So, let’s try to get this straight because it’s getting a bit complicated now
Members of the UK government, including the actual prime minister broke lockdown laws that they themselves made by having parties at No.10, driving to Durham while infected and so on.
At the same time, families up and down the country were separated by those lockdown laws that Johnson and co had made and were themselves breaking, and had to suffer losing relatives and friends without being able to say goodbye or go to their funerals.
During lockdown Patsy Stevenson and others were arrested by the Metropolitan police for holding a vigil for Sarah Everard — who had been murdered by a serving member of the Metropolitan police, who lured her to her death by claiming she was breaking lockdown laws — for contravening the government’s lockdown laws, the same lockdown laws that members of the government that had made them were breaking.
Following complaints against the police that their response to the Sarah Everard vigil were inappropriate, the police were investigated by the police who exonerated the police.
In the months after her arrest, Patsy Stevenson experienced online intimidation and harassment from serving members of the police. The police promised to investigate and sanction inappropriate behaviour by members of the police, none of whom were apparently sanctioned.
And then the very force that had counted the murderer of Sarah Everard in its ranks and arrested the women on the peaceful vigil, declined to investigate the prime minister and his people over any of their parties, citing lack of evidence despite there being numerous witnesses, photographs, and video recordings of the events — just as the Met and other police forces had earlier declined to prosecute the prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings for his lockdown violations.
And the police watchdog, which was appointed by the police to investigate complaints against the police, rejected complaints against the police that they they failed to investigate the lockdown-violating parties at No.10.
Johnson’s partying is, however, being investigated by an independent investigator (Sue Gray) who isn’t independent because she was appointed by Johnson.
Meanwhile, this government that had failed to hold itself to its own laws decided to demonstrate its commitment to law and order by persecuting someone who had broken no laws. They did this by agreeing to extradite Julian Assange to the US. Assange has broken no laws within US jurisdiction and is not a US citizen and has been held in British prisons without charge long after the expiration of his sentence for bail dodging.
And while fixing the problem of freedom of speech by locking up journalists, the same government is fixing the problem of being embarrassed by freedom of speech as exercised through protest by essentially outlawing protest. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will make holding placards, signs, glue, making a noise, protesting in a public space, etc, etc, punishable by up to 51 months in prison and/or an unlimited fine, and will give the police power to ban anyone they (don’t) like from attending protests about anything ever. This bill would have criminalised the Suffragettes campaign for women’s voting rights.
The government of the UK, which is extraditing Assange for his journalism and is clamping down on free speech at home is joining the government of the US, who claims Assange for embarrassing it by exposing its war crimes, and which still holds prisoners without trial at Guantanamo, are joining together for a diplomatic boycott of China’s winter Olympics as a protest over that country’s human rights abuses.
This, incidentally, is in addition to an unknown number of UK nationals who were effectively made second class citizens by the British Nationality Act of 1981, about whom we hear nothing, and in addition to the arbitrary deportations of the Windrush people.
At the same time, the Grand Ol’ Duke of York, Prince Andrew, peer of the realm, dipstick of royal proportions, has not flown to the United States where he has been accused of real crimes on US soil and neither the US nor UK governments who are holding Assange without trial and extraditing him for no crime, are extraditing the prince, nor even urging him to go do the right thing. Andrew, in the face of answering for his actions in a US court, is clinging on to the UK’s shores as if they were one of the teenagers he was abusing.
So, have I got that actually straight, because, you know, a chap could be forgiven for thinking that this was all totally screwed up.
[This is an edited and updated version of the story originally posted here titled ‘Clear as Poop …’]
10 Unpublishable Fictions has been published in a fundamental paradox that threatens to tear apart the publishing universe. The paradox is further deepened by the fact that many of the unpublishable fictions published here have already been published elsewhere.
This reality-threatening publishing upheaval has occurred just in time for Merry Christmas, and is a collaboration between David Rogers, Evan Findlay Hay, and someone called Chris Page.
Readers will want to be aware that the two stories I have contributed to 10 Unpublishable Fictions were previously published in my own collection Un-Tall Tales, so if you’ve read that, you’ve read the stories here.
My larger contribution to this ebook is the cover, ten new illustrations and two further illustrations from the archives.
David, who initiated the publication, is hoping this will be the first instalment of a long-term project under the name DogAndVile.wordpress.com Check it out.
