millennial yuppie instagram life pornography

manchester is a dimly lit canal-side underpass, filled with creepy sub-surface middle-aged men, waiting.

manchester is a piss-stinking tunnel, half-heartedly lit, where every strip light is painted over with scratched black spraypaint, and every cctv camera the same.

manchester is a man, and a dog, both going for an unexpected swim, while i watch, mesmerised, doing absolutely nothing as man hauls himself (skinny jeans, parka, moustache), then dog (small and curly, tennis ball) out of the filthy water and onto the towpath, under the bridge, as it were.

i say, shit, man, and he says !
and i say fuck and he says !
and i say was it cold? and he says yeah, just a bit.

and he drips away, out of the bridge tunnel, and i pass him and give him a knowing look while he wrings himself out and checks in on his presumably sodden electronics.

manchester is parkside bass and smoking on the grass verge next to the lock. two territorial canada geese closely watching me, me watching the water, the sky. everything red, or green, or blue, or black. brick, and soft, wintery grass, and blazing sky, low winter sun, pure void, just emptiness burning, producing no heat. a cormorant flying right over my head and burning up in the impossible brightness. everything full of meaning and liminal. luminous black water reflecting blue like a rippling bruise on corroded sheet-metal carapace.

manchester is me, stoned, unreading a map, going nowhere, in circles.

manchester is stickers sprouting on every lamppost, like lichen, some species recurring again and again. no nature but muddy grass and weeds and wet moss and rats and pigeons. the quality of pigeon correlating bizarrely well with the millennialness of their immediate environment.

manchester is hunching my way around, stoned and stoopid, half holistically, half holy wide-eyed mystically, half assed artistically, faintly imprinting interesting things on my wide eyes, my untidy brain. my neat, sober shelves sagging under the weight of randomly packaged and piled up duct-taped-shut boxes bearing no addresses, or identifying marks, or anything else except random damage from my random throwing, half scared half the time.

scared and i shouldn’t be. i’m scared not of the worst, but of the very least. i’m scared of caring about my shit, spending the day on the phone, cancelling cards, reordering cards, changing passwords. i tell myself i don’t care. i tell myself that if i don’t care, then there’s no reason to be scared. i tell myself i’ll not care another time.

i’m scared for no reason at all, only the incomplete gentrification of this area. which hasn’t been scraped clean and scrubbed with wire wool and cherried-on-top with a tesco metro or a cafe nero. on the way back, i end up on a millennial’s wet-dream of a canalside. everything is clean, i feel safe, i feel like i’m enjoying myself more, i feel disappointed about this.

i have a great time too at the aggressively gentrified street-food place we end up at, later. a carbon copy of the studenty hotel i stayed in in paris with the early morning bean bags and the heinously bad bedrooms and kitchen. here are the only lights on in the whole corporate blob occupying 100 something street in central manny. i’m taken in by bold backlit black on subtle satiny plastic, black-metal framed boxes, qr code menu, ordering, stainless steel kitchen, wooden tastefully beige papernapkinned knife and fork. the white person food experience. millennial yuppie instagram life pornography, young wife, young baby, afterwork lads on a wednesday night, not a big night so it’s quiet and we get our own eight-place octoberfest flavoured bench, watch our own white waiter make us some authentic white-person vegan indian food, and chilli chips. it’s annoyingly stereotypically delicious.

manchester is a cold, corporate cocktail bar, square postmodern roundabout business-park style windows, not even dusted. not even finished upstairs. i should have stayed downstairs, with the warm lights and the people and the smell of coffee. instead i’m alone in my corporate crows-nest, all green and orangey-brown and fake wood. mint and apple tea on a bamboo board with a recess for the apple-flavoured bubble-gum coloured pot, stainless lid, stainless spoon, two spotlessly white sugar lumps, denby microwaveable two-tone handpainted-style mug. i take both sugars, shoot the bastards up, intra-venous, like a fucking junkie. stir. live a little.

from the building opposite, storey seven, someone is staring out. i stare back but they’re not looking at me. they don’t know about me. just typing away in a torn blue windbreaker sipping cold sugary apple-mint tea in the airport lounge. what’s to look at?

up here on the second floor of this canary-wharf-on-a-sunday themed cocktail bar, by the grand-ish piano and the hat and coat on an empty table and the half-assembled set of cardboard stationary organisers. salinger would’ve had a field day here, if anyone could’ve got him out of his house. everything is so fucking phoney. anything authentic is completely ineffective here. not just ineffective but meaningless. this corporate bullshit sucks the life out of everything. fuck these bare white bulbs. i refuse to get shit done.

