In which The Author should have stayed at home
This morning, under the influence of Mirtazapine and codeine, I woke up about 6 a.m. I had a piss and – for a brief moment – wondered what to do with the rest of the morning.
I could have listened to Today on Radio 4, with its predictable three-hour ‘agenda setting’ discussion of the previous day’s events, rudely interrupted by John Humphrys every so often.
I could have set off for a nice long walk, like I did last Thursday.
Alternatively, I could default to Emergency Program One, and go back to bed.
Guess what I did!
[A digression: When I was working in the book trade, every so often I’d have to phone Marston Book Services at Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Nine times out of ten I’d be placing an order; the rest of the time I’d be chasing an overdue book. I don’t know whether MBS had a dedicated phone line for their key accounts, or whether I just ended speaking to the same chap every time I called up. After a while we got to know each other’s voices, and we had a bit of a chat while our computers were chugging away in the background.
One day while I was talking to him, he said, ‘I recognised your voice this time. Every time you ring, I keep reminding myself I’m not actually talking to John Humphrys.’
I know I’ve got a decent Welsh accent, but it’s nowhere near as pronounced as that of the BBC’s morning anchorman.
I slipped straight into Dead Ringers mode, and replied, ‘No, if you were speaking to John Humphrys, I’d say something like, “It’s just coming up to nine minutes past eight, and we’ve got the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the radio car.“‘
He burst out laughing and said, ‘Oh my God, that was exactly like him!’
If all else fails, I could always get a gig as a Radio 4 morning show stand-in, I suppose.]
Anyway, I had a couple of hours of codeine-fuelled book-related dreams, and finally made it downstairs in time for Ken Bruce’s ‘Popmaster’ quiz on Radio 2. Having failed to catch most of it, and failing to name three hits by The Searchers, I ran a bath and got ready to head into town.
That was my first mistake.
I made my way to the Library, where I singularly failed to log into the wifi. (‘So, what’s new?’ I hear you cry.) This particular technical issue was a new one on me, though. I got past the usual authentication screen okay, and then a dialog box popped up asking me for my admin sign-on details. That happened three times before I decided that all was not well.
I asked Paula whether anyone else had had problems during the morning. Needless to say, nobody else had tried to log on. (The only other punters were a handful of Loteks reading the papers, and the Creative Writing group, most of whom have only just come to terms with the electric typewriter.) Daz tried accessing the network on his phone, and failed. Paula phoned the No Help Desk, and they couldn’t see a problem. I made my excuses and left.
I got as far as Thereisnospoon, where Geoff and Haydn were chatting next to my usual table. I joined them for a while, and once they’d gone I tried connecting to The Cloud. Twenty minutes or so later I was finally checking my emails, going through Facebook, and wondering whether it was worth buying another glass of Pepsi. Fortunately, the decision was taken out of my hands by a new part-time bint, who took my almost-empty glass from me without even asking. I made my excuses and left.
I walked over to The Lighthouse. I didn’t particularly feel like a pint, but I needed to see Tony A. He’d mentioned over the weekend that he didn’t have a wall calendar at home. I happened to have one lying around that I’ve never used. Denise in the Library gave it to me, ages ago, and it’s been in a drawer ever since. Like most 21st Century Boys and Girls, I keep my appointments on my phone. Tony’s a Twentieth Century Boy, and happy to stay there.
I had a can of Coke and waited for him to come in. We’d only been chatting for about twenty minutes before he hit the Time Loop (see Time Crash
). Now, I love Tony to bits, and he’s no harm to anyone, but there are only so many times you can listen to the Saga Of The New Front Door before the fun wears off.
Rhian came in and rescued me for a little while. It didn’t last. I dived outside at 1655 to take a photo of St Elvan’s Church. Radio 4’s PM programme has invited people to send in photos of clocks at exactly 1700, and submit them via Twitter. I thought a decent pic of our town’s major landmark would fit the bill nicely. (As things turned out, I got to my vantage point in the nick of time. I was shocked to learn that the clock’s about three minutes fast. I must mention it to Fr Robert when I see him next.)
Rhian left soon afterwards, and I was stuck in the Time Loop again.
After about ten minutes I told Tony not to take offence, but made it absolutely clear that he was doing my fucking head in, and I’d have to go and sit somewhere else. Mark, the guv’nor, overheard what was going on, and called over to Tony, loud enough for me to hear.
‘Look what you’ve done now! Steve’s the nicest guy in Aberdare, and even he’s had to get away from you because you’re frying his brain!’
I was halfway through my second pint when Moira came in. I haven’t seen her for ages, and I could tell from the get-go that she was in a state. She’s been living in the Rhondda with a guy I’ve seen once or twice, but they’d split up acrimoniously earlier this week. She’s back in Aberdare, temporarily homeless, and pissing it up for Wales.
She put me on the defensive immediately, by asking me how the Piss-Artist Formerly Known As My Brother is. I told her (as I tell everyone who asks) that I didn’t know and I don’t care. I was hoping she’d take the hint and sit somewhere else, but that was a non-starter. She asked me what I do online, and I mentioned ‘blogging’. In return, she told me that she doesn’t ‘believe in’ the Internet. (I’ve been down that road several times, as I told you in I Want to Believe
.) She told me she doesn’t know anything about blogging, and therefore
she wouldn’t be able to read anything that I’ve written herein.
This, to me at least, seems like one of the most risible arguments you’ll hear in the year 2015. After all, you don’t need to know anything about the publishing industry to read a book. You don’t need to know anything film-making to go to the pictures, or know anything about TV production to watch TV. You don’t need to play an instrument to listen to music. You don’t need to know anything about cartography to use a map. You certainly don’t need to know anything about blogging to be able to access this site – or any other blog, for that matter. I don’t know whether there’s a category error between ‘user’ and ‘generator’ in the minds of most people, or whether the mere fact that something appears online is enough to frighten the paranoid away. Maybe you can tell me.
Anyway, after the best part of an hour, during which Moira expounded a number of conspiracy theories (Ebola and other ‘man-made’ viruses; green energy; politics in general) at least twice each, I made my excuses and left.
I only came back to Thereisnospoon because I wanted to send my photo to PM. I didn’t have any intention of staying out. Instead, I got captured by Sarah E. and her boyfriend, and had to spend a long time discussing my mental health and my long-term prospects.
Geoff’s back here now, with some of his friends from Aberdare Rotary Club. I really don’t think I’ve got the head for them tonight. I might have to make my excuses and leave.
The good thing is that neither Tony nor Moira have the first idea about 21st Century tech. Tony’s happy with a pen and a printed calendar. Even a Nokia thickphone stretches him to the limits. Moira won’t get involved with anything that might be controlled (however remotely) by the Illuminati and the Military-Industrial Complex. That means that neither of them will ever read what I’ve written here tonight.
The rest of you, read it and weep. This is what happens when you step outside your door on a sunny Wednesday morning in Aberdare. My best advice to you is: stay indoors, take some sleeping pills, and try and wake up on Friday, when it’ll all be over.