On Porridge

Just popped to the shop for some bread. I am forever popping to the shop. Every day – every day I pop. I pop to the shop. I cannot stop.

I bought bread and soup. Three quid total. If I play my cards right (I won’t), the soup should last me three days. It’s a big soup, you see: 600 millilitres (remember when I lived in Berlin and used to write about doing ket and watching grown men get fisted? God I used to be cool). I had 250ml worth of soup just now, with one slice of buttered bread. For lunch tomorrow I will have the same. This will leave a very small amount of soup for the third day, but I can even this out by having two slices of bread with it. I suppose I could add water to the soup, but I don’t know – that feels a bit extreme. This isn’t the Blitz. I’m just a bit skint. No need to start boiling my shoes just yet.

I also bought a thank-you card for my mum and stepdad, because they lent me the money for a new laptop this weekend after mine unexpectedly died for no discernible reason. I didn’t even touch it. It was working fine and then I went downstairs for a coffee and came back up 5 minutes later and there was my laptop, murdered: spread-eagled on my desk, screen black, tongue hanging out, white text flashing ‘CRITICAL ERROR’ at me. How the hell do you have a ‘critical error’ when you’re just chilling on standby. It’s like if I was talking to my flatmate in the kitchen while stirring a pan of pasta, and they nipped out to use the bathroom for a second and returned to find me impaled on the end of the house mop, eyes glazed. The fuck man.

My new laptop seems to be working nicely. It has a big screen and nice clackety-clack keys, which are actually extremely important for me because as a writer I need to have a satisfying tap-tap sound from my keys in order to feel that I’m writing good stuff. I’ve tried old computers, I’ve tried using those keyboards with chunky fat keys, hunks of plastic that squawk and get stuck when you prod them – and no. I cannot. Nobody can create beauty with those monstrosities. You need clacky flat keys. Mac keys are the clackiest ever but I’m far too poor for Apple, and anyway I don’t really know how to use one and it seems silly to spend £1500 for clacky keys.

Oh! Revelation by the way: porridge?! I’ve gotten way into porridge (Remember when I once wrote about dropping acid in a techno-themed fully-nude spa???). My friend Pube Head told me about porridge last week when I was complaining about being destitute. ‘Buy some oats and make porridge’ he said. ‘Chop half an apple into it’. Well, I found some oats in Tesco, one kilo for one pound, and then I bought six apples for a pound too, and then I went mental and bought six pears for a pound. Three pounds! £3! And I can eat breakfast for two weeks! And not just that — it’s genuinely delicious. Every day after I eat my porridge I feel like I could levitate a little bit. It gives me this lovely warm healthy glow feeling in my belly. Makes me feel like Winnie the Pooh.

Perspective is everything. There are days when I think about my finances and want to grab my face like an Edvard Munch painting and shriek continually until the Earth does one full rotation. And then, weirdly enough, there are times when it all feels hopeful and even sort of fun. The best bits are when I discover an alternative to a necessary product that functions in much the same way but costs a few quid less. I found some nice-fitting polo shirts a couple of weeks ago, £4 each. £12 for three tops! (In Berlin I once went to a BDSM party where everybody was wearing top hats and a tall vampire man was serving lines of speed on silver platters).

I do actually do stuff, by the way. On weekends, I mean – I do do stuff. I just don’t write about it because when I’m out and about I don’t really ponder or grow. All that stuff happens when I’m alone – and I also only write when I’m alone. So pondering’s got dibs.

But anyway I went to the Tate Modern last Friday after work. I’ve been many times to the Tate and always leave feeling robbed despite it being free – I’m a classic art sort of guy. I like art where you can tell it took more than five minutes to do.

I was there with my friend Rob and Rob’s friend Anya for a late-night gallery event where everybody was dressed extravagently and drinking gin and tonic from little expensive cans. Anya didn’t like my view on modern art being shit.

“Oh, that’s such a boring opinion,” she said. “It’s like when those idiots say ‘Ugh, my five year old could have drawn that.’

I didn’t say anything in reply to this because a tempest spontaneously erupted inside me and rendered me mute.

The piece in question that I’d been slagging off when I, in turn, was slagged to hell, was an exhibit in which the public were invited up (two at a time, you had to queue for 20 minutes) to paint on canvases using baked beans, cheese, gravy and mushy peas in lieu of paint. Whenever a pair finished slopping food onto their canvas, an official photographer took a picture of them with their creation and then chucked it into a nearby bin.

I mean: fine. You could make the argument that it’s fun. Maybe it’s some inner child shit, I dunno. But it’s still not good, is it? Like, maybe it’s ‘art’ with a little ‘a’, but it’s not Art. And I can say this because I got a C in art at GCSE. Do you know how I got my C? I lied! Through my teeth! I tried to paint Jimi Hendrix playing guitar on a slab of wood, and it all went terribly and I panicked and ended up just swirling all the colours around until the whole picture was nothing but a dirty great purple-brown splodge. I presented it to the teacher at the end of the exam, my brown smear, and handed her a little paragraph I’d written explaining that the fat ugly dollop I’d turned in was in fact a representation of my emotions when I listened to Hendrix’s music, or whatever. And there you go: C.

I can’t imagine ever having the balls to display that piece of nonsense anywhere, let alone charging people for the privilege of looking at it. Maybe I’d feel differently if I’d gotten an A.

You can’t get away with it as a writer. You can’t offer the bare minimum and pass it off as ethereal genius. Imagine coming to visit World Hangover and my next article was just a giant white page and a single word—


You’d think I’d gone mad. But then, I suppose, if all the living great writers of the world looked at my single word and nodded together and said it was thought provoking, I’d be validated into making more single word articles.


And then I suppose I’d start wearing a beret and being very serious and I’d stop laughing at farts because trendy art people, as I learned the hard way in Berlin, do not find farts hilarious.

But they are.

Anyway, after the baked bean exhibit we went to one by Yoko Ono. I was determined to not like it for the reasons I have so beautifully detailed above. One piece was a blank canvas with a hole booted through it: I looked at it and thought ‘Right’. I’ll admit though, the exhibition grew on me. There were chess tables for people to sit and play against strangers, except all the pieces were white. On the wall beside a sign said: Sit and play. The game ends when you forget which pieces are yours. I liked that idea. Kooky.

There was another nice one at the end of the exhibition, dedicated to mothers. It was a long room with a long wall entirely covered in little paper squares, and from the ceiling were hung several large photographs of Yoko Ono’s boobs and vagina. There were instructions stuck to the wall when you walked in: take a piece of paper from the box beside, write a note to your mum, and stick it on the wall with the others. I thought about what to write for a while, and then settled on a short message that says everything: Love you mum x

I stuck mine on the wall and then read everyone else’s. Some were nice, some were sad, some were very creative (one person had actually drawn their mum’s face, which, if done from memory, was remarkably impressive), some were funny, some were odd.

In the end it won me over and I had a nice time.

See? I’m still cool sometimes. The most substantial change is that the only white powder I mess with these days is sugar, in my porridge (just for a treat – not every day. I’m not fucking debauched).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *