Thursday, November 25, 2004

Sucker Punched

Tired today. Little Buttercup had an immunisation jab yesterday, so it was a long night. And it’s making me very fractious and cranky.

I’ve been left in charge of the department, without being told how any of the arcane, and quite frankly shit, software works, and I’ve got people chasing me up to do things I’m ill-equipped to handle. Bullshitting my way through tasks and telling people I’ll get back to them.

The Office Comedian, who looks like a cotton bud with a Bart Simpson haircut, never shuts his fucking mouth, and its aggravating me. It’s an endless flood of verbal effluent seeping into my ears.

He was mumbling some interminable joke / story / jibba jabba about wishing he could be a Dictator when he grew up.

I told him he had the first syllable down pat.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Dedicated Follower of Slacking

Dossing is an art. And I am a Grand Wizard of the Doss.

Most people (mistakenly) believe that dossing is just pissing away hour after hour on nothing at all. You know, shirking work.

I disagree. I think dossing is useful, practical and, occasionally, essential. Because, to me, dossing is using time for yourself, catering to your own desires, satiating your own curiosity, feeding your own mind, and neglecting everyone else’s bullshit.

Follow me down this cul-de-sac of rationalisation: I’m a writer. But…I don’t know what it’s like to get shot. I don’t know what it feels like falling out of an aeroplane. I haven’t experienced extreme poverty or extreme wealth. I have never been a butler, or a fireman, or an alcoholic, or a circus acrobat, or a rent boy. I don’t know what it’s like living in Arkansas, or Nepal, or in another century, or on another planet. Imagination will take me part of the way there. And the Internet will carry me the rest of the way, in its designated role as my personal database of misinformation, outright lies, shocking facts and amusing nonsense. Its fleshy truths yield and widen to the masterful probing of my fingers, unlocking its secrets with incantations framed as urls.

I am the only one working in my corner of the office this week. Which gives me a five-day window of opportunity to play with my electronic friend. I’ve “acquired” a laptop from a stash in the Server Room, I’ve tricked it out with all the trimmings I need to ply my solitary fun, I’ve hooked it up to a phone line away from the All-Seeing Evil Eye of the corporate firewall, and I let the games begin.

I’m deep into Day Three of my aimless ramble round the Internet, and I feel energised by it. I’ve finally caught up on a teetering slush-pile of unanswered e-mails. I’ve had the world’s news outlets at my disposal (despite the fact that I have no interest in Ozzy Osbourne’s stolen jewellery or Virgin Mary cheese sandwiches). I’ve hit all my favourite websites many times over. I’ve pinballed around the ‘Net from Neil Gaiman’s blog to a James Ellroy interview to a mother who cut off her baby’s arms to a story about a fraudulent film journalist who pretended to interview Stanley Kubrick. And much, much more besides.

My head is buzzing with ideas and inspiration. And I’m still managing to do my job, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some surfing to attend to.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Pearls from the Swine

Today’s glob of fatuous fuckwittery:

“You read The Guardian?! Didn’t know you were gay!”

I feel punchy from the pounding I take from the never-ending barrage of non-sequiturs hurled at my head every day.

Tards. The lot of them.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Confederacy of Dunces

Working out here in the Boondocks is frequently like working in a foreign country. I may only be 30 minutes away from the centre of London, but I am well and truly embedded in another world.

And I do try. I often find a small wedge to lever my way into stray conversations in a misguided attempt to get even mildly involved with my “colleagues”. But, most of the time, I end up wishing I hadn’t bothered.

When I was younger, I used to ratchet down hard on my vocabulary, and tamp down the urge to use all the words at my disposal from the reservoir of language sloshing away neglected in the murky waters of my brain pan. I used to find that it helped to keep me anonymous, subsumed into the hive mind, and it made me “one of the gang”.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been concerned with inclusiveness and fitting in. I really don’t give a shit what most people think of me. Take me or leave me. In the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man: “I yam what I yam, and that’s all I yam”. I can’t be arsed to pretend that I am stupider than I actually am. Fuck that.

An unusual side-effect of this, is that They all like to use me as a talking dictionary, asking for spellings of not-obscure words like “gesture” and “definitely”. And for some reason, there is a misconception around here that “prepare” is spelt “prepair”.

