Friday, 29 May 2009

Eye Lash

I was waiting at the bus stop this morning as usual. The bus service not seemingly beholden to reduce waiting times unlike the targets we toil under. It being Summer, my cardy was a touch excess to requirements, so I took it off. No matter the temperature, I always don it to leave the house. The pockets are invaluable, since I don’t carry a bag. That’s just common sense, given the amount of things which go walkabout in a hospital. From drugs, through unattached prosthetic limbs, to administrators trying to look purposeful.

Laying eyes on the uniform beneath, the expressions of my fellow commuters gathered under the shelter, instantly soften. A young woman, (a model ?), smiled at me (there for but the grace ...?) A teenaged boy stopped scowling in my direction and busied himself experimenting with the acuteness of angle with which he could tilt his tip-up seat, without it unsaddling him. A besuited executive nodded sharply in my direction, before twisting his wrist to consult his watch and then contorting his head to adapt to the now crazy splay of his tabloided ex-broadsheet newspaper. A wrinkled lady clasped my wrist with both of her gnarled hands and genuflected our trinity over her heart. As she thanked me profusely for some procedural care my peers had bestowed upon someone late of hers.

I have, on more than one occasion, been cooed at. In the chaste way one might delight at stranger’s a baby. In fact, I’m intrigued as to the possible outcome of a full bus stop beauty pageant. Me and a mother with her wisp of a cherub and let’s see which angel rings up more of the public’s appreciative sighs. But I don’t want you to think I’m blowing my own trumpet. There has to date been no such convergence, not without a stiff breeze or slanting rain, that for all the overhang of the bus shelter, has witnessed me vain enough to peel off for the full effect of the uniform fob watch and all.

I know I can veer towards the cynical side. And a touch hard-hearted to boot. Indeed that is part and parcel of the job, as we cannot afford to get too close to the patients. Yet I have to concede that my spirit skips when I induce such reactions. This is who I am and this is what I do. I help people. I am an angel, in a modest ministering way. It is still the most virtuous of callings.

But on setting one foot across the threshold into work, all that goodwill and approbation evaporates. Unfailingly my wings are stripped from me. Presumably impaled on Nicks’ pronged gate. Certainly checked in at the door and no reclaim ticket ever proffered in return. Instead I am supposed to sprout multi-armed limbs akin to a Hindu deity. Juggling innumerable tasks, while navigating a razor thin high wire of courtesy. Within these walls, an improbable re-enactment of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean battlefields, somehow, I am expected to demonstrate an adept femaleness. Professional in the honed performance of my tasks, feminine in my demeanour as I execute them. A dispassionate compassion if you could possibly conceive of such a thing. Oozing care and concern from my manner and detachment from every pore stopped up behind my uniformed body. It never used to present a problem straddling two such carriages.

However, in this day and age, folk are fully acquainted with what hospitals are for. No more are they foreboding places in which to creep off, in order quietly to die. To cordon off the sick from the sight of the robustly healthy. (Though MRSA and the other superbugs are pulling out all the stops to return them to their former infamy). Broadly though, the wonders of science and modern technology mean that the overarching expectation, is to be healed. Set upright once again and delivered back into life for a longer haul. Our mortal lodgers are all fully aware that there is no afterlife, but are confident in medicine’s magical ability to postpone termination til the absolute end of the line. Failure isn’t permissable. Human error can only ever be extrinsic. Budget shortcomings do not add up. Increasingly adaptive immunity of the viral foe are aberrations. Bureaucratic and therefore actionable slips ups.

None of this blind trust meshes with the intial experience of admission into a ward. The infected, the sallow, the unsound and the valetudinarians, each enter hospital alone with their pain. A pain emanating from some nether place. An intimation of their enduring fragility, whatever the textbook prognosis for their present condition. I am the first intercessor between them and this pain. Before the doctors even. I take their temperature, blood pressure, sequester urine from them. I grip their wrists for a pulse, rather than hold their hand as their eyes beseech me. More than likely I will draw blood and insert a cannula under their skin. Even with their implicit consent, I cannot deny that these procedures constitute an inundation upon them. Already lying prone, subject to the dreads working away at them, now their integral boundaries are being breached. Though this is hardly a rupture of professional etiquette. Nor could it remotely be construed as an assault.

Yet for some, they choose to avenge this perceived violation and wrest a modicum of control back for themselves. They try to draw off their pain and smear me with it. As the looming soft target of the regime that confines them. They perceive pain to be catchable. They are after spreading the contagion, so that they do not have to suffer alone. That they may diffuse it among other hosts. They grab my wrist and not to gauge my pulse either. That slap or pinch was no somatic reflex, since I wasn’t engaged in any manner of procedural contact with them at that point. They seize any forcible means, by which they can attach a fleshy trocar from them to me. It ought to be a question of open trust. I assume I will be permitted to carry out my duties and consequently they can rely on receiving consummate care. Any breach of this trust, always arises through some action from just the one side of our compact.

If that wasn’t bad enough, for some malignant bodies, our initial binding develops further into a rather more internecine linkage. Doctors are the true omnipotent beings, attired head to toe in numinous white. Bringing forth their clipboard tablets of judgement over life and death (which we’ve partly inscribed I hasten to add). The supplicants cannot lash out at them, since they represent their sole opportunity of being healed. They have to stay on the right side of them. That leaves open their sinister side, where we angels can be found hovering. Enlisted to your cause to conduct your soul with dignity through its physical tribulations. A messenger to lift your spirits and to help you emerge the other side of your agonies. But to you the unbeliever, the doubting Thomas, we are the fair sex game. You destroy any divine powers of mercy with your apostasy. In doing so, you reduce us to brute matter messengers. Well then I have to tell you the message borne by me, is that there’s scarce any dignity concerning the human body. It is rotten and corrupt. A capital betrayer and that’s what my weak servility seems to reacquaint you with. Consequently in my presence, they resist allowing themselves to succumb to their attenuated condition. Disdain displaying their vulnerability. So they may smite me a second time. As a marker of their impregnability. I am present to assist in preserving life within their miserable, flawed frame. Yet they recoil and try to snuff it out in me. To devivify me. To douse my spark.

I will not stand for such evisceration. I won’t turn the other cheek as I lean in close to swab them or take their temperature. There are none I can appeal to for protection, no matter how black and blue in the face. The managers are too squeamish about their litigious customers to risk inflaming them. The Sisters are straight off the Crimean battleground and hold that we must demonstrate the same unflinching military discipline and not break rank. As for my Union, that upholder of all things enshrined as inalienable, unfortunately I appear also to have blotted my copybook with them. I insisted they fight my corner on the right to continue to wear long-sleeved blouses, rather than the tunic and trouser ensemble the management were after making mandatory. I constructed what I considered to be an unimpeachable counter argument. How they ought to be agitating for the new clothes budget to be spent on extra dresses, so that we weren’t all rendered Typhoid Marys for the want of spare uniforms to change into. Or alternatively, to provide a decent staff laundry service. But that was just too ward floor for them to dirty their hands with. C’est très difficile, cette C difficile. My persistence saw me triumph personally through a grant of special exemption. But they weren’t terribly forgiving, when I queried whether the rest of them were content to resemble dental technicians.

So, I steadfastly refuse to become a bruised-kidney receptacle for patients’ drained pus. A disposable punchbag for their septic workouts. Your body has let you down, but not half as badly as your self-restraint. You labour after seeing authenticated empathy writ large across my face, but you’re going diametrically the wrong way about attaining it. You might look to displace your suffering on to me. But that only makes me care so much less for yours. As actually might seek to increase it.

I am a mere nurse rather than a physician. Yet when you profane my body, then I am empowered to make a diagnosis of your moral degeneracy. I will prick any swollen pride and homeopathically medicate you back to where you ought to be. Flat on your backs, spreadeagled before the altar of affliction. I proscribe you a dose of realism, wielding my syringe like a surgeon wields his scalpel. No, make that his endoscope. As I redraw your focus back to the case in hand, your failing self. Honour our mutual contract of nurse and patient, then I will be present, available, attentive and focused on you. Rather than skulk behind the technology that ordinarily keeps you at arm’s length and out of the picture. You intrude upon that gap however and I will use that technology to reinstate the chasm. Professional and feminine. Eat your heart out Florence ! This endeavour you’ve charged me with, has wholly consumed mine.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Eye Of The Storm

“What’s happened to your photo there ?”

“Um, I dunno. It must have fallen out ...”

