Scenes from the class struggle // Waynex

“waynex is a writer/director living in London. His first book ‘Land of Hunger’ is published by Zero press on 25th September. It’s both a novel and a collection of short stories. He’s currently working on his next book out in 2016.”

Yes I was normal. I had a Jaws mug and an air rifle. I bought the ‘Life of Brian’ LP and my dad banned it from the house. I played Ian Drury ‘New Boots and Panties’ and sang ‘Arseholes, Bastards, Fucking Cunts and Pricks’ at the top of my voice. We lived in a Mock Tudor house, with blackened oak beams that didn’t hold anything up and leaded windows you couldn’t see properly out of. It was called ‘Carousel’.

‘Why do houses have names?’ I asked when I was about six.. My Mum said it was because that’s what people call them. A logic I have since tried, yet been unable to escape from. So instead I named it, ‘the logic of the damned’.

Growing up I always wanted to have a sports car. My Dad had a mustard coloured Alfa Romeo GTV. Later he started to drive Citroens with the funny pneumatic suspension that caused the car sink down over the wheels when you stopped. From an early age I worried about petrol running out before I was old enough to drive. During the 1973 energy crisis my Dad was one of those blokes who got a generator. A shiny red one

that squatted in our garage and hummed. If my dad had been posh he would have been one of those toffs driving trams during the general strike. I wished we had been a family that got candles instead, but somehow it just wasn’t us, candles would have been too intimate, even though they would have looked nice on our Inglenook mantelpiece, book-ending a pair of crossed replica 18th century highwayman pistols.

The three day week. Thirty years later it would be called the four day weekend. Now that’s progress. Back then I just wanted to drive fast cars.

I was a child of the Hostess Trolley generation, which meant overcooked vegetables warming for too long whilst my Mum burnt the Sunday roast. Hob units and fan assisted ovens were all the rage, the seventies being the decade of the convenient modern kitchen. I remember Mum crowing over the red glowing circles under the glass, one wipe and it’s clean! On

special occasions we would go out for dinner, more likely than not to the local Carvery, Tollington Manor. Home of the roast. In my mind hostess trolleys, hob units and Carvery’s are forever linked because they are all part of the same aspirational lexicon; they are convenient, can be cleaned easily, are good value for money and give the appearance of plenty. They are the opposite of the poor house, of Oliver and his wooden bowl, of communal baths, of poor relief, of soup kitchens and works canteens. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realised there was a buried fear of the ghetto, a conspiracy of silence against antecedent family poverty that in my febrile mind gave the hostess trolley, the ‘what a great spread’/’all you can eat for £6.99’, great value visits to the carvery (‘Carvery’s’ now largely superseded by Harvesters), the shiny red generator, the stained rattan/bamboo smoked glass kitchen table, a sad currency, a weight of connotative understanding, that I bore with me to University. And proceeded to milk into reinventing myself as a nascent working class hero who had escaped to University to

rediscover, triumphantly regain, an identity his family had pawned at the altar of nouveau riche affluence! Or some such gibberish, God how terrible I was, peddling politics and sentiment with equal abandon, a phantasmic working class poverty my historical birthright. I just couldn’t help myself.

A year later I inherited six thousand pounds and spent it all on a sports car. In fact I had a mechanic perform a ‘from the ground up’ restoration on a white 1972 Alfa Romeo GT junior. It was beautiful. Just like my Dad’s. During the weeks it was being restored I used to think about it constantly, it’s unhealthy presence kept poking into the front of my mind, excluding other thoughts. I drove it for a month before some cunt scraped it, screwing up the hand beaten offside front panel. A week later I wrote it off, drunk and in disgust. I ended up hating that car, and felt it had betrayed me in its dissolution. But I was also free of it. I was released from it’s clutches, a grasp that to tell the truth had weakened bit by bit from the moment I had

taken possession of it. Maybe even from the moment I had first desired it I had hated it. I was experiencing what you could call a surfeit of desire over reality. The emotional undertow and backwash, the sucking/hollowing out, that this rejection entails. The minuscule abrasions of the soul that over a lifetime accumulate at a frightening rate of interest. The fact that your desire for something weaves it’s own illusion of what that something is, swapping out the wanted object with itself. Desire is thus vain, needs to be fed, to see itself reflected in and on the surfaces of the stuff we buy. And we are left with the goods and the cold light of day. Later this would happen every time I bought something new. A visceral sobering up, followed by feelings of revulsion and disinterest. Come to think of it that’s exactly what I had felt as a small kid when I got what I wanted. My little five minute wonders.

