Pseudo-Nerd (Almost certainly the last draft…but I’ve been wrong before)

What was originally intended to be a 3000-5000 word short-story has ascended quietly above this limit to around 5,299 words (I think). I desperately need some kind of filter and/or editor to distinguish the dull diatribe to the something remotely approaching profound. Right now it’s 95 per cent diatribe and most likely, 5 per cent profundity. Anyway, here’s another draft for no one to devour…..

PSEUDO-NERD: WHITE-TRASH INTELLIGENTSIA

A Story for all and for none.

Written by Nick Panteli

“Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth” Albert Camus

 “The surest way to corrupt the youth is to teach them to respect those who think as they do rather than those who think differently. “ Freidrich Nietzsche

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand Russell 

“A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”  Betrand Russell

“He’s an uneducated little shit and he’ll be working behind a till if he doesn’t shut his conceited, pretentious yap-hole and learn something.” Mr Powell overheard after English class.

PROLOUGE: IDENTITY CRISIS:  THE REAL-DEAL DILETTANTE FRAUD

If there’s one thing you should know about me (you will almost certainly more) is that I don’t speak subtly. Call me vulgar, emphatically blunt and stupid but never call me uneducated. I am the real deal. A real-deal dilettante fraud. A walking contradiction, the apotheosis of an idiot.

I’ve been called confrontational and anti-social. I call it a cuddly form of malevolence. I’ve been hailed as a “self-aggrandising solipsist” for reasons of which you will be enlightened as I regularly pepper, even saturate, my speech with quotes, ideas, and “educated” words of high diction usually reserved for the bourgeoisie or Oxbridge alumni (or both) that is somehow forbidden and constricted by the invisible yet existent parameters of my social standing, or rather, chained crawling to somehow elevate myself. I’m struggling for this tirade not to slip into an ideological rant against the “get-rich-or-die-trying” dystopian notion of free-market capitalism, however I never deny that ideology is an inspiration for my ideas as neglectful laissez-faire economic policy never lets me forget how worthless I am.  Elite Psychology doesn’t care. Elite Psychology says:  fuck the world,  fuck the poor,  fuck the starving, I need to grow my bank accounts, I need to become richer than yesterday.

We are the disinherited, those described by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke as “ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”. Every day I’m expect to be aspirational. To work hard and be subservient. Ignorant. Yet my sub-substandard, “dumbed-down” inner-city education (the reason this monologue, of sorts, is syntactically and linguistically poor, talent deficit is another) keeps me desperate and yes a little trite, but economically shackled nevertheless.  The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe a life in tireless pursuit of worthless paper isn’t satisfying. I’d rather accumulate knowledge (the currency that transcends time and space) and invest my shares in Intellectual Apex Inc. (with some bonds in weak metaphor corp.). That is if I ever believed in investing and the entirety of the banking sector and industrial capitalism in the first place.  I ask you how long I can wave the white cocktail flag of anticipation and faux-prosperity whilst being simultaneously pissed upon with the scalding liquid of social exclusion, negligence and the 180-degree misdirection and subterfuge of my entire class?

You don’t even have to assert a Marxist view of class warfare to know that I would be in complete incongruous juxtaposition in any gentrified neighbourhood. The occupying bourgeoisie would eye with such revilement, not simply because of the vague pronunciation of my limited lexicon, but also my shabby attire, mostly charity wear or the results of a trawl through Primark’s miles of shelves and rails. That is before they all flee and hide in their nearest Waitrose aisle or labyrinthine  John Lewis, the  fortresses of middle-class affluence. Or hit me with their copies of the Guardian like a rat that has accidentally stumbled above to surface. Not noting the worst: a so-called “social progressive” sophisticate flashing a superficial “pity” smile in its asymmetrical horror, pretending to give a fuck with their altruistic, humanistic facades. Spare me. If I am a pseudo-nerd, they remain pseudo-humanists.

I know that you, currently reading, don’t give a fuck: perhaps you stumbled here accidentally, waiting to be entertained. Well, it’s not happening and if you can fathom into your feeble brain that this isn’t disposal entertainment. Read James Patterson instead.

Maybe it’s my delusions that keep me alive; Just because I’ve read (and reviled) Rushdie, lounged around with Lessing, dissembled Dickens and nosed around some Nabokov, Nietzsche as well as generations of similarly fantastic voices (all thanks to the public library, I hasten to add) it simply does not suggest I share or obtain one iota (or the smallest conceivable unit) of their intellect, wit and observation. Everything is to be judged by middle-class values because, after all, that is what we are expected to aspire to. Nevertheless that’s the fundamental nature of delusions: we’re entrenched in an ethos which encourages this because delusions of grandeur and worth are the only thing keeps us from collective action. I like to think that delusions are merely an extreme manifestation of hope but maybe I’m just being meta-delusional: detaching every cognisant facet of my being to convince myself I’m still sane, although intangible (as it all exists in the knotty perplexities of my, and everyone’s mind) like half-a dozen Russian dolls, thinking independently, each smaller and more desperate to be bigger than their taller forbearers. Ok, terrible metaphor, and this reads platitudinal however hopefully reflects my sentiments. Or not.

