February 21st, 2011
Every nanosecond in the depths of your brain, neurons are ignited by a chemical reaction that make you think. It’s the process that governs everything your body does, from eating a sandwich to not shitting itself.
For the brain, this is the equivalent of boring office admin; a thankless chore it quietly gets on with until we keel over and die. But occasionally one of those exploding neurons becomes something more tangible. It becomes an idea.
The genesis of everything mankind has ever created can be traced back to a single idea, from the Space Shuttle to The Breakfast Club. Every great piece of art you’ve ever admired was, at the earliest point in its life, an electrically excitable cell detonating in someone’s mind like the world’s tiniest fireworks display.
I have ideas almost constantly, but never act on them. The instant they’ve entered my thoughts, I’ve screwed them up into a ball and hurled them into the nearest metaphysical bin. But what if one of those ideas was destined to become something great? The very idea terrifies me; that I’ve pointlessly squandered something of artistic importance because of laziness. What drove all those great writers, musicians and artists to pursue, rather than dismiss, their flashes of inspiration?
January 24th, 2011
In the kitchen at work there’s a cardboard box. I’m not sure who put it there, or why, but written on the side it says: ‘GREEN MILK TOPS’.
The box is always full. There are a lot of tea drinkers on our floor, and thus a lot of milk. But sometimes – and this has happened more than once – someone puts a blue one in the box. My brain can’t even process this. It says in large, capital letters on the side ‘GREEN MILK TOPS’, and it’s always full of green milk tops. What would compel someone to put in a blue one? Okay, so maybe they made a mistake. They assumed it was some kind of recycling box. They didn’t notice.
But I don’t think so. I think someone likes the idea of disobeying the rules. A small moment of subversion in an otherwise drab working day. For that brief second, in their head, they’re Iggy. They’re Sid Vicious. Fuck you, box. I’ll do what I like.
I see a lot of this. People who gob their chewing gum in urinals; people who ignore the ‘reserved’ ticket on a train seat; people blasting obnoxious music through their cheap, tinny headphones; people who cycle on the pavement.
Why do we break society’s minor rules so flagrantly? Is it a way of subtly lashing out at the rigid, formalised routine of our humdrum daily lives? Or are we all really just, at a genetic level, selfish, oblivious dicks?
January 21st, 2011
I’m walking down a busy pedestrianised street that’s being dive-bombed by birds hunting for sandwich crusts and discarded chip bags. In this situation one will sometimes swoop slightly too close to your head – enough that you instinctively duck to avoid it. It’s nowhere near you, but some kind of survival mechanism kicks in.
But on this occasion my reaction is significantly more dramatic. I’m deep in thought, headphones on, when I see a shadow suddenly rise in front of me. It’s a fat, rabid-looking pigeon. Rather than dodge, I swing at the beast.
I make contact. The bird would have missed me, but I actually aim my blow upwards. Something in my brain says that, today, this animal has to die. I don’t even know I’m doing it. I feel feather and beak. The bird shrieks and tumbles clumsily to the ground. Stunned looks from people around me. Panic in my eyes. What have I done?
The pigeon twitches on the floor for a second, regains its senses and flies away. It’s not dead, but here I am, in the middle of a busy street, having just assaulted a bird.
I lower my head and walk away.