Wrong Side Of Paradise

Saturday, 30 November 2013

New World Slaughter

Welcome to the new age of  living.
Self sufficient taking more than giving.
The new age of plastic and cold metal chains that spin and blind.
Take care of yours, I'll take care of mine.

As we all mind each other’s business, unaware of our imminent fall under the advertising hitlist.
Consumerism shoved down your throat it's ubiquitous, it's me against them instead of them against us.

It's consuming and falsely gratifying, no one to trust, paranoia's grip is tightening, your lack of fear is frightening. So brainwash the ignorant who need enlightening with botox and implants and tooth whitening for fake smile's blinding once clear sight they're now confining to dumb down our future youth cursed with violence and abandonment and confusion driven by the illusion of satisfaction as they fuel the fire for the inevitable chain reaction.

And blame the victims of society when things blow up, it's sickening as the smoke screens thickening in the place our future are expected to grow up.

It's so daunting I could throw up on my expensive designer shoes made in china by kids they push to the back of the news. Because they're less important than the page three kicks that have middleaged men on the train transfixed, as they ignore their sons and their daughters and send them into the world like lambs to the slaughter.
Without hope or wisdom in search of shotgun fame and fortune as fragile as a water balloon filled with false hopes and dreams of breaking into Hollywood scenes and achieving notoriety, delusional grandeur shouting 'somebody lie to me'.

It's silent gunfire, an unknown poison, insidious. The true face we idolise is so fucking hideous, waiting for the next agenda for an excuse to get rid of us, and stitch your mouth closed to silence dissent, on the road we all walk that was paved bent, and full of wrong turns designed to lead you astray and waste the rest of your days as your misled until you come full circle beaten a hundred shades of black blue and purple, with an empty hole in your heart both numbing and hurtful.

So make choices uninfluenced by authoritative voices. Fuelled by passion and immersion in your own original versions of life that you've created and haven’t been fated. Look back on mistakes tearless, choose life and be fearless.

Adventures of Tom One.


Tom; "Jana says I'm not romantic"

Me; "You're not"

Tom; "What should I do?"

Me; "Nothing".

Tom; "Seriously, what would you do?"

Me; "Nothing".

Tom; "Be serious, if you wanted to impress a girl what would you do?"

Me; "Burp the alphabet?"

Tom; "Be serious!!!"

Me; "I guess if it was me, I'd take her out to dinner or write her a cheesy song or something".

Tom; "Yes, that's genius. I'll write her a song".

Me; "Wait...you can't sing"

Tom; "Can I borrow one of your guitars?"

Me; "You can't play guitar"

Tom; "So teach me a few chords?"

Me; "I don't have the patience"

Tom; "Come on, it was your idea...You wouldn’t have mentioned it if it was a waste of time would you?"

Me; "I guess it couldn’t hurt"


Me; "Woah what happened to your face?"

Tom; "This is your fault"

Me; "Oh crap, did Jana give you a smack?"

Tom; "No...I was trying to tighten a guitar string when it snapped and whipped me across the face"

Me; "I guess love really does hurt"

Tom; "......"

Me; "My bad".

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Unsocial Networking

Facebook, one of the many bane’s of my existence, where those once known and those no longer known communicate through pokes and status updates in a virtual popularity contest. Where we can read the real and unreal lives of others in real-time.

Sarcasm aside, Facebook isn’t so bad. In my typical hypocritical style, I am on Facebook, though I’m not exactly an active user. My profile picture is three years old, I haven’t posted a status update in months, and I reply to messages months after receiving them, often logging on to feel as if I’ve just awoken from a coma and missed crucial news like ‘’dis nora virus aint no joke ting’’ (57 likes)
But despite the likes of me, Facebook is a thriving community. I came to learn of this recently when I met a friend of a friend’s.

‘’Give me your Facebook’’. He said.

Strange, it’s almost as common as exchanging numbers today.
So along with a bemused look, I exchanged Facebook details with my soon to be Facebook friend. And when I got home I logged onto (into?) my malnourished and neglected Facebook account to accept the friend request of (let’s call him Mr John).

