Mid-Life Crisis | Clive Warner


There comes a point when you realise that you're unlikely to achieve those grand dreams. The private jet becomes a Rolls Royce, then a Jaguar, then, well, maybe a Ford will do.

 

Then you find out that 90 percent of everything is made by international plutocrats and drug barons both legal and illegal, in huge automated factories run by white-coated androids striding through acres of leaking white tubes that drip, drip, drip ammonia and glucose and acetic acid into the naked soil. Is this how the superbugs evolve against us?

 

Maybe Tom Clancy writes 95 percent of the garbage published under a hundred different pen names, and all the books come from one factory and so does the telly, and the radio too, and here's the Internet casting its sublimages into your tired eyes: Buy Buy Buy

 

Every day single-kiln cement plants burn thirty thousand tons of rock to make ten thousand tons of gray monolithic tower blocks to house the people on social security, displaced from factories by machines programmed by machinemen and machinewomen, who walk around with clipboards, crocodile clips, cultured accents and money dripping from the ends of their fingers.

 

All the while the poor scum wait outside, and watch telly, and burn, burn inside, to see the rich and beautiful in the adverts, driving their rich beautiful young handsome husbands and wives to another productive day at Inhuman Resources where they plot further improvements in efficiency.

 

And what is that look in your eyes? Are you a hunted deer?

 

What do they see as they hurtle towards the pedestrian crossing where you stumble, the five-pointed star looming like a gunsight before you, sunlight blazing from their Metalflaked Urethaned Tefloned hand-buffed bodyworx?

 

They see a waste of space.

 

The woman in the Job Centre that used to be called the Labour Exchange that used to be called the Workhouse, said that you may as well regard yourself as retired, since noone wants anyone who works with their hands any more, like engineers, technicians, nurses, and so on, not after you're fifty/ fourty-five/ forty/ thirty-five, and any day now, thirty, especially if you're a woman, as all the jobless become euthanasia prospects for those with the money and power and doctors and police.

 

Unless you're the token old/ black/ white/ male/ female/ other/ human person.

 

This then, is the mid-life crisis. The moment when you realise that the skin on the back of your hands has taken on a distinct diamond pattern. When those faint spots don't wash off any more. When 'valium' has a certain ring to it. When, on bad days, those discreet 'Rest Home' signs in suburban greenery begin to have a certain appeal. When dominoes replace Kung Fu. When darts replace squash. When good morning, dear, replaces sex.

 

They say that some people suffer hardly any symptoms of mid-life-crisis. That's true, the rich and famous don't. And as the trees die in my garden, I ask:

 

Who's in charge of the oxygen masks?

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