Monday, 27 April 2020


My friend Boris Johnson inherited his visionary spirit from his Ottoman great-grandfather Ali Kema, a freemason with a passing interest in alchemy and the owner of the largest stock of red mercury outside of what was still lodged in the throats of ancient Egyptian mummies lying undiscovered in their tombs. Boris himself had been offered membership of the Guildhall Lodge 3116 but due to his burning desire to impress Catherine McGuinness, he hadn’t joined. If Catherine couldn’t enter this all-male lodge - despite being boss of the City of London Court of Common Council - then he wouldn’t either, even if that meant he never got to be World King AKA Lord Mayor of London.

The Lord Mayor is not to be confused with the much better known but politically insignificant Mayor of London. Freemasons were cunning like that, they installed themselves in an office few knew anything about but which had loads of power and money as well as a rigged election, while leaving millions of Londoners to democratically put their cross against a dupe with a similar title and lots of visibility but little power. This meant that their World King AKA head of the Court of Aldermen would be left alone to plot in secret. When Boris told me this he also said he hoped people would not recall that he had once been Mayor of London but never Lord Mayor.

Even Johnson’s close friend and fellow believer in the bleach cure Donald Trump had been ridiculed for confusing the Mayor of London and the Lord Mayor of London. Those colonials in New York and Washington might only have one mayor but mighty London had two! Boris confided to me he assumed most people were ignorant of the fact that he had been born in New York and wasn’t really Lord Mayor material. He hoped no one would suspect he was anything but a true blue Britisher when he called heartily for his favoured brew of Watney's Red Barrel, a beer that had been initially tested on the public at the East Sheen Lawn Tennis Club in south west London. This was close to where John Dee had his home in the sixteenth century, explorer Richard Burton had his tomb and the 1970s punk rock band Subway Sect hailed from.

To tell the truth it wasn’t just a desire to get stupid fresh with Catherine MacGuiness - and the multi-billion City’s Cash sovereign wealth fund she jointly controlled with the Lord Mayor - that led Boris to turn down ordination into the Guildhall Lodge. He was also concerned that once he was buck naked and dressed in nothing but a blindfold during his initiation, he might be subjected to some indignity he wouldn’t have stood still for if he’d been able to see what was going on. Not that there hadn’t been lots of perversion when Boris had been a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford.

At the Bullingdon they’d hired prostitutes to perform sex acts for them, and then there’d been the time Boris had got so drunk that… Well he’d been so drunk he wasn’t sure whether or not he’d taken a fresh corpse borrowed from the local morgue on a date to an expensive restaurant as a dare….. Returning to things that put Boris off becoming a fully paid-up freemason, there was also the issue of what had happened to both his Ottoman great-grandfather and Roberto Calvi. Although he was not related to the latter, Calvi’s death had been much closer to home. The body of God’s banker, a top Italian freemason, had been found ritually strung up under Blackfriars Bridge. This was roughly halfway between Britain’s Parliament where Boris was Prime Minister and the City of London’s Guildhall HQ - where Lodge 3116 met without so much as having to pay to hire a room. Boris had a public image of being a powerful man but he wanted the keys to power that were actually held in the Guildhall. The City of London council got to send a Remembrancer to sit in the House of Commons and tell the government what the City thought of what it was doing, The arrangement wasn’t reciprocal.

Returning to Ali Kema, he'd been assassinated during the Turkish War of Independence. Historians claimed Kema was bumped off for being a traitor to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's cause but Johnson knew that he’d been killed so that the Turkish state could lay its hands on his great-grandfather’s stock of red mercury. Boris had been told this by the freemasons who had engineered his rise through the ranks of British politics in order to repay a debt their grandparents owed to Kema. Once Johnson’s friend Donald Trump had blown their plan to use a bleach cure to rid the world of Covid 19 - by revealing it prematurely and thus having it ridiculed by the press - it seemed like his best bet for dealing with the virus was to lay his hands on his great-grandfather’s stock of red mercury. As every alchemist knows, red mercury is a super-rare substance that will cure cancer or boils or almost any other ailment, so why not coronavirus too? The problem was getting hold of the red mercury. When Boris phoned the Turkish Embassy in London to ask for it they told him he was an Islamophobic asshole who’d betrayed his Ottoman heritage. Ingrates!