I had a look at Mr John’s Facebook profile a cacophony of status updates, likes, and hundreds of photos. I was surprised as the Mr John I had met was dull bordering on very dull. So I wondered, are the people we portray online different to the people we are in the real world?


My first thought is the documentary ‘Catfish’ which follows New Yorker Nev Schulman as he falls in love online with whom he assumes is a young and attractive girl with model looks. One of the taglines of the movie is ‘’don’t let anyone tell you what it is’’. But again in typical fashion I’m going to ruin it for you and say that Nev was fooled by an older woman impersonating this young girl he was falling for, and his heartbreak was captured on camera (Sorry).

But that’s an extreme example.

There is a lot more subtlety to the duality I’m trying to talk about. Kristi Pikiewicz PhD (writing for psychology today) sums it up well when she says ‘’ The news feed we create is an idealized “global village” of sorts.  We post status updates to our Facebook “tribe” that promote us as we choose to present ourselves’’.
That makes sense to me, and it sometimes saddens me how easily people can be validated by thumbs up or a like for a photo or a something they post in this virtual world missing a dislike button and where criticism can be erased with a click of a button.

I’ve never felt the need to be validated in the real world or otherwise. I am what I am, I’m a dick…but I’m also kind of amazing, like me or loathe me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t empathise with others who in my eyes have a loose grip on reality. I’d never outright accuse these people of losing their grip on reality however, for fear of getting my head chewed off.

I witnessed this recently when two people I know had an argument where the word ‘’fake’’ was spat out. I’m surprised how defensive people can be when that word is used. The accused’s response? She said ‘’I’m fucking real’’ about a hundred times, I’m real, I’m real, I’m real...At first I was relieved because I was beginning to think she was a figment of my imagination. After I felt wonder, at why she would care…And then I made a very inconspicuous escape tripping over my own feet…But I digress.

The point I’m trying to make is that Facebook is a means of communication, but it’s also a place we can portray ourselves as whoever we want to be. But when our shiny notebooks and tablets are turned off, our true selves remain…the only ‘’selves’’ we should really care about.

And to Mr Zuckerburg, please don’t sue me. I’d love to talk to you about this…maybe on Facebook? But I can’t spare the £61 you’re charging people to message you.


Only Words

Written 10/2012

I went to meet a friend in a popular chain of coffee shop today. Whilst considering how I was going to attack the creamy pyramid hat on my overly priced but "ethically sourced" beverage, I struck up a conversation with a friend of a friend's. Let's simply call him "Guy" as I've forgotten his name.

Guy; "I smashed my Iphone last night, F.M.L"

Me; "F.M.L?"

Guy; "Yea F my life"

Me; "It's just a phone"

Guy; "When I tell my girl she's gonna tote lulz"

Me; "lulz?"

Guy; *shakes head at me. "Laugh Out Loud!"

Me; "I thought that was lol?"

Guy; "Na cuz"

Me; "Cuz? Becuz of what?"

Guy; "Na CUZ not because"

Me; ".........."

Now I'm used to falling victim to general douche-baggery, but this guy bugged me. He bugged me, not because of the dirty Che Guevara T-Shirt he was wearing in a naive attempt at hipsterism...(Ok maybe that bugged me). But what bugged me more was the look of exasperation he gave me because I couldn’t keep up with his new age and muddled attempt at the English language. I would have made my feelings known but by now I was wearing a milk moustache that I imagine would make me hard to take seriously.

Now I grew up in a community where slang is the norm. I won’t embarrass myself with an explanation of inner London slang, ya get me blud?

But I've noticed over the years how our colloquialisms have become even more outlandish. "Yea fam dat man was wedge but he got sparked". Wedge? For those of you wondering, means muscular, it's taken over from the previous popular word "hench". 

So what? I've used once popular words (werd!) before, and though I often engage in ridiculously ghetto but un-ghetto conversations in an attempt to cling on to the last strands of street cred I have left...It saddens me.

