Autobiography of a Generation by Elliot C. Mason

Autobiography of a Generation

Joshua makes grant applications
for a multinational investment firm
with distant links to charities. The only
thing for him to do when
he finishes is drink as hard
as he can and forget the rigid
form of the office chair, etcetera. His brother
Liam is an alcoholic poet
living in Southampton, got a council
flat. He collapsed on a train
and all his clothes are stained
with vomit. Leonard used
to petition for Labour until
he discovered he was Jewish,
then he left politics, said he was
part of History now. He gets odd
jobs researching family
trees online. My granny finally
got divorced and managed
to get a house with a help-
to-buy scheme. She left a rotting
potato in the office
of the solicitor who charged
her £3,500 to read a few
emails. She says it’s the most
fun she’s ever had, telling everyone
she knows about the potato.
Karla didn’t get the promotion
because they needed
someone ‘more diverse’,
whatever that means, so out
of stupid pride she quit
and spent a few days
getting pissed, and now
she’s crying, sitting on the toilet,
singing songs to herself. She’s
running out of money. Daniel
was disappointed with
his studies, stopped speaking
to his family years ago, lives
as a child without his
parents, talking of their absence
like it’s an empty pint
glass and he wants you to get
the next round. He works
in a restaurant, wiping tables
and spitting in expensive soup.
No one really likes him but
he always carries cigarettes so
everyone hangs around,
because no one else can afford them.
The canal turned into
a bourgeois paradise so Julia
moved out and left her boat
to rot. Some hedge-fund hippies
moved in and wrote ‘free
blowjobs’ on the window so Julia
went back round and said
‘well, you’ve nicked my boat
so you can at least suck
me off now,’ and it turned out
the whole thing was a joke. No one
ever got a blowjob on that boat.
It lives at the bottom
of the canal now, getting hit
by odd avocado pips that dribble
out the sparkly windows.
Jeremy wears so much aftershave
you can barely go near him.
He thinks it helps him sell
solar panels to grotesquely wealthy
old ladies. He says he could sell
solar panels to the sun itself,
but no one laughs because he’s
a bloody Tory and he wears
those stupid boater shoes. Twenty
grand of debt is stopping Delia
from acting. She has to work
three jobs all because she had
the temerity to get
an education. She does cleaning
in the morning, teaching English
to what she claims are sexy
Italian men in the daytime
and then pours pints
at some fancy jazz bar
in the evenings. One night
we were so lonely, Delia and
me, we pressed our faces
into the concrete path
of the canal and drank until
we couldn’t see a thing, and then
we had sex over and over again
till everything hurt. I don’t think
I’ve ever been as happy
and as sad at the same time.
I’m drinking far too much
these days, but then again I’ve always
said that. I’m claiming to ‘borrow’
bread from friends, getting donations
from ex-lovers of cheap tobacco
and beer. I’ve spent months looking
for a job I don’t despise, trying to live
something recognisable as a real life
that people don’t laugh at
when I tell them what I do. But soon
I’ll have to give in, curl inside any old
exploitative role and finally buy
my own breakfast. I have
to admit that my hatred
is more passionate than my love.
Sally Songless who once
was a famous piano player comes
around to stay. She falls asleep
on my bed after drinking wine
for hours, so I lie down on the sofa.
Sally lives in a boarding house
in Mile End. She’s started naming
her cockroaches. She has depression
and a drinking problem. She’s never
lived alone, never had a proper
job, and has no hope of permanence.
She stopped waxing her bikini
line when she was nineteen,
now she’s twenty-seven. I think
she perfectly defines this generation.
Hopelessly juvenile, satirically
insecure, she knows absolutely
everything, but there’s nothing
she can do.

 

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