Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RIGHT WHAT'S WRONG


I've invented a contraption. It's broken. When someone comes across the contraption they feel compelled to repair it but every attempt they make to fix it just breaks it more. It's addictive. The intrigue experienced when you try to repair the contraption becomes a compulsion. Soon you are muttering and moaning and growling in irritation but you won't give up. You'll stand up and walk around the contraption and consider it from all angles and you'll draw diagrams of it and make 3D models of it and perform mathematical equations based on it and even write poems about it, so fascinated by the contraption you will be. You will name it too. You'll give it all kinds of names. You'll name it after yourself. You'll name it after me. You'll name it after a country. Afghanistan maybe. Or perhaps you'll just call it 'life', after that other confusing thing you've been wrestling with and that the contraption provides distraction from. The contraption may be frustrating but at least it is not that other confusing thing.

And eventually, after you have grown weary and old and your mental capacity has diminished and your physical strength is sapped, you will look at the contraption and realise that you never even knew what it was for and you will wonder if it was even broken in the first place and then you'll come to understand that all you did was break it over and over and over again in new ways, each and every time until, finally, the contraption broke you.

Then you'll breathe your last and collapse and I'll take up your body and put it in a sack. I'll place you in the space under my stairs and then I'll wait and watch for the next person to come along and find the contraption and try, until dead, to right what's wrong.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

SERVICE PROVIDER


I'll steal your world from you and you'll rent it back. You'll appreciate it more because it has a price. You'll earn the money to pay for your keep by working for me. I'll pay you almost as much as you pay me. You can borrow the rest you need from me so you don't fall behind on the payments but you'll have to pay me interest. It's my world after all. You owe me, in perpetuity.

I'll do the same with your peace of mind. I'll rob your self-esteem and flog you placebos. I'll tell you that you are ill and sell you pills if you become fatigued. You are unwell. The world is well, that's why you pay for it. If you can't pay for it you are not fit for it. You are too weak to be part of the world. You are aberrant, a malcontent, a criminal, a skiver or sick. Take your pick.

I'll make you feel ashamed of being poor or poorly or too fat or too thin. I'll make you hate yourself, outside and in. I'll be the sole gatekeeper of your self-approval. I'll be your self-improver. I'll sell you books that tell you how to get by but they won't tell you how to get by so you'll have to buy more. Then I'll get you to pay me for an army and I'll send it to war against another army that you also paid for.

When the fighting is done, I'll charge you for reparations and get you to pay me to pay you to clean up the devastation. You'll pay me for the monuments that you'll build in my honour. If you died in my name, I'll say you were a martyr. I'll sell you a coffin and pass your debts to you kids. I'll be the one who decides where you spend the life after this. Heaven or Hell, I'll own you even in death and you'll thank me because it was too much responsibility to own yourself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

THE GUARANTEE


The following is a transcript of what I told the banking inquiry about the part Fugger played in the events leading to the blanket guarantee.

'Why did we guarantee the banks? Well that's quite a question. A fierce question altogether it must be said. Absolutely fierce hard to answer, but I'll give it a go and I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not going to make up some guff and pepper it with all the lingo like liquidity and all that. No. I'll be straight with you. I'll tell you the truth. The truth of it is that it's a mystery. A pure mystery. It's like a strange event. Life is full of strange and mysterious events isn't it? It is. And this is one of those events. Very much so. Very strange and mysterious. Fortean in nature, I'd even say. Truth is, we're not sure why we did it. It just kind of happened and to be honest we barely talk about it anymore. It upsets us. It was an extraordinary experience y'see and not in a good way. Not in a good way at all. It's like this, imagine if you and a few of your pals were on the way home from the pub one night, a night like any other night, or so you'd be thinking, but then a spaceship kind of thing appears and you get zapped up into it and there's aliens in there and they start sticking things up your hole for a bit and then they drop you back. Well, the whole guarantee thing was a bit like that. If aliens grabbed you off the road and started sticking mad science fiction objects up your arse you wouldn't talk about it would you? I mean, you'd be upset about it. You'd be kind of ashamed of it maybe and you might even wonder if it even happened. Well, that's what it was like for us, y'know. When I look back on that time, I usually can't really remember what happened at all. All that comes to mind is a beady eyed little monster fella sticking a mad yoke up my hole and that's my answer for you. That's what I have to say. We guaranteed the banks because it was like an alien putting something up your arse and it was very confusing and distressing and I don't want to talk about it anymore. So, we'll leave it there if that's alright with youse.

