Well, we were so inundated with responses to our Scary Duck-style Friday votathon that it's taken me all weekend to rig..I mean count the votes - consequently, I haven't had time to write the piece....
..er hem. Thanks to the 5 of you who actually bothered to vote.
Hon menshes to Brian, Spinny, Hannah, Shades of Grey and Mike Da Hat. You will all receive a copy of our beautifully ring-bound full colour, un-proof-read The Very Best of The Robert Swipe Show Vol. 1 Just let me know how to get them to you (and enclose a cheque for $50 to cover assorted bribes, bar tabs and legal costs associated with my money laundering massage parlour sideline and we'll call it quits)
Unfortunately, I can't prevent people who didn't vote from reading this - although I obviously take a very dim view of their non-participation and will be trying to come up with ways to punish them suitably - like makin' 'em read it twice, etc...) This was the clear winner with 2 and a half votes, beating What do porn stars do on their day off?, which got one and a half votes. I may post that up tomorrow as runner-up.As such, the I hope that the above mentioned stars thoroughly enjoy this little piece. Pillocks to the rest of you!
Is there a God, and if so, why is She doing this to us?
I get a call from My agent (you think I move in mysterious ways? You wanna see this guy wriggle). He says he’s getting a lot of fire from the fourth estate regarding a sequel. I tell him it’s all in The Good Book – why waste the ink, already? Times change, he says, you know we should maybe think about a re-brand, ‘updated and expanded’, ‘revised with new revealing insights’ – you know the spiel – reposition You in the self-help/New Age/guides-for-life sector. Besides, You gotta keep Your profile high, he’s saying (there’s a weighted pause) especially now the questions have started up again. Questions? What’s with ‘questions’, I ask. I know when someone’s trying to put the flame under My feet. Lou goes all cagey – I hate it when they do that, don’t you? – and starts to mumble something about people running out of patience with Me. So what are you saying Lou? (I’m getting a bit defensive here and now I wanna know what the deal really is.) OK, let’s cut to the chase, he says, and I don’t like the way he says it. I think I know where he’s going with this and I’m not sure I really wanna go there.
Look, I gotta be straight with you (he’s got that quiet, confessional voice on now – I can see this is getting serious) You’ve been looking at a dwindling readership for a long time – I know, I know, it’s probably just a blip and maybe things’ll pick up over the long term – but we’ve been saying that for a coupla centuries now. You can’t take it for granted that they will come back to You – it’s not like You’re Jane Austen, You know. And You of all people should know that nothing lasts forever – well, obviously apart from in Your case – but You know what I’m getting at. So the long and the short of it is, they want a sequel – 80,000 words minimum and they want it in the stores for Christmas – for obvious reasons.
I sigh – this will eat into a lot of projects I had lined up. OK, I pout, I’m onto it. (There’s another uncomfortable pause) Lou? Is there something else I should know? Listen, (now he’s on the defensive) Listen Honey (it’s always bad news when he starts to call me ‘Honey’) I love Your style – You know I’ve always been one for plain speaking and how much I hate anything mealy-mouthed and prevaricating? Well, I think You’re terrific and if it was down to me, I wouldn’t lay a finger on any M/S You’ve signed off on, OK – You trust me on that? (I let a non-commital mm-hmm just hang there and listen to him squirm.) Good, because You can – You should know that by now. (He clears his throat as if he wants to buy himself a bit more time before what’s coming next) Because I have to be honest with You – the market’s changed onehelluva lot since You brought out The Good Book, You understand me? Sure, I say, The Koran, The Rights of Man, On the Origin of Species, Das Kapital, A Brief History of Time – I have been paying attention Lou, believe it or not. But it’s not just the books, Honey – the audience has changed and quite fundamentally too. They want different things now, they have different expectations, their priorities are different and they have busy lives and they want their wisdom easily absorbed and nicely packaged, You with me? You’re not talking anymore about a bunch of guys scared witless in the darkness of the desert who need a strong and unyielding protector – these guys need different things.