“It can’t just fall out. It’s been laminated. At great taxpayers’ expense”.

“Which is no doubt why there’s no cintingency money to pay someone to fix the nurses’ loos. But I’m still going to have to chance them, as I’m fit to burst ...”

“You’re not coming in til you explain to me what happened to it”.

“Oh for goodness sakes !”

“You know the regulations. You could be anybody -”

What, like a kissogram done up in the uniform you mean ? Would she be small, dumpy, with a protruding bottom; pasty-complexioned and whey-faced; have crows feet around the eyes, worry-lines fissuring her forehead; varicose veins in both legs and chronic back problems, {though fair enough that’s not exactly visible}, which this hospital is incapable of relieving, but all too ready to make more acute ? Course I’m a bloody nurse ! Look in my glassy eyes. Anaemia. A branded employee. What would my voided photo reveal to you anyway ? We’re all the flaming same. This isn’t school anymore, where the tarty girls take liberties with the uniforms, with the regulations, and have their hair dyed and skin pierced. We’ve all long since graduated into the lustrelessness of the virtuous. “One of the inmates lunged at me yesterday. He must have wrenched part of the laminate off in the clinch”

“Inmate, or intern Ms Rubin ?” A voice from inside the booth. Carver’s snide superior, Mr Nicks, doesn’t even look up from perusing his duty roster perched on the desk. A clipped, staccato voice. So chuffed with itself, that the words are impressed from pursed lips attended by a self-appreciative whistle. The voice of a dentist, an excisor of teeth. Perfect choice for the job of gatekeeper. The world and his wife can just nip in through A&E and nobody in Nicks’ stone the crow’s nest would be any the wiser. “We are all internees Mr Nicks. Only some in this insanatorium, are in here of their own volition”.

“It’s most fortunate that indeed we do know who you are Ms Rubin. Now please ensure your ID gets sorted”.

“Fortune has nothing to do with it” I mutter as I step into the three-hinged jaws of the turnstile, pinioning my entire form into its riddling spikes. Nicks dallies an interval more than is necessary. Sitting in judgement. You don’t know me ! You merely employ your retinal prejudice to triangulate from the 3-D features standing in relief outside your domain, to the flat 2-D portrayal on the passes. And you spit out a one-dimensional verdict. A caricature. A silhouette. An effigy. A typecasting. If only you knew. But that would be telling. And for obvious reasons, I am not one to blow my own trumpet. Since we all embody hidden parts, discrete parts. Not on show. Or laminated. Or even passable.

With a pneumatic sough, mirroring that of Nicks’ whistled frisson of thrill at his dominion, the ratchet was released and I was supplied ingress to Dante’s Inferno. Free tachycardia on the NHS.

As I mentioned, it is readily possible to skip all that rigmarole by gaining access through the ambulance bay. Why do I put myself through the mill ? Because I’ve served my time there and have no particular yearning for revisiting perdition. Besides, if a colleague can’t face her shift and throws in the bloodstained towel, they could pounce on any hapless shortcutting staff member they came across and conscript her. Have an agency nurse cover her prescribed ward. Forget the three-pronged grilling at the gate, A&E is the real gauntlet to run through. Danger is, you might skid on the blood slick on the floor and end up being an involuntary donor yourself.

The trouble with A&E is that it’s full of insensible people. Those off their trolleys and straight on to ours. Out of their minds with alcohol or drugs. Or a Carefree in the Community policy. Simultaneously anaesthetized and adrenalised, oblivious to the pain signals radiating from within their bodies. Now I admit there are also those innocents caught in other people’s crossfire. The ones sitting stupefied in their bucket chairs, holding paper towels to their heads, vainly trying to construe the impalpable meaning of what has just befallen them. Being blind sided by a thirteen year old joyrider is always a good one for confounding their preconceptions. Anyway, I prefer dealing with those who confront the cast iron certainty of their body’s internal degeneration. Rather than those who asssail it from without. Or at least I used to, when I first started out in this profession. When you could still tell the difference.

A&E. Accident and Emergency. Actually, I would quibble with both those designations. Self-inflicted injury, even at the hand of another protagonist, can in no way said to be accidental. And though the inculpable bystander-victim is plentifully in evidence down there too, some poor sap or other was fated to get plucked that night. Such was the hellbent resolve of the ill-wisher. Random yes, accidental, I think not. As for emergency, I’ll pass over the slew of trivial complaints presented to triage in the guise of seeking out human contact. I’m disputing how the already established premeditation of surrendering up self-control, of cluster bombing self-restraint into submission, compels the response of an emergency ? Sudden yes, unforseen, incontestably not the case.

Just survey the police constables who descend on A&E every night. Our supposed knights in luminescent yellow armour. Their uniforms coat them with galvanised authority, whereas mine habitually smears me in acquiescence. Clearly, Blue outranks Ladies, of the Lamp. We are forever their ladies in waiting and their wringing handmaidens. Nevertheless, are they not also present in order to protect us ?

Yet you can see the contempt plastered across their faces, like a girl’s drunkenly reapplied lipstick. Escorting those handcuffed victims-cum-witnesses, scenting the parboiled statistics leaking out from crudely applied tourniquets. Or scooping up the prostrate clearance rates from our trolleys and suites. How they condemn us for providing refuge for these punchdrunk pugilists. These would-be bare knuckle combatants, who employ broken glass, iron bars, knives, machetes, and firearms. We are incriminated for patching them up again, so they can go on and have further unlicensed bouts. Patently, the police would prefer us to leave their wounds unstaunched. To have them bleed to death and thereby scrubbed right off the offenders list.

I would readily concur and would add the aggressive smokers and passive drinkers to fall under the same consideration. Yet double standards are in force. Are we both not conductors of souls into Hell? For each visitor in there, is on temporary sabbatical from their appropriate plane of Dante’s Inferno. Those basting in ignorant pain and pained ignorance, the emphysemics, cirrhotics, atherosclerotics, and all other hedonist pay offs, are the ones who stagger like lemures at the lip of Hades. Grabbing on to any intercessionary angel, entreating her to re-cede them some life. Though wraith-like, they claw and chafe and gouge the guiding arms in their perturbation. A true angel of mercy would despatch them into oblivion for eternity and put them out of their misery. Our contracts of employment states that we can’t.

You might also throw into the pot unhealthy eaters, as contributing to their own negligent debilitation. There again, you might point to the stresses of our environment and the detriment that can cause through little fault of the sufferer. I guess that’s why it’s sometimes dubbed ‘Casualty’ rather than A&E. And you’d be correct. At such a rate, there’d be no one fit to be treated at all. Everybody would have been screened out for some moral stain. So society in its wisdom, draws up a sliding scale of pernicious ruin. Whereupon we are charged with administering to its sentences. Or rather its paroles and remissions.

Fine. I opted for the lighter tariff of community service. I’m up on the pre- and post-surgical wards. Where the defective body sluggishly reveals its natural dissolution. It’s slow-burning insurgency. Where it is still possible to feel sympathy for your charges. There but for the grace of god go us all.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Playground Pecking Order (for parents)

With friends like his, who needs extra-terrestrials ? As for me, my surrogate friends are determined by the exigencies of my newly adopted life. NCT and pregnant yoga communards. Playgroup, nursery and now school parents. While the former drift away into their own private but supple hells, the latter I spend my time politicking and diplomacying among, in order to get them to like my children. Monitoring whispers of swapped telephone numbers. Watching for furtive exchanges of party invites. The stakes are very high. The defence of the realm of my daughter’s development no less. She may be responsible for electing who her playmates are inside the classroom. But here, out in the carpark, favoured grace determines whom are players and whom are not.

The little faces register nothing of the subterfuge occurring above their heads. But they cotton on. They are innately programmed to pick up and respond. For how could they fail not to ? Their mothers with expressions like defeated Oscar nominees at awards time. To discover we, that is both Suzanne and I, didn’t merit an accolade. Of course, it’s who you know darling. That bitch ! I don’t care that it was the first week of term and her little spawn of Beelzebub didn’t know any of the new kids. It should have been the whole class invited round to fingerpaint on her wallpaper, with chocolate birthday cake melted by hot little hands.

Yeah ? Well you should have had the school calendar in mind when you were procreating missus ! You and your asinine black-hand gang ! With your prissy manicures concealed inside leather gloves against the autumn chill. And the rayburns, hardly harbouring milky eyes from the rheumy sun ? More likely to filter out the wavelength of us wheyfaced women, even as you to cast disdainful darts from behind their embrasure. Walkman earphones for women who never go anywhere on foot, (save the gym treadmill), in order to blot out our background chatter. Since you can’t bear to fall in behind our bromidic hum.

