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Dylan Moran: What It Is (2009) | Transcript

Moran's stand-up navigates life's absurdities and human flaws with sharp wit, blending cynicism with whimsy to reflect on existence in a rapidly changing world
Dylan Moran: What It Is (2009)

Dylan Moran’s What It Is (2009) offers a sweeping exploration of human foibles, societal observations, and the complexities of life through the lens of stand-up comedy. Moran navigates topics ranging from the absurdity of consumerism, the nuances of language barriers, and the cultural peculiarities of different countries, to personal anecdotes about aging, relationships, and the quest for happiness amidst life’s mundane realities. He explores the human condition with a mix of cynicism and whimsy, using his unique blend of eloquence and humor to critique modern life while also reflecting on the universal struggle for meaning and connection. Through his performance, Moran invites the audience into a world where laughter serves as a coping mechanism for the existential dread that pervades our daily lives, encouraging a collective introspection on what it truly means to be human in a rapidly changing world.

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(HELP ME BY JUNIOR WELLS PLAYING)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome to the stage Dylan Moran?

(AUDIENCE CHEERING)

Hello! You’re here. Hello, hello. Uh… I don’t know! You know, you come in, wanting stuff. I don’t know what you want. I don’t know what anybody wants.

I don’t know what I want.

MAN IN AUDIENCE: We want you.

Yeah, yeah. You say that. I get that, you know. Where’s the cake? Cake is the language of love. I don’t see any cakes in the building. You know, people say that to you in your life. They go, “I love you, I love you.” Yeah? Give me a fucking éclair. Nobody… No, we don’t need to eat any more, anyway. You know, people in the English-speaking nations generally don’t. Even the poor. We’re all overfed. Eating is a purely recreational thing now. So why fuck around with soup, or chicken, or any of that stuff? Just cake.

I live in Scotland. Have you been to Scotland? See, that’s the exact same number of people as answer that question in the affirmative when I ask it in England. And people… English people don’t go up there, it’s nearly half the country, and they don’t go up, and you say, “Why don’t you go?” And they go, “Oh, well, you know, it’s very dark and dreary.” ‘Cause they get so used to the crocodiles and the tropical storms down there in England and they… “Dark and dreary, you can’t understand the accent, the food’s disgusting, a lot of violence, a lot of drugs, people injecting Temazepam into each other’s stumps and… Otherwise I’d go, you know.”

It’s nonsense, anyway. It’s a beautiful accent in Scotland. There’s a lot of Scottish people here in this country. You know the voice. You’ve heard it before. It’s very easy to understand. Before I was in Australia, the last place I was in was in Glasgow. I was in an off-licence buying some cigarettes, blending in with the local women and children and I… There was a young man in front of me, very friendly, with a whole case of beer balanced on his stomach. And he turned round to me and he said, (MUMBLING INCOMPREHENSIBLY) And I didn’t quite know what was on offer, but that doesn’t stop you joining in a conversation. You just take out your best middle-class smile, you know, and go… (LAUGHING) He could have been asking me anything, I don’t know. It’s kind of an abuse of a smile though, really, ’cause smiles are important. They should be used for, you know, when you really mean something, you feel it very deeply. This is just one of those “please don’t kill me, I’m just off a train” smiles.

And Scottish people are quite bigoted about the English. You know, I have to remind them of the incredible English sophistication and tolerance and sense of humour, which they need to deal with their impotence and pointlessness. Then there… There is no point being sensitive about where you’re from because it doesn’t matter, you know? I mean, Irish people, very recently, were voted one of the ugliest people in the world. That didn’t bother me. It just made me look a bit harder at Irish people. I can see what it’s about. We’re a pretty rugged bunch. All Irish people look like they’re trying to hide other people inside them. Even newborn babies have that look. Like they’ve had a serious go at an international rugby career at some point.

It doesn’t matter, at all. You know, everybody is in the same position. Looking for, trying to look for something, anything to believe in. Here, you have… Your prime minister has an approval rating of 75%. Which is… What’s he doing? Nobody ever gets 75%. Is he coming round at night with a pot roast, touching you on the knee and telling you you’ve lost weight? What’s going on? This is madness. Nobody gets 75%. Not even when you’re madly in love with somebody and you’re both fucking each other’s brains out, do you give each other 75%. You’ve got to hold a bit back, keep the other person guessing, you know. Keep it at a steady 40. And since I’ve been here, you know, there’s a lot of talk in Sydney and a couple of other places about the whole biking problem, which is, as far as I’m concerned, kind of a problem about language. Now, most people obviously on their motorcycles just… It’s a very good place to be on a motorcycle. It’s a great country to see, you know, from a bike, going, “Look, there’s… Never mind.” And the… ‘Cause the, you know, it goes on for ages but… And then you get a few people who happen to have motorcycles, but who are mainly violent lunatics. Who, um, who would be violent lunatics if they had a kite. And they… Or just a rubber duck, they’d still be insane. The thing is, you can’t deal with the public because of what you call them. Because you call them bikies, which is a really Australian thing where you diminutise everything, you know, you make an “ee”. Everything you put a little “ee, ee, ee, ee” on everything. You can’t address the problem like that. “Oh, it’s a bikie. He’s coming at me with a knifey. “I’m in the morguey.” And then you do this other weird stuff, like with words that are really short, you make them unnecessarily longer. Like “yes” you turn into “yeeeeeah”. Or “noooooo”. Which is the exact same sound you get if you put something up, or indeed take it out, of a cat. And, uh, language here is… It’s kind of a, kind of a… you know, worldwide, it’s the same here as it is in lots of Europe as well. Much more Americanised. I mean, you really notice that now. They, you know, 50 years, 20 years ago, Jesus, 10 years ago, people would’ve said, somebody would’ve said something like, “Well, you know, I was quite nervous about seeing him, actually, “but in the end he was very quick to reassure me and we had a lovely evening.”

Now, that’s just become, “I was like ‘uh’, he was like ‘duh’.”

Something’s lost there. Now, I don’t know why I’m talking about that, but anyway, the um… Yes, you see the thing is, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s that they’re talking about the recession here. They’ve just begun that. And it’s a very boring subject, but you’ve no idea how boring it is. ‘Cause it’s only just started here. For months, they just, you know, they sort of went, (GARBLED) “…recession.” There’s a little, “Yeah, don’t have that other slice of cake just yet.” But that’s been going on in Europe for months and months and months. People, you know… And then everybody ignored it ’cause it started out, they’re going, “There seems to be a bit of a recession, a slight… Yeah. Anyway, next news, there was a dog who got sick on somebody,” and all that stuff.

And then the next day they come out with, “Actually, it’s quite bad. It’s crisp.”

“Yeah. Oh. Fuck it,” and then the next day it was just…

You know, nobody watches the news now ’cause all the newsreaders are in rags and you turn it on and they’re going… (GROANING) “A baby sold its eyes to pay for its teeth.” (GROANING)

It’s too fucking depressing. People don’t read the newspapers any more, they just run home and beat the televisions with them. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’m just prepared, you know? Um… (STUTTERING) The… Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t. My mind is going, anyway, I’ve been here a long time. I’ve been on the road for too long. I know I have, ’cause I was in a supermarket the other day and I saw this… I saw this tiny, heartbreaking can of beans. And it really made me want to cry. I just thought, “How old or sick or small do you have to be to need those beans?”

