September 25: what becomes of us?

We know it makes no sense to think that you are moving somewhere in life. Maybe you can accumulate money but it is hard to accumulate friends and at any moment any life gains, material or other, can be reversed by something that comes from without or within. You must love the vagaries of the journey, then. And know that nothing is definitively acquired. But it is more complex than this, for if you do not defer some pleasure and accept some pain there is no way you can arrive at the appreciation of deeper pleasure. If you do not learn your French verbs, you will never read Proust and that pleasure will forever remain unavailable to you. So you juggle living for the moment with living for the future with what you hope is the right dose of both.
What becomes of us? As a child you look forward and try and imagine your face tomorrow. You try and picture where you will be standing in twenty years time, what scars you will bear, what you will know or have unknowed by then. I remember as a ten year old imagining what I would do as a sixteen year old: going to Old Trafford and knocking on the door and convincing the manager to give me a trial for the Manchester United. It did not occur to me that the intensity of my desire was of no consequence. Weirdly, this still seems to be a myth evoked by televison programmes like X-Factor where all the preliminary interviews to the acts centre on the intense desire of the novice performers to become stars. Nobody ever endears thenmselves to the baying audiences by communicating disinterest, by saying ‘well, it would be nice to win but if I don’t I’ll find other sources of satisfaction, it won’t be the end of the world.’ No, nobody wins hearts with that attitude. Except mine.

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September 19: wayne puts bread on the table

Wayne Rooney has apologised to his family after being caught drink driving in the Greater Manchester area. There was also another woman in the late night car. I don’t know if the apology was for her as well. Coleen, the wife, was away. I don’t know where. Dubai probably. That’s where they normally go, footballer’s wives. It would be nice if you heard she was away in Bayreuth listening to the Ring cycle or something. It would make a change from Dubai at least. The people Wayne should be apologising to, though, are not his family, in Dubai or Cheshire or Majorca, no, not them, but the other people who were driving in the vicinity of his car when he was pissed behind the wheel. They were the people put at risk, not his family. And yet, it is, as usual. at the altar of the sacred family that the modern equivalent of sacrificial animal innards are laid out. The evocation of the family (like some ritualised chorus in Greek tragedy)is transmitted through the sacred script of the tabloids. Wayne has let his family down. Wayne regrets his poor judgement. As though he had been deciding on the fate of Trojan envoys. Wazza shows poor judgement and the gods punish him with a two year driving ban. The Rooney tribe is shamed and will not be able to fulfil their sacrificial rituals in the Temple of Juno again before the new moon. There is a vibrant history of footballers and family. A footballer must never be without a wife or girlfriend; the idea of solitariness is anathema. What! On his own! No, he must be given the full set of wife and kid accessories. When Wayne brings home his £250,000 a week he refers to it as putting bread on the table for his wife and kids. The gap between the reality and the language has never been so cavernous. It is a wide as the minotaur’s jaw. The idea of what you are doing as putting bread on the table is a deep insult to all those working people who literally earn their zero hour bread and literaly put it on a literal table, if they have one, people who do not live in the Palace of Atreides or drive the chariot of Croesus. What Wayne Rooney puts on the table for Coleen and their kids is a foul blood-soaked mass. It is a filthy, unnameable organ; a sick trophy. Wayne Rooney himself is not totally to blame in all of this. He is just the poor beleagured agent blindly carrying out the ritual in the monster’s labyrinth.

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September 16: the perfect body

As I flipped through a fashion magazine in the dentists I came across an article about a black fashion model with what Chaucer called ‘gat-teeth’ (a gap between the two front teeth). The general drift of the article was that any kind of model can make it in today’s fashion industry. Mostly the features required to be a female fashion model are big lips, a little button nose and des yeux en amande (almond-shaped eyes). This has been the case for all my adult life. The problem with the button nose is that it is hugely unambitious. It has its tiny perfection and will not ruin a photo in the way a big nose can but the button nose is not taking ny risks, not drawing attention to itself, its own particularity, which you might think would be a plus in an alpha-beauty, though the fashion world mainly looks to draw attention to the clothes, so maybe this neutrality is a quality. Fashion model men come in two guises; the hunky-big man and the waif, though there is a wider range of face allowed for the male. A nose can be big, for example. The idea, I suppose, is that men are allowed to exhibit character, greater specificity than women, which may mean that men can come in all shapes and sizes but it is difficult for women to. I remember once a woman asking me whether the gym I went to still had the instructor with the perfect body. This was a bemusing question. It depends what you mean, I said. No, but you know who I mean, she said. Turned out that the perfect body she was referring to belonged to a tall bloke with glasses who looked and moved like a tax accountant. Thank goodness that, to a small extent at least, beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the beholder. Mostly, as I get older, I am only really moved by beauty when I get to the conversation of the person. I noticed this when I tried Speed Dating once.This does not make me deep. You should hear the conversation I require.

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September 4: my favourite torturer

Suspicions as to the true nature of the offence had been aroused over a period of time. The suspect had been invited in to cohabit with his victim a number of years previously and given a position of some standing and significance in the home. It had gradually dawned on the victim that he was being systematically and progressively subjected to a process of what can only be described as wholesale manslaughter. The perpetration of the crime made itself apparent through a number of significant symptoms; his limbs aching; his back stiff, almost set in place by some dreadful lock, as though he were being bolted into a medieval stocks. It was the beginning of a drip-drop over a number of years aiming to destabilise the whole organism. Gradually such an application of pressure erodes the resistance, erodes the equilibrium of the whole musculature. Ironically, it had been the victim himself who had hand-picked his own torturer, chosen out of hundreds of applicants as being the one best equipped to provide satisfaction. And there was something about that relationship, a relationship the victim was loathe to reject. Surely, he thought, this cannot be the problem, surely there must be some other root cause of my affliction. But no, all evidence now pointed in one direction. It really was time for him to throw his favourite armchair out.

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