A Suburban Bildungsroman, Ultimately Fruitless; And A Council Of The Gods
Trudging down Stokes Croft towards the City Centre, St Just through flaring nostrils expressed - not without a quantity of snot - his derision.
His mind’s eye conjured up unwillingly the vision of the maggots writhing. Like time was when like revolutionary like purity meant like extolling primitive like man. Like giving like full like rein to his libidinous like urges. Rutting like beasts a revolutionary act. It’s all there in like Rousseau. Like noble savages. Horny cunts in loincloths.
Odd him coming from Geneva, Rousseau. Whose inhabitants had lived under Calvin’s pitiless flail. Like Christianity’s wahabbists. Still get like echoes in like the Western like Isles. Or like ripples. Presbyterian ripples in Stornoway.
Bar Wanque. Condensation eternally upon its windows. Function of like warm air meeting like cool surfaces. Like even now in like this like heat; like how’s that? Like my sweating I spose. Heat’s muggy anyway. Humidity what causes it. They want to turn down the thermostat. That, and stop selling like cappuccino to like posh cunts. All that fuckin’ steam. Like let them drink like tay. What his Lordship would say. That, and. A parliament of smokers outwith thronged the doorway. Disgusting, really. Like fuckin’ like filling the like infinitely capacious like coffers of corporate fuckin’ backy. Still, he mused, being himself susceptible to the vice in question, like what can you like do?
St Just, despite a youthful predilection for the composition of pornographic poetry, now found his revolutionary ardour to have scoured his former lusts. Like what is like needed is like revolutionary like discipline. If we are to like carry through our like programme. Like degeneracy just so fuckin’ like antithetical to like revolutionary like discipline. Like how you get anything fuckin’ like done when you’re chasing fuckin’ skirt. Unwholesome too. Do like rudeness with like street drinkers what like can’t stop fuckin’ itching their selves. No knowing what you’ll catch.
A pair of ragged pavement cyclists weaved through the crowd, venting oaths. Spitting. St Just heartily approved of this. Like in your like face effete middle-class ponces with your like elitist like manners. Whose streets? Our streets!
Within Bar Wanque, he had been given to understand, stood a special table set aside for hipsters. On one level, St Just disapproved of this arrangement. Like fuckin’ like symptomatic of like the degenerative tendencies of gentrification. On the other hand, such iniquities like hastened the like inevitable like collapse of like the fuckin’ corporate patriarchal system of like oppression. Like inevitable, like Marx said it. Like capitalism like inherently contains the like seeds of its own like destruction like. Like one day, one fuckin’ day, like the great fuckin’ pus sac of surplus fuckin’ value will burst.
The Lexus in which Sir Hearty Luncheon customarily was borne from place to place now smoothly trundled down that self-same thoroughfare, with at the wheel and sporting a fair quantity of brocade Mr Jagtar Singh. Behind this redoubtable charioteer reposed in warm naugahyde plush Sir Hearty and a pair of fellow and in their own ways comparably prominent citizens who, peering out at the external desuetude, strove with indifferent success not to betray the marks of seigneurial disdain.
“Do please spare me the cant,” murmured Sir Hearty very hollowly and a propos of nothing in particular, “for I never could bear the cant.”
“Is that not,” said distastefully from beside him Sir Ezra Tertiary-Syphilis, “the whelp of our Gallic colleague?”
Sir Hearty fetched up a great sigh, and glanced in the direction of Sir Ezra’s pointing.
“That yobbo?” said he icily, “Wearing street fashions? I thought I had requested that I be spared the cant. I was not aware of any Gallic colleague. Certainly not any Gallic colleague with a whelp, a yobbo wearing street fashions.”
“He is probably on his way down to that Bearpit place,” said from the front passenger seat Alderman Shallow, “that is where they go, such persons,” said he very greyly, “and drink beer from cans, and do swears, and smoke their crack-cannabis cigarettes.”
Sir Hearty elegantly shuddered.
“That is how they come to appear before me,” added Alderman Shallow, “after that altogether splendid Constable Wifebeating-Cokehead has apprehended them, when I assume my place upon the bench at the Magistrates Court.”
