Friends In High Spaces

‘Alien abduction’ is an interesting phrase. It brings to mind lapses of memory, hushed conversations about government conspiracies, and anal probing. In other words, the perfect weekend. But it shares its syntax with the phrase ‘child abduction’, a phrase which surprisingly does not suggest that you have been awoken in the middle of the night to find a menacing infant at the foot of your bed, ready to hogtie and drag you to a Wendy house to play with a Fisher Price game of ‘My First Vivisection’.
My point is, ‘alien abduction’ for some reason means abducted by aliens, and is a phenomenon I would equate with any paranormal or supernatural belief. Partly because it’s obvious, but also because if I’m espousing the argument against alien abduction on a blog, I must be part of some global cabal eager to silence the truth of abduction. And while I’ve been in bands, groups, collectives and communities, I’ve never been in a cabal, and as a white man I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be in some sort of minority. I think that’s how the Bilderberg Group started.


I assume that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, because the other option is that we are in some way special, and I don’t know if you’ve looked at you recently, but if you are the biological apotheosis of a universe which contains supernovae, quantum entanglement and gravity, then someone’s fucked up. There surely has to be a sentient species out there without recurrent back problems or one that doesn’t have a continuing need to dull their existential longing for worthwhile creative endeavours by playing Minecraft.
There is the idea that we are only special in the sense that we were created in God’s image. He wouldn’t make creatures that look exactly like him if he didn’t identify with them in some way. No one watches Star Wars and assumes it’s Chewbacca’s personal story about being a walking carpet who has to find his place among some weird short, bald-bodied people. We identify with what we know. So either we’re God’s favourite, we’re God’s only creation, or we’re just another species in the cosmos, who look like this because we just do, and God is a concept founded on the accumulated auditory hallucinations of long dead kings who were mythologised and amalgamated into an increasingly more powerful and more distant being. It’s that same identifying logic that makes most of our visions of aliens incredibly human, which is an even greater demonstration of self-obsession than when I realise how many times I’ve Googled myself in the past week. The heptapods in the movie Arrival give us a vision of aliens very different to us, specifically with how they view time all at once, like Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians. But usually the differences are aesthetic, or just regarding the level of scientific advancement. But the possible variations in how intelligent life can evolve are related more to fundamental laws of biology and physics than just ‘how mental would it look if we had eye-fingers?’ And how exactly could the heptapods even plan for interstellar travel without a linear concept of time? Could the engineers who worked on the ship even claim overtime?
‘There is no overtime, or undertime. There is only time.’
‘Yes but you made me miss Ultimate Frisbee club.’


Interstellar travel is the real reason I don’t think we’ve been contacted. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume any other intelligent species would have the means to have already travelled the huge distance to get to us, based on how far away the closest life-sustainable planet is.
The Kepler space observatory recently discovered a new exoplanet in a solar system 2,500 lightyears away. The reason for the big announcement of it, was that they had discovered a planet which was its solar system’s third rock from the sun, which aside from being a nineties sitcom starring John Lithgow and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hair, is what Earth is. While I was still watching that programme, I had no idea the title referred to Earth. When I found out, I assumed that it must have been revealed as some Planet of the Apes-style twist. Although come to think of it, Planet of the Apes probably gave its twist away early on by heavily featuring horses, which as we all know, are indigenous to Earth.
They also revealed the newly discovered exoplanet had a surface temperature comparable to Mercury. What a waste of time.


I think our desire to believe in visiting aliens speaks to our need to be convinced that there’s something out there with a better handle on what’s going on than us. If we view aliens as physics-defying, utopian science gods, maybe it’s not our fault that we keep fucking up. We’re just not ready yet. We need to focus on technological advancements we can barely handle, remove everything that makes us stand out as individuals, and invade foreign soil for no good reason. Then, and only then will we have figured out the true meaning of a utopian society.

Oh wait.



Next time on the bandwagon, dogs might know what Christmas is, but do they really get it?


Daze Ex Machina

Yep, it’s the big one. Goodings is tackling the concept of God. Make room, open the hangar doors of your preconceptions, and let me unload my truth freight into your shipping bay of ignorance. So, let’s decide once and for all, is there a god? Nah I’m joking, I don’t fucking know. I just like to pretend I’m the annoying sort of atheist that sneers at people who hold religion dearly. But actually, I’ll happily sneer at anyone, I don’t discriminate. Black or white, gay or straight, religious or normal.

