Consequences : Post 20

Posted by Pam Br

“In the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of meaningless sex.”

Or at least I think that’s what she meant, because what the text message actually said was “N the lst phew weaks ive had a lt of meeningliss sx”. I’m going to delete her out of my phonebook. Whilst the potential for gossip is huge I am no longer willing to tolerate this stupid text speak any longer. I’m no grammar nazi but when the spelling gets that bad it’s just not worth it, especially when I know it’s deliberate. She’s got a bloody degree for (insert deity of choice)’s sake.

What annoys me more is that it’s not even used solely in text messages anymore. You see it in emails, in chat rooms and internet forums where supposedly serious topics are being discussed. Take this example from a discussion about the guy who was shot by police in London the other day – “it wood be comon practis in the ruls of engayjement ot fiyre mor then 1 rnd if a suisiyde bomer is suspectid…. u need a few shots in fast sucessiun to kill em as fast as possibel…. u r not triin to incapoasitayt coz the they cood still detonayte, wich is a buger if u wer a misunderstandin …but bloody luky if he was a suisiyde bomer”.

My brain hurts trying to decipher that. Surely it takes more effort to mix up the letters than it does to type it correctly in the first place ! Does this person speak like that in real life ? How long before it invades the whole country ? Can we look forward to programmes like “Noos at Tin wiv Treva MicDonalt”and “Kryme Seen Infistigaysean” ?

Incidentally, there was no reply from the person above when I questioned why they felt the need to communicate in this manner. Maybe they were off consulting their English to Neanderthal dictionary. Save us from the stupid people !

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Consequences: Post 19

Posted by Martin again.

“But part of me still blames Elton John and David Furnish for the end of the best relationship I have ever had.”

The part of me that did that is a bit twisted and evil. The part of me that blames them is just nasty, and I try to ignore it. I need to get on with my life. I need to forget. I go out looking for external validation to do that.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of meaningless sex.

Consequences: Post 18

Posted by Martin

England, my home.

Well, not really. But that’s how it felt when I stepped off the plane at Terminal Four, into that building that reminded me of a temporary shed, constructed to house refugees, the unloved, the unwanted. That’s how I’d been feeling all the way back from Delhi. I was undesirable, unloved and unlovable and that’s what I deserved.

And this in spite of an upgrade. Maybe it was the champagne. Champagne always makes me maudlin.

Delhi had been fantastic. I’d been there with Hari, meeting some of his cousins, doing a bit of travelling and a bit of sight seeing. We’d met the guy that first taught Hari massage, and he’d treated us both to a full tantric massage. We’d seen the sun rise over the Taj Mahal, and we’d drunk ourselves silly on gin and tonic as the evenings fell. I got a great tan. And then it all went horribly wrong.

We’re talking almost three months ago now, but it really hurts, still. I had to change terminal at Heathrow, and I had a long weight, so I went to WH Smith for something to read. And I started crying. Fuck it, a 27 year-old guy bursting in to tears in Smith’s for no good reason.

I think it was the familiarity, really. The feeling that I was home. The previous two weeks had been so great, so exciting, and at the end so awful. And it had all been going so well.

We’d had a drink or two. We were having dinner at the Oberoi, celebrating our last night in Delhi before we flew back to Scotland, and Hari had been ordering all sorts of things from the menu that I wouldn’t have picked for myself, but I loved every mouth full. Good food and good wine get me romantic, so I was doing the whole flirting thing, and I told him I loved him, and I was looking forward to a damn good session when we got back to our room. And over a spun sugar dessert I asked him to marry me.

And he didn’t say yes. He didn’t say no, either. He just took a big breath.

I don’t even know where the question came from. Civil partnerships had been all over the newspapers before we’d left, but until the words tumbled awkwardly from my mouth I hadn’t thought about them. And suddenly I was all excited, because it was actually what I wanted and I was just waiting for him to answer when he said nothing. And then he swigged down his wine. And then he said – and I remember these words better than any of the argument that followed them – “Where on earth did you get that idea from?”