Now, tell me, can a fella charge for expenses showing up at this thing?'

The End (of Irelend).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MORE ABOUT HOTEL FUGGER


If there is one thing we at Hotel Fugger take pride in it is nothing at all. We at Hotel Fugger know we have nothing to be proud of but that's OK because we're not proud people.

****
You will love the food at Hotel Fugger because there isn't much of it so if you get your hands on it you will really value it. That is why we say that you will love the food at Hotel Fugger.

****
Do not drink the water at Hotel Fugger. It tastes bad. It all comes from the tank on the roof. There are dead bodies in the tank. We don't know how the bodies got in there as the tank's only aperture has a  diameter of nine inches. However, a suicidal troupe of contortionists from the Chinese State Circus were reported missing five years ago and it was around about that time that Hotel Fugger's water started to taste bad.

****
Many famous personalities stayed at Hotel Fugger but all of these famous personalities are dead and all of them died in Hotel Fugger. The circumstances of their deaths are considered so grim that no one talks about these famous personalities anymore. Hence, they are no longer famous.

**** 
When you book into Hotel Fugger we give you the directions to your room. 'It's at the end of the corridor', we say and you walk down the corridor toward the end but there is no end. The corridor just goes on and on and on and on and on. Eventually you give up and turn back. Then you realise that the corridor has no start either. There is just corridor, stretching out in both directions, forever. Doorless corridor. Endless corridor. The last corridor you will ever see. The corridor you will die in. This corridor is our little joke. We have to keep ourselves amused somehow. It's just something to lighten the mood here at Hotel Fugger. 

**** 
At Hotel Fugger we have face painting for the children but the children are all dead and the people painting their faces are the people who killed them. If it's any consolation, the face being painted on the children's faces is your face.

****
Hotel Fugger is heated by the collective unease of its guests.

****
The Devil came to stay at Hotel Fugger but was told there was only one bed left and that he'd have to share a room. The Devil agreed and we put him in a room with God. We locked the door from the outside and the two of them are trapped there to this day. If you put your ear to the door and listen you can hear the two of them arguing. Things can get pretty bitchy. Listening at their door is one of the chief attractions at Hotel Fugger.

****
A guest recently found a finger in his bed at Hotel Fugger. It turned out that it was his own finger and there was nothing to worry about because it was still attached to his hand. The guest thought he'd report it anyway because, as the guest said himself, 'you never know' and that is very true, you never do know. In fact, that is our motto here at Hotel Fugger. 'YOU NEVER KNOW.' You find those words on the heading of our stationary, embroidered into our towels and on the plaque that hangs over our entrance. These words are also written in the minds of our staff and guests alike, in letters standing one mile high and made from the bones of the hundreds of millions of men, women and children who died with the words 'you never know' on their lips.

****
Hotel Fugger has been completely refurbished. To be precise, Hotel Fugger has been utterly unfurbished. There are no longer walls at Hotel Fugger. Hotel Fugger no longer has doors or furnishings of any sort or even a roof. Hotel Fugger is just an idea. Hotel Fugger is not a good idea but it is an idea and you are stuck with the idea because I've just placed the idea of Hotel Fugger in your head.

Hotel Fugger – you're there right now.

Enjoy your stay.

You Never Know.

