Time’s vacuum

London

Days vanish into the Internet’s virtual cesspool, one after the other, each spiralling deeper until slipping from my grasp only to be replaced by the next.

An intricate, expensive system devised to suck away time, as if powered by all those hours spent by billions of people every day. As if driven by time itself.

Are you hunched over your laptop, internally debating the merits of a four-pack over an eight-pack on the Tesco website? Those minutes are driving it. Weighing the three day weekend in Rome against the minibreak in Lanzarote? Grist to the mill. And which hotel would be better? This one has a prettier spa, but that one’s in the centre of town. Tick, tick, tick, the smiling face of the Internet demon is relishing your time.

Or are you standing on the morning tube reading this on your phone? Tick, tick… Or the hours spent trying to unfuck what it’s done to your book of holiday snaps? Tick, tick, tick…

And we do this to ourselves, no-one compels us. We do it because we have convinced ourselves we’re being productive, or that more choice is, obviously, better.

So here I am, writing this, staring at a screen. Tick… tick… tick…


Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies

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A pub’s life

London

A cold afternoon in Soho and I have an hour.

A statement, not a question, but nonetheless there is an answer; and the answer is pub.

The age of the pub is over. Thousands are closing monthly, we’re told; and those that remain don’t feel like actual pubs. More like bars, cafes, restaurants.

And it’s our fault. My fault and yours. If we don’t go to our pubs they will close. A simple truth. One could blame the corporatization of pubs, big money’s simple desire for more and the dull conformity it nurtures, but the fact is that the attraction of a bottle of wine and Netflix is stronger than the desire to go out and drink in the company of strangers.

Or — god forbid — actually talk to them.

Inevitable, of course, that such a proud tradition should end. Society changes, influenced as it is by our apathy and unconcern, our misguided wantings. And thus pub dies.

And yet from my stool at the end of the bar, as I wallow in the warmth of a blended scotch, voices break through my self-grown keratin shell. Just ordinary conversation. Three men, standing, pints in hand, their dust covered clothing betraying a day spent reshaping the city, discuss women.

Their appearance may seem incongruous in all this neo-gothic Victorian mahogany, but here they are, doing what generations of young men before them have done: sharing a drink and idle chat after the day’s toil. This afternoon, at least, pub is alive and well.


Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies

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Days and days

London

Does the inevitable living death of the day obscure the sparkling vitality of the night before? A night of beauty and passion curtesy of Puccini and Domingo, Scarpia and Tosca, and the companionship of angels.

London continues to offer this jaded old hack glimpses of a life worth wasting, flashes of technicolor in the shadows, beauty on which to rest a restless eye. Last night, in all its light and shade, was one of those nights, just one of those things, gossamer wings.  A break in this succession of fruitless days and lost evenings. An invitation to the opera, a box with friends. A sumptuous sensual delight, finished off with the rough wit of a drag queen.

And then here I am again, the day after, listening to the constant cynical tick-tock of the great clock; the only clock that matters. Hours slide past like polished ice under this sled’s skinny runners. I wonder what’s next as my carefully listed daily tasks sit and rot away through lack of attention, and suddenly the day has passed away, and my solid achievement is the consumption of three episodes, previously watched.

I turn and gaze back over the undulating landscape of my past, complete with occasional jagged peaks and chasms, and my inner face, battered and bloodied by decades of frustration, starts to talk once again: get off your arse. Get out. Sieze the fucking day. Roll over and close your eyes.

And so here I am, just me, sharing with you, whoever you are, the bland reality. I might write more tomorrow, or next year, or next life. I might not.


Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies

£5.00