Frequently I lay awake at night, anxious, scared and contemplating my future with every manner of negative attribute and emotion consuming my being, bubbling quiet beneath the surface, hidden. I’m just a fool and a fool with no socioeconomic worth, holding the notion that his cultural opinions formed through regurgitation, general consensus or the smallest shred of high-brow reading material. Entertaining the notion that these opinions actually connote intelligence but they don’t. Some nights are entirely sleepless. So much for egalitarianism.

Knowledge is a currency. I don’t own a wallet but if I did, it would almost certainly be empty. I’m also aware this superfluous semi-scabrous diatribe laden with affectations began to drag and bore long ago however I don’t want to be your Holden Caulfield, your Salingerian unreliable narrator or Loachian morally-ambivalent anti-hero. But hey, everything is subjective, right?  Whose truth? Whose lies? The boundaries between subjectvised first and third person omniscient narration will erase and blur. Try and keep up.

ACT I: COGNITIVE PURGATORY

 “Growing up in a particular neighbourhood, growing up in a working-class family, not having much money, all of those things fire you and can give you an edge, can give you an anger.”
Gary Oldman 

“Keep you doped up with religion and sex and TV; and you think you’re so clever and classless and free”   John Lennon, Working Class Hero (1970)

 “For I loathe patriotism of any kind – regarding my British nationality as an accident of birth on a par with a cleft palate; and I hate the thought of belonging to any demographic group, class or even club” Will Self

LEYTONSTONE, 0530 AM, A TUESDAY IN DECEMBER

The ubiquitous council estate. Concrete everywhere. Stained grey monoliths drive through the ground and reach high out of sight, housing the unemployable, the uneducated and the forgotten, high out of sight. Tuesday had begun. Down below lay grey acres where no soul crept. It was, after all, deepest night, the unforgivingly powerful industrial lighting illuminating large puddles, soft drinks and bits of damp paper down below. I’ve learned to become disembedded from my environment.

The wind crescendos to a sharp and gestated howl as an etiolated, ungainly adolescent equipped with a (garishly fluorescent)  orange satchel swinging loose over his shoulders. He walks upon a concrete skyway four stories up, a purgatory between the two towers almost akin to the abrasive dystopian landscapes of Burgess’s Clockwork Orange. Except this nightmarish reality had come to fruition. Slipping out the last tabloid rag from his now empty satchel, he enters the tower with ease, the electromagnetic security system prohibiting entry long since functional. The end of the walkway was on the fourth floor and as expected the lift smelt bad: Someone vomited in the corner. He walked up grey urine-smelling stairs to the eighth floor, number 15 and the slipped the vertically-halved “newspaper” silently through the letterbox. Another day’s misinformation distributed. Not that it needed to distributed. No, not when it was persistent in the fatuous celebrity culture hidden under a thin veil of “real” news and a democracy-eroding Australian billionaire (no subtleties remember? It’s Murdoch, both senior and junior in their tyrannical glories) obtains his perpetual cycle of profit whilst perpetually destroying and suppressing the possibility of an educated working class.

Although it’s not just the evils of the Orwellian-sounding News corporation:  Hegemonic media subversion and dumbing-down is now as ubiquitous as matter itself. The “ghetto”, a false notion prevalent in a film and television and news media, is not just geographical, it is a psychological machine that wriggles its way into our minds. Not merely a collection of buildings, it is a way of thinking, powered by mass-media that must be fought against.

Walking slowly and dejectedly, head down, he makes the journey in reverse across the walkway once again to the adjacent tower, identical and homogenous in appearance. He passes a scattering of needles and other illicit paraphernalia upon his ascension. It was an open secret among residences that the flotsam and jetsam of the drug trade was indeed occurring within the walls of the two towers, predominantly cheap, chemically concentrated ecstasy derivatives with hollow, smiling faces upon them and genetically modified variants of cannabis. But this was something new. Someone else was arriving.

Unlocking the single (and only) lock of number four’s understatedly utilitarian door, he steps into the familiarity of a narrow doorway, revealing an impersonalised world: Uniform beige walls and slightly dark hued  (from an aeon of dirt) carpet which barely distinguish where one surface ends and the other begins. Pitifully transient, akin to an indefinite travelodge room that a poor soul, beyond the influence of themselves, was obliged to remain attributed to for the rest of their lives. My own private purgatory.

Slipping off his thin black plimsolls with the aid of his left, then right foot, revealing his pink and purpled feet through the wide holes in his socks as they come into contact with the moulted carpet. He throws off his coat and satchel onto his bed and walks in the modestly-sized kitchen, sailing past his far-from-exclusive concrete-view. A panoramic vista of impecunious circumstances, a council flat remains a far cry from a penthouse. A reporter’s notepad lies on the counter by the microwave, only a few sheets thick. A message written in a quasi-sophisticated scrawl:

Theo,

Working late this evening, make yourself dinner. X

“Again?” he grumbles to the silence. The silence does not respond. Tearing the sheet lovelessley and throwing into the bin. The shovelling of thinned porridge solitarily follows, then the slipping of uniform upon his meek body: a shirt yellowed to off-white, black trousers an inch too short as well as dull and dirtied black shoes. Theo was ready for another day of school.

