Category Archives: Rants

Indicating (or My Brush With Death on the M621)

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Dear Dangerous Driver,

RE: Indicating

Signals – The Highway Code (UK)

103

Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians, of your intended actions. You should always

  • give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time
  • use them to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or moving off
  • cancel them after use
  • make sure your signals will not confuse others. If, for instance, you want to stop after a side road, do not signal until you are passing the road. If you signal earlier it may give the impression that you intend to turn into the road. Your brake lights will warn traffic behind you that you are slowing down
  • use an arm signal to emphasise or reinforce your signal if necessary. Remember that signalling does not give you priority.

104

You should also

  • watch out for signals given by other road users and proceed only when you are satisfied that it is safe
  • be aware that an indicator on another vehicle may not have been cancelled.

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A Feminist Odyssey… of Sorts

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Greer on a Bike!

A v.broken attempt to explain my relationship with feminism. It’s all over t’shop – I do apologise…

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Chick Flicks are the Root of All Evil

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Exploring yet more ridiculous relationship propaganda in the media… Continue reading

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Love Is…

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Fickle… Continue reading

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Gay Marriage

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Yes, another marriage rant… Continue reading

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Black & White

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Black and White make Grey

The writer of those tedious erotic novels was correct: there are lots of shades of grey. The number, however, I disagree with: there are not just fifty, but infinite shades of grey; a limitless pallet of sludge. There are shades that are a fraction darker than white, an imperceptible shadow on an otherwise pure hue. There are shades that seem as deep and bottomless as the blackest night, but when examined closely show the smallest glimmer of light. Scratch below the surface of any reactive philosophy and you realise that black and white, as simple and appealing as they may be, just don’t exist. There are only shades of grey.

Thinking is hard work. And I don’t mean visualising what you’re going to have for tea or imagining Lindsey Lohan’s tits and Kate Middleton’s arse at the same time; I mean real thinking. The sort of thinking that involves delving deep into your psyche, questioning your own beliefs, giving yourself a hard time about what you believe, why you believe it, why anyone else would be swayed by your argument, what makes your opinion valid. Philosophical musing can lead to considering the vastness of the universe and our own insignificance, the wonder that is nature from birth to cancer cells, our disinclination to consider the “soul” as a collection of electric impulses in the brain, despite the scientific evidence. It can lead you to places you would never have dreamed of going.

It’s emotionally draining to think so hard and acknowledge just how insignificant we and our ideals are; a lot of the time, people don’t bother to question their own life philosophies. Anyone that has, however, will know how rewarding it can be and, equally, how taxing: knowledge and understanding can be as disappointing as it can be enlightening, and once you realise something about the world or your inner consciousness you cannot unrealise it, as it were.

People generally seem happy to wade in the black and white paddling pool, rather than make their way into the murky deep end. Are they happier people? Probably – ignorance is bliss, after all. Why, then, should anyone attempt to leave the chequerboard mentality behind? Because ignorance can also lead to cruel and excessive behaviour towards others.

Baroness Thatcher, Twitter and I

Unfortunately, the people who are of the black and white persuasion also appear to apply the same logic to others. One of the things that really irritate me, when I find myself in debate, is people arguing on the “opposition” who take a point I’ve disagreed with and automatically assume that I mean the absolute reverse of what they’ve said. Recently, I was involved in a heated argument with a woman on twitter who really did not see that what she’d said in the first place was a) Inflammatory, and b) One dimensional. Of course, everyone is entitled to tweet pretty much whatever they want to; however, the woman’s original comment was excruciatingly black and white and exceptionally offensive.

“Some people begrudge the cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. Most likely the same people who smashed up London.”

Which is basically the same as saying: “None of the people who disagree with the amount of money spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral vote Tory, all non-Tories are in the lower classes and all of the lower classes are violent yobs. Ergo, the people who disagree with the funeral costs must be the same people who smashed up London.”

Flawed logic based on sweeping generalisations.

Now, if that tweet had said: “Most likely some of those people are the same people who smashed up London,” then I would have had to agree, although it seems like a bizarre correlation to me. You could also say that it is most likely that some of the people involved in the smashing up of London are also involved with UKip, or dislike Justine Bieber, or eat Subway sandwiches.

Even if I hadn’t been opposed to the sheer amount of money that is to be spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, I would have taken offence to that statement. The implication being that everyone who doesn’t vote Tory and everyone who was negatively affected, directly or indirectly, by Margaret Thatcher’s policies is the sort of person who resorts to the harmful and violent behaviour displayed in the riots in 2010. If she’d really thought about it, the woman in question could have come full circle and realised that, if what she was saying were true, she would be insinuating that Margaret Thatcher was circuitously responsible for the London riots.

Anyway, the tweeting lady, however ill informed, was entitled to say what she thought and I wouldn’t have it any other way, or this country wouldn’t be so great or free. And I was entitled to disagree with her views, not least for being one of the people she was talking about. What I’ve come to realise is that this woman has probably now stuck me in the box with the people who have engendered the current musical status of the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, which is as inequitable as being put in the box with the disillusioned youths who were involved with the riots. I have been judged harshly merely for not agreeing with the funeral costs of a woman who ruined the livelihoods and communities of many members of the working classes. I was also referred to as “hard left*” by this woman, because my disagreeing with Margaret Thatcher’s luxury funeral clearly indicated that I wasn’t a conservative and that meant that I must be totally and utterly against anything conservative ever. Which is also not true. I will probably never vote conservative, and a lot of what the conservative party does and/or says p1sses me off, but I don’t consider myself to be “hard left,” and even if I were “hard left,” that still doesn’t make the conservatives “hard right.” But then again, the boundaries of left and right change with the context in which they’re referred to. Within the moderate margins of our largest parties, I guess I would be “hard left”; yet take into account all other parties and political stances, nationally and internationally, and suddenly, our three major players seem to be just stalking around the middle ground. Which is, incidentally, most definitely where they should be if we are ever to combat terrorism.

Returning to the crux of my Margaret Thatcher tweets: I didn’t agree with all of the Baroness’ policies, and she did a lot of harm. Her funeral will cost a huge amount of money and, while I would never deny anyone a decent burial, I do not think that she was so worthy of so much of the tax payers’ cash when it is the tax payers who were affected by her leadership, and when there are people starving in the world, and when our economy is in such disarray. I’m not here solely to discuss my thoughts on Margaret Thatcher; but what I am trying to get at is that, just because I didn’t feel particularly enamoured with the woman, I don’t immediately head for the other end of the spectrum. I don’t think that she was an evil witch and I don’t think the stupid ditty, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” should be at number one in her dishonour (and not just because it is an infantile mindset that has prompted that to happen), because I understand that she was also a human being trying to do what she thought was best, as most of us are. She was a strong leader, I’ll give her that. Some of her policies were unjust, some weren’t. As a woman, she is someone to aspire to in a sense, although she was no feminist – she didn’t hire women, instead choosing to surround herself with men. She was a strong woman, but she didn’t do anything for the feminist cause. She was neither good nor evil. She was a person and, as such, far too complicated to place on a single black or white square.

Most things are too complex to label, although society does its level best to try in pretty much every regard. Case in point: it has come to light that there are not merely three classes of people in the UK anymore, but seven. I guess this shows some progress in terms of diversity, but it’s still utterly pointless; it’s still a way of marginalising the masses. All this study has shown is that our “classes” and their corresponding stereotypes are far more disparate than the government first anticipated; and instead of doing away with the class system entirely when the government made this shocking discovery, it was decided that we desperately had to add more categories.

One Word to Bind them All

At the arse end of last year, a judge, Peter Bowers, made a comment about burglars being brave for choosing their “professions.” He wasn’t saying that burglars were good people**, he wasn’t saying that burglary is something we should all partake in; he simply meant that to break into someone’s house, risking imprisonment and injury from animals or the residents of said properties, is a courageous thing to do. Some may replace the word “brave” with the word “desperate,” but nonetheless, David Cameron’s reaction was disproportionate. He immediately came out with the counterargument that burglars are cowards.

We associate courage with good things. King Arthur was brave, our lads on the front line are brave, firemen are brave, Batman is brave, Jesus was brave. All these people are connected with “good” things – they’re part of the universal belief that good will triumph over evil. So to call someone that our society considers to be bad “brave” really confused everyone. In those simplistic terms, if brave is good and burglars are bad, then for the judge to call burglars brave must mean that a) He believes burglars to be good people, and b) He is, in fact, bad himself. Boo hiss, let’s all go on a witch hunt. David Cameron either knee jerked to the antonym, or he understood the psyche of the general public enough to know that he had to react to it accordingly to avoid association with the “bad” man himself. I like to think it was the latter; much as I hope I’m never driven to vote for the conservatives, I would still like to think that the man who runs this country is intelligent enough to understand the greys and savvy enough to know how to calm the public response.

The Concept of “Good and Evil” is Fallacy

Recently, I’ve managed to get myself into some debates on religion, in particular the Muslim faith (you may have noticed). My argument, in a nutshell, is that everyone has as much right to be on this planet as everyone else, and has the right to believe what they believe. Since Pakistanis (or English, American, French &c. Muslims with Pakistani ties) are the ones under the cosh at the moment, that is who I find myself arguing on behalf of, which isn’t to say that they aren’t capable of doing it themselves, just that there never happens to be a Muslim around when you need one.

The problem here, is that, because of the black and the white misnomer, I am now to be seen as pro-Islam and, therefore, an enemy of anyone who isn’t Muslim. Except that I’m not pro-Islam at all. I’m no Islamophobe, but I don’t like any religion, really. Grappling with my feminist side to argue on behalf of a religion that oppresses its women so v.badly isn’t easy for me – far from it. My argument isn’t in favour of the religion, but in favour of the people – I have no faith, but I v.much believe in humanitarianism, and as human beings, we must accept that not everyone is the same and that this difference is perfectly sufficient so long as all are in favour of humanity; and with the application of a humanitarian philosophy, we are able to see our similarities with seemingly dissimilar people after all. Unfortunately, the Muslim faith seems to spawn some pretty extreme actions from the radical few, I get this and I get that it could put me in danger. But then again, I am equally as scared of the fascists as I am of the Islamic extremists; more so, in fact. Anyone in a disillusioned enough to position to take a concept and run with it to such an extent has to be, on some level, slightly unhinged.

A lady on twitter tweeted almost exactly the same words I have said time and again:

@Yasira Jaan: Muslims view “Islamic” terrorists the same way most Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.

The problem we have is that some people will automatically associate Muslims with terrorism, whether that’s through general ignorance or a naïve and blind belief in the propaganda that they are exposed to. These people believe that I could not possibly stick up for a group of people without entirely believing in everything they believe, which is preposterous. I would argue wholeheartedly for Catholics, for example, should someone start mouthing off about how they should all go back to Ireland, but I am not Catholic and don’t support the actions of the terrorist group, the IRA. It also doesn’t mean that I agree with Catholicism as a lifestyle, with its inability to grasp the import of pro-abortion laws, or that no sex before marriage jive, or its confessional cleansing.

Funnily enough, one of the many things that I dislike about religion is the way it perpetuates this “good and evil” nonsense. That does not mean that I dislike everyone who has a religion, or anyone who believes in black and white – it just means that I am able to recognise the fact that the black and white doesn’t exist; however dark or light a shade may be. However obvious a solution or the crux of an issue is, I can always see where the lines blur, even if it takes me a while to think about it. And I take solace in knowing that I’m not the only one. The black and white mentality is way too crude a way to view the world, and knowledge and understanding stem from acknowledging the grey roots.

A few months ago, a squash player said to me that some Muslim guys wanted to use the squash club to host a Muslim only squash team. The club refused and the Muslim guys took the matter elsewhere. On hearing this, I said, unthinkingly: “Well, you can’t do that, can you? You can’t expect people to treat you with respect and then refuse to play with people of a different faith.” The man I was talking to then said: “Well, when I asked them why they wanted a Muslim only squash team, they said that it was because squash is a social thing, a hobby that brings people together and they wouldn’t want to all go out to the pub afterwards – they’d want to go for coffee and shisha. It’s as much about the bit after the game as the game itself.” Didn’t I just feel a bit foolish?

Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White (but you can’t be a bit of both)

Another issue that arises, when only considering black and white pieces, is that people are typecast. A person does something “bad” and the bad thing immediately eradicates everything else they’ve ever been.

Harold Shipman will only ever be that bad man who killed old people; the moment he is found out, he is stripped of his lifelong achievements as a doctor; immediately, everyone forgets that his patients absolutely adored him. People start saying things like: “Oh, he seemed like such a nice man. And such a good doctor – we never knew” and they shake their heads as if all that time he was pretending to be a polite GP who was good at his job. Suddenly, he is the devil incarnate. Pure evil. But it’s not true, is it? People don’t like to think of one of the most prolific murderers as anything other than malevolent, but the fact remains that he was actually quite a nice chappy in life. Unfortunately, he also had a side to him that was disturbed enough to create in him relish at the thought of bumping off old ladies merely because he could. He was a murderer, but that’s not all he was.

A single act or belief does not define someone. And acts performed by someone of a particular faith or belief system do not define every member of that faith or belief system.

In 2001, Islamic extremists flew aeroplanes into the twin towers in New York, killing people of various faiths and ethnicities. A terrible act of inhumanity, a dreadful indifference to the sanctity of life – this I am not denying. When people discuss the 9/11 attacks, we refer to the terrorists as “bad” and the victims as “good.” We say things like: “Those poor people” when referring to the victims And, yes, I absolutely believe that nobody should ever die in such a way. But what we never consider is this: of the thousands of people who died that day, how many were paedophiles? How many had stolen something that wasn’t theirs? How many were having affairs? The people who died in the 9/11 attacks were killed unjustly, granted, but just for having been so aren’t necessarily guiltless; in fact you probably couldn’t say that about any of them. Their deaths have become all that they were to the people who didn’t know them.

The acts of the terrorists had wider implications: I’m sure that those people had interests other than blowing up “infidels,” but what they did that day created a butterfly effect. Several crazy Muslims have attacked the western world and in the minds of a lot of people in the western world, that meant that allllll Muslims would at some point want to attack. Fear sees all of us reverting to the basic instincts we try to quell because we know them to be irrational a lot of the time.

But then, it’s hard to not be swept away in the fear when the media uses emotive language (like “terrorism”) and justifies the actions of certain governing bodies. The media has a lot to answer for. Recently I came across a bestselling book on US Amazon – a non-fictional account of Pakistan. Apparently, the Americans loved it – there were five stars flying all round that review page. I checked out the same book on UK Amazon – oh dear. Bad reviews. Suspicious, I dug a little deeper and discovered that the writer of this scathing book had never actually set foot in Pakistan.

When we were at war with Germany, we considered all Germans to be the baddies and when there’s a wall of people advancing on you with heavy artillery and menace driven by a dictator, it’s probably sensible to protect yourself. But that doesn’t stop each individual, soldier of civilian, from also having other characteristics, qualities that we admire. Penelope Lively injected the German soldier in The Darkness Out There with enough individuality to invoke pity in the reader, but not in the character of the WWII survivor.

Nothing but Grey Skies

To say that I believe that a black and white mentality is bad is, in itself, black and white, is it not? Yes, it most certainly is, and if you think, having read the above, that I would ever consider something to be inherently good or bad***, then you have clearly misunderstood my key point. I believe in the greys and I find the greys enlightening. I would defend a black-and-whiter should one be subject to abuse because of their beliefs, but this does not mean that I agree with everything they’re saying. Do you see what I’m saying? I find the inability to find the middle ground, and the inability to gauge the facets of human nature restrictive and one dimensional; I also find it worrying that people could blithely attack others on the premise of good versus evil, which is why I take issue. To believe something is one thing; to act upon it, or allow yourself to be used as a pawn against others in its name is quite another. It’s easier to act on a belief than to question it, but we are, supposedly, an intelligent species. Don’t let the genus down with your inhumanity because you were too lazy to think deeply about your actions.

FOOTNOTES:

*bearing in mind that I absolutely hate extremism, I really don’t think I could ever be “hard” anything

** Although, I am a bit hazy on his reasoning for letting the burglar off.

*** Unless we’re talking wine. Wine = good. Lambrusco = bad. If you ask my tastebuds, that is.

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Irrelevance & Ignorance

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Following on from my rant about the publication that considers itself to report the real news from Dewsbury, I have ended up in several subsequent arguments in the same vein. Which is fine. I want people to voice their opinions – it helps everyone to get it out of their systems and refine their views. But what I find vastly irritating, is that most of the time, the people arguing against me have no reasoning to back up their statements and any information they’re working from has been gleaned from sources exactly like The “Real” Dewsbury News, which tote nothing but anti-Islamic hate propaganda.

Recently, I found myself having debates with people, and not just on the subject of Islam, that have ended with me going: “What the fuck?!” and walking away in sheer frustration. As someone said to me recently: “Even racists should have a voice,” and I concur wholeheartedly. For one thing, voicing racist (or homophobic or misogynistic or transphobic &c.) views will “out” that person as a bigot; it will also allow people to argue on the contrary, which in rare cases may change the mind of said racist; and it poses questions that a non-racist may not have considered, which gives us further understanding of why people feel the need to needlessly hate entire races of people.

And I do want to understand; truly, I do! Most people have reasons for their opinions, and whether that opinion is based on an experience, propaganda, the media or outright fact, it is the product of rational(ish) thought, even if it does belong to someone who is ill informed. And so I don’t just disregard a racist comment – I invite the racist to offer an explanation. And do I ever get one? Do I bollocks! I ask why someone believes what they believe and I get back an entirely new bald statement along similar lines, or I get called a name and sworn at. On the odd occasion that someone has offered further insight, the information I’ve been given has been hazy. I was lucky enough to find myself embroiled in such an argument a few weeks back: what had started as a comment on Facebook about the Lib Dems and had nothing to do with international politics, was suddenly about the EDL – absolutely no reason to bring that up, but the person that did so had obviously been in possession of the irrelevance stick that day. Regardless of how this all came about, I found myself faced with the following:

“There are local councillors in Kirklees who privately support sharia law ffs. If no mainstream politicians will deal with that, then people will turn to those who will.”

To which I said that, if that was the case, then those people (who purportedly support sharia law) should be investigated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this country allows freedom of speech: speech – not actions. People are free to believe and say what they like, but they should absolutely not be allowed to fuck with our basic human rights. We have laws that are put in place for our protection and freedom. I’m not suggesting that we allow the Muslim faith to in any way overtake English culture when I say that Muslims should be treated with as much respect as anyone else. Pakistan is practically a police state because of the beliefs of its government and England does not have the same culture – should never have the same culture. In any case, I’ve spoken to people who have left Pakistan to escape its extreme laws, so I find it hard to believe that every Muslim would like to recreate a UK version of Pakistan.

I’m also not saying that there are no Muslims in the UK with extreme views – I’m certain that there are some who would happily stone every non-Muslim – but we allow Muslims to believe what they want to believe, the same way that we allow Christians to believe what they believe, and the way that we allow Jews to believe what Jews believe, and atheists to not believe what they don’t believe, and the white supremacists to believe what they believe. Again, it is one thing to believe something, but it is quite another to use that belief as an excuse to exercise violence. To think about stoning someone is v.v.different from actually stoning them. To want to beat someone up for being of a different race is v.v.different to actually doing it. We have no thought police and we never should have; so until someone acts, or threatens to act, upon an extreme belief, then no, our current politicians will not step in, because those people have done nothing wrong in terms of the law. How could a politician reasonably hound someone on the off chance that they had a bad thought or three?

But, really, where did the information come from that local MPs agree with Sharia law anyway? Damned if I know. Presumably The “Real” Dewsbury News. I’ll probably never know. And if I’d asked the question, the person on the receiving end of the question would no doubt have said something like: “It’s just a fact. Everyone knows it,” which in my book isn’t enough to condemn a whole section of our society.

Anyway – why I came here today was to dissect the screen shots from my previous post a little further. Mainly because the irrelevance of some of the comments amused me… and the hatred in some of the comments scared and saddened me.

1st Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

To be honest, this isn’t an irrelevant comment. It’s not a well informed comment, but it’s one of the more intelligent responses. Personally, I think that any town would reasonably allow a road closure for an hour to celebrate a religious holiday. Until recently, I lived next to Burley, which has a massive Asian community, and have occasionally waltzed into the midst of some festivity or another.

The road that runs off mine* was closed for a secular street party recently. There was no reason for it; it was just a street party. Muslims and non-Muslims alike would have been welcome.

When I attended a Free Palestine march a while ago, the whole of Leeds city centre was closed to make way.

When the women of England take to the streets in their underwear to march for the right to be able to walk down any street dressed however they like and not be molested, the roads are closed then. The slut walk is something that not everyone understands, but we are allowed to march. That is a show of power: it’s a show of female power; not to say that we are better or plan to overtake the men, but just to make the point that we are strong, we are together, we are free, and we should be allowed as much respect as any man.

That’s not to mention the fun runs that take place all over the country and involve road closures.

2nd Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

And the irrelevance kicks in. What in the name of holy crap does that person’s kids have to do with this subject? I mean, really. Aside from the fact that I know full well that this person celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ not long before this post, there is absolutely no correlation between a religious festival and the fruit of this person’s loins. It’s nice that this person loves their kids… nothing to do with international politics, though. Can you imagine if David Cameron was asked to comment on a particular issue and he said: “Oh, I only care about my kids, really. Why are you doing something that isn’t my about my children?”?!

Road closures. Well, they’re annoying, I admit. They’re annoying regardless of the reason. Having researched the traditional ways in which Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, though, I have discovered that most of them, in fact, don’t celebrate it at all. But those that do mark the occasion with a procession; and, unfortunately, that means that a road was closed for a bit. Read the diversion signs if you need to drive down that particular road and get over it, is all I can say. I suspect that this person didn’t have to drive down that road, in which case it had no bearing on their life.

