Some people are just so off-message. Laurence Inman is one of those people.
In between the progs on ITV telly now they show these little ten-second films. This is as well as the sponsor-slots, which are usually of happy bouncy people having a good time running around like children on beaches. They are having a better time than you and they have more friends – but cheer up! Here’s another prog about a fat bloke cooking something in grease!
Anyway, these interludes. They are in soft focus. They are accompanied by a thin, simpering chord played on some electronic instrument. Think Enya. One of them shows a young boy staring at a caterpillar. He is being curious. (As if he has time in between tests!) Another shows a little darling lamb being fed by a bottle. (I’m not making this up; check it out tonight.) Yet another is set in a shopping mall and has people wandering about in a haze, buying stuff, staring at stuff, stuffing stuff in their cavernous gobs. There is even one of people in a darkened room full of tellies watching other people wobbling about.
I watch these and I realise that the future which artists and writers in the thirties so dreaded has finally arrived. I see it so clearly, this vision.
It is of a huge person slumped in a vast black leather armchair. The whole of the wall he faces consists of an enormous telly. He gapes and dribbles. He is connected by a tube to a ten-litre jar of sickly effluent. The shapes of floppy puppies gambol across the screen. Sometimes it is cute kittens trying to get out of a wine glass.
A deep, subliminal voice murmurs in the background:
We’re not interested in your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes, your ambitions, your creative acts; it’s only your digestive tract we want to own. Press for more stuff….more stuff….more stuff….Isn’t this puppy nice? And this little kitten? You won’t hear any more nasty news about a thousand people being buried alive, just so you can have cheap trainers. Any bad news will only come from America, like this awful tornado, which killed a tiny fraction of the number of people who’ve been shot there in the last few minutes. So relax. Have some more stuff. It’s all going to be all right.