And then the argument. I’ll distil it down because frankly I’m not certain I want to recreate it in my head. But. I wanted to make a commitment. He already was committed and didn’t need a piece of paper to prove it. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t want to marry me. He couldn’t believe it mattered. And after that, it got nasty, and it got personal, and he left. He told me to move out. I had no doubt that he meant it.

I went back to the room. I cried myself to something near sleep. I got up at three in the morning and cried my way to the airport, and downed my sorrows in cheap champagne.

By the time I got to Heathrow, my head was all over the place. Part of me was plotting how to get him back. Part of me never wanted to see him again. Part of me was still wanting that drunken shag that I’d been looking forward to, and I ended up satisfying that part with the help of a nineteen year old baggage handler. That didn’t help anything at all, and the flight back to Scotland was as awful as the flight from Delhi, but with extra guilt thrown in.

I’ve seen Hari once since then. From a distance. I moved out, and into the spare room at my friend Cal’s place until I can get myself somewhere new. It’s helped me get some perspective, I think. I’m not shagging Cal. I’m not shagging anyone except for solo practice sessions. It’s still Hari that I think about, but it’s Hari as he would be ten years from now if we were still together. I talk to Cal about it, though, and he kind of understands.

I thought I had it all, really I did. In a sense, I did have it all, but I wanted more. Before I met Hari I was pretty heavily in denial, and Hari showed me that I was a better person for being true to myself. In the end I was true to myself, and it left me here. Fucked up, pissed off, and bitter. And better? Who knows.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this, something for me to share with the lovely Mike and his lovely readers? I think there is, and it’s not about me, or about Hari, or about the sweet baggage handler at Heathrow whose skin tastes of honey. It’s about the press, about tabloids, about hype, and about following celebrity trends. Because they’re not real people, they don’t live in the real world, and although they probably have the same fights and tears and hugs and ineptitudes as the rest of us, we don’t see them. We see their airbrushed lives where two men can promise to commit and it all works out fine and makes the front page and turns the head of impressionable guys like me. Everyone’s different, and I wish them the best of luck for the future. But part of me still blames Elton John and David Furnish for the end of the best relationship I have ever had.

Consequences: Post 17

Posted by Clair

But I knew she wanted to. I didn’t want to believe it, wanted to dismiss it as something immaterial that given a bit of time she would get over. But really, I knew it was more than that. I knew she wanted, no needed to move back to England. For my mum the homesickness and loneliness in Germany, of five years of living there, away from her family, without ever learning the language to a degree she felt confident with, had just become too much.

Now, I need to say this straight away: I love my mum, completely. She’s the best mum in the whole world that I could possibly have. But at the time, I resented her making me move away from where I felt was my home. I was only five when we moved to Germany, dad’s job as an engineer forcing us out there. There wasn’t a great deal of my life before then that I could really remember, not compared with the last five years of my life anyway. We weren’t even going to be moving back to the same area were we used to live! We were moving to a different area, I’d be joining a completely different school system, I wouldn’t know anyone at all.

We moved back to England in February. I think I can remember there being a snow storm as we left. I definitely remember having a cold at the time, which had got worse when I had insisted on going swimming with my friends one last time. So, February, half way through the school year and I was going back into junior school, when I had been in senior school in Germany. Everything was so different, so confusing, particularly the teachers, who I never got my head around, who told me off for doing things the way I had been taught them for years. I never settled into that school, making only one friend in the whole time I was there (and she was american!)

Fortunately things got better when I went onto secondary school. Looking back (hindsight is such a wonderful thing) I can see that returning to England actually did me a lot of favours. The differences in the school systems meant that I had changed from being the youngest in the class, to the oldest. From being an average student, to the top of the class. I think that shift helped my confidence in myself a lot. (My confidence in me as a person anyway; my confidence in actually dealing with new people and foreign situations is still a bit dodgy even today.)

So, while I still treasure the time I spent in Germany, and still feel, from time to time, homesick for the place where I spent a good part of my childhood, I now feel that I belong back here. England, my home.

Consequences: Post Sweet Sixteen

Posted by PB Curtis
A loss of innocence. That’s the downside.
A shag. That’s the upside.
Done.

