The Chairman of the Bored

Posted by in May's Magazine

In the beginning was boredom but God grew bored with the concept so he spent a week making stuff and on the seventh day he had a break to read the Sunday papers and visit IKEA. A strange decision, as he’d still to create Sweden.

Eve too was bored frigid before she struck up a conversation with a passing serpent concerning the apple of her eye. This brought about the invention of cider and of misbehaviour and it pissed off God and Adam and especially the dinosaurs, who – never mind the coming of the ice age – could sense themselves being written out of a creationist history.


Elvis, he kept the white trash blues at bay with the spirituals tearing the church roof off and the seismic strumming coming from Beale Street. Later, however, he grew bored with music, movies, and Priscilla, shot his TV, and fell into a jar of peanut butter.

My own dalliance with the b-word, which I’m already too stultified to spell, came from a job that so sedated by soul I had to switch on my imagination. Such was my downfall for it led me into music hackery and countless interviews with swivel-hipped, bug-eyed, girl-chasing boys with guitars, and, whisper it, who I would have to conclude were, well, a bit boring. Give me a comedian or novelist any day. At least they have something to say beyond callow neurosis and the coked-up belief that any couplet featuring ‘walk’ and ‘talk’ trumps the combined works of Plath and Larkin.

Franco theme
Boredom can come in any colour – to run down that Henry Ford quote – so long as it’s black. (The eternal eclipse of the sunshine of the mind.) It will strike you anytime but most likely when you’re young and routine lurks troll-like beneath the trip-trap bridge. It’s what young children require to get a handle on the world – routine I mean, not the gruff stuff of billy goats’ nightmares – but kids can experience stupefaction in the Medusa if-she-moisturised face of the humdrum; and even this post-yoof writer may wilt if forbade from pick‘n’mixing fairy-tale metaphors and classical allusions.
Of course the French have a supreme word for it, ennui – as if inviting you to slide into an infinite pool of perfect nothingness. And it was a Frenchman who said: “Perhaps the world’s second worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore”. Or it could have been Cecil Beaton if only trying to upset the Franco theme. Google away if you must, you bore.
Certainly it wasn’t Jean Baudrillard who trilled:
“So I’m living in this movie
but it doesn’t move me
so tell me who are you trying to arouse?
Get your hands out of my trousers”
That was Boredom; an early Buzzcocks track referenced in Orange Juice’s Rip it Up. But having slapped you for the bothersome attentions and re-adjusted my strides, let us dance through a universe of meaning. Boredom is…deep breath: “a subject for a great poet” (Friedrich Nietzsche), what the Beatles saved us from (to paraphrase George Harrison), “rather agreeable than painful” (Aldous Huxley), something to do with men and yachts and patriarchy and death which try as I might I can’t lever in here in its original form, (Coco Chanel), “always counter-revolutionary – always” (Guy Debord always), “the legitimate kingdom of the philanthropic” (Virginia Woolf), “the despairing refusal to be oneself” (Soren Kierkegaard), “a vital problem for the moralist” (Bertrand Russell), and “the desire for desires” (Leo Tolstoy).

Organic LSD cupcake
Which last quote, I fear, brings us back to the unseemly intervention you made in my trousers but no matter for it chimes with my favourite take on this whole question of tedium, as offered by l’homme himself – the Chairman of the Bored – Guy de Maupassant: “The essence of life is the smile of round female bottoms, under the shadow of cosmic boredom.”

Yeah! And what he said. But in French. I’m calling it existential mooning and I doubt there’s a hashtag on Twitter but frankly ma chère I’m too overcome with the proliferation of the banal and triumph of deathly forces to much give a damn. It would seem in our efforts to escape boredom we run from the devil and leap into the deep blue sea of luminosity that is telly; where we consume shows about cars and cuisine and DIY and real estate presented by me-me-me misanthropes and professional haircuts copping off with each other on desert islands we can’t afford to visit. And that’s our choice.

Isn’t it?
What though if we chose to do something different instead and I don’t mean in a Why Don’t You sense of turning off the telly or binning the iPhone in order to care for orphaned kittens with foetal alcohol syndrome or start up an organic LSD cupcake co-operative. I mean, you know, maybe we could consider living in the moment. But a moment of our own making and not one patented, packaged and priced by Rupe Murdoch or Steve Jobs or the next dream-stealing zeitgeist hijacker.
Now, look, I won’t tell you again. Get your hands out of my trousers.


One response to “The Chairman of the Bored”

  1. mwheelaghan says:

    Ha ha ha! Vive living in the moment!

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