Show of power? I’m willing to bet that those Muslims couldn’t have given a shit what the non-Muslim community was up to on that particular day. They were celebrating a religious festival in the traditional way. And even if it was a show of power – so what? They closed a street for an hour and it affected next to nobody. Well, that showed you, didn’t it? So did all the millions of articles and photographs that came out of the march. Except that there is nothing about it anywhere (and believe me, I’ve searched). A non-event for non-Muslims – so why all the bloody fuss?

3rd Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Childish and cruel.

4th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Puerile bullshit.

5th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Obviously not. As I have already said: Pakistan is practically a police state. But England allows its people to celebrate whatever they like however they like, as long as they’re breaking no law – pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddists, Clingons and all.

In addition, Christmas is not traditionally celebrated with a procession, so even if a group of Christians was allowed to march down a street in Pakistan at Christmas, that really would be a “show of power”. We celebrate Christmas by gathering our people around us and inebriating ourselves – not by marching.

6th] Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

No, Commenter, it’s a procession! And I’m pretty sure if non-Muslims had shown up at the procession and, in a non-threatening, amicable way, joined in, then the Muslims would have been bemused and confused (possibly initially wary and taken aback), but carried on regardless. And if not, how would this particular commenter have taken it if a Muslim had shown up to join in with carol singing at Christmas? Or if a Muslim had let him/herself in, sat down at the table and started helping him/herself to turkey? Not so well, I’d like to warrant.

7th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

And we’re steaming away with ourselves on the irrelevance front again. I mean what the fuck is this silly bitch on about? Firstly, I’m pretty unclear as to who it is that has disrespected “our troops” (I suspect the Muslims, but I really can’t speculate). Secondly, what would she like to happen to those who “disrespect our troops”? Imprisonment? Castration? Stoning? She is allowed to be disrespectful of others, but believes that nobody should be disrespectful to someone she respects.

In any case those are, again, two completely disparate issues. By troops, I presume she means the British army, and by disrespect, I presume she actually means kill. In which case – it’s a war. You can’t really arrest people for killing people who have come into their country to kill them. Do you see what I’m saying? I don’t like war, but even I understand that!

8th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person has clearly just stubbed their toe or stepped on an upturned plug. I sympathise deeply.

9th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person obviously found a great, steaming turd in their breakfast. Moving on…

10th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Well, that was in response to me saying something about Muslims not giving a crap about non-Muslims on a holy day. Instead of giving me a decent argument, the commenter just thought it best to insult me. I presume that the commenter thought I was going to give up and cry or something. My silly little lady brain sometimes works that way… oh, wait – fuck off! No it doesn’t. If that person genuinely thinks I’m naïve, then that’s fine. But I think it naïve to make an argument with no basis, to believe that every person of any given race is exactly the same, or that every person from any given race only ever thinks about getting rid of people who aren’t of that race. Not every non-Muslim is like you, the same way that not every Muslim is like Osama Bin Laden. The dangerous few spoil it for everyone else and give them a bad name; the beardy-weirdy Islamic extremists spoil it for your average decent Muslim, and the fascist, white supremacist gits spoil it for your average, decent non-Muslim.

11th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Was in response to my saying: “Ooh – there’s a Muslim guy on here. Ask him what it’s all about.”

The words in that paragraph that stand out like a dildo at a tea party are “alleged” and “investigated.” Innocent until proven guilty, my friend.

I’ve already answered this comment in my last post, but what I said was that where there are politics and/or religion, there is corruption. It may not be nice, but there it is.

Rarely do these things pass peacefully? Well, that’s just plain wrong. Not only did that march pass peacefully, there was absolutely no coverage of it and war was not declared on the non-Muslims.

12th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Um… unless there’s something in the Qur’an that I’m missing (I haven’t got round to reading it yet – I’m still working my way through the Bible), I have no idea what this jerk-off is talking about. I suspect that they are pulling the most offensive remark they can think off out of thin air and applying it to the Muslim faith. In which case, the comment is null and void and utterly utterly infantile.

Also, if someone put in an application to have a street party for St. George’s Day, I’m pretty sure it would go through the same channels and wouldn’t be a problem. Like I said: there was a street party on my street recently. For no apparent reason.

13th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

The hate-mongers themselves. If The “Real” Dewsbury News believes that screen shots of what people are saying would be a bad thing, then they know full well that what they publish is there to provoke a bad reaction.

Unfortunately, the majority of the EDL sympathisers appear to be illiterate and uneducated, and the writers of The “Real” Dewsbury News are no more eloquent. So little so, in fact, that any reader is asked to refrain from correcting their English or grammar at risk of being blocked from making further comments. Not education advocates, then.

14th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Aw – commenter sticking up for me. I’ll give that commenter their due – I really appreciated them acknowledging that the censorship was wrong and that it would royally piss me off.

15th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person just awoke with a raging erection following a dream in which a bestockinged Nick Griffin tickled his anus with a long, pink feather. I speculate, but that’s the most obvious scenario I can think of.

16th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Presumably, this person is insinuating that everyone wants the Muslims to leave. As a non-Muslim, I can say that I don’t. Aside from the fact that I have Muslim friends here, there are a lot of Muslims who are English. This is their home – how could we justify sending them elsewhere?

There was no reasoning given for wanting these people to leave the country, but I wasn’t allowed to comment, so I couldn’t ask.

17th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Um… wrong! There would have been a police presence at the Muslim procession, just as there is at other marches. The following pictures are marches and processions that go on all the time… oh wait. I typed “March Dewsbury” into Google and guess what came up… no Muslim marches, but a shit load of EDL related ones! There are a couple of other march pictures thrown in there for good measure.

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   – NHS supporters

1280620067-english-national-alliance-feat-edl-march-london_399685

   – EDL member saluting a la Hitler

1289088543-uaf-march-against-racism-and-islamophobia_499229

   – UAF Anti-fascists

1289088549-uaf-march-against-racism-and-islamophobia_499239

   – UAF anti-fascists

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   – EDL march

BNPcourt1sm2-300x224

   – UAF anti-fascists

EDL March Dewsbury

   – EDL March

this9

   – EDL march

18th Real Dewsbury News Comments

I am a bit baffled. This person appears to be sending a message of love (with fifteen or so kisses) praises the current coalition government and says that “we” (that is to say “us”) are the ones that have it wrong. I don’t actually know whether the “us” is in reference to the people in the conversation or “us” in general… if anyone could shed any light on this, I’d be v.grateful.

19th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Do you know, when I look at that last two march pictures above, when I see people seething with hate like that, people who would harm me for my beliefs and my sexuality (oh yes – they don’t like me for counter-arguing, but they also have something deeper, personal and far more scary against me) I want to attach fucking bayonets and run each and every one through, I really do. But that is a childish knee jerk of mine. Then I calm myself. I think about the fact that a member of my family is, unfortunately, a BNP voter. I think about my cousins and what that person means to them. I realise (because I’m not a fucking nazi wanker) that these people are still just that… people. I calm myself down and I think rationally. I disagree with what they are doing and I have rational thought behind me (which the few of them I’ve spoken to don’t seem to have), but they are entitled, as inhabitants of this country, to voice their opinions too.

What this commenter has failed to do, is get beyond their visceral reaction and question why they feel this way. You know – like a child having a paddy.

20th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Dude – when did they ever claim to be a religion of peace? When did any religion apart from Buddhism? I’m reading the bible cover to cover and all I’m getting from Christianity is wrath. I will read the Qur’an next. Pretty sure it doesn’t say it in there either.

Will you be able to walk with them? Yes. Will you be able to take a Union Jack? No – because the union jack is now associated with the BNP and ethnic cleansing, unfortunately (the Muslims didn’t spoil that – the BNP/NF/EDL did!). Will you be able to take a parachute banner? Um… probably. It would be like taking a “Happy Birthday” banner to Christmas Day, but ok.

21st Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Muslim people have suffered, in the past, horrific abuse from the UK. The Empire. As has the rest of the world. The UK started with the animosity, years ago. We still think we have that power. We don’t. Then Pakistani immigrants came seeking asylum – they were abused for looking different and for believing different things. The next generation of Muslims was brought up here – when they were under attack, they started to fight back. Racial aggression against non-Muslims by Muslims is not acceptable, but neither is aggression against Muslims, and people who gave them a hard time in the past could hardly have expected the Muslims to sit back and be abused.

If a non-muslim tried to march with them, it would all probably be fine, although that non-muslim would be regarded with suspicion. Would they kill you? Maybe, if they had the chance. How many of their family members have been brutally and verbally attacked by white supremacists? What would you do to them if they showed up Christmas day? You start a war, you get a fight back. I’m not saying it’s right, but what the white supremacists do is also not right.

22nd Real Dewsbury News Comments

A profession of immortality. See – these people are children. Full grown children with no cerebral development at all.

23rd Real Dewsbury News Comments

Do you know – I think I’m done.

What I want to say to these people is this: you think you are the goodies and that they are the baddies. Well, we raped that fucking country when we arrived all those years ago – we abused our position and we took what wasn’t ours. There is no such thing as a “goodie” or a “baddie.” There is no black and white; only shades of grey (I hate that bloody woman who wrote those terrible books. She’s totally spoilt that for me). Perhaps you should do some growing up and learn about the world, learn about different cultures and ethnicities before you stomp around with your indignation and hatred aimed at anyone who isn’t exactly like you. We are a teeny, tiny country in a wonderfully diverse world. The beliefs of fascists appear to be unfounded and the reasoning given is irrelevant. If someone can give me a well-rounded argument in favour of racism, I’d love to hear it.

FOOTNOTES

* Park Mount in Kirkstall, Leeds. I can say this now, because I have just upped sticks and shipped myself off to greener pastures.

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The “Real” Dewsbury News

1341073766-english-defence-league-edl-march-through-dewsbury_1307002

Incidentally, the picture associated with this blog is of an EDL march that took place in Dewsbury in June 2012. When I typed “The Real Dewsbury News” into Google, the first two links Google threw back were the twitter account and facebook page of The Real Dewsbury News… the third was the facebook  page associated with the EDL. The picture used by The “Real” Dewsbury News on the article in question can be found at the bottom of this page.

NOTE: As an aside to the contributors and editors of the aforementioned publication, I could have embedded hyperlinks on the big words, since your grasp of the English language is, at best, around the Primary School level, but I just didn’t have time, so I suggest you take your time and purchase a dictionary before you read this. I also note that you are unable to understand grammar, so you just ignore the squiggly lines that sometimes accompany a word and we can cover that another day, yeah? Amusing, is it not dear readers, that these so called writers of the news cannot get to grips with their mother tongue and yet expect us to be dictated to by them on the subject of international politics?

You may be wondering why I am attacking, and rather rudely at that, such an insignificant independent organisation*. The reason is because I am absolutely fucking livid at the authors. It has taken me a week to calm down, although the break has allowed me some reflection and has given me time to resist the urge to simply blurt out something along the lines of: “Boycott The Real Dewsbury News – for it is misinformed, biased sensationalism put about by ignorant, grammatically incorrect cunts!” I wouldn’t want to make such bold, crude statements without qualifying myself and name-calling isn’t going to get us to the root of the problem, now is it? So I will not call them boorish twats and similar vulgarities, for that is mere opinion; but I will say this as fact: they censored me. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

The other day, while blundering around facebook**, I came across what I believed to be a something posted by a friend. I was curious; it appeared that the friend was under the impression that a Muslim holy day was somehow about him. In fact, not just about him: about all of the non-Muslim community in Dewsbury. Which struck me as a rather odd point of view. Why on earth would any Muslim on a holy day give a flying fuck what a non-Muslim was up to? So I commented that Muhammad’s Birthday, for that was the holy day in question, was probably just like Christmas except that they were only closing one road in Dewsbury for a couple of hours rather than taking over every bloody shop on the high street for six weeks. I also made the point that it was unlikely the march down said road in Dewsbury was a direct threat, and was more feasibly an excuse to have a bit of a street party and enjoy whatever respite from work Muslims may be awarded for such celebrations. You know, like we (as in the friend and I) would have done a few weeks earlier with our respective families. On Christmas Eve, for example, were we quaffing beer and mumbling and grumbling in the pub about how we would show those pesky Muslim with our bucks fizz and brightly wrapped gifts? Were we bollocks! We couldn’t have given two shits about what the Muslim community was up to as long as it wasn’t about to start trying to convert us or attempting to harm us in any way. Even less dramatic than not caring: we were completely indifferent to it. And I’m willing to bet that the Muslim community was as equally apathetic about us.

My friend saw it as a march against the non-Muslims, but I could honestly see no reason for that assumption, given that the march wasn’t a march of protest, but a march of faith. He had absolutely nothing but a gut feeling to go on, which I wasn’t prepared to trust as gospel. I like my facts to be cold and steely and hard… and maybe a bit minty.

I was called naïve, which seemed a bit superfluous to the argument and gave me no further insight into why my friend (and, it seemed, quite a few others) believed that the celebration of a Muslim holy day was a direct threat to their safety. I conceded that I might be naïve and that he was entitled to that opinion (not that it had ever been expressed about me before), but then endeavoured to get the conversation back on track. I said that I could possibly be wrong of course, but that it was a bit extreme to assume that we were under attack without further information than: a road in Dewsbury will be closed for a couple of hours for a march. In addition to the march, the road was also closing for waterworks and a 10k race, but that wasn’t at all the focus; apparently fun runners and Yorkshire water are less scary than people with different beliefs.

I informed the group that I worked with some Muslims, considered them friends and was pretty sure they didn’t have any desire to do me ill. I also said that if, when the march ended, war was declared against the non-Muslims then I would most definitely reconsider my stance on the issue; but having nothing to go on other than the bare bones of the thing, I wasn’t about to make scare-mongering assumptions about something of which I knew next to nothing.

Then a brown face appeared next to a comment and I thought: “Huzzah! For we have our v.own Muslim right here to ask. Now we’re cooking with gas.” His comment was simply: “Great day :)”

Immediately, that comment was deleted.

I commented: “Um… you deleted the Asian guy’s comment. Couldn’t you just have asked him what it all means to him?”

The next time I checked back to see what the response was, my comments had gone too, and there was a warning from The “Real” Dewsbury News saying that we had to “keep it clean,” because people were going onto the site to take screen shots of our conversation. I’m still not entirely sure why screen shots would be a problem – I was having a conversation in an open forum, after all. They could screen shot away, as far as I was concerned. In fact, here you are (please note that my comments are no longer there).

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Now, as you are probably aware, I swear like a sodding trooper, and if you have a problem with that, then you can sod off! But, at that moment in time, I was v.calm; I had been on my best behaviour because I hadn’t known the friend with whom I was conversing on the matter v.long, he’s one of my partner’s best friends, and I was genuinely not riled until this point. What I didn’t know until yesterday, was that the The “Real” Dewsbury News contacted this friend in a bid to keep me quite, which enraged me all over again.

I was rather taken aback by my censorship at first. I wondered briefly whether some of the longer words had confused the editors and they’d been under the impression that I was insulting them because they’d been unable to understand plain English.

Of course, this wasn’t the case. I had been excised, as in some Orwellian nightmare. Except that this was a public facebook page in the year 2013; we don’t live in a police state or a dystopian future-world where history is rewritten willy nilly and people are punished for speaking out. I was also blocked from making further comments. So, the comments ran as The “Real” Dewsbury News wanted them to – people winding each other into that mob-mentality because there was no room for mediation or debate. With no alternative way of thinking to diffuse situations like this, people can create a buttress for whatever method of ethnic culling they believe is somehow necessary. Whether you’re fighting others for a religion or a race, it’s all the same – it’s pure hatred channelled into a weak excuse to fight, and the opposition could be anyone. If you’re an angry person and you have to blame others for it, then you will – whether that censure is violent, verbal or internal – and it doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end as long as you can bally well hate them. It’s Pakistani Muslims at the minute; it might be the Chinese next decade, or the Sikhs, or whoever is being surreptitiously portrayed as the “baddie” through certain media vents and channelled into our systems by media osmosis. As in the novel, 1984, the masses are controlled by what they see on a screen – one day being told that they are at war with one country, and the next believing themselves to have always been at war with another. They love Big Brother (they have to love him) and hate Goldstein; daily screaming hatred at the image of this man whom they have never met and have been told to hate. The hatred is no less real for being subliminally implanted in their minds. But I digress; the media portrayals are just one aspect of it. Having one-sided reports and articles on your side only makes you blameless, in your eyes. But in reality it doesn’t make you blameless: it makes you blind and obtuse, and your subconscious should keep you awake at night.

Now, I had had an inkling, because I wasn’t born yesterday, that this paper may have a bias towards the white majority. It does, after all, advertise itself as the paper for the English community of Dewsbury (I believe that they specifically meant the white English community, given that we have rather a lot of English Muslims in this day and age). I had also had a hunch that what I was saying wasn’t going to be particularly popular. But, as I said: nothing I wrote was offensive; it was clean, succinct and open minded. I can’t prove it to you because I was deleted, but you can make your own mind up – I’m not the one trying to quash the opinions of others. In addition, nothing that I wrote was pro-Islam. It certainly wasn’t anti-Islam, but all I had actually asked was why the people making comments had seen fit to go into panic mode about something that would be over and done with in a couple of hours and would only affect them if they happened to be driving down that particular street at that particular time and didn’t have the brain capacity to take an alternative route.

The friend went on to say, because funnily enough he hadn’t been blocked, that he wouldn’t have asked the Muslim guy (also blocked) what the holy day meant to him because of all the corruption in the Islamic faith. Which was also a bizarre thing to say, because unless he knew something that I didn’t about the Asian guy who made the comment, then that Asian guy was just an average bloke. And unless you’re someone way up at the crooked top, you are also the victim of corrupt society. We all are. Show me organised religion and / or politics and I’ll show you corruption.

Oh, you want examples? Ok:

1. Catholic Church. The pope covered up the fact that several hundred priests had been tearing little boys’ arseholes apart. Are you going to tar everyone of the Catholic faith with that brush? Vast swathes of the Irish are Catholic, for a start, so if you applied the same logic that these troglodytes apply to Muslims, the implication would be that Ireland is populated by nonces because some sick fuck kept his gob shut instead of doing the decent thing.

2. The Media. Phone hacking.

3. Church of England. Do I even need to start? A religion that was pushed to the forefront so that some fat, horny king could divorce his older wife and fuck a younger one.

4. The Conservative Party. Sir Peter Viggers spent taxpayers’ money on a duck house not so long ago. I’ve never been a fan of the conservatives, but I’m not going to immediately spurn someone just for voting for the right wing prats. I’m pretty sure some of my friends vote conservative; we may be on disparate sides of the middle, but I love my friends all the same.

5. The Labour Party. Received a million pound donation from the Formula One driver, Bernie Eccleston, then the Labour government changed its policy to allow Formula One to continue being sponsored by tobacco producers. The money was sheepishly returned when all this was found out. I know that at least one of my friends is all about Labour, and she’s as straight up as they come. Just because she votes Labour does not make her approve of the sleaze aspect, and it certainly doesn’t make her sleazy herself.

The average person cannot be judged on the scumminess of those who represent the culture in which they live, because that average person hates the corruption as much as the people outside of that society. I’m willing to bet that your average, hard-working, decent Muslim detests the extreme beardy-weirdies giving them a bad name as much as your average, hard-working, decent non-Muslim hates the violent, extreme opinions of the intellectually repressed. Or as much as your average feminist resents the extreme opinions of a woman who calls herself a feminist merely because she hates men (which, incidentally, makes her just as bad as any woman-hating man and makes feminism look like a hate crime). Or your average, hard-working Brit who likes a drink, but abhors the pissed-up groups of hooligans that stalk the city streets at night terrorising others. And just as your average, civilised Catholic finds the acts of the IRA insufferable.

Muslims don’t kill people – extremists do. An extremist in any regard is a scary person, because an extremist believes that there is one way of life and that that way is their way and if you don’t agree, if you are not exactly like them, they will harm you whether you impinge upon their existence or not. The IRA and Al Qaeda are official terrorist groups that would, given the chance, silence everyone who doesn’t hold the same values. The BNP is a terrorist group posing as a political party (believe me: I have known some BNP voters and what they like to do for fun) and if placed in a position of power would happily go to work to create a police state.

Muslims are not just Muslims; they’re people: they are fathers and mothers and artists and comedians and fashion victims and depressives and optimists and so many other things besides. I am an atheist, but I am not just an atheist. I am working class, but I am not just working class. I am a feminist, but I am not just a feminist. Nobody is ever defined by one belief or act.

One of the Muslim girls I work with has the most amazing, dry sense of humour imaginable; she cracks me up whenever I talk to her. She is also exceptionally intelligent, quick-witted and beautiful.

One of my Muslim mates will shag anything in a skirt and has a backlog of anecdotes that could entertain you for hours. Every single time he comes back from visiting family in Pakistan, he is interrogated in the airport and worries because he has to say he’s going to Leeds… “I was like: ‘Ohhhhhh fuck: it’s where the suicide bombers were from’.” He was the one to stand up to a colleague who thrust his face into the breasts of another colleague at the Christmas party and expertly diffuse the situation without causing violence or embarrassment. He is a wicked cricketer and footballer and will do anything for anyone.

Another Muslim colleague of mine will not use his real name and goes by a western one instead. He is the laddiest lad I’ve ever met, which irritates the life out of me, but he’s only young, bless his cottons. He gets wasted, he throws himself around dance floors, he bangs on about which chicks he wants to bone, he does everything he can to fit in with western society. And yet a few months ago, on a night out in London with mates he had his head kicked in by a gang of yobs. He has had extensive corrective surgery on his face and needs to go back for more, and there was a v.strong possibility that he would lose the sight in one eye, which, thankfully, has returned. He is twenty two years old.

