the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Other people are turning me into ‘Billy Liar’

There’s no getting away from it. I’m in a bad mood, and that’s official. So bad, in fact, that at times I ape Billy Liar. For those of you who haven’t seen the classic British film ‘Billy Liar’ – and you really need to take a long hard look at yourselves if you haven’t – Billy is a fantasist who yearns to escape the drab northern town where he lives with parents to seek fame and fortune in London.

Well he thinks he does.

Anyway, at one point in the film Billy is outling his plans to his parents during breakfast, who in a 1950’s provincial way, pour scorn on his ambition. Billy retreats into his fantasy world, where imagines machine gunning them to death over their boiled eggs and toast. I know how he feels. In my mind, I’ve committed the most unspeakably heinous crimes countless times throughout my life. It’s a sign of just how much of a demented wrongcock I am, that hardly any of my fantasises have ever been about sex. That’s for the unimaginative. There are so many other, darker, more comic, more twisted, more..imaginative ones to play with.

For example;

Last week, the Sunday Sport was reporting that a couple had found a novel way to earn during the lockdown, by streaming online themselves having sex, rather wonderfully on the same day that most of front pages were full of palace press releases telling us how wonderful, how heartfelt and how just utterly brilliant in every way her address to the nation had been the night before. Coincidentally I had just found out that so many people had been flouting social distancing measures that the authorities had decided to close Brockwell Park to enforce them. This got me thinking. In a deeply twisted way, I hope you won’t be surprised to learn.

Just imagine, well no don’t, not if you’ve just eaten that is, that the laughing queen from jollity farm and phil the greek threaten to do a live two hour sex marathon every day until people stop flouting government advice. And don’t think having a screen turned off will help! This is a fantasy, my fantasy, so my rules, so every screen can be remotely hijacked and turned on – unlike the viewers – and so steam the sexathon live. They could even threaten to take requests, you know, like on those ‘adult’ channels that only broadcast after midnight where viewers text in requests for the performers to perform.

After four days of this the streets would be as empty as phil.

Another one concerns anti-vaccers, people who are so set against vaccination for their child, believing that somehow there’s a conspiracy afoot involving the government, the pharmaceutical industry, Bigfoot and the entire medical establishment. That they have pulled back the curtain to reveal the truth, which they share with equally delusional fuckwits on social media. My fantasy is this.

That at some point a vaccine for CO-VID 19 is developed and a nationwide programme of vaccinations is announced and people arrive at testing centres to get it. A somebody armed only with a white coat, ridiculous hair and a clipboard checks peoples names in the queue to get in and every so often, asks a family. Yes, there’s a bit of a problem, they say. The children can be vaccinated, so to can any adults in the family who didn’t post on social media about how they were. They’d have detailed social media evidence, proving that Snowden right to back them up. They didn’t believe in vaccinations then, so what had changed, apart from their desire not to die?

The third – and probably not the last fantasy I’ll have about all this – concerns this new fangled desire to cook for hospital workers and my housemate. Not like that! She cooked something a few days ago, with cabbage and something turned the liquid an unspeakable shade of grey. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1960’s documentary about the Soviet Gulags. Anyway, she cooks, puts it in some Tupperware, takes it to our local hospital where she gives it to some nurses.

A day later they are all stricken by severe food poisoning, the severity of it depends on my mood.

So some days, like today, its fatal.

The Flaming Lips

Last night during dinner, LMS asked something that only a child can, in that innocently curious yet direct way that children have, one that demanded a simple but unambiguous answer.

“Is Boris Johnson going to die?”

I must confess to being stunned for a second, not because I knew what my answer was going to be and whether or not to sugar coat it, but because parents have consistently spoken of him in the most unflattering terms regarding his handling of Brexit that I was amazed she would care.

“Everyone’s going to die eventually.” I said.

Alright, alright, I know she meant in terms of his being in intensive care because of the virus, but what other possible answer could I give? Her father, not being as blunt as me, or possibly wishing to ameliorate matters or simply not wanting his daughter to have nightmares, quickly added, “We don’t know if he’ll die from this.” which thinking about it is saying the same thing in possibly a more child friendly way.

