Late night editing.

As I edit yet another draft of my novel that has already seen rejection from several agents, I got the urge to share some. It’s by no means the most interesting bit, as if it was you could just read that and never have to buy the book if it eventually gets published. It’s a fairly mundane part.

The novel is currently titled ‘Nothing Happens’ and is a satire of sorts, mocking the ‘Wealthy white man unhappy with his life’ narrative that seems to pop up repeatedly in literature and films as well as pointing out that in most world renowned novels or old classics, nothing happens.  The book follows a self-confessed alcoholic suffering from a sense of nihilism as he recounts his fairly dull and uneventful life and laments the current state of his dull and uneventful life and fears for the future which he assumes will be dull and uneventful.

Anyway, here’s a dull and uneventful extract:

 

 

Work is not much fun at all. ‘Work’s not supposed to be fun, it’s work.’ My dad always used to say (and still does). I don’t think I’ll ever understand work, the concept of it. Not the modern concept anyway. I could understand if it was fishing… farming… other such necessities. When it was providing food and only food. Now it doesn’t make sense. Why am I forced to spend day after day staring at a computer screen for hours on end?

I think all our problems start at school. You’re told from a young age, with a bit of hard work you can be anything you want to be. Whatever you set your heart on you can achieve. That’s just some clever indoctrination to the capitalist system. It’s propaganda of the highest order. They get you when you’re impressionable, get these little ideas to worm their way into the centre of your brain where there’s no chance in hell of dislodging them. If what they say is true, you best hope that some people want to work on the tills in Tescos, otherwise you’ll never get your potatoes. You best hope people really want to be sewage maintenance workers, otherwise everything would be covered in shit.

No, you do whatever you can to get paid. It’s usually monotonous and pointless. It’s usually unfulfilling and soul destroying. But you can’t complain because “you’re lucky to have a job in this current climate.”

I sit looking from my screen to my phone. A desktop phone, one with the curly spirally chord. They still exist. The phone’s not ringing. The computer’s not computering, or if it is it’s not making a big song and dance over it. I don’t really get computers.

‘Moring Rob,’ says Derek as he passes my desk flashing me his large smile. His some sort of executive, wears fancy trousers and shiny shoes. He’s on some ridiculous sum of money. I don’t begrudge other people their success or affluence, but occasionally I like to imagine following him to the open area, where everyone makes their tea and coffee, it’s all rather snazzy. I imagine following him there and maybe throwing scalding tea in his face, before shoving him out the window. That will teach him for having a better job than me.

‘Morning.’ I grumble back. ‘How was your weekend?’ I ask, my cheeks immediately boiling with embarrassment. It is Wednesday.  It was an instinct, it just came out. You can’t ask someone how their weekend was half way through the week. It’s absurd. It’s positively insane. What a fucking idiot I truly am. I don’t look up to his – I don’t doubt – look of abject ridicule. He’d be pulling up his expensive trousers and smiling a self-satisfied smile.

‘Evening sorry, evening I meant evening. How was your evening?’ I ask looking up with a goofy grin on my fuzz covered face. He laughs. It was a good natured laugh, I like it when people laugh. When they genuinely laugh, and I can always tell when it’s not genuine.  You can always pick out a fake laugh. Nervous laughs usually. Nervous, please don’t kill me laughs. Self-conscious ‘accept me!’ laughs.

‘It wasn’t bad at all Rob, very quiet.  Was told to give you this.’ He says, handing me a package. It’s an officious looking brown envelope with my name written on it in black marker pen. It’s not for me, it’s “for the attention of” me. With this in mind I throw it upon the desk onto the pile of other things that are no doubt also for my attention, but have lain neglected for some time now.

‘Thanks Derek, how’s the –

He’s already wandered off. He’s a busy important man, he can’t linger too long at the desks of the not particularly busy unimportant people. People’d start getting ideas. They’d start thinking that, maybe he isn’t that busy after all,  or worse that he isn’t that important.

Actually, I’m fairly busy. Or at the very least I should be. As far as important goes, well that’s very hard to gauge. I don’t really know what it is I do so it can’t be that important, otherwise they’d notice me not doing it. But at the same time, I’m important enough for them to decide the company does need to pay me to not do whatever it is I should be doing. It’s a complicated position to find yourself in and happens completely by accident. One day you have a clear vision as to where you are and where you’re going, the next thing you know everyone’s screaming at you, you’re naked and something’s on fire.