Sir Hearty exquisitely winced.
“Which Gallic colleague?” said he very faintly, “of which Gallic colleague is that yobbo wearing street fashions the whelp?”
“Of Monsieur de Pantalon-Rouge,” said Sir Ezra, “the Frenchie with the gym. He sent his whelp to Radley, I believe. Much good it has done him.”
Sir Hearty vaporously sniffed.
“I am given to understand that he holds some sort of position in the Snatch household,” added Sir Ezra, “the whelp I mean. I do not doubt that His Lordship inflicts frequent buggerings upon him. ”
“I do most particularly require you to spare me the cant,” said Sir Hearty, “I have been perfectly unequivocal about this, I think. I never could bear the cant.”
Upon the terrace of the Ghastly Hipster opposite Turbo Island, the denizens oblivious of St Just’s silent jeremiad smoked, curated their lumberjack beards, slurped their ethically sourced artisanal free-trade coffee. Crowdfunded eachother’s awareness-raising funding applications, funded eachother’s awareness-funding crowd-raising applications. Raised funding for eachother’s crowd-awareness applications and fund raisings. Panhandling morphine aficionados did go among them, and did regale them with tragic histories, for which those kidults betimes repaid them in coin, and betimes did not, according as the fancy took them, capricious as they were.
Across the way, on Turbo Island, there congregated a motley assortment of acolytes and hierophants of the Eglise de la Bouteille. Two very dirty gentlemen engaged in tendentious but largely incomprehensible disputation over, apparently, which of them had either fuckin’ killed or fuckin’ loved the dead brother of one of them. Others slurped from plastic bottles either Munters Blinding Cider, or Crusties Maddening Lager. St Just, himself partial to a drop of suchlike enchanting brews, slowed his stride, considering whether he might cross the road and for a space make himself one of the company. Recognising one or two erstwhile participants in the orgy ongoing in …er … Squattocrat Heights, thought better of it, and slunk past.
At the end of the street, down some steps. Turn right. A short tunnel. Slogans depeynted upon the walls thereof protested the present iniquitousness, foretold the Aquarian glories to come. Intoxicated minstrels crouched under damp lavatorial tiles. Vented dirges. Stockhausen’s courageous disregard for melody. Like keeping it like real. The Stokes Croft Dzerzhinsky emerged then onto a desolate plaza haphazardly strewn with pingpong tables and strange wooden boxes, upon which common sluts and knaves reclined and savoured the al fresco refreshments peculiar to the locale. Upon the right hand side a tree, under whose drooping boughs was piled a mass of dirty blankets and mildewed duvets and padded jackets. An apathetic breeze briefly got up then, which set some of the empty cans and deracinated bottles to clatter arbitrarily about across the blocks with which the Council had thought to pave the place.
Here also was the converted double-decker bus or warm pavilion which that notorious truffle-boar Mr Crass Cheseham had contrived to introduce into this milieu, and which served artisanal coffee and natural organic gluten-free wankshaft, being upon these grounds patronised by refugees from the Ghastly Hipster opposite Turbo Island, who were beginning to find the last-named establishment unconscionably mainstream. St Just espied, sitting at a table in the lees of this august establishment two or three activists from Club Autonomie in Robertson Road. Ever mindful of the infinitesimally tiny doctrinal differences sundering him from the tendency in which these citizens partook, he sought by hooding of head and disguise of gait to pass beneath their radar, and was tentatively inclined to believe himself successful in the endeavour.
Another tunnel, past today a middle-aged Romanian accordionist. Masterly rendition of ‘Speak Softly, Love’, which St Just grudgingly recognised as the theme tune from The Godfather. A flight of stairs, at the top of which: the back entrance to Debenhams - thereinto St Just himself betook.
Through which, a sudden chill: aircon. His progress dogged by, of store-dicks, a brace. Corrugated-iron wigs, steel specs. Ill-fitting blazers, beige ties, discreetly-flared cream slacks. Brown naugahyde slip-ons shod them. While making an ostentatious pretence of examining price-tags on lingerie - dirty buggers - they eyed him. Could prank them. Act suspiciously. Pretend to have nicked a g-string. But like inconvenient. Like delays, and that. That, and looking up his jacksie for contraband. That, and U.P.up.