I have to mention, having gleaned more info this v.day, that the lad in the above scenario is actually Hindi. I did think it was odd that a guy with Indian parents would be Muslim, but since you do get a few Muslims in India, I didn’t really question it. However, I doubt the fact that he is a Hindu would stop a white supremacist from beating ten shades of shit out of him.

Here’s the rub: I am not pro-Islam. I am not in favour of any religion***. I don’t like the racism that religion breeds, or the misogyny, or the cliques, or the general bigotry and hatred. But I do not think that anyone should be persecuted for having a religion. As long as you’re doing others no harm and not foisting it on me, you can go ahead and believe in your imaginary friends and everything that pertains thereto. Knock yourself out. I won’t be bothering you about your beliefs as long as you don’t bother me with them. You can reiki the shit out of yourself, if you like, just as long as you don’t intend to hurt anyone with it. You just pop your homeopathic cure into your mouth and feel better for it, if it works for you; it doesn’t work for me, but who am I to judge? Confess every time you have a bad thought, if you must, but don’t expect judgement from me. Don’t want to eat bacon because you believe it to be dirty? All the more of the yummy pig-meat for me. I confess that I’m tremendously upset by automatic genital mutilation to male (and particularly female) children, but if you must, do not touch me or mine†.

There are, of course, cultural differences that need to be addressed. As in the case of Adil Rashid, the eighteen year old who was recently allowed a reprieve from a prison sentence because he “didn’t know it was illegal to have sex with a thirteen year old girl.” He had been taught that women had “no more worth than a lollipop dropped on the ground” in a strict Islamic school. Naturally, this gets my goat. I don’t like that it happens in other countries, but I am v.lucky to live in this country, where women are allowed their freedom and basic human rights… now. So when that sort of thing happens here, it enrages me that it was allowed to happen. I absolutely agree that Muslim parents should have the right to bring their kids up as Muslim themselves, but those kids should also be taught to conform to British basic human laws and to understand the worth that the British law places on our women (even if it is severely lacking in some regards). It is the responsibility of our school boards to ensure that our schools teach children appropriately, and it is the responsibility of Muslim parents and Imams to ensure that their children obey the rules of this country if they are to reside here. It is also the responsibility of the immigration officials to make sure that people taught abroad understand our laws and ethics before allowing them into the country. I’m not talking about us being pussies here; I’m not saying that England should be a free-for-all playground for people to use and abuse; I’m just suggesting that we conduct ourselves with decorum and compassion, like the civilised people we should all be.

Currently, the Muslim integration into British society is not without its pitfalls: the frequency of trafficking of white girls by groups of Muslim men, for example, which has recently come to light. I heard a young, English Muslim speaking on Radio 4 recently who said that the opinion amongst some of the older Muslims is that “white women are asking to be raped” where the majority of the younger Muslims don’t believe this at all. This put me in mind of our older generations who verbally persecute someone for being black or gay or female or Asian, and constantly rile the younger generations with their prejudice; like I said, Muslims are just human beings like any other when it boils down to it. To have the discriminatory opinion is intolerant; but it is one thing to believe something and quite another to act upon it. As with the issue of the equality of women: it is not yet ideal, but it is slowly improving all the time, generation upon generation. The traffickers in question should be severely punished. All human traffickers should be severely punished, and now that it has come to light, it is up to the decent members of society, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to prevent this from ever happening again by teaching children from a young age how to act accordingly.

But back to the spark that conjured my wrath. Editor of The “Real” Dewsbury News facebook page – you silence anyone who questions you wherever you can and I can only assume that your ideology would be a police state run by your most like-minded and blondest friends. But we have freedom of speech and equal rights here, and those are among the many things that make this country great. It goes hand in hand with our ability to adapt, our humanity and our multiculturalism. It’s the backward ignoramuses that slow our cerebral evolution as a society that scare me more than anything. With your childishly simplistic, black and white views on which you will allow no further comment or no room for improvement you are inciting hatred, and that makes you no better than the Islamic extremists who hate you. And dude – Dewsbury is the home of hundreds of Muslims, so to exclude their voices from your articles makes The “Real” Dewsbury News, not really real in any regard.

EPILOGUE

Do you know, I wrote a little song the other day. I feel that song coming on now, although I know it to be clichéd… ahem ahem…

 

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…

… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!

 

Oh, I beg your pardon – that came from out of the blue.

Guys, I implore you to comment on what I’ve written. I appreciate that I may have allowed some grammatical or lexical errors to leak through, in which case please do let me know so that I can learn from, or learn of, the mistake and correct it.

Please do let me know if there is any aspect that you agree or disagree with. In the same vein as my typing skills, my opinions are not complete because I have in no way stopped growing and learning, or honing my views. I hope I never lose the ability to consider a contrary argument, appreciate it and perhaps, after careful consideration, absorb some of its elements. But be aware that simple name-calling will just mean that I ignore the comment… not delete it because I am not a total fucking moronic bell-end.

I hope that I haven’t offended anyone (who isn’t the editor, contributor or writer of The “Real” Dewsbury News) – my comments on religion should be taken with a pinch of salt††. I have no faith, but I appreciate that others do and I appreciate the importance of those beliefs to the faithful.

Did you say encore? Yes, it is a catchy tune, isn’t it? Ok then… ahem ahem…

 

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…

… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!

FOOTNOTES

* I may be wrong, but in the short time since being made aware of the existence of The Real Dewsbury News, I have been unable to find a hard copy of the “newspaper.” I believe it to be web-based only, although I do apologise profusely if I am mistaken. I didn’t realise just how insignificant this publication was either until I began to do some digging, but I’ve started now, so I’ll finish.

** Bloody facebook!

*** Except maybe Hindu because if you’re going to make some stories up about some magic people in the sky, they may as well have eight arms! That’s one amazingly imaginative religion. In the Hindu religion, a cow gave birth to the world. A cow! I love it! I honestly love it. I have also adored every single Hindu I’ve ever met, although I haven’t met many, I grant you. Lovely, gentle people, as far as I’m aware. I could be wrong, but I like to think not.

† Or I will rip your fucking heart out!

†† Apart from my comments about the pope, because, as Tim Minchin says: “… the fact remains that if you protect a single kiddie fucker / Then pope or prince or plumber, you’re a fucking motherfucker.” But then that is a comment on the individual, not on every catholic. In the same way that I believe Osama Bin Laden to be (to have been?) a total goddamn cock of the highest order, but don’t believe that of all Muslims.

196348_503907296318649_1895986437_n

The picture that accompanied the article in question. I’m pretty sure that’s not Dewsbury either. I actually couldn’t find any pictures at all of the march in Dewsbury in respect of Muhammad’s birthday.

On the other hand, this is another picture of an EDL march in Dewsbury…

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Oh, and another. Classy…!

1341073792-english-defence-league-edl-march-through-dewsbury_1306944

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Porn & Prejudice

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I don’t care whether you’re a wanker or a liar (because you’re either one or the other), if you’re old enough to be reading this blog, you will at some point have downed trou and flicked the bean, bashed the bishop, beaten the meat, done the five finger shuffle, bludgeoned the beef steak, jacked off, buffed the muffin, milked the cow, burped the worm, or whatever term you choose to use whilst in the throes of abusing yourself. Men and women alike do this and, as has already been proven (and as we already know, if we’re being honest with ourselves), women are as stimulated by erotica as men. So why are there so few female porn flick directors?

I get v.upset by the men in porn. So much so that I haven’t watched a straight porno in going on seven years. Straight porn movies seem to revolve around the amount of aggression that can be poured into the sexual act. The aesthetics of the men in porn don’t do it for me, for a start: lumpy with muscle, greased, hairless, clumsy, with massive cocks that they thrust into the dry, unwelcoming hole on offer. The noises emitted by the false-breasted, orange-skinned, heavily made-up women start the instant they’re penetrated, in whatever sense, and don’t stop until the man has reached his climax. And, let me tell you, if a woman’s making those noises so soon into the act and for so long, you’re either hurting her or she’s faking it.

But, that’s something else: nobody seems to care whether the woman is enjoying herself; you couldn’t even say that anyone’s convinced by the false cries, the: “Oh, yeah, oh baby, oh my gosh* yeah…” It could be that I am a particularly ineloquent lay: I may be able to break concentration enough to manage a garbled: “Gonna come,” but I generally don’t bother, because I’m too busy. I’m too busy thinking about me and what I’m getting from it all to be concerned about how I look or what I sound like. Of course, if my partner intimated that they weren’t enjoying what I was enjoying, I would change tack, because I want them to have as good a time as I. But that’s something else – the people in your average porn film couldn’t give two shits about the person they’re with. I’m not expecting love or gushing romantic declarations, for God’s sake (we’re talking about sex here), but I would like, just for once, for those people to engage with one another. I want an element of respect and enjoyment.

So, let’s say, I’ve found some lesbian porn on Red Tube and I settle myself down in front of my incognito window:-

Step One: I wait for it to load, I hit play, I hear cheesy music, which I’m going to try to ignore, there are two women on the screen… and then I hear a man’s voice. There’s my hardon gone. May as well go and have a piece of toast and watch another episode of Poirot – there’s no way I’m going to be able to get my freak on now. Even if these women were gay, which I seriously doubt, they’re having to perform to a man’s tune. Not sexy.

Step Two: I study the women. They’re sitting on a leather sofa, and they’re both a strange shade of orange with lashings of heavy make-up, dressed in tight mini-skirts, with spiked, clear heels and tube tops. I’m already losing momentum. Girls emulating Jordan, who, bless her silly little cottons, never really did it for me.

Step Three: I manage to get over the first hurdles and the girls undress. Oh dear, holy fuck! One of them has clearly had a breast enlargement that will undoubtedly cause her back problems, and they both sport totally bald frufrus with non-existent labia. I could believe it if just one of them had the mini-lips – it’s not so common in nature, but it does sometimes happen – but the fact that they’re clones of each other down there smacks of vaginal surgery and this makes me seething angry.

Step Four: they haven’t taken the ridiculous shoes off and it doesn’t look like they’re about to.

Step Five: they start kissing… or something. It looks like it’s vastly unpleasant – they flap their lipsticked mouths around each other passionlessly, often missing the mouth and smearing spit on chins and cheeks. It’s probably because they’re not paying attention to each other or connecting – they’re looking at the man behind the camera, and the look on their faces is part sham lust and part enquiry. At what appears to be a remark from the cameraman, the one with the more natural looking breasts shoots out a hand and abrasively pinches one of the silicone mounds attached to her colleague’s chest. I wince in sympathy. A similar thing happened to me once when I was thirteen and snogging behind the drama studio. It was vastly unpleasant, but at least my voluminous checked shirt and baggy black fantasy T-shirt protected me from the full impact of bony fingers.

Step Six: one of them (the one with the falseys) suddenly lies down and whips her legs akimbo to give us the full on impact of the depilated wonder at the top of her thighs. She is not aroused. You would have to be an idiot to not know that – I’m not even sure you’d have ever needed to see an aroused woman to know that. Her bajingo looks like a sad chicken wing.

Step Seven: the other woman moves towards the chicken wing with a look of grim determination; she reaches out and prods it with a long, acrylic nail… whoa whoa whoa. Now, I was starting to suspect (just a teeeeeeeeeeeny weeeeeeeeny bit) that these girls were not actually gay; just a hunch, not that I like to judge on appearance alone. But this just about makes me choke with laughter. There is a reason gay and bisexual women don’t have long nails… and if you don’t know that reason, then you are clearly not a gay or bisexual woman.

Step Eight: on prodding it, the be-taloned one realises that it’s going to be difficult to get the enormous dildo, which is lying conveniently on the coffee table, into the chicken wing because the other party is not even remotely turned on, so she gobs on it and gives it a nice, affectionate slap to boot. If I had managed to get to this point in proceedings in a real situation, which I doubt, I would be now shouting: “Oh come on! Give me a break!”

Step Nine: the gobber reaches out and rubs the chicken wing in a bizarre way that makes me wonder if she thinks a genie is about to pop out of it, at which point, the gobbed on woman starts writhing and moaning loudly. Then with a look of obvious distaste, the gobber stops rubbing and advances on the chicken wing with her shiny, fuchsia mouth. Between the two “acts,” there is no contact at all between the two women, but the woman on her back still moans away (?). There is some funky nonsense with the dildo, which is grotesquely big and, despite spit, the woman doing the work is struggling to insert it into the chicken wing. She even tries to look like she’s enjoying sucking the rubber implement (which she can’t get into her mouth) before trying again (woman on back is still groaning away) and finally manages to get it to look like it’s doing something, although I suspect it’s just balanced.

Step Ten: three forceful and graceless licks later, the woman on her back starts making even louder noises and so does the woman licking (??) before the woman on her back, who is completely unflushed and composed, stares deep into the eyes of the camera, licks her lips, roughly grabs one of her giant breasts and licks that for good measure, then gives a bizarre scream, seizes the head of the gobber, pulls her up towards her and kisses her in a similar fashion to Step.

Then they both stare at the camera licking their lips and the picture fades out.

I do not have enough time to go through what is wrong here – if you don’t know then you need some lessons in sex and the sensuality. I watched from beginning to end with gruesome fascination. This is where the next generation of young men are getting their ideas about sex, women, the human anatomy and lesbianism. And, presumably, that counts for young women too. This is one of the reasons, despite the work of many feminists, that we are still expected to have long, bleached hair and huge tits, why we’re all supposed to have washboard stomachs and small fanny lips and great, big, bleached colonically cleansed arseholes, and no hair anywhere except on our heads (and heaven forbid that a woman may have any hair whatsoever on her face). This is why some men have no concept of how long it takes a woman to actually come, and why they think that lesbians and bisexuals are just doing it for the male attention***. And it’s why women who don’t come in thirty seconds feel like there’s something wrong with them.

Suffice it to say that the above video did absolutely nothing for me, and not just because surrounding the screen were adverts depicting women being raped by men, of women being raped by CGI monsters, and a girl who, apparently, lived in my area was naked, wanted sex and kept calling me “big boy…” although these things were most definitely off-putting.

More women need to get involved with the porn industry. There is no stopping pornography – not that I’d want to – it’s huge and lucrative, and as long as the human race is alive and masturbating there will be a market for it. But it is a man’s business at the minute and that’s not on, if you ask me. Especially when to allow it to be purely a man’s world leads to lack of information, lack of choice and a growing pressure for women to conform, not just in looks but in bed – I hate that we’re all supposed to look a certain way, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let what someone else thinks of me ruin my sex life. We’ve hardly come a long way, us womenfolk, if we’re still expected to make the right noises so that a man feels good about himself in the sack to the detriment of our own pleasure.

I want to watch a video where each party is having as much fun as the other. I also want these images of women effectively being raped to be banned. There’s a difference between a rape fantasy that is a fantasy for each, and the public rape of a woman because she needs to pay the bills and feels she can’t refuse. I have seen some horrific videos – they’re not simulations; we’re talking hardcore pornography here – of women having huge cocks forced into their mouths while they sob, of men thrusting fists** into women’s bleached anuses while they scream. These videos actually make me blanch. And before anyone says it: NO! They are not enjoying it. It’s their job to pretend they’re enjoying it so that you can get off, but it is clearly not the case and you, as the consumer of such videos, know this, but try to justify it to yourself by making out that you’re doing these women a favour by giving them an outlet.

There’s an aggression that goes with the porn industry that I hate. Yes, sex is an animal act, and in being so, somewhat aggressive, but there is a sort of blind hatred towards women in porn. I can’t remember the exact title of the film I’ve mentioned above, but it was something like “Dykes in Heat Suck Dripping Twat.” Nice. And categorically inaccurate. I’ve also come across “Hot Slots,” “Bitches with Fingers in All Holes,” “Hard Clits and Soggy Twats” and “Interracial Sluts Don’t Need Dick.”

I’m sure there is some good stuff out there (occasionally, I find some and breathe a sigh of relief), but there most certainly isn’t enough. I’m not averse to Abbey Winters, and Liz Thomas seems to have done some ok stuff, although I’m not convinced it’s not a man working under a pseudonym. Some of the amateur stuff is ok, but come on people: I want the choice of watching some real sex with real people directed by real women, for God’s sake. You know – women with flaps and normal coloured skin and breasts that jiggle and fall into their armpits when they lie down because that’s what breasts do (and they’re no less beautiful for it). I want those women to direct other women with the same attributes. I want a female director to insist that all parties climax before they stop filming, and actually climax; truly climax; gurn and go pink in the face and say any stupid thing that pops into their heads at that moment in time like people actually do when they orgasm.

What I want, is real gay women who want to have sex in front of a camera and who want everyone involved to be having a good time. I want real straight sex where the women call the shots fifty percent of the time (and not in a fetishist way, which is the only time that ever happens at the minute) and actually orgasm; real orgasms; orgasms you can see as well as hear. There would be far less taboo about the smutty world of porn if women were as equally involved in its creation, and equally as expected to watch.

In addition, I have spoken to some of the men in my life on this subject, and they have all said something similar to me. I mean, they’re hardly going to admit that they regularly fantasise about rape, are they? but they all genuinely seemed to be put off by the falsity of most pornography. In fact, all of them said the same thing at some point in the conversation…

                                                                           … It’s too fake!

FOOTNOTES:

* This is generally your American porn star that chooses to “gosh” rather than “God.” Amusing, is it not, that the next words out of her mouth to the stranger with whom she’s engaging in sexual relations may be: “Fuck me harder,” but that to blaspheme would really not be on?

** And while we’re on the subject of fisting, most men think that it involves punching a woman in the cervix. Boys – don’t do this or it will also involve you being punched in the face.

*** “I think what a woman like you needs, is a man like me to straighten you out…” this was, I think, the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard a man say on the subject of bisexuality. I presume he was expecting a lip pouting in response and some over the top innuendo before he received a blow job for being “clever” enough to crack the Bisexual Code.

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The Shouters

chuggers1

I have developed a technique; it’s brusque* and there is only one situation in which I’m comfortable executing it, but it is effective. It goes like this:

“Hand up, palm out in front of my face as if I’m about to say: “Talk to the hand, bitch!” I yell “NO!”

Now, I suggest that, before you read further, you practice this in front of a mirror – just to get the full impact of what it means.

Do you understand what it means? Good. Then I shall begin.

NO! NO! is what it means. And it is reserved solely for people who interrupt my lunch break. Not just any people, mind you; if someone at work came over to me on my lunch break and asked me something, I would swallow my irritation and answer with gusto; if someone on the street came up to me on my lunch break and asked for directions, I would happily send them packing in the wrong direction**; but if anyone approached me on my lunch break proffering a clipboard, or a religious leaflet, or a flyer, or a bloody collection tin, they would (and often do) most definitely get NO!-ed.

I attempted to shop today. I don’t often; I hate shopping in every regard – the heat, the lights, the smells, the endless racks of identical clothes, the continual stream of ignorant fucks, the soul-sapping ugliness of chain stores – but I wanted a nice, fluffy winter jumper and, although every sinew of my anatomy was screaming in protest at the thought of even going into Debenhams, let alone trying things on and queuing to pay, I decided I would just have a quick sweep of the ladieswear and then peg it back to my desk to read my book for half an hour. There was no sweeping. Pegging? Not a chance. Because en route to Debenhams, I was accosted a sum total of five times. That might not sound like a lot, but then consider that on the way back, trying to avoid the twats who had waylaid me on the way there, I was confronted six more times, and two of those times were by people who had accosted me originally. Re-accosting gits.

The first of these people was a homeless man*** who was sitting by a cash machine. Forgive me, for I have never been homeless and v.much hope that I will never be homeless, but cash machines don’t, have never will never, dispense change. So to ask a person who has just drawn a ten pound note out of a cash machine for coinage, as if by dint of the fact that they’ve just shown the colour of their money in one form will automatically mean that they have other money of a less foldy variety, seems ludicrous. Perhaps it is merely that people have their wallets out at this point, but I still resent being made to feel like a selfish bitch for taking my own money out of a cash machine and not giving it to the homeless when I’m on a lunch break from the job that consumes most of my life (thus preventing me from completing commissions faster), but which I must do to pay the bills. I sympathise if that man is truly homeless. But I am perpetually skint and the £32 I spent on a jumper should really have been spent on whittling down some more of my crippling debt, not on clothing me or feeding the needy. So I said: “No – sorry” and he said: “Have a nice day, love.” in a contemptuous tone that made me momentarily lose any shred of compassion. This man, I didn’t NO! because I had initially thought that it would be cruel, but in my moment of aversion, I fervently wished that I had done.

Accosting the first. Done.

The second of these people was also standing near the cash machine and as I passed she tried to force a flyer into my hand for which I had no use. Said flyer was for the Park Row Brasserie bar and was an advert for BOGOF cocktails. Even if the thought of flinging back two cosmos before going back to the office had appealed to me (and, to be honest, it really did attract me more than the thought of whatever merry hell Debenhams had to offer), I wouldn’t need the flyer to do so – the flyer would have been pointless – the flyer had no bearing on whether I could march into the Park Row Brasserie and order two piña coladas for the price of one – the flyer was merely alerting me to the fact. And I already knew that because I’ve been in that bar and tried to use the flyer as a voucher in the past and been told that I didn’t need it. And even if that hadn’t been the case, I would have managed to glean this information from the discarded flyers that littered the ground around this girl’s feet. I NO!-ed her. She looked a bit shocked, as did I fleetingly, as I realised, arm outstretching to show my palm, that I’d misjudged my distance from her and knew that it was too late to stop it. Luckily, I managed to not make contact, all was well and I grumped off over the road.

Accosting the second. Fini.

The third of these people was someone who seemed to think that a man I’ve never met, called Jesus, still loved me despite my sins. I thought that this was highly presumptuous on the part of both the accoster and this Jesus dude, but I managed to deter him with a well placed NO! and was on my way before he had recovered enough composure to start bellowing at everyone else who was walking past that Jesus passionately loved his flock… polygamy and bestiality are surely sins. No wonder he forgave me mine.

