Monday, June 10, 2013

Letter Against Sickness

Couldn't sleep again last night. Someone had paid for a couple of nights in a hotel, down by the coast, I've no idea why, or who, for that matter. I sat there for hours, nervous, watched the rolling news with the sound down, inventing my own dialogue like I used to do when I was a kid. Anyway, George Osborne came up, his little mouth moving at unpleasant angles and, weirdly, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember what his voice sounded like. Not sure why, I mean I've heard it often enough. So I thought I'd better plug this somewhat embarrassing hole in the centre of my knowledge: I turned the volume up and just as I did he was saying the words “our NHS”. The weight that pronoun carried was unbearable. Because Osborne, who presumably doesn't actually use the NHS, who probably has never sat in a waiting room in, say, the Whips Cross Hospital, was claiming some kind of possession that was entirely stolen, and claiming to share it with some kind of absolutely occupied “us”. It changed everything: the bland hotel room, the banal beating of the sea, all of it congealed into Osborne's pronunciation of “our”. There was a sickness to it that hung far outside the radius of any hospital. A vacant pestilence, or, if you like, a bricked up pestilence, and the “us”, which itself was some kind of shattered twitching mass left over from Osborne's thrusting invasion of “our”, this “us” was in hopeless distant orbit around this pestilence, some kind of arrangement of speckles in the night sky, a more or less orderly glyph, a surgical fracture in celestial time and, well, I guess you know what I mean. It did my head in. I changed channels and watched some kind of documentary about monsters fighting muscular people holding guns. But it was pretty boring, and the sun was starting to come up, so I thought I'd go out for a walk. And the first thing I saw, when I walked out the hotel door, was a seagull eating a pigeon. Serious. Right there in the middle of the road, tearing it to strips, swallowing the motherfucking thing. There was nobody around. Just the sea, some pebbles. And this peculiar compressed violence I was staring at. I couldn't move. I just stood there, staring, wishing I could reduce it down to some kind of metaphor, or analogy, or starting point for a bit of bourgeois literary criticism, something to add to my CV, anything, rabies, anything. The gull, the pebbles, pronouns, the rolling news, the sea, the muscular people, the dead thing, all of them forming into some kind of knot or eclipse. I thought about you at this point. I wondered which of them you would identify with. Which part would you take in this little horrorshow, which would be the marker of your position, which would be your representative on earth, which would be your signature. I ask because I really don't know which one I would be. I mean, if George Osborne was lying there in tatters in the middle of the road, right in front of the ridiculous sea, would I eat him? I'm sort of serious. If I walked out of the hotel and he was lying there, whimpering like a burning dog, what would I do? Shit, I was sweating by this point. I was no longer even a human being, just some glowing monster of anxieties and vicious isotopes, storms and circles. Revenge. Law. Decency. I think I puked. I felt I had become a tiny fissure in the decay chain set off by George Osborne's voice. One among countless disinterested scalpels, hanging there, in the grains of his voice. And those scalpels are us. Well, obviously not. But that's what he wants. That's what he thinks about each morning as he grimaces into his mirror. Anyway, I couldn't take it. I crossed the road and went down to the beach. I'm still here. I wrote you this letter, but I probably won't send it. If I do, do not answer it.

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