…to be fully animated     

Why should Oscar give a damn about orange marmalade and wicker furniture and the people who count and the date of the battle of Hastings? What of these people who count – who the hell are they? These name makers, place makers, trend setters and benders and enders? Who do they think they are? Who does Oscar think he is? How dare they? How dare Oscar? These people who fill up their trolleys with fair trade tea bags, green bananas, bags of wholemeal flour and exotic fruit and vegetables? Those fucking people? And the others, those people who roll around in their own muck, drinking fizzy pop and getting pregnant? Who are they? Those dirty bastards. Cigarettes and glasses of vodka? Why should Oscar give a shit? How much is a packet of fags? A litre of petrol? Pounds to the dollar?

Opening your eyes in the morning, never mind getting up, reveals the same ceiling as the morning before. The same light peeking through the windows. Are they larks or some other fucking bird singing? Close your eyes. Open your eyes. And then it starts. Today’s news. Always the news. What’s happening today? What’s the news? Predictions? What happened yesterday? What pile of shit is about to topple down on top of you? Where is the toilet? Why can’t I feel my legs? The pain in the base of my spine. I’d better get up. And the most useless piece of information, well pieces, lots of pieces – the fucking weather. Pieces of weather. Fragments of weather reports. Don’t miss the weather forecast. What’s the forecast? Jesus-mary-and-joseph look at those clouds. That’s rain, that is. What did the man on the forecast say? The weather forecast? Our very lives, our everything, our pieces of cake… it all hangs in the balance. It’s going to fucking rain. I know it is. What time is it?

And then the clock starts. Tick tock it goes. Like I need to tell you. Who doesn’t know the sound of a clock? Tick tock. Who can’t hear it all day? Tick tock. Jesus Christ – will it stop tick tock before I put my foot through the tick tock. Like it matters at all if it’s five past three or quarter to six. Jesus – you’ll miss the weather forecast. Quick. Quick. It’s on. Turn it over to one. Quick. I can feel it in my bones. The rain is coming. The rain. We’ve only got minutes. What’ll we do? Before the rain gets here? Before it stops us in our tracks? It’s water.

Oscar didn’t give a shit if it rained all day. And all night. It would only go down the plug hole – flood my ass. And it’s only water, isn’t it? Not like its magma or some such boiling viscous fluid which would stick you to the ground and smother you in nine thousand degree hot orange jam. Jesus, here comes the marmalade. Don’t let it get me. Anything but that. Not me. Not me of all people.

I count. Oscar was for a moment disgruntled with the manner in which it was decided who counted and who didn’t count. But as soon as he counted, he didn’t give a toss how much anything counted, anyone, what counts? Opening his eyes again, he could only acknowledge the view afforded him – the same cracks in the same ceiling, the same light shining trough the same curtains, give or take a shade or two, the world is seasonal after all. Season’s greetings is all you have to say and every base is covered. Never mind with happy Christmas or sorry for your loss or any of that stuff, because it’s only one thing after another anyway, as if the world ever stops turning and spins the other way. So why should Oscar give a shit if it’s snowing outside? Or if little icicles are hanging off the eaves? Or there are dogs hanging out of trees? And cats blown across streets and smashed against walls? Against windows? And every bird has fucked off to somewhere else? Migration. Let them all go. No point trying to stop them. Those birds don’t count for a brass razoo anyway. They’re only birds. Migratory birds – the fuckers.

For the want of something to do Oscar turned over and stared at the opposite wall, having a paragraph or two ago turned towards the window and the light shining through the curtains. For the want of something else to do he closed his eyes and pulled the duvet up over his head and then tucked it under his chin. There was the sound of a gun shot or a car back firing in the streets outside – neither of which Oscar gave a shit about. He would have got up to make some breakfast but for the fact that he didn’t want to think about muesli and coffee and how he didn’t give a damn about either of them. Though he was partial to the odd cup of black coffee. And muesli did fill you up for the day. But really, he didn’t give a shit.

The next thing he sees, and this after not turning any other way, is the face and wide eyes and red lips and round tits of Helen hovering five feet off the ground. Most of the rest of her body duly enters his line of sight and he postulates the other bits and pieces – feet, left arm, shoes, spine, back, sinews, pores, follicles, liver etc.

“Jesus Christ. You’re pathetic,” she says.

“Is it snowing out?” Oscar asks, for the want of something to ask.

“It makes me sick just to look at you. You. You just don’t give a shit.” Helen adopts what must be a disgusted look. “If only you were…” And left the room. Every last bit of her.

Give a shit? Care a damn? Be concerned? Worried? Anxious? Wonder? Inquire into? Where’s the soap? When did Columbus sail the ocean blue? What’s the square root of a hundred and six? Where’s my cigarettes? What time is it? What did the man on the weather say? The forecast? Jesus Christ, the forecast. What is it? What about the starving children in Africa? And the guns and the knives and the mountains of cocaine and butter and wine – a mountain of wine. Oscar would like to see a mountain of wine. A mountain of fucking wine. But about the rest he didn’t give a shit. And how could he? How could anyone? Genuinely? How could anyone give a drop of runny shit about anything?

And it was then that it hit him. It hit Oscar in the manner in which an idea can hit anyone – a kind of tickle on the back of the head. A kind of faint buzzing about the head and its environs.

“I don’t give a shit.” Oscar called out. And that was the point. That was the rock upon which he would build his church. Not giving a shit. He’d write an article. But no one would read it. A column even. A weekly column ignored by everyone. Because no one does give a shit. Not really. Not about anything. Not about yellow apples, and orange cheese, ten football fields of anything, and salt and pepper shakers, and cows in the countryside, and canals on mars, the cost of the space shuttle, the wars in Africa, paedophiles in the city, drug dealing pimps in prison, murderers on the street, the price of pig shit, the volume of water in an Olympic swimming pool, the colour of autumn, the smell of fried eggs, the number of feral cats stalking the countryside, the countryside, the other side, the size of the cardinal’s penis, the number of players on a rugby team, the rise in standards, the fall in standards, the Prince of Siam, the duke of Milan, the likelihood of death by drowning, murder, lightning or tripping over your slippers, where’s the dog, when does the sun rise, what’s that about the guy from around the corner, did you see the weather forecast? Can you tell me what the weather forecast is? The forecast?



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