Authors: Charlie Brooker
Tags: #Humor, #Form, #Jokes & Riddles, #Civilization; Modern
In which nightclubs are derided, spiders are feared, and the vast majority
of people inexplicably fail to blow their own heads off
In which lies are told by everyone except Simon Cowell, Jamie Oliver cooks
tomatoes, and the 24-hour news networks look for Madeleine McCann
In which David Cameron loses weight, neighbours fight for their right
to party, and someone from Five appears
In which Cerys Matthews romances a baby, Peter Andre and Jordan cause
bafflement, and total sensory deprivation is attempted
In which George Clooney becomes a coffee ambassador, all-out war is
declared on reality, and Lulu has a wonderful dream
In which young men are the enemy, Michael Portillo hosts a warthog
parade, and the Iraq war becomes a set of dizzying numbers
In which celebrities perish, Valentine’s Day fails to raise hopes, and
smokers are threatened with paperwork
In which The Apprentice provokes confusion, the Gladiators change their
names by deed poll, and a TV show baits real-life paedophiles for chuckles
In which the idiots start winning, Boris runs for mayor, and the sexual
habits of various animals are contemplated
In which ethnicity is admired for the sake of it, Christianity is
misrepresented, and Dale Winton threatens to bring on the wall
In which deadly marketing strategies are brainstormed, conspiracy t
heorists grow upset for the 85th time, and Britney Spears is depicted
In which the world as we know it comes to an end, Kerry Katona is
defended, and the Daily Mail pretends to be outraged by Russell Brand
and a butterfly
In which Sachsgate rumbles on, Bagpuss goes to sleep, and MTV introduce
the most vapid TV show in history
In which Barack Obama is elected, Santa dies, and Tatler prints an
exhaustive list of the biggest cunts in Britain
In which Noel Edmonds rants down a lens, Knight Rider makes an
ill-advised comeback, and Greece Has Talent
In which MPs provoke fury, potato crisps appear in appalling new
flavours, and the British National Party offends anyone with a basic grasp
of human decency and/or graphic design
Hello, reader, and welcome to another collection of scrawled gibberish, scraped from the pages of the
and fashioned into the unassuming paper brick you currently hold in your hands. I hope you enjoy the majority of what you’re about to absorb. If not, well, sorry. Use the book for something else. Like security: you could probably club a burglar unconscious with it, if you swing it forcefully enough and angle the spine just right, so it connects with the bridge of their nose. Or just rip it up, make a papier-mâché shield out of it, and go fight dragons. It’s your book. Go crazy.
Just like my previous anthology,
Dawn of the Dumb
, the columns here are assembled into chapters, alternating between Screen Burn TV review columns written for the
and more wide-ranging (some might say random) pieces tackling any subject under the sun, scribbled for the
G2 section. The contents are rather arbitrarily presented in chronological order, although you can read the individual articles in any order you like. Like I said earlier, it’s your book. Honestly. You own this.
Eagle-eyed readers may spot the occasional word or turn of phrase that didn’t appear in print. That’s because I’ve gone back and dug out the ‘uncensored’ versions of a few of the columns, where it was possible to do so. In a couple of other places I’ve simply rewritten something slightly to amuse myself. Usually, I’ve made things more childish. God I hate me.
Thanks are due to many people for their help and assistance in getting this all together: Julian Loose, Liz May Brice, Annabel Jones, Lisa Darnell and Lucinda Chua. Also Malik Meer and Kathy Sweeney at the
, and Emily Wilson and Mike Herd at G2. The largest, belated thanks are due to Tim Lusher at the
, who gave me my first real ‘break’ with the paper. Apologies to anyone I’ve missed out. I’m forgetful, not to mention an absolute shit.
Anyway, stop reading this now and go enjoy your book.
In which nightclubs are derided, spiders are feared, and the vast majority of people inexplicably fail to blow their own heads off
I went to a fashionable London nightclub on Saturday. Not the sort of sentence I get to write very often, because I enjoy nightclubs less than I enjoy eating wool. But a glamorous friend of mine was there to ‘do a PA’, and she’d invited me and some curious friends along because we wanted to see precisely what ‘doing a PA’ consists of. Turns out doing a public appearance largely entails sitting around drinking free champagne and generally just ‘being here’.
Obviously, at 36, I was more than a decade older than almost everyone else, and subsequently may as well have been smeared head to toe with pus. People regarded me with a combination of pity and disgust. To complete the circuit, I spent the night wearing the expression of a man waking up to Christmas in a prison cell.
