Today at the Public Tree Service I had to defend, before a higher court, a sycamore not wanted by its owner. It was a tree about which I had harboured doubts: was it truly worth defending, particularly when the judge was such a persnicket, causing the whole case to run over by weeks? Today we went to the look at the tree, after much talking about the tree. The neighbours came round to say how much they hated it, because they, or their friends, or some person they didn’t know, or all of the above, had slipped on the leaves, or seeds, or pigeon shit. But they brought their kid, a boy of about ten, and when he heard I was there to defend the tree he smiled at me. He liked the tree, he explained, he didn’t want it to be cut down at all. So I knew that I had made the right choice.
The persnicket insisted on viewing the tree from every window in the house. This only confirmed my decision: it was covered in moss and lichen, an ecosystem in its own right, standing unmolested for a hundred years. Meanwhile the house. Oh, the house. When I saw it I understood why the owner has campaigned so vigorously against the tree, this monstrous untamed thing in her garden. Never have I seen such a sterile house. All greys, spotlessly clean, much cared for by a housekeeper. It didn’t even look lived in. Everything, I mean everything, was packed away. Everything was clean and grey and white. If that is your idea of heaven, a tree is your idea of hell.
As for the persnicket, she must be objective. What a very strange notion, when one considers sterility versus lichen.
Back in Londres. It is damp. It always seems to be damp these days. My gloom today, I realise, is partially imparted by the weather. I’ve been a bit low the last few days, partly the effect of visiting the Coastal Town, which is not my place. Whatever you might say about Londres, it isn’t the Coastal Town.
I made it back in time to get to the pagan festivities yesterday. Was too tired to really enjoy, though the aim of the ritual was a worthy one: to bring an end to the endless winter. We discussed witchcraft in the middle ages, and a book that weaves a strong feminist narrative around it. Some of us are worried about the narrative, even if we agree with the ideology. We detoured into the role of narratives in creating a future. Nobody denied the future exists, which says a lot for the people who were there. Can we create an alliance for the future?
I think it’s impossible to leave Londres, and that’s why I rarely do. It gets everywhere, like syphilis and bankers. That sounds negative, so let me state for the record that Londres is the least worst place in these dark islands. As for whether it will be a better or worse place to be when the end comes, who knows, and maybe house prices will decide our locations for us anyway.
Buenos Aires, I discovered last year, is a good place to be. Plenty happening, plenty of people with hope for the future – far more than here – and better weather. But Londres is there too, it turns out. The soya merchants and other scalpers have driven up the prices of property so much that no normal or decent person can buy in the centre any more. Humanity free zones across the globe. It’s not much of a rallying slogan for global capitalism, but it makes the chains look accidental, hence the lack of rioting so far.
This morning I went to the barber in Savage Cross. He voted for Brexit despite being from Cyprus himself. There’s just too many of ‘em now.
That ritual had better work.
I’m on the train out of London, the slow route. Kentish fields and hedges rolling past the window, every centimetre shaped by human hands over millenia, but still with some residual wildness, a reminder of what will be when we are gone.
Last night I was out in Savage Cross, where I live. We went to an appalling night of dancing at the Stuffed Head Emporium. I was expecting trashy pop, because that was what they advertised. What I wasn’t expecting was the sheer calculated shitness of it all. The DJs thought too much of themselves to play actual pop favourites, preferring to stick with the truly second rate pop. This was, I suspect, a display of dominance, sadly encouraged by the punters, who queued outside to be aurally abused in this manner. Several in the group complained and eventually we retired to someone’s flat to play our own music. I am hungover today – an ill-advised mixture of medium quality cider and gin.
Otherwise I had a good day yesterday, including some time in a local gentrified cafe. I would go to the non-gentrified cafes, but I go to cafes to use my laptop and feel so out of place in the more established establishments. Curiously it only feels right to sit there abusing the wifi for two hours with one pot of tea in the more upmarket cafes. This means, I suppose, that I am the target market of these cafes. And I do enjoy them, even get a sense of well-being from my presence in them, perhaps feeling I have attained the comforts of the bourgoisie. It’s easy to mock, but being bourgouse means having a safety net. It is becoming a rarer state as I type, as the money drains out of the country to sit in tax havens out of circulation. We get no inflation these days however much money the government prints because money is constantly being removed from the economy by our lords and masters. Gentrified cafes are the last flourish of a declining middle class. Let me enjoy them.
It feels good, despite the hangover, to be out of the metropolis for two days. Only the omnipresent crows remind me that there is no escape, not really.
Some sun today, and a day off for me. Somehow I barely got out of doors, caught up in a to-do list with no end. No end but one, and that may take some time. Seriously, I’ve been trying lately to bring my to-do list to a zero point but it doesn’t work. Things grow there, as welcome as parasites in an eyeball.
