Election swine fever

May 5, 2010

Amidst a gridlock of family hatchbacks, people carriers and SUVs belching smoke into the sea air, a Coupe crept along, two further people to clog up the beach, waiting for the sky to light up like some insane Vietnam flashback, all in the name of community, spirit, and an attempt at a world record, to be eternally remembered in the pages of a long since obsolete annual. Bournemouth would no longer be merely a town, but a paragraph.

All this, ten thousand people, the shouts through the summer night, in aid of the record. The most fireworks to be let off in 60 seconds, all to be launched from boats gathered round Bournemouth Pier like fans waiting for autographs. And all would come to nothing when one of the barges caught fire, unleashing its entire load at once.

It’s only months later, after the anger and disappointment have faded like gun-metal gray paint on a council wall, that anybody can seriously comment on this failure of a night, never mind the attempts of a man with nothing to show for the night but some hastily scribbled notes and a pair of sand-filled basketball sneakers.

The scene itself was insane; the masses in columns marching through Bournemouth Gardens lit by neon and led by the voice of an invisible god through a crumby PA system. The wannabe god was nowhere to be seen, but could probably see all, high above the crowd, doubtless sheltered behind the glass windows of the Pavillion Theatre.

The event rapidly became, in the minds of jaded twenty-somethings, a Nuremberg fantasy, with all ears tuned in to listen to one voice, whilst a show of power went on amongst balloon operators, using scarred machinery to ejaculate fire into the sky.

The beach was packed, the excited watchers shoulder to shoulder, belly to back, with no antagonism, just anticipation.

The police presence was far smaller than anybody would’ve thought, the grim possibility of violence obviously resulting in a mass rush for annual leave and a desperate clawing and grasping for desk jobs and easy beats. Nobody with a right thinking mind would’ve taken on crowd control for that gig, not if regular media claims of youth violence are to be believed.

And that was it. A few sparks, 6 seconds of the sky lit up by a barge on fire, and silence. The end.

Those at the waters edge were the first to see the boats slink away, tails between legs like freshly castrated hounds.

And maybe this was all we ever hoped for, the British desire of disappointment overpowering all common logic, drowning the desire for something to succeed.

Those dismal sparks in the sky from all that time ago are an effective analogy for the rest of our doomed nation. Some weeks ago, all would bemoan our impotent Prime Minister, a man who could make Ronald McDonald look like an effective leader. The recession, previously front page news is now a page nine blip behind a barely legal teen with her breasts out for the vast army of lonely old men out there to drool over.

Politics has only hit peoples radar now that an election is coming up, the rest of the four year cycle sees the whole thing ignored in favour of all that is worthless. Fake orange women falling from taxis, overpaid pretty boy footballers engaging in rampant sexual acts on the front page of our papers, and the constant threat of war looming over us from the right wing tabloids. This is the horror of the noughties, our lives are but the screams of the bored.

What’s a writer to do? Obsess over petty things, seeing them as important? Or fall to our knees for the rest of the country like a cheap whore, and tell the world that a pin-up girl is worth the same word count as a murder, a war, or the simple fact that any dream of peace and happiness lies beaten, f***** and bleeding at our feet.
Or maybe the dream just all failed, like so many fireworks blazing in a 6 second flash, like Haight-Ashbury, Kent State protests, or any protest at our current situation.

What left? Just flick through the channels, nestle down in that armchair with a plate of snacks and a six-pack of beer, and smile as hopefuls fail for your entertainment.

And then, occasionally, go out to watch the fireworks.