It’s been a week of psychological trauma and serious analysis, and so tonight I am determined to say goodbye to it with the use of mordant and surreal humour.
Having spotted at last that onerous taxes and 0% interest rates have removed the purchasing power of everyone designated a consumer by the economics pointy-heads, the neoliberal compulsion to maintain growth has in recent months been largely focused on producing stuff that breaks, doesn’t work, or has such crap after-sales “service”, one caves in and buys another unit rather than spend thirty years in a chat-room with other equally baffled “customers”. Chat rooms should be renamed Chateau D’If, because down there in the virtual bowels of never-never land, one has less chance of getting justice than the Count of Monte Christo.
“Anyone know how to stop Windows 8 leaping onto the Apps page?” says one tragic chat-roomer, the long grey beard a clue as to how long she’s been in captivity.
“Search me girl,” says the old bloke as he scratches another day of imprisonment onto the cell wall, “I’m in here because I pressed F8”.
But the goal’s the thing. Not the game – oh no: that idea went out with the First World War. Gallant losers are wimps, whereas crooked winners are called Grant Shapps, Michael Fallon and Ezak Hunt. And the goal is to maintain growth.
The funny thing is, when one asks the Hannans and Osbornes and Lagardes and Bernankes why growth must be maintained, what a chap gets back is fortune cookie parallels involving sharks needing to move to survive, the Ascent of Man, we can’t go back up into the trees and so forth.
Well, I’m here to announce formally tonight my candidacy for the Back up in the Trees ticket. There now follows some prima facie evidence as to why this would be a very good idea.
My smaller fridge is the most recently bought of the two I possess (there’s a lot of fruit to preserve here) and like all things Korean it has the obligatory onboard computer. Sadly, it also has a door that tends to knock the temperature control mechanism northwards as you close it. This means I often come down the next morning to find a giant ice cube where my fridge was. Sometimes there’s a perfectly preserved mouse in the cube: smart enough to have avoided the traps, but done to death by Asian electronics. When defrosted, Hal the computer shows no awareness of what has happened.
I’ve had to dump the washing machine I bought a year and 21 days ago, because eight days after the guarantee ran out – spookily enough, it was a 1-year guarantee – the Chinese circuit board inside the French-made machine (22 programmes and five temperature settings) finally succumbed to the twice weekly task of doing what it was asked to do. As the cost of a new circuit board (old one small bowl of rice, new one £190) is not much short of buying a new machine, I have bought a new machine. From a small family business. The machine is made in Germany. With an unconditional 5 year guarantee. Nothing Chinese anywhere. Made in a factory swept to ensure no Chinese shit. Will not contain shit. May contain traces of very small Chinese persons.
My Italian Germania cooker unit was chosen specifically because it has minimal hitech in it: the alarm clock is mechanical, the fuel is gas, there’s no fan in the oven, and no programmes to set. This was a challenge for the Italian engineers, but they rose to it: the clock is non-functional in the alarm bell space, two gas tap automatic lights have failed, and if you divide the temperature reading by 5 and then multiple by 2.9, it’s roughly accurate. I think of it as the Fiat Strada of cooking equipment. Tap the outer casing, and the echo continues for twenty seconds. The sound is tuned to concert e on a guitar, so it does come in useful when the automatic tuning device on my guitar has its regular attacks of tone deafness. After I put in a roast Sunday lunch, the casing sings excerpts from The Barber of Seville. The pork comes out looking like scratchings, but you can’t have everything.
All the hip-hop recessed energy-saving lights are forecast to keep going for over a year. Eight months in, I’ve had to replace a third of them. The new landline phone I bought three months ago displays my messages with reasonable frequency, but little reliability. The spiral staircase up to my bedroom had to be completely disassembled and then reconfigured to both (a) fit the space for which is was ordered and (b) allow the passage of people with hips broader than eight centimetres. Of six Chinese ballpoint pens I bought a month or so back, three of the tops fell out, two stopped writing after a day, and the sixth one is stuck in ballpoint closed mode.
So as I’m sure you can all discern, the latest Friedmanite tactic is working rather well. There will be growth. Of hair, and beards, and derivative bets. But not hope.
Bloke walks into DWP benefits office. He’s looking stressed.
Helper: Can I help you sir?
Bloke: I hope so. I am most terribly upset…I’ve lost my death certificate.
Helper: Ah. Well, you don’t need one just yet.
Bloke: I don’t?
H: No. You see, you’re not dead as such – although we’re working on it.
B: Yes, but what about when I am dead?
H: What about it?
B: Well, I haven’t got the permission to die, have I?
H: You don’t need permission to die. It just sort of, you know – happens.
B: So what happens when I turn up at the entrance to Heavenly Peace? I mean, how am I going to claim my 77….
H: Heavenly Peace?
B: Yes – access to the benefits of the one true Heaven. They won’t let me in, because I do not have the required Death Certificate.
H: Look, you don’t need a birth certificate to get born do you?
B: No, that is correct. In fact to tell you the truth, I do not have a Birth Certificate.
H: Precisely. So when you turn up at the er…Gates of Heaven, they’ll give you a Death Certificate.
B: They will?
H: Course they will. I mean, you’re at the Gates, right? You’re dead, right? Stands to reason doesn’t it?
B: Well, now you put it like that….
H: Quite. Now then, was there anything else I can help you with today?
B: Yes, actually. I’d like a license to kill.
H: I’m sorry? To kill what?
B: Not what, who. I want a license to kill people. Like your James Bond.
H: Really? What sort of people?
B: You name them my friend, I’d like to kill them. Feminists. Satirists. Nationalists. Atheists. Zionists. Wrists. None of them deserve to live. So I need a license to kill the lot.
H: I……see. Well, you see, we don’t give licenses here. You need the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Animal and Plant Health Agency. They’re experts in the licensing thing. Trust me, they’ll license you at least, and quite probably certify you.
B: Do they license public houses?
H: No, they don’t. At least, not as far as I know.
B: Only I need a license to kill people on licensed premises. People who drink the devil’s brew deserve to die, you see. That’s a very important dimension of the license I require. Without the ability to annihilate the drunken Infidel on licensed premises, the license isn’t worth the paper its printed upon.
H: Right, OK….I think I’m with you now. What you need is a license to kill lots of otherwise harmless people so you can get a Death Certificate that will admit you to Heaven with all the paperwork required to gain access to the VIP travellers’ 77 Virgin Upper Class Lounge?
B: Correct. If only more people in authority had your insight into the customer’s needs.
H: Well, you know…we try. Now, what you need to do is toddle on down to a really welcoming place called the Home Office. It’s run by lots of very confused people who don’t know which way is up, but they’d just love to make chaps like you famous in order to justify their existence. I can give you their contact details if you like…..
B: How very kind you are being.
H: No really – it’s the least I can do.