People don’t realise it, but misanthropy is actually a terrible affliction. Since the world is packed to the rafters full of people, it’s a bit of a bind if you’re predisposed to hate them all. The worst thing is that the very few people I can tolerate can’t tolerate me, or at least not for long. There are only so many times you can get away with descending into hysterical rage and tearing out large chunks of your own hair because someone misplaced an apostrophe, before people conclude they’d rather be as far away from you as time and space permit.
I’ve tried to love my fellow human, really I have. But I can’t get past the fact that, by and large, people are really, really, toe-curlingly awful. Our cities are rammed with men and women who make snorting noises when they laugh, carry out buttock-clenchingly inane conversations loudly on buses, show a wilful disregard for the proper use of the English language, and unashamedly pick their noses. It’s revolting.
Given all this, it’s probably rather a good thing that I spend most of my time sheltered from the putrid mass of seething humanity by confinement to the campus bubble, and that wider society, in turn, is spared exposure to me. Unfortunately, this comes with the downside of a pathological abhorrence of those foibles particular to students. For example, there are times – most of the time, in fact – when I fear that if I hear the words “I was unbelievably battered” once more, I might go feral and eat my own fists. (For the record, there is absolutely nothing unbelievable about your having been being “battered”. We are all battered, all the time. It’s the only way of mitigating the ceaseless tedium of each-other’s company).
The thing which raises my misanthropic hackles more than anything, though, is the sort of flabby faux-activism which leads our students to join ‘campaigning’ Facebook groups, or sit about loudly and drunkenly proclaiming the evils of capitalism, without ever really lifting a political finger. Don’t mistake my meaning: I’m not staking any claim to political virtue, but at least I’m prepared to admit that I’ve never so much as thrown a sausage to a worthy cause. False worthiness is the most singularly maddening trait common among students.
My last run in with such worthiness came at an unfortunate time. Though few and far between, there are moments in the life of even the bitterest curmudgeon when it just so happens that no-one in the vicinity is saying or doing anything to betray the worthlessness of humankind. Naturally, such moments of contentment are sacred, and this was one of them.
After a seemingly interminable stretch in the joyless wilderness which is the J.B. Morrell library, I was finally ensconced in the pub. The fire crackled merrily in the grate; the pint of bitter between my hands was almost full; no-one was snorting or belching or sabotaging the English language, and I was just settling down to lose a pleasant evening in ale-soaked oblivion. It was at this moment that one of my companions – a woman I’d never met before – turned to me, fixed me intently with a soulful gaze, and asked me pleadingly “Have you worked out what to do about Burma yet?”
I blinked. Had I heard her correctly? Was it possible that someone was asking me – me, who still can’t actually tie my own shoelaces – if I had found “something to do” about the crisis of bloody oppression playing itself out some 5,000 miles away to the unanimous horror of the watching world? “I beg your pardon?” I stuttered. Her pleading gaze widened. “What shall we dooo?” she wailed. “I mean, it’s so awful. We must do something!”
Seriously, what does one say to such a person? My instinct, of course, was to reply “Do you know, it’s funny you should ask, because I did actually work out exactly what needs to be done to remedy the whole pesky mess just this afternoon. No of course I haven’t ‘worked it out’, you blithering twat!”
This strange belief that it might – just might – be possible to heal the great ills of the world through slurred debate over a pub table is curiously prevalent among students. Why is this? Perhaps we are so comfortably reconciled with the fact that nothing we think, say or do ever amounts to anything more significant than a typed figure on a bit of paper tacked to a crummy departmental notice board, that there seems nothing strange about expending such fervour without effect. Many would argue that this woman’s futile compassion is infinitely preferable to my churlish ennui, and they’d probably be right. Like I said, I’m afflicted: I’m the first to admit my mind is addled with blind ill humour.
Whichever way you look at it, my fragile equilibrium was shattered. Had she not caught me at a moment of antecedent calm, the evening’s hair-tearing would have started there. But empathy got the better of me, just about. She was hopelessly earnest; I couldn’t be cruel. “Um, can’t say I have, actually,” I mumbled. She looked downcast. “No, me neither” she admitted, lip wobbling. “Perhaps we should set up a Facebook group?”
The Lion, the Witch and the Minge
Obviously, the best thing to do when you find yourself in tedious company, is to get as drunk as possible, as fast as possible. The inevitable dreariness of human conversation is the main reason people drink. This is why people don’t often get drunk alone.
Unfortunately, however, becoming insensible through alcohol abuse takes time. Therefore, there will be at least a couple of hours in an evening spent with ‘friends’ during which one finds oneself in the uncomfortable position of having to make the effort to speak to other people, show an interest in them and find out about their lives.
I have found a cunning way around this. Believe it or not, there is a way of filling the awkward interlude between the start of the evening and alcoholic oblivion with sparkling and witty repartee, without expending any effort. It is called the Minge Game.
The rules of the Minge Game are deceptively simple. You simply take the title of a well known film, book or song – or a popular saying of some kind – and substitute one of the crucial nouns with the incomparable word “minge”.
You end up with classic films such as Gone with the Minge, Four Minges and a Funeral and Mingefinger. In popular sayings, there’s “a minge in time saves nine”, “an eye for an eye and a minge for a minge” and, best of all, “one man’s minge is another man’s poison”.
My favourites are the children’s books (there’s nothing so amusing as perverting the acoutrements of youth) – there’s George’s Marvellous Minge, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Minge, and James and the Giant Minge. Bloody marvellous.