Out of the maw of that temple of consumption, by emesis onto The Horsefair thrust. A voice:
“I like your hair.”
Askance, St Just felt with paw the greasy mullet, his capital insulation. Squinting, made out against the sunlight one of those like tall white rasta youths on whom assurance … er … squats. Like clown trousers and bare feet. Collecting d.d.’s. For whom? Blood & Soil Association? St Just eyed the writing on the bib. Oh I see, Greenwar.
“Got a couple of minutes spare to talk about sponsoring one of our guerrillas?”
(Like posh cunt. Eton? Mawlbugger? Still, like Benn was one. Lord or Vie-cunt or what. Turned out ok though, Tony B. Tea from a mug, flat cap way before the hipsters caught on. No point being like snobbish. This one, rattling the tin for the International, heart’s in the right place. Meaning the left place. Not like his fuckin’ fault brought up to talk like his shit don’t stink.) What’s the dosh spunked on then? Like homeopathic training of like traditional like healers. Like targeted assassinations. Like hunting down like fuckin’ crop scientists and microbiologists, and that. What like try to like impose like hegemony of like Western scientific like values on like brown people what were doin’ like great on their tod until like the East India Company introduced like fractional reserve banking and like fiat currency into like Eden. And like that. Come with their like jew jaws, and that. Like Greenwar on like a longterm project. Like raising dosh to like march through the like institutions, seize like the instruments of like power, lovingly winkle brown people out of their like festering cities back into traditional villages, live by like organic principles, like close to nature, like put them back in touch with like their own like ancient oriental like wisdom. Like veganism. Like yoga. Chakrabang. That, and. I mean like fuckin’.
All of which agreeably like radical. The voice almost like soporific. With reluctance, St Just tore himself from the like enchantment. Being reawakened, gazed once more upon the chugger countenance, a chill thereupon gripping his already icy soul, insofar as he now found that he recognised his interlocutor. Neither Eton, nor Mawlbugger, nor for that matter fuckin ‘Arrer or like Winchester or Charterarse. Radley. Inhali. Inhali V. V.Inhali. I knew him, Horatio. Thought he was sposed to be in fuckin’ Paris. Gone abroad Lambton-style to live down like some like fuckin’ scandal, the specifics of which eluded St Just. Lie doggo, wotwot. Changed almost as much as I have. Popular and charming once, a salon pet. Mothers of well-bred girls did fawn on him, whom now they’d spurn. With this one, ’tis all rags, ratty dreads, teeth all like blackened, the ghostly pallor of a life expended in grimy basements.
No evidence of reciprocal like recognition, for which duly like thankful, not wishing to like have like blown the like cosy duvet of proletarian cover. St Just with pathetic excuses, and troweling on additional veneerings of proletarian accent, wrenched himself away from the Proustian embarrassment. Strode away up the Horsefair. No. Like too rapid to be like casual. Slow fuckin’ down. Like breathe.
Cabot Circus. Like they named it after like a like slaver, and a like bedlam house where like hominids go and guffaw at innocent animals being like tortured into jumping through like hoops. A shiny car in there on this day, being raffled. Nissan Wankero is it. Or Alfa Bumfuck. No wait. BMW Felcher, yes that’s the one. Adjustable uranium-tipped twinshaft enema drive or whatever. Barkers swarmed in cheap suits, accosting obese shuffling bewildered consumer drones sporting 99p-wear. Om Primani Padma Hum. They eyed disdainfully St Just. Not of like the retail tribe. Why in here, no belong, see? Better outside crouching with others of his own ilk and their string-tethered indeterminately-bred canines.
