We define ourselves in many different
ways – our gender, our race, our nationality, our religious
beliefs, our sexuality, our political ideology, our hopes, our past
experiences, our disabilities and our ailments. The latter is a great
one to latch on to if the others don't really appeal. Ailments garner
a lot of sympathy but it's a kind of sympathy that lacks the
patronising attitude the disabled have to put up with. You can seem
really interesting when you suffer from some rare and exotic ailment
that has all kinds of novel symptoms people can ask you about
while giving you sad eyes, gently patting your arm and telling you
how brave you are.
Sadly most of us aren't ill and just
have to get on with being 'well' and going unnoticed but things need
not stay that way. Thanks to our retroactively
diagnostic crypto-medicinal approach, you can now choose an illness
from an exciting new variety of diseases and infections. Browse our
catalogue and check out what's on offer. Pick your ailment
and then get on with suffering from it. Tell friends and family that
you're a victim of Sticky Bits Fever, Cardio Spasmodic
Defenestration, Gastric Scheduling, Lumpy Jumps, The Klank,
Heteronormativechromia, Panty Cramps, Gumpy Pie, Dobson's Prompter,
Phibsborough, Hemorrhoidal Telekinesis, Farage, Complexia,
Shiteyitis, Cacktheria, The Macarena, Poofter's Elbow, Stegosaurus,
Bimbles, Drunken Caddies, Recurring Brunch, Fidgety Gadget, Wibbly
Wobbly Wonders, Fuzzy Felt, Yahtzee, Buckaroo, Mouse Trap,
Scalextric, Monchhichi Cough, Xtra-vision or the dreaded
Stargate SG-1 to name just a selection.
Once you've decided what you've got, a
member of our staff will promptly infect you with it and then
diagnose it. Bear in mind, you will now be sick but you'll also have
something to define yourself by and isn't that what we all seek in
life, no matter how it is attained, no matter what form it comes in,
no matter what the cost? And, yeah, our services do cost a bit but
we'll get to that later.
Friends and family alike will regret
the day they ever took you for granted when you produce the Chronic
Certificate you were awarded by your nearest Fugger Syndromes
outlet. Wave your certificate in people's faces and roar: 'see, I'm
sick, I'm fucking sick now go get me a blanket and a nice bowl of
soup'. Watch as everyone hops to your every command. The greatest
wealth will be your ill-heath! You'll never feel better than when you
started feeling sick!
Fugger Syndromes – we're almost
nationwide and spreading all the time.
My funeral will be held at the titty
bar. That's where I want people to remember me. I want my ashes
poured on Wendy's boobs as she gyrates and flashes her nonjudgemental
grin. Wendy is my favourite of the dancers.
Bendy Wendy they call her. The trace of scorn that is faintly
detectable in the eyes of the other girls is absent from Wendy. She
enjoys her work. She takes pride in it. Have you seen the way she
transforms herself into a spinning human pretzel? It's incredible.
It's beautiful. It's so much better than the lethargic swaying of
those who would rather be glamour modelling
or assisting a magician or working as an usher in an adult cinema.
Bendy Wendy gives me reason to rise from my bed each day and this is
why I ask that her cleavage be my final resting place. This is why I
request that her mammaries be my memorial. I can see her now, slowly
moving to the Funeral March as I am laid to rest on her generous
Some complain that Wendy's whoppers are
'fake'. That her charm would count for nothing if she was sans
silicone but I see it a different way. I prefer the term 'enhanced'
and aren't the best things in life enhanced? Nature gives us the raw
material and we work with it, enhancing its qualities. Master chefs
enhance flavours, all Wendy has done is enhance her knockers. She has
knockout knockers. I told her as much. Just the other day, I shouted
at her, 'Wendy, you've got knockout knockers'. She seemed
complimented. Her grin broadened a little. Some of the others said
she didn't understand me. They say she doesn't even speak English.