Who do you take your direction from I wonder ? I half-expect you to whisper down the cuff of your blouse, to receive the holy orders of your mothers superior clique. The updated aloof gesture from your moisturised handlers. The latest affectation mandate from your Fashionista wranglers. But then I realise how ridiculous you are in your black clad sensory deprivation. Don’t you realise the stark gloved contrast, lights up the white envelopes like a searchlight beam ? There are people who do real secret agent stuff in this land and they’re dying for it. If I was petty enough, I’d utilise black envelopes. Blend in unseen against the coven’s uniform. You wouldn’t have a clue it was even taking place, if I chose not to invite you and your brat. Or maybe I’d flaunt it. Rub it in your face. Wear white gloves like some photographic inversion of everything you are. Embossed black invites for a kids’ party, how apposite !

So, I’m thrust back into the happenstance of alliances with the parents of other kids outside the blocs and cliques of the autumn party possees. After an intial screening out of the pyschopathic ones from my new square circle, (a habit I wish both my husband and daughter would practice), I have of course spent the ensuing time trying to rid myself of their cordiality. Just as Caroline foretold from her ivory tower. Smart-arsed cow !


Caught myself at it again today. Been trailing here long enough now, to put the names to the faces, the faces to the aspects of the mothers. Traced the parabolas of shed scales, as children cast themselves from the line snaked behind the teacher, and puff and distend themselves into a paroxysm of burst relief. I follow the fall-out, track the trajectories of unleashed ground-to-air arms flung out for a hug. I plot the tear-streaked cheeks, to the eczematous worry-beads of maternal fingers.

Now I match a fresh-faced, ruddy-cheeked visage, to the cracked-veined, bucolic alcoholic. Rather than the emulsified rouge-prominence and beacon-red lipstick, of the mother flushed with Church-mongering sociability. Hers’ is the pigtailed, pierced-eared princess, hewn from head-girl material. Hard on the heels of the girl with tight braids and minature briefcase. Demurely marching up towards her own spruced mother, to receive another dose of middle-management incentives and exhortations. I almost overlook the bland formlessless of a mother and daughter who describe one another fully, in their inimitable non-descriptiveness. The pair who seemingly didn’t feel it necessary to comment on school, one another, or even life itself as they trudge mutely off. Their plastic soles kiss-sucking the playground tarmac as redundant punctuation. And so it goes on. Won’t prejudge my daughters, but sure as hell will anybody else’s. It’s not big or clever, but it does answer a few queries. Without me having to undergo the unpleasantries of actually talking to any of these women.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Corrupt MP's

You're not telling me these abuses haven't been going on for years ? (Neil Hamilton cash for questions, Keith Best buying 6 lots of newly privatised BT shares under 6 different names) ...

So I ask myself why now ? Max Clifford always has dirt on MP's peccadillos so I don't think it's a case of only now has the information become available.

I think it's more to do with extra-Parliamentary power brokers, either within the media or with access to the media, or playing the media, pursuing their own agenda.In Italy in the 80's and 90's whenever the political system was in disrepute, there was an upsurge in popular discontent and they agitated to change the whole system. (Admittedly this really only amounted to all the political parties changing their names and then carrying on pretty much as before).

I wonder if these unelected UK power mongers have something similar in mind by ensuring all parties and our whole representative system is smeared. They must be hoping for a derisory turnout in the upcoming polls to underline their case. I have no idea what change they may have in mind. And will the British people be minded enough to get on the streets and demand change ? We are a different culture to the Italians.

For what it's worth, I think the majority of MP's enter the House as idealists, believing they have something to contribute to change and the welfare of the whole country. Of course only a handful get anywhere near power, so for the majority of them, they just see their dreams fizzle out and eventually slink over into grasping some 'recompense' for the service they believe themselves to have rendered.

Ironically we have these lightweight intellects running our country, PRECISELY because we don't pay them enough. The best minds in the country pursue much higher salaries in industry, business, law (the arts ? -snarf). They do not turn to politics to be recompensed.(This is not an argument for paying them more however).

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Long Tail Swats The Long Arm Of The Law (A,B & E 13)

Picture the scene if you will. The CID room of a Central London police station. I could make it one in West London of course, but let’s not clutter things and make mess in our own backyard eh ? Hark at me, still referring to it as ‘ours’ ! Anyway, the lead woodentop (since detectives don’t wear helmets, I must be ascribing the man’s blockishness of pate), pitches a thin sheath of papers down on to the desk. They fan out compactly, but as they are inverted to all the other detectives seated around the table, the burden they bear is not immediately, well, detectable. Head flatfoot inclines over with all the grace of an orang-utan, arms boring down into the desk, bracketing the flimsy, flabelliform lots. He splays his fingers across the topsheet like rivets, before executing a revolution, as if grinding a lemon against a conical reamer. The printed human pulp now faces the other officers. Silently inveigling towards adoption. Listlessly, each dabs a finger to pinion a sheet, before edging it back towards the purview of their jaded pupils. A languid tilt of each head to adjust to the angle of presentation of the image. “Snatch ... or snatch ?” intones the senior man mirthlessly.

Now their attention is pricked, even that of the female officers, though their dander is ruffled in a diametrically different manner from that of their male brethren. “Do we have a kidnapping on our hands ... or is this one for Vice ?” Accordingly every sheet stands erect, both edges firmly pincered between the finger and thumb of each rozzer’s hands. Scant breath escapes their pursed mouths, as they surmise what is before them. Enthralled. A young woman is bound to a chair, looking plaintively into the camera’s eye. (An unobtrusive little nod in the direction of my own perdurable condition). Crowning the image, the throat-clearing protocols and threads by way of e-mail introduction. At the foot is simply announced a name _______. We’ll get to that. All in good time.

Scan around the room, as the top ranker trots outs the horns of the case’s dilemma to the gathered ensemble. “We haven’t had any ransom demands as such ...” The female officers uniformly bristle in their chairs (they have had to play the game to get this far, and know they are not permitted responses that significantly deviate from those of their male peers). “That could mean they don’t really know who they’ve got...” For their part, the men are engaged in all types of displaced acting out. Mark how one winds an elastic band innumerable times around his middle finger until the bloodflow is staunched. A second repeatedly stabs his pen into a styrofoam cup, until he has shivered it irreducibly from its receptive function. Another syncopates his plastic stirrer against exposed teeth, with increasingly climactic rhythm. One further has unravelled a paper clip and digs it harder into the quick of his thumb, even though the grimey parings of self he was rootling, have long since been excised. “Or that they know precisely who she is and money isn’t the issue. Maybe it’s a vendetta ...” Somehow, instinctively, per their cocksureity, their infallible dowsing rods, they know they will be spared this case. That if indeed any crime has been committed, if she is indubitably a victim, it will fall under the aegis of a nominated dedicated department, “The Dirty Squad”. They are off the hook, even as they mount her upon one. How do they know ? “Bit bloody mild for Vice ain’t it ? She’s still got all her clothes on !” chimes their spokesman in unspoken accord with them all.

Good, I appear to be on my game. The spell I cast is working. That which conjures a flat, two dimensional being into full life. One that for all its current state of rolled recumbency, can perpendicularise all sorts of diverse strata. One that in its fixed flushness, can inflame a cataract of chromatic reactions upon living flesh. A fibre optical illusion. Captured in the moment, she herself is unable to transcend anything much. But boy can she catalyse things for others. Not that I am concerned a wink, as to a thumbnail sketch that she has a drug habit. Or a bastard child to support, or whether she is perpetrating the abuse she suffered as a child, or how she might bear the mark of witnessing her parent’s primal scene. (How pleasingly male of me). She may even be dead for all I know, but then I have preserved her posterity to speak for that of my own. I have merely summoned her to a version of the life, in which she had already offered up a malleable template of herself. Threaded an additional G-string to her pelvic bow. For unlike the arch flatfoots, I know precisely where she hails from. Thumbnailing a lift in my direction, I scooped her up off a private dirt track upon the information superhighway and set her down in the flourescent strip glare of the cosmopolis. Entirely to do my bidding. Thus had I entered Damon’s realm, back to his very own gateway to the medulla of adult being. Weakness.

