Yes, another marriage rant… Continue reading
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.
* 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
DISCLAIMER: All generalisations made relate to the “average” straight woman and “average” straight man are purely exemplary
Society is bound together by a set of rules that essentially stop us from passing on disease and/or killing each other. What the creators, or should I say “maintainers”, of society fail to realise is that it doesn’t necessarily work. For the most part, we’ve learned the difference between “right” and “wrong” and use this as the basis for our moral compasses (compae?); however, we are still passing on disease and killing each other regardless. Interesting. There is anger to be borne of repression. To be naughty is somehow delicious.
The problem with rules is that they’re open to interpretation. As with everything, from the law to personal moral code, the boundaries of each precept blurs into the boundaries of others and sometimes into grey areas you’ve never even considered. We have solicitors – that’s the law sorted. But one person’s guilty non-compliance can be another person’s norm.
Men are bigger and stronger than women, as a general rule. But just how much stronger are they? We are sold this idea, right from the start of our lives: boys are big and strong and girls are little and delicate, boys like getting dirty and girls like to clean, boys like blue and girls like pink, boys climb trees and girls play with dolls &c. Forget the fact that some men are short and may have a subconscious issue with this (otherwise known as the Napoleon Complex, which can cause anxiety and aggression). Forget the fact that if a woman is naturally larger, she’ll probably feel hung-up on it for life; starve herself and binge in equal measure, causing nothing but unhappiness and self loathing. What happens if a man’s muscle tone isn’t naturally as firm as he’s told it should be? Does that mean he’s less of a man? If he has pronounced hips, does that make him too feminine? What if a woman has a grip like a vice and a kick like a donkey? If her thighs are hard and muscular should she be considered too masculine? What I’m trying to get at is that, yes, one is a man or one is a woman, but there are varying degrees of the male/female distinction. As with all things, to take the divide at its face value of black and white would be ignorant. Take those who consider themselves to be in the wrong body: technically one thing, emotionally another. Society does not make allowances for disparity. Maybe it’s more a case of there being numerous different sexes that we coarsely split into two categories in order to slot people into this over-simplified civilisation of ours.
Because western culture dictates that men are strong and women are weak, the average man does everything he can to be the big, brawny male and the average woman just plain doesn’t try to be physically powerful. Why should she need to be? Of course, a woman may exercise, but she does that to be thin, surely. What we end up with is the stronger entity becoming even stronger and the weaker entity becoming even weaker. Men carry bags, men drive HGVs, men open jars, men change tyres, men put up shelves and why? Because women don’t believe they can do it; they think, because they have been wrongly indoctrinated to believe, that they need a man to do that. Almost, that it’s a man’s duty to do these things. And more than that, the majority of straight women genuinely lust after big, strong men who can take control and protect them when, in actual fact, they are quite capable of protecting themselves.
Of course, it’s easier to hand a jar over to a man than attempt to get the lid off yourself. I struggle with my bathroom light, for example, which conks out an inordinate amount and which I can’t reach unless I stand on the bath and lean over to it. Unfortunately, the landlord chose a heavy, glass light shade of the sort usually found in public toilets and, given the angle of approach (which involves hanging onto the shower-curtain rail) combined with the weight of said light shade, it’s rather difficult to unscrew with one hand. Being a short-arse is not something I can help. In times gone by I have showered in the dark until someone tall came round. I v.much begrudge letting a man change a light bulb on my behalf, but I have had no idea from whom to borrow a stepladders long enough to do the job and have no room for a set of my own. Conundrum…
It’s amazing how much a mental block can affect your physical ability. As a runner, I know that any self doubt can cause an inhibition in performance, especially following a period of rehabilitation. The minute I think: “I can’t get up that hill” or “I can’t go that extra mile,” I’m doomed. If I allow myself to walk once in a run, I will allow myself to walk twice, then three times and so on. So it’s perfectly understandable that if women have been told all their lives that they’re not strong enough to do something quite simple or that they’ll get dirty if they attempt it and are advised to pass the task to a man, then that’s precisely what they’ll do. And precisely the advice that they’ll pass on to their children. Of course, I’m not saying I could take on a man in combat (I’m not denying the natural physicality here) but I have no necessity for men in order to live, nor does any woman. It is the ultimate ideal, the deeply embedded paradigm, of the nuclear family that makes a woman feel it necessary to have a man around and it is this that often makes a woman feel inadequate if she doesn’t.