Accosting the third. Bosh.

Next up was a woman with a clip board, a bright red T-shirt and an irritatingly cheery voice who bounded up to me and asked me for money. I declined with a NO! But this time, I was thwarted and, as I walked off, the woman dashed around me to explain that I was mistaken and did want to give her some money after all. Why would I not? It was for a good cause. I bellowed a NO! again and walked away, but she did still insist on prancing after me for a good few metres and her shouts continued to accompany me almost to Debenhams’ glass doors.

Now, I didn’t always roar at the bearers of clipboards. I was never interested in what they had to say, and I was never going to donate to their cause because I am everlastingly brassic and because I donate to charities on a regular basis, but I used to try to explain. I used to say things like: “Oh, but I already give to charity every month” and they would say nonsensical things back like: “Well, that means you’re a nice person – you definitely want to donate to Save the Cows because we’re a similar charity to… what was it you donated to? Oh, yes – I mean, we’re just like the NSPCC, really, if you think about it.” I also tried the: “I really have no money – sorry” to which I often received the response: “But just £3 a month could buy a dyslexia victim five reams of yellow paper… You must be able to spare a measly £3.” Well, no, actually! Not on top of the £3 I give to the NSPCC (which is an organisation that thoroughly fucks me off, incidentally. I’m pretty sure the money I’ve given to the NSPCC over the years has been spent on free pens, cold calling, adverts that make me want to vomit at their triteness and clipboards), the £2 I give to the Brittle Bone Foundation, the £5 I give to CLIC Sargent and the monthly donations I make to whatever charity we’re touting in the office at any given moment. I’d stop those payments too, because I can’t really afford them, but you can’t cancel donations to charity… you just can’t, can you?

Accosting the fourth. Booyah!

Just before I reached the shiny doors of Debenhams, beyond which shimmered potions and lotions that seemed to promise me eternal life, happiness and exquisite beauty for a reasonable sum of my hard earned cash, a man stepped in front of me and whistled like a bird. I frowned at him and attempted to walk around him, but he once more stepped in front of me and whistled like a bird. I stopped and looked up at him with a slightly bemused look on my face (he was v.tall and I was wearing trainers and was thus rather shorter than he.) He wiggled his eyebrows. I harrumphed and was about to try to pass him a third time when he pulled something from his mouth and offered it to me. I looked up at him again, blankly.

“You make the noise, yes?” he said in the ever cheerful accent that is typical of all Nigerians.

“Um… no, no, I’m ok for the moment,” I said, coming over all what-ho. “But thank you v.much for the offer.”

Again, the man thrust his little whistle at me.

“Is wuan pund ant fifty pence,” he said, flashing me a winning smile.

“Yes, yes,” said I. “I’m sure it’s v.reasonable. But I’m not sure that I need one right now, thanks all the same.”

The Nigerian man smiled and wiggled his eyebrows again.

“For pretty girl like you, we make it wuan pund.”

“Oh,” I said, burning inside with discomfit. “That is most awfully kind of you. It is v.jolly, isn’t it? But I’m afraid I just want a jumper at the moment.”

The man, who was beginning to look a little downcast, perked right up.

“You want jomper?”

“I’ve seen one already,” I rushed. “It’s…” I started to move towards the shiny doors of false hope. “It’s in here. Thank you. I’m sure your jumpers are lovely. Thank you. Maybe next time. Thank you. Thank… thank you.”

I pushed passed him and threw myself into the heat of the department store.

Accosting the fifth. Meh. Next time, I will NO! anyone who whistles at me like a bird, but that scenario had never presented itself to me before and my eternal politeness kicked in before I’d had time to think. As an eternally polite person, I once listened to a couple of Jehovah’s witnesses who’d knocked on the door while I was at home recuperating after an operation. I stood, in agony due to nature of said operation, with a polite look on my face, bare-footed and frozen until eventually, I said:

“I say,” slight nervous cough. “It is awfully kind of you to try to save me and it’s been ever so interesting, but you see… well, would you mind if I went back inside now? It just that my feet are rather chilly and I’m pretty sure some of my stitches have come loose.”

So there I was in Debenhams, attempting to unwind from my bizarre bird-whistling experience under harsh electric lighting, jostled around by consumers and unable to breathe. I have always wondered what would happen if someone inadvertently lit up a fag on the ground floor in Debenhams. There appear to be many flammable things on the ground floor in Debenhams, you see. The air, for a start: I swear that the chemical formula for the atmosphere for your average Debenhams is H2O-C2H5OH. Then there are the assistants, who appear to be made of some form of plasticine, or perhaps wax; whatever their physical compound, I’m willing to bet that anything that shade of orange has to be highly combustible. Presumably, these aliens are employed specifically for the ground floor because they are the only creatures who can breathe the atmosphere for hours at a time. And let’s not forget the millions upon millions of sharply pungent perfumes, some of which clearly have a base scent of Sex Panther. No, Debenhams is a ticking time bomb of doom, if you ask me.

“Carrot?” asked an orange assistant with spectacularly messy black hair.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, trying not to breathe too deeply or stare too intensely at her matted locks.

“Diamonds Black Carat. The new fragrance by Armani,” she held up a bottle, which did look surprisingly like the Sex Panther bottle.

“Oh for God’s sake!” I bellowed, perhaps a little too loudly. “Can’t I just buy a sodding jumper without having to go through all this shit?!”

The girl jumped and moved away, confused, but not upset as far as I could see. Accosting the sixth.

Suffice it to say that I did not get a jumper in Debenhams. I went to the correct floor, I walked around it once, I walked around it twice trying to find the downwards-bearing escalator, I walked around a third time with panic beginning to set in and then I left, livid and rather frightened that I would never breathe the clean air of an inner city again. On the way back, I was accosted by another charity, this time a young man wearing blue; the same charity (same bloody girl); a leaflet giver who wouldn’t take NO! for an answer; a man who wanted me to join Leeds’ cheapest gym and who didn’t believe that I didn’t want to sign up even though I had run eight miles that morning, walked three, would walk another three and would finish the day with some ab’ work and circuit training; a Big Issue man dressed like some sort of zany clown; and the same homeless man, who had moved to a different cash machine.

I ordered a jumper online from the safety of my desk and lamented the moment when I decided that in-the-flesh-shopping sounded like a blast.

This sort of invasion of privacy has now become the norm, it would seem. So, my NO! and accompanying hand movement may seem rude, but is it really as rude as, say, someone trying to foist upon me some outdated religion when they know not a single thing about me? Is it as rude as someone insinuating that I have all the money in the world and have v.selfishly decided to keep it for myself? Is it as rude as someone whistling at me like a bird and then handing me something that they’ve just taken out of their mouth?

Too right, it isn’t. It ain’t rude enough! Maybe one day I’ll evolve to a more eloquent “GET FUCKED MOTHERFUCKER!” but that seems like an awful lot of syllables to waste on someone of such ilk.

FOOTNOTES:

* Downright rude, actually

** Not because I’m mean, but because I have absolutely no sense of direction.

*** Stand by for my tale of how I ran into a homeless man I see regularly when he was on a night out in town one weekend

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Fuckwits

Oh, my blogs have suffered. Suffered, they have! This is because I have been v.v.busy with my novel [yawns nonchalantly], which I have now completed the first draft of and am currently taking a break from before I steam in and edit like a bastard.

So, the blogs, they are back. And now I’m going to repeat myself, as I so often do in the real world. What I want to talk to you about is numpties. Some of you long-standing readers… well, reader*… may remember that, several years ago, I wrote a blog post about numpties and why they get on my tits – I made some good points and offered advice on how one should act when out and about in public. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually seem to get through to a single numpty, and they’re all out there getting right up my nose as usual.

This re-blog has been born of a single incident, which happened earlier this week, and which left me reeling somewhat: I was kicked. I was kicked hard. I was kicked hard by a girl who was walking towards me whilst I was walking in a straight line – I knew that she was there because I could see her out of the corner of my eye. As said girl approached, I also realised, because I have these amazing things called peripherals and I know how to use them (unlike most people, it would seem), that I was walking fast enough for her to safely walk behind me several feet away. So, imagine my surprise when I felt something hard and cold hit the delicate bones across the top of my left foot – I was wearing five inch heels at the time, which meant that my left foot was swept from under me and the stiletto hit the top of my right foot removing a good chunk of skin and laddering my beautiful seamed stockings. I tottered, but managed to keep my balance. There was a pause as I considered what had just happened and quite how. Then I realised that this person had, surely, kicked me on purpose. There was no way around it. I straightened from my stopping-myself-from-falling-but-still-looking-like-a-prat stoop and turned, only to find that the girl in question was eyeballing me with a look of abject hatred plastered across her miserable face. Then she was gone, vanished into the warmth of Pret a Manger on Commercial Street. Feeling slightly stupid to be goggling at a sandwich shop with a “what the fuck” look on my face, I began to walk, slower this time, as thoughts whirled around my head. Why would someone deliberately go out of their way to kick me? The only rational reason I could come up with was that the lady in question was actually the ex-wife of my ex-partner. I had only seen this girl’s face for a second, but she had the same colouring, and I never actually met my ex-partner’s ex-wife, so I only have memories of photos I saw ages ago to go on; she’s not someone who ever crosses my mind any more either, so it really could have been her. The thought rallied me somewhat: at least there was a rationale behind the act, albeit a rather childish and flawed one.

So I e-mailed the ex when I got back to my desk:

From: Emily Dewsnap
Sent: 22 October 2012 13:53
To: The Ex
Subject: Quick Q.

Hello,

How are you?

This may sound like a bizarre question, but is your ex-wife in Leeds?

Emily Dewsnap

Telephone +44 (0)113 123 4567

That Place

On That Road

Leeds

Fax +44 (0)113 123 4567

emily.dewsnap@thatplace.com

http://www.thatplace.com

Please consider the environment before printing this email

__________________________________________________________________________

From: The Ex
Sent: 23 October 2012 14:00
To: Emily Dewsnap
Subject: RE: Quick Q.

All good with me apart from a bloody migraine!

How’s life with you?

I’m not aware of my ex-wife being in Leeds. Have you seen her?

Take care

The Ex

___________________________________________________________________

I may have changed some details, but not the essence. This disturbed me. Chances are that this wasn’t the ex-wife. So, someone in Leeds, who I don’t know, maliciously, and with intent to kill** tripped me in the street for absolutely no reason. We are obviously dealing with a whole new breed of fuckwit!

Now, had I been thinking clearly, I would have stomped into Pret, located the girl and asked: “What in the name of holy shit was that in aid of?” but I didn’t. I went back to my desk and sulked, like every normal twenty nine year old. Shoulda woulda coulda – hindsight’s a bitch.

but this isn’t blog fini – no no; I am just getting started. Because I am so sick and tiredof having to navigate around arseholes and yet still being on the receiving end of so much venom.

Not so long ago, I realised that when someone crashes rudely into me and I apologise, they don’t apologise back. Being English, the word “sorry” can have various meanings in my vocabulary. When someone crashes impolitely into me, my urge to smile and apologise has nothing to do with my lamenting the fact that I was in their way when they were too bone idle to look where they were going, and has everything to do with the fact that this was possibly an accident that everyone has engendered at some point in their lives; the breathy, friendly “sorry” I emit in these circumstances is merely a way of saying: “That was silly, but don’t worry about it – I’m ready to hear your apology and then we can both get on with whatever task it was that caused me to be in the place you wanted to be in and caused you to not check that that place wasn’t occupied before you blundered into it.”

I think it was after I roared: “I think you mean sorry, yes?!” to a random man who had pushed me off the pavement into the path of a speeding bus because he hadn’t been bothered to move over on the otherwise empty pavement to walk around me, that I realised the apology on my part was pointless. From this particular man, I was expecting the reaction I would have given (not that pushing people is the sort of thing I routinely do) had I managed to not notice that I was pushing someone into the road and then not noticed that the person had spoken to me the first time – if it had been me, I’d have blustered a bit, gone pink in the face with shame and said: “Oh, I’m so sorry. Honestly, I was miles away. Are you ok?” What he actually did was turn round, flash me a derisive look and flick me the Vs. Yep – he SWORE at me!

So, I no longer apologise when people crash into me. I just look them dead in the eye*** and wait for my apology. And it never comes. What the hell is wrong with people?

I commute to work on foot. It’s a three mile walk from my door to the office and I do it in thirty to thirty-five minutes, which should give you an idea of how fast I walk. Every single day, I encounter the same problem (sometimes with the same people): I walk down the edge of the pavement so that if anyone wants to get past, they can do, and so that if I need to get past anyone, I’m politely on the outside of them, shielding them from traffic, not slipping up the inside and making them feel like I’m on the verge of launching them into the road. If I spy someone up ahead who is also walking on the outer edge of the pavement, I move to the inside as soon as I see them. The problem with this is that other people don’t seem to look. Ever. I can change from one side of the pavement and back again numerous times as the person zigzags towards me and still not be noticed until the v.last second. In this v.last second, whether the person has weaved around on the pavement on their journey towards me or not, the other walker will, inevitably, decide that they want to be on the side of the pavement that I’m on and then glare at me for being in their way. WHAT is wrong with people?

The other regular occurrence is when a group of people walking towards me notice me and then eyeball me confrontationally until the point where they reach me. I will then be ejected from the pavement whilst members of said group of people glower at me  like I’ve just shat in their breakfasts. Again: what is WRONG with people? They seem to get this right with lampposts, though. In fact, anything that  isn’t me, the fuckwits walk around. In both of those scenarios I have just presented, there is no way those people wouldn’t have moved if I had been a lamppost. Although walking into me is probably less painful than walking into a lamppost on account of all the padding, I am still v.much a solid object. And a solid object that’s going to get rather cross if I’m pushed into the road into oncoming traffic.

Poverty Wagon Fuckwits

Then there are the bus zombies who spill out over the pavement near the bus stops and don’t appear to see you or give a flying fuck that they’ve completely blocked the way for any passersby, simply because they can’t be arsed, or are too bloody thick, to stand in a neat line. Bizarrely, people waiting at bus stops seem to also be stone deaf, which means that issuing a courteous “excuse me” will just get you stared at. Perhaps the mere courteousness itself is what baffles this particular fuckwit. Barging through everyone is the only option, although, woe-betide anyone who encounters a gaggle of fuckwits attempting to board a bus; no matter how obvious it is that
you have no desire to get on their bus, the fuckwits will still think that if they let you through, you will queue jump for the hell of it, and the only option is to wait until every last one has gone before you can even contemplate restarting your journey.

Poverty wagon fuckwits can get you in two ways. The other is when you’re approaching one who’s standing at the back edge of the pavement waiting for a bus. It is a guarantee that if you are running or walking towards them, they will wait until you are almost upon them before they stick their hand out and leap to the edge of the pavement. Even if the bus isn’t actually coming, you can see them shuffling their feet in anticipation. Presumably, they think that the brisk pace you’re keeping will dissipate as soon as you reach them and that you’re goal is to stand directly in from of them, thus preventing them from flagging down their bus.

Supermarket Zombie Fuckwits

I hate food shopping. I thoroughly detest it. I don’t mean nice food shopping; I don’t mean the sort of shopping that involves stalls of handmade cheeses and home cured meats, handcrafted wines and piles of olives, honey made by real beekeepers and fudge so sweet it takes the roof of your mouth off. I’m talking about the mundane supermarket sweep. I never do a weekly shop; I take little trips during the week to the market, which is enjoyable, and Morrisons, which isn’t. There is a special kind of stupid that encompasses Morrisons shoppers. Because I grab bits and pieces here and there, I never need a trolley and just want to dash in and out as quickly as I can. But I can’t dash anywhere in Morrisons, because there are people who have trolleys and clearly haven’t a clue how to drive them, so they temporarily abandon them to lie right across isles whilst they stare blankly at two versions of the same product, bewilderment clouding their already dense-looking faces. If you attempt to move the trolleys to get past, however, they leap at you like you’ve just tried to actively mug them in broad daylight.

The other thing that happens with trolleys is that, if the trolley driver wants to go first, they will just do it without looking to see if there is room, or to check that they aren’t getting in anyone’s way. I have stood, on many an occasion, trapped in an aisle whilst people drift slowly by in a daze, goggling in amazement at the wondrous display of commercialism that adorns the shelves, completely oblivious to my fractious presence. I stand quietly and wait until I can escape, for which I receive no thanks, although I do occasionally get a funny look, which is nice. How do these people cope with each other? The only person they seem to have a problem with is me and all I want to do is get as far away from them and their mind-boggling stupidity as is humanly possible.

Fuckwits with Sproggers

Children are flighty little fuckers. They run and pretend to be aeroplanes and hide in super-small places and slip through the grasp of adults like quicksilver. I tell you what, though – if I had ever behaved the way some of the children I encounter behave, the mater would have had my guts for garters. Well, maybe not quite, but if people were walking towards us on the pavement, she would always bark: “Single file, Em’!” and I’d be thrust in front of her to make way. If I had ever run into an adult’s legs as a child, she would have called me back and made me apologise. She taught me to pay attention to what was going on around me so that I would always be gracious. Why the fuck can’t other parents manage this? The amount of sprogs who have rammed into me, smacked me with light sabres, shut doors on me, sprayed me with fizzy pop, screamed down my ears is unbelievable. I don’t look to the child for an apology – I’m not that sanguine – instead I look at the offending sprogger’s owner. But like all other fuckwits, they look at me with enormous distaste, as if I am clearly just attempting to touch their child, in true Jimmy Saville stylee, by deigning to be in its warpath.

I worked briefly at New Look (which was a thoroughly soul-destroying experience in itself) in Wakefield and was once treated to a loud barrage of swearing by a woman who was attempting to make her three v.bored, screaming children shut the fuck up while she did her shopping. All of them were face down on the floor banging their feet and shrieking like foxes in heat and, eventually, she turned to me and said: “You know, people look at you like you’re shit. They look at you like your kids’ behaviour is your own fault.” After this appalling statement, she whipped the two smaller children off the floor, scooped one under her arm, took the other by the hand and with the free hand grasped the ankle of the remaining child’s leg before flouncing out in a cloud of noise.

Station Fuckwits

The train station at Leeds is the bane of my life. Never has a city centre railway station been so poorly designed. The boards that announce the train times are straight after the barrier onto the platforms, meaning that if I need to run for a train I can’t, because once through the barriers, everyone halts in their tracks to read the board and thus obstruct the path of anyone in a rush.

And that’s another thing! What’s with the barriers at Leeds train station? They are the slowest, most unreliable, most ineffectual barriers I’ve ever come across. People from London who visit must think that those barriers are some sort of practical joke. Can you imagine the outrage if the ticket barriers in London took twenty seconds to creep open? And I don’t even want to think about the resulting bile that would ensue if fifty percent of the time, the barriers regurgitated the ticket that someone had just slotted in and remained steadfastly closed. Of course, it doesn’t help that a frightening amount of people get to the ticket machine, then search for their ticket and, once ticket has been located, stare at it, then at the machine as if wondering what the deuce it’s all about, until with painful sluggishness they attempt to put their ticket into the ticket sized slot, just in case that’s what it’s for. When the doors open, theses types appear to be so surprised that they are frozen to the spot for an inordinate amount of time before exiting the platform.

It’s the pre 9am-ers that really get me, though. I think we can all agree that the majority of people travelling at that time in the morning are heading for work. So why are they all so slow? I wouldn’t mind so much if the train reached the station with plenty of time to spare – I could understand if the train I chose to board in the morning was even just the one before the one I actually catch if, for whatever reason, I choose not to walk in. But I’m not known for my timekeeping and I go for a train that gets me into Leeds for around 8:53am, which means that I need to hotfoot it to get in for 9am on the dot. Except that I can’t. Unless I manage to leap off the train before anyone else and get away, I get stuck behind a huge gaggle of meandering fucks who walk at snail’s pace. Despite the fact that they all adopt the same snail’s pace, they still manage to spread across the entire width of the platform, meaning that I can’t pass them. If I do manage to pass them, I am generally thrown a dirty look. If I try to pass them on the platform edge, I end up being nearly catapulted onto the track (with the customary dirty look, of course). I mean, what are these people doing? They’re going to work and, presumably, they want to be on time. You would have to work at the station to be on time at that pace. But even if these people are unable to walk any faster, must they really occupy the entire platform? They’re wide platforms – you wouldn’t even have to go single file!

And don’t even get me started on the wankers who put their bags on seats on trains so that nobody can sit next to them. Nobody wants to sit next to anyone they don’t know, but, unfortunately, trains aren’t long enough to accommodate a single seat per commuter and I will be damned if I’m standing because you’re a selfish twat!

Numpties at the Lights

Anyone who’s ever been to Leeds and tried to cross the road at the front of the station will know that the green man at the crossing is always a long time coming (he’s a meandering fuck of a green man), and the rush hour traffic is usually coming so thick and fast, and with such aggression, that to dive across before the appearance of the green man is tantamount to suicide. And yet, every morning, there is a group of people who stand at the lights and don’t press the button. Because they’re fucking stupid! There is no other explanation.

Human Traffic

With city centres being as busy as they are, especially at lunchtime during the week, everyone should have their wits about them. I particularly hate it when I’m walking past a shop and someone emerges from it right into me. I really don’t see how this is my fault. This is possibly the reason that there are so many ridiculously bad drivers on the road – if you can’t be bothered looking before you pull out, you are going to crash at some point. The same goes for people changing direction suddenly and people walking towards you. If you can see someone who’s walking in profile to you and the direction that you want to walk in takes you into the side of them… maybe don’t walk into them. And most definitely do not kick them!