‘I’m too old to enjoy this,’ I thought. And then remembered I’ve always felt this way about clubs. And I mean all clubs – from the cheesiest downmarket sickbucket to the coolest cutting-edge hark-at-us poncehole. I hated them when I was 19 and I hate them today. I just don’t have to pretend any more.
I’m convinced no one actually likes clubs. It’s a conspiracy. We’ve been told they’re cool and fun; that only ‘saddoes’ dislike them. And no one in our pathetic little pre-apocalyptic timebubble wants to be labelled ‘sad’ – it’s like being officially declared worthless by the state. So we muster a grin and go out on the town in our millions.
Clubs are despicable. Cramped, overpriced furnaces with sticky walls and the latest idiot theme tunes thumping through the humid air so loud you can’t hold a conversation, just bellow inanities at megaphone-level. And since the smoking ban, the masking aroma of cigarette smoke has been replaced by the overbearing stench of crotch sweat and hair wax.
Clubs are such insufferable dungeons of misery, the inmates have to take mood-altering substances to make their ordeal seem halfway tolerable. This leads them to believe they ‘enjoy’ clubbing. They don’t. No one does. They just enjoy drugs.
Drugs render location meaningless. Neck enough ketamine and you could have the best night of your life squatting in a shed rolling
corks across the floor. And no one’s going to search you on the way in. Why bother with clubs?
‘Because you might get a shag,’ is the usual response. Really? If that’s the only way you can find a partner – preening and jigging about like a desperate animal – you shouldn’t be attempting to breed in the first place. What’s your next trick? Inventing fire? People like you are going to spin civilisation into reverse. You’re a moron, and so is that haircut you’re trying to impress. Any offspring you eventually blast out should be drowned in a pan before they can do any harm. Or open any more nightclubs.
Even if you somehow avoid reproducing, isn’t it a lot of hard work for very little reward? Seven hours hopping about in a hellish, reverberating bunker in exchange for sharing 64 febrile, panting pelvic thrusts with someone who’ll snore and dribble into your pillow till 11 o’clock in the morning, before waking up beside you with their hair in a mess, blinking like a dizzy cat and smelling vaguely like a ham baguette? Really, why bother? Why not just stay at home punching yourself in the face? Invite a few friends round and make a night of it. It’ll be more fun than a club.
Anyway, back to Saturday night, and apart from the age gap, two other things struck me. Firstly, everyone had clearly spent far too long perfecting their appearance. I used to feel intimidated by people like this; now I see them as walking insecurity beacons, slaves to the perceived judgement of others, trapped within a self-perpetuating circle of crushing status anxiety. I’d still secretly like to be them, of course, but at least these days I can temporarily erect a veneer of defensive, sneering superiority. I’ve progressed that far.
The second thing that struck me was frightening. They were all photographing themselves. In fact, that’s all they seemed to be doing. Standing around in expensive clothes, snapping away with phones and cameras. One pose after another, as though they needed to prove their own existence, right there, in the moment. Crucially, this seemed to be the reason they were there in the first place. There was very little dancing. Just pouting and flashbulbs.
Surely this is a new development. Clubs have always been vapid
and awful and boring and blah – but I can’t remember clubbers documenting their every moment before. Not to this demented extent. It’s not enough to pretend you’re having fun in the club any more – you’ve got to pretend you’re having fun in your Flickr gallery, and your friends’ Flickr galleries. An unending exhibition in which a million terrified, try-too-hard imbeciles attempt to out-cool each other.
Mind you, since in about 20 years’ time these same people will be standing waist-deep in skeletons, in an arid post-nuclear wasteland, clubbing each other to death in a fight for the last remaining glass of water, perhaps they’re wise to enjoy these carefree moments while they last. Even if they’re only pretending.
I was queuing for a ticket at Clapham Junction when it happened. The train was leaving any minute from a platform at the other end of the station, so I was tense. To add to my woes, the person in front of me using the machine was one of those professional ditherers the Sod’s Law Corporation apparently employs to arrive in your life at the most infuriating moments.
As time drained away, he gawped at the screen like a medieval serf trying to comprehend helicopter controls, confounded by one simple question after another – questions such as where he was going, and how many of him there were. His hand hovered over the touch screen, afraid to choose, like a man deciding whether to stroke a sleeping wolf. Meanwhile I ground my teeth to chalk dust.
Finally the prick was done, and once I’d waited for him to collect his tickets and his bloody receipt, it was my turn. Having no change, I opted to pay by card. But just as my hand moved towards the keypad to enter my pin, a voice in my head whispered: ‘You don’t know what it is.’ And it was right. I didn’t. I scanned my head, but nope: my pin had vanished. It had gone.