I, who can barely conceive what it is I am supposed to be feeling while fucking a full-bodied human, now had to dive headlong into the relationship with an unleavened form. If I am going to make this stratagem work, I had to think and feel like a male. A world of smoke and mirrors in this most restricted of gentleman’s clubs. We were all of us, convened here in this set-up voluntarily or otherwise, having to determine our own distinct points of view. Take the sex actress for example, she whom I wrung out from an extensive combing of cyberspace. Mark the counterfeit deceit in her eyes, masking the blankness beyond. That for all her purported terror, her consent has in every likelihood been purchased. (The click thumbnail they never offer you, the real ‘money shot’, that of the actress opening out her palm to receive the three hundred nicker or whatever fee has been agreed). Her feigned fear is to be projected at the lens and through that to the beholder without. Rather than for the immediate pleasure of any of the convocation on location at the shoot. How do I know her fear isn’t genuine ? Because I scrolled through her portfolio. The rest of the picture narrative centring round her plight. In later stills, her gaze is directed for the onlooker to whom she pitches her attention rather than the photographer. And least of all for the man with his cock inside her. She is remotely fucking the subscriber, even as the blow-up male doll lubricates and works her beneath the lens’ unblinking reptilian eye. It’s taken as a high value in our society to put yourself in the position of somebody else. To see through their eyes and conceptualise accordingly. But I don’t think this is quite what the ethical philosphers had in mind.

And hovering over all the players in this disconnectivity play, Damon nods approvingly. Everybody’s eyes are aligned elsewhere, not in the moment at all. Projecting ahead. Trying to see into muddied pools which admit no light. Hoping, yearning for an outcome. No one in this covin actually feels anyone else’s flesh. None is able to discern a sense of themselves through another. Still, the stud doesn’t care that no one will be gawping at his image. He’s still getting paid beer money and he gets to have sex with a hot babe to boot. That’s one moiety of what was necessary to project myself into. That which represents the four dicks responding in shrunken miniature to her portrayal in a London CID room.

But one loftier, (let’s call him Will shall we ?) among them perceives divergently. He has not assailed his intactness with the mundane digital objects to hand in the office. Assuming Will is not gay, (how opaquely he would have had to have veiled it within those prying surroundings for so long), his lack of immediate impulse conspicuously accords him fuller consideration of the image afore him. He can read how she feels. The terror manifest in her eyes. This situation is unequivocal. He wants to protect her. To save her. To untie her shackles and have her flop free into his outstretched arms. More fool him and his vainglory. Not a jot of tension ripples through the fabric of his hard wearing, wool blend suit, purchased at M&S. The pelt of the suburban zealot. For Will loves his job, worships minutiae, dotes on technology, cherishes his spouse, is a cater pillar of his local community, and clearly oblivious to the protracted, seeping soul death all this portends. The type of man who’d turn up at the metroland wife-swap party, having locked his keys in the car. The type of man who has an innings rather than a life and is terminally run out, trying to sneak a single, one short of his sclerotic fifty. Let’s help Will fulfil his destiny shall we ?

He barely conceals his crusading passion, behind the sober presentation of risk assessment, time management and resource projections. The imprisoned maiden’s imploring eyes catch his, every time he looks down at the desk to catch his breath. So he eschews caesura, thus quickening the delivery of his presentation. A verbal strangury which betrays gouts of Will’s ardour after all. His male peers view him as an intractable prick anyway and are careless as to whether he should be availed the opportunity of hanging himself. But he has managed to impel the female DC’s, to pipe up with their cut and blow-dried opinions.

This will prove sufficient to carry the discussion with the Senior Peeler, who has tired of the whole business by now anyway and just wants to withdraw for a coffee and statistics morning. He assigns Sir Will the two female DC’s, to assist him on his chivalrous way. Yet two female squires attending upon an older man ? No wonder they say that the Age of Chivalry has prolapsed. As will my mark hellbent on this chimerical chase. This Will O’ the Wisp. Will, bearing the twisted straw wisp of a flambeau. Burning a torch for my figment, looking to shine it in all the unlit places thrown up by my nightmarish mind. Incapable of distingushing between glad eye and bad eye (and eye for an eye). So denatured as to conflate lasciviousness with terror. But then, which of us can effortlessly delineate between the two ? So addled are our sensibilities. The phosphorescence that the yokels of yore mistook for the wisp, was in fact the action of combusting marsh gas, itself the product of decaying organic matter. What better metaphor for all of us in this putrefying world ? A guiding principle, both elusive and delusional at the same time. And here I am setting it in motion. Putting the meat on the bones if you will. Wasting police time ? Let’s hope for that and more, after all they heaped upon me. Let’s hope this apparently noble paladin is driven to the point of breakdown, as I was back home. Let’s hope he is indeed married and his unending and unrealizable quest for this fata morgana, leads to dereliction and virtual infidelity.

Time to let you into the secrets of my pixelated pixie sorcery. First the nuts and bolts of the image. It had to be untraceable, which suggested something reaped from an abundant stockpile. Something say, snaffled from the fecundity of the worldwide web. She must emerge from such a seine perfect in every detail. I could not afford to photoshop her and telltale her imposture. Next, I was forensically savvy enough to know that the candidate I cast my lot for, must bear no giveaways in the margins. No webmaster addresses, manufacturer’s names or serial numbers on the film or print stock. I needed an image that had been properly cropped. Ha ha ha.

Which ingredients were appropriate for my arresting siren ? What characteristics did I need to conscript in order to fabulate a believable, thumbnail biting drama ? I have her bound and trussed in seeming pain, in order to suckle me breath. For that seems the way of the world. As adumbrated by Damon and his kindred. As writ large on a whiteboard for me, by my blackheaded instructors out here. Andromeda was being held hostage, obviously, so some indication of involuntary binding seemed consonant. Thus I skeleton keyed ‘Restraint’ into Google. Pretty hastily I introjected the word ‘Mild’ as a modifier of the instrumental torture I was served up with. Metal was replaced by nap, but some of it was far too fluffy and frilly to be germane. Also, clearly she ought to be clothed and not in Anne Summers’ garb either, or that too would have just given the game away from the outset. That one sine qua non helped me eliminate the bulk of what I found on even the most genteel of bondage sites. I was getting nowhere, slowly. This flesh was all too blatant. I needed something with more tease. That entailed tramlined, stereotypical thinking. Time to draw deep, in a superficial sort of way. Thinking out of the box in order for Will to step into it.

I'm after a small-sided spectacle. And there it lay staring at me all the time. At my elbow, in a muted form, as a pencil lead is to a diamond. Yes, my multi, non-dimensional, fetter-folded centre of attention, ought to wear totemic glasses. To conduct me back into the spirit I’m after. And my nearsighted sap into hell. For is there not something terribly mousy and staid about specs ? A concomitant bashfulness emanating from being framed and magnified. A frosted repression and semipellucid reserve. A secret life vitreously suggested and occluded. Any natural vitality emptied and delustred. Hence the unswerving obeisance of our sex before contact lenses. Yet between you and me, any fantasy element would be to imagine what it would like to make love with a reduced focal plane. Maybe I’d have to trust to my fingers for tracing the indistinct features of my lover. Like a blind woman making love (as against the blind paramours who make love to me, both those swains that keep their eyes steadfastly shut during the bout and those gallants just too witless to be deemed anything other than sightless). But this isn’t about my fantasy. It’s about Will’s.

Glasses reside there, along with flowing hair being confined in a bun, or stapled down by a stringent regime of grips, barrettes and (anti-) slides. But in the hands of men, both are wreathed into images of laying bare. A striptease. The unleashing of the hair and a smooth, unveiling of an uninterrupted plane of facial flesh. An unclogging of the carnal dam. Believe me I know, for vaulted by my spectacular insight, I’ve sifted through hundreds of websites of sexualised ‘secretaries’, such as “Who’s The Boss? dot com”. So many for so long in fact, that I may well require opthalmic prescription myself. My pretty little vision shall indeed sport goggles. After all, boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. Unless they are bound, helplessly tethered. Nighttime Kavos' duck shoot stands copious testament to that.

