My name is John Doran and I write about music. The young bucks who run VICE’s website thought it would be amusing to employ a 40-year-old man who has, of late, lost all his mirth.
In case you were wondering or simply too lazy to use urban dictionary, ‘menk’ is Scouse/Woollyback slang for a mentally ill or educationally subnormal person, and is a shortened version of mental. As in, “Your Sergio Tacchini trackie is sick la, look at that menk Doran, he can’t even afford a Walker trackie. Let’s hit him with a brick and push him in the canal.”
MENK EIGHT: I Feel So Inar-Inar-Inar-ticulate
It is Tuesday morning. The God of the internet kicks the PR division of the music industry cruelly into my inbox. The word ‘Imaginaerum’ catches my eye like a fish hook. It sits momentarily atop the pile of unopened mails, before, slowly making its way down the screen. I click on it and the message from Nuclear Blast Records in Germany informs me: “The fans of NIGHTWISH had to be patient for a long time. Finally the time has come. After more than four years, NIGHTWISH will release their long-desired fifth studio album entitled Imaginaerum on the 2nd of December 2011.”
It is not quite the same as the compound neologism ‘imaginarium’, but it is close enough to give me a headache.
It is two years since Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus was bashed out like a rushed obituary to one of its stars, the formidable Heath Ledger, who died a third of the way through filming. I now know that it was acute prescription drug intoxication that killed him but I remember raging like a 9-11 truther when I first heard the news: “They killed him! They might as well have called it Dr Parnassus and the Synergistic Hub of Joined Up Governance. They put the gun in his hand – it was disgust that finished him off. Those mealy mouthed, blue sky thinking cunts!”
There is no such word as “imaginarium” you see. Or rather there is, but there shouldn’t be.
I first came across the barbarous term several years ago while working as a copy writer at the UK headquarters of a very large international communications company. I was fast approaching my bottom, as they say; run ragged and losing the plot. I was staying up all night drinking and, when I could afford them, using drugs to make it through the day. It was hard to settle down to work in the oppressively large open plan office because the massive, in-house, management consultancy justified part of their astronomical annual fee by constantly rearranging the ergonomics of our seating plan. This constant sense of being meddled with by bored rich idiots situated on another floor simply re-enforced my already prodigiously inflated sense of paranoia.
The work place was littered with the expensive detritus of utter stupidity. One day they erected a circular-shaped, free standing partition in the middle of the room which formed a tiny cupboard-like space big enough for one person. You could step into it through an opening and it was slightly smaller than the diameter of my outstretched arms. It said LIBRARY in large letters on the outside. The inside wall was lined with pasted on photographs of the spines of real books. The thing that made me angry was the fact that they had photographed a shelf of Reader’s Digest abridged classics. Even if the space had contained real books, who in their right mind would think, ‘Do you know what? I’m not going to eat over-priced sandwiches from the in-house Costa in my allotted 30 minute break today. I’m going to stand on my own in a circular, unlit, furniture free cubicle the size of a Ryan Air bathroom and power read The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie which has been helpfully edited to take the racy bits out.’
And the cock juggling thunder cunts were obviously out to destroy my grip on reality the day they erected the fucking holistic tepee.
Things came to a head when they removed my kitchen. Up until that point there had been one nice place in the whole air conditioned, post-brutalist, glass and steel morgue and that was the kitchen. This was simply because you had some small amount of autonomy there being that it contained a fridge, a kettle, a sink and some cutlery. Some of the white tiles had brown, tea-stained splash back marks, I had a Dr Who mug in the cupboard and by comparison it felt almost homely in a shared student house kind of way.
I came in one day and it was gone, however. The following week they constructed something called The Imaginarium in its place. It was like a bigger version of the library but with no photographs of book spines, just grey, matte PVC covered partition walls.
Distressed with anger and in danger of kicking the thing to pieces I stamped back to my desk and typed out an embarrassingly nonsensical and half-cocked email to the management consultancy people. It ran along the following lines: “Please be aware that strictly speaking, there is no such word as ‘imaginarium’. I’m only pointing this out to save you any further embarrassment before you rebrand the toilets in the same manner. Being that we don’t live in Ancient Rome or Victorian England we do not have a librarium, simply a library. Perhaps the word you’re looking for here is ‘imaginary’ which also, interestingly enough, means totally made up. This is why in London, Athens, Rome, Istanbul, New York, Cairo and Paris they have libraries, museums, art galleries and universities, while in Fort Myers, Florida and Anchorage, Alaska they have imaginariums (or imaginaria, if you will). By the way, I’m not charging you for this email, I wrote it on my lunch break so on this occasion I’ll be waiving my consultancy fee. The next time you fancy making a word up, perhaps consult one of the many writers who work on the floor below you. They may be able to help with etymology.”
My hands were shaking when I sent the mail but in my mind I was already walking to the pub to embark on a catastrophic fortnight long drinking binge now unencumbered by a job. And sure enough, they sacked me the next day.
As a post script I should say that it took me a long time (years if I’m honest) to realise that they were looking for an excuse to sack me. That a partially mad, chisel enraged, swivel-eyed drunk wasn’t necessarily the person they wanted working for them. Worst of all, most of my co-workers were actually really nice people, and to them I was just some kind of misanthropic dead weight. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to those good folk; you didn’t see me at my finest moment. I’d also like to apologise to the citizens of Anchorage and Fort Myers – my pathetic rudeness about your no doubt fine centres of learning and curatorship was borne out of base snobbishness. I would finally like to apologise to the director of Brazil, Terry Gilliam, a unique and creative man whose kind actions in finishing the aforementioned film revealed that he cared deeply for Heath Ledger. This apology doesn’t extend as far as the management consultants however. My feelings for you are strategised by a massive bandwidth of synergised hatred with ongoing and dynamic 360 degree functionality. And that's sober or not.
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