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The Vacuum Issue 10 spacer Issue 10
The Malone Ranger
Wise Up To Rise Ups
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It was just another chill-out Sunday afternoon in pseudo-bohemian south Belfast, the day after a vapid Saturday night spent necking Czechoslovak vodka-in-a-bottle, name-checking and rubber-necking in the vacuous space-time continuum of Tee-tum Tee-tee, a rather gay bar (that's gay, dear reader, in the old-fashioned sense of the word) in the Malone zone and the weekend Mecca of mocha-coffee drinking metro-sexuals who live the Lisburn Road Vida Loca.
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One was recovering from the excesses of the previous evening's outing at a chum's flat-pack furnitured gaff in new-build redbrick BT9 in the company of the usual coterie of clubbable Malone Rangers, digging the vibe of Dildo's latest digital oeuvre and digesting a forest of fresh Sunday newspapers. The Sunday Lifeless was revealing more incredible tabloid truths about some former paramilitary commander turned part-time pimp and go-commando drag queen. How sad.
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Clive, my estate agent flunky - still attired in his Gap-inspired glad rags - had crashed out on the funky Dekko settee after one too many choc-pops (a snifter of powerful intoxicant for those seeking reality denial) and was quietly harbouring the indignity of failing to gain entry to the VIP room at Dodecahedron, Belfast's nouveau 3-dimensional hotspot for hedonistic squares in the Cathedral Quarter triangle. Last night, he sustained a smart punch on the nose from the leather-gloved fist of some dour hospitality operative (a bouncer, dear reader) after a foolish on-street debate about his innate right to VIP treatment owing to his professional status as a respectable realtor.
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A wiser man this Sunday morn, and lost for something to crow about, Clive began blithering on about his further adventures as a new New Mini owner. He related how he'd recently experienced a spot of technical bother when using his electronic key-fob thingamabob to open the car door of his non-Jap nippy runabout. This yarn had the whiff of a modern urban myth.
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Apparently, a pirate DJ wireless station broadcasting illegally from somewhere in Belfast was transmitting a powerful radio signal on a wavelength that jammed certain types of vehicle central locking systems, so preventing BMW owners from locking/unlocking their cars using the Munich-supplied electronic key-fob. It was said that these pirates - believed to be a motley crew of redundant telecommunications engineers from Monkstown, and anti-capitalists to boot - made their irregular clandestine broadcasts from a mysterious black transit van parked somewhere off motor-mall alley, a.k.a. Boucher Road. Much to the amusement of these techno-anarchists, their malicious radio interference was preventing Beamer owners from getting into their cherished motorcars. What a hoot. PSNI teen-cops were on the case. Clive vowed to make a citizens arrest in the event that he happened upon the blighters.
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The veracity of this far-fetched tale was confirmed by the fragrant Clarissa de Temple-Barr, Clive's live-in lady friend and Range Rover driver, also temporarily rendered 'keyless' by the illegal community radioheads. She emerged from the spare boudoir in a pink tracksuit reeking of Tabasco and clutching a tatty copy of the Ulster Tatler that she'd been browsing whilst taking 'a dump' (as Clive so politely put it). 'Yah! My dinky fob was stunned by those eejits. Locked out. Ended up using the damn key,' she grunted, lighting up a cigar.
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'Not as bad as being locked out of home ownership,' she sighed, leafing through property section of Ulster's unrecycleable glossy colour gazette for the galloping set, and sipping espresso from a silly little cup. 'Wisdom, darling, was getting on the Belfast property ladder before the boom,' said Clive, reclining back on the Italian leather sofa.
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'Wasn't the boom in house prices somewhat inflated by unscrupulous property agents?' chipped Clarissa. 'You're one of those estate agent dastards - bumping up house prices beyond the reach of young working couples. Even with incomes combined!'
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'It's a free market, sweety,' winked a rather smug Clive, summoning up all he knew about fair trade. 'But doesn't a free market imply having accurate information about prices? The facts, not the spin? That doesn't quite concur with your Maloney baloney, Clive. I suspect you often bamboozle buyers with virtual valuations and imaginary offers,' said Clarissa, heckles raised.
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'One has an obligation to the gazumper when the market is hot. Make hay while the sun shines and all that,' said Clive, trying to defend his professional indiscretions. 'But that's why I have to share a freaking flat with you, you cad. I can't afford to buy in Hillsborough now, not even on a media executive's salary,' she sniffed, with some indignation. 'Sell that bloody Range Rover then,' bellowed Clive, almost quaking after being rumbled by Clarissa's astute hypothesis.
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'Wise up and get real, you bucking eejit. That's my status symbol,' she squeaked, quite piqued. 'But hey, buster, I can hold on until the house-price crash.' She chomped on the cigar, and seething, she inhaled sharply and spewed a jet-stream of carcinogenic smoke into the acrid atmosphere between them. Clive shuddered, fearing that the vicious rumour spread by a certain Kill-4-A-Cab taxi driver called Sid about the hundreds of unsold, unrented, slapped-up, ticky-tacky apartments in Greater Belfast would become more widespread.
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Deftly avoiding eye contact during this household spat, I looked up towards the low ceiling. The pristine plasterwork was already fissured with micro-cracks - a bad omen for the house of cads? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
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Taken from The Malone Rangers' Guide to Life in the Lisburn Road Fast-Lane.
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