What is this strange desire? How does it drive us forward, propel us through life? What hold does it have over us and why, how to escape it? Is it any more than just plain greed, or is

greed itself a symptom of a terrible agency working on our very souls? I’m joking, but I really wanted to get to the bottom of this and in many ways still do, for it has proven (thus far) unfathomable.

In my late teens I remember wanting a new camera. (A desire that can probably be tracked to the cycles of research, production and marketing of a handful of companies. We peg ourselves, nail our colours, to the masts of all this research and development, but in our lives these desires still appear out of the blue. Organic and spontaneous, ‘I want a new camera’ pops into our heads, bubbles up through our consciousness to the fore-front of our minds, and becomes a part of our day to day life, our story.)

Almost immediately ‘I needed’ a new camera, a Nikon FM2, Black body with a wide 25mm Nikor lens. Instant recall over twenty years. This camera, this package, a fixed image in my minds eye, overwhelmed, consumed all other considerations. I

could see it before me everywhere I went and this wouldn’t cease, this apparition wouldn’t dissolve back in to the ether until I held the thing in my hands. It literally drove me forward, a vision of oasis in a terrible desert.

My world shrunk-wrap itself around this desire. There were no parameters for this lust until the moment it was purchased; In this moment my mind sprung free from it’s shackles and, with the fucking thing in my hand, cold and somehow portentous, smelling of anodized metal, before I had time to spool up its first roll of film, before it could fulfill it’s nominal function (taking pictures, of God knows what…) I realised it cost too much, that I owed my best friend two hundred quid, that I needed the money for my rent, and to top it all the hire purchase terms were extortionate etc. I was at the sump of the cycle. The countdown between coming and wanting to fuck again had begun. Because that was what it was. Sex and shopping work to a beat, they march to the same drum, parallel

ticks on the same clock. An infinite series of inexorable countdowns.

Leica is an example par excellence of this exquisite obscene desire. And it was to be my next camera. The red circle, signifying authentic German engineering craftsmanship, the lens quality, the top grade glass elements, the build. The heft of the thing in your hand. Leica. Irresistible.

A friend of mines Dad was in a concentration camp during the war. He was on Crete when the sky fell in and Jerry shipped him and his mates off to Poland by foot, literally, because they took away their boots. Now that’s a long walk. Apparently they’d wanked off all their ammo in the month leading up to the invasion in the hope of keeping the fighting short and sweet, in fact they spent six weeks glugging Retsina, shagging the local women, expecting Fritz to bang them up on the mainland somewhere nice and cushty.

Stalag 8B was in a Silesian shithole called Lamsdorf. A mining town. Anyway he made friends with a guard, which is no mean feat in a place like that, and this young bloke just happened to be the son of the chief Leica engineer back in Wetzlar. I say ‘made friends with’, which infers an equal share of the gifts that friendship brings. Rather I should say ‘befriended’ because that’s what people do when they need something, which in this case was better food and therefore a better chance of survival.

This place was a thousand miles away from the Fatherland and the Germans needed somebody to mend their watches. So my mates Dad did it, for the prisoners and the guards, found he was pretty good at it actually. Taught him Kraut in return, gave him extra rations. Unexpectedly they discovered a shared love of photography, although how that subject came up in a place like that God only knows. Maybe the guard took photos of the football team, or something. Anyway my mates Dad managed to escape, along with thirty or so others through

a tunnel, but was recaptured somewhere in Weimar, where his fluent German inflected with an authentic Bavarian accent fingered him for a spy, so they stuck him in Buchenwald.