In the meantime Boris had been passed 7,500 ring donuts that a food bank in his South Ruislip constituency had been unable to distribute to the needy and which would pass their use-by date in a matter of hours. Some food processing plant in Greenford was donating what they couldn’t sell, and there’d been a huge decline in demand for donuts since a rumour had gone around that eating them while talking on your smartphone caused Covid 19. More than 40 branches of Derek’s Donuts had been set ablaze in the past two weeks and hundreds of supermarket workers whose stores sold the snack had been abused and threatened. Of course Boris had got all of his cabinet members to denounce as idiots those who claimed eating donuts caused Covid 19, and he’d brought in some top scientists too whose secret research proved the same thing. None of which stopped the anti-donut activists from promoting the conspiracy theory and denouncing his favourite delicacy as junk food for cops. When push came to shove the country needed donuts for its police force. They - Boris was never explicit when using this generic term about whether he was invoking donuts or the police or both - were vital to the UK’s infrastructure and without them the virus couldn’t be beaten! Likewise, if the boys in blue weren’t able to eat donuts in peace then Boris would never Get Brexit Done!

As he was chauffeured to number 10 Downing Street with his 7,500 ring donuts, Boris found himself getting all hot and sweaty. Something had come over him and he’d had one of those flashes of inspiration that were common to men of genius. He’d use the ring donuts to worship the goddess in her triple form - not the conventional maiden, mother and crone, but rather mouth, backside and naughty bits! Boris wasn’t too good at maths - he couldn’t even work out how many children he had - but he figured the 7,500 donuts would just about cover three out of seven external orifices for every woman he’d ever slept with. If he’d had more ring donuts he might have indulged himself with nasal sex too. Boris was going to work backwards and imagine doing gross and naughty things with all those he’d known Biblically until every last donut had been abused. Johnson had got as far as Jennifer Arcuri when Dominic Cummings burst in and caught Boris bollock naked rubbing a disintegrating ring donut up and down his manhood.

“That’s a waste of good donuts that is!” Cummings spat as he took in the remains of several dozen ruined sweet fry cakes on the floor.

“A man with your surname ought to understand what it’s like when I’ve got the horn,” Boris whinged defensively, “and besides even a glutton like me couldn’t eat 7,500 donuts with a use by date we’ll have gone past at midnight!”

“The witching hour!” Cummings boomed. “That reminds me, those scientists you’ve got advising you on the pandemic have no respect. They may know about the laws of nature but I know about the laws of spirit, and that means I outrank them all!”

“That’s well and good, but we must do something about the bad publicity my government is getting over a lack of personal protection equipment for health workers!’

“That’s why I told you not to waste the donuts!”

“What have donuts got to do with PPE?” The Prime Minister wanted to know.

“We can turn them into PPE,” Dom explained. “Let’s string lots of donuts together to make protective gowns. Two rings fastened to each other will make fantastic goggles.”

“What about face masks, can we make donut face masks?” Boris asked excitedly.

“Don’t be stupid,” Dom chided, “anyone using donuts as a face mask would start licking off the sugar coating and then chewing on the cake. Donut face masks wouldn’t last five minutes!”

The sugary smell of 7,500 ring donuts had attracted the attention of Larry the Downing Street cat who was mewling like a loon on the other side of the door. Boris let the feline into the room which was a mistake, since Larry was all over the stale fry cakes within seconds. Fortunately it was the ones Boris had used to frontage himself with that most interested the cat. These had traces of dead skin and even blood on them, since the sugar coating had caused a lot of friction when rubbed up and down the Prime Minister’s love muscle.

