Yet More Signs Of Emptiness

Is it just me or do we all get more and more mail marked ‘Private and Confidential’? The thing is, when you take a looksee of the contents, it isn’t either private or confidential. Invariably it’s some marketing shit concerning ‘free’ offers.

This inflation of words is one of my personal loathings. Years ago I realised that to be truly effective, words have to be used carefully. They’re perfect for telling lies but much less so at expressing the truth.

And it’s not just words that are bandied about. More and more there’s a lack of real substance to what’s on offer to us. Few things seem to match up to the ‘it-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ scenario. All too often the claims are just limp pricks ….. and I’m

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not the only one who’s noticed this drift into a state of airy unreality.

I’m not nosey by nature, though I suppose that is a matter of interpretation; I admit to a tremendous curiosity, especially about what I call the ‘human’ element in human-beings.

This is probably one of the reasons I enjoy directing Plays. One of my leisure activities is that I’m involved with a Youth Theatre, the objectives of which are to use Drama as a means of taking bad-lads off the streets and on to the stage, the idea being to use a production of ‘Coriolanus’ and fake blood on the streets of Ancient Rome as a substitute for real blood on the mean streets of Halifax.

What I’ve discovered is that you need imagination and a curiosity about the happenings of the Past to put together something which, on stage, an audience can believe approaches the ‘real thing’.

What increasingly disturbs me is that the ‘real thing’ is no longer obvious in ‘real life’.

There’s reference to this in the What Men Do Guide which, I recall, is particularly incensed about false tits (it being one of the few subjects the three writers can agree upon). My complaints are more, well, petty, but they still cause me to despair at the desperate state of the human condition today, and worse, the drift which I suspect gives us a true glimpse of the future.

For instance one thing – you may consider this nit-picking – is I’m particularly dismayed at the rubbish magazines I witness being purchased by those ahead of me in the queue at Tescos. More often than not, they’re devoted to the ‘amazing’ lives of either the ‘pretend’ characters in the soaps, or the related emptiness in the ‘private’ lives of those acting out the roles. Emptiness piled on to more emptiness.

And it isn’t just the media that seems to be running on empty.

I was chatting with one of my cousins a couple of days ago. He was just back from a funeral – the father of one of his mates had passed on – and he recounted to me how unreal he’d found the funeral.

My cousin said that not a single member of the congregation shed a tear; there was not a moment of sadness in the church, just a chilly formality as if those present were enacting a ceremony which was strictly devoted to observing a formal sense of duty.

At the reception afterwards the women exchanged some airy kisses on the cheek, and some of the guys made a stilted attempt to hug each other. At least, he said, that was what was suggested. But this obviously lacked realism for him. He described it as more of a ‘duty hugging’; it was impossible to believe that any warm, human energy was being exchanged or any suggestion of a personal intimacy being reaffirmed.

I have to say, I found no difficulty imagining this scene, or the formal acknowledgement which will undoubtedly appear in the local newspaper effusively thanking everyone for attending.

If observations of empty ‘thankyou’s’ and ‘Private and Confidential’ are now acceptable as meaningful communications, how much future credibility can we expect to believe from ‘I love you’?

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