And it was on a high shelf, you know? You’d be climbing the ladder for days just to get at those four beans. These are beans that somebody else would have to feed you ’cause of the huge accident you just had, you know? You pop them in with a bean-shooter through the gap in a person’s teeth when they’re up in plaster of Paris lying in the bed there, and you go… One bean for every day in the week. So, yeah, it’s been a while. And the, um…

But that is absolutely true about, you know, people needing to believe in things. And it’s a scary thing when you start to believe in politicians. You can’t trust them. You see, but we need to believe something. And you’re not allowed to believe in religion. Well, you can, but people will laugh at you and throw things. ‘Cause it was just sort of decided in the 20th century that religion is basically a formalised panic about death. That’s all. I mean, look at the Catholic Church, the campest organisation on the planet, with the purple robes, gold bits on the side, jewellery so big if they let it fall it will kill people. What else can it be but this sort of ritual of panic about death? “Death is coming! Quick, put on the gold hat.”

They’re… You see, people never really grow up. I don’t mind most religious people. I talk to them. You know, I listen to them banging on. “I prayed very hard and then the fairy came.” “Did he? Good. Have a biscuit.” I only get annoyed when they try and make me see the fairy. “You have to let the fairy into your heart.” “Look, I wouldn’t let him into my garden, okay? “I’d shoot him on sight, if he existed, which he doesn’t. “Now, have another biccie and be quiet, will you, please?”

But you can absolutely understand the desire to believe in something to support you, you know? I mean, children like to be supervised by adults, you know, that’s why children go, “Look, no hands,” or, “Look, I can do this.” “Look, I’m really good at this,” whatever it is. ‘Cause it validates them. It shows them that they are there, ’cause somebody else is watching over them. Grownups are the same. Not that there is any such thing as a grownup, really. They want to be, the idea they like to be watched by something, you know. ‘Cause, I mean, the planet’s not going to miss us when we finish fucking it up and killing each other. So we needed the idea of God to have somebody to miss us, or at least notice that we weren’t there any more. ‘Cause we’ve all died out, ’cause we’ve fucked it up. And God will go, “Look, they’re not there. The lizards are doing quite well, though. “Good on them.”

But we’re sort of gradually growing out of that now. You know, I passed a church a couple of days ago and saw one of those signs you see outside churches, it said, “Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world.”‘ Which is very male view. You know, if Jesus had been Jesusina, it would have been more modest. You know, ’cause it’s a woman. It would traditionally have to be more modest. Jesusina would have gone, “Well, I’m quite bright.”

And because, uh, you know, ’cause you have dreams, they need to go somewhere, so they go into belief and thus we get very extreme people, obviously, in any religion. But with suicide bombers, one of the things I don’t understand is what’s in it for the women suicide bombers? ‘Cause with the men, it’s a very male kind of promise at the end of it. “Seventy-two virgins.” A man, I think, thought of that. And, um… But I bet you what women are offered is much more modest. It’s probably, you know, flexible working hours and decent childcare at the end of it, something like that.

But anyway, look. So you don’t, people don’t believe in religion any more. What do they believe in? You can’t go to politics. You can’t. Look at them. For fuck’s sake. Look at Vladimir Putin. How can you? He cultivates the idea of being a gangster. He just loves it. How can you trust anybody who looks like they’ve been cloned from a dead shark? Or Berlusconi in Italy, right? The envy of the world, Italy, in terms of history, art and culture. Ninety-eight different political parties and they still managed to elect him. He so fucking crooked he sleeps on a spiral staircase. So thoroughly corrupt, every time he smiles, an angel gets gonorrhoea. He’s had so many facelifts his face has moved to the top of his head, you have to get on a stepladder to watch him lie.

You can’t trust any of them. And we all think that we’re very rational and very secular. But we make gods all the time. Everybody went apeshit when Barack Obama got elected. I was delighted. Everybody was thrilled. A sane, rational, intelligent human being in an important office. Great. But his biggest problem is everybody else, is us. ‘Cause everybody’s in love with him. He stands up there, he’s very convincing and commanding, and makes sense, says it’s a difficult time, everybody needs to work together and be realistic about what we’ve got to do and all that stuff. And everybody is looking at him going, “No! You do it! “You are Super Jesus. “You’re so handsome when you’re serious. “Do you work out?”

And, uh… Where else can you go? I mean, you know, people talk about technology and science all the time. But that’s bollocks. People come in here with their fucking camera phones, everything is a camera nowadays. You pick up a piece of fruit, it takes a picture of you. Or the computers, which are everywhere, which is proof that we like to be watched. That’s what we replaced God with, technology. We’re fucking afraid to be alone in a lift, in a taxi cab. We need cameras everywhere, recording us, unless we realise we’re alone, we might do something scary. Like whimper, I don’t know. But then… The machines… You know, the laptop I have, all it does is tell me to fuck off in 400 different ways, I don’t understand it. You open it up and it goes, “Ba-jing! What’s the magic word?” I don’t know. That’s why I got you. I have no memory. Don’t go fucking “ba-jing” anyway, why can’t you be more like me? When I open you up, you should go… (GARBLING) “What?”

And science… is a joke. Look at the scientific explanation for the origin of life as we know it. It has a major flaw. I mean, it’s no wonder we have creationists. You know, those people, God love them, who tell their children that, you know, originally, we all went to school with the dinosaurs, or whatever it is that they tell them. But no wonder they exist because listen to the explanation for the origin of life itself. It doesn’t sound very scientific. There was a big bang. And then we all came from monkeys. “What, that’s it?” “Yeah, shop’s closed, fuck off.” I need more than that. There must be more than, bang! (IMITATING MONKEY) “Honey, I’m home!” Come on! It’s such a boring theory, anyway. It’s much more interesting if you reverse the order.

So, there’s that and then the other thing that we seem to have bought into in a big way is consumerism. That’s what people use, they fill the void, you know, stuff. Give me the thing, give me the couch, the wig, the tiny beans, the radio, the CDs, the fricking shoes, all the stuff, all the time, that you can’t get away from. You know you bought a lot of shit ’cause you’re broke now. And your house is full of shit. You walk around the house looking for a pencil or a piece of paper, you can’t find anything useful like that but you can always put your hands on a purple furry cube with the number six on the side and rubber legs underneath. And you pick it up and you go, “What is this shit? Why is it in the house?” ‘Cause you bought it, that’s why. Like all the other crap you never use.

There’s people in the middle of Sydney driving around in those huge 4×4 vehicles. They’re like little houses on the move. You can’t even see the people inside, they’re so high up. The man on the mobile phone is going, “Blah, blah, blah!” about money. Or the ladies with the Roman candle of blonde hair going, “Hiya! Hiya! Hiya!” As they plough through schoolchildren. Roaring around. (ROARING) Up and down the street where your children play in their fucking Toyota Hiroshimas. So they can get to the mall quicker to buy more shit, to put it in the house! The jewellery, the clothes, the perfume.

