What Made Prince Phillip Tick?

I imagine that Prince Phillip’s death was as orchestrated as the cannons fired in his posthumous commemoration. It’s more than likely he had been pumped full of a top secret biochemical , that prolonged life, and was so advanced and aurally astute, even when diluted in his blood, that it recognised the Queen’s voice. All she had to do was come to his bedside, lean into his ear and whisper “now Phillip.” Off he drifted into death, to sit alongside Jimmy Savile, Rasputin and a sea of questionable men, who made their beds in the halls of established power. 

Why she bumped him off, like a vet, euthanizing a feral dog that couldn’t be domesticated, is unknown. It could be because she wanted to divert attention away from the Megan Markle interview, or it could be because like any wild animal, he never quite took to the idea of being someone else’s pet. 

Giles Brandriff described him as a ‘dynamo’ and naturally, my first reaction was ‘why does Brandriff’s wikipedia page say heterosexual?’ But being the tenacious seeker of truth that I am, I typed ‘dynamo’ into google and what I found intrigued me. The OED definition of the word is ‘a machine for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, typically by means of rotating coils of copper wire in a magnetic field.’ 

There will be those too scared of sounding like Alex Jones or Jeremy from Peep Show to give Brandriff’s wording the forensic analysis it warrants. No he didn’t mean that Phillip was an energetic man and his bombastic vibes were contagious. Brandriff was gesturing to a much darker truth. Phillip had not been kept alive solely through the use of cutting edge medicines, ingenious alchemical mixes, manipulating his being and regulating his chemical balances on a molecular level. No fools! There had been more primitive technology involved. Coils and copper! The man was practically a robot but his ghastly appearance – like a tehisticle dressed as Frankenstein for halloween – made most believe he was undergoing a process of adjustment, as his natural balance and old age, responded to the revolutionary drugs. Thanks to Brandriff though, we now know different. Those freckle-like blotches, and shadowing of skin weren’t some curious side effect. They were rust from his exoskeleton! 

Am I embarrassed that I analogously equated Phillip with Darth Vader without his mask? Yes of course. For years I had imagined him as biological vulnerability incarnate, unimaginably wealthy and privileged, but this only guaranteed him access to new experimental drugs. Experimental drugs with all the uncertainty and risk. Wealthy enough to live. Human enough to become a guinea pig.

Of course, as a society we will have questions. Did the Royal Family travel by private jet to preserve their extravagant, fairy tale image, or was it to save Phillip the trauma of going through the metal detectors? Was Phillip’s fascination with all things to do with aviation, inspired by a longing to better understand the intricate circuitry that kept him alive and mobile? And perhaps most significant: what are the moral implications of trading bone for metal?

Sadly, all I hear from the young and educated; is about how he was a racist and that he liked to go marching with Nazis, and riff with friends about how, ideologically, he wasn’t a million miles away from them. I even heard someone claim the BBC cancelling all programming to mourn the death of a known racist might have something to do with minority groups feeling anxious about taking the vaccine, but this is just dirty lesbian-marxist hearsay. 

We need to get to the bottom of these coils, wires and rotary systems that kept Phillip going. So don’t be surprised if you hear or read well-paid journalists talking about what made Phillip tick. They’re not talking about his hobbies and routines. Why would they?

Week 9, The Finale.

The universe must have sensed my impending departure from the call centre and so sent the Mayor of Wandsworth to bid me adieu. She did not actually say goodbye to me, she just walked around the room, smiling, mumbling and pointing. All the time wearing the biggest fucking necklace I have ever seen, and I’ve seen Jim’ll Fix It and the A-Team! One of the few things I heard her clearly say was that the necklace was heavy and hurt her neck. Of course, you can’t tell thick people in positions of power what the simple solution is and if you do the internet breaks and the world starts spinning backwards. You must dance around the subject and subtly gesture to possible solutions, so that they think they have come to the realisation independently, and they truly are a chosen one.
However, the people of England are growing impatient with the bumbling toddlers that govern them. The people of Bristol had enough of waiting for the council to decide on a plaque to put under Edward Colston and remember you can’t tell these people how simple it really is. If someone had suggested that they just write the truth on the plaque – he gave a load of money to charity which was nice, but, and it is a big but, he made his money from selling human beings and thousands died on his boats – if you just wrote the truth then I mean what’s next? We’d have to face up to more facts and we can’t have that, especially while EastEnders is off the air.
It would seem people have decided to act without the consent of their leaders, as if one can make an informed decision without knowing any Latin. Soon people will be going to the opticians when they have trouble seeing, when the official advice is to drive 260 miles to a castle.
But there is one more component that is essential in sustaining the status quo. This component is a group of people, and I shall call this group: dribblers.
Now let me quickly say I am not one of the great minds of the twenty first century. I prefer word searches to crosswords, come undone in pub quizzes, can name barely any countries, let alone their capital cities, and I wasn’t allowed in my GCSE Science classes because my friend Shuaib and I used to sniff the Pritt Stick glues and pretend to overdose on the floor. A dribbler, however, is something slightly different.
There have been reports of sheep so thick that they separate from the herd and circulate fields and hills for hours, not stopping to eat or drink, until eventually they die of hunger, thirst or exhaustion. And why do they do this? Because they have mistaken a cloud in the sky for their mother.
Now I just made that up and it is completely bollocks. If you believed it, then I’m afraid you may be a dribbler.
There’s a lady in the call centre who is hilarious, and I mean properly gut wrenchingly funny. These are not patronising comments, protective padding to be put in place before I ridicule her, but she did come in with the old ‘all lives matter’ chit chat the other day.
The room went silent. The manager of our room softly reminded her that yes, all lives do matter, it’s just the numbers show the police don’t treat everyone the same. She being a lovely person agreed that was wrong and hey ho everyone was friends.
But what would happen if I was to tell the Mayor she could alleviate the pain by simply taking her necklace off? Would she still be the Mayor? Would a couple of dribblers believe the next person they saw wearing jewellery was the new Mayor? I just don’t know. But I do know what the first stage in treatment for a dribbler is.
Once the dribbler starts to believe that they can ask questions without seeming silly and understand that change is okay, and that power can be good, and it can be bad, then they are on the path to getting better.
The next stage is a bit more difficult and I’m currently stuck on it. Once you have decided it’s okay to think for yourself, then you must start doing research and all that jazz. I mean you can’t just write a book on the first stage, unless you’re James O’Brien.
So, there we have it. I’m done with the call centre, I’ve graduated from dribbler to idiot, but am stuck on this level. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I hate roller coasters. I’ve heard some mad stuff but nothing quite so mad as what I’ve seen on the evening news. If I ran in to the social workers – who have supported us with difficult cases throughout my time here – and told them I have a man on the phone who says he is going to drive on the motorway to test his eyes, I know what they would say. Call the police.
Or if I went in there and said I’ve got a man who’s insisting on going into a hospital to shake hands with sick patients. They’d get him sectioned.
And you know just as I was wondering how the hell this Government hasn’t collapsed out of sheer embarrassment and confusion, in came a Tory councillor. She was here for a photo opportunity and so while the photo was taken, she answered my question. I didn’t directly ask her, it just came up in conversation. She said she didn’t like watching or reading the news because it was negative. She proclaimed she wanted more positive news, like this call centre. I said it had been sad, funny and strange, but I wouldn’t say positive. She smiled and left.