Women, have a clue! It’s all in your heads where it was planted by society generations ago. We are strong! Stronger than you could ever believe. Do the job yourself; you are more than capable. If you don’t know how to – learn! And in a world where violence is rife, it’s downright dangerous to allow yourself to be weakened to the point where you must rely on somebody else to protect you. Join a self-defence class, bench press, do weights, tone your core… do everything you can to enhance your natural ability. And don’t forget that your arse and legs are powerful tools!
And men… get over yourselves – you’re not all heroes and it’s a mystery to me why we all seem to want you to be.
Women are known for being in touch with their emotions. We cry easily, we have compassion, we are nurturing and maternal… I, of course, don’t include Margaret Thatcher in this. What happens when a mother doesn’t feel that infamous connection with her newborn baby? It’s written off as post-natal depression because no sane woman would ever spurn her own child. Every woman is maternal, as far as society is concerned, and if she’s not, there must be something wrong with her. It is her role, her duty to want and care for babbits simply because she is the one who has them. She must, therefore, be maternal by nature. She must be caring and loving and because of this adorable trait, she lives on her emotions and therefore, cannot be expected to think logically with her little lady brain. Leave that to the men.
Maybe I’m being a tad unfair here. I had PMT enough times, back in the days before Implanon, to know that for no apparent reason, I would suddenly find myself screaming and shouting, ranting and railing and bursting into tears over nothing. It often took me a while to think: “Hm… when was my last period?” The guru, Germaine Greer, believes this anger and upset is caused by the stigma that has been placed on the menstrual cycle over the decades. Well, maybe – I’m not ruling it out – but I can honestly say that the PMT always hit me before the realisation of the lunar phase did. So maybe, in addition to being naturally smaller and slightly weaker (notice the word “slightly”) we are also naturally slightly more emotional. But these organic attributes have been grasped upon and blown out of all proportion and now we’re in the rut, it’s damned hard to climb back out again and admit that the way we implant convictions in the mind from an early age is not necessarily in the best interest of humankind.
Hormones aside, it is still considered the case that if a man sheds a glistening tear, he could be considered sensitive. But if he cries like a baby, he’s just plain wet. Whereas for a woman to cry in times of trauma, relief, happiness – well, that’s just to be expected. We’re allowed, nay expected, as women, to break down and flap in the face of turmoil, whereas men are expected to take charge. Which is ridiculous. It’s natural to cry when emotions are running high – for both men and women*. It is also possible for both groups to pull themselves together, consider a situation logically and act accordingly.
As with the gender split, maybe it’s more of a case of individual levels of emotion. To give you another example: I’m not much of a crier (although, I used to be), but my last two partners were both major criers. I don’t think for a second that I’m less sensitive than your average woman – I just have a v.long fuse and like to ensure that I fully grasp a situation and have considered all options before I react. Of course, when I flip (and don’t we all at some point?), I really fly off the bloody handle, but I usually get a grip pretty quickly. As I get older, the flips are less frequent and when they do happen, the red mist clears faster. Life becomes harder to compartmentalise the older you get and accepting that allows me to consider every side of a situation. Of course, I’m far from perfect and not every conclusion is correct, but doesn’t the fact that I, as a woman, deal with things analytically enhance my point about basing opinions on individuals and not purely on gender?
