People say to me, “Viper, you’re a melancholy sort of fellow, what is it that keeps you dragging your carcass out of bed every morning? What does a cynical, embittered and twisted individual like yourself live for? What makes it all worth it? For fuck’s sake, tell us what the point of it all is!” To these imaginary people, I say, “I’ve made a little list. I made it once when I was contemplating suicide. It’s a list of the things that keep this old Hero trudging on his journey.” Then the imaginary people read the list and look faintly disappointed. “Is that it?” they ask. “Is that all that you’re living for?” That’s when I tell them to fuck off and I imagine myself hitting them with a shovel. Then I imagine something more fun, like a dragon or a sexy party. Or a dragon AT a sexy party. Isn’t imagination great?
Anyway, here’s my genuine list of things that keep me living:
Crisps Yeah, this was the first one that I thought of. Crisps are what American people, wrongly, call ‘chips’. I know you can’t help it, you’re Americans, you have my sympathies. Crisps are awesome. In fact, most salty treats are awesome. It’s food, but not like the food you eat just to stay alive, it’s food you eat for fun! Plus, crisps are bad for me, so I feel like a rebel with each delicious crunch of artery-clogging, blood pressure increasing joy. How do I stay so slender while eating so many treats? I do it through a combination of exercise and being inherently wonderful. I could let you know my secrets, but you’d have to pay. You could pay in crisps.
My wife and children Pretty mind-blowing, eh? I have a WIFE. A wife that is free to leave should she wish. She isn’t tied up in a basement. She has a job and a social life and everything. She’s not imaginary. As least I don’t think she is. If she is, I have no idea who pays the bills. Why does she stay married to a miserable, antisocial curmudgeon like me? I haven’t the foggiest idea. She could do much better. Perhaps it’s because I’m easy on the eye and dynamite between the sheets. I also have children. They are fantastic. My children are annoying, argumentative and loud. Guess what, whining parents of the world: that’s what children are SUPPOSED to be like. Don’t get pissed off at your offspring for being what they are MEANT to be. I adore my kids. I do everything in my power to shield them from my mental peculiarities. They might think I’m a bit grumpy from time to time, but I’m not going to inflict my worst extremes on them. I don’t talk to them about my suicidal thoughts, it’s my poor wife who deals with that (bless her). I’m very fortunate that my mental issues can be kept in check like this. I have every sympathy with any poor people who are more severely afflicted than me. Hang in there, you parents who struggle with mental illnesses and issues. Kids need us, even with our problems.
Choral Evensong Most days I don’t believe. I was raised in the Church of England. My best friend is a Catholic. I love church architecture, I love religious imagery and I love most religious (Christian) music from pre-1900. I listen to Choral Evensong on Radio Three and I wish I could believe it all. It is beautiful. Maybe I’d rather have beauty than truth. Maybe Keats was right and beauty IS truth. Maybe it’s not, though. It’s probably not. Still, in the words of Slartibartfast, “I’d rather be happy than right.” Picture me burning church incense, listening to Choral Evensong and dozing in an armchair. Sexy, right? Now, go to BBC Iplayer and go to the radio section. Search for Choral Evensong. Give it a listen. If you don’t like it, let’s not be friends.
Comedy Despite my gloomy nature, I love to laugh. When I’m helpless with laughter, I don’t care about free will or mortality. Laughter is like an orgasm that it is socially acceptable to have amongst friends (although I suppose if you’re a Swinger, an orgasm is socially acceptable). I tend to be amused by: Vic and Bob; The Mighty Boosh; Maria Bamford; Archer; Bill Hicks; Iliza Schlesinger; Amy Schumer; Doug Stanhope… I could go on listing and listing, but I won’t. The list would go on and on. Maybe I’ll do whole posts about the comedy that I enjoy. Maybe I won’t. Isn’t it exciting when you don’t know what’s coming?