Monday, February 2, 2015

TARZAN'S SHAME


There were shops so Tarzan went to them. Have you ever been to shops? I bet you have. Most people have been to shops. Not Tarzan though. Tarzan had never been to shops before. Tarzan had no need for shops up to this time. Up to this time, Tarzan had been living in hedges at the ends of gardens and feeding on birds, squirrels and hedgehogs. Tarzan had everything Tarzan needed but people who are called 'The Authorities' told Tarzan to change Tarzan's ways or they would lock Tarzan in a room for the rest of Tarzan's life. Tarzan did not want to be locked in a room for the rest of Tarzan's life. That struck Tarzan as very constricting so Tarzan changed his ways.

Tarzan was told that Tarzan needed proper clothes and other things called accoutrements and that Tarzan would get them from shops so Tarzan went to shops. Then a man in a shop told Tarzan that Tarzan had to hand over money if Tarzan wanted to take away the items Tarzan needed. Tarzan asked the man in the shop what money was and the man in the shop showed Tarzan bits of paper and some small pieces of metal. Tarzan realised that Tarzan did not have any money. Tarzan asked the man in the shop if he would take pebbles and litter instead of money and the man in the shop said that he would not. Tarzan told the man in the shop that Tarzan needed money and asked the man in the shop to give Tarzan some. The man in the shop told Tarzan that Tarzan would get money in the bank and told Tarzan where the bank was so Tarzan went there and asked the lady in the bank for money. The lady in the bank told Tarzan that Tarzan could only take money away from the bank if Tarzan put money in the bank. Tarzan did not think that this made sense. Why would Tarzan need something Tarzan already had and if Tarzan had something why would Tarzan give it to someone else to give back to Tarzan? Tarzan told the lady in the bank that she was wasting Tarzan's time. Tarzan left the bank.

As Tarzan was leaving the bank, the lady in the bank told Tarzan that Tarzan should put some clothes on. Tarzan told the lady in the bank that the world was Tarzan's clothes and walked out the door, putting one foot into the world just like most people put one foot through the leg of their trousers every morning.

Tarzan asked a man on the street if he knew where Tarzan could get money and the man on the street told Tarzan that Tarzan could earn it by working so Tarzan went looking for a job. Tarzan asked people if there was a job that Tarzan could do for them in exchange for money and they told Tarzan that Tarzan needed qualifications before Tarzan could get a job. Tarzan asked them where Tarzan could get qualifications and they said the college so Tarzan went to the college and the people at the college told Tarzan that they would only give Tarzan qualifications if Tarzan gave them money. Tarzan told the people at the college that Tarzan had no money and they told Tarzan to get a job.

Tarzan was beginning to get very confused. Tarzan was confused and hungry. Tarzan saw a small dog but Tarzan did not eat it because Tarzan did not want to be locked in a room for the rest of Tarzan's life by The Authorities.

Tarzan wandered the streets naked and a man pointed at Tarzan's penis and said 'cover that up or I will call The Authorities'. Everyone seemed to be disgusted by Tarzan's penis. The men all had their penises covered up by clothes and the ladies had their breasts and vaginas covered up too. Lots more of their bodies were covered up by clothes. Only their heads and hands were showing. They had hidden themselves from themselves because they found themselves disgusting. Tarzan realised that Tarzan better find Tarzan disgusting too or Tarzan would be locked in a room for the rest of Tarzan's life so Tarzan practised being disgusted by Tarzan and to go around thinking about the money all the time. 'Tarzan needs money, Tarzan needs money', said Tarzan to Tarzan all the time and Tarzan's hungry belly agreed with a growl.

Tarzan never got any money. The once mighty Tarzan got weak and skinny and Tarzan still had no clothes. An old lady saw Tarzan and said 'you should be ashamed' so Tarzan became ashamed. Tarzan became ashamed of Tarzan's nudity and Tarzan's poverty. Tarzan had never felt shame before.