Having thus thought critically and comprehensively about the consequences of my actions – as far as the current blood flow permitted – I went ahead and lost my virginity. I didn’t lose much innocence, but then it wasn’t much of a shag. Indeed, I was rather put out by the tiny dribble of innocence that was forfeit. I had expected a much grander shift in my perceptions, more akin to the seismic shudder of an entire nation as it hurtles into post-modern cynicism upon the discovery that trusted politicans are routinely duplicitous and venal. I had expected sex to be like Watergate; instead it was like… well, like eating an apple.

And boy, that whole situation was really wearing sandals in the pigsty. An apple? Eve may well have rued, back in the Garden of Eden. Of all the bland, jejune foodstuffs to be busted for! she may well have exploded. Why I oughta! she possibly added, although no-one would have been paying enough attention to her to stop and wonder why she was turning into Jimmy Cagney. God would already be elsewhere, having puffed off in a huff; Adam, newly gifted with sight, would be all like Whoa! Check out those babies!, and the snake would be all like Dude! Where’s my legs?

“What are you thinking, PB?” she whispered, her face so close to mine that we were both cross-eyed as we looked at each other.

Damn. I was thinking… but no, I can’t. Here we are, two freshly-minted ex-virgins, still attempting to bask in the communal glow of what neither of is is ready to accept was absolutely not a momentous experience… surely, this above all others, this is the time for honesty? Isn’t it?

“I was thinking about how rubbish apples are.”

All she actually said was “What?”, but what she actually meant was “I hate you.” And there it was, bang! There was my loss of innocence. Lying was not a sin; it was good, it always had been, it always would be, and I was going to have to make up for lost time.

“I was thinking how much I love you right now, and trying to think of the very opposite of what this feeling must be, and thought that would have to be the dullest, blandest thing in the world. So, er, apples.”

There. I felt that that was at least as good as Tricky Dicky saying “I am not a crook”, but she looked unconvinced. She was too young to say harumph with any conviction. But I knew she wanted to.

Consequences: Post 15

Posted by Jonathan

‘But then we’ve just gone and got a Playstation 2’.

‘Oh, really, young Jack? And how are you finding it compared to the original?’

‘Oh, much better! For a start, it’s much smaller so you can carry it about in your pocket’.

‘So you can play DVDs on the bus?’

‘Well I don’t catch buses- but I can play them in my dad’s car, down the shopping mall- anywhere! And it’s got an integrated ethernet port, you know, and a modem connection for online gaming, and-‘

As my 10 year old cousin Jack breathlessly extols the virtues of his new (and no doubt very expensive) toy I nod in what I hope is a sage, avuncular fashion, while hoping it is not too obvious that not only do I have no idea what an ethernet port may be when it is at home, but that my lifetime experience of video games extends to a brief flirtation with a flatmate’s portable Pac-Man machine sometime in the early 90s- back when ‘portable’ meant anything you could plug into the wall that was smaller and lighter than a housebrick.

Well, OK, that is not entirely true. In the early 80s there was the odd visit to the Plaza Amusements on Fenham’s West Road to feed primitive Space Invader machines with precious pocket-money 10p pieces, and later on, when we had paper-round wages burning holes in our pockets and were allowed to get the bus on our own into the seething metropolis that was Newcastle City Centre, there were a couple of hot, sweaty Saturday afternoons spent fighting for a place at the line of tiny screens up above the badminton courts at Eldon Square sports centre, where you could zap incredibly lifelike 3D spaceships out of the cosmos to your heart’s content, at least until your three lives ran out and you had to hand the plastic gun over to the next set of clammy adolescent palms wielding a 50p piece to push into the slot.

But the truth is I never really got into these new-fangled amusements. In fact we were a bit snooty about them in our house, possibly because we couldn’t afford the bulky technology you needed to play them with. Our cousin Neil’s house, on the other hand, was full of the attendant vulgar paraphernalia, and on one memorable weekend visit we tiptoed aloofly around the assorted green blinking computer screens and tangled wires, while our hosts attempted vainly to interest us in blasting tiny technicolour aliens out of the North Tyneside sky with their personalised joysticks. Back at our spartan, book-strewn home our dad biroed a screen full of spacemen onto the underside of a man-size hanky box and handed it to my sister, mimicking Uncle Stuart’s humourless monotone: ‘Here love, see if you can get ten thousand on that!’.