Perfume is a good example of a product gone all wrong. When I was a child, that was a sort of semi-exotic thing, you know? And it was called something stupid, like Fleur de Fleurs. And you would give it to your mother or an auntie at Christmas. And it was advertised by some dopey-looking woman in a field of sunflowers. And she looked like she’d been hit by a tractor because she was going… She just couldn’t get over how nice she smelled. Now, because we’re so jaded, we’ve consumed so much, our attention can only be grabbed in a violent way. So it’s always advertised by these constipated, exoskeletal bitches who are sneering at you. And it’s called something horrible like Homicide. Dysentery. Urban Dysentery, for boys and girls.

What’s wrong with us? We’re the only organism the planet is actively asking to fuck off by burning things and freezing things and melting things on us. It’s like going past the ocean and seeing it spit out whales. “Fuck off, I’ve had enough of you.” Passing the eucalyptus tree as the koalas hang on. The tree’s going, “Get the fuck away from me!”

Now, you’re in the forefront of all that because you’ve got real weather here. Dramatic weather. You open your front door and everything might be gone, or you might be two and a half miles further on down the road, in a flood. In Britain and Ireland, where people talk about the weather all the time, all day, there’s no story, there’s no weather. But Irish people, especially, insist on drama. So you can hear things like, “Oh, it was fierce mild! It was touch and go there for a while.”

So… God doesn’t work. Science doesn’t work. Consumerism certainly doesn’t work. So where do you go? Where do you end up? We end up back with each other, there’s nowhere else to go. People. You have a very important, early decision to make in your life. Are you going to be alone, or are you going to be with somebody else? Are you going to be sane, or not Ionely? A couple is a strange thing. It’s an organism that’s half as intelligent as the most intelligent member. And you both know who that is. ‘Cause you’ve got two people walking around together all the time, trying to remember all the different shit they have to lie about to each other. “Oh, we’re going over here, are we? Oh, good, are we going to see those people? “Terrific, oh good, hope it doesn’t stop any time soon.” There’s a lot of pressure on you to find the right person. You’re told if you don’t find the right person your life is fucked. You might as well forget the whole thing. You’re dead! Which is rubbish, there’s billions of you. We’re all the fucking same. It’s not him it’ll be her, or if not him it’ll be them. There’s millions of people for everybody. There’s more than enough. We’re very overstocked on ourselves. But it’s because we all think we’re so fabulous. The first half of your life is all spent getting over yourself, anyway. You know, you would think you’re amazing, unique. Young people walking around going, “You know the funny thing is “I was just in the kitchen but now I’m here in the bedroom. “Get a load of me. I just go on and on.” And that’s around the age when you meet somebody else and you’re totally unbearable. Two young, fit, healthy, attractive people in love? There’s nothing worse to look at in the world. Going around going, “I can’t believe I met you ’cause I’m amazing and you’re amazing, and we’re surrounded by shitheads. “It’s just amazing. “Hey, I know this really good bar. Let’s go and make it better.” In the second half of your life you realise just how like every other hump who drew breath you really are, except you’re more boring. But anyway, so there’s a lot of pressure. There’s pressure on a young man to say something snappy and seductive and charming to a young woman in a dance hall or a disco or whatever they’re called now, those places where you walk in and the music makes your internal organs bleed. And it’s very hard ’cause it’s a loaded conversation. It’s about attraction. So, what do you say? You know, what’s the right thing to say? There’s nothing. It’s like talking to the bereaved. There’s no right thing to say. “Hey. “Yeah. Like your clothes and stuff. “You want some gravy?” There’s no… Gravy is not an innuendo. I just mean actual gravy. The, um… Yeah. Fuck, where are you from? The… You know, it’s the same with the bereaved. What can you say? “I am sorry about all the people who died. “Want a little gravy?” It doesn’t work then, either, you know? But there’s too much pressure on you because you’re young and you’re stupid. You should be given some latitude, some licence there. You know, you should just be allowed to walk up and say, “Hey,” and then you can go off together. And do something wonderfully stupid. Like have a gap year. Why not? There’s no other justification for that as far as I can see, anyway. What do young people have gap years for? They haven’t done anything yet. Why don’t they have a full year where they do nine times as much as they’ve ever experienced up to that point? So they know what the rest of adulthood feels like? Which is walking around in a desert with a bag over your head, being bumped into by people who rob you as they bore you. And they always go for some stupid reason as well. “So, where are you going?” “Brazil.” “You bastard. Why?” “‘Cause they have a snake there. “And what it does, it pretends to be asleep and then monkeys come over. “And then it fucks them and eats them.” And… “Well, have a great time in jail with malaria.” The… So, yeah, all that pressure on the young man and the young woman and there’s, you know, tremendous amounts of different kinds of pressure on the young man and the young woman because 7,000 women in Britain alone went for cosmetic breast surgery last year, which is… You think, “Why?” I mean, a tiny number of them might have needed some medical attention. The rest just thought they weren’t good enough. You know, they needed something else, big, small, square. Maybe wrap-around. (ROLLS TONGUE) I don’t know. But… You must be pretty insecure to go to a surgeon and say, “What I want you to do is put me to sleep with powerful drugs. “While I’m asleep, rip, snip, Frisbee away different bits of me, stick in two weather balloons, sew it up, wait until I’m groggy and deranged and bloody and wake me up and then give me demands for money.”

You know, you can’t think that much of yourself. You know, nobody’s tits are perfect. Not even mine, and I have spent thousands on every inch of myself. These fingers are from Florence. Yves Saint Laurent himself designed my arse. My nipples are reconstructed from an early, unfinished blueprint by Coco Chanel. Hence, their lopsided charm. One of them is on my shoulder. The other five I keep handy between my toes, which themselves are a bit embarrassing but fuck it, it was the ’80s, you had to have suede. And the… Nothing is perfect. So the young man and the young woman… realise eventually that you don’t die, you know, it’s a huge lie. ‘Cause the young man knows he’s not dead, ’cause he’s with the young woman now. And they’re in a rented flat, and she’s talking about curtains. And he really, really wants to be dead. ‘Cause the young woman’s been talking about curtains for half an hour and looks like she means to go on, and she’s saying, “What do you think? “Should we get the purple ones with the really subtle blend “into the pink tonalities towards the end? “Or should we get the ones where they look like a tree? “But it’s at night and you’re passing in a car. Which one do you think we should get? “What do you really feel? I can’t make this decision by myself. “What do you really, truly feel?” And what he really truly feels is, “I cannot begin to describe how much I don’t care! “I didn’t know we had windows “until you brought all this shit up, okay?” Stop saying “wallpaper”, “furniture”, “floor”. It’s bourgeois. Eat the chicken from my hat, come on. Now, in a strange way, when you’re young, death is on your mind more. You don’t think about it. You don’t think about anything. You know, I was young once. I remember. You don’t think about anything. You’re very stupid. Young men in particular are very stupid ’cause they’re paralysed by lust. You’d like the luck to spend your time looking at young women, going, “Ahh! Ahhh! Oh, oh, ah! “Please! Please, let me help you, please. “Take me home. I could hold parts of you while the rest of you gets on with tasks. “Please! Come on.” Stand on the same street corner for days at a time. Now, I still see them, of course. Sometimes I still stop and stare. But different things go through my mind now with time passing, you know? I look at them and I go, “Ahh! “Ha-ha! “Give me your kidneys. “You’re wasting them! “Fucking fruit and salad. Come on, I need backup here. “I’ll give you a pair of shoes.”

