Friday, December 03, 2010

Wearing an XL Calla Lily and Orchid Posy & My Life as a Freelance Futurologist


I used to detest parties, now I find them unbearable. When forced to attend one I usually wear an XL Calla Lily and a Orchid Posy on my lapel to hide my face. Then I compel myself to forget where I am. If someone starts to chatter to me I pretend to be Bavarian, adopt a husky voice, and whisper, 'Do I look like someone who has killed anyone?'

Certain words and phrases make me cringe, for example: 'What a strange planet we inhabit.' 'I wish I was twenty, again.' 'There is only one thing that makes life worth living ...' 'What did I tell you?!' 'Habit kills desire.' 'Tell me, "You love me", even if it's not true.' 'I shouldn't be telling you this, but ...' 'In banking terms, what are "derivatives"?' 'As a boss, do you manage by "output", or "input"?' 'What is your profession?'

Ah, yes, profession. I prefer, how do you spend your time? but when asked, I reply, 'I'm a freelance futurologist; a historian of the future trapped in a digital universe.' I research, write, lecture, broadcast and publish from the confides of my tumble dryer. (I also speak at international conferences until security are called to escort me from the premises.) My fixed costs are virtually zilch. To commute to work I walk downstairs - au naturel - and climb into the tumble dryer. When I meet a client I use the washing machine. I tend to get bored by the end of a project. To unwind, I become a kayak in the open sea and head back to base camp.

I only predict things that will happen long after I'm dead. After the year 3500, to be precise.  I once, stupidly, let it slip - twenty years ago - that the first transplant of pig organs on the human face would take place within a decade. I admit the transplant, cosmetic face lift (call it, what you will) didn't turn out as planned. Indeed, it has caused my wife great suffering. I take her everywhere in a suitcase to hinder embarrassing conversation about her appearance. Her figure is now androgynous, her voice cranky deep. Moreover, her face resembles 'strawberry pink' candy floss topped with a pig's snout. I can honestly say I do not find her any less attractive.

I was raised on words. I would have preferred food, but then one can't have everything. I remember we didn't have a refrigerator. The house was cold, and there was nowhere to put the icicles that formed above our heads, or in our hair. This was the beginning of my 'thinking' period, which didn't last long. One afternoon, while reading a foreign novel - the language escapes me, as it did then - I was struck by an elongated icicle. It remains, to this day, embedded in my head. The surgeon, at the time, refused to operate as the icicle was glacial and the hospital didn't supply fleece gloves.

I realised, on that fateful afternoon, that the desire to be attractive, beautiful, to remain youthful, to despise wrinkles, and greying hair, is commonplace. Furthermore, it can become an obsession; worse than power and money - is that possible? Anyhow, I require botox. My eyebrows have just collapsed into my dinner again. I can see the 'years' passing by; on the road outside my house. They're driving a red Mercedes, snorting coke, and eating raw eggs. I watch with painful enjoyment, then climb into the washing machine. I'm meeting a client in a few minutes. My intuition tells me the client is going to be some lunatic with an ageing body. I hope the 'body' is their own? My washing machine only accommodates two people of average height and weight, without clothes.

Reflections: Life is short: it has four letters; one syllable. What am I driving at? Well, in truth, I'm not sure ... My car windscreen is covered in snow and an old lady with a shopping trolley. The situation revives memories of my mother. To prolong the delusion she was youthful I was forced to wear children's clothing until I was forty.

When I got married - at thirty-six - I wore a Fur Lined Fairisle Trapper, a Christmas Pudding outfit, and a pair of Boys Counting Gloves with matching socks and shoes. My wife abandoned me shortly after the wedding ceremony for a hideous youth who had the eyes of an old man. He spoke and resembled a piano that had keys missing. Since that day I've led an uneventful life. I drink champagne, dance alone, and leave my house in the early hours of the morning, and fade into the distance.