We All Become One With the Void.

Online dating finally made it possible to get love off the Internet, finally allowing us to live our lives to the fullest without having to stand up. There are a lot of people trying to monetise love. Match.com, for instance, charges a large sum and ties you into a set period of time. I somehow got a discount for this legal human auction and for six months I tried my best to woo a human. I didn’t get very far. I had a conversation with a dental assistant and tried to arrange a date but she had to postpone. She also lived far away and nobody has time for that.

For those of us that are financially disadvantaged, there are free services. The main players are Tinder and Bumble. Both are created by the same man and are effectively the same premise. I was assured by various acquaintances that it was easy to get ‘laid’ through Tinder. I have since sued them all for false advertising.

For those that don’t know (I know everyone knows, but I like to bulk up my blogs to make it seem I’ve done something productive. The three people that read them appreciate it) the premise is simple. You are presented with a slab of meat (a human) and you swipe right for a ‘yes I like them’ or left for ‘no thanks.’ There is also a middle option which is a super like. It ultimately doesn’t matter which way you swipe, the outcome is the same. That is nothing.

Bumble is a bit different in the sense that, should you match, the woman involved gets to take the lead. I’m not sure what happens for those interested in same-sex relationships. I assume no one’s allowed to speak first and everyone involved is forced to endure a lifelong relationship in silence.

In my experience. Bumble features successful, career driven types who often look beautiful in an elegant and yet approachable sense. It has this strange middle-class vibe where everyone is a little socially awkward, but all secretly believe they’re better than others. I have swiped and I have swiped and I have swiped. I received a message stating ‘you have viewed all the people in your area. Consider increasing your search radius.’ I did so and then continued swiping. Until the message came up again. I extended it as far as it would allow, and it said ‘you have swiped all the women on the planet. Consider letting go and stepping into the void. No one’s alone in the void. You are the Void and the Void is you. We all become one with The Void in the end.’

This started to freak me out, so I switched to Tinder. I had high hopes for Tinder due to the aforementioned ease of laying. Much to my horror, I found the users of tinder to be slightly rougher around the edges, in that some of the people are in desperate conditions. I have it on good authority that the men are in the same condition. I believe this is why the laying is supposed to be easy. Everyone is so desperate to fight off loneliness that they lose the concept of disgust.

I swipe and I swipe and I swipe. But I get nowhere. I assume the system’s rigged. There’s a conspiracy against me. I’m destined for greater things. I have to believe this.

Otherwise, I must accept it’s down to my face and my personality. Down that path madness lies.

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Let the stag do die… kill it if you have to

I currently sit writing in a Welsh cottage sipping a glass of wine and pondering the written word. One, because I am a pretentious douche and two, because I am waiting for a spag bol to cook. I feel I can’t leave the pan because the last three times I have left something on simmer, I forgot about it entirely and ruined a perfectly edible dinner and a perfectly decent pan. The wine is a white one, the name of which I don’t know because I only tend to drink wine when I’m flexing my pretentious douche muscles or it’s the only thing on offer.

It was on my way to Wales (albeit just in Wales – my bed is probably half in half out), that I stopped in a service station. These are bizarre places. A hidden magical world contained within our own. They are convergence points in time where all manner of creatures from every decade imaginable may pass through, brush shoulders and share tales of the past and warn of things to come. Mostly, however, it was where they pee and then buy an overpriced coffee.

It was here I happened to overhear a group of men. They were all men, and not just biologically male, but MEN. They were extremely vocal about how male they really were. These were the sort of people who viewed being born with a fleshy appendage between their legs as a thing to be regarded as an achievement and therefore worthy of boasting.

I have a penis, but I tend to regard it with casual indifference these days, much like the rest of the world. This group of MEN belong a subset of the male gender (a word that’s becoming increasingly confusing these days, it’s an interesting linguistic journey we have embarked on in recent years). They are lads. In much the same way that all Uruk-hai are orcs, but not all orcs are Uruk-hai (no doubt I am misremembering my LotR lore. Do not engage me in a lengthy debate; I am on holiday), all lads are MEN but not all men are lads.

