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 is more in touch with Borgen than R&B.
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 20: MOST OF MY HEROES DON’T APPEAR ON NO STAMP
There was a time when I would have written for anyone for free. Admittedly I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, and a terror of doing nothing at all, mixed with low self-esteem, meant that there were plenty of websites and small magazines that were willing to take my copy, yet not so willing to pay me for my effort. There’s an intractable problem here in that it’s undeniably bad for the industry that I work in for anyone to do their trade for free, but this is a position mainly held by those who work solely in print and have little or no experience of internet journalism. Given that the bit of the web that I work in was set up, run and policed by American teenagers for over 15 years, it now resembles nothing more than the kind of collapsing frontier town that you’d see in The Unforgiven or Rio Bravo, where most of the money goes to the underhanded or the undeserving and the notion of things being “fair” is an alien concept.
For all its pretensions towards enlightened anarchy, the internet is (mainly) the comic subplot to late capitalism: sub-standard 'will-this-do?' bullshit and scraps of money being fought over by thuggish dullards for an audience of howling idiots who don’t even deserve the vote, let alone control over the most significant development in media over the last 20 years. Prior to 1997, these people used to sit on their own in bedsits masturbating over VHS tapes of Baywatch, only going outside to sign on or to attend a LARPing session in the local woods.
But I’ve got a family now and I have to scale back on the amount of writing I do for free. I’m all about the dead authors. Or at least I am 80 percent of the time, anyway.
Looking at a fistful of banknotes I got out of the bank to pay a builder the other day, it struck me how little effort or thought is put into the celebs that they stick on money. Who wouldn’t have their day improved by seeing Professor Stephen Hawking on a fiver, Mark E. Smith on a tenner and Andrea Dworkin on a score? (Although it’s just occurred to me that if you were really high coming out of a club and intent on getting a taxi, you might get the ten pound note and the five pound note mixed up.) Knowing that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, David Cameron and Chris Salmon are regular readers of this column, I’ve come up with a list of people who I think have sufficiently heroic and aspirational qualities to feature on currency in the future.
Sir Lord John Mytton: Who better to feature on a banknote than a man who had nothing but contempt for money? Mad Jack had but one aim in life and that was to destroy his family’s massive fortune, something he managed to do with a few years left to spare at the end. His many interests included naked rat catching on skates during winter, crashing coaches, getting his horses drunk and bare-knuckle fighting with navvies. The picture on the currency should probably recreate the scene where he rode his favourite bear into a dinner party at Halston Hall. Despite all the guests diving, shrieking out of windows in fear of their lives, Mytton was furious that his entrance had not been more dramatic so rode out and re-entered, this time applying the spurs vigorously. The second time, the bear threw him off and ate part of his leg. When looking at money your first instinct should always be: just spend the fucking stuff and lighten up. This country is in the state it is because of people hoarding money they have absolutely no use for.
Germaine Greer: There’s a certain sort of person who laughs at you if you say you admire Germaine Greer. It always turns out they’ve never read The Female Eunuch but they have read Zoo a bunch of times. People featured on money should always remind you not to waste your time on fucking bullshit.
Peter Tatchell: Pure dude. It’s a shame he’s a 9/11 truther but otherwise, simply imagine how excellent the world would be if everyone had this guy’s backbone. Having PT on a bank note would remind everyone to use money righteously. Like for example, buying a travelcard so you can go to London and attempt a citizen’s arrest on a dictator who is literally three times your size and looks like Yaphet Kotto with a Hitler moustache.
Francis Bacon: Not the weak-lunged 17th century empiricist who used to be on one pound notes but the late 20th century painter. He was a terrible person in many respects: viciously sadistic in personality, violently masochistic in sexuality and an angry and self-obsessed drunk, yet he had clear sight of what humanity had become post-World War II. Perhaps no one should be able to buy ten B&H, a newspaper and a pint of milk without temporarily thinking of a painting that looks like a school bus full of Hitler Youth crashing into a butcher’s shop packed with drunks in suits.
Are there any banknotes higher than £50? I don’t know. But while I have everyone’s attention, here is what I’d also like. We should have our own Mount Rushmore. I’d like to see the faces of Alan Turing, Tommy Flowers and Dilly Knox blasted into the face of Scafell Pike staring out over Cumbria reminding us for all eternity what a bunch of terrible bastards we are. These three people (and many others like them who worked at Bletchley Park) are one of the main reasons we’re not all speaking German now. And how did we repay them? With chemical castration, suicide, ignominy and most traces of their heroic efforts being wiped from the history books. My full plans include an enforced annual festival of male-on-male fellatio for all men over the age of 18 in honour of Turing and Knox (homosexuals) and mandatory cribbage and stoat racing lessons in memory of Flowers (working class).
How much have these people influenced me directly? It’s hard to say, really, and certainly none of them have had as much of a profound influence upon me as my dad, for example. I may have given the impression that my dad is round the bend, but for all the free range psychic diversity he displayed when I was younger he is a very good man, both moral and reliable. If I have any good aspects to my personality at all, I owe them directly to him. Personally I think he should be on a bank note but it wouldn’t make any sense to anyone else. They would be like, “Who is this angry man in bi-focals, gritting his teeth and holding a screwdriver on my fiver?” And at least my dad is still alive so we can still show our appreciation to one another by having long conversations about the best way to apply varnish to a table or the best way to plane a new door. (“NO! NOT LIKE THAT! GO WITH THE GRAIN! GO WITH THE GRAIN!”)
What about the people I can no longer talk to though, those who have left us? The teachers, the friends, the relatives? The aquaintances and the strangers with their random acts of kindness? Well, I’d like to build a cenotaph outside my front door, to which I can add names to. Some folk left Liverpool for good recently, including an elderly lady who had a profoundly positive effect on my life and a particularly vivid and luminous light went out in Manchester just last week making the world a slightly darker place. But when you phone the council and tell them you want to build an obelisk out of Portland stone, flanked with brass eagles and serpents by your front door, they just hang up. Fucking nanny state. So for the time being, it’s enough to pause by the door every time I go out and think, momentarily, of absent friends.
Photograph by Al Overdrive