I mean he will die. You will. I will, a fact that I’m more than a trifle irked by, but as I’ve repeatedly written in my posts, the extinction of the human race is by far the best thing for the planet. In the short time mankind has been about – roughly 3 seconds if the life of the planet is measured as a 24hr clock – we’ve managed to plunder and pollute it, the overwhelming majority of this done in the last roughly 200 years or since The Industrial Reveloution. Since then our destruction has been conducted at a breathtakingly impressive way – impressive in a ironical and  cynical way.

That we realise this but seem incapable of undertaking a global effort of collective, urgent and immediate action to remedy this only proves how desirable our extinction is. We’ve been told consistently that a reduction of CO2 levels by 1.5 degrees was possible perhaps, by 2050, but 2030? Well that was just nonsense! Remember how the Green Party was derided for advocating that at the last election? Of course you do! Where all the same bullshit was shit out of the mouths of a more diverse group of bullshitters. ‘We can cut taxes and increase spending on public services. We can create more jobs, create a strong economy because there is such a thing as sustainable development’.  But it was still bullshit, causing me to wonder ‘Who’s worse, the bullshitter or the person who believes their bullshit?’

The point is that in the space of a month there’s been more done– drastic certainly – to prove that concerted global action can be undertaken if the will is there. It seems to me then that people don’t care about future generations, they don’t think in those terms. It’s too nebulous, too abstract, too complicated. Instead they worry about themselves. They don’t want to die.

But just like Boris Johnson, eventually, they will.

I’m not anti-Semetic. But..

..I don’t hate all Jews. I just hate one Jew. My partner.

Oh, don’t think she’s unaware of this fact. I tell her this all this all the time. Basically, to hate and not to tell her often, well, what would the point of that? She’ll sometimes say to me that the day she met me was the worst day of her life. To which I reply – thanks Homer- ‘the worst day of your life so far.’ Because to my mind, to fully commit to an undertaking of this magnitude, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul, you’ve got to be prepared put the time in, to be ever vigilant, to play the long game. Except that this isn’t a game, it’s more like a kind of constantly evolving sadistic improvisation on the biggest stage of all.

Or else, it’s a bit like wine or that smelly French cheese that she likes, except that they mature with age and I, well, I’m a bit like “The Fly’ – “You’re getting worse.” “No, I’m getting better.” I’ve only known her for 30 years, so I think I’ve long way to go yet.

Don’t be thinking this is all one sided, either. Lest you’re tempted to call someone, just let me point out that whilst she has stated many times that she’d wade through vomit for me, she won’t make the tiny 45 minute drive across London to see me.

I know! How selfish! Right?

I worked out today that that it was a month yesterday since I last saw her. Pretty soon all the insults I’ve been saving up especially for her will go off and I can’t have them go off inside me! And they’re not just your common or garden insult either. Oh no! That’s too easy, too lazy, and too not me. The long haul I mentioned earlier? That’s how you create bespoke insults. One’s that’d be utterly meaningless to anyone else, but to her, to her, oh yes! And bespoke insults keep on re-inventing themselves, rejuvenating and being re-incarnated, like a once mighty football team dropping down the league tables and finally becoming non-league and forgotten about. Until she makes the schoolgirl error of reminding me of it and bingo! It’s back in the Champions League of insults

Many times she’s said “Don’t say that, I hate it when you say that’ and I reply “When, in all the years you’ve known me, have you ever said that to me and I’ve gone ‘Right, I won’t say it again.’ Apart from never?”

I don’t hate all Jews for the simple reason that hating any one group of people because of some arbitrary factor that has no bearing on the character whatsoever is patently absurd. The fact that so many do is proof of just how many idiots there are, living among us, looking, sounding and behaving just like us, but fucking idiots nonetheless. By all means hate someone, but hate them because of some deeply personal characteristic, something unique to them, not something out of their control. A Jew can’t help being a Jew anymore than someone can choose the colour of their skin, or sexual preference, but someone can choose what opinions they have, and how they express them,  and a whole range of other things besides. The thing is, the reasons you hate someone should be unique to them and no-one else.

