53 and Imploding – Pt. 4

Here’s another section of my antinovel – a glimpse into a mind.

53 and imploding: Amazon.co.uk: goodwin, opher: 9781512343014: Books

All those friends, all weaving their strands into that tapestry, changing and going their own ways. We have shared many seconds, many values and much fun. It would be so fine to go back and be there again. These memories are so flawed.

Events seen from different perspectives can seem incredibly different. Taken together could they possibly reveal a greater view of those seconds of reality? Would anything alter your own subjective experience? I hope not!


The first thing you have to understand is that there are no rules.

You just read that. It did not cause you to drop to the floor in horror.

It should do.

There are no rules.

Apart from the physical laws of nature that permeate the whole of this universe there are no rules. You can make them up. There is no morality. There are no rights and wrongs. There is no evil. There is no good.

We made them up.

There are no rules.

You can live your life exactly how you want. There was no God handing down a structure or a blueprint on how to live your life. We made all that up.

There is no ultimate reason why you shouldn’t fuck your children and then eat them. There are no reasons not to be cruel.

You can kidnap your neighbour, tie her up with sellotape, put her in a box with a pipe coming out of her mouth and bury her in a few hundred tons of concrete. Then you can pour water and soup down the tube and keep her alive. You can piss down the tube. You can keep doing this until she drowns in her own excreta. You can slowly fry your annoying neighbours son over glowing charcoal until he is completely cooked.

Don’t think these things haven’t been done.

There are some people who have realised that there are no rules and felt the need to do these things.

That’s why we had to make rules.

I’m quite in favour of most of the rules. They limit the things that the evil fuckers can do. You see, I use the word evil. We invented that to describe the vicious cruelty of a percentage of humanity. We imagined it as a cosmic battle between good and evil. It is not. It is merely life. It is a fundamental feature of humanity. We enjoy violence, pain and are excited by blood and death. We adore cruelty. Of course, most of us have blotted this out because we have been taught that these things are wrong. Only evil fuckers do these things. We are good. We believe in the rules. We do not want to be seen as evil fuckers and we do not even want to see ourselves as evil fuckers. The evil fuckers do these things. They have penetrated the restrictions and given vent to the feelings inside. They enjoy the power of being evil fuckers. They like the fear they engender. They get a buzz out of cruelty.

Bear baiting, cock fighting, dog fighting, bull fighting, gladiatorial fights and stoning to death are all cruel activities carried out by evil fuckers in the past or evil barbaric fuckers in uncivilised countries. Except these evil fuckers are or were considered ordinary people by everyone and themselves.

There are no rules.

We make it up as we go.

We probably need the rules because deep down in our genes we are all evil fuckers.


Some people are artists with words, creating pictures and stories out of static neuronal sparks. They structure and craft their words to tell tales and plug into that primitive need of all humans. But I am no artist. I have tried that and failed. I admire their skills. I enjoy the stories they weave. But to me they are sanitised. No matter how intricate or complete they cannot capture the real textures of life; they cannot even capture a brief moment in its entirety. A novel is a distillation; at best a selection of highlights. I am no storyteller, wordsmith or creator of tales. My words are not crafted, not honed; they escape on the run. I let them free.

I am no writer.

So what is this I am doing? Can you imagine me sitting here? It is eleven in the evening. Outside it is dark and raining. It is pleasantly warm. I am sitting at my desk, a burnt out old 53-year-old small fat guy with longish thinning hair and a threadbare ambition. I have standing in the community. I am a deputy headmaster at the third oldest school in the country. Some would envy me this position. I spit on it. It keeps me warm, well fed, and comfortable. It pays for the wine, the music and the car. It has enabled me to raise and care for my family. It takes time from my pointless writing. It is a noose around my neck strangling the vitality out of my ageing synapses. I am suffocating in this shit. It is true that it affords contact with some extraordinary young minds, as well as a larger number of less extraordinary young minds, but it is none the less a role I go through; a set of challenges I have to rise to. It eats away at my nerves and erodes my mental health. It robs me of time, ease, friendship and thought. It buys that with money and comfort. This is addictive but probably not a good trade. Who can say? It depends on what your purpose for living is. It depends on your ethics and morality. Ha!