For me, this year, 2021, has been the year of scribbles, in which I’ve taken a break from fiction and have been working on my drawing mojo so it seemed like a bit of serendipity too fun to pass up when the chance arrived to contribute images to 10 Unpublishable Fictions, and in working with other people to other people’s work, get out of my comfort zone.
This has meant putting aside this year’s main project, a graphic novel, but the experience was energising and worthwhile and the neglected novel’s characters are still speaking to me. So now I’d better get on with that, then.
Every year, thousands of fresh-faced, eager young things process from the universities of the English-speaking countries and decide to become — at least until they have scratched an itchy foot, paid off a college loan, started to miss Yorkshire pud, been murdered and dumped in a foreign ditch, or just got bored — international people. They will see the world, travel, meet the quaint little people who live in foreign countries with their endearing foreign ways, and in order to facilitate this great adventure, they will adopt the entirely noble and worthwhile occupation of blessing Johnny foreigner with the ability to speak the language of Shakespeare.
Well, not the language of Shakespeare as such, which most of these eager young things would not understand, but certainly the language of Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian.
They will become teachers of English as a foreign language.
What an image this conjures, this title, ‘teacher of English as a foreign language’!
Not English teacher, you dig, but teacher of English as a foreign language. No, a simple English teacher is very bland. An English teacher is rooted to home turf and to their childhood because they never really made it out of school. And they wear bad cardigans. And they teach English to a bunch of kids who already speak the language. How difficult is that? The most difficult part of that job is keeping yourself from slipping into catatonia.
Your actual teacher of English as a foreign language, however, confronts people who are yet unfamiliar with the arcana of the language. You are spreading enlightenment and civilisation, and, best of all, you are a teacher, a professional, without the inconvenience of actually having to learn any actual skill because you grew up speaking the bloody language.
Pretty soon, the new teacher of English as a foreign language finds his or her way to the heart of the task:
‘This is a pen.’
Getting the skills down may require whole minutes of determination and perseverance but eventually the teacher will be tossing ‘this is a pen’ at the students as if it were a four-word phrase.
‘This is a pen. Repeat after me: This is a pen.’
And what a career track EFL offers!
You start off teaching small kids at a language school in Osaka or Seoul or Ulan Bator, and you get to dress as Father Christmas one week a year and you say:
‘This is a pen.’
And you can progress to small groups of adults in the same sort of places where the language of Joyce and Shakespeare is sold like hamburgers at McDonald’s.
‘This is a pen,’ you tell them, and then coax the students to tell you the same.
From there you might do a CELTA qualification in the hopes of teaching in a more serious environment, but it’s still all hamburgers and ‘this’ is still a pen.
‘This is a pen. Repeat after me: This is a pen.’
The next step is going back to university to get a masters degree in applied linguistics so that when you graduate you can work in a university where you say:
‘This is a pen.’
From there, the sky’s the limit in terms of telling people that this is a pen. You can do a PhD, write books that will introduce people to pens in global master classes.
You can say in Japan, in Korea, in China, in Saudi Arabia, in Spain, in Peru — just about anywhere in the world — ‘This is a pen.’
You can say with pride in your professional expertise: ‘This is a pen.’
By this stage, by the time you have done your masters degree, you have joined the EFL Taliban, the EFL fundies.
(You have no idea who you are, do you.)
These guys don’t talk to people who don’t have masters degrees in applied linguistics. They sneer at people who don’t have masters degrees in applied linguistics. They put up with, they tolerate, they suffer people who do not have degrees in applied linguistics.
You think MBAs are bad as a closed circle of mutual masturbators with a language all their own? Well, the EFL Taliban are a close second. They wank at least as much, they’re just as smug, but they don’t get paid nearly as much as MBAs and that last point demonstrates to them exactly how superior they are.
And they do speak a language all of their own. By the time you have finished a degree in linguistics, you no longer have any idea what normal language is or how to speak to normal people.
You see the Taliban at parties in a huddle, out of contamination range of the hoi polloi.
‘Meta-language,’ one will observe. They all smile sagely.
‘Ah ha! Interlanguage or intralanguage?’ which brings the house down.
‘Oooh, look, it’s a preposition.’
‘I just spotted a participle.’
‘Oh, look everyone, it’s a pen!’
‘Repeat after me!’ they all cheer, ‘This is a pen! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!’
Yes, chaps, it is indeed a pen. It was a pen when you started on this career. It is still a pen now.
