It was my fault, of course. One in a long list of fuck ups. Sometimes it seems like when I make a mistake, anybody else making the same mistake would have a bad day or a bad fight or at worst a sudden state of unemployment, but when Pete Wisdom makes one wrong decision the universe conspires to turn that into doom.
I've been told not to blame myself, of course, can't take the blame for every bit of senseless violence that's happened in my life, you couldn't have known, the usual rot. And yeah, that's right, I couldn't have known, but not being omniscient isn't an excuse, it's just a pain in the ass. Fact is, I should've been there. I wasn't. That makes it my fault.
Next time some ancient Egyptian artifacts cross the border, I want those things checked for curses before they start walking around.
What? What did you think I was talking about?
Killing's wrong. Any kid will tell you that. Mind you, that same kid will then go out and pretend to shoot his best friend dead. The things kids do for fun.
I like to think most people never get beyond that basic killing is wrong. So we don't do it state of mind. It's a good state of mind to be in. But then again that's probably just my damn optimism. Probably the average housewife has deep buried fantasies about killing her husband and running off with the mailman, or some such. Have you seen this country's collective subconscious? It's a severely fucked up place. But there is, thank God, a good difference between a few deep buried fantasies and the lunatics who actually go out there and do it.
Ask me that question as a teenager, I probably would've said hell yeah, I could kill someone if it came to it. Come the revolution. Death to the pigs. All that. But again, average joe fantasy, fucking lunatic reality. Also, teenager. Therefore, moron. The whole revolution talk - I mean, yeah, we meant it, thought we did anyway. But punk, when you got right down to it, was just our way of realizing that society was so thoroughly fucked, all we could do was scream, "well, FUCK YOU TOO!" Hence all the lovely melodies and great singing voices. The worst damage I ever did in that phase was a bit of spray paint and a few snapped guitar strings.
No, it's the complete and utter sellout phase that did it.
So, I wound up on the fucking lunatic side of things. The question here really is, would you ever kill a human being (or whatever) again.
I'd like to say no, never. I have said no, never. I'm done. Burned out. Never again. Sign me up for a desk job from here until eternity, I am through.
But the desk job thing, that never seems to stick. And much as I want to answer this question with a "hell no," I also want to live. So the answer becomes, "not if I can avoid it." But then that was pretty much how I was thinking of things all along. You do what you have to do.
Some days I wonder just how much has changed since then.
I think everyone in this world hates their parents, on some level. I think I've got reason for it, but then so does everyone else. It's that whole screaming teenage rebellion phase, the kid trying to go out and establish their own identity by pointing to their dad and saying "I'm not going to be like that!" and generally winding up exactly like that. That never really goes away. It just stops because you move out, you don't have to see each other's faces every day, you don't have to deal with the total nonsense things that drove you up a wall. And then you wind up seeing things from your parents' point of view and is that ever a frightening moment.
And there's always that one friend you know, growing up, who has the television-perfect parents, when everyone else's family is a horror story (or at least you make them sound like one, the way you talk about your parents, if you talk about your parents, when you're in school). That friend with the perfect parents, he hates his family too. He's got a list of complaints about the stupidest, most ridiculous things, and you'd trade places with him in a second, except. Except. You wouldn't, really, when you put it like that. Fucked up as they are, much as you hate them, your parents went a long way toward making you who you are. And odds are that's more flaws than not, and odds are they screwed you up beyond repair - most parents do, they're all human (or whatever) - but even with that-
What am I saying? Fuck it. If I could pick my parents, I'd pick Mary Poppins.
Do you remember the first time you got into a fight? A real, out for blood fistfight, and you'd come home with a black eye and bloody knuckles for your mom to fuss over, for those boys whose mother still lived at home, and you'd be the center of the school rumor mill for the next few days and you'd be sore for about as long. That fight. Somewhere in the middle of that fight, you got knocked down. Some people just stayed down that first time, which is the only way to really lose one of those fights, no matter what happens later. For the ones who got back up, though, that's when you first realized that you aren't made of glass. It hurts, sure. Not just the getting hit, but the hitting, too; they don't tell you that in the cartoons. But you can get hurt and still kick the shit out of the other guy. Or maybe he kicks the shit out of you after all. Doesn't really matter which way it goes. You go home grinning, even with the black eye.
The other fight that matters is your first fight with guns, or knives, or maybe it's still just your fists, but it's the one where someone goes down and doesn't get up again, ever. That's the one where you realize people are made of glass after all. Maybe it's not even a fight. Maybe it's just a person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe it's a hospital bed. Whatever it is, you don't go home grinning this time.
People are full of contradictions like that. We're fragile, and then again, we're not. Or maybe we're just real good at breaking and carrying on anyway.
My sister likes to channel old dead guys from Atlantis. There's a reason for that: my sister takes after our father, by which I mean she's batshit crazy.
I don't disbelieve in ghosts. But I believe in what I see, and ghosts would be one of the few things I haven't run into yet, except in the sense that every so often MI13 gets sent out to look into some weird haunted thing which inevitably turns out to be, I don't know, aliens or mutants with a grudge or whatever the flavor of the week is.
I don't believe in much of anything, when you get right down to it. I've seen a lot of strange things, half of them being people I work with; I've flown into Fairyland/England's collective subconscious on a helicopter, and there's this dragon from outer space who talks like a Cockney and thinks stealing my cigarettes is a great gag. Not a lot of belief involved there, just experience. Result of working for the Department of Really Weird Shit. So for me, ghosts are in the same category as God and heaven: I'll believe in it when I see it.