George Orwell famously said "Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way." (I think he said this somewhere in "Politics & The English Language" 1946).

I'm not asking for us to turn into a nation of pretentious, bombastic, sesquipedalian prats (I use those words in irony). A simple "Hello, how's it going" "It's going fine thank you". Would suit me just fine.

Now this mangled dialect isn’t a problem when you're having a conversation with your mates, we all do it. But it does make it difficult to explain the same thing to different people. I noticed this during my first year of university when I was tasked with presenting an argument to my fellow students. I stood in the lecture hall facing my peers and though I had thoroughly researched my argument and understood it fully, I couldn’t explain it. I remember thinking "if my mates were here they'd get it". But communicating it to a group of 400 plus students from different backgrounds and countries proved difficult. 
And after my muddled presentation there came a time for questions. And someone asked a question about one of the writers in my presentation being perspicacious. I stood there thinking "what the hell does perspicacious mean?”
So long story short I answered his question through the medium of contemporary dance and was awarded with a top grade....no not really. I googled the word on my phone while pretending to go over my notes. 
It was an embarrassing experience.

At the time I was dating a foreign exchange student from Japan. She knew exactly what perspicacious meant, but when I told her ‘’I couldn’t give a monkeys’’ she had no idea whyI was talking about monkeys. Strange…I was born and raised in England but she had a better understanding of the official language than I had.
From that day onward I would sit in the library with a dictionary and a four pack of red bulls, making certain I wouldn’t end up lost for words again.

It’s a sad feeling. But I’m not the only one who feels this way, Nordquist sets out a brief history of others who felt similarly. He goes as far back as 1667 with Thomas Sprat’s damning of a ‘’vicious abundance of phrase and metaphor’’. All the way to Dick Cavett’s explanation of our ‘’loosening grip on language’’ in the New York Times back in 2007.

The guardian published an article in 2008 detailing the failures of GCSE students in England and their failure to distinguish adverbs from adjectives. I’m not going to damn these students when I’m also part of the problem. And in a world of texting and twittering (other social networking is available) and where words like whatevs and onesie are added to dictionaries I doubt things will get much better.

And when I’ve questioned who is to blame, I’ve come up with nothing. I guess it’s just the way things are and I have to accept that. Even if I wish things were different. And before you all condemn me, let me reiterate I’m not asking for big and unnecessary words. A simple unburdened and untangled use of words would please me well. And again I offer no solutions (I have a habit of doing that) I’m merely making an observation.

Besides you may have by now realised how defeatist my argument is. Look back at the words I’ve used, ‘’Hipsterism’’ ‘’Douche-Baggery’’. Yes…I am yet again a hypocrite. And I am almost always grammatically incorrect.

But before I end another one of my nonsensical rants, I have noticed something else happening in our colleges, universities and work places. That is, the subtle ridicule of those who are trying to learn proper expression through language. I’m constantly damned for my numerous spelling mistakes. I make a lot of typos usually because I type with a cigarette in one hand.

And I’ve seen people ridiculed for improper use of a word or phrase. We should be encouraging them, not laughing at them. Recently I used the word prodigious when discussing something boring like our taxation system. The word prodigious simply means big or huge. After using the word someone exclaimed ‘’prodigious? Do you know what that means?’’. My eloquent and very immature response?

 ‘’Your mothers ass’’ .


Friday, 15 November 2013

Unfree Thinker.

Sometimes I wonder how much we are in control of our own actions, and our own fate.
Fate is something I’ve always wondered about. Are we born to be certain people? Are we born to do certain things?

In short, I’ve never really believed in fate. I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my own destiny or my actions. Fate is something I’ve never wanted to believe in, but over the years I’ve come to accept that it does, to at least some extent exist.

I know you’re probably thinking, if we are fated to do certain things and become certain people. What is the point of free will? Or indeed, is there such a thing as free will? And more importantly to me, is there such a thing as free thought?

