Recently, I was admitted to hospital with a Hb count of 29 (apparently a new record for the gastroenterology ward I was situated on); as most people are meant to have a value closer to 90 or 100, I was informed that my heart could have stopped. If it wasn’t for the iron infusions and blood transfusions organised by the incredible staff at the NHS — a sentence you will read over & over again currently all over the internet— I would not be here to tell any tales, or yell at you. Simultaneously, I shared memes in my isolation — both hospitalised and at home with my parents — about our current state of affairs: the evil of capitalism; the despair between renters & landlords; the fascism in government; the despicable selfishness of the average Brit. I was told emphatically by some to shut the fuck up.
I have Crohn’s Disease. I have had this since I was in my early teens, and as of the last 5 or so years I have ignored my chronic condition because, in short, I didn’t want to have it. I wanted to smoke cigarettes, drink heartily, and not have to rely on blood tests, injections, and pills to keep my body aloft (just the chemicals that are ‘legal’, rather than ‘medical’). Around the same time I ceased teaching a particularly troubled young lad stuck between social workers, teaching institutions, and an underfunded education system; the moment I stopped teaching him I entered the biggest, nastiest flare-up (as they are called) of my condition for the first time in my life. The stress had finally got to me, as had my lifestyle. This led to a deep vein thrombosis in my leg (which also could have killed me), chronic anaemia (which could have killed me) and strictures (a kind of scar-tissue) all through my lower bowel preventing me from absorbing nutrients from food (which could have — you get the idea). And still, I shared the funny little memes, as if I was making a difference.
For all intents & purposes, I have changed from a — and I say this with a heavy heart — ableist man ignoring his own bowels to a practically disabled one who needs to manage a lot of ongoing health conditions. Out of everyone I know, I firmly can say that ignoring your current state of affairs only leads to pain, and injury. If I had not ignored my health condition — which I don’t regret, per se — I would not be in this situation now; our country, and the people within it, are in much the same boat.
When I began to share memes such as this, I began to receive messages asking for me to stop. Some were landlords who also worked for the NHS, others were just scared immunocompromised friends and acquaintances trapped in their homes whilst the plague hopped from jogger to beach-comber. They wanted such memes — and my rallying cries to destroy government — to disappear or be toned down because in a time of crisis where no one can go outside it merely added to the despair. This needed to be a time for hope, they said. Rather than reminders of cruelty, they needed to be able to get through this on joy, solidarity, community spirit, the chance things will one day become great again.
It pains me to say it, but there isn’t an atom of my being that can agree.
Allow me first to give you a flaccid apology, split down into three distinct elements:
- I do sincerely apologise if anything I share causes you distress. It is a hard time; I don’t ever intend, per se, to cause harm to others.
- However, if that harm — in this case, anger — reminds us that the normal we have been tormented by can change, then I am not sorry. We must radicalise and fight complacency at all costs.
- If you read a meme, especially ones on the cruelty of landlords, and feel personally attacked, then perhaps you need to check your behaviour. Of course, not all landlords are evil (my own before I moved back to my Mothers was exceptionally kind). But if you read something and feel guilt or shame, and feel attacked by something not aimed at you, perhaps it should have been. Check your privilege.
- I retract this entire apology. If the sharing of truth causes harm, so be it. If that harm is intended as a rallying cry against fascism — which our government surely entails — then I cannot care about your sensibilities. I am sorry for that, that I cannot care. But I nearly died, others have actually died, and this genocide of the poor cannot go unnoticed.
When I was young, when I thought I was an anarchist (fuck knows what I am now), I had a realisation. At the time, I was informed my realisation was in fact just a fantastical little jaunt through immaturity and I cast the thought aside, but now I realise how right I was in the first place. What came to mind in those young days was that money, jobs, even time, were all constructions, invented by humans to understand the world but that they only existed in our imaginations. I also applied this to ironing, because whatever fool decided that clothes needed to be flatter by putting hot metal on fabric was literally insane, and for some reason we all listened to him. The world is like ironing, thousands of bat-shit ideas with no relevancy or purpose we’ve all just decided are as real as atoms or gravity. And what I realised was one day something would happen that would make everyone realise that these things were made-up, imagined, constructed, believed in. And when that day came, everyone would lose their fucking minds.
I actually longed for this day; it amused me. This idea of everyone waking up and their jobs, cars, marriages, belongings, beliefs would all evaporate like smoke before their eyes held a certain absurd hilarity to it. That is a cruel thought — it’s practically incel — but the schadenfreude of seeing it actually become reality — everyone simultaneously snap due to the pressure of a system that could never withstand human selfishness — is quite pleasant.
