I don't know how it happened.
It's not anything to do with Lent, though; let's make that clear. I'm certainly not giving up anything 'for Lent'. The only thing I want to give up for Lent is punching people in the face who give things up for Lent, because it's not entirely respectful towards their religious choices and beliefs, and that makes me feel bad about myself, and that I'm somehow less of a good person than they are, which annoys me, because I don't want them having the moral high ground if they're going to give up something meaningless for six weeks and then plough straight back into it. So yes, no punching Lent-giver-uppers in the face for me this Lent, and that's about it.
All this already and I haven't told you what 'it' is and how 'it' happened; and that simply won't do. So here's the thing. I've not been on the Daily Mail's website for days. A quick scan through recent entries here would suggest that I've not been on there since March the second... that's nearly a whole week not being on there. A whole week without the Daily Mail.
And then I noticed something else, which seems to have coincided with that.
And I couldn't help wondering... what if the two things were connected? What if my sudden lurch into absurd optimism wasn't a sudden lurch at all, but simply the natural product of having not ventured onto the Daily Mail's website for a week? What further treasures would there be for me in store? What further revelations would come pouring forth without having the Mail in my life?
Was I imagining things, or did life seem so much more pleasant? Is the sky bluer, the colours brighter, the birdsong louder? Why does everyone seem to be walking along with a cheery whistle and a happy stride? What is this F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.N.O.T.R.E.A.D.I.N.G.T.H.E.M.A.I.L?
This has happened before, of course. There was a day back in 2008 when I couldn't access the Mail's website, and suddenly similar feelings began to arrive:
Oh look, a blackbird digging for worms with its bright yellow beak. A gentle puffy white cloud drifting through the early-spring sky. Hyacinths and tulips breaking through the soft, loamy soil. A gentle hum of traffic. A lazy marmalade cat curling up in a front garden. Children playing at a nearby school. I feel like walking up to strangers and shaking their hands. I want to dance down the street singing Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Yes! The Mail has finally left me! My life is returning to normal! Life without poison, fear of foreigners, abusing grieving parents, telling lies about minorities, pretending it was all so much better in the 1950s when everything was rationed, everyone was half-starving and your relatives had been blown up, snarling twits putting questions in headlines, internet tossbags writing inane and witless jokes about 'Robber McHaggis'... all of a sudden, life seems like it's really worth living.
Ah, the delights, the delights. Not having been on the Mail's website today means I haven't exposed myself to the horrors of the story about asylum seekers plunging to their death in Glasgow and the gleeful response of Mail readers to the tragedy, though I am aware of it, peripherally:
Now I'm not saying that I'm going to avoid the Mail's website forever, or that this is anything other than a wonderful holiday from that snivelling pit of despair and refuge for no-hopers, little Englanders and spiteful little fuckwits. But I think everyone needs a break every now and then.
I think it was that sage Cheryl Cole who said "Too much of anything can make you sick". And she was right. Especially that fucking song. But that's beside the point: too much of something pleasant can make you feel a little bit queasy; too much of something horrendous, toxic and vile can make you feel a little bit worse than a little bit queasy. Just knowing about those comments makes me depressed about the kind of people who'd happily dehumanise asylum seekers and delight in three deaths, so long as it meant they didn't have quite as much tax to pay. Much as I often enjoy ploughing through the slime on the Mail's website, I won't be going back there just yet.
Life without it seems too inviting, somehow.
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