Tuesday, 23 December 2008


What’s the worst insult in your mother language? In an awkward pause in conversation yesterday, we turned to swearwords in different mother tongues and their literal translation, giving you the sliding taboo scale of what act is considered the worst possible degrading slice of dirt in any particular language. In India, it’s having conjugal relations with your sister. That’s the worst thing you could do and therefore it’s the worst insult to hurl. In England, referring to someone with a Nordic word about female genitalia is the lowest you can go. But in Greece, we learned yesterday, to be a ‘child of the bottom’ is the lowest of the low. In Greece, to be born out of the backend of your mother, well, you’re a bottom feeder- literally.

Yesterday signalled my grand re-entry into polite society after a long battle with seasonal disaffection illness and general tiredness from reediting my book in response to some kind words from a brilliant publisher and my current TV obsession with Battlestar Galactica. My mission was to be caught up before the final episodes air in January and I’m powering through like a Cylon Centaurion. The question came up yesterday about real life living versus living through your art. Currently, I exist in the shows I watch, books I read and music I hear. Anything else isn’t factoring on my radar currently. One of our party thought this was ridiculous preferring to live in real life and the patterns it offers. I didn’t agree, I countered that everything I ever learned about the world was through television and books and surely I was considered a relatively intelligent well-adjusted person.

Being out felt strange. Having to talk to people, in 3-D, actually live a life of interaction instead of through the screen, I found it difficult, I found it hard-work staying interested and interesting. I yearned for my bed and the book I was reading (‘The Giro Playboy’ by Michael Smith) and I was the one who instigated this debutante ball of sorts. I was still under the fug of illness.

We collate all our years’ achievements and measure them up against each other, looking for patterns and for red letter years and memories. What happened this year that requires retention. To be honest, I’m happy for 2008 to be over. Like really over. Over the last twelve months, I’ve faced my own inadequacies as an artist, a musician and a writer, I’ve tried to keep myself locked and focused on the ultimate goals, I’ve lived with my parents this year and all the while, my father has walked away from the last 30 years of his life with less than nothing to show. 2008 can go suck an egg. 2008 is a child of the bottom. I think back to last year and how happy I was in Kenya despite myself, and despite wishing for London. Now I’ve been back a year and I want to leave again. London is a child of the bottom. It is a festering loop of repeat offenders and crushing disappointment. I crave the simpler life we had away from all of this. I think I crave a time when my parents were happy, when something was going right for them. Now with debt and disability, they are being crushed. It’s not fair. These two have fought for so long and for so much and each turn has taken them further away from their end game. The worst thing is, dad has nothing now the business is no more. He worked away his personality, he worked away his interests. He has no hobbies. On Saturdays, without a warehouse to go to and a stack of orders to plough through, he parades himself through my parental house like a lump of broken clay, unable to settle on anything to do, waiting for the afternoon so he can enjoy a beer. There’s nothing to do. The house is empty, the others are indulging their interests. He sits and stares into space and tries to remember what it was he always wanted to do. Now there’s no interest in anything. This is what life in this city did to him. In this country even. Would we have been this happy had he stayed in Kenya? Would we have been so aspirational? Life probably would have turned out the same but it would have been sunnier and at least he would have had the sea to stare into, instead of the dull dark mirror of his own reflection in a television that he’s willing himself to not switch on. That’s why 2008 can get out the house. 2008 hurt my dad bad, and I want it to get out of the way now so we can help him get back on track and find himself again amidst the loneliness and regret and hurt.

Good things did happen this year. I got an amazing job, some amazing feedback from publishers who are starting to put me on their ‘watch’ list and Radiohead gave me the concert of my life in summer. I reconnected with my crew and built a strong small closeknit group of friends. I saw some amazing films, discovered the Wire and Battlestar Galactica, heard some awe-inspiring music and learned how to make good barbeque burgers. All small victories leading to a grand scheme. I’m not going to make the mistake I did with 2008 when I stood on a chair and declared it my year. 2009 is another year. It has some significant events in it. Career-wise, who knows. Who actually knows where I’ll be this time next year. All I know is, like dad always taught me and showed me, I’m going to give it all I’ve got and persevere persevere persevere. Keep pushing onwards and upwards. Just like dad.

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