Can you picture me yet? I am sitting here at six minutes past eleven in front of a computer screen typing in microsoft word. This is page five of Chapter one. I have two sheets of A4 paper in front of me. One is covered in my own indecipherable scrawl in red ink on both sides. The other has black scrawl on two thirds of one side. They are the only clues I have as to where the next pages will take me; that and some weird idea that I want to explore the reality of life and delve into what is really important. You see – I do not lie when I say I have no plan or structure. Life has no plan or structure. We impose that on it with hindsight and the absurd need for order. Why should it? I do not believe in destiny. I do not believe in God or some equally absurd after-life. I believe in haphazard circumstance.

You wondered why my writing is unreadable? Why should it be anything else? What gives you the right to even expect that you should enjoy it? Is my function to entertain you? Fuck you! Go and read Harry Potter if you want a tale.

This tale is real. It is no tale. It is happening now.

I have already told you that this is no mere story, no crafted tale. You will find no neatly crafted words that have been carefully pawed over, annotated and rescripted. It is going no place I am not or have not been. You will find no neat beginning, intertwining middle, or end that neatly pulls the threads together and offers a satisfying conclusion.

What bollocks. Why should it? Why do so many things seem to be compartmentalised like that? The human mind is constructed to piece things together neatly in packages, structure, classify, relate and conclude. I am a fucking scientist for Fuck’s sake! I am good at that! I should have no problem with it.

I was born. I lived a brief while. I chose to spend thousands of hours in front of screens like this or type writers. I scribble down thoughts that come to me in the night, in the midst of driving places, in lessons. I am compelled. I die. I leave behind the eddies of my life. I leave my children and possessions. They, my possessions, will be distributed, discarded and destroyed. The children will go their own way. Life goes on.

That is oh so neat. But it is merely the way our minds supply order to events that are continuous. Speed it up until we are like the bacteria undergoing fission on a slide. Each one of us is inconsequential.

I am a one finger typist. This is relatively slow work.

It is now twenty five past eleven. My son Henry will ring in a moment to be picked up from the pub where he is working. My son Barnaby came in fifteen minutes ago most probably from seeing his girlfriend. My wife is probably asleep on the sofa in the front room.

I had an hour-long soak in the bath and consumed a half bar of toblerone, a coffee and a chocolate milk drink. I now feel a little like a piss, nothing that can’t wait. There’s a slight pressure in my bladder. These days that happens quite frequently. My flow is weak and my bladder rarely completely empties. I go often and trickle rather than spurt. I don’t so much go for a piss as much as a splatter. I will go soon.

You can already discern from the way I meander that life is not very organised. There is nothing neat about me. Around me, on my desk, are stacks of unsorted CDs. And junk. I type in the midst of this chaos. The dog sleeps behind me. Life is not like some well-constructed tale. I do not see things clearly. I do not understand too well. I see life as convoluted spaghetti of intermingled lines. Each strand a life. Each has two ends but they are so intertwined that this is not obvious or important. And the sauce is a corruption of greed, avarice and cruelty but worst of all indifference. No. This is no novel. This, if anything, is an anti-novel.

It is now twenty-one minutes to twelve. Henry has not rung but I have heard Liz cough. She has not yet woken up sufficiently to get to bed. Tomorrow I have an unpleasant duty to do at work. I have to discipline someone and take a cherished role away from them. They deserve it. But even so this is eating away at me. I feel the tension of it at the back of my mind even as I write. I would like to call in sick and run away from this. I know I cannot do that.

Liz has now risen to come through to go to bed. I am only halfway thought the first side of the red notes.

In past generations, gathered

Henry has just rung and I have to go and pick him up. He is working at a pub a few miles away. I will be gone fifteen minutes.

around camp fires, our ancestors

It is twelve o two.

passed on their tales and metaphors while we listened in awe and ran our own pictures in our heads. They embellished life with gods and power and sought to understand the weather, seasons, heavens and life. They failed miserably but they did shed a little light and make it all seem so feasible and interesting. We all loved it. The mystery. The wonder. The answers. It made everything so neat and tidy. It was structured, salutary, educational, practical and made sense of the awesome chaos of the universe in which we tenuously teeter. It made us feel protected and secure.

