth. I shall continue gathering intelligence as best as I can; learning how the other half live and splitting my gut laughing at the shenanigans of Black Friday. The key is to put any learning to good use and there’s no place I would rather be than right here; sharing my findings with those who likely feel exactly the same way I do. If you strongly disagree then that’s great too; I am not and neither have I ever had any intention of being Jesus Christ. I’m merely a man with far too much time on my hands exercising my divine right to run off at the mouth a little from time to time. When all is said and done; I’m one link away from Neanderthal just like anybody else. I may appear calm and collected on the outside but if somebody were to poke my mother in the eye just to gage her reaction then I would likely feed them their spinal column in a baguette like the next man. Leave mom alone and I’m sure things will be just fine.