With this conceptual breakthrough, appending another modulator into my revving search engine, the proxy fetch plopped into my lap far more rapidly. So all that finally remained was the name. That rock upon which I first found myself Dashed. The cockspur on which my own quiddity was snagged and unravelled. For per the bare bones, as laid out of my initial drafted communication, the sole thing my benighted one will be in possession of, other than her shackles, is a name. Her knight errant will therefore proceed to assemble lists. To track them down and then with a tight, apologetic shake of the head, strike them out. I am obliged to make it a name within probability. One which will have some, but not manifold bearers. And then I hit on the fiendish maggot of giving her a soubriquet, a mutation of her christened name. The rozzers would be armed with official records, but would be stymied by a lack of formal correspondence. Actually, this is all cock and bull. I had the name all along and only well after I sent the e-ransom did I cotton on to this soubriquet element. I dubbed her Billie (nee Billy/ Hilary/Wilemina?) Rubin. In honour of bilirubin, a particular bile pigment which when broken down in the intestine, helps lend shit its colour. Uroborus and urobilinogen. What goes around comes around. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In sickness and in health. If I have choreographed this veiled dance accurately, take it as a renewal of my marriage vows. Damon I pledge you my troth, with the head of thine enemy on a salver.

Billie Rubin was a name I’d come across in a medical book. Or rather I should say a book Theo came across. A closed book actually since one particularly quiet day in the library, I had undertaken a prolonged fingertip search in his arse. He was only letting me panhandle in the vain hope of negotiating reciprocal mining rights at my open seam, but he was shit out of luck as the Yanks are fond of saying. Some minor panning of my love handles was all I would endorse. Anyway, I was quizzically struck while prospecting the mineral source of his cloaca, and challenged him as to assuage my curiosity. He dug out the relevant volume and I leafed through it, remembering not to moisten my fingers, treating the enchiridon with more respect than I did Theo, as I demanded he lick his fingers and moisten me elsewhere. I merely relate all this as context to how I christened my bastard offspring Billie Rubin and ordained her unwittingly into the High Church of Revenge.

Thus was Billie, stinking and ichorous, forcibly delivered into this world kicking and screaming soundlessly in two-dimensions. Clamped at the end of a pair of forceps (forensic tweezers ?). With a peg over my own nose at this mephitic output of my mind. Then I mused further on it. Had I indeed gone too far ? Who could be unfortunate enough to bear this appellation in real life? Excepting sniggeringly proctologist parents, who are aberrant by definition of their calling, no one would know what kind of unwholesome auspiciousness they were conferring upon their offspring. Or what if they had formally pronounced her Hilary or Wilemina ? That indeed she had proceeded to reconfigure herself as Billie, in full, delicious ignorance. Aw to hell with it, the name stays ! I stabbed send and delivered my radioactive payload from afar.

I have been deleted from not history, not herstory, but my story. Bowdlerised according to the regnant morality. Is that why no one has raised a hue and cry ? There one day, I was no longer padding about Dun Roman, yet no one bats an eyebrow ? What about when the Fuzz next stomp up to the front door, did they not notice that Damon’s right-hand harridan was not next to him screeching blue murder through the letter box at their navels ? Or did they just put it down to staff turnover ? I didn’t expect any of the gung holsters to dare query Damon’s altered domestic arrangements, but what of their consorts back home on the pillow when I failed to show for a show, or host a celebratory party ? What about the few friends I had from BD, before the Damon era ? I thought they cared about me. Well, I suppose they did in reality. Cared enough to advise me not to comport with the devil. Grim faced when I ignored their counsel, but they maintained their position. Only broken-hearted when I left them far behind in my new social whirl of vetted friends. Do they really credit that I have since ceased to exist ? They knew my soul was in hell a long time ago. I have just tumbled to that fact. So that’s another thing we have in common Billie my dear. Our present Tartarean dispositions. To go with our state of bondage, within chiffon chains of our own election. But unlike me, you will be paid off and released, at my spectral hand. I have engendered a police search to come looking for you.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Numbers Crunched, The Word Counts - You do the maths,

"Do we hate men ? We hate their bodies that do all their calculating for them. Their powerful, triangulating bodies. The Africa of the brain, the Babylon of the eye and the Zion of the holy of holies. The corporeal theodolite that makes all the rest of us mensurable. There’s no way of getting past that. The whole world is erected upon this one fact. Male scale.

From the first moment man rose up from his thorax and ceased crawling across the humus. Foregoing that frottage with mother earth, which had kept him grounded within a certain sense of his middling status. Initially he stayed close to his roots. Plated breast pressed snug into the bosom of the soil. Little did she realise, it was the first fumblings towards a survey of all her appendagable riches.

He imprinted hands, palms and cubits across her unsuspecting breasts. Spanned her with his itchy fingers. Employed instruments to increase his province over her; twigs, stakes and staves. Peered down at his natural spirit level and felt emboldened to confer upon it, the imperious charter names of Rod, Pole and Perch. Marked out his own front yard. Yet he longed to strive further. To range beyond the merely tangible. To match his burgeoning scope. To defy the limits of his two-dimensionality, (since to this day man has failed to fathom the concept of depth) and in doing so flatten the rest of us in the animal kingdom to wretched dots. Smeared on the underside of his leather sandal. His sole mates. He picked up his feet and stepped, strode and paced all over our domain. A mile as a thousand paces. That should do it. For the time being.

Yet, what could be more haphazard than a handspan or a footstep as a means of calibration? It served only to demarcate a man from his neighbour. But that was precisely the point wasn’t it ? To enable each man to erect his fences. Plant his standard and sink his ‘No Trespassing’ boundary pillars. As he enclosed all property beyond his mean embrace. To partition the land. With inbuilt space for dispute and conflict. And the king/ khan/ tsar/ kaiser/ was the alpha-male, the one with the biggest forearm, or longest reach, or greatest stride. He who could win the arm-wrestle/ toss the caber/ best the two-handed battleaxe/ piss highest up the wall/ owner of the biggest schlong. In order to become master of all he surveyed and more ? To become our master (with some complicity on our part, since he was the alpha-male after all ...) A genetic vote of divine election. And we the rank, find ourselves hemmed in by chains. Our furrowed brows unaware as to their own branding. Like all other chattel, this side of the furlong (long furrow) skirting posts.

But his immutable, shifting restlessness would not cease its jerk. Man could not measure above his head. Distantly referred to as the heights, dizzying or otherwise. In the clouds, or mountain high. Imprecise. Bluffing it. Scaled upwards to make man feel towered over, even if borne aloft on another man’s shoulders. Either upland or barrow, he was thus reacquainted with his own lowly mortality. Then there was high water or flood tide, further threatening to reinstate him in his vulnerability before nature. He envied the birds. Until ... Un-til. I looked it up. ‘Til’, from the Old German, meaning a goal or an aim; to hasten towards. ‘Und’, meaning as far as. Man’s incessant kineticism, his primary evolutionary adaptive tool, down to a low boredom threshold. So he added it all up and obtained the summit. Scaled the zenith. The apex. The maximum. Once again, he did so by collapsing scale so as to conform with his own. Of crown, peak and brow. He looked it straight in the eye. Browbeat and headbutted. Before mooring another rippling banner. So that conquered nature’s strongholds amounted to nothing. Swept away in the male-strom.

And then the gaze yonder. Always yonder. One more crest to be cut down to size. Foreshortening all the time. Til he can rein in the horizon. For the grass is always greener. Yet all the while paying no attention to detail. To what he already possesses, cupped in the palm of his hand. Crushed by his restraining fingers crimped back over. Regard any image of a king with his orb and sceptre. Digits cusped around the orb, cradling our plucked ovum. Palpating blinker for our eye, sucking the sphere of the sun into eclipse. Absorbing its orbit completely, until rendered mere satellite. Gripped in the other hand, the retractable snake staff. Both ruler and telescope, conferring his secreted authority. King cobra engorges his hood and we are all paralysed with fear. The venomous magic wand that disappears all nooks and crannies which will not submit their unnavigated occultism. The master stroke that permits yin finally to burst its borders and devour yang.

My husband finally gave notice that I was going to get a pummelling and I don’t mean he was treating me to a full body massage for our anniversary. Threatened to pulp me to within an inch of my life. Imagine that ? The sheer bloody presumption ! How could he know anything about my life, when he elicited no awareness of it outside of any intersection with his own realm of needs ? Were he in full possession of the seams, strands and flyaways, then I well believe that he could have pinpointedly measured the cut of his violence to make his point. Always supposing his calculations weren’t suddenly deluged by a surge of pug-ugly passionate fury. Actually no, that wouldn’t have happened. Not through passion anyways. Rather his staking of me might have got out of hand and triggered a more primitive bloodlust.

