ACT III: THE NTH ESTATE/ HERE BE (STIGMATISING) DRAGONS
“[N]o is talking about abolishing jobs or, say supermarket checkout staff and call centre workers. Society as it is currently structured depends on millions of people working in these crucial jobs. Yet the cult of social mobility has contributed much to today’s rampant sneering at working-class Britain, because everyone is supposed to escape such occupations and become middle-class” [i] Owen Jones, Guardian.
Limping up the stairs, Theo locked eyes upon two policemen. Both white (in an area with a high concentration of ethnic minorities) and both exceeding six foot stood attired in imposing black vests and uniform, impatiently waiting against the door. Their low exchange of conversation (football: why expect anything else? The true opiate of the masses) was interrupted by their mutual sighting of Theo as he hurtled to meet them. “Theo Oséi?” Said the flame-haired police officer with simple features and short, cropped hair. He was the shorter of the duo as Theo casually wiped the steady drip of nose blood with his sleeve. The officers ignored this. “Yeah?” His “real” voice making no apparent effort to appear well-spoken.
“I’m PC Spooner and this here is PC Jones” Spooner said, gesturing to his partner.
“Hello” Jones replied in low Welsh baritone voice. Working-class origins in a dried-up mining village. That was always the tale. Though there was a lot of bourgeoisie about him, Theo sensed, suppressing the need to expostulate. Who was Theo to berate him? He waved a friendly, albeit fleeting wave with the look of one who compassionately contemplates human misery, absolving it from blame. He was the “good” cop, although good and bad was horrifically simplistic.
“We have some bad news” Spooner continued “It’s concerning your mother Cynthia Oséi. She didn’t come home last night did she?”
“I just thought she left early this morning” Switching nonchalantly to his well-to-do voice.
“No. We have some, erm, bad news” Jones interjected.
“Your mother was found dead” Spooner throwed in, entirely factual and anodyne, without alluding to the smallest hint of compassion or sympathy. His voice erupted in inflections of cockney occasionally but he suppressed it similarly with a professional, anodyne tone, He really wanted the promotions and the adoration of his middle-class peers at the station. Institutional racism from working-class “coppers” may have been disappearing albeit being replaced with new manifestations of hierarchy and snobbery.
“We recognise that it’s highly irregular that we come to your door but we didn’t want to pull you out of school” Jones fighted silently for his conversational corner against Spooner. For a moment there was a vacuum of silence, a rarity in the high-density towers, as Theo was rendered speechless, albeit for seconds: “Wait, wait! How’d she die?” Theo doing his best to sound casual, although the urgency in his voice was real and strained. Jones and Spooner said nothing, twitched an awkward benevolent frown, before exchanging the slightest pivot and transaction of each other looks, however fleetingly.
“Erm, I don’t know how to say this” Quavered and croaked Spooner as he cleared his throat “But your mother was how, I could I say, partook in local prostitution”
“No…” Theo uttered with earnest incredulity. “I’m afraid yes. She was found erm, strangled and possibly asphyxiated with a pillow. We’re waiting for the post-mortem”
“She worked in an office” He defended. “I know this must be difficult for you but for the ultimate confirmation we just need to look at this photo” Spooner then proceeded to his left trouser pocket and produced a small 6×4 photo. Theo thought this highly unconventional- he knew nothing surrounding the identification process but it was almost certainly accompanied by saturations of paperwork and red tape. Wasn’t it?
“Is this her? He lowered the photo up to Theo’s eyes. Theo winced. The close-up detailed a woman, her smeared garishly pink lipstick encircled her cavernous mouth gaping open gormlessly, dissimilar in no way to his mother’s tanned guise, except she was a doppelganger: Black eye shadow and kohl obscured her eyeslids as two tiny abysses. She never wore makeup: “I can’t afford it Theo” She would often say and although it wasn’t visible, he shuddered at the prospect of her “costume”- Fishnets, a short skirt et al? No, she was an office worker.
“Is this her?” he repeated.
“Yeah it is.” Theo stated solemnly.
“Where was this? “I don’t think I’m allowed to te…”
“I know you’re angry sir but-“ Spooner said, his protocol formalities were been tried and tested.
“I am not angry” Speaking slowly with thinly-veiled rage “Just tell me”
“Well we’re not supposed to” he stressed emphatically. Keeping geographical specifications to their most minuscule he continued: “But it was a local semi that was being used a makeshift brothel as well as something of a drugs den”
“Drugs den?” “Well, several bags of Class A material were recovered from the scene”. Then silence.
