I moved into a shared house in Bristol, because basically, the room was really cheap. I knew one of the blokes who lived there, and liked him a lot. And it was in this shared house that I met him. That modern day wonder, the show hippie. Not that he wanted to be known as a hippie of course. Having made the mistake of branding him as such, I was quickly corrected;
‘I hate it when people call me a hippie. I’m not a hippie’.
‘So what are you then?’ I had to ask.
‘Well… not a hippie. I just believe in being self sufficient. I hate the system… people get so caught up in the money and the materialism. They need to get back to their roots, to creating things for themselves, to live free from the man, maan’.
And this is how he talked. Nice idea right. I’m not a massive supporter of capitalism or anything, but there is nothing worse than a show hippie.
I got home from work on a Wednesday, another uneventful, long day in another indistinguishable admin job, to find show hippie sitting on the sofa, joint smoking lazily away in the ashtray, Xbox controller in hand, staring fixedly at the screen.
‘Good day?’ I enquired as I took my shoes off and put my bag down.
‘Yeah man. You?’ He asked without looking up.
‘Same old, I’m knackered’ I replied. ‘Fancy a cuppa?’
After a long pause, ‘Yeah’, he said, still not looking away from the things he was killing on screen.
So off I trundled, downstairs to put the kettle on. It took me ten minutes to locate the kettle and two mugs, and to rinse them in the small space between the pile of festering plates in the sink and the faucet, so feeling pretty pissed off, but not in the mood for a moan (I’m no one’s mum after all) I took the tea upstairs, got out a cigarette and sat down. But fragile peace was ruined as I took the first drag by the following comment;
‘It must get you down, yeah? Working for the man’?’
Fuck. Here we go again I thought. ‘The man’ The bloody man. I really was in no mood to get into this conversation, so I didn’t respond. Until came the next show hippie pearl of wisdom;
‘I couldn’t do it’.
Right, that was it. I was actively pissed off now.
‘So what have you done today?’ I asked. Intonation intended, but sadly overlooked.
‘Well, (big toke from his joint) I’ve been making these patchwork trousers’.
‘And I planted some more tomatoes’.
But no time to do any washing up. I thought silently to myself, and opted for the much less stressful option of not entering into any debate.
‘Cool’. I said, and left the room.
Thursday, I get home, and there he is, sitting on the sofa in his patchwork trousers. Attention glued to the Xbox again. Only today, I had a glass of wine after work, and when I got in I had poured myself another. In a paper cup left over from one of their house parties, because I really couldn’t face the kitchen.
‘Another day working for the man.’ He said.
And after another dope filled pause;
‘I couldn’t do it’.
Well, that was it. Today I had to get involved. Where does this lazy tosser get off (I thought) judging me whilst sitting on his arse, in his bloody patchwork creations playing Halo all day. Given all the weed he smokes, I’m amazed he can manage to be judgmental and shoot aliens at the same time!
‘So what would you like to do?’ I ask.
‘Well, (another big toke) I’ve never really found a job that suited me’.
‘What job do you think would suit you?’
‘One that helps sustain the planet. Where I’m not part of the system’. I just know I couldn’t work for the man’.
Argh! The man again.
‘So what would you do to sustain the planet?’ I ask, genuinely interested in what answer this lazy bum is going to come up with the save the world.
‘I don’t know. I grow things and I paint. I did a degree in art, but I got a 3rd because they didn’t understand my work.’
Tempted as I was, I managed to restrain myself from pointing out that you had to do a fair bit of work for an art degree, and that, rather than misunderstood genius, was much more likely to have been the key to his downfall.
Anyway, he continued, ‘I work at the health food shop on a Saturday, but I can’t do anymore hours because if I do, I don’t qualify for jobseekers anymore, and then they wont pay the rent and I haven’t found anywhere else to live yet’.
What? What? Jobseekers? What happened to hating the system? This little shit is getting his rent and his dope paid for, and I’m living in a cheap room and working in a job I hate so I can pay mine? So maybe he has a point. I’m starting to hate the man too. I put this point to him. And he says it’s a means to an end.
What he would like to do is be self sufficient. Build his own home, grow his own veg, be one with the earth. Like an episode of the good life but out in the sticks, with felicity Kendal in dreadlocks and patchwork trousers, and really high on weed.
‘So why,’ I ask, ‘do you not follow this dream? Why not move to the country and live out this master plan instead of signing on every week, playing computer games and growing the odd tomato plant in the centre of Bristol?’
And the following comment put an abrupt end to the conversation.
‘Because I really like the music and drugs scene here, it’s more fun than the country’.
I got up and left, and calling behind me, show hippie shouts;
‘Any of that wine left?’
Buy your fucking own I think. But the little bugger has it right in some ways.
Yes, his morals are nonsensical and really he lacks the conviction and motivation to follow any of them through. Yes, he is in his late twenties, perfectly capable of finding a job, but opting to spend his days sitting on his lazy disillusioned ass anyway. But, he does have enough conviction to at least attempt to expound some morals. He also is perfectly right to condemn the system and damn the man. Any system that finances this shit when genuinely struggling people don’t qualify is wrong.
However, what he has that I lack is the tenacity to ignore any social judgement and use the system to get his rent and living costs paid, to value himself, without any proof, as being above all the jobs that the rest of us take to get by.
I know it’s a recession and jobs are bloody hard to come by, but while we’re all trying, some of these show hippies are apparently doing better than we are, without the feeling of hopelessness, tiredness and pessimism. And the cheeky little gits are judging us as lacking in moral fibre whilst doing it.
Maybe I should just pack it all in, get down the social and take up patchwork.