Out of that unhallowed temple, past the Apple Store. Outside here, barely human helots and peons loitered, smoking. Blue t-shirts: bare arms and sleeve tattoos. Like the clones appropriating our culture. Hipster cyborgs aping matelots. Multiple piercings too, as of stigmata. As of his own chums, thereby traduced. Bah, c’est gȇnant. At the corner, the gym - not Daddy’s, which he was on the way to. He looked upwards and beheld through the curved glass gentlemen and ladies in lycra most strenuously exerting themselves on ingenious engines which did eternally give out highways on which the gentlemen and ladies did gallop pellmell, all the while - wondrous to relate - being maintained aeternitater in loco ipso eodem quo ante.
At this identical corner St Just turned left, and presently found himself savouring the tranquillity of Castle Park. Involuntarily, it had to be said, the savage breast not willingly admitting of Gilead the balm. Certain of the tribe of Pheidippides disported themselves in those glades, free of the menace of charabanc or pantechnicon. Under small trees, couples, for the most part heterosexual, lolled with lager in the post-noon chaleur. Now and again, beggars bothered them. Tragic histories again. Loss and fortitude. Fragile rafts beset by the swell and wrack of fate.
The estimable Mr Jagtar Singh now steering the Lexus serenely down Baldwin Street, Sir Ezra Tertiary-Syphilis, that Moses of tax-avoidance, chanced to gaze once more upon the tawdry quotidian without, and was prompted to remark,
“Great Heavens! The whelps are multiplying.”
Sir Hearty Luncheon with a visible effort steeled himself, and glanced very fleetingly in the direction indicated.
“That youth,” said he after a digestive pause, “appears most egregiously in want of a comb and a decent tailor. Worse by far is that he has taken it upon himself to go about unshod. Such behaviour seems to me entirely redolent of the utmost cant, whereof I most signally wished to be spared the infliction, as I believe myself to have made perfectly, pellucidly clear,” adding superfluously, “inasmuch as I never could bear the cant.”
“That youth,” said Sir Ezra, “is the whelp of our Maoist colleague.”
“I most particularly wish to be spared all mention of Maoism,” said Sir Hearty in tones sepulchral, “inasmuch as I ever did look upon that creed as the utmost specious cant, indeed as cant's very acme,” adding, again very superfluously, “and as such not under any conceivable circumstances to be borne by myself.”
“If that youth persists in going about unshod,” said from the front passenger seat Alderman Shallow, “if that youth persists in going about unshod outside a designated yobbery such as Montpelier, then I anticipate that Constable Wifebeating-Cokehead will very soon apprehend him, and suffer him to appear before me when as a Justice of the Peace I assume my accustomed place on the bench. I have no doubt of this. No doubt at all. Indeed not.”
“He was at Radley,” said Sir Ezra, “with the Frenchie’s whelp. Quite right, Alderman.”
“I pass over in silence his want of a comb,” persisted Alderman Shallow, “let justice be tempered with mercy; that is always and ever was and shall be my apophthegm. His want of a comb shall lie on the record, gathering dust. However, let him not without fear of sanction stir abroad unshod, except it be in a designated yobbery, such as Montpelier. That is all I have to say on the matter.”
“Rather surprised to see him back in this neck of the woods, actually,” said Sir Ezra, “thought he’d gone to ground in Paris, after some kind of shindig involving his step-mama. One of those female Dunbuggerals, y’know.”
“How perfectly revolting,” said Sir Hearty, “I do not feel in the least enriched by the knowledge of such cant,” and added, inevitably, “I never could bear the cant.”
Withal, Sir Ezra was blithe and minded to continue.
“Always bolting, Lady Valerie,” quoth he, “gets depressed and sleeps with poets. No idea why Sir Gerrie takes her back. Takes all sorts, I suppose.”
Sir Hearty leant forwards.
“Mr Singh,” said Sir Hearty, “I would have you place a call to the Toreau et Ours. They have taken delivery of some disappointed griffins. I am minded to dine upon one this evening.”