It is a pen today, it was a pen yesterday, it was a pen the day before that and last week and last month and last year, twenty years ago. For all the jargon, for all the studies in cognitive theories of language acquisition, after all the university courses, seminars, training sessions, and learned books dedicated to conveying the pen-ness of this, the pen is, at the end of the day, just a fucking pen.
Suddenly it’s been a pen for thirty-odd years, and it’s no more or less a fucking pen than it was at the start; it’s no closer to being a penguin or an artichoke or a spaceship or a yeti or a pterodactyl or a coelacanth or a human emotion or a sense of achievement or a laugh or a fucking life, it’s just a fucking fucking fucking fucking pen.
Yes, and those thirty-odd years have gone by — all your adult life — and you are stuck in the world’s dreariest, most banal, most facile career cul-de-sac, and you can’t get out because you’re too old, too stained with the ink of pens-that-are-this, and your boss is trying to get rid of you because he wants the school staffed by kids just out of their placentas because they are cheap and obedient and pre-cowed, or he wants to shift everything online with teachers from a call centre in the Philippines or Calcutta or fucking Pluto because they’ll work for less than the price of the tissues he wanks into when monitoring their classes.
It’s going to be a pen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year; it’s going to be a pen when it’s used to write your fucking death certificate.
So fucking repeat and get it into your fucking head: ‘This is not a life.’
Let’s be clear: the slow death of humanity through mass infertility is a good thing. This nightmare vision of SF and dystopian literature is, to the well-organised mind, a dream come true.
For decades scientists have been telling us about falling sperm counts, an impending infertility crisis. As the evidence mounts, the prospect has turned from a ‘maybe’ to an ‘it’s happening now.’ Epidemiologists Shanna Swan and Stacey Colino bring us up to date on the good news in their recent book “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperilling the Future of the Human Race.” The book tells us that total sperm count in the west fell 59% between 1973 and 2011, and seems set to hit zero by 2045. Genital deformities among the newborn are becoming less rare. Apparently lifestyle, pollution, and obesity are to blame.
We thought the end of humanity would come in a blinding light and ball of atomic fire, or we would parch on a desolate plain that was once a verdant forest felled by climate meltdown. But no, we are more likely to expire with a dud orgasm, an inconclusive bang climaxing in a whimper.
Any species that walks wide-eyed into the end of everything by war or destroys the planet on which it lives deserves extinction. Any species that created and tolerated Ant and Dec, Love Island, Donald Trump, the entire British governing class, Nutella, Justin Bieber, mobile phones for dogs, Bitcoin, Brexit, deserves to be culled. Any species that worships an economic system in which we fight like dogs to feed our masters before we feed ourselves, any species that complains about actually protecting itself during a deadly pandemic, any species that will let its home collapse because it doesn’t want to interrupt the shopping deserves to be scraped off this planet. Any species that creates the pyramids, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and then descends into entitled infantile squealing as the dominant cultural form; any species that invents the internet, connecting the whole planet and giving unlimited opportunities for creativity and learning, and then uses it as a tool to squirt its own lifeless jizz into tissue-slivers of destroyed rainforest deserves far worse than gentle extinction.
But humanity’s exit is poetic and elegant because it is the testosterone associated with our failing gonads that powered our journey to this state, that propelled us to rape and conquer and control and clone ourselves through uncountable acts of violence. Our proud bollocks are now reduced to dry and withered prunes on a doomed vine through the very vices they fathered.
And compared to nuclear war or total environmental collapse, this end has the advantage of not taking the rest of the planet with us.
It’s as if nature itself has just sighed and quietly said ‘Enough is enough’ and turned off the tap that replenishes us.
With luck we’ll just fade away leaving nature to recolonise the planet as the forests and rats have reclaimed Chernobyl. We have to hope that we vanish before we complete the destruction of everything and depriving nature its chance to regenerate.
Because, sadly, in truth, the end will not be that peaceful. As our numbers dwindle and our ability to plunder the resources and despoil our home diminishes, we’ll turn on each other, fight among ourselves like starved savages stripped of all pretence of civilisation. Some will fight for whatever scraps of sustenance or whatever survival advantage they can get, some will fight just because they’re twats. We can be sure that we’ll try to trash as much as possible out of sheer petulance, like Airbnb guests who defecate in the living room of complete strangers just because. A new pornography will emerge that celebrates the deformed genitals of the last of our offspring, and the psychosexual energy generated will cause Jimmy Savile to reanimate, to become the messiah of this cult of death.
