August 30, 2010
My name is James D. Irwin, and after being alive for over two decades I feel incomplete. I don’t feel as though I really know myself, and I think that’s a major obstacle in my development as a rounded, confident young man.
How can you pretend to know anything about the world if you don’t even know who you are? I mean, who you really are. We get told things like where we come from and how old we are etc, etc, but we don’t really know. We don’t come from wherever we were born; we come from our pasts, our history, and our heritage.
With this in mind I set out to investigate the real James D. Irwin— the enigmatic genetic make up that makes a humanoid, carbon-based life form so much more than the sum of its biological parts.
I will question everything and leave no stone unturned to discover just who the fuck I really am.
How Old Am I?
Although we can only prove that we’re really, really alive by releasing adrenaline or feeling pain, there are also birth certificates which prove we’re alive in a less philosophical and more legal sense.
Mine says that I was born in 1989, which means that I am, in the chronological sense, twenty-one years old.
However, Greg Olear repeatedly insists that I am in fact fifteen years of age. Scientific studies prove that if you hear something enough times you begin to accept it as fact. There are also scientific studies which say the memory is inherently unreliable so I may be making up that study, or simply inventing in my mind numerous instances where Greg exaggerates my youth. The upshot of all this means that it may or may not be true.
Then there are my behavioural traits, which must be taken into account:
I often sit in my pyjamas watching cartoons, eating cereal and watching cartoons like a six year old, yet I also like drinking scotch in quiet pubs like an eighty-five year old.
Finally we come to the theory of age put forth by the controversial philosopher Groucho Marx who believes ‘you’re only as old as the woman you feel.’
Unfortunately I am not currently feeling any women, so there is no data available.
We then add these figures together and divide them by the number of figures for an average.
So, that’s 21, 15, 6, and 85.
The cold hard maths:
There are four figures, so we divide 127 by 4.
Conclusion: I am in fact a little over thirty-one years of age.
Am I a man or a woman?
Initially this would seem to be quite simple: I have slight facial hair and I don’t have breasts. But then I watched a female athletics event with my grandmother and discovered it was perfectly possibly to be a woman without breasts, or despite having a moustache.
My old neighbours, both younger than six, used to ask me why I wore ‘girl shoes’, ‘girl trousers’ and why I had ‘girl hair.’ They make a compelling argument: I wear boots, flared jeans and I have long hair— all quite feminine characteristics.
I also own a lot of scarves, I’m quite thin and I’m no taller than 5’8. It does seem entirely plausible that I was a taller-than-average woman.
However, I do have extremely hairy legs and a penis with all the biological accessories you might expect (scrotum, pubes etc).
Conclusion: In the face of overwhelming biological evidence I can rationally conclude that I am a man; a fairly effeminate, skinny man, but a man nonetheless.
Where do I come from?
Once again we can turn to official documentation for this, documentation that claims I am English.
However, that’s merely a technicality based on the fact that I was dragged into the world in a hospital in Swindon that has since been demolished. For example, the actress Sienna Miller was born in New York and holds an American passport, but is no more American than she is Azerbaijani. It’s family origins that count, the legs you crawled out of— not wherever those legs were at a time. Otherwise babies delivered by water birth could go around telling everyone that they’re mermaids.
My family history can be traced back to Germany, Ireland, the north of England and the West Country.
I have a reasonable claim to being German— I love sausages, potatoes, beer, Claudia Schiffer and the song 99 Red Balloons by Nena. However, Ireland produces a lot of beer, sausages and potatoes, as does England. I also only like the English language version of Nena’s 1984 hit single.
Although I have German blood and I like a lot of what the country has to offer— mostly women who were incredibly attractive twenty years ago— the main Germanic traits I possess can also be attributed to my English and Irish ancestry. In short all I have learnt about myself is that I like beer and pork, like most men from Western civilization. There is nothing in my personality that is uniquely German, and I don’t much care for David Hasselhoff— Knight Rider doesn’t even compare to Magnum P.I.
So I must turn to Ireland and England and study those cultures to see which is closest to the man I think I am/wish to be/seek to become.