Very occasionally, a group of lads split off from the general horde of slathering shits and embark on an age-old ritual known as ‘a Stagg Do’. It is my sincerest hope that this dies a painful death. I hope it dies choking on its own blood, writhing in the mud and filth from which it sprang. Once dead, I hope it is stricken from the annals of history. I hope anyone who dares utter the phrase ‘Stagg Do’ is castigated and cast out of society if not immediately bludgeoned to death with the nearest blunt implement.

Not wishing to seem to hard on MEN and lads, women (those born without penises and possessed of a womb in this definition) occasionally do similar things. Their ritual is known as a Hen Do. These are still relatively deplorable, but apparently, they are steeped in sexual liberation (for womankind, of course, men have always been fairly free when it comes to sex). There are many reasons why the woman’s ritual is called a Hen Do rather than a Hind Do. The most obvious is of course that, as far as the Lad and MEN are concerned, women are so inferior that they can’t even be considered as regal as a deer. No, where Lads and MEN are concerned, Women are weak, ugly and scraggly looking hens. In fairness, to continue this imagery, you would think the Stag Do would be referred to as the ‘Cock Do’ seeing as there tends to be one dominant cock or rooster among a … (gaggle?) of hens. However, it isn’t because cock – being a slang term for the penis – means a cock do would sound somewhat homoerotic, and if there’s one thing a Lad feels is worthy of more scorn than a woman (or hen), it’s a homosexual. Which is quite interesting all things considered. I will delve into it more later.

This group of Lads, on the way to complete their Stag Do, were travelling in the opposite direction to myself, which gladdened me. From my research, I believe the Stag and Hen do is a pre-wedding celebration, falling sometime after an engagement party and a brief period before a wedding. People cannot get married unless they’ve had a certain number of celebrations prior to the main celebration that is the wedding. To some, it is viewed as a final farewell from the groom or bride to be to their friends. To others, it is to revel in one last night of freedom. The former is an acceptance that their youth lies behind them, and they start a new chapter in which they are committed to another human and, as such, may not have the same amount of time for their friends. The latter is an ostentatious fuck you to the one you intend to marry. It is an expensive way to demonstrate the sheer lack of respect you hold for the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.

Ironically, either way, you look at it, shows that those who feel the need to have a Stag Do or a Hen Do, should not be getting married. If you feel that when married, you must sacrifice your friendships to devote more time to this other person, then the chances are, you will spend too much time together and end up resenting one another. If you feel that sharing your life with one other person and refraining from sleeping with anyone else is synonymous with imprisonment, then you are a cunt. Marriages to cunts tend not to last long.

‘The Dos’ which they shall now be referred to, have evolved over time. Once, they involved going out with close friends and having one too many at a pub. Then they became going out with a few friends and having nine too many, before falling into a deep existential despair, crying and/or fighting before eventually throwing up. The last step is apparently to dispel demons.

Alas, for the modern Stag or Hen, this is no longer enough. The Dos involve spending a ludicrous amount of money flinging each other around the world to spend a long weekend at an overly extravagant resort or going go-karting or paintballing. The last to are unfortunately more common among the MEN to once again prove their manliness. Men like fast cars and men like violence, so it makes sense to drive fast fake cars and take part in faux violence all whilst reaffirming the fact that they like having sex with women.

Having not been privy to any Hen Dos and only seen a few at a distance, I don’t know if this is the same as them, although, in my experience, women tend to be a bit more relaxed about sexuality than MEN, that is to say, Lads.

You see, a lack of self-awareness is an unfortunate genetic trait of the Lad. Were they to take an objective look at what they were doing, there would be many a revelation. At the very least, they’d tone it down a bit.

They’d see that the Stag Do involves a man, going out in a group that is strictly male where they often talk about how much they like having sex with women and how wonderful it is to have a penis, whilst celebrating their last night of freedom, before they are forced to spend their lives having sex with a woman. They’d put all this together and realise that maybe they don’t want to be married and maybe…they don’t like women. At the very least, they’ll realise that their notion of ‘manliness’ is flawed and prevents them from being anything other than a crude cut out. They would realise they no longer have to strive to prove themselves to be MEN, because the word has no relevance anymore.

