Most of us in this homogenised, overly hygienic, grey country of ours will have limited experience of true adventure or peril. Our homes are shiny clean, our children spotless and lacking any discernible immune system. The media and our food's own packaging tell us why we shouldn't be consuming the majority of the provisions in our larders. A date stamp pointlessly tells us when to throw away our milk. (If there's one thing in my fridge that is capable of telling me itself when it's beyond it's best it's the milk.)
We no longer have to evade the man eating, sabre-toothed, big cats that compete with us for food. No more do we have to keep our eyes on the seas, ever vigilant for the sails of the ships of the Viking hoards or invading Normans on the horizon. We don't risk death collecting berries and fruits from cliff edges and rarely do we have to cradle our children as they wither and die from measles or tetanus.
In the "first world" other, less tangible, threats have rushed to fill the gap left by the extinction of the sabre-toothed tiger, the putting up of signs to tell us to "keep away from the edge" and vaccinations. Now we have more germs on the chopping board in our kitchen than on the seat in our lavatory, bags of peanuts "may contain nuts" and anyone with a beard and a back-pack is a terrorist. A word on the last point, many of you will say you don't compartmentalise people in such a disgraceful manner, but you'll be lying. It may not prey on your mind, but it will certainly cross it if you're standing, crammed, in a hot train carriage when you see a young Asian man, on his way to work and wearing a napsack, squeeze in through the door. Thanks to the media we're now programmed that way. Many years ago, while I was working behind a bar in a hotel in the 1990s, a stranger, an Irishman, ordered a pint, put his briefcase on the counter against a pillar and walked out. This was around the time of the IRA bombing in Manchester. The chap was gone for three or four minutes at most, but during that time I went from thinking "Don't be silly" to hiding in the cellar pretending I was changing a barrel.
All the while the innocent briefcase remained on the bar. Schrodingers briefcase, it either contained a bomb or it didn't contain a bomb. Like we can all be pretty sure that the cat in Schrodinger's box is not only very pissed off but, eventually, dead, I was also pretty sure that this case contained the Irishman's sandwiches, a couple of files and maybe some spare underpants. (At one point someone knocked the case with their elbow and I very nearly needed a spare pair myself.) But still, in my head, I could see the news footage of the inferno that was about to engulf the hotel and see my mothers face on Granada Reports saying "I knew he was a bad 'un but I didn't think he'd sink this low".
For some people the jeopardy inherent in modern day Britain just isn't enough to keep the old pump pumping. They've scrubbed their chopping boards (or begun chopping their veg on the toilet), they've inoculated their offspring and they don't use public transport. They've covered all the bases and so now can turn their attention to other forms of adventure and exhilaration. For some this manifests itself as skydiving, bungee jumping, lion taming or popping your head through the doors of the local Mecca bingo hall and shouting "HOUSE". Others join the armed forces or the Red Cross.
Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I tut, sometimes I see a red mist and wonder at the mentality of my fellow man and occasionally I'll pull a funny face and lose my appetite. I get to experience the viewpoint of people with whom I'd never interact in real life, to see things from a different perspective and to learn.
Then, at other times, I read pages and pages of tweets that leave me shaking my head, not sure whether I should laugh or not. Conspiracy theories, crazy plots dreamt up by damaged individuals and taken up by others with too much time on their hands.
The big talking point at the moment seems to be chemtrails. I'm sure most of you are aware of chemtrails, but for those of you that aren't I'll explain. The Government(s) load specially converted jet aircraft with chemicals, fly over the population and release the stuff. A bit like crop spraying. Opinion seems divided on what effect the chemicals are supposed to be having on us, but the majority of conspiracy theorists appear to favour the theory that the chemicals make us lethargic and apathetic and thus keep us quiet. The country's shit but we can't be arsed to do anything about it. Watch TV, consume and die.
So now even our laziness and selfishness can be blamed on the Government.
Since it's such an indiscriminate form of delivery the ruling powers, I assume, wear respirators or have an antidote or are space aliens or something.
The evidence provided by the theorists consists, in the main, of photographs showing the laying of the chemtrails in the skies above our heads. Sinister, white, plumes trailing from aircraft and spreading, slowly and gracefully, as they fall toward Earth. The trails themselves are hard to spot in the pictures, being as they are always obscured by the vapour trails left by the jet engines squirting super-heated air out of their backsides in the form of white plumes trailing from the aircraft and spreading, slowly and gracefully, as they, too, fall toward the Earth. Sometimes, in heavily populated areas, photos show the skies are criss-crossed with dozens of such trails every day. Areas such as London, Manchester and Leeds, among others. Fortunately for the Governments coffers these heavily populated areas are all served by major airports. It must save them a fortune in fuel and they can pass the aircraft off as passenger planes.
As you can hopefully tell, I'm not convinced. It would seem a bit of a slap-dash method of delivery, pissing gallons of mind-bending pharmaceuticals out of the back of a plane from thirty-thousand feet and hoping the wind doesn't change direction. We have a perfectly adequate water supply in this country. As a fan of Occam's razor I have to say that, were I one day lucky enough to be a dictatorial despot, I'd just pour it in there and start drinking Evian.
But maybe, just maybe, that's what they want us to think. Maybe they are dumping liquid E on us from a great height, daily, just to keep us happy and paying our taxes.
Maybe they were the ones that started the theory. That way they control at what point their wickedness is discovered and they won't have some Maverick spotting their dastardly actions and snooping without their knowledge. Put the rumour out and watch for those that believe it. Hiding in plain sight, the cunning bastards!
There are always a dozen conspiracy theories doing the rounds. Some of them may be true. Unfortunately, those that alert us to such diabolical plots also tend to believe in every other conspiracy theory, from dastardly plots to kill a Princess to AIDS being a weapon to combat vampires. This makes it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Of course conspiracies exist. I doubt anyone would argue with that. We're constantly being manipulated by the media, the advertising agencies, even the Government are at it. We know it's happening and we know we can do nothing about it, we just cross our fingers and hope that those conspiring are conspiring against others and not against ourselves and, in the main, we're right. We're small fry. Cannon fodder. Bottom of the food chain. We can afford to ignore it and, anyway, we're never going to know about it, so why worry?
The way the Government controls us is far less fascinating than the conspiracies. Some clever bastard at the top realised that we are stupid and lazy. We work hard, don't get me wrong, and many of us have hobbies that keep us on our toes, but when it comes to anything important we, with few exceptions, just couldn't care less. They don't need to waste money on happy pills and aviation fuel, just ride the storm of complaints when the gas bills go up or the bins stop being emptied. There'll soon be another series of the X-Factor, Celebrity Big Brother or the Apprentice to snatch our attention away from the faltering NHS, biblical floods and rise of poverty, refocusing it on the important things like whether him with the nice tattoos/her with the big tits gets through to next weeks episode or not.
Once upon a time we were allowed to call the conspiracy theorists "paranoid delusionals", but that's probably not PC these days.