So no, I don’t hate all Jews. I just hate one Jew.

Although nowhere nearly as much as she hates me, she says.

I’ve had niceness foisted upon me…

Last night we, as a house, had a communal meal. There’d be nothing noteworthy about that, were it not for the fact that before the house collectively decided up self-isolation amore than two weeks ago now, communal meals were as rare as hens teeth.

Anyway.

Somehow the conversation landed upon Kier Stammer’s election as Labour party leader. This was considered a good thing, not least his decision to almost immediately send a letter to the Board of Jewish Deputies apologising for bullying and anti Semitism in the Labour party. And I thought ‘I must be missing something here, because to me bulling isn’t someone being rude, snide or unpleasant, or making you feel uncomfortable, or ostracising you.?’

To me bullying is about getting the shit kicked out of you on almost a daily basis at school for most of your teenage years. Maybe the definition has changed? Who knows? But one thing I do know is that I’d quite happily have swapped some days where having shit kicked out of me got so unbearable that I wanted to kill myself for feeling a bit ‘oh diddums.’

Of course I’m not Jewish and, as is the modern way, if someone feels something, then it’s true for them and no-one can deny their feelings. I mean they can, but then the wrath of social opprobrium would crush them. Just because my idea of what constitutes bullying isn’t theirs doesn’t make either of us wrong. I just disagree.

Anyway. Kier Stammer. What did I think? That it would be interesting to see the way the press treated him compared to Jeremy Corbinned, I replied. No, they pressed, what did I think of him. Well, I did once think him to be a good egg and everything, what with him providing pro bono legal advice for the McLibel Two. You as well? The longest libel trial in British legal history? Really? Google it.

The thing is Kier Stammer reminds me of Tony Blair, and not in a good way, not that there is good way to like Tony Blair. He became Labour leader when Labour had been out of government for nearly ten years and immediately set about ‘modernising’ it, essentially making it Tory light. This got Labour elected in 1997 and we waited. And waited. And then realised there was no socialism in the Labour party anymore, the social change they were effecting wasn’t as harsh as Thatcherism had been but was closely modelled on it. Its impossible to convey the sense of disillusionment I felt when it slowly dawned that Labour only wanted power for powers sake.

Until Jeremy Corbinned was elected leader that is, promising great things, which unfortunately, the British people didn’t want. The fuckers fucked us all.

I could’ve said most of this but instead I settled for ‘Ambivalent’

‘Oh’, remarked someone who’s only known me since my brain injury, ‘That could sum up your entire character’. It could, of course it could, but it doesn’t. There are many words that describe my character before the brain, but none of them apply to the after. I’ve had to subjugate sides of my innate character because I calculated they weren’t especially helpful to me not after a brain injury and not in a shared house. Because of my brain injury, the way I see it, I’ve had niceness foisted upon me.

Anyone who knew me before the accident could attest to my…oh hang on; they can’t, because nearly all of them have fucked off.

As it changes, so it remains the same…

This is why I don’t watch or listen to the news, because in space of one ‘phone call to my partner last night, I learned the following; people have been burning down 5G telephone masts – some weird conspiracy nonsense involving the Chinese, radiation and fuckwits –so much so that Michael Gove had to tell people to stop during yesterdays No.10 press conference. Yeah, those telephone masts, the one’s the emergency services use.

 

Oh and murders have been committed because of the lockdown. And domestic violence is up. By 30%, apparently. I thought it would’ve been more, but you know, early doors.

 

Not forgetting cruise ships. People are stuck on them somewhere. Quite why they got on them in the first place is beyond me. Most cruises are for either 7 or 14 nights I thought, so who, in the middle of all this would think ‘Sod it; we’re going to go on holiday. It’s all bought and paid for!”