If we could rid the world of the blight of the stag and hen do, the gender divide would lessen. Homophobia would decrease and we’d all be a lot happier. The only thing that would remain would be racism and we could easily get rid of that by all agreeing that the notion of ‘culture’ is an arbitrary barrier extrapolated from the weird shit our ancestors used to get up to before Netflix came along.

More on that later in the week.

 

Note: I am very much aware that this whole piece comes across as patronising and a touch classist. I am aware that increasingly, stag and hen dos are being seen as a celebration of love and tend to be mixed (primarily in more middle-class metropolitan areas and those who read the Guardian). In terms of classism, the notion of the lad (or whatever the female version is, if you’re the type that needs one) transcends class. I know many a ‘laddish’ type with the ‘lad’ mentality and mannerisms who live in detached houses in the suburbs and drive expensive Audis that their fairly wealthy parents bought for them. The Lad, is not then, a working-class cheeky chappy. Unless of course, you believe these Audi driving types able to get onto the property ladder in increasingly expensive areas working class. In which case, the classes make less sense than they ever did and we should all shut up about it.

I am also aware of the distinct possibility that my grammar is all over the place. My day job involves a hefty amount of proof reading. I’m on holiday. Fuck punctuation.

 

 

 

Beard Syndrome

I write this having consumed, currently consuming and planning on consuming more wine. That is wine consumption in both the past present and future, which is quite a feat. I say this now so that my loose approach to grammar and inability to write a sentence that doesn’t meander on and go off on tangents is put down to the imbibing of alcohol, not lack of talent.

First and foremost, I love the fantasy genre. This needs to be said because it will seem like I’m throwing a lot of shit at this beloved section of literature. There was a time when fantasy was much maligned. I remember trying, as a young adult, to find an agent for my young adult fantasy series. Most websites for such and a few smaller publishers (that were still excited by the prospects of new authors) who accepted unsolicited manuscripts categorically did not accept fantasy. It was as if it was the literary world’s shameful secret. Like an obscure fetish that should be hidden at all costs. It was something to be sneered at.  Why this was is beyond me. LoTR is fantastic and it depresses me that I’ll never see The Shire. Star Wars is life. Yes. Star Wars is fantasy. Spaceships and laser guns is not the definition of sci-fi. If anything, Star Wars is LoTR in space… old wizard, young unsuspecting farm boy, destruction of an ultimate weapon.

Good fantasy is far superior to any other genre out there. That is fact.

Noticing the literary world’s apparent disdain for the genre, esteemed academic (me) wrote in his (or her) dissertation Is Fantasy Fiction Worthy of Academic Study? That: “Yes… yes, it is.” Although, he (she/I) went on to say that, “Whilst it is undoubtedly worthy, maybe it shouldn’t be.” Primarily because I feel the idea of reading a book with the purpose of ‘studying’ it is the most preposterous pursuit one could ever undertake. To steal and then paraphrase a quote, and use it entirely out of context (my method throughout my academic career) E.B. White once remarked “Analysing humour is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested, and the frog dies of it.” It works the same for analysing a book.

This prompted my tutor to ask why I chose to do an English Literature degree. My go-to response was ‘Because theatre has very few career prospects.’ She laughed, but in hindsight I know she was laughing at the irony of it all.

Now as a proper adult (26), having given up on the young adult series and concentrated on some literary fiction,  every bugger seems to be accepting fantasy. I put this down to all the money Game of Thrones is making. The fantasy section is packed full of books. The Kindle marketplace has even more to offer (though this is largely down to the fact that just about anyone can publish there). There’s so much choice. There’s fantasy in abundance. However, the last three attempts I have made at reading a fantasy book have not gone well, and I have started to realise why (historically) fantasy has struggled so to finally find acceptance in literary circles. It’s because so many people are shit at writing it.