The End

Christ! Week 8!?!?

There are two periods I recollect as shaping the way I view the world.

Firstly, the summer after I took my GCSE exams, I spent most of that summer laughing until it hurt. I remember waiting in a Fish & Chip take away with my friend Mikey, both of us noticeably stoned. When our order came Mikey was knelt behind the counter, they called out for collection at which point Mikey slowly elevated himself, as if in an invisible lift. When he was finally fully standing, he proclaimed ‘ding!’ I pissed myself laughing.
The second period – another summer holidays – my dad gave me Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives to read. The book is almost as brilliant as Mikey’s elevator sketch and explores love, sex, death, violence, nationality, history, travel and all sorts but ultimately it is about reading. The scene that has always stayed with me is one where a lover realises her partner reads in the shower. Funnily when I later gave the book to Roddy (the ADAM & ELVIS drummer) he too picked this scene as significant. I suspect the reason is that both he and I have always liked the idea of being utterly devoted to the arts. Since reading The Savage Detectives Roddy has become a drum virtuoso, travelling the world, performing in several different bands and genres. I have become a pisshead who sings to babies for a living.

The first summer in question taught me the importance of fun and the second: that as long I  read voraciously, then everything will be A-Okay.
I’m starting to think I might view the last eight weeks in a similar way. The big difference being that in the early summers it felt like everything was changing, when in truth I was just becoming a bit less thick. Now the world really is changing! How could it not? You tell people they can’t go out for two months and obviously the way people view the world will change.
There have been painful phone calls here at the call centre, voices wavering with disturbed vibrato as they relay rapes, child abuse, dead mums and dads, starvation and all manner of panic and anxiety. I should definitively say here that this is not some false claim to heroism, in between calls I recline in my chair, daydreaming, fingers bridged, imagining I am a highly sought after lawyer, confidently waiting to deliver my explosive address to the jury, winning my 700th case this month.
In truth it is quite nice here, but coronavirus has shone a light on how unjust a society we live in. On the train on the way to work it is largely BAME workers I sit with, forced back to work earlier than the rest and on public transport. If money can be found to renew Trident, surely some money can be found to extend furlough and Universal Credit schemes, for all citizens so people don’t have to go back to work and risk getting sick.

Although it has not been discussed much at the call centre, everyone is of course aware of the horrific murder of George Floyd and how it has driven many to become involved in protests here in the UK.
Maybe the lesson of this third influential moment in how I view the world is that I’ve had all my epiphanies. I know it, all my friends know it, England’s got a racist structure, there’s bastards dodging taxes and paying themselves in dividends and what not.

I’ve just finished Slavoj Žižek’s The Parallax View which asks some brilliant questions and offers very few answers, it even proclaims that doing nothing might be the best option. I think old Chomsky probably has it right, if you want to make a difference you have to try for quite a long time and keep focusing on finding and telling the truth. That doesn’t sound too bad, a bit like the call centre, put in a few hours each day trying to make the world a bit nicer and then when I’ve got a free moment I’ll go down The Windmill or The George Tavern and get properly tangled up in some naughtiness. I mean off my rocker, gurned up, shitting myself and chatting bollocks like it’s going out of fashion.
For now I’ll start with this list of 75 things to do to help support racial justice, do one a day: https://www.communitycommons.org/entities/9b0f805f-5d46-4636-9b74-2926363486d3

Week 7!

Ultimately, it is a writer’s duty to advise you on whether things are worth doing. Cooking books tell you that it is not wise to mix red onions and peanut butter. Travel writers advise you to visit Krakow’s salt mines. Music, film, literature, theatre and art critics tell you what to watch and what to avoid. History books tell you what events you should think about when contemplating your present predicament. And, perhaps, poetry tells you what’s worth feeling. So, let me offer some advice. Do not work at a call centre.

It’s profoundly boring. Its powers of oppression are so great that one manages to be simultaneously bored and busy. I have a list of one-hundred names, people aged between sixty-two and sixty-seven. I copy the numbers over from the spreadsheet and paste them into my other screen and I ring.

Usually they tell me they’re fine. ‘Thanks for the call.’ They say.

Ten percent of the time they’re angry. Sometimes they’re angry because they have no money, or they want to go outside, other times they hate the government and two fifths of the ten percent are completely mental.

One percent of the time they’re dead.

Wednesday afternoon I rang looking for a man we will call Barry – if I ever have a son, he will be called Barry and he will eat chocolate eclairs for breakfast and have baked camembert for lunch, a pig of a child. A lady answered the phone and told me Barry was dead. He died three weeks ago. This woman didn’t sound too upset, maybe she was his nurse, or maybe she was an opportunistic squatter, relishing old Barry’s demise. I didn’t ask. I made a note on my spreadsheet, Barry = Dead.

Over the next two days I carried on making phone calls and updating spreadsheets.

I noticed three large TV screens in the room, they showed the date, time, number of calls waiting, longest wait for a caller, average wait, agents who are: ready, on call, wrapping up a call and busy. A message repeatedly passed under the bottom of the screen, like a banner, attached to a plane. It read ‘Are You Ready For Windows 10? Have You Checked Ben’s Emails?’

Suddenly it happened!

True consciousness, awareness, is always sudden. Not out the blue, there are subtle moments along the way that are necessary for the awakening, but the sensation is one of surprise. I had been filing away observations, realisations, inevitable facts, a latent mongrel reality waiting to pounce. And here it was! Now I could see…

This call centre is a nut house.

That’s not to say that everyone who comes here is nuts, but people certainly become more nuts working here. Maybe the classic line ‘You don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps’, sums it up.

So, let me give you a run down of who’s left in this motely crew, some have been sent home recently, due to a reduced need for people answering phones. Also, I can’t name these people and I cannot be arsed to invent names for them all. Conceptualising Barry tired me out.

Man 1: A softly spoken failing actor, we had met before covid19, he ran an event for a theatre group for year five children. The kids loved it and his acting was good enough to hide his disdain from them but not from the adults in the room. I suspect he went a bit sideways a few years ago, after he learnt that dedication and talent are not enough to make it in showbiz.

Lady 1: Was in a band in the 80s that charted, someone showed me a picture of them the other day, looked like Jesus and the Mary Chain, leather jackets and mad hair. Where Man 1 resents the arms-length the showbiz world keeps him at, Lady 1 has fully embraced the quiet life. The lesson here is that you look mad if you can’t accept failure and you look mad if you accept it. The only sane thing to do is keep working for a better life, while understanding there are billions of components that will work against you, or suddenly work in your favour, for completely random reasons.

Man 2: My personal favourite. He turns up twenty three minutes late every day, his rotund stomach enters half an hour before the rest of him, his comb over blowing in the wind. Grunting as he passes me, he turns a quick smile to everyone in the room. Recently he has started standing up and trying to touch his toes in between phone calls. He is the sanest one here by a country mile.

Lady 2: Like I said I cannot reveal names, but I must inform you that Lady 2 has a very similar name to me, first and second name. She likes to gesture to this unusual fact every morning and laugh. She can’t possibly find it funny anymore, her circuit board must be broken, stuck on a loop. Hopefully one day she’ll bump her head and her brain will snap into action, she’ll realise that we’ve been here for two months now and our conversations should have advanced, perhaps one day she’ll greet me with ‘Good Morning, I’m scared of death, are you?’ One can only hope.

Man 3: I have worked with him for three years now and he is the slowest mover I have ever met. There must be an incredible amount of training and discipline involved to achieve such a staggered pace, must have taken years to master it. We have greeted each other warmly every day we have worked together and said goodbye. Slow but nice.

Lady 3: She is properly mental, and she knows it. In between people laughing at her antics she often begins to laugh too, then her face reverts to default – confused – and she marches off. Every day, and sometimes more than once, she shouts out that she can’t find the tea bags and she can’t cope without a ‘cuppa’. We take turns in telling her that someone has moved the tea bags a few centimetres from their previous position. One day she will realise that if she looks in a different direction, moves her neck slightly or even swivels her whole body, then she will be able to scan whole areas and locate what she is after. But for now she has learnt that the tea bags are in the kitchen and this is a start. She is the maddest one here.

Lady 4: She’s bonkers too but she is an innocent bonfire of madness, compared to Lady 3’s full blown Brazilian forest fire of insanity.

Lady 5: She seems to be enjoying the coronavirus, must have been waiting years for a call to action. As I get older and naturally less cynical it is nice to have people like Lady 5, trying to make the workplace a hub of games, chat and light jokes. These people do concern me though, for if they put so much energy into their worklife, surely, they must be neglecting the good times beyond work, the music, the booze etc etc. It is her nonstop laughing that signals her as insane and it is nonstop!

This strange constellation of nutty stars are not destined for great things and will never wield much power. But truly, aren’t ninety nine percent of people who have that burning desire to do achieve amazing things absolute cunts?


Week 6

A phone call, problematic, even for Anjana, the most enthusiastic worker here. The voice was affronted by their own phone call, reminding Anjana again and again that they were not stupid, presumably they thought most of our callers were.

After the call ended, Anjana explained that the caller was self-employed and fuming that they were not entitled to financial support because of savings they had accrued over some years. They made multiple references to their accountant, while their wife shouted inaudible nonsense in the background.

This is one of the most disturbing aural spectacles we are exposed to at the call centre. Hearing someone realise their own vulnerability and try to deny it by doubling down on demeaning antics – shrinking us, enlarging them – is unsettling to say the least. I almost miss the empty theatre of social whining. In the old world such a voice would be the point of ridicule for all the office. We would mock the richness of their arrogance, the inability to appreciate what they have, and light heartedly gesturing to our own jealousies. Nothing serious.

Now though the rules have changed, the tectonic plates beneath our feet seem fidgety. Not too fidgety however, this is perhaps the true tragedy. The meta structure will not shift, just a little damage to the body, hegemony survives. This the caller is beginning to realise, but mourners must dance with denial before they lay with acceptance. How much kicking and screaming before he realises his inevitable relegation to serfdom?

In between his desperate attempts to assert himself as a fully-fledged member of the business class, he denounced the government, much like I do, at five in the morning, in my brother’s living room, bandmates sat around, five sickly moons, each with a bleeding nose.

The caller shouted that the government was opening golf clubs but not helping him. He is teetering on the edge of real revelations, if he leans, falls, bangs his head, surely, he will wake up, aware that the amount of land afforded to golf courses is disgusting. It has been disgusting for a long time. There is more land allotted to golf courses in the UK, then there is social housing. This poor fellow was not ready to consider how most golf courses exist as sickly places of worship. A holy land for the mantra that inequality is good.

And maybe some inequality is good, what do I know? Maybe I’m beginning to sound like George Galloway, where red wine and rhetoric are too emphatically infused.

The point is the bloke who rang up was a cunt but I felt a bit sorry for him.

The calls continued coming and we continued phoning out. I was moved to a bigger room, in the centre, for all to see my computer screen. I was to be policed, by mob/colleague rule.

On Tuesday my normal place of work was broken into and I had to attend to the building to meet the police. A new officer explained that someone with mental health problems had been arrested. He asked me some questions, noted the answers in his little book and then lost his book. While he and his superior officer scoured the building, looking for clues and the book – which was packed with clues – I wondered if there would ever be a situation where the English came out every Thursday to applaud the police? I couldn’t see it.

All this commotion had put in me in the mood for some lager and keyboard.

The next morning I felt sick. I walked to the station where I got the train every morning. I forgot my card to get through the barriers.

‘Can I come through please mate?’. I asked, brandishing my fob like some piss-stinking detective.

The guy wasn’t having any of it. ‘Get the bus.’ He yawned.

Well you can fuck that sky high! I thought. If you have a dodgy tummy and your normal route to work is denied then there’s only one thing for it. Sick Day.

Now, the rules around sick days have changed. You can’t just say you have a runny nose and a temperature. If you do, you have to stay home for five years, posting hateful messages to anyone who criticises the prime minister for shaking hands with highly contagious people, recording yourself exercising outside and sending it to the BBC and posting lightly sketched self-help memes that say things like ‘You Got This’. Got what? Coronavirus? Fuck off.

I phoned in and mumbled some vague nonsense about work commitments and off I went. Back home. Back to bed.

Lots of people have different theories about sick days. Some people say that you should always take more than one day off because if you don’t your boss will think it was a sham. Others say you can’t get a promotion if you have sick days, you should go to work and wait to be sent home. I personally believe if you are sick, then you are sick. If I don’t feel well after going to bed early then I am not going to work. However, if I have had a few too many drinks, I have a different system. With a hangover, I wake up and get ready to go to work but I keep a lookout for signs telling me today is a sick day. If the shower isn’t getting hot then I don’t go to work. If my trousers rip on the way to work then it’s a sick day. If nothing disrupts my normal routine then I must go to work. It’s good to have a code.

The rude guard disrupted my routine. Not divine intervention, but an autonomous individual and simultaneously a component in my calculations, as I was in his. He had his code and I had and still have mine. The city is a tapestry of codes, diverting and influencing one and other.

Long live the sick day.


Pub Grub Lyrics

1.Dr Bad Touch

Tells the living they are dying and the dying they are well, Dr Bad Touch,
Russian roulette with the placebo effect, Dr Bad Touch, he’ll see you now,
Old fashioned thinking, new fashion setting, Dr Bad Touch, what a guy!
Jesus walked on water but he’s the man who froze it, Dr Bad Touch, turns that ice rink into wine,
Married to the job and the job is crazy, Dr Bad Touch, haha!
Mengele weren’t nothing, nothing to his brilliance, Dr Bad Touch, bad touch!
Narture and nuture, inverted on one and other, Dr Bad Touch, most just blame the mother,
And did they ever stop to ask what if it works? No, Dr Bad Touch, Ah Yeah!
Yes! There he goes, progress of a silent bulldozer, friendly smile and a numbing agent. He’ll see you now, Dr bad touch


2. Bedwetters United
I am the newest signing for bedwetters united
I am the star of the castrated squad,
How do you do?
How do you do it?
How do you do it?

G seven, straight from heaven, makes you think there could be something more,
Oh something more, something more.

I don’t need a cinema ticket to be entertained, I order a filter coffee and I look your way,
You are way too good for me! You’re too good for me.

G seven from heaven makes you think there might be something more,
Oh something more, something more,
G seven, straight from heaven, a gift from the Gods sent from above,
Two hundred decibels of love!

We are tired of being bedwetters (repeat until you wet yourself in liberation)


3. For Even More

The rain was beating down,
Louder than the speaker sang
But we knew every word,
Everyone knows Piano Man Billy Joel
And we drank to Bolaño
And the gangs who weren’t quite poets,
Too drunk for going out,
Still chained by inhibitions

New town, times your doubts
The only way to go
The only way to go
Is into the nightlife, where I’m sure
You’ll bump into old times
And when there, you will wait for even more.

The end of a long weekend
It’s no place to be alone,
You put denial in a tuxedo
And then you can call it hope
We drank to Bolaño
And the gangs who weren’t quite poets
Too drunk for going out,
Still chained to inhibitions

New town, times your doubts
The only way to go
The only way to go
Is into the nightlife, where I’m sure
You’ll bump into old times
And when there, you will wait for even more

Drink up!
The problem’s the solution my friend
Drink up!
The problem’s the solution.


4. NuWave Hippy

You’ve been away, overseas,
No pictures please!
Gather around the NuWave Hippy
Gather round the new wave, hip, hip, hip hippy.

We’ve got a situation
I’m stuck in conversation
The NuWave Hippy is lecturing to me!
I’ll solve this situation,
By way of strangulation
Conspiracy theories he picks up on TV.

If you think human nature’s so great
Then give me the keys to your place!
All tourists are parasites
Sights! Sights!
They’re really out of sight
Gather round the new wave, hip, hip, hip hippy.

We’ve got a situation
I’m stuck in conversation
The NuWave Hippy is lecturing to me!
I’ll solve this situation,
By way of strangulation
All the sights you’ve seen
They mean nothing to me

And you dig bonfires
And you dig skyscrapers
Bonfire, skyscraper, bonfire, skyscraper, bonfire, skyscraper, bonfire, skyscraper, bonfire, skyscraper…

We’ve got a situation
I’m stuck in conversation
The NuWave Hippy is lecturing to me!
I’ll solve this situation,
By way of strangulation
Conspiracy theories he picks up on TV.


5. Retired Mermaid

Stop the to-do lists and stop expectations too great.
Then you gotta stop hanging out,
Gotta stop seeing people that you

You hate
You hate.

What’s with the rose-tinted glasses on your face?
As I recall you have always felt this way
We are perfectly happy woo!
When we are pissed up and dancing woo!

These days
These Days.

Below the ocean,
A retired mermaid,
Coughs herself to sleep,
She is the only one for me,
She is the only one for me.
The shrimp and starfish
They love to gossip
How beautiful
She used to be,
Well that’s of no damn use to me
Now she’s one hundred and fifty-three.
Her youth was a diamond studded shackle
But now she is free,
Let the winters melt and the summers freeze
She is the only one,
The only one for me!


6. Long Body Nightmare

Tail sliding up the mirror spine
Avoiding your fabric reflection,
The nightmare it has four eyes
And smells like Grandma’s perfume.
Quiet spot in a horrible pub
My soul detects perfection
Until, red light blue light scenario shift
Cellars of introspection.

Despite the smoke in the sky
No one wants to believe it,
Wants to believe it
But you can’t not see it.
They say that children can fly
You know I’m a cynic
I’m a cynic
But I know you need it,
I know you need it
To be true.

What use is a memory
In the twenty first fucking century?
There’s a file on everyone
And everyone is empty.

Despite the smoke in the sky
No one wants to believe it
Wants to believe it
But you can’t not see it.
That’s how memory breaks
Under the weight
Under the force
Of brutal truth
And of a new,
New landscape.

Send out for the teardrop hoses.
The holiday,
Holiday heat.


7. Settlers Street

The cult of manhood scrambles through the woods without a plan,
A meeting of the elders making children, making jam
Cigarettes and belly aches, you need a better man
The cult of manhood scrambles through the woods without a plan,
You will join them in the end,
Drinking to your country then you must be mad
You can’t lose the wits, the wits you never had
boyish naivety becomes a sideways grin
when learning how to lose is learning how to win
You will join them in the end.

Rats like cats down on Settlers Street
Something’s bugging me
It keeps bugging me
How do they get so big?

You will join them in the end

Rats place bets down on Settlers Street
Something’s bugging me
It keeps bugging me
How do they get so big?


8. Out Through the TV

Golden beach
Brain shrinker
So sweet,
Ripe like a peach,
Rotten to the core
Waiting for the heap
Wanting something more.
Logging in
Logging out
Getting high
Coming down
Ultrasound shows the future
And the future is now,
Honour system
Man I want that part.

Out through the TV.

Out with the old
In with the older
My memory is short
Now please make it shorter,
The prisoner escaped through his television

Out through the TV.

Sunday Funday
American TV & Chinese cuisine
Tired Driver
Looks kinda sad but I really can’t be sure
Monday Breakdown
I’m sweating out the drugs and crying out the beer
Wednesday new man
Starting right now I will never drink again
But slapping the bass
With my alcoholic thumb
Hard to tell the numb from the fun
Hard to distinguish
Sanctuary from happiness

Out through the TV.



9. Love Needs a Watch

Whatever you do now
Don’t go through your phone book
You have had too much,
The picture you’re painting
It is fiction beyond any form of realism.

You and I should meet up on more time
And discuss everything we miss over some wine,
And get down to why
Others multiply and we divide.
He’s thinking of her
Whilst she’s playing chess
Love needs a watch!
And now she’s thinking of him
Whilst he’s walking a dog
Love needs a watch!

I don’t know romance
But I know what does not work
And it is this smile,
Tequila libido
And egos on stilts
You’ve got to learn to crawl

You and I should meet up on more time
And discuss everything we miss over some wine
And get down to why others multiply and we divide.
He’s thinking of her
When she’s selling a house
Love needs a watch!
Now she’s thinking of him
Whilst he’s baking a cake
Love needs a watch!


10. Frustrated

I caught,
I caught the mirror
something in my coffee

Back to the work boys
I’m frustrated
Those shelves won’t stack themselves
I’m frustrated
Back to the work girls
I’m frustrated
Those books won’t write themselves
I’m frustrated.

