Bletherinho, Bletheringus Bletherato
Glasgow. A city of great bletherings. A city over run with bletherers. It is said that we Glaswegians possess some of the most muscular and dexterous tongues in all the world. Here’s the thing though. I’m sick of it. I’m not putting up with it any more. The bletheratti and their mouths that never cease. The flappy tongued brainless ones. Enough is enough! Oh, ye of infinite platitudes. Be silent!
I’ve had to phone a taxi and I’m sat here waiting in furious anticipation. Anticipation of whatever inane voice offerings my taxi driver has in store for me. What’ll it be this time? What glorious psuedochattery will they bestow upon my tired ears?
I get the text message telling me that my driver is outside.
I open the front passenger door and take a good long look at the driver before getting in. There is a buzz about him that cannot be fully explained by his stench. An energy. Like he’s had too much coffee. He looks at me expectantly, eyebrows raised, a wee smile on his face. The friendly type. No. This is not a good sign. I make a point of frowning at him, all the while shaking my head and then I close the door and get in the back. Maybe he’ll get the hint and leave me alone. I can see his wee confused eyes in the rearview mirror. His furrowed brow doesn’t linger though and his face resolves into an optimistic “always look on the bright side of life” expression. A worthy adversary?
I place my hands together in prayer and close my eyes tight shut. Dear Lord, I don’t really believe in you but if you can hear me then please, do not allow this man to assault me with sentences and questions. I finish my prayer and gaze resolutely out the window, scrunching my face up in what I hope is a perfect mask of raging unwelcome.
“whe..” the driver begins but I cut him off.
“Glasgow Central Station” I respond flatly, without turning to look at him.
I’m just trying to be the change I want to see in the world. That’s all.
At some point into the journey I sense the driver shifting in his seat. I see the corners of his mouth twitch. His mouth opens and then closes again. You bastard. I counter this by getting my phone out and pretending to text by tapping my thumbs with rapid purpose upon the screen. His head is turning towards me now, his mouth half opening. He hesitates and turns back but catches my suspicious eye in the mirror. Oh good Christ no. Here it comes. Great unstoppable wheels have been set in motion. I can feel it. A blethering so humungous it looms dark and menacing over my entire being.
“Some weather the day?” He says. He sounds like a budgie.
“What?” I respond. I am beside myself with rage now and I’m having trouble containing it. My body constricts, and I nearly snap my phone two.
“Am just saying, it’s some weather the day” He says with horrendous optimism.
You relentless son of a bitch. I glance at the door handle and wonder how fast we are moving. Tuck and roll. No. I will not go down without a fight. I respond.
“Some weather? What do you mean … some weather? Are you telling me that there is weather and that we have some of it?” I ask him.
“What?” He snaps his head round quickly to get a good look at me before turning back to the road.
“Or perhaps you think me incapable of sensing the current weather with my own eyes, my ears and my sense of touch. You think to yourself, here is a man who needs to discover the current state of the weather through the second-hand descriptions of simpletons”
“Eh…Look mate I was making small talk it’s…” said the driver before I cut him off because that’s quite enough as far as I’m concerned. My pot boileth over and I raise my voice this time.
“AND THERE IT IS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. THERE IT IS. JUST. MAKING. SMALL TALK.
“Are you awright?” He asks.
I’m satisfied that a look of alarm has replaced his pathological friendliness. I bring myself back down to base level.
“Let me out” I tell him.
“You serious?” says the driver
“STOP THE CAR AND LET ME OUT!!!”
“NOOOW!!!” I bellow as loud as I can raising my hands like I’m summoning the power of God.
He pulls over wildly, right up onto the pavement. I plunge my hand into my pocket and grab a bunch of coins and fling them into the front of the car, relishing the violent clattering sound they make against the dashboard. As I vacate the vehicle the driver rolls down his window and shouts after me.
“Your aff yer nut, mate. Yer lucky I don’t phone the polis!”
