THE GAME OF LIFE

I always thought of life as a computer game. A giant, sprawling sandbox with a choice of ending before eventually, ‘GAME OVER’. Milestones to achieve, coins to collect and a depleting life bar to protect. Enemies to fight, decisions to make and puzzles to solve. But what if you’re not very good at playing it? Even worse; what if you don’t enjoy playing it anymore?

There isn’t a walk-through guide or any warp zones, which is a shame as I’d like to go back and play the beginning again or skip to the end depending on my mood. There are some cheat codes, e.g. theft, fraud etc. but I’ve always hated cheating. I’d rather fail by myself than win because of someone else. The game begins with an elaborate introduction and tutorial which teaches you the basics; such as how to eat and not go near fires etc. The first few levels are awesome and so easy too. It was really fun to play with so many rewards.

The most exciting part as I continued to play longer was gaining experience points and leveling up, which meant I was able to unlock greater sequential freedoms and the stories could branch off and lead me on various exciting side missions. The HD graphics are amazing and everything is in 3-D. So many beautiful colours. Most of the first end of level bosses were easy; normally teachers in tweed jackets with elbow pads who threw board rubbers at your head. They were easy to dodge.

When your avatar reaches adolescence and adulthood the game gets much trickier. All sorts of new enemies fill the screen and you can get easily confused about which direction you’re meant to go in. I took many, many wrong paths thinking that they were the right ones, but I kept coming back to where I’d started. The story arc for taking the wrong options is eventually losing all of your weapons and xp. Right now I’m low on currency but I have plenty of health packs.

The general gameplay is fun but a tad repetitive once you’ve put in about 30 years. Right now I’m roaming around the same town with my trusty canine sidekick. There’s a princess that I’m in love with but she doesn’t need rescuing. In fact she needs to rescue me. In the meantime I hope for some new exciting DLC to drop. Lots of the people I’ve met along the way want me to keep playing but it’s boring and I’m tired of it. I really wish I wasn’t because I haven’t completed it yet, and I love unlocking trophies and hate quitting.

I HAVE A DREAM

A young child would never dream of smoking a cigarette
A young child would never dream of drowning their sorrows
A young child would never dream of sorrows to begin with
A young child would never dream of cutting themselves
A young child would never dream of taking illegal substances
A young child would never dream of pain or religious dogma
A young child would never dream of caring what they look like
A young child would never dream of ending their own life
A young child would never dream of what they’re going to inherit from us
I dream of innocence.

VANTAGE POINT

Should there be any humanity left in 100 years, I thought it would be helpful to leave them with an insight of what it was like coming of age in the early part of the 21st century, so they are able to trace the seeds sown for the armageddon they barely survived. Look upon this as a time capsule if you will. I was born and raised in the dilapidated seaside town of Margate, Kent, top of the county’s list for social deprivation, poverty and lack of jobs. I was an average looking man, with a below average body and an above average IQ. Here’s how we used to live.

The advent of mobile phones / smartphones was the single biggest catalyst for a total breakdown in communication among our species and the beginning of the ‘Terminators’ you now know. All previous intimate ways of communicating began to erode at a rapid rate. As a child I would write letters using something called ‘pens’ and ‘paper’ to family, girlfriends etc. and believe it or not, but we used to talk to each other whilst in the same room! You probably have a Google / Facebook chip in your brains now but in the early days of Big Brother, we only used it to update our acquaintances with pictures of our meals and cats. This spiralled out of control when people began to conduct their personal relationships online whilst being in immediate proximity of each other. For example, a couple would be out for dinner in a restaurant yet both be on their phones providing real-time commentary on the delivery of their dishes. We stopped saying, “good morning,” or, “hello,” to one another in the street. We stopped visiting people because we could talk to them on ‘FaceTime’ without having to get up off the couch.

Phones also ruined countless relationships. Women would search their partners’ phones to find nude pictures of other women. Men would create false identities online in order to solicit sex or groom children. In this way people became dispensable to one another and impassive to each other. The proliferation of dating and swinger websites meant people stopped trying to repair broken relationships or work harder at personal growth. Instead they interchanged and swapped partners on a regular basis, which ultimately led to the breakdown of the nuclear family. Sorry for using the ‘n’ word there, bit insensitive of me!

