Monthly Archives: October 2014

Notes:

A comedian is a cynic who nobody takes seriously.

A review site for all the cats we lesbians love.

A review site where we compare reviewers.

All I want is someone completely perfect in every way.

Anger is a lumpy pain above the eyebrows.

Any sufficiently reliable magic is indistinguishable from technology.

At my school election I offered to perform a one man version of Star Wars if they voted for me. The other parties complained that this was bribery, which shows how alienated we are from the notion that democracy should give people what they want.

Cheek kiss goodbye. Once? Twice? So much pressure!

Comedy is the intersection of irony and seriousness.

Comedy is great cover for being a crazy person.

Comedy is tragedy gone wrong.

Everywhere I go I see men with big ginger bushy beards. It’s freaking me out.

I can’t help but find working printers a little bit beautiful.

I had a dream that I had come up with the best joke ever conceived. The joke was me holding a fork, shouting “fork” repeatedly at ever increasing volume, and then crying and telling everyone that I’d stolen the joke from the two Ronnies.

I had a dream that all the teeth I’d lost in my dreams came back and buried me alive.

I have a very poor memory. That’s impossible to verify. What was I saying?

I want to be a camp eight year old who is too wise for his age.

I wonder if in the run up to the American Revolution anyone proposed devo max.

I used to read the Daily Mail and think “this is ridiculous” and then I’d accidentally repeat it verbatim and become ridiculous.

I’m from Yorkshire so I tend not to say word “”.

I’ve a note on my phone which says “’I’m a very narcissistic person’ – write about how that is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever said.”

If you can’t be cheerful, be good.

In real life, do the main quest first.

Life sounds like quite a stressful idea.

Maybe what we need in life is someone who is not special.

My aim is to write a play so tedious nobody will realise it is awful.

One day predictive text will write my jokes for me, until then I realised she’d given every year the UK and Ireland.

People are always told to be themselves. My company caters to people whose selves are awful.

Sadness is a stream inside you.

Sometimes I get upset when I don’t fancy anyone.

Sometimes I want to cook pasta in the kettle.

Sometimes I want to say “I’m not crazy, I’ve written a screenplay”, then I realise my conclusion does not follow from my premise.

Sometimes I worry that I can’t be disillusioned about everything.

They say the longer you leave the shaving cream on the better the shave. It’s been two years now.

To an elephant, laughter sounds the same as tears.

When I see “Movember” written down it always looks like German to me.

Where are all the evil hipsters?

Who told everyone that you swallow eight spiders in the average lifetime? I bet that person was a spider.

You can’t blame the shopping on the rain.

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Happy New Jersey Street Signs

This story came up on the World Service yesterday about a New Jersey city that has installed “happy street signs” in an attempt to improve residents’ lives and outlooks:

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/10/in_newark_happy_street_signs_plaster_city_poles.html

When I heard the love-in this received from the media I became quite angry. About one third of this mostly black city live in poverty, in 2012 it was ranked the 6th most dangerous city in the United States and it has an unemployment rate of 11.4%. These are serious problems. Maybe the reason why people in Newark are unhappy is because they are unsafe and poor, and they have incredibly limited life chances in a city in which only 68% of residents aged 25 or over have graduated from high school. “But don’t worry.” the mayor says, “There’s a campaign putting happy signs on the street courtesy of DEPT OF WELLBEING!”

You can look DOW up if you like. I’m not going to post a link to them because I don’t want to be any more personally responsible for giving them traffic than I already am. The goal of these street signs is to create a viral internet campaign for an advertising company, plain and simple. How do I know? Well for one thing they’ve got a British artist in the publicity. If this was an actual grassroots movement they would have got artists from their own city involved, and it wouldn’t have crossed their mind to cross the Atlantic. Second, the mayor is up there talking about how he’s from advertising and advertising is about encouraging people to buy things they don’t need and he wants a positive campaign for a change – which is exactly what an advertising campaign does.

I’m not saying that local people making things is a bad thing, but I’m angry that this is a very, very disingenuous ploy and that nothing I’ve read or heard from the media has been critical. The street signs could have had genuinely engaging, provocative or subversive messages like “You are not your job” or “In Germany employees vote on company representatives, aren’t you glad you live in America?” or “Modern liberalism is a bland street sign initiative” or “Want to be happy? Why not ignore everything that’s going on in your life?” or “Depressed people are often able to remain calm during catastrophic circumstances” or “Don’t worry, if you’re unhappy, statistically you’ll likely live longer” or “Guns don’t kill people. Oh wait. They do.” or “I am everything your government is prepared to do for you” or “Arm the good guys first, ask what makes a good guy later” or “The American government spends more per capita on healthcare than the British one, and in Britain healthcare is free, and Britain is ranked number one in the world for healthcare by the World Health Organisation”.