I guess we all have free will, but for some of us it is freer (freer? Is that a word) than others. Is that fair? No.
When I was a child, I think I must’ve been about 12 years old. I was asked to write letters to a pen pal as part of a school project. He was a African boy slightly younger than I was at the time. We wrote to each other for almost a year, until I stopped receiving letters from him. Weeks and then months went by until I finally received a letter from another boy in his village informing me that he had become ill and passed away.
I remember feeling pretty sad about it. And my teacher explained that it was a common occurrence in Africa, where young children die all the time, ‘’They are not as lucky as you and I’’ she said before allocating me another pen pal...I didn’t write to this one. Was he fated to die? I don’t know.

Also when I was a child, my uncle had committed suicide. On the morning that he died, he had walked me to visit my cousins. As we we’re walking, we came across a church. Not a catholic church, but a church building where Christian groups would meet to pray. My uncle turned to me and asked if I wanted to go inside. I said no, I hated going to church.

That evening on returning home, my uncle was dead. Was he fated to die? Had I gone to church with him, would he not have died?  I don’t know.
Today I look at the person I am, an over analytical, cynical and slightly apathetic graduate. Was I fated to become this man?

Without going into the academic side of things, I want to mention the age old debate I was introduced to in my last year of uni, known as structure VS agency which might explain things.
In layman's terms, agency refers to us as individuals in society, and to what extent we are capable of making our own choices.

And structures, are the things in society that can limit or steer our choices in certain directions.
Whether we like to admit it or not, structures do influence our choices. Whether it be schools, the church, the state (government),work etc. They all shape our thinking, and inevitably the choices we make.
I was once asked why I chose to go to the university I did. My answer was ‘’I wanted to study politics’’... I lied.

The correct answer should have been, ‘’I chose to study politics’’. In fact I had wanted to study sciences, however being sceptical at college (for you Americans, we go to college before university here, they are two separate things). Anywho, having been sceptical about college, I enrolled too late, to a hellhole of a college where I was offered the chance to study business, law, politics, and history.

I accepted the offer, intending to ride out the free tuition for a year or two until I figured out what to do.
Before I knew it, I had completed my exams and was at university studying politics, despite my wishes... but due to my choices nonetheless. In fact I was still rather confused during my first year, to the point where I decided to study everything from criminal law, criminology, psychology, history and English...but that’s beside the point.

Was I fated to study politics? I don’t know. But despite my discontent, I was afforded opportunities that I’m grateful for.

I think back to my African pen pal. He once told me in a letter he wanted to be a doctor. Would his fate have allowed him to do so if he had not died? I doubt it. No matter what his choices, the poor structures in his village...i.e. his family, the government and the lack of schools would not have allowed him to do so.
My uncle was a tailor. Had he always wanted to be a tailor? I doubt it. But again his structures would not allow him to have had much choice. Is this fate? Fate sucks ass.

And you and I? How much free will do we have in what we choose to become?
The government limits our actions. In the UK we are in a recession, jobs are short. To the point where people would pretty much do anything as long as it pays the bills.
The government introduced promising vocational courses for people who did not go into further education. Steering them in this direction ‘’BUILD YOUR SKILLS’’ they said.  Though now we have learned these courses are practically worthless.

The music, movies, clothes,  and cars we choose to buy are a result of advertising. Did I choose to take out that sky subscription (Cable TV to you Americans) the other day because I wanted to? Or was I convinced that I would be sucked into a world of sports and American TV dramas that would allow me to escape the stresses of modern life and sit back on a coach with a large pizza, because of the promising adverts I saw on TV.

I don’t know.

I guess I’ve always thought of myself a free thinker. Now I know that nothing about free thought is free.
We are taught from school, the media, the government etc...how to think, and in many instances what to think. And whether we like it or not, it has a bearing on our so called ‘’fate’’.

I don’t like it. And next time that guy at the gym asks if I’ve had the government recommended 5 fruit and vegetable today?...

I’m going to tell him to fuck off. (Not Really)