I need to start today's Sunday Ishmael by apologising, most sincerely, for my heteronormative privilege.
that's out of the way and I can move on to explore the preposterous
case of the actress who has cut off her boobs to spite her face - sorry -
to feel comfortable in her body. And to prevent children from dying - I
didn't make that up. Sorry, the actor who has had his breasts removed
surgically. And has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to boast about
it, in a broken little voice.
is it like to walk around in this space that is you? asked Oprah, in
all seriousness. Oprah's got lots of booby, and seems pretty damn
pleased about it, judging by the amount of cleavage on display.
Anyway, back to heteronormative privilege. Said privilege has allegedly been much exercised by gorgeous, pouting Doctor Who assistant, Mickey Smith.
It's tough in time and space -
alleges that Captain Jack Harkness is worse, but gets away with
bouncing his penis on the shoulders of random females because he is
charming and gay.
Doctor Who production team, our jobs're safe for another fifty years.
has become normal for people not to introduce themselves but demand
first your self-identification to them; we get calls all fucking day
which open, Are you ishmael smith to which I reply, perfectly
reasonably, that's not the question, the question is Who the fuck are
you? You called me, never mind who I am, who are you, you got no
If you were a friend and had my number legitimately you'd know who I was, wouldn't you?
Often, you can tell by the delay and the background noise that this call is coming from a criminal call centre in Islamabad or whatever they call Delhi, these days.
I have a formula, now, for these cunts. He or she says Good morning, Sir, how are you, I am Keith or Sally, calling from Microsoft about your computer. Ah, Keith, I say, how is your mother? My mother? Yes, I saw your mother on the internet, last night, fucking a herd of pigs, sucking their curly cocks. But your mother, Keith, she may be a fat, poxy old whore but at least she's honest, whereas you're just a thieving black cunt, aren't you ? You're not Keith, you're Ahmed or something. If it's Sally on the phone I say, Ah, Sally, you sound like a nice girl. Why don't you go and do proper prostitution, instead of trying to rob people in foreign countries, you worthless cunt.
People are quite shocked when they hear this, gasping the R word, you can't say that, ishmael. But these people are trying to steal money from us, they are not really from Microsoft, they bought our 'phone number and they call people like us all day long, hoping to get the bank details of some poor soul and rob them; racism be damned, they're thieving black cunts, that's what they are, they're the racists, trying to rob well-mannered British people who are soft and polite, conditioned to be nice to vermin. They have declared race war, declared that they want to rob me of what little we have. I've been here getting-on for twenty years and the most black people I have ever seen have been in my house, friends, visiting me; honest, not invent. That wouldn't wash, though, with the Virtuous, to whom it is the pious word which counts more than the deed.
There's no fucking end to this tele-banditry. I had a recorded one a couple of weeks back. Some cunt saying he was from HMRC, it was about my tax and if I didn't call him back immediately I risked imprisonment. Now,this obviously works sometimes or they wouldn't do it and one wonders why the government doesn't do something but the government, of course, will be in the pay of the companies that organise it all, the government, in fact the parliament, are consigliere to Organised Crime, of which 'phone terrorism is just a small branch. When it comes to the unwonted approach of strangers, therefore, I shoot first.
He did, too - I was present when he fired the round of pig-fucks into Keith. Here's a lengthier essay from the draft archive from 2012.
Thoughts before Heart By-Pass Surgery.
was just personal stuff, from my personal pockets and off my personal
person; my white Swatch watch, my reading glasses, a pen and a little
wallet with AA card and organ donor card, some money cards and a
hundred quid of Run-Away-From-Hospital cash money - proper money, to get
me a cab or a train somewhere, if necessary, and there were some
books, too. It all had to be packed, with clothes and pyjamas and
toiletry stuff into a couple of small suitcases and then Stored Away. Mr
Ishmael, you'll be going to theatre in the morning and then you'll go
to the Intensive Care ward and then to the High-Dependency ward and
only then will you come back here, so it has to be Stored Away. Nurse
said this as though it was an epic of tribulation, this Storing Away
business, like this situation - longish-stay patients from two hundred
miles away bringing stuff with them - was a huge inconvenience to them,
but then it seems to me that acting like a martyr to patient-invoked
inconvenience is part of a nurse's basic training, how much better
would their lives be without any fucking patients, clogging the place
Shouldn't be a surprise to me. I knew, even before reading Erving Goffman's Asylums, way back before before, that institutions exist and are organised solely for the benefit of their staff; schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, parliaments, the staff, or the faculty, as they call themselves or the Honourable Members, are the permanent residents and the patients, students, inmates or electors just have to be managed in as easy and desultory a fashion as can be got away with.