Never go to the pub with your coworkers. For a bit of relaxing after a day of hell, all right, yeah, but not to get properly shitfaced. Someone is bound to get chatty, and someone is bound to get maudlin, and if you're very lucky they're one and the same and then you get spend your whole evening listening to incoherent sob stories from World War Two, not to name names here. And once he's wound down, you've got everyone privately reflecting on their own personal sob story, because let's face it, we've all got one. Or twenty.
The upside and the downside to this is that Tink's method of dealing with anything bothering her is generally to punch someone, or at least to go on a rant about how much she wants to punch someone, which provides a convenient distraction from the space between your own ears. Now there's a lesson from hindsight for you: when you go to the pub, always make sure to bring the girls along. Drunk women dance on tables, or rant, and have you ever seen a psychic get thoroughly pissed? Either very, very fun or very, very never going to talk about it in public again. But there's not much sadder than three old men at a table thinking about the old war days. Different wars, mind. But the stories stay the same.
And in the morning, after all the stories and the moaning and the whining about the mistakes of the past, what've you got? A headache, generally. Been my experience that's all that ever comes of thinking too much on what can't be changed.
The morning after is a terrible phrase. Never means anything good. Which version do you want to hear? The morning hangovers? (Ow.) The morning debriefings? (Also ow.) The 2 AM near enough to morning and oh god she wants to cuddle? (I've got an early meeting. Really.) The morning she doesn't want to cuddle, wants nothing to do with you? Nothing you haven't heard before.
The morning after, I woke up at five AM to the sound of my alarm, and if I was smart I would have just unplugged the thing, but I wasn't, so I got some coffee, and then I went to find out whether or not I remembered how to tie a tie. Last time I wore a suit, it'd been for a funeral. I tightened up the noose. Got the new black coat out of the closet. Same one I'd worn yesterday, I only owned the one. And I'd like to say when I looked into the mirror I didn't recognize myself, that I looked like I was a different man or wearing a costume or some such, but I'd be lying. I looked in the mirror, I smiled. "You fucking sellout."
Welcome to the machine, Wisdom.
When Pete's alarm clock goes off, it's to the sound of "Woke Up This Morning" by the Alabama 3. He's never been to Alabama, and doesn't plan to. Never could stand the southern half of the US of A, just miles of swamp and fields and desert with a few little hellholes trying to call themselves cities; it's almost as bad as their northern half, and very nearly as bad as England. But they make good music, sometimes. He bought A3's CD because this song is the opening to the Sopranos, and he likes that show. Well, liked. He'd rented the second season, decided it was nonsense and hadn't bothered to keep track of it since. But he still likes the music. He listens to it for the beat, which he taps his foot to as he pours his coffee and turns on his computer, and has never really paid attention to the lyrics.Ain't it times like these that make you wonder if
you'll ever know the meaning of things as they appear to
the others: wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and
brothers. Don't you wish you didn't function, wish you
didn't think beyond the next paycheck and the next little
drink. Well you do, so make up your mind to go on, 'cause
when you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.( After Tink nearly got herself brained, he ordered her to turn off the damn iPod when she's on the job. People are trying to kill you and you decide to plug up your ears, that's just brilliant.Collapse )
Everybody wants to change the world. Half the time, it's my job to make sure they don't.
The people on the bottom want to be the people on top, so they talk about freedom and equality and human rights. Or mutant rights. Whatever kind of rights you can think up. Every once in a while you get a few more practical ones who just talk about taking over. Amounts to the same thing. You get enough downtrodden types together, enough talk of ideals, sooner or later they decide it's not enough to just talk (and write truly terrible songs) about it, they've actually gotta go out there and do something. But no one can just write to their MP, no, it's all got to be barricades and megalomaniacs flying about in spandex and bombs on the tube and Satanic rituals and guillotines. French Revolution, right, big landmark in human rights, set a fantastic precedent. Ended up with the revolutionaries chopping each other's heads off, and the people still starved. That's how it always works. Some morons with fancy ideals decide the best way to change the world is to go out and kill people, get themselves killed more often than not, and all it does is shuffle around who's oppressing who. Meanwhile the tube's delayed and everyone's late for work again.
So, here's what I want to change. I want every genius out there with a grand world-changing plan to stop and ask himself: is this going to fuck up anyone's work day? Are the trains going to be late? Is my glorious revolution going to mean the food doesn't get delivered to the supermarket this week? If the answer is yes, then knock it the hell off. Not worth the trouble.
It'd cut down my workload by half.
Go to the Google search engine and type in your name and the word 'needs' after it, e.g. "John needs". Write down the description of the first 9 sentences that appear.
"Pete Needs Our Prayers." Not so much, really. You can keep 'em.
"Pete needs a lift to tuggeranong for cl 5s." A lift to wha huh?
"Pete Needs A Good Slap." So I've been told.
"Pete Needs a Ghetto Princess!" Too high maintenance. Clingy.
"Pete needs a job..." No, Pete needs a vacation.
"Emo Pete Needs Love Too!" What is emo, anyway? I keep hearing that.
"Pete Needs a Friend" Apparently I'm in need of love, friends, and a job. This is just sad.
"Pete needs to know that just because he might fail at doing something, he is not a failure." ...Evidently sad enough that Pete's gone to a touchy-feely shrink, now. No, that's pretty much the definition of failure, actually.
"Pete Needs Pete." Now that one I like. Very fuck the world.