I can feel one of My rages coming on but I somehow manage to hold it in and, My voice only trembling slightly, I say to Lou, OK – I’ll change. But you gotta tell Me what they need – I can’t do this on My own, you know that, don’t you? Atta girl (he’s back in full schmooze mode now and even I can start to feel Myself being infected by his all-consuming enthusiasm) listen, this is how I see it, OK? You’re the market leader in this field, right? (I cautiously, uh-huh) Come on, Honey, You wrote the book on the self-help manual and all that guide to life baitsim ...And your point is? I ask a little impatiently. My point is this. The product is sound, right? We maybe just need to work a little on the packaging. Like I say – repositioning, that’s all it is. Look at it like this - instead of fighting it out with the Bhagavad Gita and The Golden Dawn, You’ll be slugging one on Shirley MacLaine and The Jane Fonda Workout. I still don’t quite see… (there’s no stopping him now he’s in full flight) Here’s how I see it – we go for the Doctor Ruth, Judge Judy approach. Tough love, cruel to be kind, no nonsense Yiddisher momma. That’s it! That’s the angle. God, I love You (I hear a profusion of blown kisses at the other end of the line and a manic, triumphant guffaw brewing up) This is pure gold, Honey! You gotta believe me.
I still don’t know what you want from Me, Lou (I hear Myself sounding pathetic now – how is it they always manage to make you feel like a little kid again, all needy and desperate for approval and love?) Honey, all I want from You is Your copy – You don’t have to change a thing. Not even one? (I’m really confused now.) Well, maybe there is one little thing You could bear in mind. (Me, nervously:) Uh-huh? Now, please don’t take this the wrong way, Honey – like I said I don’t want You to lose Your fire in the belly but…. (the pause is agonising and I visualise Lou screwing his eyes up painfully tight) But? …Well, if I was to make one tiny piece of constructive criticism of Your work it would be this: do You think maybe You could try being a little less…judgemental?
So that’s how it came about. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to give you what you want, but I’ll certainly try My very best. I know that The Good Book is very hard to live up to, certainly if sales and influence are anything to go by. But I am willing to accept the need for a little humility despite the obvious immensity of My reputation. I’m willing to try to rephrase My earlier thoughts in a more appropriate style for the times. If that’s what it takes to get My message across, then so be it. Besides, I’m quite fatalistic obviously, usually those of My own choosing. But that’s agents for you.
But seriously, I know you may find this hard to believe but trust Me it is true – there really is a masterplan. All My acts, all those deus ex machines that smite you down, beat you up, roll over you like tanks and hammer at your belief in the middle of the night – they all had to be. They had to be because of what came before just as they themselves are the cause of what will be - que sera, sera. And you can trust Me on this. Besides, if you can’t trust Me, who can you trust? Would I lie to you? No, I am no unreliable narrator. I mean let’s face it; you can’t get a more reliable narrator than an all seeing one, can you? And, yes, that does mean I’ve spotted you, lady, scratching your head, muttering under your breath. And you sire, fiddling with your balls while your mind wanders off to thoughts of some lady in a tight, shiny outfit.
Not here, please. So stick with Me on this, will you? Because I can see the whole picture - I know what’s going on and I know what happens next. And I know what happens in the end. I don’t go with the current thinking, you see. Everything is post- right now, isn’t it? - post-modern, post-history, post-9/11 – whatever. I guess it’s only natural for you – after all, you tend to have less to look forward to than I do. I can see the attraction for you of looking back and feeling clever – from Welsh to Joyce, from Emin to Duchamp, from Eminem to Elvis. Oh, by the way, he really was the King – and that’s official. That’s where we differ, I suppose. Where you see a post- I see a pre-. It gets a bit unwieldy sometimes. For instance, your modernism is My pre-post-modernism. And, whatever you do, don’t get Me started on those pre-post-Pre-Raphaelites, will you? Oh, I’m forgetting, you haven’t heard of them yet have you? Don’t get Me wrong, I’m not anti-post-, I just tend to have a preference for that other prefix. But I don’t want to say too much about what’s coming up, if you don’t mind – I mean, you wouldn’t want Me to give away the plot now, would you?
Forgive Me I’m coming over as a bit of a smart ass, aren’t I? And, yes, you’re right lady – it ain’t fair. And you sire are correct to observe that I do indeed hold all the cards. I have the upper hand. I am the bank. I cut the deck, deal the deals and will always trump you in the end. I am the big I am and evermore shall be-oh. But what can I do about it, sir, madam?
You see omniscience isn’t something you can just dip into and out of. It requires a great deal of application and concentration. You would not believe the attention to detail that is required for a start. And the hours I put in… And, I’ll be honest with you, when you’ve been in the job as long as I have, you do find your powers can start to wane somewhat. But then, you probably have firsthand experience of one or two of My little – how can I put it – lapses of concentration. I believe that once you get to My age they come under the heading ‘Senior Moments’. But I’m working on it. I’m trying to get My act together, get back on the case, on the ball. Yes, pretty soon I’ll be right back on top of My game, don’t worry.