I don’t think the goal of government should necessarily be to encourage people to be happy, especially when people don’t live in happy circumstances. In America in particular, people work ridiculous hours in jobs they hate for companies that don’t even know they exist. If they get sick they lose their job, and if they walk somewhere they sometimes get shot, especially if they’re black. It’s not nice. And the general response of society is to encourage them to drink, or take medication or illegal drugs, or show them shitty videos about how inspiring everyday life can be if we just dance or recite a poem or do some other bollocks that has nothing to do with the real political causes of our unhappiness.

Maybe this sign campaign is sincere and people actually want to improve one another’s lives through bland written pleasantries. But as a political statement it’s completely empty. It’s not even as important as being polite. And for me this happy sign campaign is symbolic of how legitimate empathetic sentiment is co-opted by the media and corporate interests and politicians so that we direct our positive energies into futile crap. I hope that if this happened in Britain people would respond in the same way as we did when David Cameron came up with the Big Society and say “But you haven’t actually done anything. Our problems are still here. The fact that you think this is a solution – that this is even proposed as a solution – shows how disconnected our political system is from the reality of life for ordinary people.”

And there are real solutions. Universal free healthcare. Employee representation in companies. Tax systems in which the rich are obliged to pay tax. Gun control. Human rights. Campaign finance limits. Financial regulation. All those liberal socialist communist things that rebalance power from the rich towards ordinary people. I mean, not all of them obviously, liberals aren’t always right. Sometimes they come up with pointless sign campaigns.

Dining Alone

Dining alone,
On the way home,
In a nearly empty chain restaurant.

The lights are low,
I’m sitting slow,
And some children are playing on their phones.
So is dad.
I can’t see mum.

I’m reading about Russel Brand,
Receiving dough balls at my command.

The service is great.
The dough balls are not.

A recording sings happy birthday.
Customers wait patiently for silence to resume.

But silence is not what resumes.

Bad music is night time everywhere,
From door to wall and step to stair-
They’re all the songs of Fred Astaire,
Made blandly “fun” by a popular pair,
Of nothings. Each a millionaire.

In a good venue conversation is music enough.

Or are people too boring to bear one another’s company?
Or their own?
And be alone?
On the way home?

Russell Brand is interesting.

The calzone is better than the doughballs.

I didn’t need to order mashed potato.

Smile. Tip. Goodbye.

Time to go home and write a dull poem.

I’ll call it Frankie and Benny’s.

World of your own

I don’t want a prestigious career.

I don’t want a lot of money.

I don’t want to sink to the bottom of the sticky bottle.

All I want-

Is somebody that I fancy.

Someone gorgeous and wonderful amazing,

Who’s weird and funny and knows about obscure things,

And here I am in a tree house throwing pebbles at rodents,

Waiting for her.

And beside me Joshua wriggles and slaps his thighs and tells me about his favourite Pokémon.

I’ve heard his story a thousand times before.

He doesn’t care.

I don’t care.

He just talks at me while I look for squirrels.

The women of my life are all called Rosie, Rose, Rosetta, or Mary-Rose.

Why do girls all have the same name?

And how can I expect the one I want to go to my school,

Or find my back garden,

With no hose or even a tap,

To run our hands through in this bright heat?

I’m smiling.

I’m too old for this.

Too young.

Just wrong.

I hate being weird.

I’d hate to be normal too.

The girls my age are far too young.

I want one who’s twenty or thirty,

And I don’t want to be ashamed.

Joshua’s mum is the most beautiful woman in the world.

Most of my friends’ mums are.

I wish I was older.

Being naked must be vibrant when you’re old,

Electrical,

With tingly lips.

“You’re not listening!” Joshua says.

“I’m sorry. I was thinking.”

“You’re in a world of your own Marcus.”

I laugh. Joshua Laughs. I climb out and up onto the roof. He looks at me through the open port-hole.

“I can’t go up there.” He says.

“Why not?”

“I’m scared I’ll die.”

Joshua is even more of a stranger than me. But like most people he doesn’t realise how odd he is.

“You’re in a world of your own.” He says.

I wish I had my own world.

“Come down.” Says Joshua.

I want to be in bed with Miss Braeburn.

I grab a big green apple and climb back in.

“Apple?” I say.

“No thanks. They’re too sour.”

“Joshua?”

“Yes?”

“Do you like girls?”

“No.”

“I like mums.”

Joshua laughs. I laugh.

“You’re in a world of your own Marcus.” He says.

I spot a squirrel in a bush. I throw the apple at it.

Missed.