Fantasy seems to attract a lot of people to it. I put it down to the fact that it’s packed full of excitement and imagination. It can cover the entire emotional spectrum, feature interesting characters who have to make hard choices. It ultimately holds a mirror up to reality and allows us to see reality from multiple perspectives all whilst being entertaining. With fantasy, anything can happen.

Which makes it all the stranger that the same thing keeps happening over and over again.

It takes me a long time to settle on a book when I’m choosing, primarily because I have to sort through the books that suffer from what I have called ‘beard syndrome’. Beard syndrome is a funnier way to say a cliched piece of shit. I am drawn to a book by its cover, which is apparently something we shouldn’t do, but then if that’s the case why don’t books just have blank covers and why do publishers spend so much money making fancy colourful ones? Well? Why? Of course, you can judge a book by its cover, even if you’re taking it metaphorically. See a man with a man bun, you can almost guarantee he’s a cunt. Sorry… that’s the wine.

Any fantasy book that features a photograph of a model holding a sword is instantly out. They usually look all dark and brooding. Book covers should never have photos… it just seems wrong.

If I like the cover I read the blurb, which is usually where most books are discarded. Here is a blurb:

Centuries ago, the Thru’ghar were defeated and their dark powers contained by the Sandstone Order. Peace and prosperity have reigned over the land and innocence have been allowed to flourish. Alas, all good things come to an end. Rosha, an orphaned thief plies her trade on the streets of Vericia. Each night she dreams strange dreams.  A shadow is rising in the south.

 The gates to the Sandstone Temple have opened once again.

That was the blurb for The Shadow’s Heir a fantasy novel that was just made up by me just now to illustrate a point. This is the general format of the blurb found on books with Beard Syndrome.  A dark age, followed by a golden age, interrupted by the coming of another dark age. There will be Dark Lord’s galore. Cloaks will billow. A sinister and world-changing threat will loom on the horizon and at some point, a bloke with a beard will turn up. It might be a big long beard or a short well kept one, but it will be there. He’ll know a lot about a lot and will generally be fairly two dimensional.

Anyway, I’ll save a deeper explanation of beard syndrome for when I’m less drunk

So, of the massive amount of fantasy novels that exist, many are discarded because of their covers and many more are discarded because of beard syndrome. Then what of those that remain. Well, some will appear to have an interesting premise or a certain flair, after all, even if their plots do seem cliched and worn out, it’s often about the journey, not the destination… and all that. So it’s about the way they’re written. And so, some books shall eventually be bought by me. Then I shall start reading them. And then my frustration mounts. Because of this small percentage of chosen books, a large portion of them are written by people who can’t write.  And I seem to be the only person who notices!

I say this fully aware that I am not a published writer, so therefore have no grounds to accuse successful novelists of being bad writers. But I will do just that damn it. Not outright, just in case they read this and decide to track me down and try to kill me.

The book I’m currently struggling with has an average of 4 – 4.5 stars on most sites. That’s almost the highest number of stars you can have. In theory, this should be good. In theory.

“___ chest tightened a little as he watched her. As the last few months had flown by, he’d faced plenty of fears about becoming a Shadow. It had been only recently, though, that he’d realized that never being able to see Asha again was far and away the worst of them.”

This is immediately after the first female character has been introduced. I did a few creative writing modules at uni and discovered they were terrible. However, the main thing they kept banging on about is show don’t tell. This is a clear case of the latter. Whilst I disagree with the notion as if well written, telling can be much better than showing, this is not well written. The character has literally just turned up and straight away it’s rammed home that there will be some form of romantic subplot. I hope that the character develops into something more than an object of desire, but such is the demand for romantic subplots, I very much doubt she’ll escape this particular shackle.

“Students were not supposed to speak to non-Gifted about their training, but he and Mistress ___ regularly flouted that rule. She had looked after him for years after he’d been left to the school’s care as an infant. She had the right to know at least a little of what was going on in his life.”

