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.