Persuaded by the promise of a tiny research grant from the worldwide scientific community, and weakened by a terrible month of over-indulgence, freelance Home Defence lifestyle consultant and inimitable Prozac hound, Archibald Scamp, accepts a visit from a nervous and uptight middle-aged reporter from 'Millenial Existence' magazine. This interviewer suffers no little trepidation, having heard about Scamp's recent escapades through the tabloid press. What follows is a transcript of Scamp's thoughts and is often offensive, but should still be read by all males of a certain age...
Archibald Scamp: "Life. Unless we're dead, we've all got one. Life is the thing that keeps passing us by when everyone else is having fun."
I: "Why bother?"
AS: "It is vital, necessary, and really kind of important, that we make efforts to improve our lives. If you don't believe me ask Carole Caplin. Those who can't improve their life should try to ensure it doesn't get any worse. There will always be room for improvement, unless your life is perfect and can't be made any better. If you find yourself in this situation, go fuck yourself, the horse you rode in on, and, if you've got any left, do yourself again for good measure. Preferably in the ear."
I: "But Mr. Scamp, many people in difficult circumstances not of their own making will be asking if it's at all possible to take control and improve their lives?"
AS: "Yes it is, but lasting improvements can take time and effort to instigate, and even more time and effort to produce long-lasting results."
I: "Is there a 'quick fix' that can make things better for them?"
AS: "Yes. Alcohol."
I: "Right, and that's supposed to be 'cool' is it?"
AS: "Yes. It is."
I: "That'll keep the oppressed masses content then?"
AS: "Works for me."
I: "But beyond these quick fixes, there must be some kind of serious fulfillment for the human race. Let's get to the bottom of this Mr. Scamp, how does one improve one's life?"
AS: "Fuck knows."
I: "I thought you were an expert?"
AS: "Nope, haven't got a clue."
I: "Then why on earth are you contracted to write a column for, let me see now, 'Home Defence'?"
AS: "I was the only one left. I'd much rather be messed up and incoherent to tell you the truth. Is that a hip flask in your blazer?"
I: "It's, er, full of Classic Coke. Listen Mr. Scamp, I'm not familiar with that web-site myself. Sounds like it might be run by the National Front or something. Unfortunately I really need to fill my magazine. Can you make something up?"
AS: "Well, yeah, but it'd be about as knowledgeable as Football Fracas, only with the addition of potentially depressing introspection."
I: "Good enough. Where should we start?"
AS: "Well, the first step to improving your life is assessing how you view that life. That way you'll have some idea
of the level you're operating on."
I: "Okay. How do you think I should view, my life, say?"
AS: "Some folks recommend the rose-tinted approach, looking back and thinking all was good and we've learnt a
great deal and are now better people. <Pause> I can smell that scotch from here you know."
I: "Convince myself everything was good you say? In that case, I'm glad I slept with my wife's sister in 1987. Might've cost me my marriage, but she taught me some really dirty tricks."
AS: "You're getting really pickled aren't you? I'd like to address your readers here and say that the majority of us God-fearing residents of Blair's Britain don't believe mindless retroactive optimism is the way forward."
I: "Oh, really? So what have you got to say on the subject?"
AS: "I think an honest assessment of the failures of your life is the first step, but this must be done by the standards you've set yourself. Those same standards you'll use on your death-bed to decide if you've lived a good life or behaved in a way more suited to Jeffrey Archer."
I: "I prefer the rose-tinted way."
AS: "Tough. No one said it was going to be easy. If you can't take it, go cry to your mummy, bitch-boy."
I: "I'm not going crying to mater, not again. Not yet."
AS: "Good man."
I: "So, how does one know whether one has had a good life or not?"
AS: "Do you wake up at three in the morning, crying like a baby, suffering the kind of guilt that could cripple a man stamping on the back of your head?"
I: "Occasionally, yes. What's it to you?"
AS: "Then it's safe to say that, like the vast and overwhelming majority of humanity, you have a few things which need reconciliation before you can move forward."
I: "And how would I 'reconcile' exactly?"
AS: "Well, strictly speaking, whatever it is that's crushing your tender spirit is in the past. You can't do a damn thing about it. Resolve not to fuck up again and start from scratch, that's best."
I: "So, basically - learn to live with it and move on."
AS: "Yes. Feel free to move on ever so slowly though. There's no rush. Three-score and ten's plenty. Actually, come to think of it, how old are you?"
I: "59, but forget that. Let's have a crack at injecting some meaning into my life right now."
AS: "Hey! Slow down, crazy fool! That's the kind of statement that brings failure and horror to our a gradually-enabled 21st century being. What is 'meaningful'? How do we define 'meaningful'? Isn't 'meaningful' different for everyone?"
I: "Um, yes. Meaningful is different for everyone."
AS: "Glad to have you on board my pissed old friend. Here's an example - the Queen of England or David Bowie would hardly be content if the only thing they did one day was pop to the shop for fags would they? But for an agoraphobic old duffer that could be a real achievement. If you want to improve life for yourself, not because others say you should, then you have to set your own standards for success."
I: "Interesting point."
I: "No, but what the heck. This booze is really kicking in."
AS: "I don't need your endorsement. I don't need you to say my philosophies are right."
I: "That's lucky."
AS: "I've followed these guidelines, set my own standards for success, and I'm proud of that. Admittedly, I've set them so low, success is essentially failure repackaged, but I feel okay about myself, and that's what counts. <Long pause> Okay, we're done here."
I: "That's it?"
AS: "Yes. I hereby judge this interview a success."
I: "Just wondering, but has a member of the medical profession ever referred to you as 'mentally retarded'?"
AS: "Why do you ask?"
I: "No reason."
AS: "Fine. Can I go now?"
I: "Yes, I'll unlock the cage."
AS: "Thanks. Can I have my clothes back?"
I: "Here you go."
AS: "This wasn't what I was wearing!"
I: "Put it on. Go on."
AS: "Right, but this isn't happening next time one of you journos wants some copy. You know I can't walk in kitten heels."
Archibald Scamp has made it through the first round of interviews for the job of personal trainer to Johnny Vegas.