Everyone is tired that much is clear
When the hunter sleeps then so can the deer
That’s that!
Flashbacks to things you have seen
That’s that!
You and I were just obscene,
Your work life is a mirror in a mirrored in hall
A catastrophic clock on a catastrophic wall
That’s that!
Love is above it all
That’s that!
Council to council
Through to city hall

Back to the work boys
I’m frustrated
Those shelves won’t stack themselves
I’m frustrated
Back to the work girls
I’m frustrated
It’s never been done before
I’m frustrated.

The ratio of happy to sad is in flux
A bestselling self-help written in a tux
That’s that!
Old heads wearing new hats
That’s that!
Cyborgs and erroneous bands,
Sleep slips through your fingers like a fine lover’s hair
Your microwave dings a miracle prepared
That’s That
It’s veggie lasagne again
That’s that!

Rock and roll is dead, long live TV
The writings too good and the actors too sweet
That’s that!
Let us become the lost
That’s that!
A Charles Manson keyring on a feral looking dog

Outside the station someone could stare
You take off your hat your losing your hair
That’s that!
Flashbacks to things you have seen
That’s that!
You and I were just obscene
That’s that!

Week 5

It was Tuesday 10.38am, I was reading Noam Chomsky’s 1967 article The responsibility of Intellectuals, chewing my Asda Smart Price Sardine pasta salad and thinking ‘this essay is definitive proof that Slavoj Zizek talks absolute rubbish, claiming that Chomsky doesn’t analyse ideology with enough rigour’, when the phone rang,
‘Hello’ said a rough voice. ‘I am annoyed’, it said next.
‘Why’s that?’ I asked
‘Because’ it began to answer ‘I need some extra things in my food parcel. Eggs and bread.’
‘Right okay…’ I was stopped.
‘And cigarettes. And mint tic tacs, the white ones. Oh, I would love a cake to gobble down. Ha ha.’
I tried to explain that these food parcels did not include luxury items. She was not impressed by my take on what constitutes a luxury.
‘Tic tacs!? Come on!’
The call went on like this for five minutes, colleagues laughing around me, hearing me negotiate with a lady a la tic tac. Finally, I agreed to send an email, raising her desire for specific items, though I told her I did not think it likely she would receive them.
This, I have decided, is the best phone call I have had so far, while at the call centre. This Roald Dahl come Mr Gum style character was a joy to talk to. Utterly absurd, appearing only through comical vocals, I was not affronted by the physical reality, a life of tic tacs and cigarettes does not highlight one’s best features, it reduces them to corners, of a bizarre smelling thing.

Time rolled on and I noticed two facts. Firstly, I was bored, I had read some news, taken part in some conversations and gone for a brief stroll on my lunch break, but now I was doing nothing, neither skiving nor working. Secondly, I had nothing to write for this blog. The more astute readers – if there are any – will notice a polarity between these dilemmas, two sides of the same coin. Facing a stalemate, I decided I would have to start working, and so I did. I did some work.
It was alright I suppose. I Spoke to some people who were grateful for their food parcels, one lady was lactose intolerant and politely requested she did not receive dairy products. I left two voicemails, repeating the call centre phone number twice each time, as I always hate it when people leave voicemails with phone numbers and do not repeat it, for clarity.
During this spell of productivity, I believe I was content, and this concerns me.
If I am to work to Chomsky’s standard, then I must remember it is the responsibility of the intellectual to insist upon the truth.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Patrick you are not an intellectual and Chomsky was talking about academics properly scrutinising American interventionism and what not. He was not talking about your personal epiphanies qua lockdown.
Well to you I say, ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed bozo, but the planes have stopped flying, there is no international interventionism to speak of. No elections to be influenced, no articulate leftists to be shot down by the CIA, no guerrilla armies to be brought down, by superior artillery, a tragic reminder that absolute devotion to liberation is not enough to curtail America’s economic agenda.
No. For the time being this stuff has stopped. I think?
It’s time to focus on me and the true function of this blog.
What at first appeared to be a vessel for self-analyses, embedded in a moment of historical significance, has turned out to be something very different.
This blog is a shackle of my own invention. The reification of the outer limits of my imagination. As Mark E Smith put it, I don’t know how to use freedom.
Yes, it saddens me, but I am content with the mundane. The good lord did not bestow upon me an irritable energy, rendering me restless until I lived life entirely by my own standards.
Or not!
As I write this it is now Tuesday 2.57pm. There is still time for me turn things around! Instead of doing things, so that I have something to write about, I will do things – and this is vital – because I want to. I will live the life of an instinctive, libidinal rebel.

Now it is Thursday 4.52pm. Since my epiphany life has become something of a party. Yesterday I had two Magnums and had 7/8 of a bottle of wine. At 10.37pm, when I would normally be tucked up in bed, I was in the garden smoking one of my girlfriend’s rollies, the moon my accomplice, in blissful summer clarity, jouissance. This morning I agreed to stream a live set, fearless to the fact that my voice sounds like a wet sock blowing in the wind, especially when unaccompanied by my brother’s Jean-Jaques Burnel style bass.
However, I do feel a bit sick and I know I wouldn’t feel this way had I drunk less wine last night. The two Magnums can’t have helped either, What I was thinking, dining like some greedy Roman Emperor, a sickly collage of sweet liqueur and creamy sugars, becoming one confused formula in my stomach while I sit in this call centre. All wrong.

Never mind though because it turns out I was wrong about international scandal winding down for the Coronavirus. Rojava, also known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, AANES, famous for its female soldiers and generally a beacon of hope and freedom is being refused support from WHO and surrounding states, with Turkey bombing hospitals and medical centres. Apparently, they have under 50 ventilators for a population of 4million.

Nasty stuff.
Read some proper writing here: https://novaramedia.com/2020/05/04/coronavirus-in-rojava-facing-a-pandemic-without-a-state/

Week 4

So in the last week I have been calling people in their 80s to check they aren’t dead. Sometimes you don’t need metaphors or stylistic flourishes, saying it is weird enough. It’s not always easy though. Often it is quite difficult to tell if they are alive or dead, so intensely boring are their anecdotes, I begin to think maybe they are dead and maybe I’m dead too and finally, would that be so bad?
I’m still surrounded by the same group of warm, friendly and slightly bewildered people. Don’t let them fool you though, for though they are bewildered, they do have a fucking excessive knowledge of local history. We did a digital pub quiz on Thursday afternoon, no booze though – which I consider to be like having safe sex without the sex, just wondering about with a condom on – and my team did brilliantly.
I have been inspired to try and improve my own general knowledge in between calls, focusing on geography, history and science.
So you could say I have acclimatised to my new workplace.
Perhaps I am starting to like the boredom. Should I even call it boredom anymore, if it does not immediately strike me as unpleasant? If only boring people get bored, then maybe the only way to not be boring is to enjoy being bored. Or maybe they just need to say ‘fuck it! Some of us might die, but we’re opening all the pubs! It’s herd immunity all the way!’

Yes, I do miss the pub.