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There Ain’t Nothin’ Human about Humanity Anymore

According to Bing there are 8766 hours in a given year. I will have to verify with Google later, as Bing can’t be trusted, it means well, but it’s just not as bright as its older brother. On average, we work 8 hours a day five days a week, which equates to say 40 hours a week. Times this by the 52 weeks we have in the year and we get 2080. Let’s say on average we get 7 hours sleep in a twenty-four hour period. 7×7 = 49, multiply 49 by 52 and we have 2,548 hours. 8766 – 2548 = 6218. This number represents our waking hours when we can do things. So as it stands, we spend roughly a third of our waking lives at work.

You might be saying ‘that’s not a particularly accurate template. I mean all jobs are different. The number of hours vary, it depends on how much we get paid and how many holiday days, and when we retire. There are far too many variables to consider to make a statement with an air of mathematical certainty.’   To which I would reply… SHUT UP!

There ain’t nothing human to humanity anymore. I often say in a gruff, Hollywood style voice to anyone willing to listen, which isn’t a large number. Those that do tend to say, ‘Get on with your work.’ Or ‘that’s all well and good but you still need to pay your council tax.’ Every day, when my alarm goes off, all I want to do is go back to sleep, just for another hour or two… sometimes I wish to sleep until the seas rise and send us all to our watery graves, paving the way to the fishman civilisation of the future. Is that so much to ask? Just a little bit more sleep? Apparently, for a human, that is a ridiculous request.

Every other creature on the planet, upon waking, if they want more sleep, would simply put their head down and continue. I had a dog once, and it was all she’d do. How I envied that fat spaniel. So, we’re not allowed to sleep if we’re tired. But at least we have a roof above our heads. The habitat of the human, the buildings that symbolise our advancement.

But do we?

That costs money… a lot of money. These days so much money that soon no one will be able to afford to rent and we’ll all be living in the woods as all the buildings stand empty. (On a side note, I was recently unable to afford my council tax. The council was very understanding, they sent me a letter saying ‘you haven’t paid your monthly instalment of £144. If you don’t pay within six days you will lose your right to pay in instalments and we will demand the full payment of £1,280.’ I can’t help but feel they are somewhat removed from reality, they exist in a world where the higher the number, the easier it is to pay. Give it long enough and I’m sure I’ll be getting a letter saying ‘can’t afford £144? Not to worry, we’ll just take it in blood.’)

In trying to earn money, to keep a roof above my head so I can have a bed that I’m not allowed to sleep in when I want, I have a job – which I’ve already established takes up a third of my waking life. In this job, we’re told we’re not allowed to text from our phones, no communication to the outside world. Whenever we leave our desks we must state where we are going, and then also state when we have arrived back… because though people might be able to see us, there’s every chance that our minds have melted into oblivion and are no more.

I sarcastically email my manager every time I go for a poo, and then email him when I am back from my poo, giving him details of the pooping experience. He is not amused, but it gets me through the day. The words ‘standardised’ and ‘processes’ are thrown about so frequently that they have lost all meaning. If anyone has the misfortune of being a minute late they are reprimanded and publically humiliated. We must produce weekly reports of the work we have done in order to prove we are doing it. Any display of humanity is swiftly dealt with. We become reduced to numbers, all clad in grey jumpsuits. Every so often a face will appear on our computer screens demanding we submit to the will of middle management (on another side note, what is the point of middle management? They’re like an appendix; they’re useless and serve no purpose, but everyone’s got one, and every so often they burst ruining someone’s day). All for a measly 19k a year.

You may be saying ‘this is little more than an exercise in catharsis! What happened to the posts where you’d just put a number of ‘funny’ drawings that you did?’ to which I say to you SHUT UP! One more outburst from the likes of you and I’ll have you evicted from the internet!

So, at least we have the social aspect right? The very thing that defines humanity, separates us from the animals… those lucky lazy animals that just sleep and eat, occasionally having a break from both to have sex. Bastards.

Do we?

Adult life drastically reduces the number of friends you have. Those from your childhood have moved on and are busy working. The people you meet as adults are those you work with, and we hate them. By the time you eventually get home, having waited hours for a bus or sat in the never ending streams of traffic, you are tired and hungry. You eat some dehydrated noodles and go to bed.