The fact of the matter is, if I can be frank with you kind folks, that I’ve been having a bit of a personal crisis Myself. I can’t really say if it’s the mid-life type – like I said, I don’t really want to give away too much of what’s ahead. But it’s certainly knocked Me back a bit. You see in some ways, we’re not all that dissimilar – you and Me. Oh, sure, the bit about you having been made in My image is way, way off the mark. I think we’ve already covered one or two of the perceptual differences. And I really don’t want to get too personal on this and get into the physical stuff - or the physics stuff, for that matter. But, for all our differences, we still have certain things in common. There is a little bit of Me in you, after all. And, I suppose, we have a mutual need for one another. I mean Randy Newman got it right – you really need Me. And I guess we all need to feel needed, don’t we? We all love to be loved.
And, just like you, I’m prone to the odd crisis of faith. I don’t mean in Me, obviously. I know I exist, even if some of you are not too sure. I am a gnostic in the truest sense. This was no loss of Self-belief, no dip in Self-esteem. No, I’m worth it. It’s just that I was having second thoughts about you. Or rather, second thoughts about us. Call it a crisis of motive, or of motivation, but we all sometimes wonder aloud – ‘just what is the point?’ Only in My case, it’s rhetorical. Of course I know what the point is – I know everything. But that’s a very isolated position if you think about it. Like the man said – it’s lonely at the top. Damn right it is. And you can see – and please, whatever you do don’t take this personally – how I might tire a little of your company, can’t you?
Don’t get Me wrong; you’re My favourite. You’re the tops. There’s no one comes close to you – and there’s no one else, if that’s what you’ve been thinking – at least, not in your particular neighbourhood of galaxies. I remember when I first set eyes on you across the baked savannah; I just knew you were going to be special. You had that look in your eyes – almost intelligent. And you’ve grown up just fine, I guess, if I take a lenient, indulgent parental view. It’s so hard to be objective about your own creations, isn’t it? Ask any parent.
But for all of us parents one day there comes the dreaded day when you know that a certain line has been crossed, an epoch marked; a new era has been embarked upon. You know that the awkward questions will start and that your precocious offspring will begin to pick apart your efforts, question your methods and start lying about what they’re doing under the bed covers. In short, the bastards just throw all the blood, sweat and tears, all that labour right back in your face. And, just like you, I sometimes find Myself thinking the unthinkable – was it all really worth it?
Relax, I’m over the worst of it now. I can see it from both sides of the telescope now and I feel I have acquired a bit more wisdom and understanding. Of you, yes; and of Myself, but mostly of our relationship. I realise now that you’re right; I do have to give you a bit more independence. I should stand back a bit and let you handle your own affairs. Sure, I’m always here if you need Me, but I won’t be so over-powering, so ‘in your face’ in future. And you? Well, maybe you’ll appreciate all the effort that’s been put in – with never a thought for thanks or reward – on your behalf. Sure, the odd little conspiratorial wink in My direction as we sit down for Thanksgiving won’t go amiss.
You see I really do want what’s best for you, deep down. I am benign – well, as much as I can be given all the demands placed on My time by an ever-expanding Universe. And I do understand – I understand everything. I know how you rail at My seemingly arbitrary displays of fury, My hysterical and mysterious mood-swings. I know the pain I inflict on you when you lose loved ones. I know how thoughtless and indifferent I can appear – and I really am working on it, believe Me. But, be fair, you do have very high expectations of Me – more than at any time I can remember. And I have a very long memory, trust Me. And if you go back to that old parenting handbook that you’ll hand down to your kids – you know, the one they’ll throw down the back of the couch then place on prominent display when you come around to visit the grandchildren - it’s there in black and white. The first commandment: NEVER SPOIL YOUR KIDS!! And if you’re honest, if I’m honest, we’d have to agree that on balance, you’ve probably been spoiled rotten.
But I’m really going to make more of an effort from now. I know I can be very judgemental and that that is not the way things are done right now, so please forgive me if I occasionally lapse into being a little ‘Old Testament’. Yes, from today you’re going to see a whole new Me.
Love on y'all (who voted),
© 2006 Swipe Enterprises