The shame hung around Tarzan. Even though Tarzan could not see the shame, Tarzan knew that the shame was there because Tarzan felt the shame. Tarzan could no longer see the world because of the shame. Something Tarzan could not see was stopping Tarzan from seeing. 'Tarzan is blind yet Tarzan has eyes!' exclaimed the confused and miserable Tarzan.

Tarzan tried to hide from the shame but the shame found Tarzan wherever Tarzan went so Tarzan went to the only place the shame could not follow. Tarzan went to death. Tarzan dived from the top of a big shop and landed on the pavement. Splat. The shame was gone but Tarzan's skinny naked body remained, crumpled on the path. Tarzan's body was left there. No one would clear it away because of a thing called an industrial dispute. The men who clear away dead bodies wanted more money and the people who gave them money to clear away dead bodies did not want to give them more money. So, Tarzan's body rotted where it was and those who passed by it said it was a shame. 'What kind of world is this at all?', one lady asked. Tarzan could not answer her because Tarzan was dead but she did not want Tarzan to answer because she did not want to know. She already did. Deep down, she just wished she didn't.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

JENNY GOES TO MARS!


'And how the Hell are they going to get you to Mars honey?' asked Jenny's mom who sounded like an angry American but wasn't angry or American.
'Gee Mom, I don't know, a rocket or something,' was Jenny's weak and equally Americanised reply.

'They don't use rockets anymore. They use shuttles,' snapped Jenny's mom.

'Well a shuttle then. I just want to go to Mars. What's the big deal?'

Jenny's mom's eyes flared.

'The big deal is that my seventeen year old daughter wants to go to a distant planet, has little chance of getting there, none of getting back, doesn't even know if she's going in a rocket or a shuttle and wants me to give her three thousand dollars to pay the Goddamn fare.'

'Rocket, shuttle, what's the difference? It's a spaceship. A spaceship is a spaceship. And I won't be leaving for ten years or something. I'll be like twenty seven. I'll have to train and stuff first and I'll pay you back the money and anyways, you spend thousands of dollars on stuff all the time.'

'What do I spend thousands of dollars on all the time?' demanded Jenny's mom. (Euros were not mentioned but were probably the currency under discussion.)

'I don't know. You got a fancy car and go to the stores in it. I want to go to Mars. Going to Mars is better than going to stores.'

Jenny had a good point and her mom knew it.

'Well if you want to die in outer space you can earn the frikkin fare yourself. The whole thing is a scam anyway. You won't be going anywhere. These guys are just going to vanish. It's the modelling school all over again.'

'I didn't want to go to that modelling school, you wanted me to go to that.'

Knowing that this point was also a good one, Jenny's mom said nothing. After a pause, Jenny stood up and spoke with the best approximation of steely determination she could muster. She declared that she would earn the Mars money herself and that she would leave the planet. She told her mom that there was nothing for her here. She said that no one friended her on Facebook or would even notice she was gone. Tears welled in Jenny's eyes as she declared, 'I'm not staying in this place!' and then she stormed out of the room.

****

Ten years later, Jenny found herself recalling that conversation. She'd since found fame as one of two females on a seven member crew, the first to leave Earth as part of a Kickstarter funded exploration of Mars. They wouldn't be doing much exploring though. They'd just be trying to stay alive, keeping the refrigerators working and staying underground to avoid the radiation and the dust. Jenny wondered if they'd brought enough toilet paper.

Despite a couple of hundred trolls plaguing her Twitter account, Jenny had enjoyed the fame of the last few years. She liked the attention and the compliments, the interviews and the photo shoots. Modelling school wouldn't have got her into so many magazines. And she actually had fans. Jenny never thought she would have fans. She still didn't have any real friends but she did have fans and they were crazy for her, waving her off and wishing her the best. They threw so many flowers as she boarded the Vanguard – that was the name of the shuttle. Jenny thought her mom would be pleased too but she wasn't. Jenny's mom was just quiet. She didn't speak a word in the weeks leading to Jenny's departure except to ask Jenny if she would be able to Skype. 'There's no internet in space mom,' Jenny answered. Her mom nodded.