Boris wasn’t too hot in the fine motor skills department, in fact he probably needed testing for dyspraxia. Cummings certainly didn’t want to risk being exposed as suffering from developmental co-ordination disorder and so his entrepreneurial bent led him to combine three economic sources that were of major significance to the UK - the charity sector’s food banks for unwanted donuts, the government and immigrant labour. The Queensmead Sports Centre in South Ruislip’s Victoria Road was closed due to the pandemic, and so Cummings decided to deploy its unused gym as a base from which to make prototype versions of the ring donut PPE that would turn around the public’s false perception of a poor governmental performance with regard to the current pandemic.

Dom hired a Gujarati woman from Park Royal who’d initially come to the UK to work at the mammoth hummus production part of Bakkavor’s Cumberland site in Greenford. She was extremely nifty with a needle and regularly worked as a seamstress because it was difficult to live on the poor wages paid at local food processing plants. Before 24 hours had passed Johnson and Cummings had what they’d dreamed up the previous night, a medical gown and goggles made of ring donuts! Well, the goggles were made of ring donuts. At the suggestion of the seamstress, the gown had been fabricated from jam donuts since having holes the length and breadth of the garment would have been a health risk to NHS heroes.

Although the donut PPE had been Dom’s idea, Boris pulled rank and insisted that he be the first to try it out. Given it was made from literally hundreds of jam donuts, the gown proved to be pretty heavy but at least it was voluminous enough for a fatso like Johnson to wear. To keep Dom happy, Boris told him he was going to recommend his adviser for a Queen's Award for Enterprise on the basis of his donut recycling activities in South Ruislip. The prototype PPE turned out to be perfect in every way, except for a slight tendency for the donuts at the bottom of the gown to fall off with a soft plop as Boris spun around in his triumph at having saved the National Health Service. That said, as libertarians he and Dom both knew that ultimately private health was much more efficient than haemorrhaging corporate profits to pay for public services. So once Boris had saved the NHS and after everything got back to normal in about 3 weeks' time, he planned to abolish the NHS.

In his moment of glory for having saved the NHS, Boris decided to burst out of the gym and take a lap of honour on a Queensmead Sports Centre football pitch. After all he’d proved once again that England had won its wars - and the battle against Covid 19 was a war - on the playing fields of Eton! The fact that a fuckwit like Boris could get to be Prime Minister demonstrated that his parents had got real value for money when they’d paid for him to attend Britain’s top public school. The fees were reassuringly expensive!

Two unfortunate things happened as Boris jigged across the football pitch. Firstly his smartphone rang, it was a call from a hefty female former professional kick boxer turned gym instructor with whom the PM was enjoying an intimate relationship.

“I found snot all over my dirty underwear when I was loading it into my washing machine just now. Have you been sniffing it again?”

This baseless accusation caused Johnson to sway and he’d never been a good runner at the best of times. He tripped over this own feet and fell to the ground. Seeing red oozing all around him, Boris thought he was a goner. While the British Prime Minister was able to pull the wool over his own eyes about his life ebbing away before him, he couldn’t fool a passing swarm of wasps who knew that what Boris thought was his own blood was in fact strawberry jam that had leaked out of the squashed donuts. Recovering a slight semblance of sense at the sight of the descending wasps and wanting to save the prototype PPE, even if it was now mashed up and in fragments, Johnson tried to shoo the insects away but this only made them angry. Boris quickly discovered that the painful pricks of failure were more or less equivalent to a dozen wasp stings.

