Sunday, 8 July 2012

I wish I could do all that photo-shop stuff to lend focus to my "Alien vs. Pedicure" joke

I worked in I.T. for years. None of my friends believed me: "No, John, but REALLY what do you do?". Eventually I became very mysterious about it: "I work in publishing" would be my tight-lipped response to innocent dinner party enquiries, followed by a thoughtful, masticatary silence, chewing with my mouth shut, maintaining eye-contact. Because my friends were correct: it WAS ridiculous. I do not have a clue. I just had to ask a stranger on Facebook how to find the settings on Google because I cannot, for the life of me, map the screen. I cannot intuit anything about technology at all. Give me a human head and I'll read it relatively happily, poking at mood swings like a moody phrenologist. I'm good at that. I can spot an "atmosphere", I can read a smile or the setting of a jaw. And I'm handy with a tub of Haagen Dazs at three in the morning. It's not really a marketable skill but if anyone is in the market for a gay best friend then I'm your man. Especially in Belfast. Twasn't always thus. These skills are hard won and I have the scars. I'm battle-hardened; galvanised. And I will admit that men are harder to read, there's a lot of bluster and macho bravado and when they go they really go. its not pretty, snot and hugging everywhere.I don't subscribe to advertising's notion of the modern male as an infantalised moron but if you do hug one in the throes of a crisis it is best to take the new mums precaution and drape a tea-towel over one shoulder: there will be an explosion of snot, a snot carnival; a snotice to cease and desist. But, as I was saying, computers? No...I had already crystallised long before I ever sat in front of one with any sort of purpose. I'd been all the way through school, college, university, the wilderness years of depression and unemployment. My first love came and went without my ever logging on. I managed, and I'm not sure how now, to get through my first few office jobs without recourse to using the machine that squatted on the desk in front of me. So I must have used a computer for the first time at about the age of 26, with my tail trapped in the door. Computers had always been there. As child all my friends had BBCs and Acorns*; even then I ran with a nerdy set. There were computer rooms in schools, projects to be done on them (I took a rather passive role in these). There were computer based projects at art college. I avoided them, as I avoided most things at art college, and was probably in the last cache of students who could possibly avoided their ubiquity. It was a conscious choice: I was a painter! The canvas was my screen, paint my photoshop. I had a romantic vision of myself lashed to the mast in a big shirt, a prize Turner. This was not borne out by the rather ordinary and desperate work I churned out while I was there or the increasingly depressed and drunken figure that I cut on campus. The other reason of course was sheer panic. These things sat squatting on your desk, staring you down with impassive cyclopic balefulness, an Olmec head with a keyboard attachment.They fucking terrified me. They still terrify me. I sit staring at one for twelve hours everyday like staring into an abyss that stares back, slowly filling me up, pixel by pixel. I have about three moves: typing, saving, attaching, sending. Four is about three. Anything more complicated than that and I phone a friend. *I'm sure some of them still have acorns. *snigger*


  1. John,i think we were possibly the last geoup of people at Art School (or indeed Universities) to escape the computer,yes there were computer rooms but you had to bloody make an apointment to get in there and they were always taken up by design students who left their projects till the last minuite so they could dash about and look important.I am actually quite thankful because it made us concentrate on our work,how to draw and paint.I was at a few degree shows last week and believe me,the art is very rapidly dissapearing! And as youo know mate,some of us stubborn bastards (yes i was there with you in the first year when we were threatened with being taken off the course!)are still plugging away in paint despite the obvious,horrible scene having already played out...Oh by the way,i'm told paint is "coming back" Gnnnn!!!!