Two months there and the Yanks turn up, my mates Dad scarpers having lost all his teeth and weighing a sprightly seven stone. Later he got in touch with the guard, they exchanged letters and started regular family holidays to his home in Munich. This went on until on one trip in the late fifties Fritz tried to fuck my mates Mum after his Dad had passed out pissed. After that the old pals act was called off. When his Dad croaked in the early eighties all my mate got was a beaten up old camera that Jerry sent his dad at the end of the war. In it was an undeveloped roll of film. My mate took this to Boots to get it processed, next thing he knows the old bill came round his house looking to nick him. The photos were of prisoners taking it up the arse, piles of bodies with Krauts on top giving the thumbs up etc. Took a bit of explaining, because the quality of the shots was superb, it looked like they were taken

yesterday. That’s Leica for you. Crisp. The odd thing was that none of this had ever come out or been spoken about before. Because Stalag 8B was really two camps in one. One side of the fence was Tommy various, and on the other, well that’s where the photos were taken. My mate always said his old man never spoke about the other side of the wire. That’s why he never processed the pictures, he knew what was on the film. It also explained the German guards interest in my mates dad, the reason why he had befriended him. It gave him a sense of comradeship with the enemy, and furthermore their post war friendship was living proof it had been a normal war and that he was a good German. That is until he tried fucking the blokes Missus. See, our desires always get the better of us. A part of him must also have wanted to be punished and that’s why he sent the camera. He wasn’t in any of the photographs because he was the cunt taking the pictures. Invisible see, shielding him from prosecution. But were the pictures taken for sport, or out of guilt and the subconscious hope that they would one day be

used as evidence? That a record had to be taken for whatever outcome. Or was the desire to take the pictures neutral as regards the ultimate consequence? Is that the best moral defence we could mount for the son of Leica’s chief engineer?

My complicity only extended to wanting a new camera, yet I felt that it ran further, that this obscene desire, this Year Zero of desire was a window onto a great abyss inside myself, an emptiness, a howling gap that demanded to be filled, but not and never with whatever I fed it. Who would have guessed it that Marx, dirty old beard himself, would be right? Alienation from the means of production? (Typing this sentence prompts Microsoft Word to underline it with a green squiggle. A box appears which suggests ‘Fragment. Consider revising.’) Anomie? Self-loathing? And some. Sex provoked the same feeling, the same opportunity to experience a real emptiness, your real absent ‘soul’ even. In fact materialism allowed a glimpse of reality in the moment of its failure to provide sustenance, in the moment of acquisition. Now we live in an

age of gadgets. Us, we in the West, have fetishised goods to the extent that they have taken on a super-luminary aspect, we participate in the most prosaic of cargo cults on a daily basis, starting with cereal. The idea that the hole I carry about inside me speaks through a terrible and creeping nausea every time I visited Jessops, (RIP) and that this was centered around an alienated experience of exchange (my money/credit card/HP agreement in exchange for your electrical product) led me eventually to become an Anarchist. I think it did. It sounds good anyway. But it was here at the bottom, with the tide out that I first saw things soberly, unadorned. And it wasn’t pretty.

We love the things that will destroy us, and will definitely shoot the messenger when they point this out. This is the new world disorder. Like the way compulsives agonise over crossing the threshold of their houses, touching doorjambs with both hands then sniffing their fingertips in a certain ritualistic order before venturing outside, Fossil fuels have

come to haunt us, demanding ritualised behavior and sacrifice for no other logic than that of the desire to posses them. Making our leaders weigh their decisions, choose their allegiances, paring whatever morality they had left down to the bone, to satisfy that desire. Somebody once told me that Lord of the Rings could be read as an allegory for cocaine addiction. Which is pretty funny if you think about Golem. Coke, Sneg, La Niege, Gack, Bugle, Nose, Chisel, White lady, Charlie, Gear, Blow, Oil, Petrol, Benzine, Gasoline, Black Gold, the dark stuff, Crude, Petroleum.