Originally, this seemed to be from the point of view of the main character. Now it seems to have shifted to omniscient. If so, it’s clunky exposition. If it is still from the position of the main character, then his thoughts are odd to say the least. The author is trying to give us context, introduce context and characters, and their relationships. This is a novel that spans close to 700 pages. Why are these points crammed into lifeless paragraphs?

Why?

It’s this that gives fantasy its bad name. It’s this struggle that leaves me grappling with a love/hate relationship. It leaves me worrying what’s going to happen in the remaining 575 pages I’ve yet to read, not because I’m caught up in the adventure, but because the writing is sub-par.

I suppose that’s why literary fiction gets such an easy ride. When the story is about nothing and everything that happens must be grounded in reality. Then the writing needs to be damned good. Otherwise, what’s the point? Who’d read about reality otherwise? Reality is boring. You can see reality by looking out the window, it won’t cost you £8.99 to do that.

Anyway, that’s the third glass down. I’ll stop there, because I realise this has lost its way and the point isn’t really worth making.

 

What I’ve Learned From Online Dating

Having been alone for a long time, I finally caved under the immense pressure to start some sort of online dating. The internet has made many things more efficient it seems. We can shop, manage our bank accounts, book holidays and even find love without leaving our house. Or in my case the various places people permit me to sleep since I technically became homeless.

I got a discount for one of the ones you have to pay for at first. I thought if I’m paying, my success rate should be significantly higher, because if I’m paying for love I better get it damn it. I had very little success, I seem to attract weirdos. This could have something to do with the fact I put strange things in the various description boxes, forgetting that irony is very hard to actually read. Long story short with that one, I spoke to one person who had an unhealthy obsession with the Linkin Park guy.

My subscription ran out and I demanded my money back under the principle I paid for love and am still lonely. I didn’t get my money back.

Then I moved onto the likes of Tinder and Bumble and I have learned a few things.

  1. Women get a lot more attention.

Despite my personality, I somehow know and talk to a large number of people. I have a diverse range of contacts from different backgrounds, ethnicities and gender. I know attractive women and I know plain looking women, all of them have literally hundreds of ‘likes’ or whatever you call it on Tinder and the like. Straight away their phones lit up with all the interest they were getting. They all have dozens of conversations going on at the same time, landing them in the comfortable position of being able to discard men on a whim knowing they’ll be easily replaced. There are many possible reasons for this, which I will laboriously go into for the sake of more words. I will also place links within my article, feel no pressure to follow them, I do so for SEO purposes, I don’t even check the content really. Also, I’m not necessarily complaining that women have it ‘easier’ on online dating, the old adage ‘quality not quantity’ comes to mind (one friend had a conversation that started with a request that she pee on a guy, not even a hello first). Not to mention, throughout history women have had a hard time of it, so it’s about time they had an advantage somewhere.

As a man with various friends who are also men, I can attest that men are pathetic. We’re either desperately needy and emotionally unstable, or we’re overly ‘macho’ and sex obsessed, viewing each sexual experience as some sort of conquest. The former can be somewhat overbearing, and the latter are pricks. However, both type leads men to swipe right for just about anyone. Women on the other hand, tend to swipe only those they are attracted to, which is sort of the point.

There’s also that pesky business of evolution to consider. As much as we like to think we’re intelligent, logical beings that have distanced themselves from the animals, all that means is that we’re deluded. Everything ultimately comes down to survival and the continuation of the species. Even if you definitely know that you don’t want children, I’m afraid the instincts are still there, secretly controlling your bodies and your emotions. Over the years, men have merely been the provider of sperm, often going from woman to woman in a bid to spread humanity as far as it can possibly go. We are now victims of our own success to some degree, with population rapidly spiralling out of control. Women on the other hand, had to do most of the heavy lifting carrying little shits around in their wombs for nine months, painfully squeezing them out of their vaginas (which would often result in death, either by bleeding or infection, before the marvel of modern medicine).