 

And yesterday there were 3,000 people in Brockwell Park. How the police can magic this number up, when anyone who’s ever been on a march knows that police figures are woefully crap. They plan to close it, to enforce social distancing. If that were the case, the weather forecasters wouldn’t grin like Cheshire cats when they announce that tomorrow was going to be a another glorious day – which it was – yesterday. They’d possibly reinforce government stipulations, which you’d expect the BBC to do, it being a public service broadcaster and all

 

In an outbreak of common-sense triumphing over stupidity,couple of anti-vaccers have lost their court battle to prevent their daughter from being vaccinated, claiming it represented state control or something. They lost and the daughter who may or may not have already been in care, is now, and will be vaccinated. So they fought a legal battle to prevent state control, lost it and the result is the thing they wanted to avoid? Show me your workings out?

 

This is why I don’t watch or listen to the news. It’s just so predictable, inasmuch as the events themselves might be new, but the behavioural impulses that create them unfortunately are not. I don’t want my head full of this shit. It’s remorselessly grim, especially now, and too much of it might make you ill. Might?  I’ve got enough to worry about as it is, the mystery of the vanishing tea bags, for one.

 

As I think I made clear in an earlier blog, my thoughts on tea are well known. So imagine my unbounded joy when this morning, the tea caddy was mysteriously short of the amount my housemate had topped them up with last night. My thoughts on discovering this were not happy ones.

A conspiracy of bellends!

I’m in my garden now, the sun has been warm and shining all day, but I’m not in a good mood because of a conspiracy of bellends, who undermine this otherwise peaceful scene. Our neighbours are cutting their grass with what sounds like  the noisiest lawnmower in the universe but who has thoughtlessly added to the chaos by burning a bonfire for what seems like most of the afternoon. And it doesn’t smell like their burning bits of tree and leaves either; it smells like their either disposing of a body or up to something nefarious and wafting the smell in our – my! – direction.

One wonders at the mindset of people who think ‘Even though it’s a really nice day, even though one might reasonably expect our neighbours to be enjoying it, regardless of all that, we’ll do what we bloody well want because we bloody well want to.’ And these are the people we’re self-isolating for?

Mind you, the day got off to a shitting cock of a day. It’s amazing how quickly one gets used to – and then takes for granted – the absence of the infernal noise that planes. I only realized it when it wasn’t there, I’d gotten used to only hearing birdsong in the early morning, when the sound of distant thunder announced the planes were back. As anyone familiar with this blog will know, I live a) directly under the flight path into Heathrow Airport, b) I think they’ve sneakily lowered it c) my bedroom is stuck onto the house as what seems like an afterthought with a thin roof, d) there’s one flight at 3 am, one at 4 am and then one every 90 seconds or so until midnight.

So no, I haven’t been obsessed with it. Not at all.

Anyway, I was woken by the noise of them this morning at ‘what the fuck o’clock’ and for an all too brief moment was disorientated. Then – hang on, as we speak, LMS is reclining in a hammock and declaring herself cold, wants me to get her a blanket; two chances, slim and none – rather like the with the tedious inevitability of old age, I realized what it was. When I mentioned it to my housemate, questioning what on earth motivated the ground-crew, check in staff, baggage handlers etc, to turn up for work, and when she replied, quite reasonably that the flights might be freight and food, I thought ‘What every few minutes?’

Like I wrote some moments ago, it’s not like I’m obsessed or anything.

Social media and its danger of turning us all into Janet Breen.

Back in my teenage years, when we’d would get stoned and I would pretend like ‘Pink Floyd’, there was a tendency to say the most outlandishly preposterous thing, but if you claimed it was a line from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ or some equally new agey book, people would nod their understanding, think you incredibly well read all the while hoping that you weren’t bum sucking the spliff.

Of course the fact no-one you knew, or in fact would ever know, had read or would read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, aided this bullshit wonderfully.