ACT II: TERRA INCOGNITA

“I write to be heard silently” Anonymous

“We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation.”  Ivan Illich

“When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” – Mark Twain

The journey to school to be one of stark contrasts: It begins in my ward. I’ll leave specifics nameless, suffice to state that the ward I reside in is in identified in the country’s  top ten percent socially deprived wards (yet neighboured by affluence) and I’m sure you can take an educated guess. It’s surprising how the 236 bus route can radicalise your entire perspective of inequality. For ten minutes, we pass through my ward the every corner of my vision is saturated in decaying, unsightly buildings and deliberately idiosyncratic, achingly-hip apartments and gated communities dotting the stratified, continuously in-flux locality. These physical monuments of inequality come complete with gyms and under floor car parking for the over-worked professional/automaton (take your pick) constantly necessitating the ample factors for gentrification/colonialism at a domestic level. Again, take your pick.  After these 10 minutes it’s the terra incognita, the unknown, forgotten lands of the journey. 1930’s semis divided by the monstrosities of a dual carriageways and overarching concrete skyways. Not dissimilar from those lying forgotten beside the A406/ North Circular.  Slowly falling into disrepair and decay, these homes haven’t been cohesive community or neighbourhood in a generation. “Here was the collateral displacement of free-markets and porous frontiers” in the words of Faulk’s A Week in December.

After a myriad of bus stops and convoluted turns into little known roads, the gentrified neighbourhood creeps up silently:  Once languishing in an economic nadir far below the abyss. Now block upon  sash-windowed, white-painted  block is crammed with artisan bakeries, pretentious eateries with similarly preposterous names (Nobuku?) and art galleries. Well, you get the idea: The thriving hub of the petite bourgeoisie. Achingly hip “yummy mummies” their wide dual bugaboo prams (their indispensable accessory) complete with toned yoga bums and vintage attire flood  with the pavements which I navigate left and right to avoid and abscond quickly into the school building, located in this neighbourhood complete with church spire. It’s an all-boy’s comprehensive, formally a catholic about five decades ago. For a self-confessed “multicultural” area, it was certainly funny that I was a marginalised black swan among the white eyrar.

1230PM, ROOM 9

Mr Powell epitomised “The Man”: Bloated and red-faced, officiously middle-aged and unashamedly conservative (the cunt) and almost certainly racially prejudiced, he was everything I stood against. All this barely masked a seething sense of his insecurity and frustration. He had held his position as head of English for thirty-five years and frequently referencing his upcoming retirement: “I don’t need this! I retire in seven months!” Then he would go back to his copy of the Daily Mail.

 Despite my love for English language and literature I despised him and he overtly despised me. Tuesday was the same formulaic paradigm of antagonism, framed upon another day: “Wake up Osei!” he would boom across the classroom noticing a relaxed hand sinking into a low cheek. This was just me being attentive. “I am awake” I would retort nonchalantly. This uninstructive discourse had ping-ponged back and forth for many months.

“Ok, get your copies of Journey’s End out and we’ll start from where we left off” he boomed as the cliques shuffled and shoved their way through doorway and proceeded to their respective territories of the classroom where they began their isolated pockets of rapt “conversation”. I found a seat where ever there was one, in between the cracks.

Every day I modify my voice; disguise it, flitting between cockney-esque colloquialisms and working-class clichés in the locality of my neighbourhood in particular with Mr Gunawardena, the Sri Lankan newsagent proprietor such as “That’s it at the end of the day” before cringing internally for saying such stupid statements.

At school I seldom speak, and Cynthia Oséi rarely, correction never, attends parent/teacher evenings. As such I can re-invent myself, be whoever I want to be. A blank slate. The “fake” voice manifests itself as BBC bland and region flavourless, but nevertheless well-to-do and the suggestion of education is firmly laced with the crisp (often too crisp) elocution of vowels and consonants.

We’ll talk more about this at Saturday’s tournament” Concluding his golf parley, not so silently so that everyone in the classroom, whether they liked it or not, heard.

Martin as usual was seated adjacent upon the desk closest to Mr Powell and had been chatting familiarly during break time along with his two “friends”. Martin. The Oxbridge twat. Although he hadn’t either attended Oxford or Cambridge it was held by everyone within the school that he would attend either one of these institutions in the (very) near future and subsequently achieve pre-eminence in whatever field he decided to effortlessly conquer that day. One of the best minds of my generation. Cure cancer? No problem. Re-plant the Amazon? It’ll take the afternoon. Fix global socio-economic, political inequality and injustice? No, don’t be stupid you cretin.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little facetious here as admittedly I was highly jealous (and underlying admired)  Martin. Everything was in a divine, blissful orbital radius for him: academic excelling, highly popular (for questionable reasons, the sycophants had come out to play) and not at all dorky as you would have expected. Quite the antithesis in fact: a social life rivalling the most well-to-do glitterati, and no I’m not being hyperbolic.  And so another lesson began and it was, suffice to say, highly uneventful.