It is because of this caring nature we’re all supposed to have that women are expected to maintain the momentum of a relationship. You rarely see relationship self-help books aimed at men – How to Get and Keep Your Woman…? Women are taught from an early age to build close monogamous couplings and you often see little girls hand in hand with their best friend. The problems arise when one of the little girls finds another little girl that she considers to be her best friend and thus sets the other one off in a flurry of frustrated tears until she finds herself another best friend. Sound familiar? In the same way that women are not wont to aim for physical strength, men are not inclined to strive for emotional alliances. And if they do erupt with emotion, it usually manifests itself as aggression. This imbalance creates frustration on both sides of the coin and liability in couplings always lies with the woman. Woman will almost certainly do anything to reach the inevitable marriage and man will do anything to put her off. So when a relationship breaks down, it is the woman who is to blame – woman could not maintain her relationship, woman didn’t care enough, woman smothered man, woman “stole” man from other woman, woman drove man away… At no point does anyone say: “You know, you really can’t help the way you do or don’t feel about someone. Maybe we should just all be honest about how we feel…” because all the women in any given relationship situation are too enraged at the other women involved to look at the bigger picture. It’s all down to a sense of possession, which I won’t touch upon right now as there are no room for tangents** in this blog. But women try to possess men just as much as men try to possess women in the straight world; it’s just that one group of people physically possess and the other emotionally and that’s down to sheer programming.
We are as emotionally strong as we are physically and, once that’s something we all acknowledge, once we stop playing to our set of precedents, the battle of the sexes may well come to a standstill… well maybe not, but it would be a start, at least.
* To some degree. But that is just the initial reaction, not the solution and it will not solve any problem. Cry, by all means; give yourself a moment. Then wipe the tears away and get on with it!
** Meaning my extensive rant about marriage
It’s an ostensibly pretentious sentiment when people say they don’t believe in labels. Those commonly referred to as moshers* used to bang on about it during my school days. Regardless of whether it was correct to label them thus, you know the type of people I mean: those who think they’re being original, but are actually just adhering to a slightly smaller set of fashion rules like a sheep that’s rolled in mud and announced: “I’m better than you. I’m so unique because I’m depressed and muddy and don’t like the same things as other sheep… well, apart from all these muddy guys who hang around the cattle grid with me and shout abuse at all the non-muddies for being conformist, to the point where all the cool independent shops have to shut down… in the Corn Exchange…” Hm… this analogy was tenuous to begin with, but now it appears to have morphed into my bugbear about the kids in uniform-black who hang around Leeds city centre making people so uncomfortable that local businesses suffer.
Anyway anyway anyway, I understand the primary need for labels. Labels are just names when you think about it and you wouldn’t want to find yourself pointing at something and going: “Could you pass me that thing, please? No, that thing. THAT thing!” But there comes a point where a name becomes subjective and transforms into a label rather than a definition and, being undefined, labels, like generalisations, are incredibly hit-and-miss; especially when you reach the realm of categories. Genres, for instance. It would be difficult to find a book you’d want to read without genres, but under which genre would you put The Well of Loneliness, or Maurice? Gay and Lesbian Fiction? Modern Classics? And why is there a section just for gay and lesbian fiction anyway? Why is it separate from everything else? You don’t get Middle-Aged Fiction, or Brunette Fancier Fiction. True, it’s annoying and unrealistic to read about heterosexuals all the time and perhaps you’re actively looking for fiction wherein the main characters are gay. But why segregate just this group of people? You don’t traditionally get Black Fiction or Jewish Fiction and if you’re sick of reading about Caucasians and Christians, you’d have to dig the old fashioned way*** to find books with a black/Jewish protagonist. And if everything is segregated like this, how will straight people ever learn enough about gay culture to wholly accept it? If we’re striving for equality, surely putting Gay and Lesbian fiction on a different shelf is kind of like pointing a finger and going: “These books can’t possibly mix with the normal books.”
My real issue, though, before I head off on another tangent, is people who try to label other people. And by “other people,” I mean me. I was recently much narked after having a row with a self-proclaimed feminist on Twitter who announced that I was no feminist after all and proceeded to tell me that I was middle class****.
Now I would never have called myself a feminist, mainly because I don’t really know what being a feminist entails and, since no two feminists have ever completely agreed with each other, I don’t think the feminists know either. I have my ideas and beliefs, however malleable, and they seem to tie in with a lot of feminist ideals, but I don’t see why that makes me a feminist.