This would go someway to explain the Tinder phenomenon. Men’s continual right swiping is reminiscent of them going from woman to woman depositing their DNA. Men are less picky when it comes to choosing potential mates, often coming down to ‘do they have a vagina?’. Women on the other hand, with the risk of becoming pregnant always in the back of their minds, won’t willingly throw themselves at just anyone. It has to be worth the risk. Or the person in question has to have good strong genes to create a better child (even when there are no plans to have a child). The potential mate has to be able to defend said child through to adulthood. Also, as already established, men are either pathetic or pricks, so there’s certainly more reason to be picky leading to less arbitrary swipes.

  1. Everyone claims to love travel.

One of the creators of Tinder went on to develop Bumble, on which I also experimentally made an account. The result of which is more loneliness. I see Bumble as a more middleclass Tinder. Make an account and have a look and you’ll see what I mean.

The twist to Bumble, is that women have to make the ‘first move’ once matched it is up to them to make contact, because unfortunately we live in a time where men should be treated as sinister sex pests until proven otherwise. I would complain, but I realise several paragraphs ago I discussed how a man’s ice breaker was asking a woman to piss on him, so I don’t have much of a case.

On my excursions into the world of Bumble I have noticed that roughly 110% of people claim to be lovers of travel. This seemingly innocuous statement irks me. I find it irksome, and that’s not a word I take lightly. One, people seem to think the idea of travel makes them seem like better people. Two, everyone’s idea of travel seems to involve just sitting on some sand in a hot place. Three, pointlessly flinging yourself around the world will not bring you any form of contentment. If you’re so miserable where you are, chances are you’ll be miserable elsewhere too.

I hate travel. Anyone that says they love it is either a liar, an idiot or a combination of the two. A statement which is also my description on the cursed app.

  1. People will exploit filters, group shots and fancy angles to make themselves look more appealing.

Whilst I shouldn’t judge people for this, I really judge people for this. Having five pictures on your profile, all of them group shots is infuriating. Which one are you? If you do it in the hope people will think your more attractive friend is you then you’re in for a disappointing date. If you’re doing it because you’re stood next to your less attractive friends and therefore look better by comparison, then you’re a bad friend, and they’ll be using the same group shot in the hope that people think that they are you, in which case they’re in for a disappointing date.

Ever since Snapchat gave people the ability to stick bunny ears on their head, squish their face inwards and make their eyes big enough to pass as an anime character (look at me referencing anime, I don’t watch that shit!), online dating has been awash with these blemish free pictures. Once again, this is setting everyone up for disappointment.

Unfortunately, the fancy angles aspect is mostly employed by women as an unfortunate result of centuries of patriarchy treating women as meat. Whereas men can proudly sport a larger frame or work hard on perfecting their beer belly without too much judgement, women beyond a certain size are often discarded. Therefore, the larger woman will take shots from higher angles and only of their face, giving the illusion that they are not a larger woman. Which is madness, madness I say! Post a picture of you, if people don’t like you for you, they’re not worth your time! Unless they don’t like you for you because you’re a bellend, in which case be less of a bellend.

Surely, the logical thing to do is post the worst possible picture of you. If people are still interested, you know they’re taking it seriously and not fucking about!

  1. Full-time mummy is apparently a thing.

Having set my Tinder and Bumble to show me women, I don’t know if there are a lot of profiles saying ‘full time daddy’, I hope there is so there’s at least some sort of balance and I don’t come across as a misogynist. I try my hardest not to be any kind of ist. I mean, I’ve already said men are pricks lots of times, so I should be safe. Anyway, if you’ve got ‘Full Time Mummy’ as your career, it means you are unemployed, just put that you are unemployed.

Parenthood is hard work sure, but it’s not a career. All it does is make people think you have very little going on beyond your offspring. My mother is a fulltime mental health nurse, when she comes home, she then looks after her 9 year old daughter, does that mean she moonlights as a mummy? If your relationship deteriorated and you have your kids on the weekend, does that make you a part time parent? When your child is at school, is that an extended coffee break? Or is that when you catch up on all that paperwork that comes from ensuring your offspring survives another day? What kind of career progression is there for a full-time mummy? Do you get to become a manager of team of other mummies?