So, yes. Death. When you’re young, you think about it. You don’t really think about it, you know. You have the intelligence of raspberry jam. You’re not thinking about anything. But it’s there as a mode of force, making you do things. Go and get a job, go and find a flat. Find somebody else. Put them in the flat. Make them stay. Get a toaster. Go to work. Get on the bus. Look at your boss. Say “fuck”. Sit down. Pick up the thing. Go blank. Scream internally. Go home. Listen to the radio. Look at the other person. Think, “Why, why did this happen?” Go to bed. Lie awake, at night. Get up. Feel groggy. Put the things on, your clothes, whatever they’re called. Go out the door. In to work. Same thing, same people again. It’s real. It is happening to you. Home again. Sit. Radio. Dinner. Hmm. Gardening, gardening, gardening! Death. So…

(AUDIENCE WHOOPING)

The young woman thinks if she can get the right curtains, she can keep death and all attendant problems at bay. But the young man knows that the only way to keep death at bay is to have sex pretty much constantly. Now, because nature’s so clever, it makes the couple compromise by giving them children, so they never need to have sex again, and then the children pull the curtains down. So there was nothing to worry about in the first place. If they do have children… Now, if you don’t have children, if you’re a young man and you don’t have children, you won’t give a shit about anything I’m about to say for about the next five minutes, probably. ‘Cause young men especially, all men, in fact, don’t even see children. They’re just other beings that want instant gratification. They’re competition as far as men are concerned. Children are part of a woman’s life from when she’s very young. She’s brought up to look after other people. So, you know, I was aware of that going out with people in my 20s. You’d be walking along the street with somebody and the woman would go, “Oh, look at that! Look at this tree. Isn’t that beautiful? You could put a baby up there.”

Men don’t see them. Until they have one, and then, only when they’re just about to step on them. “Oh! Sorry about that! Sorry about that. What’s that?” “Wah wah”?

They want you. They want your something. One of your stuff. And, uh, children obviously change everything, you know, ’cause men have a very narrow focus a lot of the time, especially when they’re doing something… (BUZZING) So, you know, men like plans. I like… You think you do that and then that and then that could happen.

So, if you go on holiday with a child, you might think, “Oh, let’s go to the old part of the town. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. “We’ll go where they have cobblestones and cafés and art galleries and it’ll be really good and we’ll walk around and it’ll be fantastic. “And then we’ll go and we’ll have some kind of nice lunch “in a bistro or something and it’ll be great.” And then the child goes, “Daddy, Daddy, look! A stick!” And you go, “Yeah. Well, we’re going over there to the old part of town ’cause there’s this little place, we’ll go there.” “No, look! The stick is beside some poo.” And you think, “Well, yeah, you’re right! “Fuck it. Let’s make a day of it here. We’ll get a picnic. Why move?” But that takes time. Now, if you… They teach you to how to become a person, really. Because, you know, children are very overprotected now in lots of ways. We’re very nervous about them. Um, you know, people go, “Oh, don’t go outside! “Or inside. Get into the cupboard with some spinach.” And when I was a child, they would kick you out of the house and you weren’t expected to come back till there were bats. Um… So children are kind of… I think they’re neurotic now, they’re scared, you know? They go, “Ahh, a ghost!” And, um… If you have friends who don’t have kids, they can sound very naive, you know? Your single friends without children or people without children, ’cause they ask you stupid things like, “What did you do at the weekend?” “Uh…”

As you try to distinguish one moment from any other in the blur of screams, stains and tears that made up Saturday and Sunday, they will tell you what they did, which is all they ever wanted to do in the first place.

“We went to that really cool place, you know the one you haven’t heard of? Yeah, they make their own tomatoes out of vodka? It was great. And then we walked along the canal. We hired one of those hop-on, hop-off hot air balloons, just so in case we got bored walking, you know, we could go in the balloon for a bit and then we could walk for a bit. And then, you know, I think we saw some French double-bill of old movies. Which reminded us we hadn’t had sex in about a half an hour. So we did again. And then we went and we did that, you know, we’re both in a band. Yeah, it’s doing really well. It’s called Black Yogurt. We did this sort of lunchtime gig. And… In that really, really cool place, you know, the cellar that’s above the building. It’s… It’s called Umlaut. Well, it’s not called Umlaut, it’s just two dots over a U that isn’t there. And then… Saw loads of people from all over the world and saw several art galleries and went to about five operas and some production of ballet. It was really good. I think I was in it. And then we had sex again and… Yeah, then we just ended the evening with some of that Japanese pizza. It’s on stilts. It’s really nice.”

And then… And then it comes back to you what you did. You go, “Oh, yeah, I remember. I scraped hardened Weetabix off a kitchen tabletop for two and a half hours and then I tried to have a shit. It didn’t quite work out but there’s a window on Wednesday, I think. You should come round. We’ll make an evening of it.”

But before any of that can happen, the couple get a chance to celebrate their togetherness in the new life, if they’ve chosen to be together. And one of the big ways people do that is by torturing each other with the English language, because it’s cheap and available, or indeed any language that they know how to speak. Um, people will kill you over time. They will shave out every last morsel of fun in you with little, harmless-sounding phrases that people use every day. Like, “Be realistic! Can’t you just for half a second be realistic?”

Now, what that means is, “See reality my way or die!” Which is why you end up in a warehouse, choosing a toilet, for the entire weekend. And nobody ever said to anybody, “Be realistic. Let me oil you.”

Sometimes it’s just, you know, insulting. “It’s all sex with you, isn’t it? Eh?” “No. No, it’s not. No. I resent that. Sometimes I want a snack during.”

Sometimes it is fiendishly clever. Like, “Why are you in a bad mood?” See, that’s genius. You have to break that down to understand it. Somebody has said to you, “Why have you chosen to feel awful, thereby making me aware of you? Because I have no choice in the matter. And why do I continue to live with you, even though you are so gravely mentally ill and I don’t get any government money.”

First thing in the morning, when nobody should be speaking, my wife says things like, “You look terrible!”

“What? Am I sick?”

“No, no. You just look old and terrible. Morning, morning.” “That’s an awful thing to say to somebody!” “It’s because I care about you. Don’t say hello to the children, you’ll frighten them. Sort yourself out upstairs.”

But you get to hear really good things as well, like, you know, the phrases that would have just died out otherwise, like, eh… “How dare you!” Straight from Victorian theatre. People love talking like that. They feel 12 feet tall. “How dare you!” Running home from work to find the other person, they go, “Where are you? I know you’re here somewhere. There you are. How dare you!” “What the fuck do you mean ‘how dare I’? Have you got a raygun in your pocket or something? Shut up.”