But the fact was, he never had full vacant possession of me. So how could he cinch an inch ? Which inch was he proposing to leave me with anyway ? Which tidbit of my soul would remain beyond his bruising north and south paws ? Surely in his mind, that would have remained a festering sore, one day requiring to be lanced as he stooped to conquer fully. And then shucks, I would be dead and not worth possessing any longer. Possession may well constitute nine-tenths of the law, but that last zero-point-one fraction sure exerts some traction. A siren calling him to sink me for the last time, wholly and irrevocably. Forcing him to lash himself to the masthead so as not to succumb to a single, final one of my charms. My last request. Taunting him, it will be murder and not assisted suicide. He will not put me out of my misery, as I will not deliver him from his. Of course, the fiendish move on his part would have been to leave me with just the inch I have always craved to shave off my waistline. But that assessment was way beyond him.

So I beat it. Beat his feruled rap. Beat off the beat off. Left him to flog his own flesh. I quit on his quirt, as he brandished his ratty rattan, and I scoffed at his scourge. Catcalling before his mangey cat o’nine tails, I wondered how many of our shared lives we had mutually destroyed. I abandoned him to do the maths. Me, I had some other numbers to crunch. And that was how I entered the world of counter-espionage.

So yes, in a way, maybe it makes sense that the bug-eyed telephoto lenses and cauliflower-eared listening devices, are zeroing in on me. They’re just a bit late that’s all. Séancing into the wrong incarnation of me. Knock twice if you’re there. For Jane Bond has passed over. She is not with us any longer. But what a time we had with her. When my body was still lissom, my mind still lithe. OHM’s. On Her Majesty’s Service. Lavishing it up at the finest casinos and night clubs of the world. The places where the global dirty dealers liked to unwind. Me, the glamorous escort perched (yes, we’ll palm one of HIS terms then double-deal it), on the arms of dashing playboys. Bringing them luck and me information. The marking of cards. Sharping. A double identity. Life as a fluttering, a throw of the dice. Blow for luck. On dead men’s bones, in the craps shoot of judas kiss intimacy. Deep-veined thromboses lying in wait just beneath my thimble-rigged smile. My locket-borne powders.

One high roller with a line of cocktails laid out, tossed me a gold sovereign with which to lace each. Another bobbed each pair of dice in my stirrup cups before tossing. Neither were sufficiently unfettered by my charms, to notice how the subtle outcomes shook out. Gold should not react chemically, nor should the same face of the die keep surfacing. Two loaded men just got a soupçon more encumbered. Enough to tip them over the edge into oblivion.

And then on to the dancefloor. Me, scintillating in my spangled, silver mirror dress. Shimmering like a miraged desert oasis. While thirsty men’s tongues lolled uselessly from their mouths. Chained-male. Each sequin scattering the disco lights into a hundred thousand coruscations. The excitation trail of my magnetic forcefield. I was that colossus glitterball astride the gyrating throng. Radiating colour therapy. Laser-healing the engrained retinal prejudice. So that everyone fell in love with me.

Actually, Jane Bond was really only the daydreams of a bespectacled, bruised wallflower. Sat around in Minneapolis branch libraries accumulating the data I sought. Well, it was 1959, in pre-internet days after all. When you had to work a bit harder for your fantasies. Tripping the light fantastic, meant more than just tripping a digital switch. Once I had culled the requisite information, then I could truly act like Jane Bond. Though I’d have to sow my own sequins on.

And when it came to bibliothecal intelligence gathering, without being colonial about it, I can honestly say that “Encylopedia Britannica” knocked “Webster’s” into a cocked hat. Maybe it had something to do with sourcing from the same continent as the pertinent information I was seeking. But there again, my ex-fellow countryfolk still exhibit a twitching vegetative resistance to metrification. An inbuilt parochialism I myself shared and that ultimately contributed to my downfall as a would-be global subersive.

For I was after the holy grail. The numerical Rosetta Stone. The definition of all definition. The measurement of all measurement. That slab of metal which represented ineradicable, incorruptible, unimpeachable scale. Lying in state somewhere in the bowels of France. Clumpy and cardinally unique, I was going to steal it and dissolve the solid state. Vapourise all surety. Render mutable all fixity. Distance the world from over-reliance on magnitudes. They couldn’t rule without rule. Wouldn’t be able to quantify without amplitude. Would necessarily fail to co-ordinate without bearings. Nothing could possibly count for anything anymore. Tabula rasa in place of tabulation. Gulping for oxygen, they’d surface too abruptly and contract a bad case of the bends. I couldn’t deliver one inch of myself or anything, but I knew where I could get my hands on a metre. I was about to seize the standard and mankind would no longer be able to cut his cloth to size.

The encylopedias soon led me back to the reliquary of materialism. The shitty brick, the cardinal corrosive, resided in Sèvres, just outside Paris. A lump of lumped-together alloy, ten percent irridium and ninety percent platinum (not exactly lumpen then). With two lines scratched on, the distance between denoting the length of one metre. Since the alloy was resistant to corrosion and maintained at a constant temperature, so it would neither contract nor expand, this prototypical metre ought remain constant. Such a standard had been established back in 1889 by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Replacing the somewhat franco-centric previous definition of one metre, as one ten millionth of the quadrant of the Earth’s circumference running from the North Pole to the Equator, via Paris. Well, we had shanghaid both longitude and time from the rest of the world and stationed them in Greenwich, so why not ? In those pioneering days of numbers racketeering and extortion, there were only two press gangs in town. The Dutch were too busy slavering over oil painted fat bird pornography and the Iberians, they were too busy pursuing fools gold and pumping their god brand, to secure their own competitive advantage.

Only, the French had got their sums wrong, the silly bleeders ! (Damn near sufficient to get mankind into Space though). What purported to be a metre, a couple of stirations on a block, was wide of the mark. Didn’t come up to scratch. They changed their minds. There was me, all balaclava’d up in my imagination, hoisting the thing above my head before dashing it down like Moses did with his first lot of stone cold restraining orders. Now I’m frozen in the spotlight holding it up, but I’ve to proclaim it more bogus than the Turin Shroud. And then I got to thinking, just like the Shroud, the bar is a post-facto proof. The metre wasn’t derived from the bar, but the other way round. It hadn’t imprinted its ghostly dimensions on any mineral blotter. Just as the Son of God didn’t organically spoor some Semitic schmutter. They’d always had a measure, they’d just needed some tangible way to get the measure of it. The French stick was nothing but a palimpsest. I’d traced it back and cuffed it to within 0.0254 of a metre of it’s miserable counterfeited life. I was on a roll now.

The same metal alloy also defined one kilogram. And one second was relative to the radioactive decay of a caesium 133 isotopic atom - was there somewhere in a lead-lined glass case a caesium rod, with or without markings ? How typical that a fixity of measurement, should be defined against an algorithim of decay and deterioration. To consign us all, into a half-life race against time unto death. I envisioned the atomic clock, as an egg timer with isotopic sand. I was on to something here.

The whole miserable SI units of measurement, the unified, decimalised, seven numerical one-ders of the world, with which the French had devised to rule over the more haplessly homespun Imperial System, was now ripe for disfiguration. All it would take was a series of guerilla raids on each of these holy cow relics, to debase everything they stood for. The kelvin and ampere of course have no artefacts to demean. Yet since they were named after real men, I could maybe steal their headstones and reduce them to footnotes in history. Meantime, I further degrade their memories by publicly effacing some symbolic analogue measuring stick. Pull the hands off a giant coulometer. Or castrate a thermometer into unresponsiveness. And all the while, as these beacons to oppression are snuffed out one by one, the light at my theatrical showpiece grows progressively dimmer. For which the audience will not require some huge analogue pointer to flash diminishing candelas of luminescence.

But what about the seventh and final unit ? What arse de résistance for that humble mole of molecular valency ? Undoubtedly a figment of idealised imagination. A square peg in round hole shorthand. But therefore short of both artefact and real-life titular sponsor. I could certainly stage a representative scything of a skin blemish from some seized male’s exposed posterior. And then the lights go out as the world collapses into precision-free entropy. But I was forever pricked by the doubt, that this last one needed more thought. Too much stretching the point. An over-playing on words. Besides, it’s too small scale for a finalé. Arggh goddamnit ! I’ve lurched into their perfidious idiom. You see how pernicious it is ? There isn’t a (metaphorical) second to lose. Even if I haven’t sewn up all the details, nor the sequins on my dress."