There was a moment though, when I became too comfortable in my new dusty and humble call centre skin. I sat on a bench by the beautiful pond with some French bread, salad and wensleydale stuffed with cranberries. Suddenly, a wild eyed squirrel appeared, then another and another. Their eyes were like fucking plates and now they wanted some food. My food! I ran – just to be clear this is not invention for the sake of a cheap laugh, this really happened – up to the river, I thought maybe they’ll be scared of the water. It didn’t work. They followed me. I was now jogging and swearing, feeding into one and other, the jogging intensifying the swearing and vice versa. Finally, after three minutes of intense chase they stopped following me. They didn’t need to, I had dropped half my French stick. They tore through it remorselessly. I shall never forget how their claws and teeth looked on that grey Twickenham afternoon.

That squirrel awoke something in me. It awoke the eternal fear, the fear that paradoxically nothing is eternal, time is limited. Time is rolling on by, don’t give me that time is purely conceptual nonsense! I have a very real biological clock, a limited time period. People often talk about a woman’s baby window, but what about a piss head’s time frame? I’m 27, a few more good years of sauntering around bars carelessly before it gets dark. Yes, these are the good times, modern culture is our domain, we set the tide machine and watch the waves flow. One day it will be nostalgia, every other sentence will have to be self-deprecating, just so no one thinks we’re still alive inside.

I am lucky to be on lockdown with my romantic partner. Far luckier than some I know, having to reinvent ways to cup their hand before they perform that lonely act. What I would like now though, is to go back to the Jacaranda in Liverpool, drink eight pints of beer, play a gig and talk absolute shite with my brother and bandmates.

Hopefully life isn’t streamlined for efficiency when the social saloon swings its doors back open, Brixton Windmill replaced by a Prett and my sweet George Tavern turned into flats. For if they are there, then there I shall go! And get absolutely spangled, twisted, fucked-sky-high, control-alt-deleted, mashed, wasted, pissed, hammered, cunted, absolutely-tipsy and drunk-as-a-skunk!

Maybe that’s what the save our venues campaign needs! I’ve heard enough about how we need independent venues for artists to develop their craft. Entice me, tickle my addiction spot! They should utilise their greatest ally – the booze! Their fighting with shields, now is the time to wield their swords. The slogan should be support grassroots venues, while drinking to forget. I can resist the call to artistic solidarity, but I cannot resist the tantalising relationship between live music and the English numbing agent.

Week 3

The national crisis is slowing down, its legs are knackered. From my desk, sitting on my padded chair, with arm support and an office depot footrest, all seems calm. The death toll is still over 700 a day, but it’s stopped climbing and the national consciousness is adaptive. As long as the disaster is consistent then we are calm.

The phones still ring every now and then, sometimes friendly voices, sometimes angry ones, but they are always lost. This morning I had an 89 year old retired dancer on the phone. It was her birthday and she was worried because she was going for a walk and a social worker had said she would call her back. She told me about her dancing years, her mother, her garden – which she was very grateful for at this time – and how fond she was of me. Now let me be clear, I thought she was boring as shit. Who the fuck rattles on, on the phone, when they’re worried about missing a call? A bat shit crazy old dancer that’s who. And she was one of the nice ones.

On Wednesday, myself and Port-and-cheese-lady had a call from a lady, furious that her neighbours were making noise all through the day. I think she was chinese and her accent was thick, it was hard to understand exactly what she was saying. Selfish, was the word she kept repeating. She originally phoned through to Port-and-cheese-lady and then hung up, but when Port-and-cheese-lady saw me thrust the speaker away from my ear, she knew she had phoned back. This lady spoke faster than anyone I have ever heard. She showed a total disregard for content, getting as many syllables out was the name of her game.
In the end we patched her through to someone in the construction department and hoped she would not call back.

Everyone here now appears tranquil in their functionality, there is something a little dehumanising about technological humanity made efficient. The small talk has decreased and thank christ for that! At last everyone has embraced their work station and chat has been filtered down to a greatest hits collection. Only the best childhood anecdotes, funniest phone calls and naughtiest jokes hang in the air.

Sounds quite nice doesn’t it? That’s why the bosses have decided to change things.

Less people are calling, so the call centre managers have announced we must call them. I knew it would happen eventually, they couldn’t allow me to just sit here reading Piano for Dummies and writing my blog, they have to utilise my vocal chords and finger tips. Yes, before you ask, I have volunteered to help in a crisis centre and now I resent the workload they have presented me. That’s what a true hero does.

Never mind those old busy-bodies at Age UK, they’re just helping out their own. The oldies helping the slightly-older-oldies. Or worse, sycophantic sons and daughters, seduced by inheritance and hegemonic family structures. Pillars of the community. Well, take a closer look at your community, it’s shut down.

Yes it is me that is the true unsung hero. They’re too busy singing their own praises or having them sung and if you enjoy your role in a charitable enterprise, can it really be charity? I hate it here, I’d rather be at home playing my keyboard in my pants, slightly drunk before midday, eating ham out the packet. But I turn up every day. That’s charity.

So I am resentful of the fact that I will now be busier each day. And to feel any other way would invert the generosity and mutate it into greed.

It’s now Saturday morning and I have made thirty outbound calls. Only ten of those answered. I’ve been stripped of my cape and emailed a spreadsheet. Superman doesn’t knock on doors asking if everything is okay and Batman doesn’t send emails to check no one has fallen down.

The drama is subsiding, normality is creeping back in, a vine tightening around my leg. I just wanted to do fuck all and be called a hero. Now I’m working my socks off, being set daily targets and given three minutes for a bathroom break. If you google ‘call centre worker’ do you know what comes up? ‘Call centre worker found dead’ and ‘Call centre worker depression’.

If coronavirus inspires a new wave of national solidarity and we all swear to stand together, as one. When we discourage greed and wealth and celebrate helping others, can we please just remember I did 40 hours a week at a covid19 call centre, all through the lockdown. I’m up for helping out, but equality means equality. I want Richard Branson in here, explaining to Barbara that despite being 207 years old, she doesn’t qualify for the food parcel because she only has cancer in one of her lungs and as of now she’s only lost nine pints of blood. And bring the great liberal hero, Prince Harry here, he can fuck off out the royal family and have a pat on the back but he still has to serve his time in the call centre. Everyone has to do a couple of hours here, maybe just a day or two. You can read the news, write a song, raise a child, join a gym, but in your spare time. Only after you’ve done your time here. Everyone.

Infected considered with Martin Amis’s Money

A citizen of London could develop an identity, through knowledge of their home city and its inhabitants, like a mirror, reminding them of their origins and recognising features as they recognise their own in the mirror. Through the 1980s the mirror of London changed in an inorganic fashion. Inorganic change in this context, is change that does not adhere to previous rules of nature. London’s nature changed.

The 1980 Housing Act launched the privatisation of council housing. Through the 1980s over one million council houses (approximately 20 percent of all council houses) were sold. Martin Amis articulates the discombobulating effect of this policy: “If a landlord or developer comes across a decent-sized room he turns it into a labyrinth, a Chinese puzzle.”
The architects of this new design are individuals, symptoms of a policy that allows certain individuals to realise their full economic potential, through the unlimited acquisition of property as commodities.