So here was Jenny, looking at a blue ball getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and then vanishing, forever. She panicked momentarily or could feel herself beginning to panic but then she did the breathing exercise thing they showed her. She did it hard. She looked at the rest of the crew and no one was saying anything. Jenny didn't wonder what anyone else was thinking. She rarely wondered what other people thought. She didn't even wonder why she never wondered, she just never wondered. She lacked a sense of wonder. Even here, in outer space, she was not struck by wonder. She was just wondering about herself, the only thing she ever wondered about. She wondered if she'd be happy now that she'd finally gotten away from that blue ball and its confusing inhabitants. The rest of the crew didn't bother her. They had their own stuff going on. If anything, they were just like her. People who wanted off the Earth and away from humanity. The crew rarely made eye contact with each other and their conversation was utilitarian – 'pass me this,' 'activate that,' 'engaging thrusters,' that sort of thing.

Remembering the rest of the crew, Jenny decided to take a conversational plunge. She was more tense about it than she was about leaving her home planet. She raised her voice, kind of half looked at another of the astronauts and asked – 'do you think we're going to die?'
A murmured 'dunno,' and a shrug was the response.
'It would really suck to come all this way and just, like, die,' said Jenny.
Then Jenny looked out at space again. She didn't even see any stars as the Vanguard shot on through the darkness, oblivious to the cosmos and escaping life.

'I'm going to Mars,' Jenny muttered to herself.
'I'm going to Mars and I'm in outer space.'
Jenny clenched her fists and her nails sank into her palms like vicious teeth.
'I'm in outer space.'
'I'm in outer space.'
'I'm in outer space.'
'I'm in outer fucking space.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE GOOD GAME


It's a good game despite the fact that we're positioned somewhere near the bottom. We're not at the very bottom though, so we can take heart in that. We're doing OK compared to those at the bottom. The game must be pretty good if people positioned near the bottom are having an OK time of it. It makes sense to keep playing, right?

Positioned at the top are people in costumes, robes and crowns and all that kind of thing. These people tell our minds what to do. Then there's the people who are positioned second from the top. These people wear suits and tell our arms and legs what to do. If our arms and legs don't do as they are told, people who wear uniforms (those positioned third from the top) take our bodies away and lock them in cells. When you are in a cell you are at the bottom and you have lost the game because you have broken the rules.

Now, if you haven't lost the game yet and you want to get to a higher position you can. You can't get to the top because God decides who is at the top but you can get second from the top. It's very difficult though. Most of the people who are second from the top are the offspring of people who are second from the top, but it's not unheard of for others to arrive at that position. All you have to do is pretend to do what you are told but don't. It's a good game but it's a funny game. You can only win by breaking the rules and not getting caught. If you get caught breaking the rules you lose but if you don't get caught breaking the rules you win. Those are the real rules of the game, but you don't get told that. You have to figure that out for yourself or be the heir of someone who already has.

This game doesn't come in a box. The pieces needed to play this game are all around you, you're wearing them, they are in your bank account, you live in them, they are on your resume, in the colour of your skin, the language you speak and the accent you speak it with, in your likes, in your dislikes, in your abilities and disabilities, in your chromosomes and hormones. Some of us may have more of the pieces required to play the game than others but, whatever the case, we all have to play. There is no alternative to playing. Well, there might be one alternative. You could upend the board and send the pieces flying everywhere and demand that everyone play a new game, but where would you be if you did that? No one knows. It's a scary thought. That's probably why everyone who plays the game is so frightened.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I've misunderstood the game all along. Maybe everyone playing the game is in the same position. We all start in the same position and none of us progresses from that position. That position is fear. Fear. When you think about it that way, maybe it's not such a good game after all.
Hmm.
Oh well, at least we only have to play it once.