If you don’t you may sit and stare at your computer screen, or the screen of your phone, or at a mirror in a daze, thinking it’s a screen. You try and poke and swipe at it, try and get some porn on it, but the only naked person it will show you is you, and you disgust yourself. You’re haggard, your skin taught about your skull, eyes shadowed with fatigue and glassy with dejectedness. Your shoulders are stooped from being hunched over a computer all day. Your mind has been reduced to mulch from boredom, your chest hurts with loneliness.

The thing that looks back at you is not human, but some sort of skeletal husk. It may have been human once. It may have had the potential for humanity, but modern life has squeezed it out of you. The constant pecking from automated systems demanding money which you don’t have, the constant bleating of managers, the squealing of alarms demanding you wake up; the constant rejection from people denying you the right to hold another individual and weep for the loss of humanity, it’s all taken its toll.

Google says it’s 8760, nice try Bing.

TheFuzzyRambler.

 

Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life – apart from on weekdays

Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

This statement, like all things happy-go-lucky and optimistic, annoys me to no end. It sounds all well and good, until you realise the job market is becoming increasingly slim and competitive that you’ll probably have to get a job in a coffee shop, or temping in an office whilst you do what you love on the side. Which makes for more of a cumbersome statement.

I love hiding in wardrobes. No one is willing to pay me to do that, and my rent is extortionate. The idea of everyone doing what they love is not feasible. The economy would plummet. The world’s population would be made up of musicians, painters, writers and people hiding in wardrobes. If we’re going to adopt this view, we’d best hope that a lot of people love the idea of working in Tesco, otherwise we’ll never get our groceries.

Perhaps, I am taking the statement far too literally – I do operate at that end of the spectrum where I take most things at face value. Maybe what is meant is – whatever you are doing, do your best to try and love it. Focus on the plus points, on the bonuses and the people, even if you hate them. That sounds good doesn’t it? So if you work in sewage treatment, you could focus on the knowledge that you’ll get a lot of money and the job market in your chosen field will never get too competitive. Or my personal favourite perk of that job: you can get a certain level of satisfaction knowing that you literally have to wade through and sort out everyone’s faecal matter rather than just metaphorically. It makes for a good conversation starter.

Wherever you work and in whatever field, find ways to make it satisfying. Find ways to make it amusing. Find ways to get through the day. I often find not wearing underpants gives me enough of a kick to get me through to lunchtime, but each to their own. It can be anything. There is that old saying ‘only boring people get bored.’ Which ironically, is usually said by incredibly dull individuals, but for the purpose of churning out more words, I will adopt its philosophy. If you find yourself bored in the office, find ways to make it entertaining. A creative type will always find ways to amuse themselves. Insert song lyrics into emails, see how many people notice. See how many coffees you can drink before you collapse in a caffeine induced fit of anxiety and despair. Become the guy who’s memorised the company handbook so you can pedantically quote it at other people to make their day slightly worse. Stand up and loudly declare ‘life is too short for this nonsense and I shall not waste another second!’ then storm out and never come back.

Maybe not. So what then?

In working life there appear to be two things of importance.

  1. A necessity to work to earn enough money not to be hungry.
  2. A personal necessity for self-fulfilment.

The trick is trying to keep the two balanced.

It’s true there are fulfilling things that don’t pay a great deal, just as there are jobs that pay enough to not be hungry, but to many are deeply unfulfilling. We seem to need both in order to live happy lives, I could get into Karl Marx’s alienation theory, but I sat through those lectures myself, and found they were incredibly boring so I shan’t.

Fulfilment may not necessarily come from occupational achievements, or doing a job you like, but from the location in which you live. If you’re not happy with this, change that first… then focus on a satisfying career… although to do so would require money, which in turn requires a job, which would directly influence where you can live. See, it’s all rather complicated. The people that live by this statement are either incredibly lucky, pretentious fuckwits with rich parents; or just find repetitive and menial tasks interesting and therefore consider themselves to be living the dream when analysing data.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just really hate that quote, and I want everyone to stop using it.

 

My New and Improved Coffee Shop

This may seem absurdly melodramatic given the subject nature, but I’m afraid it definitely needs to be said. It is no secret that coffee shops are big business, they have become cultural epicentres of our society where folk from all walks of life congregate to catch up on the recent news, global and social, read books, write things, have meetings and all that nonsense, whilst getting our caffeine fix. We love coffee, it’s sophisticated. There are no longer any shops, just coffee places. Schools have been bulldozed and replaced with Costas. Hospitals have been demolished to make way for Starbucks and your house is soon to be knocked down so they can put in one of those infuriatingly pretentious cafes, where everything is organic and cruelty free and your latte is made by a bloke with a ‘quirky’ beard and haircut or a woman with an incredibly pierced face.