Phones also allowed us to film ourselves doing dumb things which we could then share globally in an instant. This created an environment of one upmanship for who could do the best dumbest thing. My favourite was the guy who choked and died showing off to his mates he could eat a whole cheeseburger in one mouthful. People got dumb real quick.

Another trigger we initiated for you was abusing nature and polluting the environment with flagrant waste and disposal. The world was essentially split into two; half the world had too much food and the other half had none. You’d think the solution would be easy. But what did the half with too much do? They started ‘World Competitive Eating Championships’ and ‘Food Challenge’ websites. These tournaments would demonstrate how fortunate people could eat over 100 hot-dogs or chicken wings in 7 minutes, before puking it all back up. People would actually train their bodies to ingest several pounds of food, significantly more than was necessary to survive. But they weren’t all heartless and avaricious. When the starving people came knocking they would have charity bake sales or sit in a massive tub full of baked beans.

I think another contributing factor to your downfall came as a result of us having too much of everything; if you lived in certain societies of course. Consequences for actions were incrementally removed. We were unable to smack our children anymore when they misbehaved, so they began to misbehave more. This ultimately led to social unrest, lack of respect, compassion for others, empathy, morality and bad attitudes. Our levels of impatience grew exponentially as a result of excess. We introduced the 24/7 climate; you could get what you wanted, when you wanted, with money you hadn’t earned yet and if you owed too much and couldn’t pay, you could get another loan. We became accustomed to thinking everything should be done for us immediately. We realized that by becoming aggressive and violent we could get it done even faster. When I was a child I had a computer and a game took at least five minutes to load. I was perfectly happy with that. When I reached adulthood technology had become exceedingly more advanced, to the point where I would get irate at loading screens taking only seconds. The pace of change was far too rapid. Many older people felt left behind, overwhelmed or lacked confidence with technology. They were ostracized from communities and became their own little fraternity. This perpetrated even further division between the generations, which in turn corrupted the vital passing on of values and traditions.

Symptomatic of excess was boredom. We all had too much and so didn’t know what to do next or how to connect with the true potential of our species. Eventually everything became generic. Cars all looked the same. Songs all sounded the same. Even young women all looked the same. We’d run out of ideas, so in a panic, any new ones were not subjected to previous rigorous vetting. Literally anything went. Instead of allowing people to adjust to change and experience it, the next change or experience was already being thrust upon them. We had to start coming up with new shit. So people decided to change sex. Children as young as 5 years old were allowed to swap gender. Men would cut their penises off and wear wigs in their 60’s. Women started sucking their own sanitary towels for porn and men would fuck joints of pork or put their bell-ends in cups of maggots. Kids started decapitating cats and murdering their parents. We pushed back the frontiers of decency.

The final nail in your coffin was the habitual celebration of mediocrity and reward for failure. We flooded the lands with babies we could not afford to provide the resources for. Competition and ‘survival of the fittest’ was vanquished. Everyone became a ‘winner’, even if they came last; they were the ‘last winner’. Nobody had a sense of humbleness or constraint; everyone had a sense of entitlement. Therefore the cream stopped rising to the top. Standards in education steadily declined, class sizes got bigger and teachers quit. If one child had a severe allergic reaction to chocolate, then every pupil was banned from bringing chocolate to school. The gene pool got diluted. Innocence was repealed. Children were encouraged to ascertain adulthood much earlier and bought skimpy clothes to wear. Fame was allocated arbitrarily and pseudo celebrity embraced.

Perhaps I’m guilty of a little ‘free association’ but then I’m bitter about not having self-tying shoes, flying cars or hoverboards. So swings and roundabouts I suppose.