They say that she is from a cold and bitter country and that her name
isn't even Wendy. They say that she goes backstage after every
performance and gazes at a creased photograph of a child that she
keeps amongst her personal effects. They say that she sobs. What they
say just makes me appreciate Wendy all the more. What a trouper.
Despite all her troubles she comes out dancing and gives everyone a
good time. 'You're a real trouper Wendy!' That's what I'll shout at
her tomorrow. Even if she doesn't understand me, she'll get the
sentiment. I'm a sentimental man. My send off will be similarly
sentimental. It will be the saddest day ever at the titty bar but
Wendy will be grinning because she knows that you've got to keep
smiling no matter what knocks you take. Yeah, Wendy may have taken a
few knocks but like her knockout knockers, she always comes bouncing back.
And, in a way, aren't we all
heartbroken topless dancers at the titty bar of life? And rather than
lethargically swaying and visibly wishing
we were elsewhere, shouldn't we all just grin and gyrate and make the
best of it? Gyrating and hoping that someone will slip a few bucks
into our garter to send home to little Fedor so he can save up and
one day, maybe, have enough to slip into the garter of some other
heartbroken topless dancer that reminds him of his mother and causes
a tear to come to his eye as he recalls the day she left him in the
care of his grandparents and hugged him and kissed him a final time
before walking out the door and leaving Slavingrad forever. Isn't
that the way things are?
I think that is the way things are and
that's the kind of thing I want everyone at my funeral to be thinking
as Wendy wobbles and mourners weep and the whole world spins around
My job is to make you aware of summer
blockbusters, international acts of aggression and new family packs
of fish fingers. My click farms provide the trends you hashtag on
twitter. I don't just promote products and points of view, I alter
the fundamental perception of reality itself. You check the facts but
my public relations company, Fugger Communications, makes the facts.
I email the media and they cut and paste my press releases into all
When it comes to geopolitical conflicts, Fugger
Communications is unique in that it often works propaganda for both
sides. Let's imagine that nation A is at war with nation B, well both
A and B will hire Fugger Communications to make the other look bad
and to make themselves look better. Fugger Communications (Unit
F-15E, Nangor Road Business Park) doesn't pick sides. I take both
assignments and execute them with the utmost due diligence
and standards of excellence going forward.
The main task is to build a wall of
nonsense that the truth can't penetrate. I tell a lie, I counter it
with another lie and then I tell a third lie to counter the second
and then I add a fourth and so on and so on. One brick after another
in a Tower of Bable. It's a game of He Said She Said but I'm playing
it alone and getting paid by both himself and herself. That's PR for
you. It's a lovely earner. No one wants to hear the complex realities
anyway. (TLDR.) Folks just want simple stories to reassure them that
their side is the good side and the other the bad side. (There are
never two bad sides or any shades of grey whatsoever). As for those
the conflict does not directly involve, they like a choice of readily
understood backstories that allow them to pick a side and enjoy the
show, commenting on the plot as it unfolds as if experts. Those who
don't buy into my narratives are usually pretty clever but,
thankfully, apathetic. If the Holocaust was unfolding today, they're
the kind of people who'd groan at the sight of a Nazi death camp and
change channel to watch something 'less depressing'. Family Guy
probably (warmed by the 'knowingness' of their cold laughter).
They're the 'smart cookies'. They matter least. Really, they don't
matter at all.
The only other people who don't buy
into my spins on events are those caught up in those very events –
seeing reality unfold at ground level. These people are of even less
concern to me because they're either the ones making the decisions
or the ones being killed by the ones who are making the decisions.
I need not fret about the latter because the dead testify to nothing
and the former are the ones who hired me in the first place.
