This has been an odd week for me. It may colour everything I’m about to write. I dunno. Decide for yourselves.
I’ve been weaning myself off the drugs and took the last one on Monday. On Wednesday I got hit with the withdrawal symptoms that I was kind of expecting; except they haven’t gone. It’s been five days. My brain is processing everything a fraction of a second slower than it should be – which perhaps doesn’t sound a lot, but just think about how much your brain takes in every moment. It feels like being a bit drunk, that slight delay between reality and realisation. When I’m walking, or if I move my head quickly, I get disorientated because my brain doesn’t catch up with the movement fast enough. I don’t think I got withdrawal when I came off before. So I’m left to compare it with the brain-fogginess I got when I originally went on them, which lasted exactly two weeks. Could be fun…
I’ve been reading a book called The Road by Cormac McCarthy for a book group. It’s incredibly depressing. Set in a dystopian future, it very believably plumbs the depths to which humanity can sink. And it’s relentless, an intimation that this is what human beings are like when you peel us back to our core; selfish, unfeeling, cruel. I can’t really go into the detail without giving away the plot, but as the train drew into the station every morning and evening I’d replace the bookmark and haul myself out of my seat with a heart that grew heavier the further I read.
Then to wake up on Friday to the news of an attempted car bombing on Haymarket. (And may I go off on a slight tangent here? That’s attempted bombing, news media. Not a bombing. Thanks for scaring the bejesus out of all my relatives who then sent me text messages to see if I was OK. Of course I was OK, nothing bloody well exploded! And now I’m going to be subject to the usual exhortations of "be careful" and "stay safe", as though London is some terrible place with bombs going off on every corner. I’m a little tired of it. What, do they want me to bunker down in my flat and never leave? Shall we calculate the odds of being killed or injured by a bomb? It does happen, but it’s been happening since before I was born with the IRA campaigns. Do ETA stop us going to Spain? Do Islamist fundamentalists stop us flying anywhere? No. Then stop making it sound like I can’t even go to work. The biggest danger posed to me by cars in London is being run over, or pollution.)
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes. The attempted car bombing in London. Seriously, was this just about the most pathetic attempt to bomb a city ever? (Cheers, Rachel.) First – leave the car(s) in the middle of a crowded central London street, covered by CCTV and surrounded by people, bouncers, emergency services. It won’t get spotted. No. Neither will one of the cars get towed for being illegally parked. Do they not realise that you can’t park for more than five minutes in central London without being ticketed or towed? Then – manage not to create an explosion. For fuck’s sake. Girls on a school trip manage to create explosions with hairspray cans and a lighter. You need: a material that’s combustible, and a spark. What about all these bomb-making manuals on the internet I keep reading about? And for good measure – use nails to create maximum damage. Only, don’t pack them into the ‘explosive’ device where the blast would force them up and out. Scatter them on the floor. Basic physics then states that when/if the bomb explodes, the force of the blast will drive them not into the air but into the ground. It’s just about considering the direction of the force of the blast.
I almost wanted to offer my congratulations to the guys who drove into Glasgow airport, in light of the only people being hurt being the people in the car. At least this time they’ve worked out how to cause a fire – chuck a lighter at some petrol. And now the UK’s on the highest level of alert possible. Which is slightly ridiculous since the ‘critical’ security alert means an attack is imminent – and the security forces had no idea these car ‘bombs’ were planned (well, given the level of preparation there probably wasn’t that much chatter happening) so I guess the only reason the alert level has been raised is because the government doesn’t want to be seen to be on the hop. *sigh* Morons and political manoeuvering. More of the best of humanity on show.
And then came Doctor Who. Yeah, I know it’s fiction, but so’s The Road – let’s leave the cultural snobbery to one side. If you saw it, you’ll know there’s a real hokey sequence towards the end to save the day – and it is hokey, but it’s also beautiful. The best of humanity. A small shaft of light in the recent unrelenting bleakness. God knows there’s a need for as many of them as possible, Saturday night TV or not. Maybe light entertainment fiction is the only place to find them, cos they sure aren’t apparent in the real world right now.