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Showing posts from July, 2020

This Is Not a Story About Paris

“I don’t like Paris,” the man on the riverboat muttered under his breath, “It’s beautiful - but it’s not for me.” 
I turned the other way, as the boat slid along the Seine. The sun set and my rage rose. It took this man two days to pronounce his final judgement on something that had to survive countless wars and revolutions to become what it is. I wanted to stand up and shake him and ask him: “all this talk of beauty, but what do you know?”
I was overreacting. Sure, the beauty of Paris demands your attention and cannot be ignored. But the man on the boat had a right to an opinion. This was not about Paris anymore.
I flew to France on a whim, intending to stay for a couple of days. Life in London had gotten too heavy. Some days, it felt as if Jean-Pierre Jeunet was assigned to direct the movie of my recent past. Most things stopped making sense. 
It must have something to do with everything that’s happened in the past year: I have accumulated so many failures that it has become impossible …

The Day I Quit Playing Games

Love is a losing game, Amy sang. I don’t know if loss is the inevitable outcome, even though that’s where all the signs seem to point. But she was right about something: it is a game. And a bloody difficult one at that.I am not a player. I don’t even like video games. I haven’t played one in years. But I still remember what it felt like when, sitting on the floor of my small green bedroom, I turned on my PlayStation 1 and listened to the climax of the console engine as it warmed up. I would then glance at a picture of the Virgin Mary on the wall and gave her a complicit nod: “Come on, Mary, we’re on the same team here. Help a brother out". I was ready.The games started: Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Silent Hill. I squinted my eyes at the screen so hard I thought I would break it, Matilda style. My hands were tense and sweaty, clutching a controller that burned like lava in my hands. Each session felt like a matter of life and death. And in my small world, it really…

Blue Ticks, Last Access and Other Modern Dilemmas

In the short and complicated history of digital dating, it has often been the case that people who seem brilliant on WhatsApp turn out to be lacklustre in real life. But I would like to divert your attention to the other, more fascinating silent minority: potential suitors who are fun and intriguing in person but disappointingly “meh” over text.The colonisation of our lives by social media and instant messaging apps means that, when you start dating someone, you’re effectively getting to know two people at the same time. Smartphones have determined a  fission of our egos along two different dimensions, online and offline, with predictably nuclear consequences. The problem starts when the two personalities within an individual not only don’t overlap, but are also in direct conflict with each other. People’s romantic conduct is articulated through different layers. Their performance is the result of countless variables that have to be factored in before you finalise your decision on whe…