Helping the opposing leaders of two
warring nations achieve their ends by convincing everyone else that
all the suffering is worth it leaves me feeling no moral qualms or shake my certainty that I'm performing a service to all
parties. You see, to do other than disseminate simplistic propaganda
would be severely unkind. The alternative would be to allow people
realise the truth - that it is not worth it and that there is nothing
they can do about it. Imagine how everyone would feel then, stripped
of the compensation of jingoistic righteousness? The truth would kill
their hope and leave them in despair. The truth is something to be
avoided at all costs because the truth is cruel. The truth is no
one's friend. In fact, it is the truth that is the real enemy. The
only war truly worth fighting is the war against the truth. I am
fighting that war. The fact that I'm handsomely paid to do so is
neither here nor there, I am fighting the war against the truth for
all of us.
Knowing that I'm making the world seem
a less complicated, frightening and futile place than it really is
allows me to sleep easy in my bed. As for the rest of you, you can
just go back to sleep easily.
My uncertainty is, of course, simple
affectation. I am certain of everything. In fact, there is no one
more certain than me. When you come to know how certain I am you will
bask in my certainty. You will abandon your lack of certainty and
abide by my abundance of certainty. I will sit high in the mountains
of southern Bavaria and pose for certain looking portraits that you
will hang on your uncertain little walls. Certainty is all you want.
You crave certainty. For you, it's all about certainty and, perhaps,
a pinch of demagoguery. You are lost and want only
to be shown the way. Any way will do. Even the wrong way. As long as
you feel that it is The Way. I will mention The Way a lot when I take
to my podium, gesticulating and embracing myself as I become
overwhelmed by the power of my own words. The words of The Füghrer.
You will come to
understand that The Way is the only way. It will start with a
fashionable chain of coffee houses and clothes shops called The Way.
First you will 'hang out' there and then you will work there, both
earning and spending your money in the same place. You will feel the
brand of The Way providing you with a sense of identity. No more will
you long for that vague thing you couldn't quite identify but always
felt missing from your life (it was a sense of communal belonging
and purpose). With calm newfound confidence, you will
lounge in The Way apparel as you sip The Way coffee and listen to me
orate about The Way on The Way's very own radio station – that will
also play the odd tune by Ray LaMontagne and The Polyphonic Spree.
says that we are no longer to serve albinos in the shop.'
lifted my chin and kissed my forehead. I am in ecstasy.'
you note the Füghrer's
pantaloons at today's rally? The becoming and unique cut
denoted both authority and discernment.'
may have interned half the population but the Füghrer's
love of alsatians reveals a sensitive soul beneath the cut and
says that cretins and intellectuals are alike in their wilful
cerebral aberrations and that both are to be rounded up and left in
the courtyard for collection at noon.'
promises us a golden future but a golden future that demands blood
will give you boots, britches, braces and little hats to wear. I will
fortify the crumbling battlements of your souls and send you out to
war against those who, by their very existence, offend our people.
Our enemies, the unfashionable, the aged, the portly, the unsightly, the impaired and the unwell,
will be first to fall and then we will expand our franchise into
Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia, Australia and across the Americas. We
will have no allies but that will not bother us because all the world
will soon be ours and think like us and dress like us and drink coffee like us and both
work for us and buy from us alone. We will stand, sartorially
exalted, above the rest of our species, flashing our abs and waving
our hashtag flags - #EinVolk,einReich,einFüghrer - and we will sing rousing choruses of Light and Day by The Polyphonic Spree.
Of course, there will be some
resistance. The malcontents, the sneering older brothers and
sarcastic big sisters. But we will pay them no heed. We will bar them
from our outlets and all the world will be our outlet so they will
find themselves barred from life itself. Let them be swallowed in the
shadow of our glorious advance as we live our lives The Way lives
should be lived. All of us certain in ourselves because we are
certain of The Way and because we have good bone structure.
And that is The Way things will be and
that is The Way things will remain until battalions of enraged Slavic
conscripts pour through our defences and tear each and every one of
us a 'new one'.
It has happened before and it will
happen again. That is, after all, the way of things and the way of
things is, after all, The Way of The Füghrer.