It’s manners, awareness and common sense! That’s what really fucks me off. Why can’t people have some sodding manners? And why do people expect someone else to sort everything out? Things like pushing a button, or removing a bag from a seat, or making one’s offspring shut the fuck up, or not walking into people – it’s not difficult. People, really – pay attention to what’s going on around you; you don’t have to engage in conversation with strangers (you don’t have to even smile at strangers, although it would make the world a nicer place) but just think about what you’re doing. Use your peripherals for a start. Being a musician who’s played with orchestras,
I admit that I have an advantage in this regard – but it makes life so much easier that I can see things coming from all angles and move out of the way. So you’ve never used them – that does not mean you can’t start. But most of all: just be polite about things. And never ever kick me in the foot when I’m minding my own business, because the next time it happens, I’m going to approach the perpetrator and tip the potato and baked beans I’m carrying all over them.

FOOTNOTES:

* Hello Mum!

** You should have seen the look on this girl’s face

*** People don’t like being looked at dead in the eye – it unnerves them because they think you’re clearly some sort of pervert who wants to shit on their chests, otherwise why would you be looking at them?

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Childcare & the Stay-At-Home Mother

Fairly recently, the lovely El Kitten and I went for cocktails and, not having seen each other for a couple of months, a lot of chatting. At the time, I was midway through posting my marriage rants and, El being married to the wonderful Mike Infinitum, we conversationally veered in that direction. We don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the subject of marriage, although I have to admit that El’s wedding was a small, intimate, rockabilly affair with the most amazing red 1950s swing dress, and balloons and table spreads by yours truly*. Her relationship with her husband is as fabulous as it was on their wedding day and that’s plain for all to see… so why, I repeat why, does everyone now feel the need to pressurise them for children? Can society not leave them be to enjoy each other and do as they please? If they don’t want kids, they don’t want them. If they do decide that they want kids, what the hell has that to do with anyone else?!

Although I myself am not averse to the idea of sproggers – somewhere in a future so distant I still refer to it as “when I grow up**” – what happens if you are married and are destined to be child free? Obviously, not having succumbed to the marriage palaver myself, questions about when I’m going to have kids are few and far between, so it wasn’t something that had occurred to me until rabbiting away with the kitten over a well made Kajuma***. That society puts people under pressure in any regard is unpleasant enough, and I can’t say that the children thing has ever really bothered me, but on the back of the conversation I had with El, in which she was incensed about the brazen lack of privacy of people, she sent me the following article…

http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/1-wives-are-helping-kill-feminism-and-make-the-war-on-women-possible/258431/

I love it. I love it so much, I tweeted it. Of course, I upset some people. So what else is new? Twitter is a fantastic place to find events, share the love, promote your work and begin debates, but it is not a good forum for holding said debates. 140 characters a well thought out interjection does not make. The thing that enraged one particular lady was the suggestion that a stay at home mum was wrong to not work… a statement I never made and don’t necessarily agree with.

I admit that I am slightly biased in this regard, though. It was drummed into me from an early age that I would get a job and from that moment on would never be out of work, whether I stayed in that same job or found another. Ma Mum worked full time as I was growing up and because of this I feel that I developed a fierce independence and that I appreciate her presence so much more as an adult. So, though I try to fight it, my initial reaction on learning that someone doesn’t work (whether with or without sproggers) is always to pull a scornful face, which is unfortunate and makes me look like a bit of a judgemental twat. I realise that this is my own programming and that it’s not necessarily the correct response, but I do my best to overcome it. Anyway, my parents worked hard and, later on, my mother single-handedly sent me to university, a working-class, single parent. The thing is that, although ma Mum may have wanted to stay at home with me when I was a kid, we just couldn’t afford for her to be out of work. So, immediately, there is the question of cash, which was the other enraged tweeter’s bugbear. If ma Mum hadn’t worked full time for so long, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to move out when my parents split up because she would have lost her independence entirely by being out of work; and I’m sure it goes without saying that ma Mum is as independent, if not more so, than I am. She also wouldn’t have been able to help me through university, though I worked full time in a shop and temped in offices during the Uni holidays for the most part. The thing with becoming dependent upon someone else is that, should it end (and I know nobody wants to think about the end when they’re happy and settled, but it would be naïve not to consider the possibility), you have no way of getting out.

I once lived with a partner myself and, although there was no chance of me becoming a housewife, I had a hard time affording the move to leave anyway. Moving into rented accommodation requires a stupidly expensive admin’ fee, a month and a half’s rent as bond and a month’s rent in advance. You’re talking a sum of at least £1,000 before you’ve ever even really begun (and I’m talking about the cost up north). It kept me trapped in an unhappy relationship for a lot longer than I wanted to be. So much so that the thought of not having had the small amount of money I did have makes me quite panicky to this day. My credit card got a serious bashing that year.

There’s no getting away from the impact that staying at home will have on your finances, your employability and your self-sufficiency. However you look at it, caring for your children and cleaning your house is not a job in the strictest sense of the word. I’m not suggesting that either of these things is easy or pleasurable, but they are chores that anyone with children has to partake of when they’re not working, even if the only time they’re not working is in the evenings. In fact, cleaning your own home is something everyone who can’t afford to hire a cleaner has to do, children or no, although I can see that having children would make the job infinitely more tedious. The stay-at-home Mum simply has more time to do these tasks. I cannot imagine a world where I would have  to ask someone for money when I wanted to buy something, whether a necessity or a treat; to lose my independence, my contribution to the household would make me feel castrated and vulnerable. You are incredibly lucky if your household income is such that you are comfortably able to stop work, but if something should happen way down the line, how would you, personally, be able to cope with the blow without some of your own monetary security behind you? The financial argument is not the only one I wish to make on this subject, but money does, unfortunately, play a vital part in our lives and it affects many things. Money is power and freedom, whether we like it or not.

To subsidise my freelance art business, I have an admin’ job, which until recently was based in the pensions industry. I didn’t much care for it – the position required a high level of numerical accuracy, which for someone who suffers from dyscalculia is rather difficult to achieve. Putting maths aside^, one of the most distasteful elements of the job was processing divorce cases, especially ones where an ex-spouse would end up with half of their ex’s pension. This used to do a proper rage on me. In one particular incident, a well paid man had built up a fantastic nest egg of a final salary pension… after his divorce, he was entitled to only 20% of it while his wife walked away with a whopping 80%. Now, I don’t know what happened in that relationship – the man may have sexually abused his ex-wife and beaten her to a pulp every night, in which case, the bastard should definitely pay… but not with his pension. Your pension should be sacred – it’s possibly the only sensible thing some of us do, not that my pension will be anything to write home about. Your pension is your reward for giving up some of your hard-earned cash in the hope that you will live long enough to see it pay out in the future – it is yours because you earned it yourself and if, when it pays out, you wish to share it with someone, then so be it, but you shouldn’t have to share it before it pays out or give some away under duress. To build up a huge pension is really really tough and comes from years of hard graft, and even then what most people end up with is pitiable. So this couple both decided that one of them would work and the other stay at home and they both knew that there was some risk, however small and unlikely it seemed at the time, that they wouldn’t spend the rest of their lives together. I’m telling you what, though, this man didn’t know that his ex-wife would be able to get her hands on his pension. It was all news to him. Gutted doesn’t quite describe how he was when we broke the news, a faceless administrator on the other end of a telephone call.

Being at home all day is a luxury most people can’t afford; it may not be a constant holiday, but you have a hell of a lot more freedom. You don’t qualify for a pension of any description if you’ve never worked, but then, and this is a biggy: you’ve never had to work! The people you’re looking after are the people you chose to give birth to and be responsible for, and the house you’re cleaning is your own, so you can hardly expect to be paid for it – a lot of people clean their houses and work full time. Of course, I am simply talking about people who can work but choose not to, not people who cannot get a job because of ill health or sheer bad luck. Being out of work is stressful if it isn’t a choice.

A friend of mine recently became a stay at home dad. This friend is a v.unusual creature in that he has no qualms about what people think of him – he has no stupidly macho ideals. He loves and wants to take care of his son and, because of the rising cost of childcare, it made sense for him to give up his job and become a full time parent. It is not more ok for a father to do this than it is for a mother to do this, and it is in no way wrong that my male mate wants to do this, but what is disconcerting is the fact that he is as vastly outnumbered in his new role as women are in positions of power. There are still a large number of women who acknowledge childbirth as the end of their autonomy and their careers and yet don’t see a problem with that. It’s almost as if they’ve been waiting for it to happen and so didn’t think to seriously build a life of their own. As it happens, this friend of mine (I shall forthwith call him Grouse Hunter [GH] for comedic value that none but the friend in question will understand) happens to be married to a woman with a great career. As the cost of the childcare was about what he took home, it made sense for GH to stop working; GH’s son has someone with a vested interest in his overall wellbeing to look after him and the income didn’t change too drastically. This is a rare case scenario. Most men earn more than their spouses and whether that’s to do with unequal pay in the workplace, or whether men are more driven to build a career it is still a feminist issue. Inbuilt attitudes are every bit as powerful as physical actualities and they are something we can change if we work together to instil better principles in the children of today. Before they grow into people who think that men make money and women clean and care for babies.

Most men have the inbuilt attitude (yes still!) that if someone is to give up their career for a life of childcare and housework, it should not be them. In fact, most men won’t even question it. For a start, that’s a bit “gay” isn’t it? Housework and babies are women’s issues, and all that. Regardless of what your average man would say to a woman, there is still a residue of sexism coating their thought processes. A lot of men (please note that I’m not saying “all men”) would be unhappy to earn less than their spouse, let alone allow them complete control of the household finances, as if the v.fact would make their balls shrink. We can’t blame these men entirely for this – it’s the way they’ve been brought up to believe the world works. Admittedly, those who have managed to ignore every feminist rant going must either be v.ignorant or frightfully obtuse, but then a lot of people don’t think too deeply about certain things because they’re still under the illusion that it’s “just the way things are” and it’s never occurred to them that it could be, or should be, any other way.

Most women are given toy dollies as children. Most men aren’t. Women have babies and look after those babies – it’s their raison d’etre, is it not? At least, that’s what we’re brought up to believe. The fact that most stay-at-home parents are mothers means that little boys and little girls learn early on in life that women look after children and men have careers and win the bread. Most nursery nurses are women, so this has the same effect. It’s something that is as ingrained in society as the fairytale wedding. True, if a woman is breastfeeding, she could do with having the babbit in front of her, but then if that is the only reason that so many women are child-looker-after-ers, what are breast pumps for? And breastfeeding doesn’t last forever. If a couple decides to have a baby, both people in that couple should be equally responsible for its upkeep; it shouldn’t be a case of mother looks after the kids because she was the one who gave birth , father brings home the cash and plays with the kids occasionally because fathers are breadwinners.

A savvy employer will look after his staff in order to get the best work out of them and inspire some respect. Mothers get maternity leave to recuperate after pushing something the size of a melon out of something the size of a pencil lead, and these days fathers are granted two weeks paternity leave, which is a start in the bid to encourage men to get more involved with their offspring. But I have overheard my employer say before: “I’m not hiring any more women of child-bearing age – they just get pregnant, get their maternity pay and then leave!” Which both incensed and intrigued me: I am of child-bearing age and even if I were to have a child in the near future^^, I certainly wouldn’t leave because of it. The implication of what my boss had said being that all women will either become full time mothers or drop their hours down to work part time if they have a child… or that all women of child-bearing age clearly want children. But then, given how many women have left the office or dropped their hours down for just such reason, part of me doesn’t blame him. If I was an employer, knowing as I do that society insists on women of a certain age becoming broody and having the urge to give up their own income, I probably would hire more men. More men work full time than women. Men generally earn more than women. Men tend to be the people at the top of the business food-chain, as they are in government. Men are the majority that run the world, and why wouldn’t they be when we women don’t do anything to oppose them? When we happily sit back and allow them to run the show whilst we nurture the next generation of misdirected people? If we want things to ever improve, we need to get some women into positions of power and to change the way people perceive the sexes. We need to get an equal amount of stay-at-home Dads as stay-at-home Mums, if there is to be a parent to stay at home at all. If my employer considers women in their 20s and 30s as a flight risk, then others must consider them so; but if more Dads stayed at home, the position would become equally as risky to hire men, or less risky to hire women; whichever way you look at it, it’s an improvement.

If you don’t believe that men prevail in positions of power, try this: Inga Muscio, in her wonderful book, Cunt, suggested that you walk around your flat/house/caravan/wigwam and pop a gold sticker on everything you own that was invented or created by a woman. Then go out and invest in some things that were invented/created by a woman. When your place of residence has as many gold stickers as not, then we’ve cracked it.

I realise that decent childcare plays a large part of the decision for one parent to stay at home – I was v.lucky in that my Grandmother was willing (for a cost) to take care of me in the school holidays and after school until my mother could collect me. As that was several moons ago, the cost of having your child kept alive whilst you are at work has exploded to ridiculous heights and there should definitely be an overhaul of childcare costs in some way – especially when it’s a necessity that children are looked after and looked after well. Clichéd as it sounds, children are the future and should be taught well and brought up healthily, because when Alzheimer’s beckons us, we want some bright young thing to have made a significant scientific breakthrough in the quest for a cure, even if the end product is nowhere in sight. We want to cark it knowing that the world is in safe hands. And it all starts with those noisy, runny little fuckers that charge about in nappies and put sticky hand prints on everything. Unfortunately, I have no idea what would have to happen in the world for there to be affordable and yet excellent childcare… mainly because I don’t have children and haven’t become involved in the nursery game yet. But if one of the reasons women become stay-at-home mothers is down to childcare costs and poor childcare, when in actual fact they want to work, then I think something needs to be done about it.

But childcare is something of a tangent. The fact remains that far more women choose the stay at home option over men, leaving more men in full time jobs and high positions. And the crux of the matter is that while this is the case, feminism still has cause to burn.

As an aside, I’d be willing to bet that GH’s son will be as well-balanced, successful and beautiful as his parents, with GH and Wife of GH to guide him through the misogynistic pitfalls every step of the way. See, “AC/DC kid” – not even a year old and people are writing about you!

FOOTNOTES:

* We ran out of helium mid-balloon blowing and there was a mad rush before the ceremony as we sent out to Clintons.

** I recently met a great lady who, despite being a successful civil engineer, still refers to the future in the same way. I’m taking this as a sign that I am not alone.

*** A Kajuma is a cocktail served at Browns in Leeds. I fell in love with this little, deep-red drink. So I
googled it and came up with kajuma.wordpress.com… spooky stuff.

^ And aside I’d be happy to leave it for the duration of my life

^^ Don’t panic – I’m being hypothetical!

RECOMMENDED WATCHING:

Mona Lisa Smile

An Education

The Stepford Wives (of course) (the proper one, not that shite with Nicole Kidman)

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The Importance of Being Emyroo

The other day, curious as to the sort of search term that could drive traffic to my blog, after finding the search term “etiquette of handshaking for men and women” in my stats, I typed Emyroo into google. Now, I know that user names get poached and reused and the like, but it still did a proper rage on me to see that there were other people claiming to be Emyroo. Back when I registered my googlemail and twitter accounts, I remember being enraged that I couldn’t be Emyroo then too. I had to settle for my Burlesque name, EmyLaRoux*. There may be more Emily Dewsnaps in the world, although there can’t be so many with a name like that, but how could there POSSIBLY be any more Emyroos? Emyroo was the name my mother gave to me when I was teeny tiny. My mother, to whom I am v.close and hold v.dear, is called Ruth. My middle name is Ruth. Emyroo is a combination of phonetics; of the smushing of those two names together – technically, it should be Emiru, but that’s not what my mother chose as her pet name for me. My mother called me Emyroo… so who are all these other buggers who claim to be Emyroo? Unless their middle names are Ruth and their first names Emily… or Emma… or Emlyn (boys name so unlikely to be Emlyn Ruth) and unless their mothers nicknamed them Emyroo whilst they were toddling around in nappies, then I don’t see how these imposters have come across my personal private personal pet name other than on the web. I’m beginning to regret putting my private personal private moniker out there for all to see and abuse. I feel like my mother gave me a present that I loved so much I showed it to everyone and because somebody else wanted it, they bloody well nicked it! I remember something similar happening in the playground with a stuffed hippo cuddly toy in reception year at primary school. It’s totally not cricket, if you ask me.

No I don’t think I’m sodding well overreacting! How dare you suggest such a thing!

So, fake Emyroos of the world… who the hell do you think you are?! Can’t think up your own virtual names, ey eyyyyy?

FOOTNOTES:

* Next someone will have nicked that one too. EmyLaRoux… Emyroo the Red, as I like to think of it. For being Emyroo and having red hair! Yes, there’s a damn good reason I’m called that, not just because I thought it sounded pretty, nor because I haven’t the imagination to think up my own usernames.

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Love & Marriage in Modern Society ~ Part V

NO SEX AFTER MARRIAGE

One of the things I constantly hear from certain of my married friends and acquaintances is that they never get “any.” Indeed, the first website to show on Google when I typed in “No sex” was divorcebusting.com. I am told that nothing kills a libido like marriage, which is enough to put me off without all the other reasons I’ve just mentioned. I don’t know exactly why this is the case… but I can have a few damn good guesses.

          Desire & Disgust…

My main suspicion is surrounded by mystery. Or lack of. The minute most couples are married, any remaining sense of modesty seems to go out of the window. Why would you bother locking the bathroom door if you’re living together as a family? Why not happily sit on the toilet when your partner is in the bath? Um… because there is no situation other than extreme food poisoning that could possibly warrant it. You are a grown person, not an incontinent child. Unless you’re both really into scat, there is no reaction other than disgust and annoyance at watching someone else do something that really should only go on behind locked doors. Yes, we all know that everyone clips their toenails and blows their nose and shaves unbelievably fiddly parts of themselves and goes to the toilet and plucks out hairs and plays with pimples and waxes their ears. But these things are not sexy. You may have to do them, but you do not have to do them in front of anyone, especially not someone with whom you wish to have sexual intercourse. There is no bigger turnoff than irritation. Sharing to this degree is not intimate. There has to be a balancing act between comfort in each other’s presence and the intimation that you still wish to be seen as desirable (and that you still find your partner desirable), otherwise you become less like a romantic match and more like two siblings cohabiting.

          Faking It…

There is also the fact that a lot of women just don’t enjoy sex as much as they make out (please see my previous post on the subject of sex for my thoughts on that particular matter https://emilydewsnap.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/women-know-your-limits-part-ii-sex-and-climax/). Supposing a woman has dreamed all her life of being married; she works for it, she groans and moans her way into a man’s heart, he marries her… what’s the point in carrying on the pretence once this dream has been realised? She’s married now, the sex was never that good and so there’s no point in continuing – he’s not going anywhere; he promised. On the flip side, all those things that men do to please their girlfriends in the sack… why continue making the effort after marriage? She’s not going anywhere; she promised.

          Wielding it…

Sex is a highly manipulative weapon that has been brandished for centuries in numerous different ways, especially in marriages. It strikes me as cutting the nose off to spite the face of the worst possible sort to deny your partner sex simply because you want something. Because you’re not just denying them, you’re denying yourself, and dangling their supposed responsibility to you in front of their face to boot. But then, if you’re not enjoying the sex as much as you used to or as much as you used to make out you did, then I guess withholding intercourse could v.much become a powerful tool.

          Sprogger Prevention…

Hormones and body clocks play a great part in a lacklustre sex life too. Women have babies – we are the ones who get pregnant, so it is our responsibility to get a hold on our pesky wombs so that sex can be enjoyed whenever. The mini pill, the injection pill (depo provera) and the hugely popular and effective implant (Nexplanon – the implant formally known as Implanon) are all progesterone/progestogen only methods of contraception and work by, essentially, tricking the body into thinking it is in the early stages of pregnancy. This sometimes instigates havoc in a woman’s body and often causes them to bleed until they’re so anaemic they can barely see straight; but, when it works, the whole reproductive system is suspended and the monthly cycles stop altogether. Aside from being rather a risk to the ovaries in the cancer stakes, this can cause a loss of libido. It can also cause a lady to start piling on weight. A woman burns a lot more calories on the days that she bleeds, which is understandable, and a woman will put weight on even in the early stages of pregnancy. In fact, the combined pill is worse than the progesterone only pills for weight gain because of the oestrogen.

          Unpretty…

Weight gain. It gets harder to keep weight off the older you get and, once married, a lot of people let it all go a little bit. Which is perfectly fine, except that the media insists on us looking a certain way and points out our “inadequacies” as it sees fit, so that, when we gain weight or wear less make-up or don’t totter around in five inch heels &c., we begin to feel bad about our appearances; we lose confidence in ourselves. Loss of confidence manifests itself in many ways – your partner will pick up on it; maybe they’ll even make a remark or two about how much thinner you used to be, or maybe they’ll make “helpful” comments about how you can lose weight and make a dig whenever you’re eating. If we don’t look how we’re told we should, we no longer feel sexy. If a person doesn’t feel sexy, they aren’t going to want to partake of the sex, are they?

          The Fear…

What happens when the woman in a straight relationship no longer feels the way she used to? Situations where women feel that they have to have sex every night to earn the right to go to sleep are absolutely disgraceful. It feels like rape, but you can hardly say anything to anyone about it when you’ve rolled your eyes and said: “Oh, ok…” can you? And, even in this day and age, it is not uncommon for a man to consider sex a service that should be performed by a wife… he married her – she got hers now he wants his. But how does it reach such a point? Wouldn’t it be better to call it a day than to bear the humiliation? Part of the reason some women stay with husbands they no longer love is through fear. They fear that they won’t be able to afford to live alone. They fear the shame of being alone. They fear being alone and vulnerable. They fear being labelled a sad, divorcee. They fear what other, still-married women will think of them and say about them. So they suffer the occasional violation of their bodies and refuse whenever possible.

