October 13: the ideal citizen

Alexa cleans your house for you. Everything is now run through it. Your music; your TV, your light switches; all your information requirements. When I was young the height of technology seemed to be doors that opened by themselves when you approached them. Nowadays if you have to open your own door you feel cheated. The modern home has no need of things. All your discs and books are swept away leaving empty white space, or, rather, grey, which is the on-trend base colour of show homes in magazines and estate agents. And what is in these show homes? A couple of books maybe – signifier of the ability to engage with the old culture – but books that engage with the on-trend tastes of the moment, Vegan cooking, an art book dedicated to Banksy, a novel that inspired a TV series (The Handmaid’s Tale? Why not?); a marble island in the kitchen zone with an empty surface for children to do their homework or where parents can cut some fresh fruit – my experience of the marble island is that families load their shit on them; a poster of Audrey Hepburn, new icon for metropolitan sophistication – it only took her fifty years to make it to the number one spot, having to hack her way past Marilyn Munroe, James Dean and Che Guevara. The terrible thing about the ideal home is that it is made for the ideal on-trend person, that is to say the man or woman driven wholly by the engine of his news feeds, the man with no particular tastes, no opinions and no personality, the ideal citizen.



October 9: the playful one

In the last couple of months I have noticed a little irregularity on my right cheek. When I look in the mirror it is nothing at all but I notice it when I run my finger or palm over my face, after a shave for example, as you are meant to do if television razorblade ads are anything to go by. I keep thinking that with good diet, less sugar, less cheese, it might go away, but it hasn’t. The inevitable aging process, resigned commentators have told me, but I refuse to go into the dark so easily. I remember a few years back a friend of mine complaining about an unsightly spot on her face that would not go away, but then she smoked and put face make-up on, so I did not fear that such an affliction would come my way. In the last few days, however, I have come to the realisation that this is not a pimpleĀ  that I have but a nascent mole or beauty spot. In recent years I had acquired an extra mole on my forehead, to add to the one I already had up there. In the 17th and 18th Century French court moles were given different names depending on where they situated on the face. The forehead beauty spot (perhaps a false oneĀ  or mouche stuck up for decorative purposes) would have been called la majestueuse or the majestic one. This new mole, if mole it is, just below my right cheekbone would have been called l’enjouee or the playful one. I can live with that. Majestic and playful is the route I am set upon. Not a bad way forward, wouldn’t you agree?