One epic piece of drug induced nonsense from this book has lodged itself in my brain with annoying persistence; if a tree falls in a forest but if no-one hears it fall, has it really fallen’ Utter tosh.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when my housemate told me that some enterprising young do-gooders had taken it upon themselves to do cook ups specifically to deliver to hardworking hospital and other frontline staff. Not just because it eerily echoed my post of a week ago, when my housemates asked why I wasn’t joining in with the ‘Clap for Carers’ collective virtue signalling onanism:

I could’ve said it would be more meaningful of people had instead of shouting, had donated a packet of toilet paper…Or cooked a properly healthy and nourishing meal, put it some Tupperware and gifted it to a police station so they don’t have to eat the normal take-away shit they do when on shift.

But because further on I observed that;

Oh, not forgetting the feedback loop of social media, which helps create it, allows people to report on it while it’s happening and then post pictures and films of them doing it afterwards and to share with others who’ve done exactly the same.

This seems to be a 21st century affliction, whereby if you do something but if there’s no-one to comment on it or like your social media post about you doing it, complete with ‘photos and video’s of you doing, it has it actually happened? What’s the point, it now seems, of doing something and not letting as many people as possible know you’re doing it, before, during and after you’ve done it? Gone, it seems, is the mindset of someone thinking, ‘I’ll do this, and me knowing I’ve done it is enough, I’d rather keep it to myself’

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. My housemate then showed me ‘photo’s of ambulance staff eating the food. Quite why I thought of Janet Breen I don’t know.

Social media is in danger of making – in this instance certainly, but no doubt others – well intentioned and generous gestures, seem more about the people doing the doing of it, rather than about the thing or the beneficiaries of whatever that thing happens to be. Unless they pose for a ‘photo of them being suitably overjoyed at this largesse, a ‘photo that can be put on social media. Of course.

They were at it again last night, the ‘twatty clappers’, although one can understand why they didn’t clap and cheer for as long, after all it was a bit chilly. Maybe next week, the week after or the week after that, someone will go outside expecting to join in with countless others as usual and hearing nothing, will go back inside.

And tell their followers on social media exactly how it made them feel.

 

 

 

 

 

Avarice disguised as a social benefit.

I’ve just checked Amazons ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ concerning orders and deliveries during this new reality, and it boasts,

“Our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one.” What utter bollocks! The NHS being properly staffed is critical, those staff having enough protective gear to wear is critical…oh wait, you mean critical as in to be critical of, to lambast, to make fun of, to ridicule in the strongest possible terms.

 

Well fair enough, my mistake, carry on.

 

“At every level of our company, we’re working to provide the products and services that our customers and communities need most at this time.” Oh you were doing so well there but now you’ve slid back into the bullshit, confusing want with need. To be fair, it is an easy mistake to make. We all do it, but then again, none of us seek to portray ourselves as a shining exemplar of corporate responsibility, do we?

And I’m not making any of this shit up, I promise. Neither am I leaving unhelpful buts out, one’s that might undermine my argument. It’s exactly as is. well apart from my comments, that is. Their self serving profiteering goes on, disguising their avarice as somehow being a good thing, a social benefit that inexplicably serves the greater good.

 

“Amazon’s operations continue, but delivery times may be longer than usual.” How effective can any lockdown be when it still allows people to place orders on Amazon. Is their customers thinking ‘Well, me and my family should self-isolate, you know, to keep us safe and to minimise the spread of the virus but whilst social distancing is fine in theory, in practice I’m not that keen if Amazon delivery drivers do it.’ But they won’t, and that’s the point.

Because Amazon has a bonkers way of seeing things, a way that quite by chance also considerably reduces its financial obligations, and therefore doesn’t see them as employee’s but either as an ‘associate’ or an independent contracter. They’re not employee’s in the same way that LMS isn’t keen on eating sweets.

And the warehouse staff who process the order, what are they thinking. Yes, we’ve seen the lovely adverts on the telly where employee’s boast about how wonderful it is to work there, making it seem just like a kibbutz, just with less sex. But why do they still turn up for work? We all know Jeff Bezos is the worlds richest man, so why doesn’t he tell his warehouse staff to go home, be safe, be with their families and he’ll cover the cost. Amazon isn’t exactly short of money. Morals, yes. Possibly pay tax on money earned in the UK instead of some complicated financial chicanery, so we afford to pay the extra nurses we depend on, more than we do fucking amazon?

