tetchy tech (or a story of asshole nihilism)

Where I started, where I ended … #chester to #liverpool (and where I belong …)

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I’ve had quite a few downsides and run-ins with tech over the past few weeks, impacting really negatively on my ability to work on my MA.

I know they tell us we should take ownership of our reactions.  But this is a way of saying what we feel is ours to own, and we have no right to own anything else that happens.  Instead, maybe resigning ourselves to its reality is about as far as we can go.

The whole world an asshole as the man said?  (It was almost certainly a man …)  I don’t know.  What’s clear is that a lack of oversight on processes end-to-end is crapping the life out of us.

One fairly recent example.  The housing trust maisonette where we live is on the first floor.  It shares a fairly new downstairs door (at the foot of equally shared stairs) with our lovely neighbours across the way.  They are, by the way, the best neighbours you could ever hope for.  The best.

The fairly new door was a replacement for the previous fairly shabby door.  However, the functionality of the shabby cousin was far greater than that of its replacement.  Let me explain.  The latter has very nice frosted windows, is made (I think) of white PVC, and has a letterbox.  All to the superficial good.  And therein its true idiocy.

To all intents and purposes the door now looks like it leads to a house, not a shared flight of stairs and on to two dwellings on the first floor.  A cursory examination of postal legislation would have revealed that where there is a letterbox, even if shared (the two flat numbers are clearly present, by the way – something I neglected to mention above), postal services have no obligation to go any further.  No one in the housing trust who sanctioned the now fairly new door ever thought to look at end-to-end process, it is clear.  Over the past two years or so our shared experience (ie that of our lovely neighbours and ourselves) with the wretched “first point of delivery” in question has been dreadful: multiple lost deliveries from couriers various as packages got left in full view of the street; muddy and damp letters and post when they do arrive; untold numbers of re-deliveries required as the delivery people knock at the bottom, get no immediate reply, and scurry off; and multiple unfulfilled assurances from Royal Mail to not do what the next shift of postal officers always ends up doing.

Overall a much worse service – and intractably so! – than when we had the old and shabby original.

And all due to the fact that someone, somewhere, in a procurement department miles away from the issues, thought that a brand new door with letterbox and two numbers would be a vast improvement for the security and safety of everyone and everything concerned.

End-to-end process analysis is rapidly becoming a lost art: lost to the ever-increasing specialisations of our world, where we are strongly, systemically, encouraged to dip our heads into ever-decreasing circles of knowledge, and thus find ourselves failing altogether to see the wider connections.

And that is what brings me back to the world and its asshole.  So maybe such extreme nihilism is unwarranted, and maybe such vigorous resignation is unhelpful, and maybe we do need to take ownership for our own reactions above and beyond what happens to us on a daily basis.  But even so, and even when said, and even when accepted, there remains this reality: good people are doing shit things because shit systems and lines of command and control and overarching strategies and perhaps, simply, a general lack of interest in or understanding of what is going on is more the rule than the exception.

Write the beautiful new door with its shiny letterbox and flat numbers to a broader audience of work, leisure, consumerism, business and political activity and it begins to become so much easier to understand why asshole nihilism is becoming the default position of so many citizens.

‘Question is: how do we work out together a way of shrugging off the vicious circles which are currently embracing us in no congenial way at all?  How do we move on from simply having to own asshole nihilism on this dreadful daily basis – and dealing with our tragic and broader bereavement from intelligent behaviours – to actually making environments and worlds where our first response doesn’t need to be one of wiping up spilt milk but rather, much more handsomely, drinking its sexy and freshly churned warmth with an intellectual joy that befits the 21st century?


#urban #flash #liverpool

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“strive to thrive, not just survive!” / “don’t change yourself to learn how to deal with the shit – change yourself to change the shit!”


I have had a bewildering past year or so; maybe decade too.  And maybe the long arm of bewildering reaches much further back than that.

No matter.

The summer has really topped it all.  I have recovered from eleven years of depression; I think I may be one of the very fortunate people in the world ever to have recovered from a rather wayward diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia; I have recovered my love of life; and I am even prepared to admit I have a dusty old password book that might remind one of a balding pot-bellied Hogwarts teacher’s book of potions.

But most of all I have fallen in love with people: first and foremost, I have fallen in love with a woman – or maybe sex android – who only likes working in PriceWaterhouseCooper (I assume as an accountant; but maybe other fab stuff on what’s gonna be a wonderful side!), and leaves you at the end of a great meal without allowing you to go to the toilet first, but who still manages to be the greatest, sexiest company I ever did meet; and who pretended to be my second cousin when I met her one glorious evening in Dublin, even as she knew I had made love during four of the happiest days of my life with the person she led me to assume was her mother; and yer know, this sex android or doppelgänger or stuntwoman or just another famous person I didn’t recognise (amongst many more I’m sure) I did end up buying a beautiful rose gold Radley watch for – on the instances I think it was of Google, though it might’ve been Apple (I can’t now remember which maps app I was using at the time …).