My precious indeed.

As well as being a normally greedy and spoilt kid, which is all the above amounts to in a biographical sense, I developed healthy normative sexual desires and fantasies. Nothing bad happened to me, no trigger experience that would lead to my later deviances. In fact for all those students of such things, the

psycho porn of retroactive criminal stereotyping, all I have (all you choose to remember they will say!) is this. When I was 12 my babysitter showed me how to put a small rubber tube down the end of my penis as an aide to masturbation. He’d do it as well. We both tried it out. Fucking hurt actually, I was scared the little bit of tube would get lost inside my dick. As a sexual stimulant I didn’t get it. But I did see the babysitters erect penis, so that’s a story isn’t it? Allow me to be scarred by it in your dissertations.

My growing up also involved lots of black and white waking dreams about the past and my (glorious) role in it. I cast myself as a returning World War Two hero in a wheelchair taking my rightful place at University and getting a lot of female attention. An English Rose, who I can still see now, indistinguishable in my memory from the actress Kim Hunter, who played ‘June’ in ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, pushing me about in her WAAF uniform down long wood paneled corridors to the music of her

swishing silk stockings. Probably somebody like Wittgenstein was my tutor. I daydreamed inside enclosed clipped courtyard greens, gazed through ancient leaded windows during long hot English summers, as he laid bare the structure of language, and she her chaste pussy.

We played British bulldog in the playgrounds, were the last generation to read Commando magazine, that shouted ‘Achtung!’, ‘Sweinhund!’, ‘For you Tommy the war is over!’ ‘Hande Hoch!’, ‘Juden Rause!’ on the playgrounds of the English home counties. As if the war was purely conducted in exclamations and expletives; Jerry, Heine, Kraut, Bosch, Dumkopf, Nazi, Untermensch, Banzai! Only later did I discover the small words, the innocuous sentences, the whispers, the discrete orders, the silences, by which war is really waged.

We watched ‘The Eagle has landed’, ‘The Guns of Navarone’, ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Dirty Dozen, ‘Tubruk’, Technicolour dreams,, bringing the past almost back to the present with its household name actors and modern sensibilities; John

Cassavetes, Donald Pleasance, Kojak, Steve McQueen, alongside James Mason, Alec Guinness, Brando, Dean Martin. And what about the actors who played the Germans! Heroes in their very baddiness. Jurgen Pruchnow, Max von Sydow, Maximilian Schell…

These movies all shared an unselfconsciousness about being war movies, there was none of the ironic distance of films we see today that have to be about being war films as well as being one. Anyway I sure didn’t feel any distance back then at thirteen. That screen put me right there, Tommy and later Ivan, giving Jerry a bloody nose, or at least outwitting him. Between that and listening to Peter Blackman’s ‘Ode to Stalingrad’ on the B side of Robert Wyatt’s ‘Stalin wasn’t Stallin’ in 1981, is how I managed to bring myself up.

So you see for a young boy in the early seventies, the war, ‘The world at night’ as was, wasn’t all that long ago. In fact it was ever-present.

As a half Jew kid I was obsessed by the holocaust, by both sides of it. It was hard to personalise the tragedy of faceless millions of Jews who seemed uniform in their helplessness, whereas my Tamiya Flak 88 gun emplacement model figures emanated a kind of magically charged heroism. I would have them entrenched in a bitter snowscape, with bandaged arms, burnt out Kubelwagons, discarded Jerry cans, holding out against all the odds, desperate rear guard units. I could go on endlessly about invincible Jagdpanzers being rushed off the production lines to join the siege of Bastogne, despite extended supply lines, and then Sepp Dietrich’s desperate defence of Vienna, don’t get me started.

There are no figurine sets that I know of, die cast or otherwise, of gypsies, gays, jews, or the mentally disabled. No scale model victims laid out in rows ready to be popped, twisted or surgically cut out of their holding frames.