I went to the crying room today. I'd
been bottling stuff up for a while and thought it was time to unload,
you know the way it is. I thought I'd take advantage of the early
bird offer and get a session in for half-price. I met Tom in the
changing rooms while I was togging out in my waterproofs. He was
about to leave. He seemed grand, cleansed. He had his towel over his
shoulder and held a corner of it up to the side of his eye to absorb
a final droplet of grief.
'There's himself', said Tom. I said
hello. 'In for a bit of a bawl?' he asked, knowing the answer. 'I
am', I replied. 'Oh there's some fierce wailing in there today', Tom
told me. 'A school bus drove right off the by-pass and the bereaved
are inside giving it all they've got.' I sighed. I'd hoped arriving
early would give me the opportunity for a quiet little sob but now my
misery seemed a bit petty. I wasn't even sure I felt like it anymore.
I considered turning back but decided that I'd paid and that all
suffering is relative anyway. 'Is it something specific that has you
in or are you just having a clear out?' asked Tom. 'The latter', I
said. 'What about yourself?' I asked. 'Ah, I was just thinking about
my eldest, Glen, and what a disappointment
he turned out to be. I found myself thinking about him as a child, full of potential and wonder. I felt something coming on so I
hopped in the Subaru and made my way here.' Then Tom laughed. 'The
staff will have the mops out later for sure', he said before skipping
out the door as if he didn't have a care in the world.
I entered the crying room. The tiled
antechambers echoed with intense mewling, blubbering and
indecipherably mumbled grievances. The place was like a sauna filled
with people dressed in impermeable leggings and long coats, with
moisture dripping from the walls caused by tears. It really was very
full. I hadn't seen the place this full since the passing of Diana
Spencer. That was a terrible day. Goodbye England's Rose playing from
the Tannoy. I couldn't get out quick enough.
After a lot of wandering about, I could
only find a small space for myself at the end of a crowded bench at
the far side of the complex. There was really only room to rest one
buttock and I found my precarious position incommodious to
lamentation. I couldn't get it together. All the others in
floods didn't help either. I'm the same at urinals. I often just give
up and resign myself to a dampening of the slacks.
I tried to recall my regrets and
misfortunes but it was no use. After a few minutes, I got up and
left. I slipped out of my gear, threw my bathing cap in the basket in
the foyer and went out into the car park. You couldn't hear anything
from out there. They did a good job on the sound proofing. You can
hear the crying room in Finglas from streets away but this was
Ballinteer and people expect quality. I thought I'd have a secret sob
in the van and risk the fine. I thought that might do the trick. I
didn't see any emotion wardens around. Why would they be patrolling
here anyway? So, I opened the van, climbed into the cabin and put something by Nick Drake in the CD player to get me in the mood. I sat there,
waiting for the tears to come. And I waited and I waited and I waited
but ...nothing. It wasn't happening. I wasn't sad. I just thought I
should be. I had wasted the whole morning in a half assed effort at
mourning when I could have been doing something else. Something more
fulfilling. And that's when it struck me, I had wasted much of my
life trying to be sad because it seemed to me the most appropriate
response to this existence. What is it they call life in the Bible? A
vale of tears? Some say 'veil' but it's actually 'vale'. Yes, well
where were my tears? I mean here I was, right in the middle of the
vale and no tears. The whole thing seemed to me another of life's
dirty tricks. Another frustration. Children recover from
sorrow and are laughing again in no time because they are ignorant. Grown ups know
that misery is a sign of maturity. We're reminded every day. Why
couldn't I just embrace it? Why couldn't I just let myself go? It was
all too much.
Paradoxically, it was thinking about my inability to
breakdown that eventually caused me to breakdown. I sat in the van
crying my eyes out. I wept and wept and then, looking up through
watery tears, I saw an approaching warden and was fined €40 to be
paid by the end of the month.