The idea of god is interesting, and the concept that some people need a higher power as an arbiter of morality and truth. I don’t mean that as a criticism. There are loads of day to day things that I read on the modern-day deity of the Internet, and like a chump, I just believed them when they are obviously false. I mean, I once read that Einstein abandoned his theory of the cosmological constant as a static universe stabiliser, and for a second I was like ‘Oh yeah that makes sense.’ But then I was just like, ‘Hello! What about the shifted wavelengths of light in between accelerating galaxies that point to dark energy as the cause for an expanding universe?!’ Boy was my face red! Redder than the redshift of the light stretched by dark energy! Haha!
Similarly I recently typed into Google: ‘do spiders eat their own legs?’ And the results amounted to a lengthy version of ‘yes, sometimes’. And now I am entirely convinced that all spiders eat all of their legs all the time. Although that also seems obvious.

But the idea of people needing something to worship is interesting, and not in a BDSM way. For example, the ‘higher power’ needed to complete the twelve step programme for addiction can easily be a religious god. But without having a faith, I have no idea what my higher power would be. The main commandments I regularly surrender to are the cooking instructions on the back of ready meal packaging. And the only thing that can offer me as clean-living advice is the nutritional information on the front, warning me of the dangers of eating ready meals.

I suppose your higher power can be your own well-being, as though you are worshipping the platonic ideal of your own potential, which feels pretty narcissistic. It’s essentially what Matthew McConaughey said in that awards acceptance speech about looking up to a version of himself ten years in the future, who has more wisdom and perspective. A nice idea if you’re Matthew McConaughey, but very few of us are. The ideal version of me ten years from now just looks much more tired, with more wrinkles, but with another 500 blogs written ostensibly about highbrow concepts, but with numerous digressions into self-referential bullshit.

Julian Jaynes has a controversial theory that what humans used to call ‘gods’ three-thousand years ago and earlier, was actually the result of something called the ‘bicameral mind’, which if you’re any sort of discerning legend and have seen the Westworld TV show, you may have heard of. A bicameral mind is a human mind before consciousness. And according to the theory, under stressful, unprecedented situations, we would hear an internalised voice providing advice that felt like it wasn’t under our control, like a form of schizophrenia, or a guided meditation podcast. These voices were attributed to gods, whispering assistance inside our minds on how to deal with a never before seen threat, like a horse with a guy on top, or a blue telephone box landing out of nowhere, producing some old white guy who decides to stick his fucking nose into everyone’s business.
If it seems difficult to imagine someone with no level of insight or self-reflection, essentially running on autopilot, who feels as though they’re constantly under the scrutiny of some remote intelligence, just watch Gogglebox and you’ll see it.

Jaynes also uses the example of the feeling you get after a short, habitual drive where you realise you weren’t ‘tuned in’ during the journey, even if you remember it, known as ‘Highway Hypnosis’. He says this is us behaving without consciousness, enacting a routine task that you do so regularly you hardly have to think about it. In my case that would be something incredibly commonplace like writing a great blog post, or receiving a shower of compliments about my latest great blog post. Also forgetting to take the bins out. Happens so often I hardly have to try now. Don’t even realise I’m not doing it.

I imagine it would be very comforting having a god to look to for guidance, but if Jaynes is right, then that guidance attributed to gods was just coming from our own brains. We are the masters of our own destiny. We are our own messiahs. What I’m saying is, as far as I’m concerned, I’m God. I am the ultimate architect of my own reality, irrespective of whether or not that tallies with a possible objective reality. Maybe McConaughey was right, and I’m the only inspiration I need. Maybe I should strive to be the best version of myself, drowning in success and fulfilment, a subjective god of personal direction.

Really feels like God would have a greater blog readership than this. I blame Richard Dawkins.

Next time on the bandwagon, if radiators radiate, and indicators indicate, do alligators alligate? The answer may surprise you, if you thought the answer was ‘yes’.

Misfortune and Glory

Did you know some people consider it bad luck to walk over three drains? Or whatever those sort of large grey squares in the pavement are that usually come in twos or threes; could be drains, could be vertical graves. If you’ve ever been walking with someone who considers three drains to be unlucky, and they shove you out of the way so neither of you walks onto an oncoming drain triplet, then it really is your duty to demonstrate to them that real bad luck comes as a results of forcing your beliefs on others, or shoving. Perhaps trip them over, or slap them promptly across the chops, before whipping out a pre-bought scratch card and scratching it off in front of them. If you do this with enough people, eventually you’ll scratch off a winner, no matter how small the prize. If they really are moronically superstitious, you should then be able to convince them that for you, slapping them, or tripping them, or punting them in the coccyx (dealer’s choice) is empirically lucky for you. If in any subsequent situation where you stand to gain based purely on statistical likelihood, they should either offer up a part of their body for you to thump, or prioritise their own safety over their mental sickness. Either outcome should be pretty satisfying.