BUS WANKERS

The novelty of traveling on the bus has now worn off. I feel like a wanker on it and if you were to stand outside and see me sat next to the dog on it, I probably look like one too. But it struck me today how symbolic the bus occupancy is. In effect it’s a time capsule on wheels charting each stage of the human life cycle; sometimes it even contains examples of the different stages of human evolution. The bus contains a comprehensive cross-section of society. First up we look at who sits at the back of the bus.

Yes it’s young people. Typically they are on their way to college or a menial shift at a supermarket. They are the risk takers; reckless, insular and unprepared. Often they’ll spill their money all over the floor or have no idea what kind of ticket they need to buy. They will quite happily dump their bags/possessions in the cargo area at the front of the bus and then march right to the back to sit down. It takes some balls to leave your property near the exit of anywhere and walk away. Immediately they will retrieve their phone from their pocket and plug in their headphones. They will then sit in complete silence ‘jacked in’ for the rest of the trip listening to ‘3 Seconds of my Chemical Ass-Egg Bowling My Valentine’s Spunk-Bullet’ or whatever other teen Emo band is currently popular. They are completely uninterested in eavesdropping, polite conversation and most certainly never sitting next to anyone. The seat next to them will remain empty at all costs. Females are definitely the worst for not being able to put their phones down during the short ride. I saw one girl yesterday watch who was getting on whilst touch typing her text. She was banging out 60wpm without even looking on a tiny touchscreen keyboard!

In the middle you will find a diverse range of middle-aged people that includes me. We might be down on our luck or just plain social pariahs, who knows? But you are guaranteed to meet a person with a learning difficulty. It’s not so severe that they can’t be independent, but severe enough that they wear grey sweatpants three sizes too big and have unsqueezed boils on their necks. I find myself looking at them trying to calculate their ugliness. There needs to be a standard unit of measurement when it comes to ‘ugly’. Just watching them take far too long to eat a gingerbread man winds me up. I try to display my most “Fuck off and don’t ever talk to me face” when I’m aboard, as inevitably they pick on some poor fucker to show off their hat to because it looks like a Snowman. They are devoid of social etiquette or bus protocol and will unwittingly bash you in the face with whatever rucksack is clinging to their obese shoulder.

I mustn’t forget the alcoholics; proper hardcore 24/7 drinkers. You can smell the alcohol permeating through their pores. They may or may not have the purple cauliflower nose but they will definitely have the yellow tobacco stains on their index fingers. Invariably they will be wearing black tracksuit bottoms with black shoes.

Next there are the bald or balding women. Women who last had sex in the ’70s. Women whose G.P.’s have to smear Odor Perception Inhibitors under their nose when examining them. The real decrepit folk sit at the front of the bus so they have less far to fall and fracture their hips. You know the age I’m talking about; they look the colour of rigamortis and their heads won’t stop shaking like a nodding dog. They carry so many prescription medication Boots have their own handbag size paper bag. It’s great that they can still be independent but if they collapse I am not touching them!

Finally we have a new species of asshole – the bus driver. Some are carefree, cheery and just get on with their job of driving around in a big circle like a character from Camberwick Green quietly. Most however are retired army generals or ex headmasters who stop the bus every 5 minutes because someone’s shoe isn’t correctly aligned to the gangway.

I regret selling every car I’ve ever had.

 

OSCAR’S SO GROUCHY

ZZZZZZZ I’ve just bothered to watch the Jada Pinkett Smith video on why she is boycotting the Oscars. It was passive aggressive and racist. Talking about, “our people,” and hinting at setting up “their own industry award ceremony” that would exclude people of no colour. Let me just delve into some research for a moment…Chris Rock is presenting the ceremony this year for the 2nd time; Whoopi Goldberg has hosted it 4 times; Sammy Davis Jr twice; Richard Prior twice; Diana Ross once. Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker and Halle Berry have all won Best Actor whilst poor old Leonardo DiCaprio can’t even win one. Many other people of colour have been nominated for Best Actor Oscar. Louis Gossett Jr, Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr and Morgan Freeman have all won Best Supporting Actor. Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress in 1939!! So has Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Hudson; and in the last 7 ceremonies, 3 different black women have won it. 12 Years a Slave won 3 Academy Awards. Oscars aplenty for Best Original Song and other categories as well as Spike Lee winning a special honorary award last year – wonder why he’s boycotting it this year but decided to turn up last year?

