Chapter Ten – (Gonna Get Myself) Connected
Lynx is a lie. It does not work like they would have you believe in the adverts. I have been dousing myself liberally with my own special blend of Africa and Java daily but, to date, no women have been drawn to me across the street, causing a pile-up and probably, many deaths. In fact, the only response I’ve had from a member of the fairer sex came in double Science when Hayley Jones made choking noises and asked to work alone rather than with me “because of her allergies”. I conclude from my experiment that this is not an overwhelmingly positive result. I will tone down the Java.
Sully wears Adidas Pure Game. He says that he is a player. I’m not so sure. He does play “Headshot” nearly every night alone in his bedroom, camping in a quiet corner of the map and obsessing about his KDR (Kill to Death ratio). I’m not sure that this makes him more sexually attractive than me.
Art class was good fun today. We spent most of the lesson building a scale model of a trebuchet (a Roman catapult) from rolled-up newspaper which we then used to shoot wads of chewed-up paper at the back of Simon Humphries head. Mr Clarke didn’t even notice. He was too busy helping Hayley Jones and Sinead Murphy with their model of an amphitheatre. I think he has a thing for Sinead. She always gets good marks even though her work is shit. Mr Clarke says that all art is subjective and that critical opinion is in “the eye of the beholder”. I’ve seen what his eyes behold.
Sully invited me back to his place to play games after school. We stopped by the shop for “supplies”. Sully bought a quid’s-worth of ten pence mix-ups and a multi-pack of Wotsits. I spent my last £2 on a family-sized packet of Frosties. I’ve decided that I now need a contingency plan for Uncle Archie’s cruel and unusual approach to dinner. Cereal, as it always is, was the answer. I didn’t have a fridge and Uncle Archie didn’t buy milk, so I would have to eat them dry, straight out of the box, as nature intended.
John Harvey Kellogg, pious inventor of breakfast cereals, invented them to stop people wanking. This is one of my favourite facts. He once wrote:
“If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable.”
He believed that a healthy diet would stop people committing the sin of jerking off and in so doing would also be saved from mood swings, fickleness, boldness and bashfulness (if masturbating caused both, wouldn’t they cancel each other out?), acne, epilepsy, bad posture and a fondness for spicy food amongst other things.
If this was actually the case, people addicted to “World of Warcraft” would be the very picture of health as cereal forms the fundamental backbone of their diet but, unfortunately for them, they are still doomed to an eternity of bad posture, acne, crying and wanking themselves to sleep despite Kellogg’s best intentions. I cancelled my subscription during the free trial.
At Sully’s, we played “Headshot” all evening and listened to Ghostface Killah. Sully kicked my ass every time, so we played Co-op online, setting traps for the other players and bullying somebody called “CheeseMonkey1994”, killing them over and over again. We both agreed that calling yourself something with “cheese” or “monkey” in it was a desperate attempt to appear “random” and funny, and that this was punishable by death. Sully’s gamer tag is “MercXperience”. This is much cooler despite the bad spelling.
My gamer tag is “GorgonZILLA93”, I didn’t tell Sully this. Instead, when I got home, I went on to my settings and changed it to “AK-WRIGHT93”. This is better for two reasons.
ONE: It is the title of a song by Dr Dre, “Ackrite”, and it is also slang for oral sex.
TWO: In my version, it contains both AK, as in the AK-47 assault rifle and WRIGHT, as in me, Greg Wright. The 93 is for 1993, the year that I was born.
Hanging out with Sully was already making me cooler. The other kids at school had stopped bothering me at lunch, and I was allowed to play football on the concrete tennis courts with the others, though they still made me go in goal and shouted at me whenever anybody scored. Even Jodie Craddock had stopped calling me “Gregnant” and “Pussy Boy” and now seemed content just trying to push me other the low fences that lined the paths between lessons when we passed each other.
When I got home from Sully’s, full for once from the pizza and chips kindly provided by his adopted parents Will and Sally, I was on a high. Uncle Archie couldn’t bring me down, not tonight! He was waiting for me, sat at the kitchen table clutching a letter from the school, his beard yellow under the kitchen strip-light.
“Greg, this came today. It’s a letter from the school. Your head teacher says that your teachers have reported that you are not coping with the workload in the sets you are currently in. They want to move you down to some of the lower ability groups.”
I sat down at the table and slung my back onto the slate tiled floor. My pencil leads would be good for nothing now.
“Maths, English, Science and History it says here. Apparently you excel yourself in French and Art and your Geography and IT teachers “express no concern” with your behaviour, although it does say here that your IT teacher recommends that you “need to be able to access the internet at home to complement your studies”.”
Good old Mr Harris! I’d moaned to him about Uncle Archie’s cocoon against the modern world last week during class. He had asked me why I hadn’t done my homework, a Flash animation. I’d told him that Archie was determined to make me irrelevant in the modern world by depriving me of the internet, the single most powerful tool in collective human intelligence. Mr Harris had liked that line. He’d begun to rant at the class about humanity’s “collective consciousness” and the “richness of knowledge in our modern information-centric world”. I’d stopped listening and started doodling pictures of “Jet the Rabbit”, my character in “Kart-toons” blowing up a building to be honest, but he’d come through for me! I went in for the kill.
“Yes Uncle, Mr Harris said that if I didn’t have the internet, the best I could hope for was a couple of D’s and a job at the McDonalds at the service station. I told him we couldn’t afford it…”
Archie interrupted me.
“Well, they’ve given me a number to call about some sort of subsidised internet thing. If I call them Greg, I want you to understand, we’re getting it so that you can study. Not so that you can spend all night looking at pictures of women. You got that? I’m no fool Greg Wright.”
I promised him, and he lapped it up the old fool. He promised me in return that he’d call the number the next day. I told him that he should get the fastest connection available so that I could learn things more quickly. He’d gobbled it up the old technophobic fisherman, hook, line and sinker.
I slept well that night for the first time in Polpollo. I dreamt of crossing a finish-line in front of a crowd of screaming, topless women. I’d got one over on beardy, made a mate and would soon be back online to boot. For the first time in a long time, things were finally looking up.