Speaking of morals, a church preacher made the news today when he announced he was selling a coronavirus prevention kit – a bottle of oil and a red cloth – for the bargain price of only £90.00. Just to cover his costs, one understands. I know this because I could hear my housemate guffawing at the radio. But she believes in homeopathy, and the difference is…..

Working class champagne

It wasn’t the fact the smoke alarm room started beeping a ‘what the fuck o’ clock’, this very early that irked me. Nor was it the fact that when my housemate met me in the queue for Sainsbury’s this morning, she tired to squeeze some black latex gloves onto my hands, causing me to remark “ Ah, my OJ moment” Don’t worry, neither did she. No, it was standing in front of the shelves containing PG Tips and me thinking ‘I hope I don’t run out of tea.’ or, as I heard someone once describe it with wonderful elegance ‘working class champagne’

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not joking when I write that life without ‘working class champagne’ wouldn’t be life at all. It’d be an existence, being reduced to being nothing more than a large pasty coloured cockroach. Mind you, thinking about it, that wouldn’t be so bad actually. They’re meant to able to survive anything…

And the Verve Cliqout of tea? By a wide margin that is undoubtedly PG Tips. No question. You may disagree, but you’d be wrong. Not as wrong as someone who prefers  the devils sperm – coffee, to everyone else – would be though. I tried coffee once, admittedly as a child, and granted it was instant, but still, it looked like it tasted. Liquid shit.

Anyway, back to happier thoughts. My fondest memory of tea was of course Ireland, at my Uncle Paki’s house.They do love a cuppa there.  The first time I entered his house, I can remember him saying’ You know where the kitchen is, make yourself at home.’ Which was just as well as all there were in his house were, it seemed to a child, far too small and therefore utterly pointless cups. So I did what any determined child would do and made two cups at the same time, reasoning – quite correctly – that by the time I’d finished one I’d want the other. Because I don’t sip tea, no, I down it in one, and if its really good, I mean if it really hits the spot, then its a ‘darling cup of tea.’

Then on my first foreign holiday when I was 19, me and friend went to Turkey, to a remote place – well it was then – called Patara, which we chose because of its endless pristine beaches, deserted due to them being a turtle breeding site. Or something. The main thing was that because of this there was no development allowed between the beach and the small town, so consequently, there was one tiny hotel. On my first morning there I asked the girl behind the bar for a large jug of boiling water, some milk and some sugar and a mug. Being English she knew exactly what I was going to make. ‘Could she buy some off me’ she asked. ‘No’ I said and just gave her a load. From then on excellent service ensued and I learnt a handy travel tip to boot. PG Tips is a holiday currency like no other.

I mean yes, I’ll go abroad and marvel at their architectural wonders, enjoy their cuisine, find their traditions quaint and customs out-dated, be impressed by their breathtaking natural beauty, but there’s no way I’ll drink what they imagine tea to be.

And judging by the gratitude of English people abroad, clearly I’m not alone in this. I’ve smuggled large boxes of PG Tips twice into America, which was just as well, given as how most Americans think tea is something Bostonians throw about. Americans, it seemed to me, met had not even the most rudimentary idea f how to make a decent brew. It’d be almost breath-taking, were it not for the fact that it wasn’t the breath they are taking.

Some words about sugar. I like tea with sugar in it, how much depends on the size of the mug, and it never ceases to amaze me how people would react to this. I’d be at someone’s house for the first time, all teeth and smiles to make a good impression, and then they’d make some tea. Then I’d see the size of the mug, and they’d ask ‘Do you want sugar?.  I’ve cut down, but three teaspoon full’s – heaped, not levelled –is normally a safe bet. Cue horror. Anyone would think I’d said the only thing James Dyson has invented is a way of persuading people with more money than sense that spending £300 in a hairdryer is a good idea. ‘Oh’ I would say ‘I didn’t know that rationing was still in force.’ Mind you, more often than not be the sort of people who would only have brown sugar handy, and would have to make a big song and dance about finding some white.