In the interests of safety the plans for recycling donuts as PPE were shelved. It was back to the drawing board for Boris and Dom…. they still needed a way to demonstrate their political genius by defeating Covid 19.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Even Masts Must Burn: Telecommunications In The Era of Covid 19

Lockdown in London is insane, the centre of the city is densely populated so there’s people everywhere taking their allowed daily exercise or shopping for essential goods. Lots are still walking around like zombies looking at their smartphones rather than at where they’re going. There are fewer cars on the roads so those still about travel much faster than normal. Cyclists and joggers are everywhere, as are the busybodies shouting at anyone they perceive to be infringing lockdown rules, taking photographs of those they berate and making malicious reports to the police. The pettiness of those acting as amateur cops and trying to enforce their own version of lockdown - which is inevitably more draconian than the already draconian new laws - is unbelievable. And while the cops are equally clueless about the limits of their new powers and appear to be mutating into cut-price versions of the The Sith from Star Wars, they too seem incapable of practising social distancing since it goes against everything they’ve been taught about protecting themselves and intimidating others.

The fact that so many are completely incapable of keeping a safe distance from strangers - and this extends well beyond the cops and amateur cops -  illustrates how alienated people are. Half the population seem to have no awareness of their own bodies or whose in the street or supermarket with them. Meanwhile, the homeless and mad are becoming ever more desperate and have either given up on begging and can be seen huddled together in encampments on Tottenham Court Road and elsewhere, or else have become much more aggressive in their quest for money to buy food and alcohol. The homeless are supposed to be in shelters but most still seem to be roaming around, presumably preferring the relatively greater freedom of the streets to being locked up under lockdown. There’s a shortage of many street drugs but the government recognise booze as an essential and so London’s off-licences (liquor stores) are open. Anyone hoping to sleep on the streets probably needs a drink or two in order to nod off, while the rest of the population are also living out the insane nightmare that is late-capitalism and dependence on alcohol is one way of dealing with it.

Covid 19 has brought out the best in many people and the worst in others. There are wonderful community mutual aid groups doing shopping for the vulnerable and delivering presents to children. Meanwhile hysterical media coverage links burning telecommunications masts and infrastructure to ridiculous conspiracy theories about 5G causing Covid 19. At least one of the fires the press was wringing its hands over recently and blaming on anti-5G activists turned out to have been due to faulty equipment and not suspicious. The papers call those who oppose 5G idiots because the equipment that was maliciously targeted is largely 3G and 4G. Since no one has yet been charged with - let alone convicted - of these acts of arson against phone masts, the fact that it isn’t 5G equipment that was torched might well imply those involved in the vandalism aren’t opposed to 5G and had other motives. The links made in the press between this arson and anti-5G activism are at best speculative.

There are many reasons for setting telecommunications infrastructure alight but even when it’s just teens doing it for kicks it doesn't follow that we shouldn't be thrilled by film and photos of the resultant fires. Baudrillard said more than 50 years ago: “Something in all (wo)men profoundly rejoices at seeing a car burn..” This rings true because cars are a symbol of possessive individualism and have wrought untold destruction on our planet. Given the negative social impact of smartphones - including but not limited to surveillance and an intensification of work - today nothing is more beautiful than a burning phone mast. Technology isn’t neutral, it shapes societies and human relations, and so the health and wellness concerns of anti-5G activists aren’t the reason I get a buzz when I see burning telecommunications infrastructure. Nonetheless media hysteria about torched masts and Covid 19 conspiracy theories mean it’s now nearly impossible to have a nuanced conversation about the joys and broader political dimensions of such vandalism, why everyone should get rid of their smartphone or what’s actually bad about 3G, 4G and 5G.

Under lockdown I like to run around the streets for an hour a day, since it’s quite a kick to see most of the shops and all the restaurants in central London closed, and knowing that even if they were open I wouldn’t be using most of them. I don’t even miss the record and book stores I did sometimes visit before Covid 19. I totally dig jogging through Soho and Covent Garden to visit the places I went as a teen 40 and more years ago and to revel in the fact that the London I knew then has entirely disappeared, just as the hyper-capitalist London of the current millennium is about to disappear. A different and better world is not only possible, it is also very necessary….