“What’s Sherriff doing in this particular scene with Stanhope?” Powell asked around 10 minutes into the lesson. Not a hand is raised. Seconds go pass. “Anybody?” he demanded. Pained and reluctant, Theo raises his hand. Just to keep proceedings moving.

With a malignant inflection: “Yes. Oséi”, pointing to Theo.

“He’s being introspective and highlighting Stanhope’s emotional state”

“He’s being introspective sir” Powell emphasised “and don’t attempt to be clever Oséi, it doesn’t suit you”.

The class releases a collective chortle, in collective detest against Theo, not because Powell’s, the relentless merchant of his own terrible gags, was particularly amusing.

“Then why am I here?”

Every eye in the room swivels around to meet Theo’s. The response was unprecedented.

“To learn Theo” he edified with condescension

“… So, to not be clever?” Theo hit back with faux-ignorance

“Get out Oséi!”

“Why? Because I’m black?!” In retrospection I shouldn’t have pulled the pathetic race card.

“You’re not black you’re mixed race you cretin” Martin interrupted. Again, the class erupts with a laughs on all sides of the classroom. Even the real cretin’s laughed. For they knew not what it meant.

“Shut up” Theo retorts in futility to Martin.

“Oséi, out!”

Without reluctance and in abject silence Theo strode purposefully and exited, practically swinging the door off its hinges, 60 eyes tracked upon him until he was outside. And then class room, like the last minute and twenty seconds hadn’t occurred.

After what seem like a perceived aeon, Powell cruised outside with a self-righteous veneer; his tense (impossibly thick and unkempt) brows moulded into a tight “m” and clenched folded arms screamed silently: “I’m in charge” over his beige argyle sweater and well-pressed slacks complete with pleats.

“Come back to this classroom after school”

“A detention?”
“Yes, a detention Oséi! This is somewhat of mixed ability group Oséi, you know that”

The shrilly bell rang leaving a welcome pause in conversation and another lesson wasted.

“What’s the purpose in learning if there’s no challenge?”

Powell exhales a futile sigh. “You’ll never learn. Come and get your bag”. Under his breath he added to himself: “The Rivers of blood, eh?” as he walked back into the classroom.

As the very last hues of sunlight vanished from the sky for another 13-14 hours, Theo left school. Alone. Detention could wait. The journey home: Cramped and clammy, a buzzing, itinerant hive of morose workers and commuters. Lives returning home. It’s scary although equally reassuring how safe I feel in the presence of strangers. Maybe it’s because I have nothing to lose. Or perhaps something more profound: The small, surprising connections between strangers that remind us we’re not alone. I have yet to make a small, surprising connection.

The 236 encircles the estate, but never drives directly through the roads on which it’s situated (an apt metaphor for my life: wondering aimlessly in the middle of somewhere). As such I have to walk parallel to the concrete walls that encircle the estate (think ghetto walls rather than an impenetrable fortress) until I reach one of the four exits (North, east and so forth). I arrive from the west as the series of inter-connected walks and avenues converge upon the expansive concrete acres originally intended by the visionary, original 60’s architects to nod to a pleasant cohesive communal experience, now quite the contrary. The only thing that remained down here was the endogenous isolation inherent in its design as well as a kebab house and a newsagent frequently robbed by baseball-bat equipped opportunists fixated upon acquiring cigarettes and alcohol.

And there “they” were, smoking cigarettes, five of them, barely centimetre in length. No stretch of a simpleton’s imagination to identify cannabis consumption. They were blocking the only entrance into the tower (due to fire safety regulations the walkway counted as the second worryingly). Frequently referred to as chavs, yobs and scum in the mass-media. Though these words immediately dehumanise their subjects, They stared at each other. Across a chasm, not of ideological self-interest or even intelligence. Under all men lies a nethanderal, environmental conditioning comes secondary to overwhelm default emotion, sexual wants and personal desires. The primal half of the raging dichotomy. Theo was not so different from them.

“Look who it is” One said with delight attired in a black addidas tracksuit, rocking backwards and forwards on his BMX as Theo walked closely to the door, attempting to ignore them.

“Oi, Bruv” The other in the Nike tracksuit pressed against the wall made no discernible attempt to sound erudite. “Got any change on ya?”

“No”

“Don’t fucking lie”

“I don’t” Theo insisted, pausing before the door.

“How ‘bout a mobile?”

“No, just fuck off okay?!”

And that’s when the fist flew into my face and the remaining four joined in. A horrific beating ensues.

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…“

“Where?!”

“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.

THE END

Acknowledgments

  • Jeffery, for his invaluable advice and insight.
  • Quotes utilised throughout: Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Camus etc.
  • The Films of, and including, Ken Loach himself

[i] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/01/social-mobility-dead-end

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PSEUDO-NERD: WHITE-TRASH INTELLIGENTSIA (Third Draft)

NOTES <Look, probably no one is reading this however I’m not entirely sure how many drafts it’s going to take to “complete” this short-story. Arguably, it’s lacking a certain something yet finished. Most likely narrative, characterisation; the whole package. To be brutally fair the omissions and alterations are almost invisible to the untrained eye. However I consider this to be the most complete draft yet, possibly the last and as the old adage follows the devil is indeed present in the detail with this. At least I think.