Sunday, 3 May 2009

What I love about the internet is ... its desultory predictability

"Scores to settle. Paying back for any wrongs done to me. Debits and credits. Double entry, the Damon approved method of account keeping. I am extended a whole heap of head butts for lavishing my asperity upon. George. Lawrence. The Fuzz. Whichever spotty herberts passed on their STDs. Another unknown, whose credit card I pilfered, which itself turned out to have been hooky. Oh yes, plenteous and condign, but can any disperse my rage ? A rage against myself. For I dwell without any hope of ever leaving this archipelago. I endure the prospect of forever having no love. Forced to subsist without lust even. So to fill in the yawning time on Death Row here, I have to wrest some modicum of control back for myself. Seemingly, that only comes from revenge, so enervated am I. My body is scarcely alive to me, until it is profaned. So is it any surprise I oblige my one carnal passion, that of vengeance ? The one that still sparks my sentience, the one that antiphons any endocrinal despatches. The goal that gets me out of a strange bed in the morning. Reprisal is next to reprise in the dictionary.

You know what I love about the internet ? No, indulge me a little. It’s worth staying with this one I promise. Good. Well, would you not agree that it’s a free-for-all tabula rasa that wraps itself around the circumference of the earth ? Anyone can create and contribute and etch their initials on to it. But not like some sad old patchwork quilt of remembrance. This has all the vigour of grafitti artists spooring their signature. Ooh, get you, their ‘tags’ ! Though for self-preservation purposes, I can’t leave any obvious brume of self, still it’s finally possible for me to flame on undimmed. I am alive and kicking. Although at several removes, so that I do not invite disclosure and death. The Net amplifies me sufficiently, to cast off the shackles from my mind, even if my body remains earthbound. It respires me some breath. I can partake once again of civilisation. In the great debate.

You want learned knowledge on arcana, you can, albeit unreliably and often unattributed, study it on the Web. It’s a bit hit or miss, but hey as I discovered back in college, further reinforced by Corfu’s infuriatingly patchwork library, that’s how modern epistemology shakes out. Though to be honest with you, I still favour the solidity of the bound tome for the purposes of culling knowledge. There is no such thing as an achingly beautiful website. Just the arterial red and blue of venous hypertext. But really I’m well beyond being forged in a crucible of knowledge. I only now require to be informed, rather than instructed. Intelligence not as a faculty, but as data. I seek after a full quiver of missiles. So to that end, I relish the delights of blogs and message boards. Where I can eavesdrop undetected, on what taxes the mind of my countryfolk and keep in touch with my hearth. The Net as my home from home if you will. Yet what is even more familiar and reassuring to me, are people’s personal homepages. It feels like visiting neighbours and friends, only without the burden of reciprocation. I often feel like I’m Santa plopping down through their chimneys, helping myself to the milk and digestives left out for me, without compunction to leave them any gifts in return. All of this should facilitate me remission. Of being with the grown ups for the brief, glorious interim of my sojourn. Yet lamentably, I discern the increasing infantilizing of all my race back home. These charter ticketed kids are apt emissaries for their elders. With full undiplomatic immunity from consequence.

Forgive me, all that might betoken an antagonism on my part towards the virtual beast. Far from it, what I most cherish is that this autonomous space for our minds to be writ large, this great collective consciousness, has evidenced a return to form. A reversion to type. A newly conquered universe now awash with our detritus and refuse. To wit, for all our contortions of higher aspirations, we soon corkscrew and gravitate around the twin pillars of commerce and sex. These remain our obsession. The largest ever, ongoing worldwide poll demonstrates it to be so. A secondary control test poll, that of the camera phone backs this up. So stick two fleshy digits up to the Classical Greeks and their paeans to the higher human spirit.

In regard of sex, all our experiences and feelings, such as they persist, are as if mediated for us by a silicon membrane anyway. We are all wraiths wondering spectrally through some sort of ectoplasmic dreamscape. Copulation, despite it supposedly being the most involved, physically-centred activity, is now vaporous and insensate. Nothing is present in actuality, on which to hang one’s emotions on to. Relationship is a mere bump, a pedestrian road rage not even meriting the term ‘impact’. More just a diffusing wake. If we danced, if we oscillated, so as to light up our beings with excited sparks or vapour trails, I might settle for that. But we don’t. We are inert. This is how we approach each other. This is what we have reduced ourselves to. This is why the internet is so right. The unsustainable economy of sex in real life, now pays off in spades in the virtual. A realigned love triune, of camera, fingered keyboard and fibre optics. We are each sat alone in front of our mousepads, but at least my isolation is elevated by having the sun beating down on me, quaffing cocktails poolside. How is your dreary fantasy backgrounded ?

Same thing commerce too. Convenience shopping from the convenience of your own home. Hunting down rapacious desires like big game, serves to indulge the predatory in people. And getting involved in on-line auctions renders them combatants in a virtual joust. Or a poker game of who blinks first. For we are all traffickers, recycling our superfluous lives on e-Bay. Piqued by absurd jealousy if they are outbid by an anonymous stranger. See, that’s what I also love about the internet. It tilts the market balance. Right off its unhinged axis ! Now any buyer can just search online for exactly what it is they’re after. No matter how intricate or particular their tastes. My husband and his ilk always supplied anything and everything you could want, in that they knew where to lay their big, hot hands on it. But their customers were limited, cos their purlieu was beyond most people’s taste radar. But now everyone has satellite navigation at their fingertips. Every wanton attachment, which has always been procurable, if not exactly on tap, can be tracked down for ready purchase by the consumer. No more is there such a thing as an illict pleasure. Only one that may not yet have an online community, dedicated to discussing its zesty delights. Plus the chances are, it’s not even being touted by a professional criminal, but by some devotee in his attic or bedroom. My husband’s losing market share. Caveat vendor. Emptorially empty-handed. Not only are people locating merchandise themselves, but they’re also becoming producers too. Again circumventing my husband’s wares. Observe the kids out here with their camera phones and videos. Downloading and sending back their own material online. Don’t tell me they’re charging their mates for their shared kicks ? Home-made pornography. On location out here. Coarsened violence on ‘YouTube’. Happy slap rather than slapstick. Thus the depravity has become so mundanely accessible, it loses its risk factor that makes it cost inelastic. The behemoth has reared up and swished its long, spiky tail across the knuckles of Damon’s talons and swiped the whip hand from him. Though uncentred, this particular exchange maven also knows which end to hold a crop by.

As for me, I celebrate the fact that I can partake of a little of my own revenge online. Not ordered off the peg. Rather one I can fashion for myself. I’m finally back in the Forum. Shopping around in order to manufacture and distribute my own brand of retribution. I may have previously vouched for revenge being up close and personal, in best order to dish it up cold. But the marvel of modern connectivity has caused me to revise my opinion. It no longer requires my thumbprint. What could be colder than not even appending your name, your colophon to the deed ? This way I can run amok on the whole tiny-minded world ! Like everything else, it’s acquisitive and venal and therefore fundamentally a numbers game. For once in my life I have full access. Now I am imbued in my own right, with the meddling powers of the immortals. All thanks to t’internet (as one of my Northern conquests insisted on calling it)."

Friday, 1 May 2009

Linearity Breeds Contempt

"Why he had appointed it iterative enough to bookmark, was beyond me. Maybe for some light relief between all the hyper-spaced, hyper-texted, hyperantipathy. Not that a site offering refuge for battered women is a cause for relief to anyone, other than those who find sanctuary behind its actual walls. Maybe he was being ironic, though I think that will always remain beyond him. I know I could be a bit of a cow at times, but I don’t think his treatment at my hand could ever be said to diminish him, to a level where he felt it worthwhile to check out the equality of opportunity for spousal asylum. More like he was identifying with the bad guys, getting off on the abuse recollections of the victims. Not that I could really find any first hand, fist, or blunt object reports. I was in the process of perusing the founder’s mission statement, when the words started to deliquesce and welter in front of my eyes. Oh well, that was that. Some glitch in the programming or so I thought. Salvador Dali might have twizzled his moustache approvingly at the visual liquefaction I was being presented with. Think I was up a blind alley anyway. The nudge-nudge, wink-wink nature of our computer setup, cadged invariably after some software had fallen very hard from the backs of lorries, on to elastic pre-stressed concrete, meant that even if I credited him with the nerd nous to wipe his tracks clean, the computer configuration simply was not up to it.

As I listlessly watched the digital decomposition in front of me, I could not determine whether the letter sewage was being flushed out into the blue reservoir at the foot of the screen, or if the cobalt tide was actually advancing so as to wash over the alphabet shingle. The frame speed and resolution quality of the pixels was so low as to jounce, er rather, to slink one back to the happy daze of Space Invaders. The ziggurat of stunted motion was enough to make you travel sick.