Last night I saw the Red Flash and Power Fist. Everyone was tired but we gossiped while we drank a berry brew. Everyone is swirling around trying to find a way to live here without giving up all autonomy. The banks would pay us fine but then they’d own us. There used to be some culture where money was barely a factor, squats and dole and profit-free flats and skipping food. The Vermin have made it difficult for this to exist, and deliberately so. You are only the monetary worth to them, a set of figures in their spreadsheets, a flesh machine with potential to do some work for them.
But we had a good chat. I got to reveal that I used to work in the Palace of the Managers. That surprised everyone, even if I played the most minor of roles. I hated the corridors of that place, and I realised the Managers were playing a game in which I didn’t figure. That’s why Londres is the way it is now. That’s why we have to fuck them up.
The Red Flash told me about a friend of hers who, for her degree show, and amidst the government cuts rampaging through our lives, exhibited the names, addresses and salaries of all the senior poobahs of the university. She struggled to get her degree awarded after that. Soft power forms into hard so easily. Londres has sharp edges, right?
I was at the local ceremonial hut picking up some food ordered collectively from all over the world when I heard voices outside. Two men, perhaps street drinkers, perhaps drunk right now if their tones were anything to go by, were picking through the bags of clothes left out there for charity. I left them to it. Who was more deserving than those for whom Londres has already ended?
The storm has been blowing all day. At the tube station the dust was mounting up on the stairs. As I veloed home the sky gloomed monstrously and the roads were scattered with bits of tree and restless litter. The future is always in the present, and that’s why storms.
I work at the Public Tree Service, so it was a busy day. Only two of our remaining trees succumbed, but I fielded comms all day from people who doubtless voted for the Vermin Party who wanted a public service to sort out their private problems. We’re not allowed to scream ‘The Vermin Party don’t believe in public service’ down the phone at them until they start sobbing in apology for their selfishness, so polite refusal is the order of the day.
The vermin didn’t cause this storm, they merely ensure its dominance over us, our helplessness in the face of the future.
After dinner I’m off to see the Red Flash. She and I are trying to put together a podcast, the sound of defiance spoken in reasonable tones. Perhaps we should abandon the reasonableness. What have we got left to lose? But I am tired. Isn’t everyone in Londres?
I wrote today to Dynamo Sparkle, who is unafflicted by weariness, feeling affectionate towards her. The future and the past have been casting a pall over both of us, so I wanted to say some words, mention the future. If we are not kind to each other, there is no-one else who will be kind.
The news from the Orient is grim. The madmen are still in control of large areas. Efforts to contain them are in place, but savagely compromised by dubious alliances and the presence of fuckwits in the coalition of the goodies. The madmen will not bring the end of the world as they would like to. They are less important than that. It is the coalition who will play a more important part in our end. Warnings of this future are everywhere, but they have no idea how to avoid that role, headed as they are by men with crippled imaginations and led about by the nose by the money men.
Londres is the centre of it all, and the violence of far away haunts us only in ways we struggle to understand. Debt is rising. The baillif is knocking, knocking.
The end is very fucking nigh. Today the wind blew through Londres announcing the end of the world. It whispered in every ear that ventured outside, rattled windows, wrote in the air with twigs it had snapped. Nobody seemed surprised. The end has been clearly on the horizon for a while now, heralded by the utter vacuity of everything you will see in an art gallery. Londres is for the lost, but among its populace are a few with other positions, less lost.
This is early spring but the only feelings around are autumn feelings. The crows in Burble Park looked particularly contented. This is their kind of time. I felt like stopping my velocipede to shout at them, but there were too many. Is it a ‘gang’ of crows, or am I imagining that? This gang would have fucked me up given the chance.
As for the sky today, it was almost certainly in league with the crows. The end will have no effect on the smug sky, or will only change its mood.
A man leaned out his van as he drove past and told me I had dropped something out my bag some fifty metres back. My bag was well sealed and I didn’t know if it was a cruel joke so I did not go back. On the bright side, I have eaten a series of fatty chocolate snacks shipped in from elsewhere. They did not seem to know about the end of the world there, and perhaps that is a good thing. The world still drains into London and we love it.
Crows aside, the theme of my thoughts was the usual one: how to live in the time we’ve got left, how to defeat the fucking landlords, how to have hope when there is none. There is a future of course, though in some different Londres. I know of other believers in the future, but even amongst their number, those who understand that action is the only tonic for hopelessness are a minority.
Perhaps that’s just meant to make me feel better about myself. Everyone in Londres wants to be special.