I really ought to avoid Facebookcloth, though I find myself popping in regularly for the simple reason that certain persons of my acquaintance seem to have forgotten the ancient art of email. Keeping in touch with them necessitates reading their Facecloth postages. The danger is that, at times, one gets sucked in and embroiled in lengthy and increasingly witless exchanges. Today has been one of those times, what with the riotous state of the nation. Here, then, are edited highlights from a few ill-spent hours.
Let us begin on a high note. Oh, before doing so, a word about “friends”. All contacts on Facecloth are “friends”, irrespective of the nature of one’s acquaintanceship. I prefer the Google+ approach of “circles”, which can be of friends, family, work colleagues, and so on. Best of all, one can define one’s circles, which is why the six people I “know” on Google+ have all been put into a circle called “Honorary Captains Pursuivant Of Hooting Yard”. This is likely to remain a decisively elite group until such time as there is a mass migration from Facecloth to Google+. We shall see.
Now, where was I? Ah yes, that high note. In among much blather about the riots, one friend of mine made the definitively sensible comment: “I think the rioters just need to calm down and listen to some Soft Machine”, to which was appended a link to Hibou, Anemone and Bear from the dazzling second album.
Pondering how else the feral hoodie teenpersons might be better occupied, I was reminded of a comment made three years ago by Elberry on his now defunct Lumber Room. Fortunately, I quoted it here at the time, so it has not vanished entirely into the ether. He was writing about knife-crime rather than brick-throwing, looting and arson, but his point holds good:
I imagine there are several thousand, or hundreds of thousands, of young men carrying knives ‘in self-defence’ who will, however, pull it as soon as they imagine a confrontation is in the air. They would be far better to carry expandable batons, and far less likely to accidentally kill someone. They would do even better to stay at home reading Sir Philip Sidney.
This always seemed to me a sensible, practical, and realistic suggestion, and I was happy to quote it in rioting context on Facecloth. Cheering, too, that a number of my friends “liked” it and, as one commented,
I said (almost exactly) that to my partner. Why are they not at home reading a book? Any book, even.
I am afraid this led me to give vent to my inner misanthropic reactionary (as tends to happen on Facecloth), and I immediately replied:
Probably because their teachers were too busy with the self-esteem and diversity lessons to get round to teaching that “reading” thing.
There is a serious point here. We are always hearing the teenpersons and their adult representatives complain that “we have nothing to do”. No doubt this has been a teeny moan since time immemorial, but it is of course bollocks. Certainly in a city like London there is a myriad of “things to do” that don’t cost money, even if one is reluctant to sit at home reading a book.
But why bother making so obvious a point when there is drivel to be spouted? Perhaps it is the (Facecloth) company I keep, but I have been astonished by the attempts to dress moronic footwear-thieving barbarism in politico-intellectual clothing. This, for example, ought to have left me speechless:
just back from Hackney, nostrils full of the aroma of burning rubber, zone superlatively tense yet totally a-okay… aside from some poor fuckers with insurance claims… platitudes re: lumpen-prole mindless thuggishness = a vulgar simplification by mainstream media (who were barely visible)… TSG chest-beating all night but totally ineffectual… subjective experience too complex to analyse right now, I think.. complex .. and fast.. and slow..
Alas, instead of remaining silent, I felt impelled to respond:
Will it be exciting if [your area] is next and [your trendy and with-it workplace] gets trashed and burned?
To which came the reply:
I never said it was exciting, c’mon Frank
I then said that “superlatively tense yet totally a-okay” sounded to me almost like a definition of “excitement”, but this was denied. Suffice to say that the exchange continued until both of us, I am sure, were only too pleased to retire from the fray, neither having changed our minds one whit. It really is a foolish way to spend one’s time, and I ought to remember that.
Still, hanging around on Facecloth did at least mean that I saw this, wholly unrelated, link, posted by another friend:
Matchless. And, as the friend pointed out, note Alfred Hitchcock doing his cameo role in the background.