Thursday, 25 November 2010


we humans live in herds
we exhibit herd-like behaviour
we naturally crave the acceptance of others
we want to fit into the jigsaw
because being an outsider
the lone wolf without a pack
can be tough
but i've always been suspicious of the herd instinct
always sensed the dangers of the crowd mentality
the collective groupthink
my mother often repeats the story
told to her by my teacher mrs patrick
back at northfield manor primary
about the day when the wine cork popped
and all the children gasped...
except me, who showed no reaction
unimpressed by the incident
throughout my school days i rarely made friends
the pals i did have always had to make the running
i barely featured in school teams or groups
school with its clubs and cliques
its imposed rules
was an institution that held no appeal
like the lone wolf
i kept my head down
i accepted the deal
i played the game
i didn't kick up a stink
in fact i conformed to the whole hoop-jumping exercise
learnt to memorise and regurgitate as required
not to ask any questions
not to question the whole rationale
to lipsync or munmble the prayers and hymns in daily assembly
meanwhile the outsider in me patrolled the school grounds alone
out of sync
whiling away the precious days of youth...
on those teenage saturdays i sometimes stood on the football terraces
cheering on my team
joining in with the communal singsongs
probably as close as i ever got to the herd
but i couldn't countenence the abuse merchants
who hurled a constant stream of vitriol
at any player who made a mistake
or maybe simply wasn't good enough...
as an adolescent i took a bizarre delight
in liking music too 'alternative'
for anyone else to have even heard of it...
perhaps travelling the world
becoming a foreign language teacher
also represented a desire to break loose from the herd
to cross borders and continents was a form of escape
from the blinkered horizons of the petty little englander
to the pickings of the late twentieth-century globalised dream...
veganism is hardly a diet that endears one to the herd
ditto an anti-consumerist stance
which sticks up a massive v-sign
to the posse out rampaging through the bullring
or browsing frenetically
among the virtual delights of amazon dot com
as time passes the herd seems ever more bewildered
ever more passive and stupid
whether it be the dumb electorate
voting in tweedledumb or tweedledumber
the tv addict gorging on strictly or ex-factor
the loyal shopper filling her obese supermarket trolley
with over-priced processed pap
the wage slave out there on a sunday washing his shiny new auto
the sun reader gawping at his 'cheryl is a chav' headline
herd instinct?
i must have misheard

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