My favourite one is, “I know what you’re thinking!” “Oh, do you? Do you really? Well done. I know what you’re thinking, too. I know what everybody’s thinking. They’re thinking, ‘I’d like to be lying face down in a cushion, with my mouth full of chocolate, and something lovely happening to my lower half. Do you want your prize now or later?”

But there is something going on right now in the world, which means that I think things, guys are changing. Men. Now, they don’t want… Basically, there’s loads of it here. I’ve noticed loads of it in this country. And there’s loads of it where I live. And you look at them and it just hit me one day very forcefully. They don’t want to grow up, ’cause they’re wearing children’s clothes. You know, I see loads of guys and they are in their 30s and 40s, shuffling around in t-shirts with you know, “Zap” or “Pow” or whatever on it. And they’ve got ambiguous length trousers. They’re not shorts, they’re not trousers. They’re just these things that say, “I don’t want an executive position anytime soon, okay? “I’m having a milkshake for about the next 10 years. “Stay the fuck away from me.” And they hang around together with another guy and they’re not romantically involved. And they stay inside, these are men, remember, inside the house, playing video games! I think this is amazing. You know what I mean. Bip, bip. Bip, bip. I don’t understand the names of them but you know, a world of bip. Bip, bip, bip. (SLURPING) Milkshake, bip. Zap, bip, bip, bip, bip. A few generations ago, at this age they would have been dead by now. And they’re going, “Bip! Dude, you got more bips than me. “I am so gay.” So, women are having children much later. Do you know the average age of a woman having a child in this country? Do you? Eighty-nine years old. That’s right! Waiting for these fucks to grow up. ‘Cause what have they got to pass on to their children? Apart from “Watch out for the snakes on level six.” What is the… Oh, bloody… Right. Um, I have to go now so that you can go and have a something. Do you want a something?

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. All right, then. Go and have something, I’ll see you shortly. Thank you, bye. (AUDIENCE CHEERING) Okay, what did you do in the interval?

(ALL TALKING AT ONCE)

Something nice. That’s what people do, that’s what everybody does. You have to do something nice. (STUTTERING) I can’t remember what I did. But it was nice. Oh, yeah. I ate some chocolate. I’m going to eat some more. Um, you know, you have to have a good relationship with pleasure. Australians seem to, on the whole. Your approach seems to be to go, “What’s that? “Ah, yeah, it’s one of those.” Which is a lot healthier than the Irish one, which is to go, “What’s that? That looks nice. “I’ll wait till everyone’s asleep, “then I’ll steal it, “so nobody will see me enjoy myself and then I won’t have to feel ashamed. “I can just let the guilt fester for the rest of my life and spend all of my remaining years drunk.”

But if you want to see a really twisted attitude to pleasure, you have to be talking to an English person, because they’re very strange. They get very coy and very childish around pleasure. You offer an English person something and they go… (LAUGHING) “Well then, if we’re going to be a little bit naughty, “go on, then, I’ll have a nibble.” And you think, “It’s a fucking bun. Eat it! “I’m not offering you flamingo fucking genitals “flash-fried in orchid oil here.” You have to be honest about all that stuff. Otherwise you’ll go strange. You’ll turn into one of those people you don’t like. You know, one of your friends. The one you ring up and say, “Hi, how are you?” And they go, “I’m fine.” (GIGGLING) And you think, “No, you’re not. “You’re making very inappropriate noises on the phone. “You need to sleep with twins, today.” There is a young woman who works in my local grocery shop. And I don’t go in there any more ’cause she’s so repressed. She speaks to me the same way she speaks to everybody else. You go in there and you put your grapes or butter or whatever it is you’re getting in front of her and she goes, “Hi. How are you?” (LAUGHING MANIACALLY) And you think, “I’m fine. This relationship has gone way beyond its parameters already. “I can’t get involved in all the murders you need to commit “to get this shit out of your system. “Please go and do something you enjoy soon before you kill everybody with a label gun.”

You know, I think that women are not allowed to be seen to enjoy themselves in lots of ways. They have a test for that in Ireland now. They’ve scientifically perfected that, the Madonna Whore Quotient of a woman. You know, if when a woman puts her hands together to pray, and when she’s crying the blood and she levitates, if you don’t get a sustained hum in A flat, she’s a fucking whore! We sorted that out. And… You know, if you’re not honest about pleasure, if you’re not honest about what you want, you’ll become strange. You’ll turn into one of those freaks, those people who have hobbies. You know, somebody gets a load of coat hangers and buttons, runs into a shed, you don’t see them for three days and then they come out, going, “Look, the Taj Mahal!” No, it’s not. Put it away. And no, I don’t want to see all the plates you’ve nailed to a bath. Stay away from me, you fucking weirdo! Or the horse you made out of your own hair and spit. Just keep away. There was a time when people were more honest about all that stuff. You know, people creep up on pleasure now in a very odd way. There’s people out there called “furries”.

Have you heard of them?

MAN: Yes.

They dress up as woodland animals. And they meet for tea and biscuits. I don’t know if it’s a sex thing. I hope so. I want to see a giant bilby fuck a giant wombat as much as the next person. But within that relationship you’ve got to be honest and mature. You can’t say to somebody, “I need you to dress up as a bilby. “This isn’t working for me.” They might have spent the last three-quarters of an hour shoehorning themselves into that numbat costume. You have to be respectful. And then there’s the S&M crowd. And that all sounds very odd at first. You know, people… You know the ones, people who like to be nailed and stapled into things. Put in old fridges and left under the stairs for weeks. They love all that. And that sounds odd at first, but it has an emotional logic, ’cause people speak about it and they say, “Well, it makes me feel safe.” You see? I can see where they’re going with that. I mean, you could grow up… I grew up in Ireland and, you know, you learn to feel bad about anything you enjoy. It’s in the air. It’s Catholicism. You know, you see a sunset. You go, “Look at that. “Isn’t that extraordinarily beautiful?” “We’re not allowed.” “Okay, look at the mud. Look at the mud. The mud everywhere, the mud. “I am made of mud. Everything is mud. Mud.” Sunsets were for Protestants.

(MAN WHOOPING)