Hopefully it evokes something within you emotionally, politically whatever. Even if you don’t share my ideological disposition (I’m a Democratic Socialist; What the Labour Party considered itself 50 years before the dropping of the fourth clause) you’ll take something away from the reading, cathartic or otherwise and that is ultimately my goal. I describe it as two parts polemic, one part Juvenalian satire. At least I hope so. Hey, I don’t mind if you perceive the entire thing as repulsive and implausible. All I ask is that you read it in its entirety to the very end- It’s just over 5000 words including quotes and only occupy around 30 minutes? of your time.  So enjoy!

Yours tentatively,

“DickWritesDiatribe”

P.S  Any and all feedback is considered and would be highly, highly appreciated.>

PSEUDO-NERD: WHITE-TRASH INTELLIGENTSIA

“Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth” Albert Camus

 “For I loathe patriotism of any kind – regarding my British nationality as an accident of birth on a par with a cleft palate; and I hate the thought of belonging to any demographic group, class or even club” Will Self

“He’s an uneducated little shit and he’ll be working behind a till if he doesn’t shut his conceited, pretentious yap-hole and learn something.” Mr Powell overheard after English class.

PROLOUGE: IDENTITY CRISIS:  THE REAL-DEAL DILETTANTE FRAUD

If there’s one thing you should know about me (you will almost certainly more) is that I don’t speak subtly. Call me vulgar, emphatically blunt and stupid but never call me uneducated. I am the real deal. A real-deal dilettante fraud. The apotheosis of an idiot.

I’ve been called confrontational and anti-social. I call it a cuddly form of malevolence. I’ve been hailed as a “self-aggrandising solipsist” for reasons of which you will be enlightened as I regularly pepper, even saturate, my speech with quotes, ideas, and “educated” words of high diction usually reserved for the bourgeoisie or Oxbridge graduates (or both) that is somehow forbidden and constricted by the invisible yet existent parameters of my social standing, or rather, chained crawling to somehow elevate myself. I’m struggling for this tirade not to slip into an ideological rant against the “get-rich-or-die-trying” dystopian notion of free-market capitalism, however I never deny that ideology is an inspiration for my ideas as neglectful laissez-faire economic policy never lets me forget how worthless I am.  Elite Psychology doesn’t care. Elite Psychology says:  fuck the world, fuck the poor, fuck the starving, I need to grow my bank accounts, I need to become richer than yesterday.

We are the disinherited, those described by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke as “ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”. Every day I’m expect to be aspirational. To work hard and be subservient. Ignorant. Yet my sub-substandard, “dumbed-down” inner-city education (the reason this monologue, of sorts, is syntactically and linguistically poor, talent deficit is another) keeps me desperate and yes a little trite, but economically shackled nevertheless.  The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe a life in tireless pursuit of worthless paper isn’t satisfying. I’d rather accumulate knowledge (the currency that transcends time and space) and invest my shares in Intellectual Apex Inc. With some bonds in weak metaphor corp.) I ask you how long I can wave the white cocktail flag of anticipation and faux-prosperity whilst being simultaneously pissed upon with the scalding liquid of social deprivation, negligence and the 180-degree misdirection and subterfuge of my entire class?

You don’t even have to assert a Marxist view of class warfare to know that I would be in complete incongruous juxtaposition in any gentrified neighbourhood. The occupying bourgeoisie would eye with such revilement, not simply because of my elucidation pronunciation of my limited lexicon, but also my shabby attire, mostly charity wear or the results of a trawl through Primark’s miles of shelves and rails. That is before they all flee and hide in their nearest Waitrose aisle, the last fortress of middle-class affluence or hit me with their copies of the Guardian like a rat that has accidentally stumbled above to surface. Not noting the worst: a so-called “social progressive” sophisticate flashing a superficial “pity” smile in its asymmetrical horror, pretending to give a fuck with their altruistic, humanistic facades. Spare me. If I am a pseudo-nerd, they remain pseudo-humanists.

I know that you, currently reading, don’t give a fuck: perhaps you came here to be entertained. Well, it’s not happening and if you can fathom into your feeble brain that this isn’t disposal entertainment. Read James Patterson instead.

Maybe it’s my delusions that keep me alive; Just because I’ve read (and reviled) Rushdie, lounged around with Lessing, dissembled Dickens and nosed around some Nabokov as well as generations of similarly fantastic voices (all thanks to the public library, I hasten to add) it simply does not suggest I share or obtain one iota (or the smallest conceivable unit) of their intellect, wit and observation. Everything is to be judged by middle-class values because, after all, that is what we are expected to aspire to. Nevertheless that’s the fundamental nature of delusions: we’re entrenched in an ethos which encourages this because delusions of grandeur and worth are the only thing keeps us from collective action. I like to think that delusions are merely an extreme manifestation of hope but maybe I’m just being meta-delusional: detaching every cognisant facet of my being to convince myself I’m still sane, although intangible (as it all exists in the knotty perplexities of my, and everyone’s mind) like half-a dozen Russian dolls, thinking independently, each smaller and more desperate to be bigger than their taller forbearers. Ok, terrible metaphor, and this reads platitudinal however hopefully reflects my sentiments. Or not.