Not only is this self-aggrandising, but it’s implying that the thousands of mothers/fathers who work, are lesser parents, despite you know, working long hours to provide an income to pay for their children before coming up and taking care of their children. Every parent is a full time parent, unless their children are robots that can be turned off three days a week.

  1. I’m quite unlikable and likely to die alone.

This one speaks for itself.

 

 

 

We Awkard Many

Speak to anyone long enough and they’ll confess to some level of social insecurity. Whilst I feel I can objectively say that most people don’t feel as useless as the small social circle I inhabit, it is there nonetheless.

A brief Google involving two key words ‘social’ and ‘inept’ brings up a host of results, the top ones being how to ‘deal’ with social awkwardness and a test to find out just how socially awkward you are. It’s quite mainstream then, to have no idea how to behave like a human being, who biologists tell us, are social beings.

The odd thing is, if we all feel, to some degree, that we are socially inept why do we keep up the pretences? Why do clubs exist? Does the monotonous music played at a volume as to make conversation impossible work in our favour? Is it there to save us the bother of trying to connect intellectually or emotionally to other human beings?  We’d be better served if they played some good music, save us the hassle of trying to think of anything of any value to say, whilst helping us connect emotionally, rather than just playing whatever drivel Drake happens to be spouting. I hate Drake. Every one of his songs sounds identical and yet each one has makes me feel like despairing in their own unique way.

How have we got to this stage? How has a race that’s managed to build the entirety of what we call ‘civilisation’ become so… useless? The one thing that apparently helped us get to where we are, our ability to work together, our innate socialness that constructed the pillars that hold up society as we know it, is in fact a very frail and fragile thing.

Have we become more self-aware? Has the internet connected us so well, that we’ve time to look at ourselves and find us wanting? Is it technology? Has technology made our lives that much easier that we have more time for self-reflection?

I was once working on a film. Which sounds fun to say and makes me sound like my life is somewhat interesting. I was to be an extra in a film, the filming date was cancelled due to wind, the weather kind, the director didn’t have a stomach ache, Colin Firth wasn’t farting like mad. Anyway. A load of us were transported to a warehouse to try out our costumes.

We were a rag tag band from various backgrounds thrust together by fate. Beautiful friendships could have been made. Love that echoes through the ages could have come about. If we only talked to each other. We arrived half an hour early and had to sit in a canteen somewhere. We could have opened our mouths and started speaking, but we didn’t. What we did was scoop out our phones from our pockets or from depths of bottomless handbags. We looked at these screens and tapped away endlessly to avoid any kind of interaction.

Well I didn’t. My phone was playing up. I was reading Catch-22, which makes me intellectually superior to anyone else there. It does. I mean it’s entirely possible that someone else was using their phone to read Catch-22 but to that I say ‘shh!’

Britain has  been described as ‘the loneliness capital of Europe’, albeit as far back as 2014, which may not seem like a long time, but that was when I still had hope. Is a sense of social detachment ingrained in our DNA? Was the British Empire just a huge reaction to our overwhelming feelings of loneliness? Did our ancestors cross the seas and steal people’s countries, so we can feel less lonely?

You’ll notice I’ve thrown a lot of questions out there, to which I don’t have any answers. The truth is, I’m very drunk. I just left a club. I was with a group. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Someone I think I love was there. She disappeared. There was a long queue for the toilets. So I disappeared too.

If Love Makes us Human, I Wish to be a Potato.

The majority of us will occasionally have day where we get punched in the heart. Depending on how attractive/charismatic you are (or in most cases the lack of such qualities) you may experience this on a number of occasions. I am of course referring to that oft mentioned feeling of unrequited love. If you have never felt this, then fuck you.

We’re obsessed with love and the loss of it, and the never having of it with particular persons. Just look at the history of song writing. Sorrowful love ballad after angry ‘why don’t you love me song.’ In order to understand this feeling it’s key to understand just what love is. Now the best minds throughout time have struggled with this one. It is in essence, what makes us human. There are infatuations, which can range from mild to severe, crushes, which are always mild… and there are the odd ones where you fall in love with an actress you’ll never meet and email her agent video clips of you weeping.

