Someone told me my boss went to boarding school when he was a child. I replied that it confirmed my suspicions: he looks like the kind of bloke long accustomed to buying biscuits in bulk. My colleague didn’t get the reference; I had to explain.
Polite and well-spoken I may be, but some of my new colleagues are beginning to suspect that many of the conversations I have in my personal life are characterized by uncultured simplicity.
If my remark about the alleged tendency of certain types of teenage boys to masturbate together in a collective effort to add to the nutritional value of a McVitie’s Digestive didn’t give me away, it was my reaction when the same colleague asked if I went to private school: I spluttered ‘You must be JOKING!’
They took me for posh. They couldn’t have imagined, say, the state of the clapped-out Vauxhall Cavalier that dropped me off at the gates of my comprehensive school.
It’s the accent, I know. Early exposure to Blackadder and Jeeves & Wooster will do that, and, well, I suppose I’m as posh as you can get if you’re from the west midlands. It’s not saying much. Wearing glasses is posh in the midlands. Imagine a brummie accent: ‘Look at that cunt, fookin’ reckons he’s something, don’t he, mister flash wants to see more than ten feet away, don’t he? I’ll fookin’ give ‘im something to look at!’
I must have been asked the ‘what are you fucking looking at?’ question a hundred times. The best answer I ever came up with – while intoxicated, in the company of a 6’5″, 16 stone friend – was ‘Your girlfriend. What’s she doing with you?’
He tried to punch me, and missed.
I couldn’t wait to move to London, where people are civilised, right? Well, no, but my self delusion was nice while it lasted. London is the place where some bloke in his 60s got kicked to death by teenage girls a couple of weeks ago, and the place where two friends of mine were followed from a gay pub and beaten up last week.
It’s a spiritual struggle to move from wanting to blast such people’s kneecaps off with a shotgun to pitying them for being such a waste of space, but I managed it.
If you’re capable of kicking the fuck out of someone for no reason other than their sexual orientation, you cannot have experienced joy or love. You cannot have a sense of humour. You don’t have empathy. You are lacking in all the qualities that make life (just about) worth living. You keep your kneecaps, you’re already missing too much.
There, I feel better.
The other thing that challenged my new era of positivity this week was all the talk of Tony Blair being the first president of the european union.
I hate the focus on ‘intelligence failures’ when talking about the invasion of Iraq and its predictable aftermath: The intelligence was fixed around the policy, it was plain to see at the time and it’s even more obvious now. Arguments that countered the American neocon narrative were ignored, supressed or discredited.
Blair has no use for reality, he ‘only knows what he believes’. His truth is whatever serves his ego. He’ll tell you that black is white, and when you protest, he’ll tell you he ‘took a different view’.
Blair as EU president? It’s not so much that I don’t think he’s suitable, it’s more that if I think about the reality of his contribution to the world for long enough, I become suicidal. So, I feel quite strongly about it. But then I understood! I’m not alone! Just look at the 650 comments on this article published on the Guardian website! It’s a red herring! We’ll all be so relieved when Blair ISN’T pronounced president of the EU that we’ll forget to take to the streets with pitchforks, in protest that no-one asked us about it in the first place.
The start of the 21st century in Europe will be remembered as the time when the ruling classes stopped even bothering to pretend they had a democratic mandate.