Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy, happy new year to us all, and may it be one filled with gushing floods of peace and prosperity, optimism and joy!

Yeah right, back to reality then. Although I can’t really complain, I’ve just had a highly enjoyable couple of weeks of indulgence back in the UK, so I’m all right Jack. But, and there’s always a but, I cannot escape the ubiquitous reminders that all this comes at a price as I sit in front of the telly in England sipping port and watching homes, cars, people burn in Kenya and Pakistan, and so it’s not just my body that’s returned to CZ considerably heavier than when I left, but also my conscience, sagging under the weight of white male bourgeois-liberal guilt.

Maybe watching TV’s partly what’s brought all this on. I am one of those weird individuals who not only doesn’t own (or even know how to drive) a car, but also doesn’t own a TV, so here in Spleensville CZ I am perhaps shielded from a lot of media bombardment, although I do manage to keep reasonably abreast of current affairs via the radio and internet. TV is however one of the things that is part and parcel of my twice-yearly fixes of Britishness, and frequently serves to remind me of the things that nauseate me about the UK.

I don’t wish to be unduly unpatriotic here, I invariably relish my visits back to dear old Albion, and although I have no intention of moving back there, there are a number of things I miss about the place and would certainly miss it more if I didn’t get the chance to go back regularly. Added to this, I have to admit that there may be an element of me seizing on negative aspects of modern British culture in order to reassure myself that I’ve done the right thing by leaving the place behind – after all, there are few guilty pleasures more sublime than the sybaritic, gurgling orgasm of having our prejudices confirmed – whilst I perhaps even consciously blind myself to the less salubrious side of life here by not having a TV, so I’m aware I have to keep this whole issue in perspective.

This, though, is not always an easy thing to do. Because there are moments watching British TV when I frequently find myself foaming at the mouth with disgust. This is particularly the case during commercial breaks, adverts these days more than ever packed with execrable, self-satisfied cunts just begging for a punch in their smug fucking faces. Advertising is in its very essence a form of manipulation, and perhaps because I’m blissfully unaware of this shit for most of the year it seems all the more offensively intrusive when I do come into contact with it. I can’t help feeling like a ranting old fart lamenting the decline of moral values, but it really does seem to me that with all this sickeningly wasteful consumerism and constantly needling promotion of a banal, unsatisfying culture of instant gratification, Britain truly is a degenerate and psychologically unhealthy society, more so than when I left the place. British people are increasingly stressed, anxious and potentially aggressive, as well as increasingly physically obese. Again, I’m aware that this applies to a greater or lesser extent to any developed capitalist society, but it’s the question of extent that is crucial. Although the Czech Republic may be heading in the same direction as Britain and the USA, thankfully it hasn’t got there yet, and this is confirmed when I watch the news, when my disgust is replaced by numb horror upon seeing the New Year’s Eve murder statistics. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that there is something deeply wrong, and it’s getting worse. None of this used to happen when I was a boy, in the days before….. ok, but you get the point.

On a lighter but related note I spent one unedifying hour watching numbers 20 down to 1 of the Most Annoying People of 2007, which though undeniably crap did provide me with the double whammy of a comforting illusion that I’m staying at least slightly in touch with British popular culture whilst also reassuring me that I haven’t been missing out on anything by ignoring it all year long. It was no surprise to see that it was replete with vacuous, staggeringly uninteresting twats like Lindsay Lohan (who is she anyway?), Paris Hilton and Amy Winehouse (who got the gold), with asinine, superfluous commentary by boring, inconsequential nonentities, but I was slightly surprised to find myself sympathising somewhat with some of these worthless celebs, who are clearly none too intellectually equipped to start with and are then pushed over the edge into mental breakdown by the vicious opportunism and greed of the media, as was perfectly illustrated by the gross spectacle of the paparazzi chasing an ambulance containing professional idiot Britney Spears. Not for the first time I realise I’m stating the bleeding obvious here, but perhaps many TV owners have now become immune to all this revolting, fatuous shit, whereas I still find it genuinely shocking.

About the only one of the top 20, apart from Tony Blair, to have made any impact on me at all in 2007 was not a person at all, but evidently so annoying that it was included anyway, i.e. facebook. I concede that I have a facebook account myself, and grudgingly acknowledge that there is some kind of purpose to it, sharing photos etc., but the crushing stupidity and pointlessness of being “poked” by some acquaintance far outweighs the benefits. Do I want to add the Fun Wall application? OF COURSE I FUCKING DON’T FOR FUCK’S SAKE, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE.

A new year then. A new, more positive, life-embracing me? Well, if I still lived in the UK I’d probably have had a rage-induced stroke or be in some kind of maximum security institution for the psychotically splenetic by now, so I suppose I have a great deal to be thankful for. Every new day is a bonus, a veritable gift. Happy new year.


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