Teachers don't give a fuck, do they, they can't give a fuck, that their charges leave them unable to frame a sentence, unable to do two-times-fucking-two; alright, granted that the rot is set-in so deep that now a couple of generations of teaching folk don't know grammar, spelling or mental arithmetic themselves but they must, outside their whited sepulchres, encounter ordinary people, non-teachers, people like you and I, who can read and write and add-up without a hand-held instrument of Satan..........they must just have no shame, teachers, and they get around that deficit by doing what all such people do, they hide behind the battlements of what they call their profession.
Hospital nurses, though, in the main, must be among the most institutionalised of lazy maladroits, shiftless, dispirited, keen not to nurse but to idle, gossiping; to bully, harangue and proscribe; washing their uniforms in the same washing machine as their children's nappies, travelling to work, via the shops, or who knows where, in their uniforms, daubing their hands with this gelshit, as though 'twere infection control made goo, fuck all the other violations of common sense, I've got this stinky goo on my hands, and anyway, I'm going on my break, now.
I've been in a few Highlands clinics and in three of them I contracted MRSA - months on antibiotics, each time, months of worry. And I know exactly why, there is no mystery, it's that the nurses are dirty, lazy bastards.
The Aberdeen hospital is massive:
It employs thousands of people and occupies acres and acres over six sprawling floors, miles of fucking corridors, shops, restaurants, clothes shops and one of those rip-off joints selling 'papers and crisps and salt-fat-and-sugar shit, wall-to-wall poison for those already ill and their visitors. There's a chapel and an art gallery. Surely, I thought, they can find some small corner for a few suitcases, they can only do a coupla heart cases a day, at the most you're talking about a dozen suitcases at any one time in the cycle; why is it that the public sector jobsworth - whom I defend before all comers - so loves to persecute her customers with trivia and gabshitery. Space is at a premium, she whined, we don't have room for suitcases. I don't give a fuck if you throw all this stuff in the fucking incinerator, Nurse, I mouthed, I have got more fucking stuff than you could conceive of and I will very swiftly get some more fucking stuff brought in, just get your stupid face out of mine, just fuck off and bully some other heart patient, you fat, stupid, idle bitch. Never entered Nurse's feeble mind that this bloke is going for bigtime major surgery in the morning and maybe I should be nice to him, polite, thoughtful, attentive, you know, act like a nurse.
They were only two small suitcases and they'd been full when I arrived at the hospital, fully-clothed; the preparatory booklet had said nothing about Everything Being Stored Away and I'd thought - if I thought about it at all - that there'll be a locker and a drawer wherein I can park this stuff, that's what normally happens. Anyway, I had this packing-up of every little thing to contend with, before I could concentrate on the morn's business of having my sternum split open and my heart and lungs removed for a few hours. Oh, and my leg sliced from ankle to groin and fuck knows what else. But pack it all away I did, with the aid of a plastic bag which Nurse eventually provided.
And with each item that I squeezed and folded into Storable Awayness I sensed, with fear and loathing, another portion of my identity, my life disappearing.......