Contrarian that I am, I try to subvert superstition wherever possible since it annoys me so much. My life is a constant stream of smashing mirrors with open umbrellas under indoor ladders, while screaming Macbeth at all the pennies I never pick up. My mum would always refuse to cross on the stairs when I was younger, but this was her superstition, not mine, so any stand off between us at opposite ends of the staircase would last a mere second before I started to proceed. Or I would feign concession, waiting until she was halfway, and then proceeding, forcing her to retreat with the confused irascibility of a customer leaving DFS without a discount.
My favourite superstitions have always been brought up my nan, who has so many by which she lives, every daily activity seems to have potential bad luck attached to it. Her life must be a constant obstacle course of old wives tales, preventing her from turning on the television if her socks match her hair, or only changing gears while driving if the clock is on an even number of minutes. Her last pet was a white dog, which if you ask me, is a pretty transparent attempt to ensure that the only thing crossing her path is the exact opposite of a black cat.

The most confusing thing is that some people see luck as governing all things, with every event open to be interpreted as having an objective value of luckiness, in the sense that it could be a reflection of how lucky that person is. You’ll often hear people say ‘knowing my luck’ followed by a sort of example of sod’s (or Murphy’s) law. Such as: “Oh I hear you got a great deal on your new car?” “Yeah I did, but knowing my luck, it’ll probably breakdown the moment I get onto a motorway.”
Or: “Wait, you mean you just found that bag of drugs on the floor? For free?”
“Yeah, but knowing my luck it’s probably one of those drugs that comes with the weight of the deaths of the thousands of people for whom the drug industry is destroying their country. Honestly I have the worst luck. Probably.”
This can also be seen as a weird perversion of egotism disguised as humility, in that these idiots think that it’s endearing to speculate on worst-case scenarios of their life, fabricating unfortunate but more interesting alternate versions of future events. They insist that something unique might always happen to them, but with a negative bent supposed to temper it. Instead of them walking uneventfully home from work, they’ll surely encounter a statistical anomaly, such as bumping into an old friend, or tripping over the body of Jimmy Hoffa, but turned around so it’s less positive and therefore less self-centred, so the old friend is an ex who makes the meeting really awkward, or the only reason you found Jimmy Hoffa is because it turns out you killed him. It’s like a humblebrag, but the brag is replaced by solipsism. ‘This event was so unfortunate, because it happened to me and I’m so unlucky. If it had happened to anyone else, it would have been normal. Oh gosh aren’t I such a cosmic klutz?’

Additionally, luck can be seen as an unstoppable, inexplicably omnipresent force, like gravity, or Deliveroo. It’s a less obviously culturally-appropriated and selfish form of karma; some unseen value that influences our future outside of physical cause and effect. It’s pretty hard to think of it as distinct from religion, since there’s not much difference in a confusing religious rite performed to receive cosmic favour, and blowing an eyelash to wish for world peace, or for crisps to somehow be good for you.
Perhaps I should spread word of a new universal force, in the realm of karma, or fate. A force like luck, but that has no consistent causal link. So one occasion of you being shat on by a bird, could result in you running out of salt for dinner, and the next occasion could bring your toilet to life. I call this force ‘Croip’, and it could seriously impact your life. Don’t touch that dog! You might be causing a toxic gas leak in Honduras! Thinking of holding that door open for a colleague? Better not, in case it results in hundreds of spiders kicking you in your sleep. But it could equally cause an ice-cream sluice to appear in your shed, so perhaps you should. Croip doesn’t know what’s good or what’s bad. If you believe in karma, then maybe you believe that you found that tenner on the floor because you didn’t masturbate this morning, or that when you dropped your phone and it landed on your shoe, so the screen didn’t break, that was because you put the toilet seat down out of consideration for your female housemate?
What must you then think of people who suffer from terrible diseases? You must consequently assume cancer victims are also on the receiving end of karma. Wait, do you think that they deserve to have cancer? Jesus Christ. You fucking monster. At least with the Croip system it might be as a result of something good they did, because it’s all entirely random. So they could be a wonderful person. Or people in positions of power, or high political office might be there because of horrible things they’ve done, God forbid. But that can’t be right. Karma is just, yes? And everything is just.

