12th November 2020
Met a friend for a bevy today, socially distanced though not distant, parked on a bench in the swanky Coal Yards development of Kings Cross. Remember when it was the ginormous Bagleys nightclub where I’d spend many a schoolboy weekender dazed and confused, a narrow, booming warehouse of four dancefloors with a capacity of 1,000 punters each, who’d greet the sun a wasteland of marble eyes, and tongue chewing.
A lazer fantabulosa inside but grim wreck of a joint beyond -bombsite of Victorian industry, skagheads and prossies, though today it’s morphed into a civilised parade of designer outlets, mixed with overpriced food (sarnies starting at £8.50) and coffee, so much coffee. The roof dutifully lifts off halfway and meets a neighbouring canopy like two giant slugs getting it on in the low light. Now everywhere closed of course, with the restaurant kitchens glowing like lanterns in prep for the dinner delivery shift, or training attentive, be-hatted staff behind the glass. How it’s changed.
We watched the preppy locals swarm out for the school run, laughing at a seriously awkward moment when a lone 7 year old, perhaps with needs, parked her bike and sprawled herself across the bench, slowly nuzzling into a complete stranger from behind. Occasionally staring up at him. He was frozen in terror and pretending none of it was happening, while we whispered Heeeyyy Daaaadddy between ourselves. I know it was wrong, poor guy, but exquisite.
Ah, Britain, how I’ve missed you.
But all in all we spent a good few hours over some cans of cider, and an unctuous set of kebabs, catching up, reminiscing old times, decrying the days of our lives and talking about whether we were all just sociopaths -a common worry to many but unwarranted, because if you were such a nutter you wouldn’t be worrying about it. You’d just pathologically be it. Also, if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a noise? If a sociopath doesn’t act out, and abides by our society’s rules, are they a sociopath?
I think we all can be on that spectrum, knowing full well how to lie, steal, beg, borrow, cadge and sleep our way to the top -if we need, or just plain decide to. We know how to lie convincingly, portray a mask, inveigle our way through the politics and backstab others from confided-in harbours of safety, or subtlety. We know the full gamut of hatred, jealousy and tactics in competition. We do not really applaud the success of others, but feel it as a robbing of our own corpus behind the smile. But it’s one thing to think it, possibly even feel it, and another to do it.
And even if one does do it, it’s one thing to carry it out -then question yourself after in a private moment -another to do it without a second thought, ever. Thus the question is: if someone acts like a sociopath, regardless of the knot that is the soul -are they still a sociopath? Another more stark, easier question to ask is, do you motherfucker, enjoy destroying other’s lives? Do you find it hard to refrain when given the chance? Do you understand love?
Anyhoo, there is a test out there, among many, and a lot of entirely normal, nice folk find they score on the spectrum even if they don’t enjoy a round of social sabotage. It appears the hangover from our predatory days (you only need to look at the behaviour of cats and why they’re bastards), when we exploited the weak or you know, chased them down to rip their throats out, still lingers in much of the population.
Also in our social set up: trained for years through hierarchy the minute we venture a schoolyard that first time, then followed up with a lifetime of standard business practice that’s an aria to managing exploitation for a bottom line -notably, yourself. The fact by the time you’re hitting the higher Finance end those well on the spectrum are as high as 1 in 7 (rather than 1 in 200). And from personal experience, via a stint in the echelons of a City skyscraper -corridors echoing with evil and connivance, cackling over child sacrifice -I’ve definitely seen it. Where narcissism nurtured such a belief in their capabilities they’d laughably hold meetings to declare their ignorance and openly backstab those who were missing, showing the stereotype so true.
All these millennia where we’ve staked out territories and discovered ownership has had a staining effect, imbedded down the line. Where it became duty to kill all strangers (to protect one’s own), to stamp out difference (lest it infect a new norm), to rid one’s newborns of deficiencies (lest they pass onto new generations), to maintain the hierarchy or die on the dagger, or keep up the pretence at all costs. The triumvirate of self preservation, manipulation and upkeep is what instills such people into power and their endearing values into a culture.
We still see it in our less regulated niceties today, from media tropes to the freedom/ anonymity of the net inviting every opinion, consensus and darkness of thought. Look at the toxic rain of comments, insults and bickering on just about anything, especially before they got everyone to register names or identities. We like to think we are good people, but what will we, can we do when not even God is watching, and never will?
This is the result of nature and nurture combined, whereby for too long the psychopathic and sycophantic in league have created many a cultural trait. Control, ambition, power, judgmentalism -rising through the ranks to instill their ways -the Trump administration is a good example of enablers lighting the way for self serving buffoons. Who get to wield out their fantasies over the cultish following they engender among the easily led and selfish -hundreds of millions strong.
Anyhoo, we surmised we weren’t sociopaths in the end, I was way too empathic (it’s almost a problem) despite knowing full well how to be an unhinged, murderous bastard when cornered, B too much of a romantic despite putting himself first. And the fact we’re almost pathologically nice guys.
Well, we would say that if we were nutters.
But then a fat bloke plonked himself down, exposing his builder’s arse to the extent my mate took a pic, to share with his loved ones. We surmised the man couldn’t feel the bite of the cold due to it being so furry. I also think alcohol numbs the front part of the brain, the one associated with critical thinking and empathy. Given the fact he would likely have lamped us one, or been very ahem, butt-hurt, I wonder if we would have tried to throw chips into it otherwise. I like to think I wouldn’t want to hurt the unfortunate fella’s feelings, but then I am writing about him to all and sundry on a public forum.
But man, you shoulda seen it, like pumpkins in a sack.
So, right then.
Now, honest to god, I don’t know whether I should mention the more sobering note hereon. To sign off with? To break the narrative -or add to it?
Anyhoo, fun and games aside, lovely day we’re having and all that, the shadows lengthen, reminding us of a monolith that can’t be ignored, not really. Time to go in again.
I’ll sign off, yeah – ignore the rest. I mean, who really cares any more?