A couple of years ago I found out I had borderline high pressure and was informed that one way to lower it was to drastically reduce my intake of sugar. Sensible advice which anyone able to read without moving their lips would immediately resolve so to do. However the solution offered, less sugar in the tea was as much a non starter as trying to get three items of fresh meat past the checkout this morning. My idea was better and had – has had – a much greater likelihood of success. The same amount of sugar in the tea, only less tea to begin with.

Oh and tea is best in a mug not a cup, were not re-enacting a scene in a Jane Austen novel. The consternation I’m in when my partner and I are on holiday and I discover the mugs are plain wrong. I have big mugs at my house, one’s you can get a pint –Brexit! – into, so on holiday I make do with two. It has been known in emergencies, for me to repurpose another larger receptacle – a jug, normally – as a holiday mug. I really should buy a holiday mug, It happens that often….

So tea for me is an essential. I’d go bloody, well, bloody, if I didn’t have it. And don’t go thinking ‘If it matters that much to him, why doesn’t he just re-use them?”

Because I’m not a fucking….

Happy Birthday…ish

Today is my brothers birthday, and if he’s x years old, it necessarily follows that I’m y years old.

I’m amazed he hasn’t ‘phoned yet to gloat over this fact, which is just the sort of thing he’d do to annoy me, because believe me, believe me, if the roles were reversed – he older, me younger – I’d do the same! Because if he’s x years old, that makes me y years old and that just can’t be the case, because half an hour ago I was eighteen and….NO!I guess most people feel this way as they get older, but whatever, who cares?

Not me. I only care about me and my ageing is a travesty of an unspeakably monstrous magnitude, the one saving grace in all of this being that its happening to him as well. I know he thinks the same way. He’s told me. Often, at length and with swearing.

When he started getting a bald spot on his head, the considerate thing to do would’ve been not to mention it every time I saw him, nor to give him information about hair restoring treatments or call him ‘Elton’, ask him if he was going to take a vow of silence or just get to wind him up about it generally. Did I? Again, if the roles were reversed, he’d do the same, in fact I’d be oddly disappointed if he didn’t and think him unwell or afflicted by something.

My brother is eighteen months younger than me, and so as I’ve always told him, there has only been nine months where he hasn’t been bothering me. Despite us growing up in a three-bedroom house, my brother and I shared a bedroom until I left home at eighteen. It was only when I told my partner this, just in passing, and she was speechless, that I thought it a tad unusual. ‘Didn’t you find it, well, odd, that two adolescent boys, coping with puberty and all that that entails, shared a room when there was a spare bedroom?’ was the gist of her argument. But that’s the thing. When you’re in a situation, you don’t think to yourself ‘Hang on!’, you’re too busy getting on with it to notice.

And besides, the spare bedroom was used, mainly to drive me spare.

We both went to the same primary school, which was only ten minutes walk away from our house. We’d arrive home from school half an hour before Mum got back from work. So naturally we’d have a bundle. (A bundle is like a fight except no major injury is sustained.) And then minutes before Mum was due back, we’d stop, tidy up the mess we’d made, neaten our clothes and present a facade of sibling harmony, which I suspect never fooled her. Any excuse, we’d have a bundle. It’s always been somewhat amazing when I meet someone who has a brother of a similar and discover that they never carried on like this. What were they doing?

My brother has asthma. What it meant to me, who had to share a room with him, was countless nights of interminable wheezing. So what if he couldn’t breathe? I couldn’t sleep! As a child consequences are the last thing on your mind. Had they been, I wouldn’t in the summer months when the pollen was high, have emptied his inhaler. Nor would I have deliberately engineered bundles whereby I’d drag him into the garden, hold him face down in the grass inducing an asthma attack, causing him to lurch indoors for his inhaler. And laugh like a drain when he found it empty, his difficulty breathing hampering his instant desire for violent revenge. As I write these words I know I should feel a sense of shame, but actually I feel only admiration for having had the foresight to think ahead and plan accordingly. The fact it worked so often gives a revealing insight into our characters, me the cold calculating one, him the impetuous and impulsive one.

