I am surrounded by notices, messages and closed-circuit televisions. I am being protected night and day. I am being told what to do, how to do it, and where to do it. I have seen cameras in cages and post-codes that are achanging. There are fallen leaves in the summer. There is pelting rain...the UK
Well, it all started yesterday night. I had got up to follow Scriggler’s advice which is to retweet at a 12-hour interval to make hits on different time-zones. I was tweeting various, one of which was “Do you like hornbills or pornbills?” (a tweet referring to my recent novel) when I noticed two rapid tweets, middle-of-the-night tweets, asking me if I wanted to get into hot, sexy conversation – “Hi F Talk Dirty 2 me?” (Obviously, the word “pornbills” stirs up latent passion.) I had also tweeted a photo of an English rivulet very much controlled by walls which I hoped might advertise my collection of poems about being in prison, so to speak, no leeway, that sort of thing. No such luck. I then tweeted the following: “#WritersLife In Sheffield UK very cloudy sky & rain most days. Security very important. Will post photos of how I am protected, CCTV, etc.” And almost immediately it was retweeted.
I am one who needs very little encouragement, and believing some may be interested in how well protected I am in my neck of the woods in Sheffield, UK, I sallied forth this morning and started taking photos of signs, machines, places, government drawings, all helping me to live a long life. Downcast I was as I took my photos because my tablet showed every damn one of them with an English weather-gloom ingrained. So imagine my joy when I looked at them this afternoon (after watching Belgium football take on Irish football and find that je-ne-sais-quoi to put three balls into the back of one net…Sorry, that should be one ball three times into the back of one/two? net(s)…or, more succinctly, Belgium won 3 – 0).
Now, I am not usually one to brag and lord a big ego over those smaller egos out there who can’t collect one good photo on “security” but today brag I must, and boast I must, and point out how well positioned I am, having rapidly become number one in Britain’s photographers’ meritocracy. Who has put me there? Need you ask? Suffice it to say I am the proud possessor of seventeen (yes, that’s 17!) photos of what protects me here in a very small area of Sheffield. I live in S3 near S10 (but S10 is wrong and should be S3, therein revealing that even the English have problems with numeracy — more of that later with photos, more photos, to prove the point) and all my photos were taken within a few steps of my doorstep. So, please to step up to your computer or your mobile and get on to Twitter because this Finch is going to be twittering and tweeting those photos with suitable comments in the next forty-eight hours or so. I am also going to make you laugh, and if I don’t, then I’ll give you 500 Thai baht when I get back to Thailand (October the 3rd, 2016) if you remind me, and if I don’t do what some internet friends do to me – go extremely silent and off the face of the satellite! And they’re friends who only have to write a review for me, not give me Asian doshoids, 500 to boot!!!
Now, why is Finch sitting here with a smile on his face like a flipping big cat looking at a saucer of cream or a flipping big cat looking at a wee mousie (the sort Robbie Burns loved…yep, you’ll all remember the Scottish bard’s immortal opening: “Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie” * though I am yet to find anyone who can explain it to me, and, of course, none can say why Robbie should take it into his fluting head to talk to a mouse!). Well, I’m here grinning because one of my photos has a church with student-flats in it (i.e. a closed-down place of English religious worship). My photos have a post-office which is government property, Royal Mail, protected by at least 4 C.C.T.V.’s. I have information for cyclists who must go slow (no speed limit for cyclists yet, I am sorry to say). I have a camera in a cage which will shortly get a sign from me hung from it saying: “Please do not feed the C.C.T.V.” (You should be laughing at this point. Yes, LOL, LOL, for flip’s sake, LOL. Got it?) I have a church, the aforementioned with C.C.T.V., and no congregation. I have a sign telling all of us about Smartwater and if any of you out there are thieves then don’t you ever dare tamper with Smartwater. Its water is very smart I can tell you that. I have a photo of our local police station poking its formidable head out between all these signs and symbols and advices and cameras I am rabbiting on about. I have our local centre for Islam, Al-Huda Islamic Centre, in one photo and beside its black-and-white sign is a red-and-yellow sign “CAUTION 24 HOUR RECORDED C.C.T.V.”. It thrives unlike the English church which has been converted into student-flats while keeping the exterior. (Surely a case for a law suit by an enterprising wit like myself dealing with deception via externals and profitry at the expense of religiosity if you get my drift which, of course, you do.) And last but not least I have at least one photo where my intention was to photograph one item of security but upon scrutiny I find I have photographed two, so easily do these signs proliferate that you can think you are photographing one and instead you photograph twenty-one. What’s more, and great, is that on my tablet I can enlarge them and read their advice clearly. It is all excellent advice, I imagine council and government funded, and it shows just how the British tax payers’ money is being used in part. Do not confuse me by pointing out that private business is profiting from security-issues. Any “tampering” with walls and pavements has to be authorized by the local council. Council is authority. Authority is government.
But let me conclude : I will post these photos over a short period of time and leave you to decide. Do not venture into my protected area of Sheffield unless you have a clean record and remember not to walk your child on a bicycle path. If you are a thief SMARTWATER will definitely thwack you. Look carefully at the photo of the bicycle path with SLOW written on it. There’s a drawing of a bike (in white) and SLOW written further on in big white capitals. That’s the path where you can’t walk with a child (except you can because the vandals have put a cross over that poor child's image to confuse us into thinking there's a ban on little kiddie-widdies right there on that tear-away bike uncul-de-sac). A lone adult can, of course, take his own, lone life into his own hands which is what I am going to do. I am going to walk that path. My intention is to get to my local pub and drown my sorrows. What sorrows? Well, you see all those fallen leaves on that bike path? Yes, I know it’s summer and they should fall in autumn, but they haven’t. And I’m in luck. It’s been raining and I’m going to slip on those fallen leaves. My sorrow is going to be a broken leg, and I’m going to sue the council for failing to clean fallen "autumn" leaves in the summer. I am going to make them pay through the nose for not protecting me.
Oh, yes, Britain can protect me from almost everything but not from unseasonal weather, fallen leaves and broken legs on them, the leaves. If anyone tells you they have seen me making rude sign at Britain’s obsession with security (someone said I was picking my nose right in front of a C.C.T.V. only the other day), do not believe them. If you are one of my real friends, you can beat them up into the bargain. You know me better than they do, and you know I am a literate, sensitive, poetic sort of non-resident Brit, a fellow who scorns George Orwell and who is the first to proclaim his newfound love for Big Brother.
*“To a Mouse” Robert Burns (“Written by Burns after he had turned over the nest of a tiny field mouse with his plough. Burns was a farmer and farmers are generally far too busy to be concerned with the health of mice. This poem is another illustration of Robert Burn’s tolerance to all creatures and his innate humanity.”) www.robertburns.org.uk
Included by me to show you that I’m not the only one writing for a laugh! “…tolerance to all creatures…innate humanity…” What a scream!