Even more annoying than being labelled is being unlabelled. I never said I was a feminist and yet here was a girl I’d never met confidently announcing that I was definitely NOT something I had never claimed to be. Personally, I don’t see how she could make such a judgement after five 140 character exchanges with a stranger who looks nothing like her Twitter profile picture†. Outrage! I mean, yes, I believe that society has brought us up with some pretty topsy-turvy ideas about love, marriage, sex, relationships and family, and I believe that women have been horribly oppressed in the past (and maybe still are in some ways) and that it’s led to a lot of avoidable unhappiness from all corners, but why the hell does that make me a feminist? Surely that just makes me me!
And take people who say they don’t believe in bisexuality. Or that bisexuality is just greedy. How fucking ludicrous and downright childish! It is simply a case of desiring who you desire and you can’t help being attracted to people even if you’re deeply in love with someone else. It’s just human nature. Why does who you’re attracted to mean so much to everyone who isn’t you? Fine, say bisexuality doesn’t exist, if you want to; it still doesn’t change the fact that some people sleep with both men and women. Why does that actuality necessitate a label? And as far as being greedy: a person can be attracted to both women and men and carry on a perfectly monogamous relationship. Some women and some men, remember, NOT absolutely everyone. And not all at once!
Categories in politics are also tricky. I tend to vote for the big party†† that has the most agreeable points, as far as I’m concerned, which is all anyone can do, really. But it’s so hard to know where to stick your little cross when you don’t whole-heartedly agree with absolutely everything any of the parties promise… not that the promises of politicians mean anything at the end of the day. And even harder when some of the things that concern you the most aren’t even touched upon by any.
I believe the distribution of wealth is completely unjustified – does that make me a socialist? I’m not sure joining the EU is a good idea – does that make me a Tory? I tend to lean towards the left, but not always. I’m a greeny-libdemy-laboury-monster-raving-loony. But not completely.
I am me. Why do I need other labels?
* I believe they don’t make moshers** any more. I have been informed that they’ve been replaced with Emos. Or twats, as I like to call them.
** I used to get accused of being one of these. Easy mistake to make – I’m pasty and my natural expression is one of despair. I’m not despairing, it’s just my face.
*** Google, naturally
**** I’m glad someone told me. Didn’t realise with my history that’s what you’d call me. Tell me, do you get many middle-class people living in one room flats, sleeping in the cupboard because there’s no bedroom and living on soup?
† I really should change that, but it goes with the background
†† To stop the BNP getting in. I live in absolute fear that Nick Griffin will have some sway in the world, the arrogant, shallow, bigoted wanker.
I began writing a blog several weeks ago on the subject of running; however, since beginning said blog, I have managed to break my back* and, whilst I fully intend to pick it up once I am healed, the thought of blogging about running, my beloved sport, seems unnecessarily masochistic at present. Still, there is many a blog subject whizzing around in my head just waiting to be put into writing.
During the last flat-bound week, a subject on which I have recently ruminated much, has been pushed to the forefront of my mind. You see, what with the vast majority of my friends tying the proverbial noose… I mean knot… buying houses in true grown-up fash’ and even dropping sproggers, I have been driven to study my own situation in greater depth.
It has been suggested that my views on relationships, nay on society in general, are somewhat unorthodox. I can’t even begin to summarise on such a broad subject without going off on a tangent, but I can say, just to give the general idea, that the middle-class myth of romance, marriage and happily-ever-afters leaves me cold. Don’t get me wrong, I v.much believe in love, but not in quite the way that western society dictates, although I have been Disney indoctrinated on my life journey as much as the next person. Anyway anyway anyway, to conclude before I really begin, I have no intention of marrying**, no interest in bearing babbits and I am clinging to my solitary studio as if my life depends upon it. All well and good and that’s my prerogative, you might say. But for the past few months, this resolution has been tinged with a nagging doubt. It isn’t the body clock rapping on my maternal instinct and it certainly isn’t the sight of yet another blushing bride in a strapless*** wedding gown. It is simply the matter of security.