Frequently I lay awake at night, anxious, scared and contemplating my future with every manner of negative attribute and emotion consuming my being, bubbling quiet beneath the surface, hidden. I’m just a fool and a fool with no socioeconomic worth, holding the notion that his cultural opinions formed through regurgitation, general consensus or the smallest shred of high-brow reading material. Entertaining the notion that these opinions actually connote intelligence but they don’t. Some nights are entirely sleepless. So much for egalitarianism.

Knowledge is a currency. I don’t own a wallet but if I did, it would almost certainly be empty. I’m also aware this superfluous semi-scabrous diatribe laden with affectations began to drag and bore long ago however I don’t want to be your Holden Caulfield, your Salingerian unreliable narrator or Loachian morally-ambivalent anti-hero. But hey, everything is subjective, right?  Whose truth? Whose lies? The boundaries between subjectvised first and third person omniscient narration will erase and blur. Try and keep up.

ACT I: COGNITIVE PURGATORY

LEYTONSTONE, 0530 AM, A TUESDAY IN DECEMBER

“Growing up in a particular neighbourhood, growing up in a working-class family, not having much money, all of those things fire you and can give you an edge, can give you an anger.”
Gary Oldman 

“Keep you doped up with religion and sex and TV; and you think you’re so clever and classless and free”  

John Lennon, Working Class Hero (1970)

The ubiquitous council estate. Concrete everywhere. Stained grey monoliths drive through the ground and reach high out of sight, housing the unemployable, the uneducated and the forgotten, high out of sight. Tuesday had begun. Down below lay grey acres where no soul crept. It was, after all, deepest night, the unforgivingly powerful industrial lighting illuminating large puddles, soft drinks and bits of damp paper down below.

The wind crescendos to a sharp and gestated howl as an etiolated, ungainly adolescent equipped with a garishly orange satchel swinging over his drooping, acutely-framed shoulders. He walks upon a concrete skyway four stories up, a purgatory between the two towers almost akin to the abrasive dystopian landscapes of Burgess’s Clockwork Orange. Except this nightmarish reality had come to fruition. Slipping out the last tabloid rag from his now empty satchel, he enters the tower with ease, the electromagnetic security system prohibiting entry long since functional. The end of the walkway was on the fourth floor and as expected the lift smelt bad: Someone had been sick in it. He walked up grey urine-smelling stairs to the eighth floor, number 15 and the slipped the vertically-halved “newspaper” silently through the letterbox. Another day’s misinformation distributed. Not that it needed to distributed. No, not when it was persistent in the fatuous celebrity culture hidden under a thin veil of “real” news and a democracy-eroding Australian billionaire (no subtleties remember? It’s Murdoch, both senior and junior in their tyrannical glories) obtains his perpetual cycle of profit whilst perpetually destroying the possibility of an educated working class.

Although it’s not just the evils of News corp.:  Hegemonic media subversion and dumbing-down is now as ubiquitous as matter itself. The “ghetto”, a false notion prevalent in a film and television and news media, is not just geographical, it is a psychological machine that wriggles its way into our minds. Not merely a collection of buildings, it is a way of thinking, powered by mass-media that must be fought against.

Walking slowly and dejectedly, head down, he makes the journey in reverse across the walkway once again to the adjacent tower, identical and homogenous in appearance. He passes a scattering of needles and other illicit paraphernalia upon his ascension. It was an open secret among residences that the flotsam and jetsam of the drug trade was indeed occurring within the walls of the two towers, predominantly cheap, chemically concentrated ecstasy derivatives with hollow, smiling faces upon them and genetically modified variants of cannabis. But this was something new. Someone else was arriving.

Unlocking the single, and only, lock of number 4’s understatedly utilitarian door, he steps into the familiarity of a narrow doorway, revealing an impersonalised world: Uniform beige walls and slightly dark hued  (from an aeon of dirt) carpet which barely distinguish where one surface ends and the other begins. Pitifully transient, akin to an eternal and indefinite hotel room that a poor soul, beyond the influence of themselves, was obliged to remain attributed to for the rest of their lives. My own private purgatory.

Slipping off his thin black plimsolls with the aid of his left, then right foot, revealing his pink and purpled feet through the wide holes in his colour-faded socks as they come into contact with the moulted carpet. He throws off his coat and satchel onto his bed and walks in the modestly-sized kitchen, sailing past his far-from-exclusive concrete-view. A panoramic vista of impecunious circumstances, a council flat remains a far cry from a penthouse. A reporter’s notepad lies on the counter by the microwave, only a few sheets thick. A message written in a quasi-sophisticated scrawl:

Theo,

Working late this evening, make yourself dinner. X

“Again?” he grumbles to the silence. The silence does not respond. Tearing the sheet lovelessley and throwing into the bin. The shovelling of thinned porridge solitarily follows, then slipping of uniform upon his meek body: a shirt yellowed to off-white and black trousers inch too short as well as dull and dirtied black shoes. Theo was ready for another day of school.

ACT II: TERRA INCOGNITA

“I write to be heard silently” Anonymous

“We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation.”  Ivan Illich

“The surest way to corrupt the youth is to teach them to respect those who think as they do rather than those who think differently. “ Freidrich Nietzsche

The journey to school to be one of stark contrasts: It begins in my ward. I’ll leave specifics nameless, suffice to state that the ward I reside in is in identified in the country’s  top ten percent socially deprived wards (yet neighboured by affluence). It’s surprising how the 236 bus route can radicalise your entire perspective of inequality. For ten minutes, we pass through my ward the every corner of my vision is saturated in decaying, unsightly buildings and deliberately idiosyncratic, achingly-hip apartments and gated communities dotting the stratified, continuously in-flux locality. These physical monuments of inequality came complete with gyms and under floor car parking for the over-worked professional/automaton (take your pick) constantly necessitating the ample factors for gentrification/colonialism at a domestic level. Again, take your pick.  After these 10 minutes it’s the terra incognita, the unknown, forgotten lands of the journey. 1930’s semis divided by the monstrosities of a dual carriageways and overarching concrete skyways. Not dissimilar from those lying forgotten beside the A406/ North Circular.  Slowly falling into disrepair and decaying, these homes haven’t been cohesive community or neighbourhood in a generation. “Here was the collateral displacement of free-markets and porous frontiers” in the words of Faulk’s A Week in December.

After a myriad of bus stops and turns into little known roads, the gentrified neighbourhood creeps up silently:  Once languishing in the economic abyss now block upon block is crammed with artisan bakeries, pretentious eateries with similarly preposterous names (Nobuku?). Well, you get the idea: The thriving hub of the bourgeoisie. Achingly hip “yummy mummies” their wide dual bugaboo prams (their indispensable accessory) complete with toned yoga bums and vintage attire flood  with the pavements which I navigate left and right to avoid and abscond quickly into the school building, located in this neighbourhood complete with church spire. It’s an all-boy’s comprehensive, formally a catholic about five decades ago. For a self-confessed “multicultural” area, it was certainly funny that I was a marginalised black swan among the white eyrar.

1230PM, ROOM 9

Mr Powell epitomised “The Man”: Bloated and red-faced, officiously middle-aged and unashamedly conservative (the cunt) and almost certainly racially prejudiced, he was everything I stood against. All this barely masked a seething sense of his insecurity and frustration. He had held his position as head of English for thirty-five years and frequently referencing his upcoming retirement: “I don’t need this! I retire in seven months!” Then he would go back to his copy of the Daily Mail.

 Despite my love for English language and literature I despised him and he overtly despised me. Tuesday was the same formulaic paradigm of antagonism, framed upon another day: “Wake up Osei!” he would boom across the classroom noticing a relaxed hand sinking into a low cheek. This was just me being attentive. “I am awake” I would retort nonchalantly. This uninstructive discourse had ping-ponged back and forth for many months.

“Ok, get your copies of Journey’s End out and we’ll start from where we left off” he boomed as the cliques shuffled and shoved their way through doorway and proceeded to their respective territories of the classroom where they began their isolated pockets of rapt “conversation”. I found a seat where ever there was one, in between the cracks.

Every day I modify my voice; disguise it, flitting between cockney-esque colloquialisms and working-class clichés in the locality of my neighbourhood in particular with Mr Gunawardena, the Sri Lankan newsagent proprietor such as “That’s it at the end of the day” before cringing internally for saying such stupid statements.

At school I seldom speak, and Cynthia Oséi rarely, correction never, attends parent/teacher evenings. As such I can re-invent myself, be whoever I want to be. A blank slate. The “fake” voice manifests itself as BBC bland and region flavourless, but nevertheless well-to-do and the suggestion of education is firmly laced with the crisp (often too crisp) elocution of vowels and consonants.

We’ll talk more about this at Saturday’s tournament” Concluding his golf parley, not so silently so that everyone in the classroom, whether they liked it or not, heard.

Martin as usual was seated adjacent upon the desk closest to Mr Powell and had been chatting familiarly during break time along with his two “friends”. Martin. The Oxbridge twat. Although he hadn’t either attended Oxford or Cambridge it was held by everyone within the school that he would attend either one of these institutions in the (very) near future and subsequently achieve pre-eminence in whatever field he decided to effortlessly conquer that day. One of the best minds of my generation. Cure cancer? No problem. Re-plant the Amazon? It’ll take the afternoon. Fix global socio-economic, political inequality and injustice? No, don’t be stupid you cretin.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little facetious here as admittedly I was highly jealous (and underlying admired)  Martin. Everything was in a divine, blissful orbital radius for him: academic excelling, highly popular (for questionable reasons, the sycophants had come out to play) and not at all dorky as you would have expected. Quite the antithesis in fact: a social life rivalling the most well-to-do glitterati, and no I’m not being hyperbolic.  And so another lesson began and it was, suffice to say, highly uneventful.

