Friday, 19 July 2013


'Adolf Hitler,' I roared laughingly as I bit into my roast steer, 'don't compare me to that puh-puh,' - the word tasted disgusting in my mouth. I couldn't get it out, and feared I might lose my lunch of chicken fried steak fried chicken. 'Don't compare me to that damn liberal pantywaist!'

Grand Dragon McCarthy chuckled at my remark, embellishing it with one of his own, although it was difficult to tell what he was saying beneath the hood. That's the problem with our rallies. It's not so much the being denied decent conversation, as that it's often difficult to hear what anyone is saying even without the spit and crackle of wooden crosses ablaze upon adjacent lawns.

I set the remains of the steer back upon my platter and beckoned to one of my many, many slaves.

'Yes'um,' he gollumed up to our El Camino, eyes rolling and hands flapping as was his habit.

'Bring me gasoline, serf,' I barked. 'My hunger is sated, and now I fancy I shall set fire to an abortion clinic, some homosexuals, and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, although perhaps not necessarily in that order.'

The slave rattled his chains happily, knowing his place, but adding no comment on account of the fact that he didn't exist, and none of this happened, despite my writing this whilst sat here in the United States of America, and in Texas of all places; and as we have established by now, Texas is the only state where anything bad ever happens.

This week's bad thing actually happened in Florida, but let's face it, the guy was probably from Texas or something, or he's been here or he knows someone. That's all it takes, and if you can't trust the word of a commentator who may indeed live five hundred miles away but has read a scathing article in a newspaper or on the internet and had a little bit of a think, then what hope is there for any of us? I mean really?

Besides, last week's bad thing was in Texas, specifically in Austin the state capital, so the general rule still applies. Some may have chosen to praise Wendy Davies and her thirteen hour re-enactment of Kenneth Williams talking about elves without repetition, deviation or hesitation on BBC Radio's comedy panel game Just a Minute, but that isn't the point and besides she probably isn't even from Texas, in fact I'll bet she's from Maine or somewhere nice and civilised like that. The point is that the wrongness transpired in Texas, and that the ethically anointed of far and wide therefore felt the customary moral obligation to assert that with this being Texas, perfidy most foul was certainly abroad as sure as eggs are eggs, McDonalds is McDonalds, and all Americans are fat and voted for George W. Bush.

See, here in Texas we hate freedom, non-Caucasian ethnic groups and improvised jazz, and there are no exceptions. Every last one of us - we're crazy, and we really are all exactly the same - you can ask anyone. You've all seen us in your mind's eye, sat around polishing our guns and hankering after the good old days of slavery. Well that's what it's like in real life too, and I know this to be true despite the unreliable evidence of my own experience because someone from England told me so; and he should know, what with England being the land universally acknowledged as the one untarnished source of all culture, all that is wise and good. So he'd never been here, but he met an American about eight years ago, and goddammit do you really think someone like that would have lied to me?

Sarcasm aside, I have come to the understanding that there really are people in the United Kingdom who believe the world would be a better place if each action could only be prefaced by somebody tracking down an English guy just to see what he thinks, whether it seems like a good idea. So often are regular Americans somehow conflated with the foreign policy of their government by the United Kingdom's frontline of keyboard warriors, every last one somehow missing the irony of discussing arrogance with one matronly eye asquint in this direction. If it's an unfortunate truism that America as a whole feels it has the right to act by virtue of being America, then being English, at least for some, means that your wisdom is so culturally entrenched as to dispense with the need for experience because whatever comes out of your flapping mouth will be correct by definition. This is something you really begin to notice once you spend some time outside of the mother country and come to realise how little you miss it - at least in my view; and also that of D.H. Lawrence apparently:

She thought again of going back to Europe. But what was the good? She knew it! It was all politics or jazzing or slushy mysticism or sordid spiritualism. And the magic had gone. The younger generation, so smart and interesting, but so without any mystery, any background. The younger the generation, the flatter and more jazzy, more and more devoid of wonder.
- The Plumed Serpent (1926).

The cacophony is exhausting, so I'm attempting to withdraw from any internet venue in which the uninformed feel duty bound to share their one-size-fits-all opinions with and concerning people they have never met who reside in lands they will never visit.

San Antonio is neither the most peaceful nor crime-ridden city in the world, but nor is it significantly better or worse than any other place so far as I am able to tell. I have not yet seen much of America, and I get the impression that most places will be similar, differentiated mainly by climate and geography rather than consumption of McDonalds freedom fries and degree of unquestioning reverence for whichever President people in England currently hate the most. I live on a quiet street in an average neighbourhood with the occasional dope dealer or welfare recipient as a moderately more typical resident than doctors, dentists or Tommy Lee Jones. In my daily existence I encounter people of all ages and ethnicities - roughly speaking - and we all seem to get on, contrary to that which may be gleaned from the imaginations of those who feel the need to express righteous anger about whatever is available at time of going to press. In my two years here I have heard not a single gunshot, nor witnessed any violent incident, nor overheard a racist remark. Texans in my experience tend to be kind, well-mannered, and mostly liberal because it's too hot to be much of anything else; they are not uniformly enormous from a diet of McDonalds, root beer, and barbecue sauce, and neither have I met anyone holding significantly unpleasant racial or political views. You might suggest I'm living in a bubble, but the chance is more likely that you have neither idea nor understanding of my circumstances beyond a general impression that either my adopted country or state probably needs a good telling off as a matter of principle.

I'm not saying that terrible things never happen here, in either Texas or the USA, or that our foreign policy is necessarily without fault, but that the hysterical views of those who don't actually know yet who nevertheless feel compelled to comment really ain't worth a hill of beans, as the saying goes.

A few weeks ago as I was watering the grass I saw our next door neighbour working away on the other side of the fence. Frasier is a tall, skinny fellow, slow moving and softly spoken with something of a fixed smile - which is simply his face at rest. You see Frasier, and before he's spoken a word, you find yourself liking the guy. I waved and so he stepped back from his lawn mower.

'How are you doing?' I asked.

'I'm fine,' he smiled, probably not on purpose. 'Just mowing the lawn - goofing around.'

I don't even know why, but just that combination of activities struck me. The idea that someone could regard mowing a lawn and goofing around as one and the same was somehow pleasing. We spent some time talking about the heat and what types of grass we were both trying to grow, and it was a calm exchange. This, I decided, is the sort of conversation I like, just a guy telling you what he knows. It wasn't intellectually stimulating, but then at the age of forty-seven I've come to realise that 99% of supposedly intellectually stimulating conversation is just piss and wind, the hoots and territorial wails of those who can't get enough of the sound of their own voices wrapped around an authoritative phrase, those who have never understood why sometimes it's good to just shut up and enjoy the silence.

I have taken to saying nothing when I have nothing I wish to say, and in future I am going to avoid listening when nothing is being said.

Please feel free to follow my example.

You're very welcome.

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