The cardboard space invaders was the nearest our house ever saw to an Atari set. I contented myself with subbuteo and paperbacks and grew into a pallid twentysomething with a thorough grasp of Sartre but no command whatsoever of a joystick. The advent of Playstation, Nintendo and the X-box passed me by- and now cousin Jack, just like cousin Neil 20 years before him, flummoxes me with his new-fangled talk of ethernet cables and interactive fantasy gaming.

And neither will it stop there. Now I have a child of my own- a darling, innocent one-and-a-half year old named Frank. But just how long can this innocence remain, in today’s hi-tech, gadget-dependent world? Already we have had to buy the little feller his own TV remote control (without batteries in, mind) to stop him grabbing a hold of the real one and turning over to the Welsh-speaking channels when we’re not looking- and he is showing a dexterity beyond his years at the outsize buttons of his various musical baby toys. How long before our precious baby is coming home from school and demanding a Playstation X-Box Five, just like the ones everyone else in his class have got? And will we be strong enough (or like my own parents, just downright skint enough) to stand firm and tell the boy there is no need for such new-fangled, obesity-inducing flim-flammery while there are perfectly good climbing trees in the field outside, and a pile of wooden planks in the back yard that can be fashioned, with the aid of the sort of basic carpentry skills one picks up at the Boy Scouts, into a serviceable go-cart that will be the pride of the neighbourhood?

We’re fooling ourselves of course. Looking out on the back field this summer evening I see the trees are strangely bereft of clambering pre-adolescents, and I don’t suppose any of us have seen a go-cart since 1975. All the local kids, like my cousin Jack, are presumably ensconsed in their bedrooms, little thumbs going thirteen-to-the-dozen at the controls of their Playstation Twos. It seems sad. A loss of innocence.

Consequences: Post 14

(posted by Will)

Schpongggg!

A lisping Big Ben reminds me that time is passing, and I can feel it. My weight won’t go down. My sensible side parting has returned. Staying in is becoming more attractive than going out. Circumstances have replaced my hi-tech mobile phone – the sort that can launch nuclear missiles with making calls as optional extra – with a brick that can do little more than send texts and is so 2002.

Is 26 too early to have a mid-life crisis?

There was a time when I’d always be in the first few rows of a gig, bouncing up and down, hoping that my specs wouldn’t fall off during a particularly vigorous number. Two years ago I went to a gig at the Brixton Academy and tried the same; halfway through I was so exhausted I had to go to the back and lean against a wall.

Last year, I went to a concert gig and leant against the bar throughout. And as if that didn’t make me feel old enough, both bands – stars of the 1995/6 glory days of indie music – then split up.

Schpongggg!

Age could be a good thing. A few grey hairs might lend me the look of a debonair executive – if I can work out how to stop slouching. A middle-aged smart-casual look might give be an air of quiet authority. And bit of ageing to my voice – ideally lower and more gravelly – would make me more assertive.

That would be a nice change. If there’s something I don’t like about me when I see myself on TV, it’s my voice. Oh, and my stomach. And my chubby arms. (Mental note: if going on TV, wear a long-sleeved shirt.) OK, if there’s something I don’t like about me when I hear myself on the radio, it’s my voice.

Schpongggg!

In retrospect, maybe I’m not exhibiting any of the outward sounds of a midlife crisis. I haven’t started wearing skinny tops that unwelcomingly show off my paunch. I’ve not started learning Greek “just in case”. I haven’t taken up extreme sports or started secretly listening to R&B.

So perhaps this isn’t a midlife crisis – it’s the bit that comes before. In order to desperately attempt to recapture lost youth, you first have to lose it. Shedding the accoutrements of the young could be what the early-late-twenties were invented for.

But then we’ve just gone and got a PlayStation 2.