I remember finding a box of 1/72 scale Vietcong toy soldiers that I gave my son to play with, how cool and unusual this was. Like finding Castro and his insurgents staked out in plastic injection moulds, arms and heads separate, maybe a little row, in a cordoned off section, for tiny cigars. Think of the mess the glue would make sticking these in his mouth, 72 times smaller than a real cigar.

The frame and spars of Plastic injection moulding. Childhood.

It was my art teacher who got me into this hobby, with scale models of panzer tanks and engineer corps, sand and glue desert-scapes full of Africa corp troops and materiel set up on huge papier-mâché landscapes as he wielded die and ruler over all. He also got us to play hexed based war-games with Macedonian soldiers and war elephants etc. Huge rolled out hex maps.

He was probably (without doubt..) what they call a crypto fascist. And he looked like the guy out of Sparks, to boot.

Teenage.

Discovering the Red Army was politically and morally a relief to me. Thank god for the Jew Isaac Babel, the Red cavalry General Budyonny and his cossacks, thank you god for Stalingrad, the battle of Kursk and the Warsaw uprising. Thank god again for the Jewish partisans I discovered in Primo Levi’s

’If not now when?’ Jews fighting the Nazis, this was all high romance for me, co-extensive with my boundless adoration for the Soviet war effort.

Conspiracy theories about American steel, IMB, Auschwitz, German wartime investment in the US, Alan Foster Dulles meeting Goebbels in fucking Switzerland in 1944, Nazi post war colonisation of South America and North Africa, Otto Sorecky and ‘Die Spinne’ Nazi escape organisation in post war (yeah right) Europe. All this good stuff came a lot later…

First and forever there was Sven Hassel’s ‘Comrades of war’ and his dirty dozen; Porta, Tiny, Barcelona, Legionnaire, Sven, these anarchists within the Wehrmacht, involuntary haters of the SS, yet their very agents, Nazi suicide troopers!

Thirty years later there would be a craze for Second World War computer games. (Medal of Honour/Call of Duty/Castle Wolfenstein [a kitsch WW2/vampire/horror crossover] etc). This in fact was just a technological extension of the years of hexed

based war-gaming a certain milieu had enjoyed throughout the seventies and eighties. It was possible to play a game in real time that would cover every unit deployed in the war and almost take as much time to play. Or single platoon based engagements would be re-enacted on tabletops. The smallest and most forgotten of conflicts, brought back to life, strung together to form campaign games and decisive battles from whichever front. Sepp Dietrich foraging for petrol in the snowy wastes of the Ardennes, Rossokovsky chasing Zhukov for the prize of Berlin, the fight to raise the morale of shell shocked marine combat troops in Okinawa in the final death throes of the battle for Japan. Throwing dice for morale saving turns, throwing die even! Combat modifiers and results tables. Poured over, debated and rechecked, fingers scrubbing down the columns of figures and contesting outcomes; All of it drained of any moral or physical dimension. Nobody died. At least computers speeded the process up. I remember sitting upstairs at a friends house playing ‘Call of Duty 2’ with his

sons, where we were in a 3D rendered Stalingrad, waiting to repel hoards of Germans from storming the House of Specialists, listening to disembodied German propaganda broadcasts enticing us to desert. I mean this looked perfect. It didn’t smell and it didn’t hurt, but these games reinvented the war, in effect flattening out the facticity of actual war into the same fictional paradigm as Halo, Resident Evil and the Dead or Alive series. ‘Call of Duty’ went on to six and counting installments franchising the whole experience of war for future generations.

I also have to admit to being obsessed by Lenin. Or ‘John Lennin?’ as some girl said to me once at university (for christsake!) As an exotic hero, so far removed from my experience, yet who spoke to me across time and space, Lenin and his Bolshevik revolution, became a benchmark for everything. His angled poise when addressing workers/sailors/ soldiers, his cap jauntily cocked against the cold, his sealed

train rocketing through the Steppes (I loved saying the word Steppes and the idea of hiding in woodpiles as Cossacks thundered past, like roundheads hiding in trees, or were they cavaliers? It doesn’t matter, and I feel it again on my tongue, the exotic word, ‘Steppes’), the way Lenin’s hands would gesticulate and tremble as he argued for the immediate transfer of power to the Soviets, head and shoulders just visible above the heads of crowds of soldiers and workers hanging on his every word, imagining every promise. He conjured these people a future. Peace, land and bread, a transcription of loaves and fishes, the promises of Galilee. How could I ever be such a man? Pathetically I lamented not being alive during times of war and revolution when things were all so much more interesting.

