Digital Ischemia


Civil Ludicrosities

The octogenarian who has so generously imbued my life with so many… wrinkles… recently paused mid-biscuit to issue a demand: he requires a new mobile telephone. Why? Pyjama pocket. 60° with extra rinse cycle.

I probed for a specification: it must be able to telephone. Not create daguerreotypes, not record wax cylinder memos, not browse the encyclopediaweb, just telephone. It must have buttons one can see and press with positive tactile feedback. No answerphone that answers before you can, then charges you to retrieve the sound of someone hanging up. Missed call numbers, if recognised, might be useful but no matter.

I further probed for motivation: emergency use only. Pay as you go. Not pay £75 as you enjoy your short break at Her Majesty’s Infirmary, Paisley. Oh, and text postcards. Why? Because the bank wants that now.

Civil liberties? Was that last century? I feel an erosion. I have to commit to the cost of a mobile phone and contract in order to access my own money? Most people have them anyway. Good for them. Not the point. As criminals become increasingly ingenious, and bankers suffer increasing dents in their bonuses, they’re pushing back the effort of security to customers. Because the additional effort is ‘for our protection’ and not for the banks’ at all.

Like insurance companies pushing back to customers the cost of weak development legislation leading to houses being built on floodplains leading to increasing damage costs. Even if my house is not built on a floodplain. We customers must share the pain so that the insurance companies can continue to enjoy their well earned profits. Eventually we may try to complete the vicious circle by pushing back to politicians. Do not pass go; do not password go; do not collect £200.

Someone is nicking the cream off these delicious octo-ginger biscuits and leaving us the pre-digested stale crumbs.

And toilet paper. Surely you saw my reasoning heading inexorably sewer-ward. The raison d’être of privatised water companies is to amply fill hot tub dividends for investors. In consequence they have omitted to maintain their pipework, let alone upgrade it from antediluvian pottery. In order to bail out (shudder) we consumers— No, I must absolutely expunge (shudder) that term, especially as it pertains to waste water, and in its place instate ‘Citizens’— In order to bail out we citizens, we must once again pick up the can— argh! Pick up the cost, not only in pounds but in wear and tear on the delicates.

Seriously. Have you noticed changes in arse wipe? The ‘paper’ has been down-qualitatised to the loosest congregation of dust that disintegrates immediately upon contact with any moisture. This is a design triumph to relieve the ‘blockage’ load on sewers, whatever the collateral cost of dispersing coarse paper fibres on irritated delicate epithelia (wince).

My colonic pontification is interrupted by a church bell tolling for the unfriended flock. That loose congregation emerges from its dispersed confinements to hoot and toot and clap six times with limp enthusiasm. The NHS: another erosion. The local peacock concludes the brief ceremony with his characteristic yelp.

When I emerge from my water closet, walking carefully, I will have carefully liberated a riceberg that was blocking the shitting lanes. The rice will dry out the carelessly laundered octo-phone and free his pyjama pocket for the containment of sand, ready for the next celestial inundation. Reduce retail, Reuse device, Recycle lucre into ethical venture. The church bell tolleth no more. That is the howl of bankers.

And on to whatever we will next face as the result of orienting our society to serve and protect corporations rather than citizens. To paraphrase Mark Twain: coronavirus had travelled half way around the world while governments were still putting on their shoes. When we are finally unlocked, can we please not return to business as usual but to community as rediscovered? Bottom-up, if my scatological message has resonated, so to speak.

The octogenarian has retreated to his crumb pit to digest. To paraphrase the peacock, nature will have the last word.


Crevice Brush

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 15:30

electric toothbrush head bouquet

say it with toothbrush heads

At the risk of sounding* like a dental hygiene necrophiliac, I am collecting toothbrush heads like a mass grave following a gum disease epidemic. Not intentionally. And that’s after placing a random selection in the plastic recycling, just to refocus the council’s attention on environmental services.

[*if no-one with eardrums is within earshot, then this philosophical conundrum will be adapted to reflect the fact that no-one with reading ability is looking at this.]

I work my way down the sustainability hierarchy: reduce? A one-bristle brush would probably take so long to clean my teeth that the electricity required would be environmentally counter-productive. Reuse? After three weeks’ conventional use the bristles are already arranging themselves in every unhelpful direction, thus I’m merely polishing my enamel against the plastic. After the recommended three months’ dental application I find alternative uses for them. They are perfect for dislodging mildew around taps and plugholes. Reuse again? Er, no thanks.

I have enough of these small monuments to the plasticene (the anthropogenic geological epoch, not the modelling clay) to construct my own skeletal model (the artist’s variant, for arranging in rude poses, not the fashion catwalk ones). However, since I would insist on fashioning every individual phalange, the sorry creature would be a ghastly sensorimotor homunculus.

If only toothbrush manufacturers could make longer lasting toothbrushes. And yet… I have an industrial nailbrush dating from c.1987 which remains in pristine condition. It seems designed to tackle serious digital grime and sub-keratinous filth, which, let me assure you, I have never laid eyes on, let alone dug my exquisite claws into. I’m ‘clawing’ for ideas now: replacement piano keys? Quirky jewellery? Boundary fencing for small people?

But of course the goal of the toothbrush manufacturing business is to sell you as many items as often as possible. Moreover, they score points for selling you points, calling it loyalty, and forcing you to redeem those points within a limited period of time by spending more money on items they sell that you don’t really want. And certainly don’t need. Why buy one toothbrush head when you can buy three, each of which is a triumph of style over practicality, none of which quite do the job?

The only thing I ‘need’ is a small, flimsy, plastic tool to gouge away the capitalist scales from my eyes – one which will snap on its first outing and require immediate retirement to the toothbrush head graveyard, followed by another trip to the bottom of my bullion (the gold bricks, not the soup juice) deposit, then on to the retailer to invest in more undisposable disposables and addictively unredeemable points.

I need to stop, to step out of this mass delusion, to leap off the consumer conveyor belt and take my chances in the flume of rejected materialism! I need to drill through this capitalist façade – I would use the revolutionary power of my electric toothbrush, but after four months of daily use the battery capacity has understandably dwindled.

It may yet have some application as a safety dildo, guaranteed not to vibrate for more than thirty seconds. This is a great marketing opportunity at those with a fear of losing objects in embarrassing orifices and having to explain the dodgy buzzing to their fellow passengers by cruelly gesticulating the blame on to the older lady beside you. Caution: may addle your eggs. Do not insert in intimate areas if you have any hankerings to breed humans. The manufacturer will not accept any liability should you remove yourself from the gene pool. Brush head optional.

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