I was about to disembark from my excursion into the yonder, when the blue swathe was suddenly (relatively speaking) stopped in its hobbled tracks. And after a tension-laden incipience, in which I wondered whether the whole gestation had done for the computer’s circuits, the aquamarine draggled wearily back into recession. Good, there was life in the old mongrel yet. More than that, something now seemed to be roiling the grizzled blank scarp of the screen. Indeterminate squiggles and strands, protruded their wormlike nodules from beyond the opaque bilge and began to flex their animation. I wasn’t certain that it was them incarnate, rather than their liquid crystal trails across the screen, that I was following. But gradually, due to my unprimed perception rather than software sag this time, I realised that they were ever so slowly shaking off their saturation and coagulating into new anatomies. Eat your heart out David Attenborough ! They were reforming into letters. The dismembered characters were reconvening themselves. Hooray for her! She’s back on the airwaves and refuses to be silenced! The mission’s back on track. Her oeuvre will out.

I tried to pick up the thread of where I’d been cut off from her impassioned appeal, but could not quite relocate myself. The text had changed ever so slightly. She must be live and on line here and now! With her fingers airily caressing the keyboard, she had planted her feet in the blue nowhere and turned back the tide. Cocking a snook at King Canute and all other bloated male egos!

As the frisson of profane delight started its vertiginous roll down the cresta run of my vetebrae, the screen shuddered and trepanned my pleasure, leaving me unhinged. While I slumped, each letter was turning tail on its axis, as if scalded. Here and there, one might sheer off into the soothing cold plunge of the void. The arrayed red-coated monograms around them buckling a little, as if to suture the breech of missing vowel or dipthong. Now detachments of surds were silently giving up the ghost and scuttling off into oblivion. Next a syllable topples, denting the lineament like a gap-tooth, before it was gradually excised into full root canal surgery as whole phalanxes of words cave in. It was swingeing and all-pervasive. Seems like she had been successfully gagged after all.

Or overwritten. Since clearly, even hyperspace abhors a vacuum. For filtering down the screen on fibre optic grappling irons and gossamer rope ladders, column after column of letters marched in. Leapfrogging over one another in their glee, as if racing to be first to occupy the vacated matrix. Was this a service provider reclaiming a squatted URL address? If so to what end, other than a point to point of proto-colic principle? For these new characters spelt out nothing but nonsense. The dead letter drivel of programming speak. Cold and metallic grey, unlike the spectacular livery of her florid prose. I had a virtual tear in my eye.

I prepared to bring down the curtain on the whole non-affair. Partly to dismiss the long engaged streetlamp, rubbernecking directly through my window, into my rubber stamped and silicon verified state of idle loneliness. But foremost in my mind, I was determined to pull the plug for good on this dissolute bazaar. Despite what I always steeled myself with in reference to the girls, clearly there was such a thing as too much information. Too much access. Too much disclosure. What used to remain in his cups down at the pub, he had been able to carry out home with him. A marketplace to trade spite, into more far reaching corners than mere spit and sawdust could reach. A whole brewery of hate in the still of this bedroom. Time to ditch the Red Hand veined Feng Shui.

It wasn’t through him spending so much time wedded to the net, that made me feel neglected. It’s more like when he got off it and sat in our non-chat room downstairs, quietly smouldering, that alarm bells clanged. My internal fume detector was tripped. Whether his nightly hate-in ratcheted up his animosity towards me; or that he already bore such pent up malice that he disgorged it into virtual violence, in order to head off the real thing, I wasn’t certain. But I wasn’t going to hang around to sift forensically through the ashes of a conflagration. That’s when I asked him to leave. I might well be constantly infuriated with life, but I couldn’t risk being around someone who was positively incendiary about it. After all, there were the the girls to think about too.

So now we’re under new management. And it’s time for a ritual incineration of a different sort -

But - she was back! Her lexical dragoons effortlessly retaking the high ground of the screen. Sliding down and sideswiping the incumbents. Rattling over letter for letter, like a train destination board flittering a new imminence. I almost applauded. The show was back on the road. A differing version yet of what had gone before. It had the thinness commensurate with being re-keyed in real time, but some of the constructions were also reedier, suggesting an earlier, less honed draft. Maybe we were going backwards in time. Why not, this is virtual reality after all?

Now some more personal stuff was drilling across my screen. Material I hadn’t seen before. She certainly came across as one wild, old bird. I’d first hand evidence, twice removed, as to her tenacity that’s for sure. And then once more, without warning, the countercharge. Her words started to wither. But I knew I only had to abide an intermission. She’d return unsullied and unabashed. For I realised that this was smart bombs and virus protection; firewalls, backdoors and catflaps. Digitised interdiction. With both parties probably absent. Off having a well-earned cup of tea while they waited to see the effects of their latest thrust or parry. I brewed myself a sustaining coffee and toasted our imagined triune in this spellbinding war of censorship. All texts should be written like this. Then the reader could be truly interactive. Our up- or down- turned thumb would really bear critical import. Authors would truly earn their corn. The payload of their words directly transmittable, delivered through the reader’s white-knuckled bombardiering.

The night proceeded to unfold in this fashion. Sometimes the purge and reinstatement would be in monotype, others by linotype, as the varying strategies were employed. But each occasion afforded me more and more detail about her past life. I was hooked. I felt I was privy to an immune system repulsing an invading bug. Found myself rooting for a benign diagnosis. Some of the things I found positively upsetting; she’d obviously had an awfully blighted life and was determined to publish it. They couldn’t break her.

By the break of day it dawned on me that this war was somewhat internecine and wholly nasty. Each occasion that they managed to score away another layer of her fabric, she’d exhibit further pentimento upon pentimento. Each palimpsest they impressed, she managed to copperplate her monograph over the top. It was as if they were trying to eradicate every last vestige of her existence, through to that egg in her mother’s womb, back to her very conception. (Freud would have had an orgasm!) This would go to the bitter end. Or some viscious eternal loop. I sent an e-mail to her website expressing my support. I didn’t expect her to have the time to open it.

Since I was filled with the presentiment that this was somebody else’s life flashing before my eyes, it occurred to me, that perhaps I should do something to preserve it as a record. However, on each occasion that I managed to squirt some paper between the rollers of the printer, the text had decomposed its legibility and the printer peeled off what appeared to be a laboured test run. Even when prepared, with paper in place, waiting for the next manifest, the resultant synchronised print-off was still garbled gibberish. Had the forces of darkness secured the printer outpost ? Or was the printer garrison still holding out, desperately broadcasting its coded warning as to the original errata ? Or had it gone native and veered off into its own hallucinatory discourse ? The period for her words to re-establish their cursive flow, was now becoming longer and longer. I decided to write some of them down. Contracted wrist giving way to longhand, as I reflexively moved for the weight of my journal. Albeit according her a fresh page at the back.

As I launched into amanuensis mode, I would be holed each time by the gobbledegook guillotine. Shredding meaning. Splintering intelligibility. I made myself memorise more for the record. Then dictate to myself from the afterglow imprinted upon my side of the retinal wall, once the image had faded from in front of me. Thus I knew my transcription would not be a pure one. More of a cross-hybridization. So be it. Amy’s plaintive greet-the-day mewl brought a natural end to my assignment. I rose to confront the day chock-full with purpose, stale from having spent a night under the tiles and pressed against the eaves. This time the monitor screen was wiped clear at my hand, rather than that of any second or third party.

I returned to my journal that night. Re-read my latest (borrowed) entry, anticipating it to be an annotation of the rest of the entire preceding contents. A foreword or afterword. A dedication. An acknowledgement of something or other. An imprimatur. But it failed to read that well or interestingly even. More akin to some dream you noted down before returning to sleep, only to read it through stupefied the next morning. It was no dream though and I’ll have the phone bill to prove it right enough. I guess you had to have been there. Which neither of us ever were really I suppose. The e-mail bounced back to me as undeliverable.

I didn’t return to the website. I don’t know if her digital Cheshire cat smirk managed to prevail. I unplugged the computer, faithful to my vow to reverse previous vows. I tried ripping out her page from my journal, but she put up her customary catfight. Eventually she was gone from my life, but she took with her half the folio’s anchoring twine. My journal now hung frail and played out. I told you she was a tenacious old bird. In union we’d not grafted. Only in divorce. Still, that was an advance on my ex-husband. He had barely ever merited an entry, let alone a dedicated page."