I’ll give you an example of how even the most petty of things could be used as weapons in our own never-ending childhood war. Every Saturday, Mum would do a weekly shop and as a treat for not us wrecking the house, she’d make us crusty rolls filled with cheese, ham, tomatoes, etc.. We’d also get a large jam doughnut. Now I know this sounds sad, but this is how competitive we were with each other; we’d scoff the rolls and leave the doughnut. For ages. They’d both be sitting there in front of us, causing us both frustration but not as much as the other one hopefully felt. One of us would then crack and eat his doughnut, whereupon the other would take the smallest possible bites out of their one, all the while making infuriatingly pleasurable noises as they did, interspersed with “Oh I’m too full, I can’t eat all of this, d’you want it?” Or else when one finally got to the jam groaning in a way that would be better suited to a more adult activity. I told LMS this and she does it to me all the time now. Bless. I know if I tell him this, the next time he meets her he’ll purposely bring two jam doughnuts, just so as he can do it to her. Sick fucker’s, the pair of us.

A few years ago my brother and I were playing tennis. Or to be exact, he was playing tennis whilst I was flailing my limbs around in an increasingly uncoordinated manner. His frankly patronizing comments only added insults to indignity. One shot, which I had no hope of returning, sent me crashing to the ground with a combination of dust and grazed knees. We played on, another two sets I think. I’d like to say he’s a gracious winner and I suppose if he’d beaten anyone else, he would’ve been. But he’d beaten me. Not actually beaten. More like thrashed. So he ‘phoned me the next day to gloat. He’d tried me earlier, where had I been? To the hospital said I. For what, he said? To have my wrist seen to, I answered, giving the receiver a bash to prove that the plaster on my wrist wasn’t a sticking one. There was a long pause. He knew that I knew what he was thinking. That even though he’d won on points, because I’d played on with a fractured wrist, and not said anything – in other words styled it out – I’d won, because that’s the sort of thing he’d pull on me.

I wouldn’t behave that way towards anyone else, and possibly to anyone without a sibling a couple of years older or younger, that kind of thinking will make no sense whatsoever.) Possibly not even then, actually.

He’s always nicked my clothes, even as boy’s I’d buy something and he’d say ‘I’d never wear that’ And then years later I’d see a ‘photo of him doing just that. So anyway, back in the ‘90’s me and my partner went to Paris. Whilst there, I bought a jacket, not an especially remarkable one save for the fact my brother liked it. Really liked. I eventually stopped wearing it and as is the way with these things, presumed I’d lost it. Oh no! My delight of a a younger brother had somehow gotten hold of it and had worn it so much, that his daughters thought it was his. Being the sadistic fucker he is, when he knew both he and I were visiting Mum’s, he’d wear it on purpose because he knew I wouldn’t start a bundle. On one visit he left and somehow Mum conspired to effect his departure, so naturally I travelled all the way across London to his house to get it. Once at his house I ‘phoned Mum that she was going to ‘phone him on some spurious pretext or other, which she did, and as planned he was embroiled in this when I rang the doorbell, allowing me to get my foot in the door before he shout to his daughters to close it.

Basically, my brother can wind me up and irritate me in a way that no-one else can but this fact is more than offset by the fact that he can also make me laugh like no-one else. He can say something with most deadpan of faces, but there’ll be something in his voice, something about the way he’ll say it, something imperceptible, that tells me he’s on a wind up.

So I know his birthday this year isn’t the one he’d have wanted and truth be told I wouldn’t want it for him either.

No. Ideally there’d be no lockdown, no coronavirus, no self-isolation nothing. Everyone free to come and go as they please, to whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. To be how it was.

Except for him. There’d be some inexplicable yet compelling reason why he out of everyone on the planet had to stay indoors while the sun shone, and he could see people gadding about in front of his window. Of course I’d be there, just holding, then licking, then finally very, very slowly eating a doughnut.

Oh believe me, believe me, he’d do the same to me!