My family name is Irish. I know it’s an Irish name because there’s a soda bread company that shares my family name and soda bread is as Irish as being turned away from a job in 19th century New York. There was also a footballer called Dennis Irwin who played for Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland. And sure enough my family tree goes back to the early 1800s where the Irwin family are potato farming in County Mayo, Ireland.
However, I visited a Genealogy institute in Dublin a few years ago and was told that ‘Irwin’ is not an Irish name, and although having Celtic origins, it is closer to the Welsh ‘Owen’ and the Scottish name ‘Irvine.’ Apparently I’m no more Irish than a giant novelty Guinness hat. As with my German ancestry it doesn’t matter how much pork and potato I eat, or how much beer I drink, it doesn’t count for anything.
At some point during the potato famine from 1845-1852 the Scottish or Welsh conmen masquerading as potato farmers and calling themselves the Irwin’s moved across the water to Manchester, England. They probably spent most of that time building roads and doing other things associated with the Irish of that time just to fit in and keep up the whole ‘being Irish’ charade.
Eventually the family settled in the West Country, which is interesting. Firstly, because there was a lot of potato farming in the area and secondly because it’s very, very close to the Welsh border.
So far it’s all fairly inconclusive; I don’t think I’m any closer to discovering my true heritage. Although I think I have discovered something important about my family DNA…
We’ve moved again, this time to Cambridgeshire. We’re very close to a turnip farm, whilst the house itself was originally built for the farm workers who used to live in the area. A quick look at the history of the property shows that the majority of the families who have lived in this property have been farmers— potato farmers.
The Irwin’s cannot escape the ghosts of their potato farming past.
Conclusion: The only heritage I have is the heritage of potato farming. I am essentially descended from Welsh or Scottish con artists who spent centuries pretending to be Irish, presumably for the pure love of farming potatoes; they only left Ireland when the spuds ran out.
What is my purpose?
I’m interpreting this as my purpose in life— not so much in the sense as why I’m here on this, the third rock from the Sun, drifting in an ape descended civilization that tries to find meaning and purpose from concepts ranging from religion to spider solitaire— more in the sense of which social mechanism I am a cog in. Am I a big cog? Is my cog used often? Will I be a cog that fails to function in old age?
In other words: what profession do I fit into?
Like Randy Bachman I am self-employed, working at nothing all day aside from occasionally attending to business that needs takin’ care of.
Or to put in another way, I’m unemployed.
I prefer ‘between jobs.’
I have done work, but failed to achieve professionalism in most fields. For example my work here and in other publications has never earned me anything but kind words, good will and a paragraph on my C.V. I am not a writer, writing is not my profession— it’s merely a hobby I have like stamp collecting or masturbation.
I used to help out at my mum’s old hardware shop, but only manning the till in times of necessity. My duties earned little more than insincere praise and maybe a biscuit from the back if I was lucky. I also did work experience at a hotel, but as it was work experience it was unpaid. I also walked out after a few days because the manager was a bastard— the hotel would later be featured on TV’s ‘Hotels From Hell.’
However, I did work experience at an estate agency and I got paid for that. It was my job to file new properties and ‘un-file’ old ones. I was pretty good at it, so I was rewarded with a ten pound note.
The only thing I have ever been paid for is stand up comedy.
I haven’t done it in a while, but science clearly says I’m an out of work comedian with a sideline working in real estate.
I wanted to find out who I really was in as I found myself both directionless and at a crossroads. I felt that I could only truly evolve into my true self by knowing who that was.
And it’s been a huge help. The biggest surprise for me was discovering that I was already a professional comedian. I haven’t performed for years, and thought I never would again. Before I undertook this research I’d been thinking about making ‘a comeback’ and with the benefit of this knowledge I can proceed with confidence.
And a lot of comedy comes from identity, and now I can shape my ‘comedic persona’ by drawing on my true self— a thirty-one year old Welsh potato farmer with a taste for trashy ‘80s Europop.
Before this research I only felt like half a man— half directionless young man, half genealogical enigma. In unlocking that enigma I have unlocked the other half of myself; I have unleashed the ‘real me.’
Now, who wants some mashed potato and a joke?