Just 17 March 23, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
I think I’m in favour of social engineering. And intelligent machines, like that one they used somewhere in the Far East that could awfully cleverly tell if you had SARS when that ailment was de rigueur. It would be so convenient if, every time you entered some establishment or other, it could tell how dim you were and send you to the right section for your IQ-category. (I’d be in with the toddlers, obviously.) The machine would know, say, when I walked into the bank, from my skin-tone and stomach shape that I am clearly not a sensible type and it would send me to the can-I-have-my-swallowed-card-back woman, rather than the 12-year-old boy in a suit who deals with grander types, in suits themselves, often, or sensible but heeled footwear, who want to talk about how to juggle their investments or get a loan for some new pebbledash. Or, in the video-place, the artificial intelligence item would notice from my gentle step and thin neck that I could be steered straight away from any film with the word ‘raid’ in its title or ones featuring muscular, topless men with long hair wearing artillery necklaces on the cover, though it would also know, of course, that I wanted to see, and cleverly be able to produce, a slide-show projected onto the walls as I walked down the corridor to the films-in-European-languages section of the covers of the ‘raid’-in-title films cutting off the men’s long hair, removing their artillery necklaces and giving them a hint of chest hair.
Wouldn’t it just all make life so much easier?
As I was going to look at flats to move into, the relevant artificial intelligence item would put up a force-field preventing me even from entering areas where the residents have a high lip-pursing and complaining-to-neighbour indicator. It would also guide me away from houses where the residents were shown to be utterly, flagrantly in their 20s and who would, on discovery of my deliciously foreign passport, say, “Toll!” and try to get to know me. Houses with a high curtain-twitching indicator on the artificial intelligence item’s display would also be instantaneously enveloped in an impenetrable shroud.
And whenever a teenager came within a 200m-radius, I would instantaneously be teleported up into the clouds and teleported back down at the next convenient, teenager-free location. And if that teleportation transaction was to get in the way of an appointment with the can-I-have-my-swallowed-card-back woman or even something as conventional as meeting a (previously-screened) friend at a (screened and approved, and in possession of brown sugar) location for a (just so fucking not decaffeinated) coffee, the artificial intelligence item would instantaneously let them know, and perhaps we could do the whole thing virtually. Or something.
Because I just don’t know how to cope with the young.
Although I do actually rather like the young. But not as much as I like the old. And a trip to my old woman pends. I repeat, this is not a euphemism for rooneyanly paying for sex. No, I soon plan to go and visit my old woman friend, who was born before Jesus. It has, until now, always been an easy transaction, except that it involves getting on planes and being bollocked, twice, for the state of my passport. “It’s you that insists I carry it round with me every-flippin’-where I go,” I think hard at the German bollockers.
But now the awkward-aged are getting involved.
“Vvvvvv,” vibrated my mobile as we left our receptionless and joyless shopping centre the other day. A garbled, almost inaudible message in English from my old lady’s 17-year-old great-grandson who’s clearly reached a stage where he knows that everything that happens needs to have something for him in it – such a dreary stage – mentioning the words ‘duty free’, ‘cigarettes’, ‘friends’ and ‘selling on to’. Oh just fuck off.
Firstly, it’s obviously a lie. And I’m sure I’d never have had the balls at 17 to ring my gay quasi-uncle abroad and ask him to bring me something. But the national curriculum clearly now teaches that cigarettes are a billionth the price in Germany of what they cost in England and the 17-year-old, who naturally doesn’t have a bean, thinks Christmas has come early.
So what to do? I contacted a related-to-the-17-year-old person whom I could trust not to repeat a word and asked for advice. “Screen all your calls, ignore his messages and breezily, grown-uply say, ‘No, I haven’t bought you cigarettes,’ when he appears at the old woman’s house like a hungry cat within half a second of your arrival.”
A moral minefield. Firstly, I repeat, it’s clearly a lie that they’re for him to sell on to his friends. And, anyway, even if they are for him to become the West Sussex middle-of-nowhere teenage equivalent of the Berlin Vietnamese mafia flogging cheapo Ukrainian cigarettes, that’s hardly a money-spinner that I should avuncularly be promoting, is it? And, anyway, I don’t necessarily want my trips to have a commercial angle.
I can’t contact his uncle or grandmother, whom I know much better, as they would spit with fury and bollock him from now until the next millennium. I would instantly become a grass, and a cunt. I can’t contact his parents, as they would be twice as livid and actually kill him. Twice.
But I can’t just give him the god-damned cigarettes, can I? He is 17, after all. Old enough, technically-speaking. But as they peeked out clumsily from under his bed, half-smoked and unsold, his mother would spot them within a second with German writing all over them and then I’d be bollocked for adding an element of undesirableness to a visit which is, otherwise, a halo-polishing exercise. My halo is so fucking gleaming with this family for the most part that blindness is not unknown to occur in other West Sussex locations nearby.
Damn the young and their actions-don’t-have-consequences philosophy. Maybe my old lady and I should just video-conference instead.