Thank god the challenge of trying to suck myself off displaced a lot of this twaddle by the time I was fifteen. Somebody had the porn photo at school, some guy with his dick in his gob, looking surprised. A ‘Shit I did it!’ kind of look.

He also had long hair and was pretty old, thirty something. Everyone found it disgusting. Then went home, straight to the fucking bathroom and started climbing the walls. I got to within an inch. Story of my life. I came all over my own face.

Dicks.

There was another photo of this black guy, King Dong. Looking back it was so obviously a length of painted garden hose, but then, at school, huddled by the lockers, Wow!

Wanking was fraught with comparison. My best mate at the time was very sporty and had a great body. I on the other hand had very little muscle definition or ability at any sports. When he stayed the night I would spend ages arranging my meagre package in my Y fronts, with what pubes I had grown archly placed over the pant elastic. He was hairy and huge. We had wanking contests in the dark, thank god. And climbed the wall

together in our attempts to suck ourselves off. Obviously he managed it, well the tip anyway, but I never did. Made him the fag I suppose.

These were some of the things that interested me as a teenager. That and listening to Joy Division, obviously.

And all that stuff just connected with my everyday schoolboy life; Identity, sex, friendship, a sense of emerging community populated by those we admired and those we hated. How what we called and how we treated each other had an ideological effect, not in some distant far off revolution, but in my school playing field at lunchtime. (I mistyped this as lynchtime, fucking right, it was).

Our playground was on a slope. The kid that was always picked on was a skinny little boy called Jonathan Price. Pricey would always end up stuffed in a metal dustbin and rolled

down the slope to crash into the wall. He wobbled on his feet as he came out, like a cartoon character. We laughed because it hadn’t been any of us. He had to laugh too otherwise they’d do it again. If he cried he was being a spoilsport, and was back in the dustbin. The patterns we create here repeat themselves with greater and greater consequences in our lives, but it is the same pattern, victims getting stuffed into dustbins over and over again.

Jonathan Price also got bog-washed a lot. I hope he realises that we did it out of fear, and that knowledge makes his memories of school a little better. Perhaps I should find him on Facebook.

At last a use for social media. To make sure those that they bullied haven’t been scarred for life, and that you can be exonerated. The fact that they are ‘happily married with two wonderful kids’ or ‘running my own successful small business’ gets us off the hook. We can recall these faces long after those

of childhood friends. The stifled tears of scared bullied children and the manic laughter of the reprieved, etch themselves more deeply into our imaginations. We log on for a little salvation. That and to see who made all the money.

Sometimes I think we were all scared, and that there were no real bullies outside of this fear. Nobody exterior to it enjoying it’s effects. Fear is a powerful weapon, but has an unpredictability that we can’t really control, but can only attempt to direct in the most blunderbuss kind of way. A weapon that creates splash back. It’s secret effect shared by guard and inmate alike, a potent valency between opposites.

I once saw a man chop up a huge tree with a chainsaw. It cut through the old wood like butter. The man looked up in satisfaction just as the chainsaw reared back in his hand almost severing his arm. Something in the wood, a twisty sinew, a knot, had offered unsuspected resistance. The man caught my eye, the only witness to his close shave.