But this is an anti-novel. I offer you no comfy solutions or havens, no eternal life or nurturing gods. If you find yourself tied to the rails the express train will certainly decapitate you. This is reality. I write of a heap of tangled spaghetti that inevitably twists, knots and breaks. I slide along the slimy entrails of life, real life. I have not had a piss yet. Henry is cooking pasta. He has come in while I type and complained that there is no fucking food in the house. Have I got any goodies? I have two kit-kat chunkies hidden in my drawer but I keep quiet. He is now cooking pasta. He is coughing and clattering in the kitchen even as I write that he is coughing and clattering. He is making a coffee. I wonder if he will make me one? I call out ‘Yes please’. He grumbles. But I think he is making me one.

This is a heap of life served up with a mess of sauce. Fuck knows what is in the sauce. Everything is in the sauce. This is no delicacy served up by a chef, arranged on a plate with a garnish of fresh parsley and a twirl of rich sauce. This is no result of following a recipe. This is a mess of whatever comes to hand.

Henry brings me a coffee. He asks if I have any dope. I have not. The dope has been smoked long ago.

I am making no sense of this. It is twelve twenty and I am getting tired. I am also approaching the end of the first page of red scribble. The scribble that I wrote yesterday morning when I arrived at work. I concieved it at about 8.00 to 8.30 as I drove in to work. Unfortunately I forgot most of what I had mused over before I came to write it down. It seemed interesting to me at the time, interesting enough for me to write out here. I am sure that the stuff I forgot was even better but none f us will ever know. Us. See – I am presupposing an audience. After twenty eight books and no sign of a spark of interest I still imagine someone actually reading this. I am both the recorder and the audience. Even my wife gave up on me years ago. She would not deign to even glance at a single sentence. This is some stupid hobby, an indulgence, a pointless exercise I go through. She does not even bother to question it any more. There is no logic to it. I am satisfied. Strangely, knowing that nobody would ever bother to read this, gives me a freedom. I do not have to worry about the effects of my words. Are they clear? Do they convey? Will they change anything? Do I create empathy? Who gives a fuck! I can write what I fucking like!

Henry comes in to show me his pasta. It is not spaghetti. It is pasta shells. He has heated up a sauce from a bottle and covered it all in cheese threads from a packet. It looks a little artificial. Wouldn’t that have been something if he had cooked spaghetti? That would have been neat!

A real writer, a craftsman, an artist, most probably works faster than me. I am limited by my speed of one finger typing. But then I find that I can go pretty much as fast as my brain works. We get along.

Perhaps there is no sense to it or order in anything. The order of our everyday life is a superficial structure we impose over the chaos. I seek to only sip the spice of the sauce as I slowly suck a single strand into my mouth. It is so rich that it addles the palate. I wonder what my work colleagues would make of this? With their scabby little existences, lusting after each other, living in their squalid small lives and narrow horizons as I peer out at them through these slots into the universe. They see a funny little fat man. I smile. I whistle. I talk. I teach. I manage. I feel my incompetence. I do them an injustice. Perhaps the piquancy of their sauce is every bit as rich as the flavour I am sucking out of life; perhaps their heads are as full of spaghetti as mine; probably I see as little of the icebergs of their existence as they see of me. I have little wish to share it with them. I save that for friends. I am not sure what constitutes a friend.

Henry has gone to bed with his pasta. I no longer need to piss. I am tired. I should stop and go to bed. Liz is asleep. I have to be up tomorrow. I will be dead. Fuck tomorrow. My coffee has cooled and is drinkable. Henry makes crap coffee. I don’t know why. He makes it the same as me. I am holding a gulp in my mouth. It is warm. I move my tongue through it. I taste it at the back of my mouth. I swallow a little. If I move my tongue through it it feels warm. It is cooling. I swallow it.

This is an anti-story. It will confuse and exasperate as I slither from one thought and experience through this mess of juice.

I have no interest in the neat little lives, the tales of the city. I want to describe the things between. I want to dwell on the mundane; the chaos of real life; to interlope along unplanned meandering intercies.

These are the things left out. You can intersect your story into these. I want to explain the agony of passing a turd through an anal ring torn and fissured. This is not pleasant. I would like to explain this because it is real, not because it is a device to insert into a story to add tension or provide an interlude. I want to describe what it is like to piss through an infected cock or dance in a thunderstorm.

I will not do that because these are not things happening at present. I could conjure them up from memory or even imagine them. Ho hum. But I won’t

There are no neat packages or journeys, no preordained order, no purpose. Not that you believe me. You are searching for structure and imagining it to exist where there is none.