Nam Kook Kim argues that Thatcher viewed, or justified, this policy as maximising personal freedom because citizens owning homes reduces coercion. State coercion may be reduced, but bewilderment means a new psychological experience for citizens of London: perpetual alertness to a changing landscape. London changing is indicative of a crisis in identity but it is significant with regards to self-knowledge too. It threatens the inferential observations required for self-knowledge, in the Fruedian sense. Bela Szabados emphasises the importance of considering setting during moments of introspection:

If they are to be successful, they must proceed with due attention to the context: to features of the situation one is in, to one’s behaviour, utterances and responses, to unfocused mental ingredients that have not been so far placed in a proper perspective.

The language ‘unfocused mental ingredients’ allude to the city, experienced on a preconscious or subconscious level. This is essential to how changing urban landscapes make self-knowledge ephemeral. It allows us to think of the city in terms of an ideal that is latent.

The feeling that nothing is permanent in London and everything that gestured to a collective experience is no longer possible, results in a quasi-nihilism, expressed in Money and Infected. In Twilight Of A Champion, Johnson mourns a place that no longer exists, describing it as being all he wants and all he misses, before feelings of loss give way to what seems like total nihilism: “I sold my soul, to pay for my dinner. My stomach grew fatter, but my heart grew thinner.”
The thinning of the heart connotes feelings of indifference, especially in pop music where reference to the heart suggests unabashed sincerity. However, this is not nihilism in its purest sense. It is nihilism interwoven with a polemic and sadness.
In the next line Johnson continues “I wasn’t wicked, just weak, I ain’t lyin’ I’m dyin’, crippled by deceit”. The pinto vocal delivery gestures to Johnson’s helplessness and anger, whilst his accusation of deceit assures that this is a critique of injustice.
The nature of this deceit was articulated by Johnson in an interview; “Entrepreneurial Spirit’ really means self-serving guilt-free greed.”
The tension between the self-serving, nihilistic ideology and Johnson’s polemical lyricism, within one song, shows he does not yet know himself. It is not to say that one must remain in one mood at all times, but to express nihilism whilst gesturing towards a desire for political change, indicates that Johnson has not cemented an ideal for which he will refer for self-evaluation.

The alliteration of wicked and weak and the rhyme of lying and dying, leads the listener to consider these concepts in close proximity. These moralistic concepts are important in this discussion because self- knowledge has a practical dimension, it is not merely a theoretical or epistemic matter, but an ideal.

Johnson’s London encompasses existential dilemmas: lies, death, wickedness and weakness. Exemplified in the verse of Heartland:

Beneath the old iron bridges, across the Victorian parks
And all the frightened people running home before dark
Past the Saturday morning cinema
That lies crumbling to the ground
And the piss stinking shopping centre in the new side of town
I’ve come to smell the seasons change, & watch the city
As the sun goes down again

The slow death of the cinema, the wickedness that has frightened the people home before dark and the weakness of those running away: not strong enough to offer resistance. Finally it is the monuments to neglect – “stains on the heartland” – that constitutes a lie. The lie is that by pursuing policies that proclaim to maximise personal freedom,the risk of coercion is reduced. However, what is left is a frightened populace – a signifier of coercion or a similar threat.

The city functions as a locus for Johsnon’s political expression, where Soul Mining used the personal as the political. Infected is concerned with ‘the people as a whole’.

For Johnson and Amis the city is a variable; changeable under the forces of Thatcherism, which Stuart Hall understands as having ...no other compelling force or motive in the definition of civilisation than the forces of the ‘free market

Money’s condemnation of Landlords and Heartland’s description of London as a site of intense inequality and degradation, suggest that through the 1980s, London was no longer a reliable site to achieve self-knowledge.

Money captures the city as a puzzling environment, in its intensely malleable nature: as if the home, the sanctuary for contemplation is to be reordered and restructured as a component in a developer’s imagination.

In Heartland London is a city conflicted: Let the bums count their blessings, while they count their money. This underscores the problem that to achieve self-knowledge it is imperative to regard one’s own mental life as one would the mental life of another. But it is impossible to select a subject that develops an honest and positively transformative path to self-knowledge within severe economic inequality.

Nam Kook Kim outlines why individualism is incompatible with the notion of regarding one’s mental life the same as one would of another’s

All the politicians and thinkers of the New Right were strong antagonists of socialism and the welfare state. They believed that citizenship was being undermined by a misplaced search for equality through the development of social rights. The worst thing in the Consensus era, in the view of the New Right, was the undermining of the virtues of choice and independent thought of individuals.

There is more at play than an intensification of inequality brought about through free market ideology; individualism requires a total psychological restructuring. It insists that those who are dependent or even supportive of the welfare state, seek to undermine independent thinking. This is why Hall critiques the left as often having a: …reductionist conception of politics and ideology where, ‘in the last instance’ (whenever that is), both are determined by, and so can be ‘read off’ against, some (often ill-defined) notion of ‘economic’ or ‘class’ determination.

When Jonhson sings the hearts are being cut, from the welfare state, we must consider this a dual severing; the real demise of the welfare state, as a funded initiative and the denaturalising of certain peoples’ rights to citizenship

This has two significant implications for self-knowledge; firstly we must question our own citizenship, question our ideals, concepts that are essential to the function and character of our self-evaluation.
Secondly, we are forced to question our nature; the insistence that equality as an ideal is a method of coercion dictates that we assume our own nature is unique.

By doing this we undo the functionality of introspection and psychoanalysis. They require us to explicate our own thoughts, in the same way we would an external other. Individualism stresses that we should be uniquely self-referential in our explication.

Johnson’s London functions as a locus for real structural change and for an ideological and psychological transformation.
As well as tension between the the wealthy and the poor: there is a tension between the city as a site for the individual to achieve personal gratification and a place that is shaped by its inhabitants. This point is exemplified by the protagonist of Money who believes he becomes more compelling in different cities: You’ve seen me in New York and you know what I’m like there but in LA, man, I tell you, I’m even more of a high-achiever – all fizz and push, a fixer, a bustler, a real new-dealer.

The use of LA and New York for inspiration appears particularly selfish because of his new-dealer pun: he appropriates the language of the Franklin D Roosevelt government, which is recognised as restoring some level of prosperity to the American people. He registers cities as atmospheric centres for individualistic ventures, absorbing attributes without any trace of local human source.

Seeing himself as interchangeable is hubris: he is lured to America as part of a scam. The city serves as a site for self-deception rather than self-knowledge. He is practising individualism without sufficient self-knowledge.

He is so consumed by individualistic ideology that he cannot practice a method of inference whereby we come to know about the mental states of others – one of the core ideas of psychoanalysis being that we turn this style of analysis inwards on ourselves.


