Fear the Goat Boy The Pretzel Within


Fear the Goat Boy

The Pretzel Within

The Tits and the Pendulum

Up yours to the nobs and feeling the wrath in England

13th April, 2003

The underground train carriage was packed for the rush hour, stuffed with as many human bodies as possible. There must have been three hundred in a space designed for half that number. And yet noone touched. We were contorted, shrunk, wrapped around and yet still managed to preserve a regulated three millimetres of space between us and everyone else.

If this had been a Tokyo commuter service my face would be buried in someone else's navel, my arms planted in seperate buttocks and my feet very likely shoved onto a different carriage altogether. But this is England, and certain politenesses must be observed.

And it wasn't just personal space. Despite everyone's face being centimetres from everyone else's face, everyone managed to look politely away. There was nowhere else to look, yet everyone managed to look there. Some even, through a certain physical liquidity, read their novel. Some others managed to read it too, whether they wanted to or not. When someone's face is closer to your eyes than your own nose is, it's important not to stare at them. It's embarrassing.

In England, embarrassment is not allowed.

Embarrassment can attach itself to anyone who stands out from the rest for any reason, which makes it very difficult to say or do anything ever, for fear someone might notice. I have been in a classroom full of people who have been asked a simple question. Everyone knows the answer, everyone knows that everyone knows the answer, everyone knows that nothing will happen until someone says something, yet nothing happens.

We sit in silence, faces screwed up like so many constipated hamsters, everyone straining at their utmost not to be the first one to speak. Not to run the risk of showing off. Or of someone thinking that you're showing off. Or of you thinking that someone thinks you're showing off. And so on.

Tally ho!

Noone likes a showoff. What, you think you're better than anyone else?

The English may be the most innately democratic people on Earth. They have a levelling instinct that tell them that no man is any better than any other. It crops up throughout their history, whether in the primitive parliaments of their Germanic ancestors or the free yeomen of Edward III and the Black Prince. They picked up their longbows after giving the two-fingered fuck you, nobs to the mounted French aristocrats on the fields of Crecy and Poitiers, and reamed them with their own baguettes.

This essential sense of equality may explain why England is still notionally feudal today, with a queen, and a nobility, and people called Charlotte who know what to do at a gymkana. The French and other peoples had to guillotine away all the dead wood to gain equality and democracy. In England it was always understood that everyone was essentially the same.

Anyone who tried to nob it too much was dispatched to the Navy either to be sunk or else buggered into a newer appreciation of their place in life. It's notable that some of the other few remaining monarchies in the world also belong to societies evolved from a similar Viking sense of equality: Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Hence also the innate democracy of the English queue (or the line, as the Americans say, with their vulgar use of proper English words instead of fashionable French-isms). Everybody must with automatic grace join the end or fear the wrath. This being England of course, the wrath must be expressed without anyone being the first to speak, without causing embarassing scenes, without in fact anything noticeable to foreigners at all. If you find people talking and moving in a very very normal manner all around you, you can be sure of it. You've invoked the wrath.


Even now, Britain has a professional sect of levellers more effective than any guillotine, though they leave more bloody entrails to be cleared up afterward: the tabloid press. Anyone with the temerity to raise themselves above the common lot will quickly find themselves first cut off, then cut up, and finally endure the shame of secret photographs of their flabby buttock cleavage splashed across page one.

Buttocks! Tits! Stonkers!! We can't get enough! For a people supposed to be distant and polite, the British have an insatiable appetite for gossip, innuendo and big'uns.

The Germans are clear and open on the subject of sex. It is a biological expedient to be cleared up in an efficient manner using whatver collection of whips, manacles and spiky hats necessary for a result. The French consider sex an elongated pose, preferably lit in black and white with a smoking ashtray in the foreground . The Irish feel it best left to someone else.

But in England you can't get to work in the morning without wading through five or six celebrities/government ministers/naughty guide leaders and their illicit toe/bondage/swimming pool orgies. It's enough to put you off your breakfast, or write an angry, angry letter of complaint, or consider becoming a guide leader.

Ought to be locked up.


The British policemen can also be the most approachable, the least fear-inspiring available, except of course when they have to don harsh London accents and chase after evil villains/humorous conmen. Then it's matter of doin' 'is 'ead in, or stichin' 'im up, or shut it, slag. I haven't sampled that side of things yet. (The Irish police may be on a similar plane, but I've never yet met one I could understand. The average Irish Garda is a six foot two farmer's son from Ballyferriter, who speaks no language known to man. The only way to placate one is to move your car, either a little, or a lot, and see if this is pleasing.)

On the whole, it's a happy medium. Noone is better than you, or at least they're ashamed to say so. Occasionally someone may rise to great fame and wealth, but we'll get to see what they hide in their dog kennel. The social pendulum rises and falls, but mostly stays around the middle. And you'll always have your own three millimetres of space.




On the Busses





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