Here are just a few of the choice nuggets from the provincial fuckheads in recent days:

One of the office scumbags took a picture of his girlfriend’s tits with his mobile phone, and then showed it around the office. Classy guy. I’m sure the aforementioned girlfriend would be thrilled to know that her pixelated breasts were being used for in-house entertainment.

Another one decided to give a play-by-play of the Abi Titmuss and Paris Hilton home movies that he watched one-handed whilst eating his dinner on Friday evening.

The same person delights in deliberately mispronouncing my name. Have no doubt that I will shortly stick a straightened paper clip right into the soft meat of his left eyeball.

They all find themselves endlessly amusing (which they aren’t), and from what I can gather, it appears that They live on a steady diet of prime time television most evenings of the week, tirelessly quoting from bad shitcoms and reality TV shows.

Oh, and I’ve started slapping people down over the racial epithets. They don’t seem to understand. They just gawp and mumble, “Well, what are we supposed to call them then?”

I was starting to come around to thinking that working here for a year or so would be a good time to recharge and relax, a bit of fallow time before my inevitable return to a London Life. A vaguely decent salary, a more sedate life, and the ability to go home in the evenings at a reasonable time to chill with my wife and play with my daughter. But I am starved for intelligent interaction in this backward-ass place.

I’m Not a Moron….Get Me Out of Here!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Blood, Sweat and Peers

I believe that it was Thomas Edison who once said that genius was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

I have never made claims of genius about myself, but I think there’s a deeper point buried away in there, and I agree with it to an extent.

Let’s get this perspiration thing out of the way first. Yes, you will probably never achieve anything of note without putting in the hours, paying your dues, honing your craft, flexing certain creative muscles, whatever you want to call it. On the other hand, there are people in the world that may hammer away at something hour after hour, day after day, and all they will end up being is a solid craftsman. There may be no flair, nothing outstanding, nothing exceptional about their work, but they will be dependable and reliable and solid. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, it does mean that, at some point, inspiration or talent or the Muse or, yes, a touch of “genius” has to play a part. And probably in a quantity of slightly over and above 1%.

I think I’ve made it abundantly clear in this blog that my current job is by far one of the least mentally and physically taxing jobs I’ve ever had. And I think I’ve also made it pretty clear that I have yet to find any allies in this intellectually barren environment.

And I think that’s part of my problem. Because I really, really like to surround myself with intelligent, witty and original thinkers. I like to think that virtually all my friends fall into this category, because I crave constant stimulation, a constant flow of challenging ideas and, you knew it was coming, constant inspiration. The double whammy of this new job wedged in the Cornhole of Nowhere, and the domestic demands of rearing young Buttercup (who is herself something of an inspiration, and already showing signs of being a comedy genius, but we haven’t quite sussed out the intricacies of two-way conversation just yet), have left me isolated from the nourishing comforts of friendship and the stimulating banter that goes hand-in-hand with that.

I’ve struggled with stuff for weeks now. Last week, I had a couple of cracking ideas, one for a comic book and one for a movie script, and I fleshed those out for a couple of hours, and that felt pretty damn good. They were full of striking, dark, twisted images, and absolutely no solid story or plot yet. But it’s a start, I suppose.

I’ve pretty much stalled completely with film journalism recently. I just can’t get it to work at the moment, but I will persevere. I’ve got a couple of long overdue pieces pending, so I hope I snap out of that particular blockage soon.

I tooled around with a couple of self-imposed writing exercises this morning, one that involved writing purely in sound effects, and the other writing using only words that start with the next letter in the alphabet (Always Be Closing!), but neither worked.

At the same time, maybe I’m being a bit too ambitious at the moment. After all, I do have a new job, a newborn baby, and a wife who deserves an attentive husband. And all those parts of my life are tiring. Maybe writing isn’t meant to be floating at the periphery of my mind all the time right now.

Anyway, I’m clearly rambling now, and writing this was primarily a way for me to organise some stray ideas. Unfortunately, if you’ve read through this far, you are clearly a very patient reader who has been subjected to my disjointed thoughts. Sorry about that.

The good news is that I have a rare night out on Baker Street this Thursday coming, where I will be pitted against the titanic, boundless imagination of one of my Brothers. We will spitball ideas ranging from the stupid to the innovative and back again, and we will talk much crap, and we will laugh and smile, and we will smite our enemies with the razors of our wit, and the table will be slick with lime juice and beer, broken glass and blood and barbecue sauce. No one will be safe. Not even us. It will be the stuff of legend. I can’t wait.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Redtop Retards

Last night, George W. Bush and his band of Merry Republicans were elected into their second term running the world’s last remaining superpower. So, of course, today’s edition of The Sun leads with a completely different story on the front page. A story about Pop Idol Will Young being burglarised. Because it’s all about hard-hitting journalism for the crusading truth-seekers down at News International. They should all be melted down into slag and buried in a landfill somewhere. Then I could go and dance on their squishy entrails.