But you’re mature and you let go of all that baggage. I don’t mind telling you my thing now. What I quite like, I don’t care who knows it, what I quite like is to get a couple of scoops of mushy peas, stick one under each arm and fling myself at a brick wall. I don’t know what it is. I just feel wanted, you know? You gotta do a bit of what you enjoy! People were more honest about all this stuff in times gone by. You know, I’m talking about… I’m talking about when men were men and women were women. There was an earlier time when women were also men but they worked it out. Now, this is not nostalgia. I have no time for nostalgia. All that rubbish, people going, “Two dollars for a Mars bar? I remember when…” What! What do you remember? “Fucking slavery. Shut up! “When children had to live underground, turning the big wheels.” No, I’m just talking about a different time. This is when a man would receive a phone call in a pub. On a landline. And it would be for him. Men died in pubs. Sometimes on the phone. Frequently with a large ham under their arm. This is when a man would express a strong opinion on a subject he knew nothing about as a point of honour. And to emphasise his position, he would take off his hat, so you would see his comb-over. Which was nothing to be ashamed of. It might rise in the breeze like a cobra or a live cable, but it belonged to him. Or he might have that very… That haircut you don’t see any more. The very, very thin white hair that you can see through to the flock wallpaper at the back of the man. Wonderful, thin, white hair. People shave it off now ’cause they think it looks cooler. The fools! They’re missing out on this fantastic look of purely theoretical hair. It looks like a thought bubble clinging to the skull. This is also in the time when a woman had women’s things. You would go to some social gathering. A woman wasn’t there, you would enquire after her, “Where is Jeannie?” And be told, “Oh, Jeannie, she has women’s things.” And you respected that. Nobody knew what they were. She could have been at home squirting jam into envelopes. Polishing an onion with her feet. It was none of your fucking business. Knitting a ceiling cosy. Let her get on with it! This was also in the time when a woman, I am talking about a real woman here, had a vanity table in the bedroom. To have somewhere, somewhere, to sit and weep. About all the terrible things done to her by men. ‘Cause women have memories. Short, medium, long. They’ve got it all. A woman remembers something you said 17 years ago! And the way you looked at her just now. And to aid that memory, the woman would open a hat box full of precious things. The Curly Wurly wrapper that meant so much! The bundle of letters too painful to look at or throw away. They have to be kept so they can never be looked at. A 9-speed, duel shaft, triple action… No, that’s a different time, a different time. Women remember, this is why we have a civilisation. A woman looks at a man and says, “You tried that yesterday. It didn’t work then, either.” Men do not have memories. Every woman is an individual walking time capsule. Men don’t know anything. Men don’t know when their lives became so thoroughly awful. When everybody else turned into such a tosser. A man does not know how he came by the half a pie he is holding in his hand. And scientists, those frauds, seize on this and try and use it as proof of the mysteries of human consciousness and the unknowable nature of the brain, which is rubbish. The brain is the simplest organ in the body. It only has three bits. There’s the front bit which is the bit you scratch when you come in at half one in the morning and the person you live with says, “Where the fuck were you?” The middle bit, which tries to come up with the excuse. And the back bit, which plays the last song that was on in the pub. “I was with Ralph. You know Ralph. He smells of cucumber. “You can move it, you can check it. You can do it you can do it at the hop. “Don’t speak to me like that, anyway.” “I got you a fricking present on the way home. “Did you get me a present? Did you? Did you? “You want some pie?” Men are afraid of women. Everybody knows this. Because of all the gender stereotyping that goes on. All the things that you’re supposed to be. It’s why many young men get a very confusing message thrown at them. The model held up to them is this sort of action hero. James Bond figure or any of the actors who are currently in those films, who, you know, are running around going… (POPPING) Women see that, some women. They look at it and they go, “All that violence, it’s disgusting. Fuck me.” And that’s a mixed message for men. A lot of men don’t know how to talk to women. They think of them as so other. You see a lot of men socially in restaurants, they don’t have a fucking clue. They’re frightened. Frightened of the dramatic weather and the moodscape that a woman can inhabit. You see men looking at them. They don’t know how to talk to the other. Bully them or kid-glove them, they don’t know any other way. “Do you want to… “Do you want to go over there? Do you want to go?” “No? No? I don’t know what I was thinking. I read about it in the paper.” “Apparently some other people went over there and they quite liked it.” “What about… What about over here? Over here looks…” “No, no, no. Insanity, I know. “I’m just going to stand like this until you tell me what you want to do.” ‘Cause they’re afraid of a woman’s contempt. And women, as a group, en masse, do show contempt for men, en masse. Now, a woman might be afraid of an individual violent man, which is very sensible. Everybody should be afraid of an individual violent man. But as a group, you know, you hear a lot of contempt about men. “Oh, look. Look at them. “Look, there they go, one of them is trying to do something.” Men are afraid, women are not. And part of it is just about biology. It’s shameful that we still can’t have an intelligent, productive conversation about these ordinary life events. I mean, it’s two-thousand and… And we still can’t. You know, childbirth, menstruation, all of these things, without which we wouldn’t be here. I mean, you know, as a guy, you ask a woman about childbirth, you try and find out more about it. You say, “Well, how bad is it? What are we talking about here?” You know? How painful? Like what? “Long weekend in Adelaide? What are we… What are we talking about here?” And you don’t get an answer, you get anger. And it always starts with the melon. “Imagine a melon coming through your face! “Fucking stay there, I’ll get a melon, don’t move.” And with mood, you know, men are thrown by a woman’s ability to go from saying “You always fucking do that, you piece of shit!” To “Hiya!” That does throw men. But it’s a myth that men don’t have their own version of PMT. Of course they do. Every woman knows this. It’s a very simple experiment to conduct. All you’ve got to do is be with a man, wait until he starts doing something and then go up and talk to him. “What? What is it now? I’m opening fish fingers, can’t you see? “You come in here, you’re walking on the floor, “breathing the air like it’s yours, talking and talking. I’m doing something! “Look, they’ve fallen on the floor. Are you happy? Are you happy now? “Every time I try and do something for myself, “you carbonise and then shit on my dreams. “You’re just like your whole family. “Why do I even dare to think I could dream, I could imagine, I could hope?” Now, men imagine that they have memories because they sometimes experience violent déjà vu. A man will grip his girlfriend, wife, partner, and say, “We’ve been here before!” “We’re in the supermarket car park.” “Yes, I know, but we’ve been here before.” “We never go anywhere fucking else, as far as I can see.” (CLEARING THROAT) Excuse me. I have a touch of everything. And the, um… But you know, you…

The mind disintegrates. Memory… I never had a memory anyway, but the, um… But everything goes, everything goes. Youth goes and everything goes. You know? That’s why I can’t stand younger people. Healthy people. Healthy, young, attractive people, doing what they want. Bending down and getting up in the same afternoon, it’s revolting. Because I remember that. Being that. And the old people get, you know, they sound… People think they’re dull. They’re not dull, you know. They’re not actually dull. Like, when you watch young people in the street and they’re talking, and they’re doing those handshakes that take three-quarters of an hour. With the amazingly redundant language, “Yeah, yo, dog, kicking back with the chill ride.” What the fuck are you talking about? Why can’t you just say hello? You know, you get so old, you’re grateful when somebody says, “Hello, how are you?” You just fucking tell them. You say, “I’m all right. I’ve got piles, but I’m still masturbating.” Obviously, who’s got the energy for masturbation, you know, but you have to put a bit of spin on things, otherwise you’ll depress people.

This is why older people have a reputation for being boring. They’re not boring, they’re just honest. You ask an older person how they are, they will tell you. Say, “Well, you know, I’m all right. “But a very important bit of me turned green and fell off the other day. “It was very annoying, I was in the swimming pool. “They had to get it out with one of those little net things. “Gave it to me in a plastic bag. “Now I have to write a letter of apology to all the children who were there, “the fucking Council.”

