The Gentle Art of Subversion (part 2)


I urge you, now, before it is too late, to consider what it is that has drawn you to this subversive path. Perhaps you have always harboured an urge to behave subversively. Perhaps only now, after (comfortably) more than half a century of life’s travails, have you built up sufficient resentment to act. Remember: into every life a little rain must fall. There’s always sunshine after the rain etc. etc. Except that there’s not, is there? After rain, there’s normally even more rain, followed by fog on high ground and flooding in low-lying areas. Subversion comes in many guises: think Guy Fawkes attempting to blow up the house of commons; think ringing a call centre and leaving your phone off the hook; think taking an unfeasibly long time to read all of the myriad delights laid out before you on the Starbucks menu before asking the extensively over-qualified barista, ‘do you do Nescafé?’.

Whatever subversive action you decide to take, even if it is just sticking your tongue out at someone when they’re not looking, somebody is almost bound to take exception to it. If they react badly, you will find yourself in ‘a situation’. At this point adrenalin will kick in. You are unlikely to experience the fight or flight dilemma as you will be too busy running away. Whatever you do, always make certain that you have a suitable means of escape. Bicycles are excellent, but only if you are heading downhill. If you plan to escape by public transport, always ensure that you know the location of the easy access stops.

Broadly speaking, subversives fall into two categories: a) those who consider themselves torchbearers for the right and good – enemies of injustice and inequality – warriors for a righteous cause and b) those who would really quite like to get their name into the newspaper. Many of those who fall into category a) will enter into politics, whilst many of those who fall into category b) will also enter into politics. The Houses of Parliament are the subversive equivalent of the elephant’s graveyard. Politics is the domain of those who have lost all conviction – or at least home to those who have sued the press for releasing details of their convictions. Subversion is simultaneously the enemy and the father of politics – whilst politicians are often simultaneously the father and employer of any number of tax-deductable children. Winston Churchill remained subversive throughout his political career but then, so did Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner and look where it got them. For most, subversion and political success are mutually exclusive – in much the same way as hand-knitted cardigans and sexual excess. Indeed, for the majority of subversives, subversion and normal social intercourse are also mutually exclusive. Show me a subversive with friends and I will show you a liar. Subversion, like golf, is a group activity in which no member trusts any other member; consequently, most D.I.Y subversives also become solo subversives. After all, what is the point of other opinions if they do not agree with your own?

Somebody once said that 99% of all subversive activity takes place between the ears. They obviously associated with different subversives to me. 99% of what goes on between the ears of the subversives I have met is… well, zilch, quite honestly …and the other 1% involves sexual exploits – 99% of which are fictitious.

Remember, subversion is not all glamour. Che Guevara was indeed glamorous, but not until after he was dead. If you want glamour, you are reading the wrong blog – look elsewhere – there must be one somewhere about existing purely on the calories extracted from cigarettes and cocaine.

I do not seek to persuade anyone that committing subversive deeds could in any way be seen as a desirable course of action. Indeed, I consider it imperative to advise against any activity that may, in any way, be associated with terrorism or extremism and which might, ultimately, lead to the suspicion that it was me who placed the fake dog-dirt in the butcher’s doorway. Amateur subversion seldom involves killing your enemy – although it may necessitate tying his shoelaces together. If you are happy living your life as a friendless bozo, perpetrating small acts of subversion whenever and wherever the opportunity arises, distil from this such succour as you are able – then, for God’s sake, go out and get yourself a life…

4 thoughts on “The Gentle Art of Subversion (part 2)

  1. A fine piece, and one that had me chuckling behind the eyes (not out loud, I’m not a millennial!)

    I’m not sure I have the staying power to be a subversive, though Lord knows I have tried – altering street signs, mixing up the keys on the keyboards at work, hypnotising dogs at the park, but then the enthusiasm wanes. So it’s a relief for you to call out the subversives as the poe-faced numpties that I want them to be. I have realised that my true calling is as mischief maker, I suspect you may fulfill such a destiny also.

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  2. I remember meeting a really unfriendly staff at a garments shop who was showing me clothes. She was bordering on insulting. So, I did what I would call Subversion. I tried everything on the rack with her help, of course. (She was due to get a cut on what I was buying.) Praised everything. Then I told her they don’t have what I like, and left her. I caused me a lot of pain to let that dress go, but it was a small sacrifice in return of the classic look on her face… The open mouthed shock…

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