Thursday, April 2, 2015


Reuben was outside the shopping centre again yesterday, handing out his leaflets. He looked unwashed. Pity. He could've been assistant manager of Office Furniture Direct. His wife kept me up all night last night too and not in the good way she used to. She doesn't discretely pop by anymore. She spends most of her nights standing on the roof of her car, pointing at the sky and screaming that the Moon is coming.

People believe all sorts on my street. We've lied to each other so often about infidelities, unreturned lawnmowers, whose kid hit whose first and so on that notions such as trust and truth have completely dissolved. In the absence of a unifying narrative, everyone has picked their own story. James down the end of the street thinks that I'm a member of the Illuminati because of the way I close my curtains - a sinister left to right that apparently corresponds with a certain occult ritual. Michael and Anne from number 38 are convinced that Madge, the dog from number 12, barks a secret code to spies that are housed in the garden shed of number 23. And no one even knows who lives in number 23. The residents of number 23 are so paranoid that they never emerge from their house. Some of us think that they may not even be in there. Who knows the truth? Who knows if there is even a truth anymore? Was there ever a truth? Everyone has their own ideas and no one has the same ideas. There are just so many ideas. A multitude of ideas. A mess of ideas. What is the collective noun for ideas? An 'insanity' of ideas?

The only thing myself and all my neighbours agree on is that we can't trust each other. This sometimes seems impractical. Take the time number 4 caught fire. We all stood watching as the Sweeneys banged their fists against their upstairs triple glazing, their faces contorted in muted screams as they were swallowed by flames. All we could say to each other was 'false flag'. In fact we chanted it: 'False Flag! False Flag! False Flag! False Flag!' In the morning, the authorities came and cleaned away the family's charred remains as we viewed suspiciously from our windows. We all agreed that the whole thing was a staged event involving special effects and we all thought that each other were behind it. No one mourned the loss of life. If you die on our street we think you are secretly still alive and if you are alive we think you died and were replaced by an impostor. Everyone on my street is an impostor. Even me, according to everyone else. But they would say that because it is they who are the true impostors. Not me. I think. I think I think. I'm fairly sure I think.

Despite our mutual distrust, everyone on my street shares pride in one thing. We won a prize for being the most atomised vicinity in our borough. The county councillors said that we were leading the way. A member of government even paid tribute to us at a business function. He said we were an alert and vigilant community and what was great about that was that we applied our alert vigilance to fantasy and not reality. 'Reality is all ours lads and we can do what we like with it,' he told the vested interests and they all raised a glass to toast the death of community and the advent of the schizophrenic age.

You know, I sometimes feel as if I don't know what anything is. What anything really is. I just know what things look like and what others call them. It's the same with people. They could be anyone. You could be anyone. I could be anyone. Just who are we anyway? And why are we all so frightened?

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