Jerome questioned if the Facebook team had deduced 14 days was a magic number for deliberation – where the majority returned, starved of minutiae and thirsty for contact, while a few intractable souls punched through the fortnightly abstinence to be rewarded with permanently deleted accounts and electronic excommunication from virtual friends and their tribulations.
Jerome imagined vast underground lairs beneath Google and Facebook offices where every mote of personal data was irrevocably stored. But then Jerome also never considered entities out there supremely negotiating and navigating the virtual mist had already unearthed the surreptitious location of Facebook’s permanent deletion page. Here it is for those interested:
However, if you do delete your Facebook account you can’t automatically follow this blog, or like, subscribe, or whatever the fuk else Facebook unilaterally decides is the next appropriate verb to express appreciation. I suppose you could use a Google account and get the latest chapter posts via Google Friends Connect. But choosing between Facebook and Google is a bit like smoking a joint after a line of coke. It’s drug politics. As Danny in Withnail & I astutely noted,
‘Why trust one drug and not the other?’
By 19:42 Jerome had also severed links with Twitter, Bitly, Couchsurfer, Soundcloud, Pandora, Pinterest, Skype, LinkedIn, and his three hotmail accounts he divided meticulously into official, personal and travel categories. He then deleted the duplicate profiles he held with Gmail, and expunged his connections with Picasa Web, You Tube, Grooveshark, Feedburner, Addthis, Gravatar, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tool that he created for two Blogger sites titled, Angel’s Share and Narcissism of Minor Differences, which he never posted on. Jerome then deleted his blogger sites, along with his remaining accounts at AmazonUK, Ebay, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Hostelworld, Lonely Planet, Threadless, Adobe, Lacie, Nikon Asia, Virgin Trains, First Capital Trains UK, as well as his frequent flyer profiles with Singapore, South West, Spirit, Aerolineas Argentinas, Emirates and Qantas. He ignored his neglected Myspace account, but for all intense purposes Jerome was off the grid, alone in a bar with free wi-fi.
The irony wasn’t lost on Jerome when he discovered his story found its way onto this website. But ever since Alanis Morisette he was hesitant to use the word, irony – he could never stop thinking about forks and knives, and rain and wedding days when he found something ironic. Subsequently Jerome always doubted if anything was in fact ironic. Maybe this was post-irony. Jerome was Gen X after all. It was his goddam birth rite to find shit post-ironic. Everyone was quite happy fatuously substituting irony for coincidence before Alanis. He hated Alanis Morisette for ruining the word irony. In a similar fashion this is why Hemingway grew reticent about using the word decadence.
‘Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.’
Rich told Jerome immediately after deleting his Facebook account he felt a lightness of absolution which Jerome imagined was like the sensation of walking out of confessional when he was a kid. But Jerome felt nothing. Not even numbness, which he classed as a sensation because it still described a particular distinction of dullness.
Jerome usually disassociated himself from the semantic wankers of the world that would argue in a similar way – that black is not a colour, or a tomato is really a fruit. I mean who gives a fuck. It’s all pretty irrelevant. But there was no word in English precisely designed to describe his current disposition because English speakers weren’t allowed to stop feeling.
He wondered if his sudden disengagement from the internet had evoked the same feeling of nothingness that fed a sociopath’s detachment or consumed psychopaths right before they kill someone. However, Jerome conceeded they were still shades of apathy. He wasn’t apathetic – at least he didn’t think so. He concluded that someone suffering chronic indifference by definition either wouldn’t care enough or be able to diagnose their own condition so why give a fuck.
Maybe it was because he was on his third pint.
Rule #07: Two Afternoon Pint Limit
Ordinarily Jerome drank two afternoon pints. It was a guideline more than a rule and dictated primarily by fiscal constraints which Jerome found convenient at least for his liver, along with the improbable possibility of punani.
Over the years Jerome distilled a number of rules he treated like a code to live by to shave some of the abject complexity from life. The two pint afternoon allowance was one so routine he rarely considered it any longer.
He drank two pints in the afternoon because he was unemployed, without a girlfriend and lived by himself. His sanity and libido demanded it – a daily outing less they conspire towards lunacy. He could go out in the morning for coffee, but coffee wasn’t much cheaper than beer and Jerome rated a lot of things in life on alcohol content. People also didn’t socialise over coffee. They were cernuous in secrets and business – exchanging events from the morning or day before across intimate round tables. A person alone with a pint was a great big invitation. So over the past six months Jerome adhered to a strict afternoon ritual by alternating between the tripartite of Silver Apples and Folk, the two local cafe-bars and the Woodstock pub. But only once did someone sit down next to his deplorable understanding of body language.
Ruth was a stand up comedian. He used everything he had stored up like latent heat – his best material in an extended one night show only. Bizarrely, it worked!
Jerome summoned the feel of her dimpled nipples – and the taste of her cunt. It was a rare cunt that tasted sweet and didn’t linger like a ripe aquarium. It’s what made him consider during the following week she said she was in Edinburgh for work that she could be the one – by providence of the taste of her cunt. Maybe she just ate a lot of tropical fruit. But Jerome doubted that since she staggered into the Canadian Grill on the way back to his flat and bought a chip kebab. He came across it in the kitchen the next morning while Ruth was spewing up in the bathroom – half consumed, suffering rigor mortis like yesterday’s guacamole or a bad memory just remembered.
For four days latter he was swallowing glass and wondered if you could catch clap in the mouth from a diseased vagina. His uvula was distended, resting limp and impotent against the back of his tongue. Jerome sent two text messages without a reply. This was also very deliberate.
