Multiple choice (redux)

..Does it appear egotistical to quote my own song? I don’t care:

“Take away these trinkets/for your Pepsi generation

Fuck you and fuck your ‘low cost’ loans

You don’t know what you’ve taken.”
It’s been a while brewing, this blog. I didn’t want to pour out my customary reactionary vitriol on the merchant bankers (has the cockney rhyming ever been more appropriate) that have claimed gargantuan bonuses for their supporting roles in this tale of fiscal incompetence. But there are some observations that need to be made and so, let me tie together, if I may, three strands of current interest into a rope that may yet see our way of
life twitching on its end.

The financial crisis. We all got conned. We allowed ourselves to believe that we needed a house in the country and a speedboat and a polo pony so badly that we’d pay anything. We borrowed money so that we could pay some greedy shyster who’d pushed up the price of said items to approximately the sum required to put men on Mars or pay a month of a bank director’s pension.

Then we realised that we didn’t have enough to pay the window cleaner and we thought ‘I never play polo anyway… I’ll sell the pony.’ We found out that it isn’t really worth the Brobdingnagian pile of gold that we parted with for it and we’re about to find out just how many days you can feed a family of four on a pony if you’re a good cook and you don’t let that Heston Blumenthal near it.

The thing is: our spending wasn’t sustainable. If you keep spending money that you ain’t got, you end up brassic. It’s not rocket science people. Money was spent under a misapprehension; either that the debt would evaporate one day or that everyone would be promoted to three times their wages for no apparent reason. Doesn’t happen. The only way to stay in the black is to spend less that you earn.

All the plastic tat and sports cars and iPods and crap that we bought didn’t pop out of the ether, either. It was dug out of the ground.  It’s made from atoms born in the heart of an exploding star. That doesn’t happen often. We certainly can’t make it happen in a giant subterranean doughnut in Switzerland and the prospects for getting it into gear on a trading estate outside Macclesfield are looking bleak. We can recycle, but that takes energy and it turns out that we’ve been digging most of that up too and we’re fast running out. We’re pumping crap into the earth, the sky and the air and it’s building up faster than we or mama Earth can get turn it into flowers.

This way of life is not sustainable. If you lived in a sealed jar with a tree, you could live off the oxygen it produced and it would eat up your CO2.  If you cut the tree down and make shitty, overpriced Swedish furniture, make a huge profit and move into a bigger jar, that’s all very well. But if the guy who had your jar before you cut down his tree too, it doesn’t matter how big the new jar is, sooner or later, you’re going to choke on your own poisonous emissions.

“Britain is sitting on an obesity timebomb!” I gather. Well, the joy of sitting on fat bastards is that they’re more comfortable, so at least we can get some well-earned rest before the obesity time bomb goes off and the shit hits the fan. Or the fat hits the shins. Or whatever happens. Actually, I think that fifteen year olds start keeling over with heart attacks whilst skating or hanging with their crews or whatever the young folks are doing between pies these days.

Simple diet tip from a man with less made-up qualifications than Gillian McKeith: if you spend more time running around than you do eating then you’ll probably not get too fat. If you spend more time sat on a sofa watching EastEnders and spooning congealing pork gravy down your wobbly neck than you do running around, you’ll probably put on a pound or two. Those countries where people work their arses off just to grub enough food to survive – they’re rarely fat, have you noticed? Whatever their genes, glands or metabolisms are doing.

If you want to be able to get to the pie shop at forty without having a stroke, you need to have eaten the odd salad and chased a ball or two. Otherwise your lifestyle is not sustainable.

Here’s the problem. Everyone that harps on about sustainability gets pigeonholed together as beardy, hemp sandal-wearing do-gooders that want to make everyone eat tofu and play world music. But it’s not just about living in a yurt and eating lentils until your own personal methane production can keep Abergavenny centrally heated until May. Sustainability just means making sure that the things that you do to live can be done tomorrow and the day after that without borrowing from the future. Because if the current crises have taught us anything, it’s that borrowing things that we can’t repay in full tends to work out badly.

Now this global corpus is sick. There are some bits that need to be lanced and drained, some that need to be repaired and some that need to be excised, lest they poison the rest of us. I’ll allow you, faithful readers, to guess just exactly which parts I see ending in the hospital incinerator, pension or no fucking pension. But this corpus is bloated, too. It needs to be shrunken and to acquire new, healthy habits and some common fucking sense.

You’ll know from your futile attempts to give up ice-cream, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, crack cocaine, self-abuse, nun abasement, S&M, Victoria sponge, 24, Facebook, self-harm, coffee enemas, prostitutes, glue-sniffing and sarcasm that this new, improved, wise, slimline self is a tad difficult to achieve. And so some hard decisions have to be made. And I truly believe that they won’t be made until we stop smiling and going along with the bad decisions. We need to rise up, throw off the shackles of imagined embarrassment and start to say ‘No’ when we see the wrong thing being done. And we need to be willing to make ourselves into the people who will guide and empower the people who will survive this fuck-awful mess we’ve got them into. Because they’re the future and we’ve borrowed their stuff without asking.

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