I was mates with a kid called ‘Stick’ from the local late sixties housing estate. He had cool long greasy hair, ate working class shit food was skinny and smoked Players cigarettes. He looked nonchalant and enigmatic in our school uniform, grey v neck sweater edged in claret, black stay press trousers, white shirt, burgundy and navy blue diagonally striped tie, whereas I just looked like shit. We were mates but. This ‘but’ signifying a subset of relations that allowed him to give me a wedgy whenever he wanted to, force me to steal stuff from the shopping centre, make me ask girls out for either him or me, girls that would so obviously say ‘no fuck off’, and do a host of other things, ‘I dare you’s’ I could never turn down. It made me crack nervous jokes, fool about, swear at teachers, get suspended, all as acts of defensive assertion.

We were mates but.

One girl he got me to approach, a blonde called Amanda Heinz, pulled my tie up so hard I nearly choked and a teacher had to cut it off with a huge pair of art room scissors. Then told me it was my fault for pestering girls. ‘Stick’ laughed himself sick at that one. Four years later I remember rubbing Amanda Heinz’s pubic mound through her Fruit of the Loom jeans at a school disco, drunk as fuck on Romanian ‘Bulls Blood’ (£2.99). So fuck you ‘Stick’.

There was a Chinese restaurant called the Golden Panda in our local shopping centre. We would throw mud through the window of its kitchen to see if we could get a rise out of the cooks. We imagined the mud landing in their pot and ruining the food. Once a guy with a kitchen knife actually chased us down the street, cursing us in Chinese. We used to love the thrill of getting a chase, it broke the monotony of being invisible. ‘Stick’ at least knew how to have a laugh. He was armed with ideas to defeat the endless boredom of being a kid.

But at school as in life we do these things for people who for whatever reason have sway over us. To hold sway infers that one can lose hold, like grappling with a live wire wearing rubber gloves, the thing could whip free if you lost concentration. With power comes the responsibility for its upkeep. You have to wage a ‘War of hegemony’.

If anybody ever read the last ten pages, especially the stuff about my dick and coming in my own face they wouldn’t want me as their hero anymore. I would no longer hold sway. Like being made to think about Castro’s skid marks. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Same goes for me. Too much information. When I have finished writing, got this all out of my system, I will have to decide between destroying it and continuing the revolution, or publishing and be damned.

Hell, from where I am now, after five years in prison and fifteen years of being on the run I have a lot to fucking well say. After all, listen to the howling winds and check your gas bills, wasn’t I basically correct? Go figure whilst I shred the above. Or not.

Nothing bad or glamorous happened to me during the rest of my childhood. I can’t remember much detail because it was so normal. I knew someone whose mum was an alcoholic and fell (asleep) face forward at a dinner party into her pea soup. Not my life at all. Another friends mum (the boy who managed to suck himself off, natch) was a social worker and they went on camping holidays in Turkey or the Greek islands, on photography trips, or to see ancient ruins in places like Petra and Persepolis. We stayed at the Nixie Palace in Majorca. One year I got lost for six hours on the beach at Benidorm, and was found by a friendly Spanish tourist cop who found me watching bored teenagers attempting to loop the loop on the swings in a

crappy housing estate behind the beachfront. On another holiday me and my dad nearly tied up our rowing boat to a basking shark in Salcombe bay. It took me twenty years to remember how lucky I was and what a wanker I had been to be in awe of middle class bohemian families with all their enthusiasms. Again I seem to be slipping towards a subject that is off limits. Even now I still (metaphorically) walk/write at a slight angle to counteract this urge, to counter-balance subjects that are (not so) strictly off limits.

Let’s leap forward to University. Campus. My first year. New friends, cheap booze, ditto drugs and girls from all around the world! This was a conventional life for sure. Memories of which I now cling to with pathetic fervour, these are my comfort stories which my overheated imagination replay as fiction. Was I there? Was it me? Did I do, feel say, any of it? I think so, I believe it to be true, and again, that’s enough isn’t it?

Sir Walter Raleigh, who died impoverished, humiliated and eventually beheaded by James 1 tells us to be wary of writing too soon about contemporary events;
“ Whosoever, in writing a modern history, shall follow truth too near the heels may haply strike out his teeth”

For me the lesson of history is that we must risk losing our teeth as we write the history of tomorrow.

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