“What’s Sherriff doing in this particular scene with Stanhope?” Powell asked around 10 minutes into the lesson. Not a hand is raised. Seconds go pass. “Anybody?” he demanded. Pained and reluctant, Theo raises his hand. Just to keep proceedings moving.

With a malignant inflection: “Yes. Oséi”

“He’s being introspective and highlighting Stanhope’s emotional state”

“He’s being introspective sir” Powell emphasised “and don’t attempt to be clever Oséi, it doesn’t suit you”

The class releases a collective chortle, in collective detest against Theo, not because Powell’s, the relentless merchant of his own terrible gags, was particularly amusing.

“Then why am I here?”

Every eye in the room swivels around to meet Theo’s. The response was unprecedented.

“To learn Theo” he edified with condescension

“… So, to not be clever?” Theo hit back with faux-ignorance

“Get out Oséi!”

“Why? Because I’m black?!” In retrospection I shouldn’t have pulled the pathetic race card.

“You’re not black you’re mixed race you cretin” Martin interrupted. Again, the class erupts with a laughs on all sides of the classroom. Even the real cretin’s laughed. For they knew not what it meant.

“Shut up” Theo retorts in futility to Martin.

“Oséi, out!”

Without reluctance and in abject silence Theo strode purposefully and exited, practically swinging the door off its hinges, 60 eyes tracked upon him until he was outside. And then class room, like the last minute and twenty seconds hadn’t occurred.

After what seem like a perceived aeon, Powell cruised outside with a self-righteous veneer, his tense (impossibly thick and unkempt) brows and clenched folded arms screamed silently: “I’m in charge” over his beige argyle sweater and well-pressed slacks complete with pleats.

“Come back to this classroom after school”

“A detention?”
“Yes, a detention Oséi! This is somewhat of mixed ability group Oséi, you know that”

The shrilly bell rang living a welcome pause in conversation and another lesson wasted.

“What’s the purpose in learning if there’s no challenge?”

Powell exhales a futile sigh. “You’ll never learn. Come and get your bag”. Under his breath he added to himself: “The rivers of blood, eh?” as he walked back into the classroom.

As the very last hues of sunlight vanished from the sky for another 13-14 hours, Theo left school. Alone. Detention could wait. The journey home: Cramped and clammy, a buzzing, itinerant hive of morose workers and commuters. Lives returning home. It’s scary although equally reassuring how safe I feel in the presence of strangers. Maybe it’s because I have nothing to lose if I’m robbed. Or perhaps something more profound: The small, surprising connections between strangers that remind us we’re not alone. I have yet to make a small, surprising connection.

The 236 encircles the estate, but never drives directly through the roads on which it’s situated. As such I have to walk parallel to the concrete walls that encircle the estate (think ghetto walls rather than an impenetrable fortress) until I reach one of the four exits (North, east and so forth). I arrive from the west as the series of inter-connected walks and avenues arrive upon the expansive concrete acres originally intended by 1960’s architects to nod to a pleasant communal utopia, now quite the contrary. The only thing that remained down here was the endogenous isolation inherent in its design as well as a kebab house and a newsagent frequently robbed by baseball-bat equipped opportunists fixated upon acquiring cigarettes and alcohol.

And there “they” were, smoking cigarettes, five of them, barely centimetre in length. No stretch of a simpleton’s imagination to identify cannabis consumption when it was seen. They were blocking the only entrance into the tower (due to fire safety regulations the walkway counted as the second worryingly). Frequently referred to as chavs, yobs and scum in the mass-media. Those words immediately dehumanised their subjects.They stared at each other. Across a chasm, not of ideological self-interest or even intelligence. Under all men lies a Neanderthal, environmental conditioning comes secondary to overwhelm default emotion and a myriad of sexual wants and personal desires. The primal half of the raging dichotomy. Theo was not so different from them.

“Look who it is” One said with delight attired in a black addidas tracksuit, rocking backwards and forwards on his BMX as Theo walked closely to the door, attempting to ignore them.

“Oi, Bruv” The other in the Nike tracksuit pressed against the wall made no discernible attempt to sound erudite. “Got any change on ya?”

“No”

“Don’t fucking lie”

“I don’t” Theo insisted, pausing before the door.

“How ‘bout a mobile?”

“No, just fuck off okay?!”

And that’s when the fist flew into my face and the remaining four joined in. A horrific beating ensues.

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 bourgeoise 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 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 bourgeoisie 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 eyeline. 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…”

“Where?!”

“I know you’re angry sir but-“

“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)

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 noisy and squalid.  The state dependence that at this very second, is being 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. Expect private hospitals, private Children’s homes. I could continue.

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.

EPILOUGE

“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

In a cynical,  and 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” and I hasten to add my skin colour. 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. 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[ii] . Stop thinking, life is merely transitory.

THE END

Acknowledgments

Jeffery, for his invaluable advice and insight.


[i] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/01/social-mobility-dead-end

[ii]  No, I’m not talking about heaven and/or some pantheistic higher plain of being.