This scorched earth policy inflicted on an earth that we’ve already scorched in our more virile days will be another sad monument to our pathetic stupidity, another illustration of the pettiness that brought us to this pass.
Shanna Swan and Stacey Colino frame their data as a dire warning, they speak of falling fertility as a threat to humanity, and urge a radical change in lifestyle and the way we are contaminating the environment in order to avert this catastrophe. On the contrary, this is a chance too good to miss. And in an age of seemingly unremitting bad news and bleakness, at last there is an end in sight, at last we have something to look forward to.
I was mildly puzzled this last week to see that beef was being energetically promoted at the supermarket. Beef in Japan is expensive, steaks especially so. But the local Seiyu had piles and piles of steaks, exceptionally large steaks, and other beefy stuff. You could hear the death moos as you passed the cold shelves.
And then yesterday I had a depressing epiphany: beef is de rigeur because 2021 is the Chinese year of the ox.
Yes, it’s moo-cow year, so let’s get stuffed on moo-flesh. Never mind that oxen and cows are different animals. They both have a leg at each corner, eat grass, and say moo. More to the point, the marketing people have deemed we shall spend our money thus.
The simple syllogism suggested by those marketing folk goes like this: 1. it’s the year of the ox 2. ox is like a cow, kinda, 3. ergo, eat beef — and the more depressing thing is that people in their bovine herds go ‘Oh, yeah! That’s so profound — if we eat steak we’ll have good luck all year.’
It’s a bit disappointing for me as a writer to confess that it’s hard to find the words to convey how fucking inane this all is.
First, there’s all the death. How many extra creatures were bred and slaughtered to feed this facile fantasy?
Then there’s the superstitious conflation of dinner and fate.
‘Hello, humans,’ says the cow.
‘Hi cow! How are you doing?’
‘Great! Next year is the year of me!’
‘Yay! Congratulations, cow!’
‘So, you’d better kill me and eat me.’
‘But why, oh moo-cow? If we kill and eat you, there won’t be any you!’
‘Because killing and eating me will make me happy and I’ll bestow magic and good luck on you all year. ‘
‘Oh,’ say the humans. ‘That’s very nice of you. So, is there some special ritual or ceremony to go with this?’
‘Not exactly. I’ll just stroll to the abattoir, where the nice men in blood-stained smocks will string me up on a chain and slash my throat. Then they’ll dismember me, package my bits in plastic and truck me to supermarkets all over the country. The magic bit is where you go go to the supermarket and buy whatever bits of me you fancy — but don’t forget, the bigger the price tag, the more the luck! It’s a special deal, you know.’
Well, we do like shopping, and we have nothing better to do with our heads other than stuff them with this nonsense, so see you there!’
Perhaps 2020 was a crap year because we failed to eat enough rat in the final week of 2019.
And so to be a real thing, eating for lucky fortune must be consistent. The years of the pig and the chicken are to be anticipated with bibs on and a knife and fork in hand, but how do we deal with the year of the snake? Apparently people eat eels, which are not snakes at all but will do considering actual snakes will frighten the customers and since none of this makes any sense anyway. The years of the tiger and monkey present legal and safety problems. But what do you do in the year of the dragon, that particular beast not existing and all that? Does the universe end in entropy because there’s no animating nosh?
Why stop at years and the Chinese zodiac? In March we should eat Mars bars, both July and August demand feasts of caesar salad; on Mondays we can eat rocks and cheese, and, best of all, on Saturday we get to devour our children.
All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and not uncritically regurgitated from the Daily Mail.
Another Perfect Day in Fucking Paradise
The most recent of Chris Page's novels.
Ben seems to be the only living person on the planet and the dead are really getting on his nerves.
In an unconscionable capitulation to consumerism, Chris Page is now selling merchandise. Shirts, mugs, paraphernalia and stuff in sizes, colours, and genders. Click the image.
Sanctioned is the latest novel by Chris Page, published May 2017.
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The first three chapters of Sanctioned ...
The Underpants Tree
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King of the Undies World
Chris Page's collection of short fiction in Kindle and paperback.
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Weedy words of praise from a publisher in London
“… it’s really witty and very strong … I would compare the writing to Robert Rankin, or a really satirically biting Tom Sharpe, and will say again that I’m really impressed by it”
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