I remembered that just before my late friend, Dick, passed away, I sent him a birthday book, via Amazon: The Good Soldier, a faction novel about the Iraq Occupation and that when I was at his house maybe eighteen months after he'd died, there it was, on the bookcase, a bookmark a third of the way through, creepy stuff, there it still was, this book, a tangible bond between he and I, more durable, unfortunately, than was life. And I had taken a book with me to hospital - Stainless, a gothic/LA vampire story - which mrs ishmael had started and abandoned before I got to it, she being an emeritus professor of vampirology, amongst other things, she had seized it upon its arrival, sent by a friend. She read half of it and then dismissed it but I read it all in virtually one go and as well as some elegantly crafted writing there were all sorts of observations about Hollywood and LA and showbiz which could only have been made by someone who, like the author, Todd Grimson, lived there - you couldn't make it up. Oh, you could make up the vampire stuff easily but the characters from within and on the edges of celluloid celebrity made deranged, home-grown monsters like Bruce Forsyth and Piers Morgan look like normal, decent individuals; they were truly and wholly believably decadence made flesh. Would I live to urge a complete reading on Mrs Ishmael, should I scribble a note inside the cover, Oh, by the way, Dear, now that I'm dead, I do - or I did - think that you should try this again? It's a morbid game, being in hospital.
I never take my watch off, it is as light as a feather and waterproof, well, once in a while I take it off and wipe a damp cloth over the bits in contact with my skin but that's only for a minute or so. A couple of years back some mystery form of arthritis or neuropathy - no swelling, just chronic pain - made wearing a watch very uncomfortable. My friend, Mike, the former JumboJet pilot, said that he'd stopped wearing a watch the minute he retired and never missed it, there's clocks everywhere, he insisted, in the car, on the computer, on the cooker, on the phones, who needs a watch. Well I tried it for a couple of weeks and I found that I do need a watch, doesn't matter how many devices there are now with the exact time on them, it isn't the exact time that I want, a roughly correct time'll do, just as long as it's there, where it's always been, on my wrist. So I put my heavy metal watch in the drawer, with other redundant treasures and tried a lighter, leather-strapped one, that was just as bad, hurt like Hell, so I bought this Swatch one and it's perfect. I love it. I love it in the way I love my Smart car, there's no chrome, there's no acres of leather, no fake walnut strips, no pretence that you're actually, gentlemen, sitting in your club, not that you're a member of a club, no pretence that this vehicle was put together by pipe-smoking craftsmen in white overalls, the rev counter and the speedo look like they were made out of hairdryer material but my one-litre sports version Smartcar goes like stink, even stinkier if you use the paddle-shift instead of the auto, you can let the roof down at any speed and all this is because anything that can be plastic is plastic. You could offer me any number of oily, smoky MGBs, Cs, GTs; Spitfires, GT6s - all that blokey rubbish - and I wouldn't exchange my Smart car. And as for Swiss watches, well, we only ever had one, cost a grand in a mad moment and it was forever in the jeweller's, being serviced or cleaned or regulated or some fucking snooty horologists' hocus-pocus that cost a minimum hundred quid just for taking the back off. The Swatch keeps perfect, waterproof time, it doesn't hurt me, I can read it in the dark, I can change the battery myself and it cost thirty quid.
These tiny discoveries which we make - about Stuff and how it works, whether it works, about Design, really - sort of make us feel better about ourselves and at the same time angry for having been suckered for so many years by all the other stuff that doesn't work, was never meant to work. So, although the watch is just a watch it is important to me inasmuch as finally, eventually, after all these years I have sorted-out the whole watch shitfest. I don't want a Rolex, they're vulgar; I don't want an Omega, I don't go diving in wrecks, I don't go climbing Everest; I am not a submarine commander, I don't want a Tag Hauer, I don't want a Phillipe Patek, all I want is my cheap, little indestructible Swatch. And I could kick myself because I bought my daughter one over thirty years ago and thought Fuck, this is some cool shit, but I was too much ConsumerMan to buy myself one, Gold Avia, that's the thing for me, a gentleman's timepiece. But here I was, in ward Z, as I came to call it, not only taking my watch off but Storing It Away.