manchester is the inenviable, inevitable architecture of fascist former lego-technic enthusiasts.

manchester is a dustbin bukkake’d with dogshit baggies and two-litre fanta bottles.

manchester, where post-apocalyptic is an cityscape aesthetic, an artform.

manchester is letting go. let go. my problem (one of my problems) is that at the moment i feel like the way to start letting go is to first build myself a safety net, in case of bumpy landing. but bungee jumping isn’t letting go. how can i let go if i’m scared about shit like losing my phone and wallet? or my mind? does that sound enlightened to you? how can i let go when i’m scared of weird men in a dark underground canal tunnel, on narrow concrete and metal walkways and wet wooden duckboards? the black rushing water to my left and dripping black brick wall to my right, and shadows.

when i burst, blinking like a newborn babe and gasping for fresh fumes, to surface civilisation, to a road, with cars, and buses, and a tram, to heaven, to a car park and a big aldi, a big middle aisle, and a go outdoors and a boots… fuck it i’m actually glad for a second, and then i realise there’s no consolation prize to be had here, not even that, just bright lights and the promise of a long, comfortable, boring life.

manchester is a big sign saying HOTEL opposite. actually it’s like this






in white, and i can tell i’d be ok there. my room would be something like this. i’d feel safe and secure with my key card and the bed would be covered in clean white sheets and the bathroom would be covered in clean white tiles and clean white ceramic objets-d’art and tiny white cardboard boxes containing tiny white toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, razor. and i’d like it.

i expect nothing from life, and i get it, tastefully lit and overpriced and clean and inhuman, as far as possible, and politely yet pointedly impersonal.

i’d look out over the other budget hotels of manchester, over empty offices and empty cocktail bars and empty canalside, intermittently lit as though by giant sparsely spaced fairy lights. i’d smoke on the balcony, cold and careless. go back in shivering and run a hot steamy bath, watch jurassic park on tv, sprawled on the bed, watch porn on my phone, press random buttons on my phone sat dripping post-shower naked except for my towel turban.

i’d fantasise about my canalboat life. i’d fantasise about not being afraid of anything. i’d fantasise about the dingy dodgy-looking out-of-town bunkhouse i fictionally stay in, where i don’t have to go outside to smoke, where i don’t have my own hot bath, my own schoolboy desk, my own set of white fluffy towels. where i sit getting stoned, watching couples hooking up by the bar, drowning my sorrows and soaring high above my own head half-way between manchester and mars.

manchester is an excuse.

manchester is brick so soft and mushy after almost two hundred years underwater that you can scoop it with a spoon, like chocolate ice cream.

or shit.

manchester is a seven forty train back to nowhere

manchester is a wet wednesday somewhere else
skies blue by request
getting high and watching
a man and a dog go swimming and writing
in a bar i dislike
and musing on my millennialness, millennialism
my fears and fantasies
or something like that
manchester’s something like that

you know?

this is already a long one, so i won’t add much, but i want to provide a little context.

i love wandering around manchester. manchester means something to me. i’m not sure what, or perhaps i just don’t want to say here. it’s a place i visit frequently enough to remember how things are, but infrequently enough that every time i go, it’s changed. for this reason, and others, manchester always seems to give me something to think about, and write about.

it’s also one of the shining examples, in architectural form, of how creatively bankrupt, or stifled perhaps, we are as a culture, today. the only good thing that can be said about (almost) everything currently being built in manchester (and this goes for most places by the way, manchester is just the exemplar par excellence), is that it will all be gone in my lifetime. everything is so fucking half-assed. so temporary. so single-use. so surface-deep. so good-enough.

enough. fuck good-enough. good-enough is not good enough.

we, as a culture, won’t be remembered, deservedly, as the ones who fucked everything up. we won’t be remembered at all.

and so.

i wrote this text a while back. at the time, i craved immediacy. my method, if i had one, was to develop an idea as fast and as far as i could until it began to lose meaning or momentum, and then move on. next thing. next. i didn’t draw. undoubtedly i lacked the patience. instead i channelled everything through, or into, writing.

the pictures accompanying the text are all things i noticed on a recent wander. street art. stickers, mostly, stuck to sidestreet walls, lampposts, boarded-up windows. a couple of badges. a drain. anything that caught my attention.

i wouldn’t write that same text now. i wouldn’t draw the same things, in the same way, then. i couldn’t. it seems right that these two disparate parts of myself, separated by time, and intervening events, should find themselves here, together. now play nicely.