Now, I could get worked up into a sweary tirade at our pathetic existence, the way we cannot go a day without a latte. I could lament the fact that we all gladly spend £3 for a cappuccino (which according to adverts is enough to save an abused child, or a hard worked donkey). I could decry our obsession with Frappenappiatos and various quantities of frothed milk, but I shan’t. Instead, I shall – with almost zero self-awareness – that we need a coffee shop that tailors exclusively to the sad, single losers with no friends.

I.E me.

The first reason for this, is I fucking hate other people’s children.Unless they’re somehow related to me, and therefore have some evolutionary reason not to hate them, or at the very least a social obligation to somehow want to keep them alive, I find them the most irritating creature on the planet. Yes, they are more irritating than the pigeon that keeps me up at 3 in the fucking morning with its relentless cooing. The world is too densely populated, yet people insist on churning out sprog. I shan’t go into that here, as we haven’t the time, nor have you the patience. Also, every time I speak about it I question my sanity.

I am by no means an expert on the human child, but I’m fairly certain that should you ask one what it would see as a pleasant day out, it would not respond ‘Oh, that nice little coffee shop, the one that does the paninis.’To me it is obvious that, to a child, there is nothing more boring than a couple of long hours in an establishment where the primary purpose is to produce drinks children do not like. They get restless, they get bored and they start to fucking run about making endless amounts of noise. They become the definition of little shits, whining moaning, pointing at things or giggling away like the stupid little twats that they are. It is for this reason that I hate them. Their parents are usually of a middle-class persuasion and therefore less than useless, because the middle-classes are raised to believe that whatever happens in life, one must never make a scene. Even if their legs exploded they would politely sit there and wait until someone offered to put them in a wheelbarrow and wheel them to the nearest hospital, before it is turned into a Pret a Manger. So kids run riot, and the parents ineffectually shush them whilst reddening with embarrassment and social unease, making it very difficult for lonely old me to sit in the corner contentedly staring into the abyss.

Then there are babies, the smaller variant of the human child. On the whole, these aren’t as bad in themselves, but modern parents are no longer content in wheeling them around in what is effectively a potato sack on wheels. Now they must have the best all terrain vehicles to transport their child. HUge things with gargantuan wheels, wing mirrors, sat-navs and wide screen tvs. They decide that the best place to take these things are our coffee shops, forming the most challenging of obstacle courses that even the fucking SAS would struggle to complete. And if you dare bump their pushchairs, or look at them in exasperation, they look at you like the scum you are. They pull Tomahawks from their handbags and kill you dead.

New mothers think it acceptable to meet in these coffee shops, they are naive, think they can still have lives despite the little parasite feeding off them. They take their babies and try to chatter away about their school catchment areas, what was on the telly that evening, what Beatrice the nosy cunt of a neighbour has been up to.

‘She’ll get a jar of acid in the face if she isn’t careful.’ They say as their babies start to fuss.

‘That’s if she’s lucky.’ The babies will get louder as their mothers try and pacify them everything to hand.

‘I’d knock her down with my car, then when she’s incapacitated cover her in petrol and set her on fire!’ they’ll continue with that strained and desperate look to their eyes as they try to ignore the fact that they’ve ruined their lives.

All the while making it harder for sad sacks of shit like myself to plot how they’d go about hanging themselves.

Then there are those with friends and families. Those that enter a busy coffee shop when I am at the front of the queue, when seats are scarce, but I am at the front. I have waited patiently, listening to the hiss and whine of the machines. I have waited without complaint as the gormless turd behind the counter fumbles with my change. I am at the front, so I should be fine, there are a few seats left. Then they come in.

‘Ooh, it’s busy, do you want to get the drinks I’ll get us a table!’

Fuck you. Fuck you until you die!

You can’t do that. It’s not fair.

It puts those without friends at an unreasonable disadvantage.

Some times these bastards are old. And seem to use their age as an excuse. Because of their bad legs. But they spot a table and they’re leaping over scattered pushchairs, weaving between bored and misbehaving children, intent on getting that seat before me – who being at the front of the queue – deserves that table. It is my right! Fucking old people, why don’t they have the decency to die like in the good old days.

So in short, I have a dream of a coffee shop in which people like me can get coffee in a place they feel at ease, where they needn’t even make eye contact with another living creature and can contemplate the pointlessness of it all in peace.

And they sell whiskey.