October 24: the call goes up for a clever imaginer

I wonder if politicians or politicians’ strategists have a kind of index above or below which they acknowledge that the electorate registers an idea or a feeling in their deep vote-bearing being. As we speak, it looks as if the Saudi journalist Jamal Kasooghi has been murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul by agents of the Saudi regime. This barbaric act looks to have registered on the collective consciousness more than the killing of some tens of thousands of innocents in Yemen, mainly because it represents a personal narrative. Personal story scores higher than abstract statistic on the resonance scale. The question is whether there is a statistical way for politicials to appreciate this and integrate this disparity of perception into their machinations, some algorithm of dreadfulness. What is clear, though, is that some clever imaginer needs to find a way of talking about abstract figures of deaths in wars and bombings that can strum the heart strings or nervous systems of your everyday member of the public to gain the same reponse as the single, albeit bloody and awful, death of one person.



October 2: the role of the lanyard

These days you are nowhere without a lanyard. Is it lanyard or is it lanyon? Where has this word emerged from anyway? No matter, you need a lanyard. If you are wearing a lanyard around your neck, best to also have a collection of important keys on another tape clattering around as you walk importantly along. Some men, or women, wear keys, or lanyards, on their belt. If this is the case, they jingle around in the vicinity of your genitalia. Why not indeed? These, lanyards and keys, are signs of ownership. You are owned when you wear the lanyard. You do the owning when you wear the keys. Our whole life is owning or being owned, these symbols seem to say. Some people love the lanyard. They wear it when they are out and about town. It leaps joyously about their necks in the sunshine, clattering on their manly or womanly breasts. Though there are cheeky ways to sabotage its dominion. You turn it round so that the face offered to the world is no more than the plastic back with your jolly mug shot up sheer against your shirt, or else, and this is my secret way, you tuck its badge bit in between two buttons on your shirt, so that there is no way of identifying you, and if stopped you raise up your hands, present palms, guiltless as you like, and say, oh I’m sorry, I can’t think how my lanyard leapt into that gap between two shirt buttons to seek refuge. That’s the way it is with the lanyard these days. Like with so many things, it’s a game of high stakes cat and mouse.


October 1: the history of my teeth

My teeth are going through a barren phase. That’s unusual, and good for me. Mostly with my teeth it’s a roller-coaster ride. I am driven from one crisis to the next, but for the last couple of years things have settled down. It all started when I was eight and smashed my just sprouted new second front tooth into Patrick Mangan’s head in the playground. We had gone up for a header and my tooth snapped straight across into his head and left him with eleven stitches. My mum took me to the dental hospital in Manchester and they gave me a silver tooth, waiting till the remaining stub had grown to fit a crown when I was eighteen. From that day on, people called me silver tooth, as though I were a gunslinger in a Western. In those days dentists drilled with gay abandon. They almost drilled the teeth right out of my head. When I went to Paris and opened my mouth to my first female dentist the first thing she did was laugh and say (I’m translating from the French) ‘Now that’s what I call filled!’. With your mouth open, prone on a dentist’s chair, that’s an uncomfortable position to be in. Things came to a head in London and I decided that my one luxury in life would be a fancy private dentist. I did not want them all to gradually disappear. I had some implants, let them drill into the bone, which is not as bad as it sounds, closed my eyes as the blood flowed into my mouth and got sucked up by the sucker. So, you see, having a barren phase in tooth work suits me just fine. The worst, for teeth at least, is over.