And if that last sentence doesn’t get me put away, then I don’t know what else I need to do.

And I fell in love with places too: with the city of Liverpool, the soul of my being now; and with the city of Dublin, my literary heart.

And I realised my foibles are something some people have come to treasure; and so it’s become much easier for me to treasure – and finally love – myself.

And I’m even prepared to admit I have real sexual fantasies, but as there are children probably watching at the mo’, maybe I should rein back on this particular sentence and idea – just at the minute, anyways!

And I realise I am confused, and I realise I may be mad too – but bad mad I am not; gentle, kindly, compassionate mad, if anything.

I have only ever wanted the world – this rock we all share – to work together for a greater good: a greater good which bases its essence on the sense of individual liberties we must promote, love and hold close to our everyday lives, and yet is balanced with collective action, support and affection; where difference is valued above all, by everyone who wishes to form part of this deliciously thriving and striving society; where respect for another’s choice is prime, and always maintained; and where no one – no one, I proclaim from the very bottom of my being, soul and heart! – is told they are simply to be extensions of others’ wellbeings: blunt tools to be blunted further by life’s terrible injustices.


That is not the way.

That is not our way.

And it is time, I think, for us all to proactively realise that we cannot wait for others who reign over us to voluntarily give us our due; to voluntarily give us our worth.  It is a terrible time overdue for us to realise the dispossessed only become understood and good – become good in the sense of fulfilling their grand potential (a potential the universe gives each and every one of us at birth; a potential our world so frequently rips savagely away from our very flesh and bones, leaving behind as it does bleeding remnants of once magnificently youthful and ambitious aspiration) – when they have the means to stand on their own two feet and declaim righteously, yet not with a pride that might come before any fall, the truth of life, its often rank inequalities, and the foolishness of those who believe that privilege can possibly benefit the privileged.


This morning I wept before my iPhone as I listened to three songs on YouTube.

The first two were different versions of “Man In The Mirror”: by Michael Jackson, who made the song so rightly famous; and by Siedah Garrett, who along with Glen Ballard we must love forever for writing its astonishingly, confusingly, demandingly and accurately lyrical beauty.

The song is both a challenge and a comfort; both a lullaby to the best of humanity and a clarion call to its dynamisms and thirsts for real and lasting change.  It requires us to change ourselves: but not as some might feel to ameliorate – where we feel amelioration is our only way out – a saddening relationship with what ought otherwise to be this glorious whirled: no, the song, its creators, those who love it, are really saying: “Don’t change yourself to learn how to deal with the shit – change yourself to change the shit!”

And this subtle difference is something I, myself, have misunderstood all my life.

The second song is another Michael Jackson song: a beautiful beautiful video and music: “Earth Song” – for me, one of his greatest greatest ever.

It also touches me because it touches a part of my heritage which has suffered greatly around the turn of the century, and which in turn, for me, has been a cause of great direct pain – both emotional and intellectual – all my life: from the very day I was born, that is.

If you find the time, and your device allows you to see the videos below, I’d really ask you to watch all three – and if you can find it in yourself, maybe weep with compassion too.  For compassion allows us to do something practical; and that, I now think, feel and dearly hope, must be the next step which together we really all should take.



when mad is good not bad

The human brain is a marvellous instrument of joy and expressiveness.  Through it we laugh, learn, share, make, fuck, love, like and thrive.

But sometimes things go askew.  And sometimes they go askew by themselves, and sometimes they get pushed in the direction of askew.

And when those who get pushed realise not only what’s happening but also who’s happening, sometimes more than askew is committed: sometimes grand injustice, too.

In order that this must not happen to all the intelligent people who share this rock, and when I say intelligent people I mean everyone I’ve ever met, we must surely do everything in our power to communicate and understand and like and love each other more fully.

As Michael Collins, a wise person from Ireland, once famously said: “Let us be judged for what we attempted rather than for what we achieved.”

And that force of individual and collective will is surely something we all should emulate if we are to ensure realities are shared not denied; truths are exchanged not hidden; lives can thrive not survive; people can become the intelligences they were born to become and not the sadnesses of spirit and broken existences we so often see.

“Nothing about us without us,” they do say.

Another clarion call: “We will remember.”

And finally, I would myself humbly suggest: “When mad wants good more than bad allows, question your understanding of mad.”

Whatever my story really is, whatever the injustice or inexactitude carried out against my dear cousin and – if in my case – my own person too, the real takeaway needs to be one of future solidarity in community and society and culture and politics and art and education and business.

Let us not waste the life of a single individual.

Measure us by our ambition.

And strive to thrive.