I dunno about you but at the back of my mind, with any general unaesthetic, anything, even just for a lower back manipulation, I get that fixin' to die feeling. I am sure I'd get it anyway but I did an awful lot of business with surgeons and anaesthetists and although some of them were fine, decent people, a lot of them were complete Jimmy Carr arseholes but worse than that the nature of my business took me into their homes, I met their families, their lovers and in some of them there was some crazy shit going on; one of the anaesthetists was, as well as her day job, a battered wife; I wouldn't want her, God bless her, putting me to sleep for a split second. Anyway you look at it, they're just people and even if they're not fuck-ups they could have had a bad night, or a row before leaving home. We Zen-Presbyterian-Marxists believe that Shit Happens, that we should take what we have and give it to the poor and that (now more than ever) the workers of the world should unite. But mainly we believe that Shit Happens. And I used to know but now I believe that most of the Shit Happening happens to me.
I looked at my little wallet, a card case, actually, I never felt grown-up enough for a wallet and it's only since cards became compulsory that I've even had this little thing with it's serried, internal ranks of pockets. At least it fits in my hip pocket and I don't have to wear a jacket to accommodate one of those long wallet things which grown-ups favour. Back before before, I used to just keep money in my pockets, like a decent fucking Christian did. My old friend, Felix, though, used to carry a fucking purse - one of those half-circular, folding, zipperless ManPurses that you open and tilt and jiggle about until some coins slide into view, complete load of bollocks, I blame his parents, both Oxford dons, I mean, a half a crown or a few shillings or coppers were never that important that you had to keep them in a purse, not like they were gold sovereigns. And it'd only hold about a quid, anyway, less if it was all in pennies, or pence. Good for fuck all, only make you feel more anxious, not less. Or maybe you'd just forever be saying No, that's alright, my good man, you keep the change, old purse is groaning a bit at the seams, must be, Oh, sixty pence in it, or more. You see, the ManPurse is just some of that shit we were talking about, shit that doesn't work, never could work. It's what pockets are for, putting small change in, most blokes have and have always had access to at least three pockets, any one of which will comfortably hold more than a purse, and furthermore, although men can and do lose their trousers in a variety of circumstances, this event can be nowhere near as frequent as is losing the fucking purse. I suppose one could lose the trousers and if one was dressed for, shall we say, the city, still retain one's purse in any number of jacket or waistcoat pockets................. It's not even as though he was tight, Felix, far from it. But I looked at this little wallet of mine and started poking about in it, just to save mrs ishmael from having to do so, should the anesthetist be pissed or should the surgeon just up and fucking kill me because a few years ago I had one of his brethren arrested and hauled down the nick. And when I plumbed the depths of this little appurtenance there was all sorts of stuff in there, receipts for this and that which I had squirreled away, maybe for sentimental reasons, tickets for this and that. And as I was smoothing-out these ancient scraps I was up against the clock, for two nurses would be coming in a few minutes to give me some Temazepam, which they guaranteed would knock me out in the blink of an eye, unaware, bless them, that as a younger man I would've guzzled the contents of their pharmacy and then ridden a motorcycle on a highwire across Niagara Falls whilst reciting the Illiad and rolling myself a joint, in mid-air. I dunno, were those the days ? Maybe they were. Alright if you survive them. Some didn't. But in another time they might've died in a war. At least the hedonistic, early mortality Baby Boomers had some fun, before choking on their own vomit or crashing their cars. I think it was fun, anyway. Never, in any event, for me, would be the Rewards of Obedience, no Flowers of Success would smell for me, no prizes englitter my grasp. But then the road to Hell has a silver lining, invisible, intangible to the Obedient.
And that's Nursie's function, to make you Obedient.
Extract from The Sunday Ishmael Special Kennedy/Dr Who Edition: Did Lee Harvey Oswald abduct Madeleine McCann? Doctor Who to Investigate. published 24/11/2013
It was just personal stuff drafted 8/9 2012
Both anthologies of the work of mr ishmael and his young Polish friend, Stanislav, Plumb Cheap for You: Honest Not Invent and Vent Stack - are available to purchase for mere money at Lulu or Amazon. It is cheaper to buy from Lulu. Here's how to buy your own copies:
Link for Hard Back :
Link for Paper Back :