The Country Houses of the United Kingdom Holy cockspanners, we have some gorgeous country houses here. Now, the cynical side of me is aware that these domiciles are the product of an appallingly unbalanced economy that allowed aristocrats to live in eye-popping luxury while poor people licked the cobble stones for sustenance… but I can’t help loving a good country house. Google Chatsworth and see a corker. Try Kedleston for an absolute beauty. You know, it’s almost pornographic for me… Phwoar, look at those Capability Brown grounds… Cor, look at the size of that staircase… Unf, I wouldn’t mind sitting in that Drawing Room, if you know what I mean…
Food in its season I love seasonal rituals and seasonal food. I think I like that I can use rituals and foods to fool myself into thinking that the world has narrative and meaning. I’ll do a whole post about my year and its food calendar, but a few examples are: Fish Pie on Good Friday; Hot Cross Buns for Easter; picnics in the summer; blackberries in the autumn… Damn, now I’m hungry.
Christmas How can I explain this? It’s like the cynical side of my personality gets so enraged and embittered that it shuts down. “Shameless commercialism! Gap between rich and poor! False origin stories! Gah! Forced jollity! Snarl!” then there is frothing and gnashing of teeth. Then another of my personalities takes over the controls and I love it. I have traditions for Christmas that begin with mixing up my Christmas Pudding in October. Decorations can’t go up until December, I’m not an animal, but there are preparations to be done. I really ought to go cold turkey (HA! JOKE! FUNNY! LAUGH NOW!) but I can’t give up on Christmas. It’s another time of year when the world conspires to pretend to have shared meaning. I can trick myself into thinking I’m part of something. Nice.
Books Have you tried these motherfuckers? They are where it’s at. Seriously, all it takes is a bunch on words and I’m somewhere else, doing something else. Or, sometimes, I’m learning stuff. Imagine! If you haven’t heard of books, do some research. You want a quick list of authors that I enjoy? Oh my! You’re so demanding. Try Tolkien; Wodehouse, Conan Doyle, Lovecraft, Pratchett… and that’s just the light reading. I’ve recently finished “Sapiens” by Noah Harari, I recommend that too, but it’s not exactly light. I could blather on and I’m only stopping because I want to, not because of that look you’re giving me. Don’t ask me which look. You know. THAT look. Yeah, that look, you swine.
Music, Art, Theatre You know, the culture stuff. I’m artsy. Sport leaves me cold, but I love concerts, galleries and theatres. Maybe I’ll write some reviews one day so that you knuckle draggers can find out about the highbrow stuff.
Nature When everything gets too much for me, I retreat to the woods. I’m lucky enough to live near woodland where I can wander around like Frodo in the Shire. It’s good for me to see that the trees, flowers and animals are busy getting on with existing. Owls don’t express existential angst; bluebells flower no matter what’s happening politically; the badgers don’t care about philosophy, they mostly want earthworms. I’ll take some pictures and write some nature diaries in future. Won’t that be lovely for you?
Sex Unless you’re asexual, I reckon that you’ll like this one. I think sex is going to be very popular this year. This one will be bigger than Harry Potter and Star Wars put together. Whether you have sex on your own or with other people, I think you’ll enjoy it. Sex should be consensual, naturally. If you’re embarking on sex alone, always ask yourself if you want it. You probably do, you animal, but it’s best to ask.
Naps Extra sleeps! Not the sleeping that I do at night, that’s great too, I’m talking about the sleeps I do when I should be doing other stuff. I should be cleaning the house, but instead I’m going to sleep! Teehee! I’m like a lovable, giant Dormouse. Or I’m just a lazy bastard, who can say? Not me, I’m snoring. It’s like dying for a bit, then coming back to life when you feel more able to cope.
Are you bored of this list yet? I’m bored of it and it’s meant to be the things I live for. I’m bored of writing about my favourite things. Perhaps I prefer writing about things that I hate. Hate makes me strong. Next post, back to hate, misery and spite.
Enough, I’m off for a nap.
Lots of love,