Talk of the ceremony being ‘all white’ and boycotting it based on the colour of skin is divisive, hurtful and perpetuates long outdated differences and prejudices. The USA has had a black President for 7 years!! It’s over, it’s done, there is no more apartheid or travelling on separate buses. But it’s okay for there to be the MOBO Awards…yeah cause that’s not racist is it? Imagine if there was the MOWO Awards? The human race is barely out of the fucking trees and generations of them have been complete knobheads who thought the world was flat, that God exists, that witches should be burned and black people should be slaves…but it’s over. There is no glass ceiling left. Get over it!

NOT GONE FISHING

I don’t like fishing because I don’t get it, and I never like things I don’t understand. I’m talking from a recreational standpoint. I understand the need to fish to make fish fingers. Don’t hit me with the tranquility and ‘one with nature’ angle. There are dozens of outdoor pursuits that allow you to experience peace and be at one with Mother Earth, without digging for worms, stabbing them with hooks, getting wet whilst drinking Thermos tea and generally looking a knob.

My Dad took me fishing once when I was a small child against my will. I insisted I take my football with me. This was in the days before smartphones and GameBoys, so I can attest to what true boredom really means. This was also in the days before 24/7 supermarkets, online shopping, the internet and food banks; so whilst extremely tenuous, it at least at an element of ‘man goes hunting for food while woman stays at home and cooks’ about it. Only that my Mum is the most squeamish person I know and refused to handle raw fish. If it doesn’t come frozen and in breadcrumbs then my Mum ain’t heating it up for 20 minutes! The smell of fish guts in the kitchen sink as you walk through the front door is quite offensive. My Dad is rank; he’ll eat anything, including jellied eels. Cold chunks of fish in pork pie jelly…who thought of that? He has even brought roadkill home before and put it in a pie.

All I can remember about my fishing debut was the cold, the darkness, the crippling boredom and  catching fuck all. My Dad was more successful when going prawning, (not in the urban dictionary sense). He built his own net and would go out at low tide up to his balls dredging along the seabed. I used to enjoy the tickling sensation of all the prawns and shrimps swimming over my toes. I have happy memories of sitting outside our beach chalet at dusk, eating freshly caught shrimps with salt and vinegar, brown bread and salad cream. But that’s as far as my seafood curiosity extends. I’m not interested in anything that comes from a closed shell, anything that can make you have explosive diarrhea for 3 weeks and certainly nothing that can kill you if not cooked properly. I don’t need oysters to get a raging boner.

Today whilst walking the dog I was curious to walk along the harbour arm to see what the fishermen were up to. The sky was black and menacing and the sea grey and lifeless. It was also going out. A man in those unflattering fishing trousers reeled in a whiting no bigger than the palm of my hand. He unhooked it and threw it back into the sea…from a height of about 12 meters. Won’t that kill the little bugger? What is he expecting to catch in a few feet of water? There’s a chart on the wall that gives a minimum length each type of fish has to be when caught otherwise it must be put back. Five minutes away is the best local fish and chip shop with an offer on mushy peas. I know what I’d prefer doing.

KITESURFING

So it’s January; officially the shittiest month of the year. Bitterly cold, icy, howling winds, sleet and sharp rain, credit card bill for December, back to work, another year older…and apparently some mad cunts in the sea on surfboards going from side to side aided by garishly coloured kites. The only ‘extreme’ thing about this ‘sport’ is the weather. It is the water equivalent of having someone pull you with rope along the street on your skateboard. What’s the point?! I’ve got 2 t-shirts, 2 jumpers, thermal socks, a hat and a coat on and I’m freezing my nuts off just walking the dog; whilst simultaneously trying not to let the fluid in my nose form droplets. Yet here you are in the grey, bleak, angry ocean going from side to side whilst remaining constantly damp and having a whale of a time. Perhaps you should enter the Tenby Boxing Day Swim next year…you might as well earn money for charity whilst acting like idiots.