Feelin’ it fast

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The cars were wrecked, covered in mud, dinted, full of hungover kids and fucked up camping equipment. Girls had tried to plat their hair but the rain and the sweating atmosphere of airless tents had rat-tailed every one of them. They looked like refugees escaping some desperate war zone. Close to the edge of panic.

Car after car sat in the gridlock in the village. The bus driver was shouting to me about the madness of camping in a field around here and listening to ‘that shit music’. I shouted back that he just felt old. Like I did.

I got off at my stop, walked slowly across the road, waved at the Romanians at the car wash. They smiled and waved back, then went on cleaning a Porsche as the fat driver stood back admiring the power of money. His sunglasses were too big for his piggy face. Trousers too tight, belly hanging over the front. Gold bracelet, heavy and glinting in the sun, hung against the top of one hand, dragging him down, nailing his soul to the floor. His teeth matched the white foam but his skin was red. Blood pressure too high. Climbed off his big-titted wife barely half an hour ago as she lay panting under the weight. Cock barely functioning despite the view below him writhing in mock ecstasy, trying her best.

He moved his head to one side, checking out the cleaning job on the car. It had never occurred to him how much you can get people to do for ten pounds. You got your car cleaned, smiled at – bowed at, too, sometimes. Language barriers make for odd gestures. The traffic moved slowly. He eyeballed the bored drivers. He thought about where to drive when the car was clean. Maybe McDonalds? Eat a burger. Then pick up the wine and get back to those tits. Man…they’d been a good investment.

I went inside my house. Put my bag down. I heard the roar of the Porsche start up. He revved the engine four or five times for maximum effect, turned up the stereo. I heard him pull out into the traffic and accelerate away up the hill, really gunning it. I wondered if his wife was ready for another go on the mountain of blubber that was heading her way in the sunshine, too fast to stop.



Relative Wealth

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‘Last night I had such a good time. Now there’s a price to pay. A night for kicks, now the sun’s in my eyes and I feel so weary today.’ – From ‘Close my eyes’, by Ride

Yesterday I got drunk for the first time in two months. It happened after I read the back of a fifty pound note. Really.

On the back of a British Fifty pound note are the pictures of Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and James Watt (1736-1819). Both men are famous for being business partners who improved and widely distributed steam engines. Their particular area of expertise was in how to make people redundant off the backs of mechanisation. They were profit-driven and serious about where the direction of the British Empire should be heading – upwards, outwards, trampling everything under the heavy golden jackboot of whichever Royal was on the throne. Money was to be made.

There are two quotes under their names on the back of the fifty pound note. These read-

‘I sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have – POWER.’ And ‘I can think of nothing else but this machine.’

Chilling stuff. I read it and stared at their faces looking out at me from beyond the grave, cravat neck ties and puffed cheeks, magenta with Bank of England Dye. A timeless evil that I would have to spend to get rid of; accumulate more stuff, eat more, drink more booze, get fatter, thank you. Disgusting. I read the quotes over and over. Before I knew it I was several drinks in and sinking.

Money equals power. And power will bite you on the ass as soon as look at you sitting semi naked at a writing desk on a hill somewhere wondering why you have a fifty pound note in the first place. In my case the note came from my mother. She’d snuck it into my rucksack last week without me knowing. It was to say thank you for looking after her. She seems to have an inexhaustible supply of them.

I hate my tie to money. I hate our tie to money. There on my desk they lay, Matthew and James, glorifying money, power, selfishness, progress. And here I sit, old and tired and hungover, wondering if they can both help me get blotto today to forget about it all again. This is lesson #1 in life: don’t think. Ever.

But let’s forget history, and the inhumanity of the human race. Let’s forget poverty and the appalling disgrace of the human condition. It’s sunny today outside and I have a crisp £50 note to use. I have Wealth.

Journey to paradise.

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The house next door was used as a holiday retreat by Justin Bieber. Like our one, it overlooked the Caribbean sea and the curving bay of Pidgeon Island. We had a housekeeper, and a gardener – called ‘Dragon’. At night the tree frogs sung me to sleep and every morning the mosquitoes ate my ankles and my neck until the sun really got warm. The house reeked of decadence and money. We’d been told it was recently on the market for six million dollars. Only a rich fool would pay that kind of cash to have a holiday home on a mosquito infested island where the murder rate is higher than south central Chicago.

The sea stretched out into the West and at night the sun set hugely over the blue/turquoise horizon. There was a romance to it all, for sure, but I couldn’t unsee the shanty towns, burned out cars, and the poverty of the beach hawkers and the average Joe local. Something about lording it up in paradise, under a palm tree, didn’t sit well with me. I was just another fat, white, wealthy guy with too much ready cash and too few morals. Ripe for fleecing at the beach, and a heavy draw for disdainful looks from anyone and everyone who called St Lucia home.

Every time I went in the warm sea I worried about sharks. There was a point on the island where they used to throw live goats off of some cliffs and watch the Tiger Sharks rip them to pieces down below. And if the sea life didn’t get to me first then there was always a drug gang or some street punk high on crack and in the middle of the worst financial period of his short life. Dangers are high in paradise.

We ate huge meals in expensive restaurants, avoided the gazes of the staff, got drunk on rum, and bathed in the night in the house pool while huge bats flew inches above our heads under the Milky Way sky. I miss the stars and the heat. But it felt shitty being pumped full of expensive rum in a private pool when two miles away someone was sleeping hungry in a tin shack. Things like poverty make the high life a little less ‘high’, even when you’re wafting past it in an air conditioned luxury car.

Maybe I’ll go back there; I doubt it. If I do, I’ll question the reasons more than I question most things. It’s sickening actually, when I know right now that people are starving to death in Sudan, that I even have the choice.

If you think this is a travel review then you are wrong. This is a damning indictment of all that is shitty about human beings – most of all, me.