Just shit, knowing my luck.

Next time on the bandwagon, it turns out that ‘Tim Goodings’ was a nom de plume this whole time, and I reveal my real celebrity identity. Hint: I didn’t not write Carrie. Or didn’t I?

Easter Funny

Telling a child that someone they will never meet died because of all the bad things he assumes they’re going to do is quite scary. And a little passive aggressive.
“Oh no I’m sure you won’t do anything bad, but just in case, I’ll go and die.”
You know that pang of annoyance you get when you offer someone a swig from a bottle or can, and just before they imbibe, they mop their sleeve swiftly around the rim, to save themselves from your disgusting essence? That’s what Jesus was doing.
A little insulted, you assure: “I haven’t got a cold sore or anything.”
“No, I’m sure you don’t,” followed by a shit-eating grin, and an indulgent chug, during which you wish you did have a cold sore, that had fallen off into the can, and was now flowing down into their stomach.

Jesus prompted a self-fulfilling prophecy; proclaiming everyone past, present and future as sinners, hoping this proclamation would prove so convincing as to drive people thousands of years later to give up pancakes, cigarettes or drink-driving for lent, filling them with enough sinful pride that they feel vindicated to become gluttons and pig out on chocolate eggs, while constantly being shown images of the most lustful animal on Earth, the bunny. Obviously this has now led to bank holidays, with the definition of ‘bank’ now broad enough to cause Aldi to close early. So we get more days off work to sloth around, greedily drinking of an evening, having a great time, making all the bar staff wrathful and envious that they seem to be working harder than normal on those days, suggesting bars are somehow the opposite of banks.

If I was Jesus, and I’m not saying I’m not, I’d have maybe spent Good Friday forgiving all the other criminals who were getting crucified, setting them free with my telekinetic powers, and generally showing compassion as an example of how not to sin. Then we could have made this weekend about being generally empathetic to people, but in a non-materialistic way, as a spiritual antidote to Christmas. I mean sure, we live in a capitalist society, so inevitably it would end up with Marks & Spencer’s selling ‘compassion hampers’ full of assorted fruity teas, candles, and those weird favour vouchers that couples with no money give to each other on Valentine’s Day. Everyone would watch Pay It Forward and pat themselves on the back, give a little more money to homeless people and then insufferably post about it on social media. But it’s a better idea than ‘watch someone die to learn a lesson’. That’s the same philosophy as the villain from the Saw films.

The huge leap between what happened to Jesus, and the way Easter is celebrated in the modern day is an easy target, but obviously there is a logical progression. Rabbits are of course a representation of life and fertility, although apparently in ancient times, rabbits were thought of as hermaphroditic, and therefore able to self-fertilise, meaning they could give birth without ever having sex. Sound familiar? Rabbits fuck so much they have expressions named after them (at it like bunnies, Playboy bunnies, carrot guzzler etc), and therefore were associated with the Virgin Mary. So the Easter Bunny exists as a concept precisely because people believed it could go fuck itself.
And the whole egg thing, well I was told as a child that eggs were another symbol of fertility, despite the fact that most people are exposed to eggs as food more than as procreation, and in order to eat an egg you’re really relying on infertility, unless you want to eat an embryo you monster. But as it turns out, they are a symbol of Jesus’ empty tomb; the fact that he rose from the dead and wandered off without even leaving a note. Again, hugely attention-seeking. Just a simple, “Woke up, feeling much better, must have been a false alarm. Stay classy – J”, would have sufficed.
And since Creme Eggs aren’t empty, are we to understand they don’t believe in the resurrection? Is the white and yellow fondant inside representative of the mouldering corpse of just some guy with ideas above his station? No wonder they’re sold much earlier than normal Easter eggs, the heathens.
And I can only assume that Easter Egg Hunts correspond to grave-robbing.

Whether chocolate womb or chocolate tomb, if you care about Easter enough that you’re annoyed by the omission of the word on confectionary items, then what you care about is branding, and seem to be more concerned by a company not cashing in on a religious holiday in order to sell more chocolate than you are about Easter itself. And to be honest, I do care more about the branding, it affects me more in my daily life. If I’m eating a chocolate egg, I need to be told what for. I can’t be expected to deduce the religious connotations of a shape with my own mind.

If you encounter someone that has managed to comfortably equate these things, and they happen to be eating an Easter egg, ask them for a bite. But make sure to wipe the edge first, I hear religion can be contagious.

Next time on the Bandwagon, something less topical, like ‘what’s the deal with Hitler?’