Because youth vanishes on you. It’s such a surprise. That’s why people say it seems like yesterday. It does, it seems like yesterday. It seems like yesterday to me. I was out drinking tequila with my friends. I mean, tequila. That’s not even a drink! It’s just a way of getting the police around without using a phone. Now, I’m on the phone to those same friends asking them for recipes. “How do you make breadcrumbs?” And you think, “Jesus, what’s happened to me? “Please, don’t let me die in a gardening centre. “Don’t let me turn into one of those people who begins every single fucking conversation with the words “‘I’m not a racist but…”‘

And you see, ’cause you have this illusion all the time that you’re cool. People do. Not just younger people, everybody thinks that. All men do. Ninety-nine point nine percent of men are convinced that they have to live silently with the bitter irony of the twist of fate that means nobody knows they’re really a spy and an amazing guitarist. Men give serious time and thought to, “How would I deal with it “if a rocket came out of that alley right now, would I… “Yeah, I think I’d handle the situation pretty well.” Um… A spy who plays guitar at night. And they… I mean, I basically think, you know, I’m what would have happened if James Dean had lived and discovered carbohydrates and orthopaedic shoes.

You have to tell yourself this bullshit just to keep going. ‘Cause you’re constantly being reminded how redundant you are. How am I supposed to feel in the swim of what’s current when I don’t understand what’s going on? Because younger people, my children, steal the future by changing language, everything I relied on. You walk… How can you expect to feel you know what’s going on when you walk down the street and your children say, (SCOFFING) “Look at that church, it’s so random.” “What, is it moving? What do you mean? What are you talking about? “It’s a perfectly ordinary church where people go to get married.” “Marriage, ugh, that’s so gay!” “Look, just… Can we just have some quiet time? Here are some crisps, there you go.” “Crisps! Awesome!” “They’re not awesome, they’re crunchy. If I open them and haggard shafts of light and cherubim and angelic music comes out, “they would be awesome, okay? Mountains and rivers and the fact that I’m still breathing are awesome.” … And then you get told you’re grumpy, you know?

(MUMBLING INCOHERENTLY) Things change. Things get taken away. You get told you have to do other stuff you didn’t plan on doing. You know, you have to see doctors. That happens later. This is why old people are described as boring, ’cause they talk about things like that. That’s what they know. “What did you do today?” “Well, I went to the doctor “and he said he had to take it off. “And he was going to keep it, he wouldn’t even give it to me at weekends.” And… “Yeah. “Yeah, I have to get my front scraped.” All that kind of stuff, you know, and…

I hate doctors. I really hate them. I don’t really, I admire everything they do, but I hate them. Because they’re all younger than me. They’re all about 11 nowadays, as far as I can work out. And they… They sit in a swivel chair and they judge you. (IN FALSETTO) “You have an unhealthy lifestyle. You come in here expecting some sort of magic pill. Well, I don’t have a magic pill, mister, ’cause you have an unhealthy lifestyle. You need to exercise.”

You know, they didn’t buy all my excuses, which were not that great, I admit. “I’m too busy to move any of my limbs” and… But sport’s not my main thing. I had to pick one, you know, I didn’t know what the fuck to go for, skydiving or cage fighting or what, so, in the end I picked yoga. Which was kind of great ’cause there were these older people, advanced years, senior. Oh, they were old. They didn’t know what gender they were and you couldn’t tell by looking. So they were, they were old. Just these smiles and tracksuits and there was a nice lady in the middle and she was talking about sitting and standing and breathing and I was thinking, “I love this sport. I would choose to do almost all of those things anyway.” And… “I’m going to compete internationally and everything.” And she said, “Now, I want you to breathe in.” And I did, you know, the athlete in me just came out, I didn’t think about it. She said I want you to breathe out. And again, I was all over that, you know? I think they call it “in the zone”. And… She said, “Now I want you to breathe in but this time I want you to exhale. And now I want you to exhale but as you do I want you to breathe in as deeply as you can. Now fold yourself back. Kiss the small of your spine with your eyes. Take first one, and then the other leg, shove them both up your hole, stick your elbows out and spin. Let’s go, people. I want to see some movement here, come on.”

Everybody could do it. All of them. These 300-year-old people disappearing into themselves like doughnuts. My wife was in front of me with her big toe in her ear. Even though I’d suggested that years ago in a rainy coastal hotel and she totally ignored me. It’s highly dangerous, all that stuff.

And, you know, they’re rude as well, doctors. There should be some sort of law, like when you go to show them… They have a really good service now, in Britain. It’s called the National Health Service Direct and it’s a great idea. ‘Cause you go on a computer or you pick up a phone and you go… (SCREAMING IN PAIN) And they have to guess what’s wrong with you. You don’t have to see them.

But what I want, really, is just, you know, like, somebody, any person I trust at the end of a phone, and you just, you know, get straightforward answers to simple questions. You know, you say, “Listen I’m out, I’ve been drinking pretty steadily now for two days. I have a huge lump inside of my head, the alcohol doesn’t seem to work. Is there anything else I can try? Is it always bad when you have chunks of ham in your urine? Just tell me straight, okay?” And they’re very rude sometimes, very abrupt, you know… When you go to the doctor and you show them the thing that you don’t necessarily need or want, they should not be allowed to jump back on both feet and go, “Jesus Christ!” ‘Cause that’s not great for a person’s confidence. You know, you only accept that kind of talk from people you know really well, people you love, actually.

But that whole business of being judged by women. (SOFTLY) Would you please stop taking pictures on your tiny, annoying fucking camera? Um… This is happening to you in real time, you are having the experience, there’s not much point trying to verify that you were at the event when you’re actually here.

(AUDIENCE CHEERING)

Now, um, I don’t know, something or other, I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.

(WOMAN SHOUTS OUT)

Thank you, whatever that was. The, um… Yeah, so… Things change. But you know, you do become more mature and it has advantages. Like, when you’re mature, you don’t really worry about death and so on. You don’t. I never think about it. It’s an abstraction. You think about practical, everyday realities. You know, what’ll happen if I get loads of tortilla chips stuck on the roof of my mouth. See, that’s a very mature joke there. I didn’t mention the word “penis” once. And… But it would be very painful to get lots of tortilla chips stuck on the roof of your penis. And difficult to explain. “I was having a snack “and I met these Mexicans and they were also hungry, “but they really liked me, and…” So you have to see the doctor quite a lot and, you know, ’cause things get taken away from you… You’re very keen on laws and health and pushing all that stuff here in Australia. And some of it’s fine, although some of it’s very confusing, like drinking responsibly and so on, which is a good idea, but how do you do it? What does that mean? What is that? You know, you have a couple of shots of Jack and Coke and a six pack and then you help the children with their homework. “Algebra, they make that shit up. “Never comes up in real life. “They just do it to stop you thinking about sex. “What’s next? Geography! There’s Spain. I win. Champion!” Or what is the point of putting a picture of a perfectly ordinary Irish smile on a box of cigarettes? What’s that about? What’s that supposed to achieve? And anybody who smokes with their feet is going to get into trouble, you know? That is just not thinking the thing through.