               The Daily Grind & Other Animals…

And I can hardly miss off the daily grind. Life is pretty mundane and it’s hard not to let that seep into all walks of life. Clambouring wearily into bed with your partner at the end of every day, feeling that they’re just part of the furniture is just not conducive to a healthy sex life; but then, the fact of the matter is, you can’t avoid it. You’ve promised yourself to each other, you know that your other half isn’t going anywhere, so they become just another unremarkable element of your daily routine and you a similar element in theirs.

And then there’s television. Televisions do not belong in dining rooms or bedrooms. They are a constant distraction, even when on standby. They are great, big plinths of mind-numbing entertainment – designed to whisk you away from the day of work you just endured and show you how you could be living if you were one of the beautiful people. Recent research shows that if you eat in front of the TV (and we’re all guilty of it), you’re so distracted that your stomach doesn’t register that its full; if you have a screen in the bedroom, chances are you’ll fall asleep watching it or be distracted by it instead of having the sex or going to sleep. The only exception I’ll accept as a decent excuse for having a TV in a sex session is when a couple want to watch pornography together, in which case it becomes a temporary sex toy.

Arguments do not belong in the bedroom either. The mind is a funny thing and we associate particular things with memories, which affect our present frame of mind. Rows linger like herpes, ready to rage out at unexpected moments; certain objects remind us of particular things that were said and the way we felt at the time. If there’s a residual anger, it could be triggered by anything in the room in which the argument was had. This is not beneficial to your sex life. Or a sleep pattern.

          Sleep…

Sleep! You need it in order to have the energy and frame of mind to want to have sex. Partners snore and they can’t help it, but there are other things that take place, like those midnight arguments – you know, the mysterious ones where somehow you’ve upset the other person while you were asleep and they wake you up to say things like: “How can you sleep after you said/did/implied that…?” Don’t do it! It can wait until the clear light of morning when you’ve had a proper chance to sleep on it and your partner will be rested and ready to answer questions and see your side of the argument better.

Whatever the reason, marriage seems to go hand in hand with a dwindling sex life. If there were no other reasons, this one would put me off marriage entirely all by itself.

 

HALF OF A WHOLE

David Cameron seems to be forever banging on about tax breaks for married couples. Well, how fucking rude! Two people live together, they share the mortgage/rent, the council tax (don’t get me started), the electricity bills, the cost of food and living. And because one day they had a big party and signed a certificate, they are deemed more important than us single folk and so are given a discount on their living costs, despite the fact that living alone is crushingly expensive. I have made a choice not to marry, some people just never have the opportunity to marry, but whatever the reason for a singleton being single, it does not make them incomplete. Nobody should be treated like a second class citizen because they are female or black or gay or Jewish or transgender or disabled or 6 foot 9. And yet, somehow, it’s ok for a politician to stand up and announce that one portion of society deserves a prize for their choice of lifestyle. Somehow, our Prime Minister thinks that it’s acceptable to denounce all people who aren’t exactly like him; and the thing that really gets me is that there wasn’t more outrage about this. Can you imagine if our “esteemed” leader turned round one day and said: “I propose that all whites can have their income tax waived…”? What’s next, I wonder? No NI contributions for Christians*? Complimentary breakfasts for people earning over £50,000 per annum?

I’m presuming (and I could be wrong – it has been known to happen) that when the PM alludes to married couples, he is not referring to civil partnerships.

The opinions of certain Tory wankers aside, nobody should ever feel that they are unfinished because they haven’t met a match. Being comfortable with and by yourself is one of the most satisfying things in the world. And building a life for yourself is just as important as building a relationship – in fact, the two things go hand in hand. Co-dependence creates an awful lot of tension; I can’t understand why the government tries to ram the concept down everyone’s throat as though it will create communities of happy, content people. Quite the opposite of having the effect of preventing divorce, reliance on another to complete your life is more likely to cause it.

Daunting as the thought may seem, you are not guaranteed to find a mate. If you do find a mate, you’re not guaranteed to get married. Just as if you are married, you are not guaranteed to be married for the duration of your short existence. This is only daunting because society made it so. It is not a lifestyle that anyone should fear, because even if you are with someone, you are only ever you and someone else, you are not made whole by them and you are not validated by being with them. You’ll find that if you can spend time alone or with your friends and not spend every waking minute feeling like you should be in your partner’s pocket, then the time you do spend together will be of a higher quality because you chose to spend that time with them and they with you.

FOOTNOTES:

* Would Mr Cameron be happy enough to admit that he is of Jewish-German stock? How anyone who has that background can possibly ever be a right-winger is really beyond me, but hey ho. Each to their own. Maybe David Cameron thinks it’s ok to be Jewish and marry out of the faith… but at least if you marry “out” you’re married, ey? That’s the important part.

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Love & Marriage in Modern Society ~ Part IV

DISCLAIMER

I began writing this blog many moons ago. I have taken advice and gleaned insight through the opinions and circumstances of others. However, I have not based this on anyone or anyone else’s relationship and I am certainly not referring to myself, though I draw on personal experience to ask questions.

This is a work of opinion and enquiry. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

THE OTHER WO/MAN

What happens if you are married, have been with your partner for years and suddenly you meet someone who knocks you off your feet? Do you diligently stay faithful, all the while resenting your partner and fantasising about this other person? In actuality, you promised to forsake all others when you tied the knot, but that was a while ago and the shine has started to fade a little. Still, a promise is a promise and you decide to leave well alone; after all, you are the reason the other person is happy and you’d make life difficult for yourself if you made them unhappy.

In the fairytale version of this, you wouldn’t have even been attracted to another person and, even if you were, would never dream of being intimate with anyone but your spouse. But this isn’t a fairytale. True, you can be wholly devoted to and completely in love with your partner and still find other people massively attractive, but the decision to not risk your relationship by allowing something to happen would be a genuine choice and not one based on a sense of duty and fear: you want to be with your partner, your partner would leave you if they found out, so you don’t pursue this other person. That’s a fair cop, I’d say.

Everyone has to accept that attraction between their partner and others is inevitable – to attempt to prevent it would be futile and puerile; but what if you were the partner of someone who was actually in love with someone else, not just attracted to them? How could you ever be happy with that person knowing that they wanted to be elsewhere? The problem is that the partner who wants to leave probably feels duty bound to stay – they promised, after all – and so in all likelihood won’t say anything, which leads to resentment on both counts. There is an undeniable element of cowardice in not coming clean, but given the stigma that accompanies leaving someone, the coward who feels they can’t just be honest with their spouse is not entirely to blame.

But then again, what if you’re on the other side of it and found that you’ve fallen in love with someone else? If you’re in a position whereby somebody has placed their entire happiness in your hands and constantly reminds you of this, would you indeed stay faithful or would you have an affair, considering it to be less hassle and less upsetting to your partner than to leave them?  What they don’t know won’t hurt them, and all that jazz. Except that if you don’t love that partner, surely it would be far more respectful to tell them so that they can go out and find someone who does love them. Or so that they can be alone and learn to love themselves so much they don’t need to be validated by someone else. It is massively arrogant of a person to believe that the other cannot live without them, even if the other has intimated as much; even if the other believes it, they won’t always feel that way.

And then there’s the “Other Woman” herself. Songs have been sung about her, poems and novels have been written for her, films have been based on her. Women warn other women about her. Women threaten their husbands because of her. I have been her; I have been cuckolded by her. The woman who dares to sully the “sanctity” of marriage*. The evil, she-devil. The Lilith of the modern day. A nymph. A nymphomaniac. Femme fatal. Women live in fear that she will “steal**” their husbands and poison their husbands’ minds out of sheer spite. So when a man does leave his wife for another woman (which isn’t often), it is the woman who is at fault, while the man’s only part in the whole thing has been that of bewitched fool. The man is absolved of responsibility because a witch trapped him with her feminine wiles; he is free to continue relations with this sorceress until the magic wears off and then return to his wife, sheepish and apologetic; or he can continue to stay trapped with the minx, the enchantress who stands as the only obstacle in the marriage she single-handedly broke.  Oh yes, the witch hunt is still on and those women who rest any blame solely on other women don’t do anything to help it.

This acrimony between two women, both of whom have generally been deceived in equal measures by the man in question, is rather vile. But it’s the women who are indoctrinated into hankering after marriage so much more than the men, so the need to have it and preserve it has a far greater drive in women. It leads to desperation and desperate unhappiness and jealousy and hatred and other violent emotions that cause women to work against each other rather than with each other.

Admittedly, it’s hard to even consider that the person to whom your lover has just flown is a human being in their own right. Rather than accept that the person who has left you just didn’t love you any more, it is so much easier to blame someone else. There are spikes of sheer hatred that pierce your psyche no matter how unbidden, even when you have come to terms with your partner’s decision. After a certain length of time, and possibly because of the way the ex-wife views the new partner, the other woman generally grows to hate the implied or actual presence of the ex-wife.

Haven’t women been hostile towards each other too long? Men seem to be able to have some semblance of a brotherhood cum pack attitude, whereas women see threat in each other. Of course, there’s always an instance of more than one dominant male in any given place from time to time, and most amusing it is to watch too, as wildly exaggerated tales of fisticuffs are followed by displays of scars, which are followed by bench-pressing fibs. Somehow, though, women see the need to ostracize other women. Are we not a force to be reckoned with as one for all and all for one? Would it not work in our favour to be able to communicate with any woman we chose to communicate with, knowing that they would offer their support and advice?

 

DOING IT FOR THE KIDS

I’ve heard many people tell tale of the discontent marriage that must never be dissolved because the unhappy couple has children.

On the one hand, children are moulded within the first seven years of their life and divorce is incredibly hard for them to get their little minds around. To a child, who has only ever known unconditional, familial love, falling out of love has never crossed their minds. They need the security of knowing that when people say: “I love you” that means “I will always love you.” So when parents admit that they are no longer in love, the child is distraught – if they no longer love each other, how can they still love the child? Yes, I agree: divorce when you are a parent is a tricky business indeed.

On the other hand, a child’s perception of a relationship – what a relationship is, how two people in a relationship relate to one another, the way they act around each other, their gestures and loaded looks, their contact with each other – is what a child will grow up believing a relationship to comprise of. So, if all they’ve ever known of their parents’ relationship consists of snide comments and glares and underhanded remarks (and, believe me, children see these things that parents think are above their doughy heads, even if they can’t articulate it), chances are that they will fall into the trap of creating an unsatisfying union that is exactly the same themselves in later life.

Then there are the parents who use the children as bait. One parent may threaten another that if they should ever leave, they would never see the children again. Which, let’s face it, is pretty childish and not fair on said children. In this situation, “staying together for the kids” is v.much “using the kids to make someone stay,” which is in no way shape or form in the child’s interest and solely to the advantage of the threatening parent. If there is someone else involved, it could be that the hurt party will not allow the children to see the other parent while the new partner is around. This, in itself, breeds yet more hatred by planting the bitter seed in a child when it is at a vulnerable stage in life. Presumably, this act of outrageous jealousy is to prevent the child from developing any attachment to the usurper – it smacks of the fear of losing this child’s affections just like they lost the affections of the partner who left. It also causes contention in the new relationship, which is probably an added bonus to the hurt party. There are even parents who attempt to turn their children against the other parent.

I feel v.much that I am on uncertain ground here. I am childless as yet (and maybe will be so for the duration of my life) and I am no child psychologist. I can remember being scared, when I was a child, that my parents would get divorced and then, later, wanting them to. I don’t think it’s healthy to stay together for the kids, and it’s certainly not healthy to use them in relationship bartering. Divorce is probably harsh for a child, but then, staying in a failing marriage can’t be conducive to a happy family. There is a collective attitude that, if a marriage doesn’t work out, one or both people involved are failures. I see it as being more of a failure to continue with a marriage that has no benefit to either party than it is to call it a day and move on.

FOOTNOTES:

* Obviously, that word does not apply to me, but you know what I mean.

** I hate it when people say that someone has been stolen from someone else. It takes two people, not one stealing the other. Nobody belongs to anyone else for them to be stolen. It’s akin to “giving the bride away” at a wedding… is she an object to be owned?

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Love & Marriage in Modern Society ~ Part III

WARNING: Prepare for some serious footnotes

DISCLAIMER

I began writing this blog many moons ago. I have taken advice and gleaned insight through the opinions and circumstances of others. However, I am not targeting anyone or any particular relationship. This is a work of opinion and enquiry. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

TO ENTER INTO MATRIMONY

There are many reasons people get married and none of them, to my mind, have ever been good enough. Peer pressure is a powerful thing. If you are not married and others are, there is the implication that your partner doesn’t cherish you like theirs does them; the insinuation that if your partner loved you, they’d want to marry you. It starts to make people doubt their relationships; there’s suddenly contention where there was none before.

Marriage, or the prospect of marriage, looms over most relationships like the grim reaper, to be dealt with in one way shape or form, even if not to be undertaken. The enforced notion that, for a straight couple who have been together over a year, marriage is inevitable puts a dreadful strain on a relationship, even if both parties don’t want to marry one day, even if they do; but especially when one party does and the other does not. Suddenly there’s a subject that one party wants to discuss and the other to avoid; snide comments are bandied around; there are misunderstandings followed by disappointments followed by screaming rows. Anything small and square could represent a ring, even if it’s a box of panel pins in a paper bag. Any gift of an item of jewellery that isn’t an engagement ring is a cause of conflict. At this point in the relationship, the person less inclined to marry has probably never felt as disinclined in her or, more probably, his* life. In fact, the disinclined party has probably never wanted to be with the other person less. But here’s the rub: you see, the marriage card is down, on the table, staring at you. It’s saying things like: “You’ll have wasted x years of this person’s life if you don’t want to marry them,” it’s arguing that: “You’ve been in this relationship too long for it to be easy to walk away from; after all, it’s not that you don’t love this person and it would shut them up.” And most importantly, it’s battering you with that most powerful of all words: SHOULD…

THE SENSE OF DUTY

Because society dictates this turn of events, the expectation of a significant other is raised beyond anything that anyone can possibly live up to. And when the other person doesn’t match up, it is infuriating. They should want to spend every waking moment with you even if you’re doing something they’re not interested in; they should bring you presents for no reason; they should never look at any other person than you in a sexual way; they should tell you where they are every waking moment; they should be home at what you consider to be a decent time; they should allow you to read their personal mail messages; they should allow you into their heads so that you can see what they’re thinking and when asked: “What are you thinking?” they should be thinking about how amazing you are… In short, they should want to marry you. We’ve all either pulled the “should” card at some point in our lives or had it pulled on us and it has the ability to manipulate like nothing other than sex can.

This message of “should” appeals to the sense of guilt we all carry somewhere deep inside of us; the sensation of responsibility that keeps us in check. It allows us to fill our space in western culture and it harbours our most nonsensical neuroses. They say that even innocent prisoners feel a certain sense of relief at being sentenced – I like to think of this as the Should Factor. The Should Factor**in relationships suggests that we aren’t currently pulling our weight in the battle to integrate in the world and that not only is this a problem for us, but that it’s now affecting someone else.

A relationship can have the ability to enhance your life, but it should not be the thing on which you rest your entire happiness. And you most certainly cannot help the way you do or don’t feel about someone, especially when feelings change, as they inevitably do over time. So what happens when, for whatever reason, someone realises that they are no longer in love with their partner? Should the self same sense of duty apply? I really can’t understand why you would stay with someone you no longer love because they have been irresponsible enough to rest their sense of worth completely in your hands. And would you really want someone to stay with you out of a sense of duty? Surely this is the main cause of affairs and deceit, when in actual fact, there could be a v.dignified ending and both parties could move on rather than sit around feeling resentful that the other person didn’t feel how they promised they would. In fact, it would make more sense to not force people into the corner of making promises they just cannot keep in the first place.

POSSESSION

Unfortunately for marrieds, the person who is no longer in love is caught in a bind – you see, back on the wedding day they made a promise to love and cherish the other until death do them part and not only promised them, but promised aaaaalllll the people who came to witness the homogenising of two beings into one married unit. It is never easy for anybody to walk away from someone with whom they’ve been intimate, but once married, you can’t just walk away. In fact, you’re entering into a whole new world of pain – you’ve signed a contract. There are the friends you had together for a start – who gets to keep who? There’s the partner’s family and the wave of disapproval that will rain down on you, despite the fact that you’re only crime is to not feel the way everybody expected you to. There’s the separating of things you own together and the loss of most of it out of sheer guilt. There’s a mortgage you have to plump up for as well as the rent for wherever you’re to stay while it’s all sorted out.

And then there’s the “wronged” partner in question. Let’s say you’ve done it – you’ve got past the screaming and shouting, past the sobbing and begging, past the leg-clinging and the hysteria. You’ve packed a few things, you’ve found somewhere to stay and you think you’re on the home run. You’re not. You see, you are bought and paid for and your partner (who you’d like to now consider your ex) has the certificate to prove it and you’re playing silly buggers. The problem is that there is no shop to take you back to so that you can be mended because you prepped and sold yourself, so the indignation is aimed straight at you. How dare you malfunction in this manner! This person now believes that they own you. They own the right to your body and mind. And you should love them because that’s what it said on your tin several moons ago.

It’s an absurd belief that anyone can force another to love them through sheer pressure. It’s a little bit like attempting to “cure” homosexuality***, wouldn’t you say? You will love me… You will love the opposite sex… You should love either men or women… Not really something you can help or dictate, is it? Painful to accept that you are no longer loved by one that you love, undoubtedly; but out of anyone’s control.

There is this idea that love is defined by the actions of a person, not their thoughts and feelings. A woman whose husband left her for another woman once said to me, not knowing me incredibly well: “It’d have been better if he’d died, because then at least it wouldn’t mean he didn’t love me.” I nearly bit my tongue clean through.

OBSESSION

The sense of possession, brought about by sheer indignation, can v.quickly turn into obsession when not satiated. And there is no untreated psychological disorder more frightening than limerence (think of Glen Close in Fatal Attraction) , which in itself is driven by the notion that love and marriage is deemed to be a human right.

It isn’t.

Has your partner recently left you? Are you finding it hard to believe that they can just walk away from a love as true as the two of you seemed to share? The sad fact is that this person has left you and therefore clearly doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. And they have no responsibility to look after your wellbeing – they are not your parent. The thing to do (the only thing to do) is to wait for the pieces of your life to mend themselves. Suffering from a broken heart is like suffering from a hangover: you have to ride the waves until the pain passes. And it will… as long as you don’t fight it. Limerence can have the unfortunate effect of allowing you to forget your dignity: you cling to legs, you get on your hands and knees and beg, you slash clothes, you smash glasses, you break bones, you attempt to kill yourself, you scream and shout, you rant and rail, you sob until you can’t breathe, you appeal to your ex partner’s family, you win over their friends. The thing is, if this person would ever have considered coming back to you at some point when they first left, they sure as hell wouldn’t now!

And what if they did? How would you ever be able to maintain a relationship knowing that the reason the other person is with you is because you begged them to be, and not because they decided they’d made a mistake and come back to you?

FOOTNOTES:

* At the risk of banging on in my usual feminist fash’, I am genuinely as outraged that it’s women who are more brainwashed into believing in this marriage malarkey as I am about marriage itself. Whilst boys are messing around with their numerous mates up trees, little girls play with dolls. Little girls play house and create monogamous bonds with other little girls… until another best friend comes along. Little girls like fairy princesses and fairytale-wedding happy endings and dream of one day being that princess with the big poufy dress at her own fairytale-wedding. Little girls grow up into little women who watch the sort of patronising films that do a proper rage on me like “What Women Want.” The difference between little girls and little boys is nowhere near as vast as we make it. A child’s core personality is established early on in life and we push boys and girls into their separate pigeonholes before they have a chance to form their own opinion of how they should be. This early indoctrination shows itself later, when little girls are grown, in the lack of ambition in the majority of women to become politicians. Boys run the world with all its guns and girls play house and type things for the boys.

Little girls are promised from a v.early age that when they grow up, they will meet someone of the opposite sex and get married. They are rarely told that they may meet someone of the same sex. They are seldom told that some people never marry and that if they don’t that doesn’t make them half a person. Unlike Father Christmas and other fantasy tales, the marriage myth is everywhere as girls are growing up too, so they still believe it when they are at an eligible age. It is the cause of much frustration to straight women that men don’t generally have the same approach to relationships or have the same emotions as them or aren’t aware of the “etiquette” of holding a relationship together. And it is the cause of much bewilderment to straight men when their other half flies off the handle because they were unable to guess what said other half was thinking or wanting. We create this divide when we teach children that they are either boy or girl and that boys and girls act in certain, v.different ways.

** The problem I have, personally, with the Should Factor, is that I know of its existence, but I am unable to fend it off completely: I am not emotionally mature enough to be in an open relationship. It would hurt me too greatly and would, no doubt, be the cause of many arguments. I’m under no illusions about this – I realise that I feel as I do because I have been indoctrinated into thinking of a romantic relationship within certain boundaries, rather than as a thing that is changeable with different partners and with shifting emotions. Even non-romantic relationships have their rules. I do, however, believe that if we can stop enforcing the Should Factor so vehemently (and I mean in all walks of life), that the urge to shake off the ball and chain and run would be lessened, and the ego would emerge less bruised from constant indignation – our jealousy and resentment is self-inflicted.

*** Or attempting to deny bisexuality because you’ve never even considered the fact that you could be that way inclined yourself. Both gay and straight people are guilty of this! Stop trying to mould people – it’s not denial, it’s a way of life and it is not a choice!

