We all had to be humans because we had all learned how to be humans and everyone knew that we didn’t have any choice because there weren’t any other options and you just had to get on with it because that’s the way things are and you didn’t even think about it you just got on with it. We all had to learn what our teachers so sternly taught us after all. If you didn’t learn that then what was to become of you? That’s called school. ‘He didn’t learn,’ they will say, ‘the process didn’t take.’ It happens sometimes. The programming doesn’t take so then you become a defect. You become a reject; you become the odd one out. You don’t fit and so then you become a misfit. You don’t function like all the rest do. The machine doesn’t want you, the machine doesn’t recognise you. You know what it feels like when you are rejected and can’t go along with all the others as they make their way through life. Meeting the appropriate milestones with honour and distinctions. They’re like the people in the adverts aren’t they? You can’t tell where the advert ends and real life begins. Life’s passing you by of course and there’s nothing you can do about that. You can’t tell where reality begins and the advert ends, after all. It’s all so seamless and it’s moving so fast. You know that there are happy times in life of course. You can’t understand them though – maybe they’re part of the advert too. Like those big old adverts these to have back in the old days when you went to see a movie. You couldn’t tell where the advert ended and the movie began. The bottom line is that the machine doesn’t recognise you and so that’s the end of that. You missed that particular bus a long time ago! The programming didn’t take and that means you have to go on the reject pile with all the rest. The protein markers on your skin weren’t quite right and that means that all the other chickens will straightaway peck you to death. You don’t have the right pheromones and so all the other bees will sting you to death without a moment’s hesitation. You will be buried under all those furry black and yellow bodies just as if you’re at the bottom of a rugby scrum and they’ll be stinging, stinging, stinging. ‘Sting the misfit!’ they’ll all shout in unison – ‘sting the outsider because he’s not one of us!’ We all had to be human beings you see; we all had to do the right things at the right time. You have to say the right things in the right way or else everyone will look at you strangely. There will be an awkward silence and it will last forever. People will pretend that you don’t exist because they don’t know what else to do. The machine can’t recognise you and all there is is the machine – the machine is a hand-shaking device and it has a million hands. The machine eyes you up and down when it sees you on the street; your friends are only pretending that they’re your friends and really they’re going to report you for the things you said that showed you up as being odd. Little slip-ups that prove the point. Awkward silences that mark you out as an intruder. We had to get it right you see and there was simply no help for us if we didn’t. The machine has a million faces and it will look you up and down wherever you go. You want to be what you are supposed to be – of course you do – but now you know that you can’t. You can’t be it. You don’t know what it is. You’re grasping at straws. The programme rejected you. That was a long time ago now though – it all feels like a dim and distant memory. None of that matters now – the machine has gone its way and you have gone yours. You’re in uncharted waters now. People confuse themselves with their own incessant talking of course and I’m as guilty of that as the next person. Eventually they get so confused that they don’t even know that they’re confused anymore and I’m guilty of that too. Eventually we all get so confused that we think we are making sense and that’s when the trouble really starts.