But to get back to this whole, uh, man-woman thing, you know, there’s too much made of it because the gender line completely blurs as you get… As more time goes by, you know? You both end up as these two grey, dribbling Teletubbies who believe in kindness and biscuits and the word of God coming out of the radio. “Shh, news! Oh, they’re eating a lot of yogurt in China!” And we’re still, you know, we’re supposed to be, fulfil these models of strong, decisive men and very, very feminine, girly women, like the woman in the perfume ads, you know, shaking her hair, just shaking her hair ’cause it helps her decide how she feels about things. Staying in on a Saturday night, just to shake her hair. Being incredibly girly. And men being very decisive and saying, “We’re going over there. We’re doing that, and it’s going to take ages and we have to build a bridge to get there.”

And… I’ve never been one of those guys, you know? Men who fix things and know stuff and go, “Yes, over there.” I never… My wife says things like, “The water heater seems to be…” And I go, “Get a man! Get a man. I do not speak pipe or hammer, leave me alone. There’s a bag of money in a biscuit tin in the kitchen. Give it to some men.” “Where are you?” “I’m upstairs in our room rubbing your expensive creams on my knees. I just want to see what happens, don’t try and get in. I’ve blocked the door with huge lumps of Turkish Delight and I’m listening to show tunes, stay away.”

I don’t mind that, you know. I’m not worried about that. That’s natural. You become more feminised with age. I call it “channelling Barbara”. Something happens to me, I’m walking around the house, I suddenly get this urge to watch a load of Jane Austen adaptations and eat half a box of Milk Tray. “Oh, him, he’s lovely, I’ve always liked him. Mmm, he’s really, really lovely. I don’t like the other fellow, the hairy one. Do you like him? I don’t like him. “Oh, look! The lovely one’s on a horse.” I don’t give a shit.

Um, but what’s… I have to check the… Shit. The, uh… What’s really odd is what gets taken away from you. It’s not the stuff you expect, you know? People talk about old age and you sort of get twinkly-eyed pictures of, you know, grandmothers in pink smiling fondly at children and dogs and wheat fields and so on and… They’re probably fucking out of their minds, they don’t know where they are but that’s why they look so serene, but… You know, the weirdest things get taken away from you. Like I used to have toenails. I remember them. I took pictures. And now I have the sheeting they put on battleships. My family are afraid of me. They make me clip them in the garden. I brought down three seagulls last week.

Eyebrows, I had eyebrows. People used to come from nearby just to touch them. Nowadays I have these fucking things, I get shortwave radio signals on them in the evening. I wake up in the morning, it looks like giant spiders are trying to eat my eyes. (EXCLAIMING)

And now you try all the old tricks, you know, because you walk into a crowded room and you suck in your gut and you see the other one underneath. “Hello, I’m Jeff, your pointless second stomach. You don’t need to feed me or anything, I’m a gift from Death.” ‘Cause Death is like the Don, saying, “Send him a message.”

The other morning, I woke up. I was frightened, I’m always frightened in the morning. I never know where I am and… But I heard this beautiful, reassuring sound, it sounded like my childhood. I thought, what’s that? Is it… There’s church bells behind the hill. Or no, It’s an ice cream van in the rain. It was me, breathing!

I’m going now.

AUDIENCE: No!

Yes, you say that. Cake? Cake? Where are the cakes? Thank you very much for coming. Good night. (AUDIENCE CHEERING) Thank you. (AUDIENCE WHISTLING) Yeah, yeah.

WOMAN: I love you, Dylan!

Yes, please. A mille-feuille? A basic apple tart? None. The… Cinnamon bun? Fairy cakes? Nothing. Words. Words, you give me, words. Don’t you think I have enough of those fucking things? Um…

WOMAN: What’s the movie like?

Be quiet and I’ll tell you something else. You know, this is what you came for. I… Well, I think it is. I’m really glad when people like you come out, ’cause I feel good for the people at home. Listen, stop it with the applauding. Show some discipline and character. If you’re enjoying it, just grip your knees tighter. The world is confusing, there’s no doubt about it. And what I mean by being on good terms with pleasure is that you have to be honest with yourself. You have to talk to this essential animal part of you, the beast within. It’s a very simple creature and you ignore it at your peril. You have to say… You know, ’cause the bad part of you, it only… It’s very simple. It just has one demand, really. It just says, “More! More yummy stuff! Less bad stuff, yummy, yummy, yummy.” This is the main dialogue going on within us all our lives. Constant dialogue between yummy, yummy and boo-hoo. “Yummy, yummy, boo-hoo, I had too much, boo-hoo, boo-hoo. I feel bad, boo-hoo, boo-hoo. I’m better, oh, yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy.”

And very occasionally the rational mind intervenes and says, “Hang on a minute.” So what happens, you go, “Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, yummy, yummy, yummy, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, yummy, yummy.” “Hang on a minute. I’m seeing a pattern here. Why don’t we…” “Shut up! Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy.” You have to know what you want. ‘Cause the beast says, “Give me the good stuff, not the bad stuff.” You say, “What do you mean?” Engage with that part of yourself. “What is the good stuff, what is the bad stuff?” “You know the good stuff. Whatever I’m not allowed.”

That’s the ultimate human shopping list. “I’d like some illegal, some forbidden, some frowned-upon and some downright disgust, please. I’d like that to go, thank you.” And what is the good stuff? I mean, what is the bad stuff? I’m confused, there’s only two things, it’s not that difficult, but um, what is the bad stuff?

“You know, fucking mornings.”

What is that about? That time is a huge lie.

“Get up, get up! We’re going to be late. Quickly! Late, imagine it, the disaster if we’re late.”

“What’ll happen if we’re late? I can’t even bear to think about it.”

Late is an idea, late is bullshit. It doesn’t matter how fucking late you are. You can turn up in your pyjamas scratching your nuts with a fork, the same old shit’s going to be there. It’s a lie! People running up to you saying, “What do you think?” In the morning! “What do you think?” “Think? Think? I’m not even fucking breathing, go away with your think.” It takes you three-quarters of an hour to find your face and apologise to it. And how do they lure you back into the world, into the human race, into consciousness itself? With a great traditional breakfast. As eaten here and in Britain and Ireland and lots of other places. Fried slices of dead pig, tubes of dead pig, some fungus and a chicken’s period on a plate. “Welcome back! “We missed you while you were sleeping. Enjoy!” You can always go for the healthy option, of course you can, of course you can. Some yummy cereal, mm-mm, doused with milk. Says it right there on the box, in big primary-coloured letters. “Contains fibre.”

Goody gumdrops. I was up all night fantasising about fucking fibre. You know that feeling, when you get a belly full of fibre and you can skip round the room taunting everybody who didn’t get theirs? Remember all those times in your life when you’d stop strangers in the street and scream at them, “I need some fibre!” Lies and corruption! I sometimes think what my granny would have made of the world, you know? It’s a simpler view, but very clear-eyed, with everything that’s going on. I always remember, she used to say, “The neck and the groin, the neck and the groin. “It doesn’t matter how big the fucker is, they’ve all got a neck and a groin.” Last thing she ever said to me. She said, “Listen, “I’m off to Peru. Don’t tell a soul, there’s money in it, “and maybe an early Matisse. “Don’t breathe a fucking word, Kemo Sabe, you got me?” Bless her.

Thank you very much for coming. Good night.

(AUDIENCE CHEERING)

(HELP ME BY JUNIOR WELLS PLAYING)

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