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Love & Marriage in Modern Society ~ Part II

PLANTING THE SEED

So, you’ve been with your partner for years and they’re still showing no signs of popping the question. If you’re a bloke in a straight relationship and want to marry, chances are you’ll be working out how to ask your lady for her hand, safe in the knowledge that she’ll almost certainly say yes. But, as I have witnessed firsthand in other couples, if you’re a woman in a straight relationship, you’ll probably be dropping hints like crazy: strategically leaving catalogues open at the Engagement Rings section, leaping desperately for the bouquet at weddings and coming out with such gems as: “Tallulah and Tarquin have only been together for three years and they’re getting married already…”

If you’re at this stage, then there is no denying that you’ve submitted to manipulation tactics to get what you want. But is that what you really want? Why do you want it? If you’re happy with your partner, you live together and you have a good, strong relationship, what is the point of marrying? Chances are you’ll spend an awful lot of money on feeding and watering distant relatives, followed by a lavish holiday only to return to the exact same life you had before, only poorer.

Maybe you feel that there’s something missing in your relationship and that marriage is the fundamental link to success and happiness; that marriage will solve all your issues. Or maybe you feel that you’ve been with your partner long enough and after doing so much hard time, it’s absolutely imperative that you tie the knot or it has all been for nothing. That’s the thing about relationships, though – there is nothing to work towards; if you’re in a relationship, you’re in it and that relationship can grow and change, of course it can, but there is no “happy ending.” Marriage is not as dramatic as an ending, it’s not even a beginning – it is a continuation.

Whatever the reason for wanting to marry, why do women drop hints? Why is it such a rare thing for a woman to propose to a man? A hang-up from days gone by, perhaps, but a hang-up that acts as a tiny, but niggling reminder that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. The institution of marriage is fundamentally flawed in many ways, but its inability to change at the same rate as our culture deems it outdated and regressive.

 

CONFORMITY IN FRIVOLITY:

                With This Ring…

An enormous amount of emphasis is placed on the ring that starts it all. The engagement ring. Note the singular: ring, not rings. An engagement ring should typically cost the same as the prospective groom earns in a month. You see, it all starts with a deposit. To secure this man’s future purchase of a wife, he must guarantee it against outside interference with a trinket, and this trinket must be worthy of the item to which he is laying claim. Well, that’s how it used to be in the good old days before these damn women started reading too many books that gave them ideas. Unfortunately, there was something misunderstood in the feminist movement that is still misconstrued to this day: the idea that women battled and battled in order to offer other women the right to own their partners as much as they themselves were owned. Equality – yes absolutely – but surely where ownership of a human being is wrong on one count, it can only ever be wronger on both. Two wrongs do not a happy union make. Note that the word “obey” is often omitted from the woman’s wedding vows to make them more equal, it’s never added into the man’s!

But I digress. The engagement has only one ring; there is only one owner in this part of the proceedings and an engagement ring is a talisman to ward off all other suitors. Worn solely by women. And judged massively by the woman herself. After all, if a man loves his woman, he will all but bankrupt himself to give her what she wants, no? The significance of this ring is now one of power on the woman’s part; the ring is a prelude to a promise almost as binding as the wedding vows themselves. And is this ring something that has been picked out because it suits the wearer? Well, it’s a diamond solitaire on a gold band, the slight variation is irrelevant.

                Dress like a Princess…

Then there’s the dress. White, floor-length and, these days at least, strapless. White. For virginity. Let’s face it, most couples are already cohabiting with each other when they decide to get hitched, so to wear a white dress seems somewhat disingenuous. Why white? Certainly not to imply virginity. There may have been a slight increase in the number of coloured dresses to appear in bridal shops, but for the most part, the dresses are still white (or cream). It’s almost like a fresh start; a blank canvas. But if marriage is neither beginning nor end, it again seems somehow inappropriate. It’s a rare occasion when an affianced couple opt for a small wedding to which only close friends and immediate family are invited. It is also a rare occasion when a girl doesn’t spend thousands of pounds on a dress that she will only wear once for a ceremony that lasts all of twenty minutes.

It’s all about uniformity. Conformity. A diamond solitaire ring in a gold setting, a white wedding dress, flowers, drapes, place settings, a sit down meal, a cake cutting and a first dance. “But it’s traditional” you might say. Yeah, and so is slavery, imperialism and oppression of the minorities, but that’s no excuse for ploughing on regardless. Traditionally, marriage was for uniting countries. Traditionally, marriage was to justify sex and childbirth in religion. Traditionally, marriage was a way for government and church to control the masses. Tradition? Balls to tradition! The Wicker Man was a satire of communities who take tradition too seriously – I suggest you traditionalists watch and take note. In a western world that is evolving cerebrally, there is no act that can be validated because it is an act of tradition.

                The Venue…

Whether the bride and groom have chosen a religious or secular wedding, they will no doubt be heading for a wedding breakfast and reception shortly after they’ve had lots of posed photographs taken. Photographs that don’t portray any natural moment of the day, but capture exactly what the photographer wants people to see. Then the guests will throw confetti at the couple, despite the fact that the custom is rice (or the local grain) and that the rice is to symbolise fertility, not just so some people in posh clothes can throw bits of shit at some other people in posher clothes in the name of convention.

It is popular these days for wedding receptions to be held in expensive hotels, where the wedding guests who have probably travelled to see the happy couple get married, bringing with them gifts they can’t afford to bring, are expected to book themselves into swanky rooms. Luckily for the wedding guests, the bride and groom have arranged for all the chairs at the reception to be covered in organza and for fresh, colour coördinated flowers to adorn every table, so that makes up for the expense, doesn’t it? Well, no, not really. It’s a vicious circle: the bride and groom shell out thousands of pounds to arrange the wedding, so it is expected that the guests spend hundreds of pounds each in return. The bride and groom are probably only really bothered about a third of the guests and about two thirds of the guests aren’t that bothered about the bride and groom. And yet, somehow, the groom’s sister has manipulated the bride into making her a bridesmaid and even though the invitation said “no children,” there’s a suckling sprogger screaming its head off because that particular set of owners couldn’t possibly have found a babysitter in the three months prior to the big day even though every other besproggered family managed it.

It’s a stressful do, is a wedding. There is a massive responsibility when seating guests – one mustn’t forget the row auntie Doris had with your cousin Frank in 1998; the seating plan is created and immediately scrapped over and over for just such reasons. Once seated in carefully designated places, the guests will find favours next to their place names, which are generally little knickknacks for which they have no purpose and which will gather dust in a drawer for years to come. Is any of this sounding romantic to you?

                The Presents…

With the invitation you receive, for which you are required to feel suitably humbled and grateful, you will also receive either the name of a shop from which the bride and groom would like you to purchase the rightfully expensive present that you’re going to give them, or a request for money, with which the newly married couple will buy drinks on the luxurious holiday they’re about to go on. Most couples have already lived together long enough to know that they are capable of cohabiting with each other. Wedding presents were generally given when couples lived with their respective parents and so had none of the things needed to make a house a home when they moved into their new pads together.

An important question I think you have to ask yourself, if you are seriously considering marriage, is: “Do I want to be married or do I want a wedding?” Because if what you crave is the dress, the day all about you*, the party, the presents and the holiday, I’m guessing you haven’t considered the implications of marriage at all. Maybe another question should be: “Would I do this if it was just the two of us, both wearing jeans, doc’ martins and skanky old T-shirts with a quick I do ceremony in the register office and nothing more?”

 

THE VOWS

[Name], do you take [Name] to be your lawfully wedded [husband/wife] to live together in marriage. Do you promise to love, comfort, honour and keep [him/her] For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. And, forsaking all others, be faithful only to [him/her] so long as you both shall live?

Groom: I, [Tarquin], take thee, [Tallulah], to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death us do part.

Bride: I, [Tallulah], take thee, [Tarquin], to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, ‘til death us do part,

These days the vows are sometimes adapted somewhat, as in the case of Kate Middleton refusing to “obey” Price William. A girl under enormous social pressure to conform and with some pretty daunting boots to fill. Good on her!

I can’t read the wedding vows without wanting to tear my hair out. “Do you promise to love… so long as you both shall live?” how can anyone promise that?! You can promise that at that moment in time you love someone; you can promise that at that moment in time you can’t imagine ever not loving them – you cannot ever promise to love them forever and know that you will keep that promise, because love is out of your physical control. And everybody knows this, deep down. If they didn’t, there would be no instances of jealousy or insecurity. Love is an erratic malady that makes fickle creatures of us all.

Moreover, how can we pretend to not see that wedding vows are superfluous in a world that allows divorce and prenuptial agreements? And how could you not allow divorce?

 

FOOTNOTES:

* I have a day about me every year… it’s called My Birthday.

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Love & Marriage in Modern Society ~ Part I

INTRODUCTION

I have been attempting to write this blog for three years and failing miserably. One of the difficulties is that it has been steadily growing at a rate faster than I can type. I write a paragraph, I save it, I read it back, I add some more. Sometimes I bring the subject up in conversation; it’s controversial, I get some more opinions, I add some more. People begin to question related subjects, such as gay marriage; I try not to explode in their faces, I add some more. I start a new relationship; I’m grilled about it, I add some more.

It has been a tough post to keep a handle on and no doubt I will refer back to it in the future and, shaking my head in resolution, add some more. It’s a piecemeal affair and neither elegant nor eloquent. But, since I am often offended by what is socially acceptable, I feel that it is unfair that I should have to keep quiet for fear of causing offence.

(I am posting this blog post in sections, so if you want to ask me a question/answer one of my questions, it may be something that comes up in a later post, but feel free to do either anyway.)

DISCLAIMER

I love weddings. I do. I get caught up in the moment easily, I love getting dressed up, I love seeing Brides blushing with anticipation and guests flushed with champagne. But I don’t understand it – I don’t understand the need to bind yourself with another. What follows are my thoughts and questions on the matter. I am not attempting to belittle anybody’s marriage or relationship. I am not trying to tell anybody that they are in the wrong. I am opening the floor for discussion. I do not want to get married and I do not comprehend why anyone else does. If anyone can give me some answers, I would be v.glad to hear them. You never know, you just may change my mind… I doubt it, but stranger things happen at sea.

DEDICATION

To my wonderful married (and potentially to be married in the future) friends: I love you all, I love your partnerships and corresponding loin fruit, I loved and will love your weddings – they are (and will be) beautiful, graceful ceremonies full of gorgeous people. Go, prosper, grow, breed – ignore your friend Emily, for she is clearly a lunatic to question a thing like marriage when you are all such glowing examples. I envy your clarity of mind and your resolution and your lovely, clean houses (also a mystery to me – how do you achieve that?). But, nonetheless, questions I am having.

THE START OF IT ALL

I’m not sure when it dawned on me that I would never marry. Somewhere between my third consecutive serious relationship and the two that followed, I guess. It wasn’t an unwelcome revelation, by any means; the realisation didn’t come wistfully clouded in hopelessness. On the contrary, it was a relief. A blessed, refreshing relief. In one, unbidden thought, I had absolved myself of the massive weight I hadn’t even realised I was carrying; the society-driven pressure that most women place upon themselves to find a husband had been lifted. I was me and I always would be me… I was free. And I couldn’t stop telling people.

What I failed to realise, in those early days, before I’d seriously considered the impact of this understanding, was that simply voicing what I considered to be a wonderfully freeing fact such as this was not only going to invoke pity in any listener, it was going to make them angry. V.v.angry.

It begins with a look of deep sympathy. A frown, a wonky, patronising, sad smile. Then comes the sentiment: “Don’t worry – it’ll happen for you one day. You’ll find someone &c. &c.” The automatic assumption being that I want to get married but haven’t met someone who wants to marry me. Or perhaps that I have never met someone that I loved enough to want to marry. Which is utter hogwash on both counts. I have been loved. I have been in love. Crazily, stupidly, illogically, want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you, truly, madly, deeply, head-over-heels, can’t-live-without-you, painfully, torturously, in full on clichéd stylee love. And, in that state, the urge to lock a relationship down, to preserve it, to do anything to make the other person reciprocate your love to the same extent is incredibly strong, I get that. No, my reasons, of which there are many, for opposing marriage have nothing to do with an inability to find love. I do believe in love, I honestly do! Just not in the way that people expect.

THE FAIRY STORY

We thrive on stories. With our art, music, acting and writing we can cause anguish and pain, we can make people cry and laugh, we can cause depression and anger and contempt. We like a good fable, an old-fashioned fairytale, a thumping formulaic read with some hot gypsies thrown in. We understand the black and white of the thing – learning the black and white is the basis for understanding that there are only shades of grey in life. Swathes and swathes of suffocating grey. And so, when the grey gets a bit too much to bear, we fill some of it in with black and white again… in our minds at least.

Fairy stories have a lot to answer for. Tales have always been a way to control societies; these days we have stories in the media too that churn out similarly damaging propaganda, but we still have those more traditional fairytales to remind us of what we should strive for in life and to warn us of the dangers of not living how we should. It is brainwashing of the highest order and it is the thing, above all else, that causes niggling feelings of guilt and failure in our lives, no matter how we live them. The fairytale has crept into everything; it’s in adverts and films and books and songs.

The basis of a fairytale is to take a young, pretty, thin girl; weak and vulnerable and sweet-natured, of course; and put her into a difficult situation, which inevitably gets worse and, just when we as the audience despair, along comes a man (generally rich and dashing and noble) to save her. And then they get married. Happily ever after. The audience is so glad it’s a “happy” ending. Life will be swimmingly easy for them. Isn’t that what we want? Love, happiness, riches, an easy life…? Well, we may as well get married – that’s a start, ey? And it’s the “right” thing to do. Don’t ask why, it just is, ok?

And then along came Disney. Despite the grim nature of some of our original fairytales, Disney manages to turn each one into insipid nonsense. True, I will quite happily sit down and watch the Little Mermaid or Snow White &c. when I want to allow my brain to have a snooze, or when the grey bits in life really get me down. But I know that I’ll have to swim back into the sea of grey at the end. Children, however, think that the fairytale is gospel, as they do the… well, the gospel. We are all brought up with these tales and they stick with us because, unlike the story of Santa Claus, they are still taught to us in varying formats throughout our lives. And everyone gets married, don’t they? It’s like growing up, it just happens. So when it doesn’t happen the way we’re told it should, we feel like failures; whether we failed to marry, failed to meet a mate, failed to be happy in marriage, failed to stay married, failed to be straight – we feel responsible. Because the other thing that fairy tales teach us is that if you are a good person and do as you are told, all the good things will happen to you and you’ll get your happily ever after. And they teach us that if you don’t get married/can’t get married/stop being married/don’t fancy who you’re supposed to, you’re probably a bad person because you’re not even trying to follow the story that someone else wrote for you long before you were even born.

It’s something that is fundamentally flawed in society – the need to promote the married and fecund above the single and childless. David Cameron is just not helping society to progress, but I don’t have time to go into that diatribe right now. Society as a whole is constantly changing and, v.slowly, it’s trying to evolve into something more modern and, for want of a better word, tolerant. But perceptions of marriage stand stubbornly archaic against that evolution of acceptance and, unless the way in which we view marriage changes with the times, this out-dated institution will hold us back in part, and exclude more and more people from its clique.

Another thing we thrive on is drama. Let’s face it, the majority of us Westerners lead pretty mundane lives and a lot of the time it’s a strain and an effort and we don’t see much for it. So we spice it up a bit. Probably as a hang-up from more devout days, we attribute meaning to every token – we take things as a sign that we’re meant to be with this person or that person. We make booming declarations of eternal love that seem so v.real at the time, but in hindsight are embarrassing, undignified and rather absurd. But then, you will prostrate yourself at the feet of someone who has said they want to leave you and scream things like: “I can’t live without you! I want to die! Oh, can’t you see we’re meant to be together?!” because that’s what you do when you love someone, isn’t it? Um… in films maybe.

“ONE TRUE LOVE”

Let’s start by looking at the concept of “The One”. Even if there were such a thing as “The One,” in a world of approximately seven billion people, what are the chances of that person being in your hemisphere, let alone in your country/city/place of work/bed? But incredulity aside, let’s suppose you’ve met someone who you consider to be your “One and Only” and let’s suppose they feel the same way about You. They feel the same way about this You, the You you are now, not the You you were five years ago or the You you will be in five years. Different books are right for you at different points in your life: you can read a book at twenty and hate it, yet read it at twenty seven and adore it, and vice versa. I believe that the same theory works if you substitute the word “books” with the word “people”. Cue outrage

That’s not to say that people can’t change together, but life takes so many different turns; events and situations change you so v.much. Even if you were to live out of each other’s pockets (and this is v.unhealthy both for your relationship and your own personal sense of self, I might add), the two of you can never have the same reaction, emotional or otherwise, to any given thing, so the likelihood of you changing into two different people who love each other is slim. Opinions change. An incident could occur to your partner that turns them from a liberal, free-thinking hippy into a bigoted, racist homophobe. You might have so adored your partner’s smile and twinkling eyes, yet the death of a loved one causes a bout of depression so deep that their eyes become dulled and the mouth never again curls upwards in mirth. It’s easy in theory to say that you would love that person through thick and thin, no matter what the cost, when the going is rosy; but if everything a partner says to you becomes tinged with scorn, for example, would you patiently take the flak and continue to love them as vehemently as you always did, regardless? Of course, history in a relationship adds a certain something; but surely that is akin to loving the memory of how a person was, rather than who they are now. And presumably the urge to stick is tantamount to the age old excuse of doing exactly what you’ve always done because it’s harder to not do it.

But, again, let’s suppose that you’ve been with your partner for years and that you’re still emotionally compatible… what is there to say that you’re still physically attracted to each other? What is there to say that your sexual needs have morphed into the same craving? What is there to say that there isn’t someone else out there who would fulfil your “needs” more?

We are driven towards partnerships, but I think Tim Minchin, as he so often does, succinctly sums this up perfectly with his song: “If I Didn’t Have You, Someone Else Would Do.”

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Enter the Hood

NEWSFLASH!

We interrupt this incredibly important and vastly interesting three part injuries blog (ahem) to bring you this topical piece on the recent country-wide rioting.

(I began to write this blog on the day following the riots. Any allusion to “yesterday” or similar, is in reference to the events of the 9th August 2011)

THE EVENT & THE KNEE-JERK

It seems that there’s always stuff going down in London town: shootings, lootings, terrorist attacks, robberies, grand theft auto &c. &c. London is big news and all the time. Still, it was a shocking moment when it came to my attention that, not only were the riots that were breaking out in small pockets all over the capital not quashed on the afternoon in which they started, but that they were spreading. Even more shocking was the moment when it was made perfectly clear that they were spreading like a viral zombie outbreak up north. In other words: in our direction.

Now, Leeds in particular has a history of rioting, it not being the most affluent of places overall, and having a rather aggressive football presence. So, when word got out that there had been some “minor acts of violence” breaking out around the less prosperous parts of the city, our concern proved to be unwarranted. I can only presume that the West Yorkshire police are so deft at diffusing this sort of situation that it was nipped in the bud before it had even begun, but I could be wrong. At around 4:30pm on 9th August 2011, I rang my mother, who had recently e-mailed me the news of the suspected spread to the North East, and said that all appeared to be under control. What my mother didn’t tell me, is that she could hear police sirens starting up in the distance where she was. Manchester. At approximately 9pm my mother rang me and told me to put on the TV*.

I just want to take a moment to say that I wouldn’t call myself particularly patriotic. I love this quirky little country for its oddities; my family and friends are here, of course, and, although generally cold, wet and windy, we don’t have to concern ourselves with surviving hurricanes or monsoons and the like. I would have said that I had a minor attachment to Manchester and Glossop, but that I could take or leave it. But the minute I saw the destruction in Manchester city centre, my hackles rose and I v.nearly heaved. The next thought that ran through my head was, get in car, drive to Manchester, grab nearest little scrote and squeeze his throat until he turns purple, all the while shouting: “Get your hands off my city, you fucking wankers!”

                … Yes… well…. quite…

I surprised myself with the violence of my feelings. I even jumped to my feet and did a little pace up and down the room while I calmed down.

Usually an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of gal**, I stayed up until midnight contacting people via the various social networking sites that I frequent to check that everyone was present and correct.

And, rather tangentially, I have to say: bravo for open social networking! Here’s to microblogging and Facebook. Blackberries may have allowed these riots to happen, but Twitter encouraged the clean up of the city and I would have given anything this morning to go to Manchester and help to eliminate any trace of scummer madness. And not only that, Twitter was a constant source of information, advice, footage, photographs, consolation, support and much needed humour.

Similarly, but of course in no way shape or form comparable in terms of tragedy, to the footage of the attacks of 911, I could not stop watching the same bulletins over and over of streets that I’ve worked on, bars that I’ve been tiddly in, shops I’ve shopped at, restaurants I’ve had dates in, curbs I’ve tripped over and, more importantly, the v.heart of a city I’ve called home for twenty seven years, being vandalised and raped in such a slap-dash, carefree fashion. How. Very. Dare they?! New recordings were being submitted throughout the night – images of young teens in hoodies, generally dark in hue***, were leaping from vans and running in swathes to pillage their own city. They looked like a small, evil army of hoods. They looked like terrorists. They were akin to the Klu Klux Klan. Like some sort of beastial, soulless creatures from a horror film. And the average age appeared to be around the fifteen years mark. So who was driving them?

Of course, the media didn’t help. As usual the emotive language was a laughably obvious ploy to whip everybody into a frenzy that could only serve to create more drama and more news. So nothing new there then.

THE CALMER ANALYSIS

I could go on until I wear myself out about the effect it had on me and the events that went on until the wee hours of the morning. But I won’t. Clearly, I haven’t previously seen enough action in such close proximity or I wouldn’t be flapping as I am, and people all over the world have been through much worse things and kicked up less of a fuss, so I’ll put my knee-jerk reactions to bed.

I do, however, want to delve into the cause and effect, rather than the event itself. Because, even though it’s taken me this amount of words to reach my point, I truly believe that what has happened to Britain over the last few days should be enough to make the people who can make a difference in the world take a step back and realise that something is v.amiss if we have children fighting the class battle for us.

