To Exeter

We grab some scran on the way out of Cardiff and are soon cruising across the Severn bridge stuffing our faces with Welsh cakes and butterscotch travel sweets. I have a bucket of tea beside me and am content. I am CONtent too. This is content, you the reader are content as soon as you comment or share. Much of our social interactions are commodified and packaged, data-mined and sold for a dime a time. We all toil in a factory owned by billionaires, making a product of entirety our own design, using our own resourses. And at the factory gate they sell it all back to us in spades.

At the stop we bump into Morris Minor Man, a colleague of a friend of ours, Zac from The Proclaimers, who has a vintage car refurbishment business. He has just bought a black model and it sits on his trailer looking rather cute. I take a photo just because. I don’t like cars, not like other men do. I think it’s important they can get you from A to B, like it used to be important that you kept your horse well-fed, well-shod and well-rested, but that’s it. I do own one. It’s aged and scratched and has wing mirrors of a different hue to its bodywork since I sheared off the originals against various walls. It gets me to rehearsals full of gear and up to the hills when I’ve been so and need some serenity. Our vehicle rolls on through the sleepy homesteads of West England. I spot a row of naked trees on a rise, the first I’ve seen completely stripped. Storm Brian has been loitering, kicking stuff about like a bored hooligan. The safety chevrons on the road shout THIS WAY! I see a herd of cows strung in a perfect queue along the edge of a field and nine birds perched likewise above on a power cable. Then sheep with their heads in the grass, locked in the permanent tedium of chewing. All waiting so patiently to be killed.

I skive off the load-in to do some photos for my friend Mr. Young. He hides furtively behind trees while I go through my three poses. 1. Shoulders back, legs apart. 2. Hands in pockets, one leg forward. 3. Arms crossed, legs apart. It’s amazing the combinations you can get from these and still look exactly the same in every shot: a dickhead. Mr. Young and I have some sushi before I take a wander to rest my voice. I see yet another tea emporium and quickly join a long queue, growing excited that I’ve found the ideal establishment in which to while away the hours. Finally I reach the counter.
“Are you with the Society?”
“Then we’re closed”.
I turn around, tail floorwards and shuffle dejectedly out to the street. Next, I spy a board game cafe. The affable, geeky man there has to check his bookings before I’m granted his last remaining table for forty minutes. He brings me a tea. I’m something of a pariah, using my phone while everyone else plays games. Dice are being rolled, lives lost, prizes gained. My table has a “reserved” sign made from Scrabble tiles. Nice touch, geeks. It’s all quite unlikely. The ambience is hard to describe. The place is full of families with young kids and student gaming freaks, but they sell booze. I’d like to think if I made just the right movement with my right eyebrow they’d bring me a little bowl of cocaine with a solid silver straw. Arch your left and they probably hoick you down to the cellar and piss on you. They have one of these in Glasgow and it’s always rammed, so I assume it’s a trend; a reaction against the synthetic nature of this digital existence. They’re using flesh digits. I just heard a woman call an opponent a bastard. I’m cutting out before there’s fucking pandemonium. I stroll round to the cathedral, dramatically lit in the gloom, the shadows of swaying branches projecting a ghoulish animation upon its facade. Ruins of other religious buildings cluster around its magnificence, like fallen acolytes. I end up in the cloisters of a shiny new retail precinct and take a seat on some illuminated sculpture, possibly designed to suggest a cobblestone. It proves as comfortable a perch as any to tap more of this guff into my phone, to end up on yours. In this fake way our hands are all connected, holding one another’s thoughts.

For a lack of anything more sensible to do I slope into breakfast around nine thirty in the morning. I instantly know this to have been an error, my loathing and contempt for every other human being seething to the surface of my skin. If the feeding frenzy around the hot-plates is hard to stomach, the sight of grey scrambled eggs paddling in some cloudy liquid is positively repulsive. I spend ten minutes toasting a crumpet on a useless circular grill contraption, trying to avoid eye contact with the dull livestock milling around me. I’m back in my room in minutes. The sun is cutting sharp angles onto the patterned carpet. I put on some music: Jon Spencer, Edwyn Collins, Joni Mitchell. Things look up. I have a whole day to fill. Perhaps I shall take up golf, or crack. The Grey Toupee leaves in an hour. I must spend this time improving my outlook. I must moderate my morning disgust, adopt the attitude of the mildly disappointed. By the afternoon I might reach half-amused. Nirvana.