“You’re probably going to want to pack” Jones rejoined
“Pack?” “For the Children’s home. Someone will be here soon and you can’t stay here”
“I guess not”
Theo was soon expecting a sickly-saccharine moment to ensue, with Jones enormously over-sized hands to come thudding down upon and state impassively: “It’s going to be ok”. Even with my rare ambivalence to Jones, I would’ve hated that as I hated Spooner and everyone else, including myself. Instead I hurtled inside purposefully and stuffed my bags quickly (little possessions equates in little packing). “We would let your mother’s possessions but we need to impound it as evidence” Spooner said, as I passed through the door for the last time. I wasn’t sure if that was legal, yet, I didn’t even care.
And then, I wasn’t living in my own private purgatory anymore but a collective purgatory with a dozen and a half other state “leechers”. The place I had waited years to leave only to relocated to somewhere equally squalid. All because the state dependence that has been instantaneously torn away like an oxygen tank as the airlock is open into the vacuum of space. All thanks to a Neo-Thatcherite, Freidmanite government courting private investors like Peafowl with their iridescent blue-green coloured free-market plumage. Capitalising upon splintered and dysfunctional families, communities and exponential unemployment that the elite created in the first place to expand (a self-referential, self-reinforcing inequality). These free-market policies don’t care about human beings as themselves but as commodities, markets and a new frontier of demographics to be invaded and conquered. Dehumanising the human thought process with panicked thoughts of endless debt and payment. Essentially, the most ultimate form of vile and amoral greed.
Although why am I to scald those who pursue self-interest: In the words of Dr. Nayef Al-Rodhan, “Human beings are “emotional amoral egoists”, driven above all by emotional self-interest. All of our thoughts, beliefs and motivations are neurochemically mediated, some predetermined for survival, others alterable.” The ideology, doctrine or mere notion is merely a frontage for our self-preservation and prosperity, by any means necessary.
EPILOGUE: FULL CIRCLE
“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it” Karl Marx
“Many die too late and some die too early. Still the doctrine sounds strange: “Die at the right time” Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
“Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so.” Bertrand Russell
In a cynical. misogynistic world at that, where “love” merely equates to 46 loveless pelvic thrusts, sweaty and primal and not the moral and ethical currency on which the “brotherhood of man” could be more than just a quote but the foundations of a truly egalitarian new dawn could be underpinned (it’s difficult not being pretentious). Although you may perceive this be hackneyed and insincere, I was once innocent, a blank unconscious slate. But, as consciousness seeps in, so does cynical corruption and neuroses of the human experience. Everything is environmental. I wish it all could be so damn simple. However the most pernicious trait that bedevils modern life is cynicism. Everywhere we turn people are all too eager to tell us what we can’t do, how we can’t do it and why. A world of Karamazov’s, Carton’s and Caulfield’s.
I’ve accepted I just can’t straddle a chasm of two worlds: one of educated, erudite types who fly upon their flying John Lewis rugs into the middle-class sunset and the other: a myriad of unfavourable possibilities and likely destinies including crime (the uneducated’s academic stardom) both significant and insignificant, riding and momentarily escape the cyclical wave of perpetual poverty before being drowned again, or worse, the incarceration and imprisonment that would almost certain follow as a subsequent result of my vocational ineptitude as a “criminal”. There is no escape.The Working class is therefore depicted as a worthless vestige consisting of “non-aspirational” layabouts, slobs, racists, boozers, thugs. You name it. The “respectable” working class of the 60’s and 70’s idealised by Bevan, Benn and a wave of left-wing academics and trade-unionists have all but disappeared silently (or claim to attain middle-classdom) replaced near-instantaneously with a feral, feckless underclass. Eroded in the 80’s, to be never seen again.
But I know that the 5000 words or so preceding this sentence falls on the deaf ears and blind eyes of the apathetic present in every strata of class hierarchy. But especially the detached bourgeoisie prerogative.I wish I could’ve concluded this, whatever this is (a boring tirade and nothing more) on something quietly optimistic however when suffering exceeds resources for coping with suffering, suicide ensues. Suicide is not chosen it imposes itself in the context of the now and right now is the escape route. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources. That’s why you don’t feel a thing in a state of pre-meditative suicide; no rage; no remorse; no regrets, joy or ennui. Just nothing. Suicide is indeed painless. Everything has been transcended and en route plans and preparations to the transient and the purgatorial have been made. Stop thinking, life is merely transitory.
- Jeffery, for his invaluable advice and insight.
- Quotes utilised throughout: Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Camus etc.
- The Films of, and including, Ken Loach himself