For it is a class battle. True, these kids are running around with state of the art Blackberries and credit has a lot to answer for in this modern world which we inhabit. And, true, when asked why they were rioting and looting, these kids gave mediocre to downright preposterous answers like: “I fuckin’ ‘ate the police – they treat us like we’re all thugs, innit?****” and “Well these rich bastards ‘ave all got plasma screens, so why ‘aven’ I, innit?” Even if these children understood the class war they were waging, they certainly got the wrong end of the stick when they started trashing little kebab shops and independent news agents; when they moved away from the rich chains to ruin the livelihoods of people just doing their best in the world.

But, regardless of the fact that, yes they were all vitriolic little fuckers with not a second thought for anyone but themselves, and, yes they rioted rather than protested, and did so in a hugely threatening manner. In fact, yes, it was terrorism through and through. Regardless, I say, of all this… they sort of had a point. And we all know it – somewhere deep within us. It’s there, we just don’t like to address it. The way we don’t like to address the human rights of criminals; see both sides of the story when it comes to biased media coverage; acknowledge the homeless and accept that something is v.wrong if a dog can live its life in perfect luxury because a human being will take it in and feed it, but that a man can starve on the street because he made a few improper choices.

Once the rage brought on by the riots had gone, I started to analyse the situation and went through many trains of thought. The first (and most important) being that “we,” the majority of my friends and I, were not well off growing up: our parents struggled, scrimped and saved, and probably still do, to provide us with the v.best that they could. So how the hell could these scrotes, these vermin, these nastylittlethanklessfuckers possibly say that it’s because they didn’t have enough money to buy the things that we have? Looking back over the long-winded question, I think it speaks for itself… it’s because our parents did do that for us. They sacrificed things so that we could have the things we needed and they let us know that they had done it – not to be mean-spirited, oh no; they let us know to instill in us respect and an understanding of the world, and to teach us the value of work and money. We working class kids were given the opportunities these rioters never had, not in the form of clothes and gadgets, but in the form of instruction and self-worth. With their unequivocal sacrifices, our parents taught us that if we wanted to be anything in the world, we had to damn well work for it, and they taught us that they loved us, would do anything for us because that’s how important we were. How important we are!

A SINGLE SCENARIO

A friend of mine coined the rioting kids “The Broken Condom Generation.” How v.apt. A teenager from this underbelly of society, which we try to pretend doesn’t exist, gets pregnant. She has no money, her parents give her no guidance or support; maybe they throw her out. The father of the child wants nothing to do with the pregnancy, and now her; after all, she is a slag, our teenage mother, and that kid could be anybody’s, innit? She doesn’t see the point in asking for help; she could go to a doctor, but s/he’d probably treat her like a slag too and what would be the point in talking to a posh bastard like that? So, she doesn’t look after herself and feed herself well – probably couldn’t afford to, even if she wanted to. The baby comes and our teenage mother is frightened, but knows that to ask for help will probably do her no good. She resents what this thing has done to her life and her body. She had nothing before, she has even less now. She’s angry, was angry before all this happened, but now she is frustrated beyond belief. She sort of loves this sprogger, but has no idea how to tell it. She treats it the way her parents treated her, because she has no reference point for treating it any other way. She has no help with the child and can’t afford to have it looked after, so she can’t get a job, not that she was thinking of getting one when she can just sign on, and anyway, she can’t do anything, she’s not good at anything, nobody would give her a job and she’s not going to suffer that kind of rejection. This child grows up in a similar vein: has never been encouraged or taught anything by its once teenage, now greying and haggered, bejogging-bottomed mother, so probably ignores the education that was shoved down its throat, because what’s the point in knowing all that stuff when the posh bastard teachers don’t give a fuck about you – they’re just paid to be there. When your parents don’t give a fuck about you, why would anyone else? The sense of worthlessness will fester and mutate with every generation, just like it did with every generation before it. And with this sense of worthlessness comes a resentment for the people who value themselves.

This, of course, is just one scenopsis in which we end up with the hooded hoodlum who stalks the streets with open beer cans braying abuse at anyone who isn’t like him/her. But, as far as the scummers are concerned, the people with self worth are the people who could help and they don’t and they’re so fucking smug with their plasma screens. And maybe we are. The media has a lot to answer for: it sells us the perfect lifestyle, the ideal home, it tells us the way we should look, the things we should own. It intimates that the people who don’t live this way are insignificant. So, we strive to live as we’re dictated to live; which means that we get into debt trying, work in full time jobs we hate, scrimp, save &c. We’re proud of our achievements. We’re proud that we aren’t like the scumming class. We look down on the scumming class. We look down at scummers… right down into their dirty, pocked faces. We call them scrotes, we call them scum, we call them pikies and chavs and scallies and skets. We can’t stand these people who use our tax to abuse the benefits system – tax that we’ve paid to enrich our own society, which we feel those types shouldn’t have a place in. I know, I feel it too – I can’t help it. “I work hard so that they don’t have to” is the condensed viewpoint. But the cause of this resentment from both sides is dividing the classes still further, to the point where the scumming class is actually being ostracised from society all together. We’re pushing these people out instead of looking at the class division and analysing why things are in the state they’re in. The sense of worthlessness swells through a sick sort of osmosis, and with it swells our distaste. We don’t look at the cause of poverty that has manifested itself thus… we just want it to go away and stop threatening our lives. We make them ever more inferior and the situation ever worse. But then again, why would you want to give some scumbag the time of day? One average person against one average chav is likely to get  abused in some way, no matter how much respect said average shows said chav.

THE SO-CALLED “RACE” RIOT

(and perhaps another tangent)

Another problem caused by unemployment and unemployability within the heart of the great unwashed is that a burning grudge is held for anyone who has a job. We live in a blame culture and this blame v.much includes racial minorities, especially within little white pockets of the poverty traps. As far as the ignorant are concerned, our ethnic minorities are “taking our jobs,” even if these ignoramouses are not personally concerned with employment. When I looked at the hooded army going to war, what I saw was, yes the odd black face, but a mainly white mob of skinheads. And what they looked like to me were the type of people who vote for the British National Party. Who vote BNP through ignorance, and lack of education and understanding. Who vote BNP because they have hatred inside of them and need somewhere to direct it. Who vote BNP because it makes them feel part of something (like the family they lack); who vote BNP because it gives them a sense of purpose. This was a race riot as much as it was a stand against the unfair distribution of wealth in this country – as in, it wasn’t. Whilst these kids are making a point, they make it unknowingly. They are angry because of the class divide, because they are povery-stricken; yes, ultimately, that is true. But bizarrely, they are just using it as a fish story to let out the pent up aggression they feel as a result of this treatment . They don’t understand that there is a v.real reason to protest. They inadvertently fight the battle they’re just using as an excuse to make a noise. Like a child throwing a tantrum, they want attention; they want to be seen and heard, but now that they have the floor, they don’t know what to say. They are frustrated, but nobody has ever taught them to try to understand the inner fury, or how to harness their anger and use it to get themselves heard rationally, like adults. And if anyone tried to teach them, would they listen? This unleashing of bitterness has been brewing for some time, and now it has happened in the least effective way, leaving hard working people to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. This wave of hatred has washed over us, leaving nothing but more resentment in its wake.

And, just as an aside: I think some of our minority groups did us proud throughout this rioting. A great big hand should go to the Turks. Good effort!

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The problem that now presents itself is rather severe. These scrawny, scruffy little gits are going to become fully grown adults. They’re going to become physically more powerful. They’re going to have more children. They’re going to be able to vote! We can’t take that away from them even if we wanted to, and, really, what’s taking their rights away going to achieve if not more ascerbity?

If we could bodily take each individual scummer and dedicate our time to teaching each and every one of them the lessons they should have been taught about life from their parents; if we had the time to impress upon them the importance of their existence and make every attempt to hone them into people who wouldn’t pose a threat to our flimsy society, but instead enhance it, we could maybe make a difference. We could at least make a difference with some, if not all. But we don’t have the time or resources and inclination is wavering. Maybe an exceptional few will pull their socks up and decide to take a different path in life. But, essentially, here we are, with these soon to be fully fledged adult animals. The obvious thing to do would be to teach their offspring; start from the beginning, if you will. But you can’t take a child away from its mother just because you don’t like her, or because you have different values and, as the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There seems to be v.little way to get through to this class.

And what of punishment? Our commonwealth hinges on recognition and retribution and the rioters must face disciplinary action. They deserve it. Much as I am erring on the sympathetic side, the rioters are still responsible for their own actions and they were not ignorant of the fact that they were breaking the law. We cannot appear to be approaching this issue all softly softly. People are outraged and justice must be done, as much for example’s sake, as much for peace of mind as anything. But we can punish these kids as far as the law will allow and then we’ll send them home again; back to their barren lives where they will feel even more rejected by the world they so wish to inhabit.

These people need representation. They need a voice. They need help and direction.  We want to be an educated nation, but how can we be when a large part of the nation won’t listen to anything they’re taught, even if they do stay in school? We cannot shun these people and expect them to quietly live their lives on the edge of the western world, out of our way. We cannot ban them from having children and we cannot round them all up and monitor them – Hitler may have found that to his liking, but we do not live in a dictatorship. We might abhor the underbelly, but cannot want to live in a police state, even if we would be amongst the chosen ones. Surely it is in our interests, in so many ways, to face the music and deal with this situation. Do we not appear weak as a nation when we are not a united force, but fighting pettily amongst ourselves over the acquisition of “stuff”? If we begin to treat these people with genuine prejudice we will be starting a constitutional war. As a famous bard once wrote: If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

RECOGNISE THAT THE OTHER PERSON IS YOU

We need to recognise that, given different circumstances, we could have been those people. And then we need to take a good, hard look at the shallow consumerism that engulfs us and the celebrity that we strive for, and choose a social order that doesn’t pay footballers £16 million a year just to let half of our society rot in their own dearth like an inconsequential annoyance to be endured from time to time. In short, we need a national brainstorming session, and we need to listen to one another to figure out where to go from here. But my money (my own money, which doesn’t amount to much, but which I earned through my inherent self-respect) is on us going down the lazy root; the root that doesn’t involve the fat cats relinquishing their grip on more money than they have to. We, as a nation, will continue to excommunicate fellow human beings and call ourselves decent people. We will blame “them” for crimes, and they will blame “us” for their poverty, when each party should just stop with the ineffectual and destructive blame, and start working with the other.


FOOTNOTES:

* Rather difficult when one doesn’t have a telly!

** Yes yes, ok – I don’t mean when I’m out and about of an evening

*** The hoodies, not the people wearing them

**** I never know if that should have a question mark at the end of it by proxy. “Innit”, as a derivative of “is it not,” surely should have. And the thought of a chav ending his sentences with “is it not” is highly amusing.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

Books:

Ragtime ~ E. L. Doctorow

The Bonny Lad ~ Jonathan Tulloch


Films:

Fish Tank

This is England

Trading Places

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Women! Know Your Limits: Part III ~ Body and Image

BODILY FUNCTIONS & HAIR REMOVAL

It’s been a v.long time since I had a period. For the majority of my adult life, my menstrual cycle has been put on hold with progestogen and progesterone. Initially, this was to alleviate the severe pains I used to suffer as a teenager* and later on became necessary to avoid the droppage of unwanted sproggers. Now that I find myself uncoupled, I’m reluctant to let the crimson wave invade my life once more. There have been occasions in the past where I’ve taken breaks from internal contraception to “sort my body out,” but all I‘ve discovered is that two weeks before a period, I turn into a snarling, snapping, whining, bitching, illogical, nasty, frustrated, irritated, worn out, emotional, violent, tearful, depressed, annoying twat; followed by dreadful bouts of teenage skin and bleeding that is not only painful, but leaves me drained of all energy, bloated, in pain, anaemic and often squicked out**. Add to this the inconvenience of being unable to wear light colours in case of leakage, the expense of buying tampons*** and the dilemma of to screw or not to screw (can I be bothered washing it out of the sheets? If we do it in the bath, will that just make the water look murky? Although they are wipe-clean, is it really hygienic to liberally spatter menstrual blood on the kitchen work tops?) Oh, I can’t be bothered any more. Implanon will be replaced when I finish my first three-year round in November.

But for most women, menstruation is v.much a reality and, for most women, v.much as I’ve described above. You boys have no idea! As well as the physical discomfort and the hormonal turmoil, entertaining Auntie Flo can also be a cause of deep embarrassment. A worrying amount of men flinch when periods are mentioned. It is more surprising to find a man that will quite happily take the topic in his stride than one who immediately blanches at the first mention and says: “Too much information…” or a variable thereof. I happen to be v.lucky in this regard – the men in my life have all been v.understanding and, in the not so frequent occurrence of my being on the blob at the monumentally inconvenient moment of being in a position of intimacy, have all carried on regardless, without hesitation or squeamishness. However, I have had the following reaction from male colleagues, teachers and the like (not during sexual encounters, I might add):-

THEM: Are you ok?

ME [bent double in agony]: I’m fine

THEM: What’s wrong?

ME: Period pain

THEM: I really didn’t need to know that

The insinuation here is that I should have invented a reason for my bellyache. But what? Presumably nothing relating to arses or fannies. It’s just another layer to add the ethereal image women try to portray. Germaine Greer, to return to that particular sage, suggests that we taste our menstrual blood. Well, I’m pretty sure the stuff has ended up in my mouth at some point, but I’m happier when any fluid that comes out of my body doesn’t end up in my mouth. After all, it’s coming out of my body for a reason. I don’t think eating your own blob is a way to accept the natural occurrence of its monthly appearance; I’m toilet phobic, but I don’t think drinking my own pee (or worse) is a way to accept that I have to do it. Learning to hide so diligently this so fundamental of female bodily processes is perhaps the foundation on which we build the greater deception assumed by most females as part and parcel of being a woman.

We shave our body hair. Whilst I understand the attraction with a smooth pair of legs, I don’t understand why the attraction, or why it doesn’t extend to men. We deal with armpit hair and back hair and sack and crack hair and yet the thought of a woman with hair in similar places is rather objectionable. Even women wrinkle their noses at the thought, so deeply ingrained is the ideal of the smooth woman. In fact, the only hair I can actually understand the removal of is pubic hair: of course, hair removal is at your own prerogative, but if you choose to allow your pubes to be unruly, at some point, some poor sod is going to end up with a mouthful of curlies and that is not going to be pleasant for them. Still, despite my lack of understanding, I will continue to remove any hair that isn’t on my head because to not do so is just not on the agenda. Does it not smack of the worst kind of brainwashing that I do not understand the need to do this and yet go ahead and do it anyway? My only motivation is other people. I don’t want to wear a skirt or short-sleeved top and have people see that, on occasion, hair grows out of the places that are on show. And what a ludicrous reason to do anything!

PLASTIC SURGERY

It goes further than waxing and shaving the hair on our bodies. A friend of a friend of mine recently invested in removing something else. Something that required anaesthetic and permanent mutilation. Her flaps! It seems that I was much mistaken when I took women with no flange flaps to be the same as people with no earlobes. People actually want this! I’m not saying that if you only have little flaps there’s anything wrong with that – maybe you’re just naturally neater – but why would you change something that you only ever show to someone with whom you are comfortable being intimate? For a start, that’s going to desensitise a v.sensitive area to some extent and that’s the last thing women need. I’m really not savvy enough on the subject of bajingo surgery to understand the rationale behind it, but I wouldn’t cut part of my genitalia off if you paid me. Since hearing of this outrageous act against muffs, it’s all I’ve been able to think about****. Perhaps they could take the removed flesh and pad something else out with it, since apparently the most effective way to become more attractive is to hack parts of yourself off and shove foreign articles in.

And then there’s anal bleaching! Presumably this is to give an effect of cleanliness, but here’s the thing: a bleached anus is even less clean than a non-bleached one on account of this equally ludicrous procedure causing anal leakage! “Oh, yes, I smell like arse, but at least I paid a lot of money for the privilege.” Here’s a news flash: your anus is the colour it is because of its main purpose in life and no matter what you do to it, that will still be its purpose!

I find the thought of medical procedures in general to be a rather extreme way of enhancing looks. I’m all for make-up as a way of enhancing what’s already there, but even then there is the fact that men don’t do it. Again there is hair removal – plucking the eyebrows. For dark-haired ladies with hair on their top lips, I have been told that bleaching is the best practice for disguising. We cover blemishes and dark circles, change our skin tone†, augment our cheekbones and brow-bones with highlighters and shadows. We make our eyelashes darker and, in my fair case, the eyebrows we lovingly tweezed. If one is to go the whole hog with make-up, the face is wiped out by primers and foundations, only to be redrawn over the top in deeper shades. And men don’t have this hassle. In fact, unless you’re Eddie Izzard or Tim Minchin, male make-up is rarely seen outside the circles of rock and/or drag. Yet I am all for wearing make-up. Make-up that looks like you’re wearing make-up. My eyes have gone from doe to sixties wings to fifties flicks to rockabilly ticks. But never did it occur to me to not do it. In fact, I find it slovenly to not do it – it’s part of getting dressed for me. There always comes a point when I start a new relationship and the person I’m seeing goes: “You look different somehow…” and I have to explain that my face is actually underneath the paint and that the reason I look different is that I’ve taken the paint off. I realise that this isn’t the case for all women, but there’s no denying that there is a great deal of pressure for women to look a certain way and regardless of what anyone says, constantly being bombarded with images of women that have been airbrushed to “perfection”, pouting, dark-eyed, ruby-lipped and vacantly-expressioned really gives us ladies a run for our money.

But at least these images are false: the face has been drawn on, the hair has been backcombed, sprayed, dyed, blow-dried and that’s before the final projection is tampered with. These are realistic goals to strive for, if that’s what you really want. It is possible to go someway to achieving the look of the moment, if the word “achievement” can legitimately be applied here. Of course, some stars go a step further and have plastic surgery – we accept this since they are something of a mythical “other” anyway. The rich and famous, for those of us that aren’t, are fabulous untouchables. They almost cease to be people. They are the beautiful husks, designed for our entertainment and amusement, to which we attribute whatever personality we feel like, since we don’t know them and never will. Somehow, for them to present themselves to us as perfect packages is wholly acceptable, since we effectively pay their wages and if a proportion of the billions we spend on music, films, magazines &c. goes towards a bit of rhinoplasty, then so be it. It does, after all, make the Beautiful Untouchables better at their jobs. But plastic surgery is slowly creeping into the high street. These days it is perfectly normal to see busses rolling by advertising cosmetic “enhancement.” It is no longer beyond our means to afford this sort of luxury.

What I can’t get my head around is that people would actually pay to have someone cut into their flesh for no other reason than that their nose was a bit wonky or their breasts smaller than they would like. The v.thought actually knocks me sick. Having had surgery, and I mean minor surgery††, I can’t entertain the thought of paying thousands of pounds for someone to do that to me if there is nothing wrong with me in the first place. Going under the scalpel is scary, for a start: a person injects you with something that renders you unconscious, which can cause health complications (and in some extreme cases, death), once under you have to trust another person to wield incredibly sharp implements over your naked body and then to actually slice into you. Now, let’s just suppose that everything goes to plan and you awake unharmed – firstly, you’ll probably vomit violently. And you will be in pain. Severe pain. You can’t expect to have your tissue hacked into and wake up feeling fine and dandy, of course you can’t. You’ll feel dizzy and confused, parts of you will hurt that didn’t even have the surgery, because bodies are funny that way, and you’ll probably be full of tubes. I don’t know what the recovery time is for plastic surgery, but after I had my appendix removed and my laparoscopy, it was a good two or three months before I felt ok again and the scars still ache from time to time to this day. And, the pain aside, what happens if you don’t like the finished result? Do you go back for more to correct it or quit while you’re ahead? What happens if, say, you have a wonky nose, have it straightened and then discover that it makes the rest of your face look wonky? What happens if your new nose suits your younger face, but as you get older starts to look out of place? There’s a limit to what surgery can do. And reversing age is another limit it cannot transcend.

So, it’s painful, it’s expensive, there are health risks… but what about just plain unhealthy. Liposuction, for example, is the procedure of sucking the fat out of a person’s body. Just as it is unhealthy to be underweight, so is it to be overweight, yet we have developed a way of reducing the fat in a person’s body without exercise or dietary revision. Bit of a no-brainer, that one. And we all know this and yet about a third of the people I asked said they definitely would have plastic surgery if they could afford it (mainly women), a third said they would consider it (a few more men crept into this category) and the remaining third said they wouldn’t (mainly men).What is this need to be uniformly beautiful? And why do the majority allow the media to dictate what being beautiful entails? True, we’re visual creatures… those of us who are lucky enough to be sighted, at least. I’m not denying the fact of attraction, but surely we are able to decide what constitutes beauty for ourselves. And surely there is an appeal in the irregular features that make one person different from the next. Maybe there are similar pressures for men when it comes to image, but I don’t see that men spend an inordinate amount of time preening, plucking, dyeing, curling, straightening, buffing, filing, painting, waxing and cutting off parts of their genitalia simply for the aesthetics, dressing up like damned male peacocks or tottering around on their tippy-toes.

FOOTNOTES:

* I mean pains that spread up into my chest and down both legs. Pains that made me faint and vomit. Pains mainly caused by Endometriosis, it later transpired.

**  I am squeamish of all blood – my problem is not the location of the bleeding, only the fact of it.

*** Although, should I choose to return to my natural state of affairs, I shall be purchasing a mooncup. Sounds cleaner than plugging my muff with cotton wool, in which nasty germs can grow, and would work out cheaper on account of being a one off payment.

**** A colleague asked me recently why I was staring into space and all I could say was: “I’m thinking about flaps.”

† Historically women would put arsenic on their faces to bleach the skin. Unfortunately for pasties like me, in this day and age, the trend is to apply unnatural shades of orange to create a healthy glow

†† Appendectomy, laparoscopy, lapascopic womb scraping, contraceptive implant &c.

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