St Just entered upon Temple Way, and was by the bruit of traffic once more assailed. A river of charabancs and taxicabs and pantechnicons flowed past the Sex Change. Yob cyclists filtered off onto the pavement, again very much meeting St Just’s approval. Old Market then. Gaytown. Flȃneurs, gentle and short balding types in plaid shirts, strolled in pairs, or in slightly larger groups intimating possibilities of menage. Episodes involving crystal meth. Pubs with rainbow signs, outside which gentlemen swigged small bottles of continental beer. A sauna for bachelors to indulge peculiar gîtiste hobbies. Two or three more such establishments, somewhat out of keeping with the surrounding context, wherein reposed almond-eyed damsels who pretended to relax the stiff muscles of tired businessmen.
On the right, two sex shops, nebeneinander. St Just betook himself, away from these, across the road, leftwards between the Trinity Centre and the eponymous police station, and then right, and was presently to be observed trudging through a neighbourhood whose denizens were either respectably Somali or indigenously engaged in the representation by tableau vivant of certain visions of Hieronymous Bosch. At the end of which narrow avenue, a dual carriageway. St Just, taking his life in his hands, sprinted across this.
The Lexus, being lately lightened of the burden of its front seat passenger, purred aromatically along Anchor Road, and presently approached the great steel and glass edifice where it pleased the Pierpont Morgan of that purlieu to conduct his business.
“What a sublime relief it is,” drawled Sir Ezra Tertiary-Syphilis, “to be delivered from the pettifogging nonsense of Mr Shallow.”
The Pierpont Morgan of Anchor Road inclined to share this assessment.
“He is a very meagre little man, and inasmuch as meagreness is a species of that cant which I never could bear, it follows a fortiori that I never could bear meagreness.”
“We did well, I’m thinking Sir Hearty,” said Mr Jagtar Singh, “to set him down at Temple Meads.”
The Pierpont Morgan of Anchor Road, seeing no reason to demur from this observation, kept his counsel.
The Lexus nosed past the solitary figure on the pavement. Whom espying, Sir Ezra murmured,
“There goes that ridiculous Ledwitch woman.”
Sir Hearty groaned inwardly.
“I do not wish to speak to that woman,” said he, “nor do I wish her to speak to me. There would be attendant upon the broaching of such a discourse a very real risk of cant. And I never could bear cant.”
Having delivered himself of this observation, the Hotwells Rockefeller leant forward.
“Mr Singh,” said he, “I would have you drive around the block. And if that woman’s continued presence puts you to the necessity, I would have you drive around the block again.”
“Do not forget, Sir Hearty,” said Sir Ezra, “that I will at some point require to be driven back to my helicopter.”
Sir Hearty found this intelligence free of the marks of cant, and finding it so, bore it.
St Just trudging along Stapleton Road. Stab capital of this spayed old bitch of a nation. Cars prowled, engines growling. Shifty eyes behind plexiglass examined pavement boulevardiers. Looking for whores, or crack. Knots of African youth. They looked at him, seeming puzzled. Why you dress bad bruv? That one not ok, that fat boy. Like thousand yard stare. Face on him like screams out I got blade like stab you up blud. You is in da wrong ends blud. St Just, who in less visceral times entertained himself with the supposition that like all in the like brotherhood of like man could be like brought round with like tea and like empathy - with the probable exception of like elitist like lizard fuckin’ like banksters - on this occasion averted his gaze and hurried past. Not the time for like bants. Choose your Batailles.
The road snaked downhill under the railway bridge. St Marks Road, to the right, opposite the Black Swan. That time in the queue there. Year or two back. With that like Student Grant type on 2CB. Like swan a is like white, like swan b is like white, like swan c is like white, ergo all like swans is like fuckin’ white. And like emeralds is fuckin’ grue or what. Bouncers giving him the stares. Swan’s fuckin’ black here son, suck it up. No no, you don’t understand, I wasn’t being wayciss. Doth not all charm flee, at the mere mention of flosifee. In like bandit country it fuckin’ does. That, and.
Daddy’s gym festered a couple of hundred yards along St Marks, down a side street. Quads & Pex down like fuckin’ Easton. At least Mummy wouldn’t be there with her endless and, to state matters plainly and confidentially, frankly rather semitic over-solicitousness. Only Daddy to deal with. Like it might be a bit fuckin’ like nice if like sometimes like at least like one of them could treat him like a fuckin’ adult.