Rule # 03: Two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy
Jerome inducted a strict policy to counter unreciprocated correspondence back when his heart behaved like it was in bad movie romances and he realised the difference between quixotical and stalking was minor and perilous. Hollywood had a lot to answer for. But he didn’t like to advertise his unequivocal stance. This was because Jerome typically eschewed Americana for it’s brazen catchphrases and aphorism which sounded like B-grade martial art films’ regurgitation of Buddhist philosophy. To Jerome the two-strikes-and-you’re-out sounded like high-fives and flipside. And it debased his whole approach, which was much more complex and irrational.
After a fortnight Jerome decided Ruth was discouraged and ultimately intimidated by him because he was way funnier than her. He accepted as a stand up comedian, Ruth invariably was a fucking thief – a walking Dictaphone who had recorded all his awesome unique, unstable insights and one liners to regurgitate them shamelessly as her own. He had filled her up in a single night and she was done. However he respected the purity, given he spent his life recording the people around him and interpreting them.
Two pints in the afternoon also maintained Jerome’s daytime liquid diet. Jerome reviled gyms and pointless exercise. He once joined the university gym when he was a freshman. But he never had a partner to spot weights and twice got caught like a mollusc under a barbell that he couldn’t lift off his chest so he stopped going. He thought jogging was inane and people running along sidewalks looked idiotic.
Rule #06: Nothing in Life is Worth Running For
It’s why he also refused to chase public transport – he couldn’t find any excuse in daily life that required running. The only exercise Jerome did was walking.
Jerome wilfully walked everywhere. It reduced his world which made life simpler again. Jerome’s gym was West Didsbury, along Barlow Moor Rd to Didsbury Village and down to Wilmslow Rd to Withington and Fallowfield. He bought groceries from Fruit & Veg on Copson St and went to Sainsbury’s when the local Somerfield on Burton Rd didn’t stock what he wanted. He walked the shopping back home – stopping off for a pint at the Friendship Inn or Solomons because Fuel put up the price of Budvar. He occasionally lifted the weight of the shopping to work his biceps and cardiovascular system.
Jerome found it prudent to compensate his otiose lifestyle with a shrewd and pedantic diet that bordered on neurotic. He rationalised drinking on an empty stomach mitigated the carbohydrates steeped in beer. And afternoon drinking suppressed his appetite until dinner and lit him up like a fond memory, making the walk home extremely pleasant.
In fact you’ll come to realise Jerome prioritised drinking and drinking booze above almost everything else. His diet and eating regime was primarily dictated by counterbalancing drink against food and so food usually lost.
‘Food is for the pigeons,’ was Jerome’s war cry.
Ruth eventually called him up well doused, late on a Friday night three and half weeks later. Jerome said if he knew she meant “give me a call”, was in the masculine context he wouldn’t have bothered texting her. She replied, saying he was crap in bed. He said he couldn’t remember fucking her anyway and it wasn’t because of the booze. It was the booze’s fault though. Thinking of Ruth again later that night he wrote and recorded Discouraged.
Jerome stopped as he turned onto Northern Grove by the Withington Hospital.
‘Fuck,’ he said out loud, realising he left his iceberg lettuce in the bar. He was pissed off because he paid 30p more for it at Somerfield than the Withington grocer earlier that day so he could get cashback for a pint.
Josephine called when he arrived back at his flat. Her voice was Golden Virginia rollies and London. Man he was a sucker for sexy names and telephone voices. Jerome and Josephine held an intrinsic synergy for seeking each other out on mobiles when they both felt the despondency and inertia that plagues single and young creative minds. Jerome wished Josephine still lived in Manchester and she wished he moved down to London. But he lived there for a year and ended up hating the city the way everyone else hated Manchester.
‘What? You didn’t go back and get it?
‘No I mean I was half way home by the time I realised – and I felt stupid I mean walking into a bar and saying ‘think i left my lettuce here?’’
‘What if it wasn’t there?’
‘I’d end up accusing staff of stealing it – see what I’m talking about.’
‘Was it for dinner?’
‘Yeah – I had all these left over vegetables for a salad except lettuce-‘
‘So what did you do?’
‘I ate half a packet of twiglets.’
Jerome told Josephine he just deactivated his Facebook account.
‘You’re not cool enough not to have a Facebook account,’ she implored. Her soft English lilt carried a tenuous whine that bordered on a melody – which succoured Jerome like a sharp autumn wind carrying the smell of buttered toast. It made him consider Josephine was probably right but he didn’t care.
He tried explaining his plan to stay offline, remain lo-fi, perhaps even resurrect the counterculture sale of pamphlets in the Northern Quarter because everything old went in circles of revival. However it sounded less of a strategy and more like a loosely threaded imbroglio of desultory frustrations brewing from a general lack of experiencing, or feeling anything real lately.
Jerome wasn’t an instigator or expediter. He found those roles a parlous journey towards disappointment, or ridicule. He was always most comfortable trailing a group on a narrow sidewalk, sitting at the end of a long table, standing out of earshot instead of in the middle of busy walkways, and generally finding positions in social situations that made an easy escape. However, Jerome did possess penchant for concepts and had a quiet brilliance for formulating plans, which was also the reason he often felt guilty of letting himself down – because he was rubbish at implementation.
Jerome recalled his Myspace account. His sole remaining portal of virtual interaction was pathetic and partly the reason he didn’t delete it – it suited his style. He had eleven friends, and they included Tom, Myspace Today and My Space Band Support. And Myspace was a reject in the realm of social networking. Only good for porn and artists, he’d heard stated more than once from FB loyalists. Jerome enjoyed the consistency.
Although he didn’t know it at the time because he was two-thirds through Sommerfields £3.79 Montipulciano d’Abruzzo a plan was brewing.