In a separate, but related, matter:

I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for the people I work with. But, if I did, every iota of that respect would have evaporated today. Braindead Employee Number One was pleased with The Sun’s front page news today, because he doesn’t care about the US Election, and “it doesn’t affect us anyway”…

Braindead Employee Number Two argued that it didn’t matter who was elected President, because they are equally shit anyway…

Clearly, the people I work with are marginally stupider than the anal discharge from a lobotomised Big Brother housemate.

Am I overreacting? I don’t think so.

Am I na├»ve to be continually surprised by the narrow perspective and shortsighted “I’m OK, so fuck everyone else” worldview of other people? Maybe.

Drink up, Arthur. The world’s about to end.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Gutted

Four more years. Four more motherfucking years.

Shit.

Now the insanity will begin in earnest. Ragnarok is coming. The last four years was just the warm-up act.

This is a dark, dark day, with the Smiling Satanic Simian flinging faeces at us from his Big White House.

I am indescribably depressed at this news.

War of the World

Ohio, oh-me-oh, oh-my-oh. Damn, this is a tight race. As tight as the garrotte pressing against the throat of our planet, a sliver of red spotting at the seam of tension from the coil of razor-sharp red tape. So tight that we all hold our breath waiting for the outcome and I, for one, am going blue in the face.

When I get home this evening, I’m going to dig out my unread copy of Jake Tapper’s Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency, (the exhaustive look at the dirty tricks behind the Bush-Gore 2000 Rumble) and my well-read copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Very, very exciting. The unfurling of history. But I don’t think there will be a definitive answer any time soon.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Hour Glassed

119 minutes and counting…I have a ridiculously small workload in this job. And I would rather be bored and busy, than bored with not even the most mundane and mindless tasks to keep my eyes from drifting to the little clock nestling in the bottom right hand corner of my screen. What makes this lack of tasks all the more surprising is the fact that my team shrank from three people to two last week, and it hasn’t had any impact on the minuscule size of my little work pile.

110 minutes and counting…PricewaterhouseCoopers seem to have coined the phrase “rate tarts” to describe people who change credit cards every six months to take advantage of 0% APR offers. What a marvellously disparaging smackdown to belittle sane people who don’t want to be put in the poor house by the criminally high levels of interest charged by those modern-day loan sharks, the credit card companies. The credit card companies can take care of their own damn selves. If they want to offer 0% APR, then they can fucking well live with the consequences, and stop crying about it in public. It’s very undignified.

103 minutes and counting…The sight of someone who doesn’t see an open filing cabinet drawer, and then goes flying over it with the loud thud of shoes against metal, followed by the even louder thud of soft flesh against hard floor, is a good way to break the drudgery of a Monday afternoon, and loosen up the neglected laughter muscles. Take my word for it.

95 minutes and counting…With the return of Greenwich Mean Time denoting the official start of Winter, its time for another annual bout of Seasonal Affected Disorder. Or, as I like to call it, the pathological compulsion to jab rusty forks into the pee-holes of fuckstick kids who set off fireworks at 3AM.

34 minutes and counting…I just serviced a printer. The printer thanked me, and I asked it to leave the money on the dresser on the way out. Arf arf, fnarr fnarr.

32 minutes and counting…I’m not sure what worries me more. The fact that George W. Bush could conceivably get four more years (sending the planet into a hellish vortex that will no doubt irrevocably scar us all), or the fact that no matter what he says, John Kerry can’t seem to break this deadlock so close to voting. Whatever happens, such close running must indicate some kind of constitutional crisis soon. Obviously, neither candidate is sufficiently attractive to the electorate. Which must be a Very Bad Thing. I have never known an American presidential election to get such extensive coverage in the world media. Which just goes to show that the stakes are higher than they have ever been, and the outcome will affect people far beyond American borders.

11 minutes and counting…It is now absolutely pitch black outside. I’ve had enough of today. And I’ve got four more days of this shit before the next all-too-short weekend.

I need a holiday.