Then there is that feeling. The profound, inexplicable feeling that rests in your chest and drops down to your stomach and then shudders through you whole body. This is the real deal. This is love, and it’s scary and irritating and disrupts your sleep, and makes you late for work, then they say “why are you late for work?” And you say “I’m in love!” and they say “Well whatever, we’re docking your pay!”

There is no explanation from this. That is what makes it a truly human feeling. It is safe from the clinical eyes of the scientist who has a deep rooted obsession with trying to break things down into their constituent parts and give them long, sciencey sounding names. It is separate from lust. For when you get this feeling, sex is often far from your mind. In fact, you will be prepared to watch an entire season of that ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt’ sitcom with them, just to be in the same room. To give you an idea of just how profound that statement is, the ‘hit American sitcom’ is awful… it is, my flatmate watched the whole thing, and even when I wasn’t in the same room I was filled with the urge to smash some plates and use the shards to gouge out my own eyes. Words do not do this feeling justice, so to adequately describe it, I want you to start screaming. Not in a shrill way, nor a scared way an interrupted, disjointed scream that has no external cause.

Have you done it?

I’ll know if you’re lying… good.

Now there are two things you can do (technically three, but the third involves snapping and murdering everyone) when this intense feeling of love is not reciprocated by the unwitting vessel of your adoration.

  1. Act cooool it doesn’t really matter. It’s only feelings at the end of the day… nobody died (apart from you… on the inside) let’s continue with an amicable friendship. Push those feelings down, bottle them up until they mature like a fine wine.
  2. Go down fighting. List, in a reasonable way, all the reasons why loving you would be beneficial for everyone. Make sure they know just how you feel. Play them the above sound clip if needs be. Fight back against all their arguments. If they bring out the line ‘I just don’t like you in that way’ thinking that would be the end of it, grab a hold of their leg and scream “LOVE ME!” whilst oceans of tears leak from your besotted eyes.

Neither one does much to quell the potent brew of sorrow, regret and anger. Yes there is anger, anger directed at the world for being so cruel. Why give you these feelings if they will amount to nothing? Save to bolster record sales?

People will try to placate you, play down the tragedy that has befallen you.

“There’s plenty more fish in the sea.” Is what many like to say. Alas, this is an outdated phrase as, due to over fishing and pollution, our fish stocks are rapidly dwindling. The phrase should be “there ain’t many fish left! Fuck, what have we done?”

I get the point however; there are lots of people in the world (potentially incorrect use of the semi-colon there, please feel free to say so). The laws of probability dictate that no matter how unlovable you are, someone will be able to power through for the sake of killing loneliness.

When you are reeling from a shattered soul, a pulverised heart and a crushed mind this is not helpful, especially if it comes from the person you love.

There may be plenty of fish, but those stricken by love are taken by one fish. And, this phrase seems to forget the old adage: it’s quality, not quantity that matters. There is no helping at a time like this. The only course of action is to drink a lot and be alone with your self-pity.

In the weeks that follow, the outside world will become a terrible place. It’s filled with them. The happy people. The people that walk around holding hands with their significant other, desperate to show the world just how happy they are. Look! We’ve found love, isn’t that nice? They’ll parade this love before you, mocking you with it. Some will even go so far as to embrace – in public! Fuck them. They are bad people. Happy people are terrible people.

Every person you meet will somehow, unbidden, mention a boyfriend or a girlfriend. You, being bitter and twisted will enquire as to the quality. Hoping to pull at a thread that unravels their love, leaving it one ruined and smelly knitted love jumper. TAKE THAT LOVE!

But they’ll disappoint you ‘we love each other!’ of course they do, or worse – they’ll be in that content stage of a relationship, where they are effectively one person, their love doesn’t need to be spoken, it’s evident in the fact that they have week long arguments about washing powder. People who don’t love one another don’t waste time with such conflict.

Love is painful. It’s very very painful.

If love is what makes us human, I wish to be a potato.

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.