You will not find it. You may think you have found it. You may think I am subconsciously supplying that structure. Maybe I am!

But taste the sauce!

It is nine minutes to one. I have finished my coffee. I am going to bed. I will piss, wash, undress and lie down next to my wife. I will inevitably find myself thinking of that nasty business I will have to do tomorrow. It will make me feel sick. Then I will think about this and go to sleep.

I have finished down to the bottom of the second red page of scrawl. I am not sure how this went. I will read it soon. Ha, I found this fun. The computer is humming! I am weary. The whole house is quiet. I just read it back. It is one ten. I feel OK. Ho hum ho.

I just turned the TV off, put the milk away, let the dog out, flushed the loo, had a piss, flushed the loo again, turned six lights off, shut two doors, fed the cat, let the dog back in. It is one fifteen. I am going to bed.


I am a watcher, a commentator, and a wanker in the winds of time. I am an idealist and a dreamer. I am the ultimate optimist and the perennial pessimist. I write to change the world and I write even though I believe nobody will ever read anything I’ve ever written.

When I die they will make a huge funeral pyre out of my books. They will burn me with my own words. I write so that my flaming voice will roar me higher into the heavens in one last spectacular display of ineffectual verbosity – one final impotent gesture of defiance.

I am a watcher.

If only I believed that there was a part of me able to see that last dramatic gesture. But I don’t.

I am standing on this mound surveying the plains. The forest fire is sweeping down. I see the scurrying. I see the entourages. I see the luxurious penthouse suites. My funeral pyre ain’t gonna create much of a fire-break. What the fuck!

Semaphore messages across enemy lines.

If you could see me now I am smiling.

None of it really matters. If not this fire then the next or the four billionth. What does it matter? Eternity looks over my shoulder and is smiling with me. She likes what I am writing. She knows it ranks among the very, very best. There is none better.

I am happy that there is none better.

All these symbols I am arranging. No other mind could do it the same. The conveying of meaning, the portraying of scene, the characterisation, the pace, the setting. There is none better. This is as good as it gets. My words are right up there with the very best. Roll over Shakespeare your time has gone.

I smile.

Eternity smiles with me. It is a condescending little smile. I detect a little compassion in it. It is a little arrogant perhaps, a little superiority. I am being patronised.

In a billion years time my words will still be among the best but, just as today, no better than the worst. But at least fucking Jesus will have been proved wrong – the poor will not still be with us!


I have to stop this now. Liz has come in. She is increasingly irritated with me taking time for this writing. I should be doing something. There are rooms to tidy, birthday presents to buy and send, and work to be done. She resents me spending time on this. She regards this as a pointless pile of egotism.

She is usually right.

I should be scurrying through the mounds. I have a pile of work awaiting my attention but no desire to tackle it. We are off to China next week. I will be viewing walls, temples, terracotta armies, squares, and sailing up the Yangste. I have taken my first anti-malarial tablet today. We decided against the Japanese Encephalitis jabs and the Hepatitis B. The nurse explained to me that you catch Hepatitis B the same way as AIDS inferring I would be OK if I didn’t shag any Chinese babes while I was over there. I assured her that I didn’t think that particular jab would be necessary.

I ache. My joints are seizing up, my waist expanding and my hair receding. Perhaps Chinese babes are impressed with these characteristics. After all they are signs of success. I have achieved this vast age, am obviously fat and have wealth enough to travel. I am a biological success. They would covert my genes or their offspring.

Can’t see them falling over each other.

I will eat Chinese delicacies, drink slightly different alcoholic beverages, meet up with old friends, talk and reminisce, watch the sights, takes a million photos and come home.

So what is this all about?

I am sitting here in front of this screen. I have tidied my desk and put my heaps of CDs away. I counted them. I have about 3000.

Rich phoned and wanted Nick’s number but I didn’t have it. It is raining, grey and dreary with no prospects for improvement. Cars are passing along outside. Henry is at work in an architect’s office. He has a future designing mounds. My dog sleeps at my feet. I have a hangover from drinking too much beer and wine last night. I am still tempted to roll a joint.

I haven’t quite stopped yet. Liz stomped past. I want a piss. I have nothing to report. Life goes by.

I am a trifle bored.


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