Netflix Induced Murder Immunity

I know it’s not very Christmassy but I can’t stop thinking about murder. It’s not because I’ve just been in an M&S tussle, passive-aggressively battling with a lady in a goose-down gilet for the last filo pastry parcel selection and hoping she burns the turkey and/or dies. Horribly. And gets decapitated. And her head gets stuffed inside the turkey and they don’t find it until they finish pulling the meat from the bones five days after Christmas because it’s a really fucking big turkey and then, boom, oh Christ – Judith’s skull. No. It’s because I have been watching Dexter. That series about an American serial killer that everyone was banging on about years ago.

I don’t usually watch much stuff, but every now and then I get pulled down the rabbit-hole of a major series and everything else stops existing. Usually about a decade after everyone else has watched it. I like to think it’s because I’m an individual who doesn’t get swept along with the tide but it’s actually because I’m in a bit of a daze most of the time and it takes ten years to get me to go “Huh? Sorry, what were you saying in 2006?” So I finally succumbed to watching an episode of Dexter after lots of mates told me they liked it – grand recommendations like “Dexter saved me from a life of bunny-hugging benevolent optimism and opened my eyes to the innate evil in the world”, “We actually thought about naming LouLouBelle Dexter. But then her little winky dropped off and we realised it was just a bit of ham”, and “Dexter shits all over everything”, which as a plot descriptor is alarming but as an idiom of general enthusiasm can’t be bettered.

Anyway, one short sesh in bed down and I was hooked on this dirty Miami cop epic.

Last Christmas it was Breaking Bad. There I was, propping my eyes open until the wee small hours of the morning because I had to watch Just One More. Waking in the morning with a jump because I had had feverish dreams about shit going down at the meth factory and I simply had to watch the next episode to make sure everything was ok. I needed to know that the meth was ok and that Walter White was ok; that he hadn’t got arrested while I had been irresponsibly sleeping on the job in my real life. I annihilated the entire lot in about two weeks. It became a bit of a problem. I was a bit blinky and distracted and real life felt fake and Breaking Bad world felt real. I haven’t really watched much since then. I would’ve felt cheap, cheating on Walter so soon after our emotional goodbye. Plus I had stuff to do. You can’t put your life on hold for crystal meth, things get out of hand.

But now I’m hooked on Dexter and everything’s turned to murder. I cannot look at a bin-bag without assuming my neighbours are wronguns. “Bet there’s some dude’s fingers in that Dolmio jar”, I size up as I pass. I pass an alleyway and assume that in the shadows are some muscly Cubans with a grudge. I hear the theme music in my head, all the time, and can feel my spine prickle like a psychic hedgehog; I know that something killy is about to go down nearby. But it’s not the same as Dexter. Murder fantasies in Southend are a bit more like Danny Dyer Goes to the Seaside. More likely to get suffocated with a sausage roll than splayed on a beach in a ritualistic Santa Muerte glory kill with hispanic candles neatly arranged around your decapitated noggin. Murders are dead exotic in Miami. Sigh.

I’ve found the most worrying thing about being addicted to Dexter is not that you are prepared to forego urinating for eight hours until you’ve finished a season, but that you start caring for Dexter himself. You go on a journey with the characters that far exceeds anything that can be achieved by a two hour film and you start to absorb parts of it. Moral quandary ahoy. Because you want him to get away with it all. The murders. You can’t bear the thought of him getting caught and spending the rest of his life on Death Row. I mean, that’s not right is it? That’s pretty clever telly. Making a psychopath the hero; inciting you to care about someone who ends people’s lives. Making you think “Well, it’s only a bit of stabbing, hacking, chopping, and dumping the body in the sea. People do way worse in goosedown gilets in shopping queues at Christmas.” We are very murky creatures, us humans. No wonder we get ourselves in such pickles.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when it’s over. I probably won’t kill anyone. I don’t think. I might just rest my eyes for a year until the next big series drags me down the rabbit hole. Maybe think about watching something less stabby. But it’ll take me a while to stop thinking about killing in the meantime so, er, make a list and I’ll see what I can do. I’m sure there’s such a thing as Netflix Induced Murder Immunity, there must be.


Bundle Me

I can tell I’ve been feeling a bit jaded because the other day I saw a friend had written a status about how they were consigned to bed with the tail-end of a horrible stomach flu, and I thought “you lucky cow”.
I read it with the same sort of sniffiness that other women read people’s statuses about losing loads of weight or having to take a job in Dubai even thought they really don’t want to because it’s almost too much cash. That sort of “Keep the bragging to yourself, love” type reaction. I glazed over and imagined the utter bliss of being stuck in bed for three days. Being forcibly pushed down under the covers by my boyfriend, saying “if you even think of getting up and jeopardising your health, I will break up with you. Now drink this perfectly made cup of tea and stow these emergency biscuits under your pillow for god’s sake. I’m going to make you a ‘get better, darling’ cake as quick as I can”.
I began picturing the big stack of books I would keep by the bed, to flick through between naps. I could reread Harry Potter; all of them. I mentally highlighted the series on Netflix that people keep telling me I should watch, but which I never do. For instance, I have never even watched an episode of 24 or Lost. The whole world turned on that stuff for a while and I couldn’t tell you one thing about them except that Lost was a thrilling race against time and 24 was about being stuck on a desert island. I could finally put this right. I could watch Kiefer Sutherland weaving bamboo huts for his fellow crash victims. Finally.
I began wondering how I might invoke such wondrous affliction, such bliss. I found myself wondering if I ate some raw chicken or licked the fox wee off the bins whether I would be plunged into some kind of impotent fever that would buy me a week of horizontal liberty. Something so awful that I couldn’t type a word. A rare strain of malaria of the fingers, or gastro interitis of the eyeballs so I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I usually do, like read and write. What have those things ever done for me, anyway? I didn’t even want the physical facility to be able to surf ebay for a chaise longue upon which to see out the spell of my infirmity. I just wanted my normal bed with the gathering squeak, my usual covers, my dog lying on my feet, and the promise of nothing for the next few days. Absolute nothingness.

Then I realised I could probably just get one of those colouring books for adults that are all the rage, or a Mindfulness download or something rather than barfing up a lung for 36 hours or wheezing with a rejuvenated strand of an historical ailment after licking a Victorian lamp in an antique shop. There are other ways to rest, aren’t there. I just am not sure what they are. Even when I’m asleep I seem to ruin it with dreams about being murdered in a haunted house or pets dying or Sting being my Dad. That’s not rest, that’s the ring of Hell that Dante left out because he didn’t want to put his readership off completely.
I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that any of you want to bundle me into a plane to your villa in the Andalucian hills under strict instructions to make full use of your artisan cook there who is just going to waste, I wouldn’t kick up a fuss over the intervention.