When I saw the film Joker I thought it a bit much that every single person he met was selfish and cruel — as if rubbing salt into a wound I never really wanted to watch in the first place — but now I think they were right on the money. When I saw A Quiet Place and thought it foolish they got pregnant (spoilers! not sorry!) during the apocalypse, and now I see my facebook feed is full of new babies entering a viral world — seems practically prophetic now. And when I saw the meme of the friends watching a horror film saying how stupid it is that they always go outside when told not too — we’re not living Children of Men, this is The Crazies directed by Benny Hill.
There are more joggers now than ever before.
The reason I can’t apologise for sharing memes about our current fascistic state (remember, a German cartoonist depicted Boris Johnson as Hitler, and if the German’s compare you to the Nazi’s you’re definitely a fascist) is because of a simple (again memeified) phrase: we can’t go back to normal, normal wasn’t working.
We have learnt overnight that the ‘magic money tree’ that apparently did not exist, exists. People on Universal Credit no longer need to jump through hoops to earn their pittance, which means all those deaths were in fact a genocide caused by the government. Landlords don’t need rent. The NHS could have been funded. People will support their society through labour without monetary recompense. Education can be free for all. WiFi is a necessity, not a luxury. We are polluting everything. If we don’t remain angry that we had all of this hidden from us for over 9 years we will just return to normal. When I tell people I won’t accept the Job Centre giving me terms for my allowance when this is over, I am laughed at; they won’t accept that, they tell me; it’s just how it is, they repeat like lambs to the slaughter.
And yet we know a universal basic income for all is entirely plausible. We know that Corbyn’s plan — being half-heartedly enacted by our current despot — just works. If we forget this, which some of us already are, we will return to the cyberfeudal torment we had before isolation. Jeff Bezos is asking for donations in this troubling time; donations. Remember when King’s stole your land and then asked you to pay for it. In Holland, one such ruler was so despotic they ate him.
When you say this is hard to swallow whilst you fear for the worst I do understand the emotional stress this will put you under. When I say that we need to truly rebel, break laws, commit crime, to overthrow our dictators, I do understand the fear that brings, of the police in riot gear imprisoning you. I do understand. However, when I see the genocide of the poor, when I witness the abject treatment of our NHS workers, when I saw first hand an education system crumbling from lack of support — we are beyond the time for voting and being polite.
Every year we wear red poppies to remember. Thousands of our ancestors died to destroy fascism at any cost. And now, it was for nothing. We remembered nothing. We forgot. Whenever I see someone on facebook with poppies as their icon, I know in a heartbeat they’ll be defending Boris and his cabinet of horrors. Whenever I see someone post a meme about the great war I know it’ll be about remembering the good times of rationing and tea and street parties, not the act of killing fascists and evil in the world. If mentioned now the very idea of rebellion — even a peaceful one — it is laughed at, or scorned. Thousands of people died to make this country great, and democratic, and socialist. And overnight we forgot such things. All those people died for nothing.
We did not defeat Hitler by sitting down and having scones. We did not defeat the Nazis by voting in our hundreds. We did not defeat evil by sharing memes, ironically enough.
Right now, I am too sick to set myself on fire like a French fireman outside The Houses of Parliament. All I can do is give you a reminder. An angry reminder.
People died to set up the NHS. People die now every day on street corners and in their homes due to incompetent rule. Because we are still peasants and there are still kings, but they are called the working class and the billionaires now.
Because some very selfish people all went to the beach. Because probably the same people still can’t see how Boris Johnson and the Tory Party should be wiped from history. Because some very selfish people would rather the economy survive than actual human souls.
I will forever keep reminding you all that we need — after this is all over — to fight. And it will not be a fight in the borders of legality but in the grand scope of morality. We will have to make decisions that break laws and cause trouble so that goodness and kindness can blossom again. We are past the point of no return. We tried voting. We tried explaining. We tried educating. The only thing we’ve been left with is a long year trapped in our homes sharpening our spears and preparing for battle.
They are letting you all die. They want you to die. If that isn’t reason enough to break the law and usurp government then you deserve to die.
I repeat this can only be done by those who are able, mentally or physically. If you are physically and mentally able, then start amassing in groups when social distancing ceases and start your plans. If you are in a Tory constituency, I suggest paying your MP a visit. If you are only mentally able, remind people of the rage they need to be cultivating in these coming months. And if you are neither, have that cup of tea, and pray to god people are out there fighting for you. Because the alternative is the pain we’ve been suffering all these years.
I apologise again to those I have caused any mental distress, but it’s too important now. I nearly died and the people who saved me were not MPs, but doctors and nurses and community support workers and — the list goes on. People who our government would happily let die. All the artists can die. All the poor can die. All the homeless can die. All the vulnerable.
I’m stuck repeating myself now, my head heavy. I fear this message will not get through to you all, how imperative these coming months & years will be. This is our Cuban Missile Crisis. This is our WW3. This is our Moon Landing. We can’t fuck this up.
Normal was not working. I nearly died. I will share memes.
STAY THE FUCK INSIDE!