I’m barely listening. He chose this, not me. I refuse to accept that this is way of things and I will stand strong. Strong against this city of perpetual Nothingspeak. I knew I was taking a risk with that taxi but I am thoroughly satisfied with how I dealt with the situation.
I see a bus stop close by and make my way towards it. The bus stop is pleasantly empty. Silence is a virtue.
It is not long before I see it coming from a short distance off. An old female human. She is hunched over and walking slowly, holding a blue poly bag in a gnarled hand and dressed head to toe in varying shades of beige. Here we go. After what seems like an age in which I was sure the bus would arrive, she sits down next to me. Christ almighty she’s not even trying to hide her abominable intentions.
“Congratulations” I say
“What’s that son?” She asks in what I can only assume is her best attempt at confusion.
“Oh, spare me, will you”
“Come on. You, an old person. This, a bus stop. Could you make it any more obvious? Lets just get it over with, shall we?
I round on the tiny woman.
“Wowee look at the weather. Oh my God these bloody buses are always late. Oh, I know why don’t you tell me about your boring grandchildren? No wait, the full shebang! Your bleeding life story!”
She sat there staring at me for a few seconds before speaking.
“You might look at me and see nothing but a daft auld wumin but I like to think I’m no like most people. I still fit the stereotype of the pensioner in a lot of ways. I live alone. I go through a fair amount of tea. I have no family who visit. Any friends I had are dead or no longer themselves. My mind trapped in a dying body full of aches and pains.
I was computer programmer back in the day. Back when computers were size of a hoose. And let me tell ye, it’s those computers and their constant progress that’s helped keep me sharp all these years, trying to keep up with it, ye know? I used to work for IBM. That’s where I met my husband, Charles.
We took psychedelics together in the 60’s. Around the same time we were following the work of J. Alan Robinson and the like. All that artificial intelligence. It was fascinating, so it was. We used to dream up these mad experiments that combined hallucinogenics and AI. Cos here’s the hing, see when ye take yer mushies or yer acid or whatever hallucinogen it happens to be. And ye go oan yer wee trip. As profound as the experience can be, the information presented tae ye is too much for the human mind to manage, to decode, to comprehend.
So we had the idea. If we could connect oor brains up wae the AI then the AI could interpret the psychedelic experience in real time. But Charles died. And all those ideas just sorta died too. It never felt right doing it without him. But I knew I would have to eventually. He’d go aff his nut if he knew I wasted the rest of my life not going after the answers we had longed for. I continued the research but could never bring myself to take that final step.
It wasn’t until 5 years back that I decided I was gonnae dae it. On my 100th birthday. I went down to Ruken Glen Park and got maself a load of mushrooms. 10 grams. There are some that might call that an “heroic” dose. I wasn’t sure I’d make it back, ye know? Make it through the trip being as frail as I was but at the same time I didn’t really mind. I was tired. Tired in my bones and tired in my soul. I missed him too. Every day. I thought maybe it might be a nice way tae go oot as well. Sorta like Huxley did with the LSD.
I merged my mind with the AI interface and I took the mushrooms and ye know whit? I did die. I died about 1000 bloody times over. Couldnae tell ma arse fae ma elbow. And downward I went. Downward and inward forever. Stretched off to infinity. I was as small an atom. I was as big as the universe. But further I still went. Beyond… Beyond the beyond.
It took me 6 weeks to recover. It took me a further 3 years to interpret the information the AI had recorded. But in the end, I had an answer. The answer that Me and ma Charles had worked so long for.” An answer given to me by the universe? The mushrooms? My own mind? A biker mouse from Mars? I’ll probably never know.”
“What was it. What did you find? What were you told?” I asked.
The universe told me…It told me that… you’re an arrogant wee prick who should be grateful for even the most mundane of human interactions.
The bus pulled up to the stop at that moment and the wee Granny got on. As the bus pulled away a she stuck her middle finger up at me.
Glasgow. Oh, Glasgow. You blethericious old beast.