Johnson uses America as a venue for recreating himself, it is particularly telling in Angels Of Deception:

Well it’s high noon at the U.K. corral
And it’s high time I got myself back on the rails
I’m the lonesome cowboy, riding across the range
With just a handheld radio–to keep me sane
Ridin through the f.m. stations, the tumbleweed
And the petrol stations
Will all on board this Yankee station
Prepare themselves for battle stations–

It is significant here that the song starts  in the U.K, before using typical American cinematography – cowboys, tumbleweeds and the range – to create a feeling of dislocation. Johnson is trying to escape from England, to grow – the corral suggesting that he feels trapped in the U.K.
The costume is demonstrative of escapism, which could be construed as a repression of identity. Describing himself as a cowboy is a form of cultural appropriation: assimilating a classically American aesthetic.

The title of the song suggests the main theme is deception. Johnson sings I can’t see for the tear gas, and the dollar signs in my eyes. Johnson’s Americana costume is inauthentic in this instance: he describes himself as blinded by American currency and cannot look inwards to make inferences. The use of costume is not only inauthentic, it is individualistic without sufficient self-knowledge. It is appropriated with a disregard for geographical, historical and communal origin.

Johnson reveals real psychological consequences to postmodern appropriation in Out Of The Blue (Into The Fire): I was trying so hard to please myself I was turning into somebody else.

It is worth noting that Johnson himself had emigrated to live in America, for the release of Infected. The album gives a less anxious and self-conscious account of Johnson; the desire to grow out of his English setting and identity, establishes a more extroverted character.

Johnson is comfortable being objectified – I’m a man without a soul honey, yeah I lost it while parading it, in a town full of thieves – but despite maturing in a way that sees him less self-conscious, self-knowledge has not been achieved. The Discontinuity of self-feeling, dissociation from the self-image, that is inherent in both Infected and Soul Mining alludes to a central motif of both albums, that is that the practising of individualism does not yield self-knowledge.

Caught in traffic due to the royal wedding in an overheated car, Money’s protagonist reflects, London has jetlag. London has culture-shock. It’s doing everything the wrong way round at the wrong time.

The Londoners transfixed on royal ceremonies appear foolish to him because they have not realised the full potential of their own epoch, the potential for personal gain through rampant individualism. In truth it is him who has been fooled; he believes he has eudaimonically transcended London and become more that the English citizens stuck in traffic. By pursuing all human pleasures selfishly surely he is in touch with an authentic self? This does not take addiction and addictive behaviour into consideration.

The conclusion that London is doing everything wrong because of the timing of the traffic and how it affects him is parochial and hyperbolic. His individualistic mantra narrows his contextual grasp of reality

His addictions are many: alcohol, sex, pornography, but most revealing in its nurturing of inauthentic behaviours is his addiction to his partner. She brings me pain. She relieves it. Am I happy? I’m not sure. I’m certainly relieved now she’s back.

He does not comprehend that he is transfixed as those stuck in traffic are by the royal wedding. He does not consider how his perspective, indicates a proximity and symbiosis.
He repents his individualistic framing later in the novel …we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and quickly ask if anybody’s there.

He no longer believes that London and the people of London can be culturally and temporally assessed in so disregarding a manner. He recognises inquisitive time must be invested, inquisitive time that is made difficult by the self-serving demands of individualism. An extended period of time inquiring into the nature of another would be a betrayal to the ideology of individualism.

If he had spent time considering those caught in traffic alongside him he may have seen similarities. Similarities through which he would better know himself, his nature and his position. The metaphorical cave suggests that there is personal danger involved in the knowing of another, the potential to become lost, but it is the rejection of the cave entirely that sees him manipulated and swindled.
The prior belief that London has become jetlagged is partly through an intensified cultural relationship with America: London feels like the resting point before returning to the effervescence of New York and LA. He fails to recognise he his symptomatic of London’s fatigue, again exemplifying the tension between the city as a site for the individual to achieve personal gratification and a place that is shaped by its inhabitants.
Johnson too considers people in cars and traffic as a significant image in considering the mood of the masses:
The little drunken lives, —
Driven’ through the traffic lights
& away from who they are!
But I’ve been thinking of you–
In this great city of great solitude.
Crossin’ the central reservation, of my imagination,
Searchin’ for the world I…left behind.
A shadow hunting shadows of childhood life.
It’s all I want–& all I miss–
But how can I return, to a place that don’t exist!

Unlike Heartland, Twilight Of A Champion paints a city with no distinguishing features. In the song  he has flown from Mombosa to Miami, Beiruit to Bangladesh. The car in traffic exposes the obsolescence of the automobile in conjunction with high speed international air travel.
The drivers driving away from who they are indicates two important points with regard to self-knowledge. Firstly, they are driving the car as a form of escapism, the act of driving ensures there is an act of departure and it is this sensation that helps them believe they are leaving problems behind. The plurality and the lives described as little indicates there is a mass of people. They do not exist harmoniously; their cars are ideology materialised, a self-reliance and self-serving attitude assured through metal, glass, rubber, petrol etc.

The second significant point is that their vehicle for escapism serves the very reality Johnson wants to escape from. The car as individualism materialised demonstrates how individualism makes self knowledge – through the understanding of others and our context – problematic. Cars as a form of transport possess isolating qualities regardless of ideology, but Johnson captures within them urban fatigue, As metaphors they indicate that to achieve any level of self-knowledge we must step outside of ourselves and make sincere inferences regarding others.
Both Johnson and Amis acknowledge the crisis of self-knowledge through correspondence within the city, as exemplified through the rioting in London through the 80s. Money and Infected capture the riots as running parallel with a royal wedding and newly unabashed displays of wealth This parallelism insists that we consider the dualism necessary to the function of individualism.
Through alliteration Amis draws sardonically on the juxtaposition in the streets of London: London is covered in barricades and bunting. The talk is all of royalty and riots. The barricades as material symptom of the riots fail to register as an absurd contradiction to the display of a royal wedding. Both are entwined as one through public conversation, under the blanket ideology of individualism. Hall calls it a theatre of ideological struggle.

Individualism is so encompassing in its apparent adherence to all personal freedoms that it houses impossible contradictions; symbols of celebration and oppression run parallel. Hall would note here that it would be reductionist for one to simply claim that Amis’s vision of London encapsulates the class and economic contradictions. We must consider the ideology for such juxtapositions to be taken for anything other than absurd.

Money’s protagonist could be located either side of this divide; his wealth and status in a patriarchal advertising firm assure him a place under the bunting, but his crude behaviour and violent tendencies should expel him behind the barricades. The obfuscation of cultural territories can be read as a feature of Thatcherism. He is able to reject of the socially conservative and respectable elements of Thatcher’s Conservatism because of the influence of capital in all aspects of cultural existence. This is significant when considering self-knowledge because Hall argues when ideology become organic to historical development and to the life of society, they acquire a validity which is psychological.

Neither Johnson or Amis are affirming reputable modus operandi for self-discovery, they are establishing a connection between knowing about other people’s desires and being influenced by other people’s desires, coupled with cultural appropriation.