Possibly this uncertainty has been borne from my mother’s indefatigable refusal to conform and marry her partner of 12 years, and my concern for her future well-being. Regardless of how it sprang into being, the question of security had begun to needle me long before the disappearing chair incident and my subsequent incapacity. A week of disability, however, has taken it’s toll. The question is now not just lurking nonchalantly, but tramping around the forefront of my mind wearing hobnail boots.
It’s all v.well my spouting on about independence and freedom and personal space and self-respect as an active twenty seven year old. It’s ok for me to spurn marriage as a fresh(ish)-faced young woman; no conventional beauty, it’s true, but no munter, either. But what happens when I unravel? What happens when I am forced to give up running, walking, yoga-ing, working out****? What will happen when the lines on my face don’t fade throughout the day, when my hair is grey and thinning and I can’t quite make it up the stairs or even remember where the stairs lead? If I do not marry, if I do not have children, if I never manage to make enough money to hire a good nurse, who is there to look after me?
This week, I have mainly relied on Gary, my boss (or my boss’s boss, if I am to be pedantic), who lives just around the corner from me and is, much to my eternal gratitude, always looking out for me. Michelle would have also been a great source of support, if she hadn’t been seconded to Belfast for the week. And it’s unfortunate that my partner is away skiïng in.. um… Sweden… Switzerland… somewhere beginning with “Sw”, although he did spend the former part of the week running me to hospital and bringing me shopping. I’m sure that both Michelle and my partner would have done their best to take care of me had they been here, but it’s a boring, time-consuming job to look after someone when you work full time yourself, and neither of them are used to me needing them; I encourage and seek autonomy in any relationship. I have been indoors for a week, peering out of the window at the ice-rink that is my street, unable to even step foot out of the door for fear of falling and doing yet more damage. I hate this. I hate needing people.
I hate even needing my mother and consider our relationship to be strictly want-to-know these days. But of course, the fabulous Mrs Dewsnap has, naturally, come up trumps in the hospitality stakes once more. She is my Mum at the end of the day. But when I am old, what then? My mother insists she will live well into her hundreds and, being as solid as she is, I can well believe it. If she makes her hundreds, though, who will be looking after who?
Michelle, my saviour and good friend, will one day pledge allegiance to the U. S. of A., marry a rich American and pop out more bairns than she’ll know what to do with. She does not share my cynicism of marriage. And Gary, great friend that he is, is the same age as my mother.
There is always John, of course. We made a pact, way back in the days of puppy fat, that should we both be single at the age of thirty, we’d marry each other. Thirty in those days seemed so v.far away and as the day of judgement looms, the boundary has been pushed laughably further and further back. I think we agreed on forty five at the last count. It seems John has no desire to marry either… even if I had been the right sex.
So, then, I expect to deteriorate and rot alone in my old age, far away as it seems right now.
Although I have not yet reached the end of the book, “The Female Eunuch” for me so far has been life-changing. Not in the sense that it has opened my mind, but rather because it has confirmed my own existing ideas. Whilst I don’t agree with every single point in an extended essay that is, in essence, a documentation of one woman’s opinions, it has voiced several thoughts that I have often tried to express and been rebuffed for. This book has been a blessed relief. It seems that my ideas are not as bizarre as people would have me believe – at least one other person agrees with me; and one as rational as Germain Greer, no less.
The real eye-opener, though; the section that made me think twice, was the short chapter entitled “Security”. This concern of mine is relatively new and I like to mull things over and really attack the root of any problem to find a solution, which often takes a while to come to fruition. Sometimes I ask questions of people†. The chapter on security has saved me a job, although I’d like to believe that I would have reached the same conclusion in the end had Greer not pipped me at the post. It’s all so obvious when you think about it:
There is no such thing as security
And I don’t just mean in terms of companionship. If you pay into a pension, does that guarantee your financial security? If you marry, does that mean you’ll never again be single? If you invest, does that mean you will get a greater return on your contribution? If you raise moppets, does that mean you will never be lonely? A husband/wife/civil partner can just as easily run off with a temp’ or get hit by a bus as a singleton. People change, companies go bust, markets crash, children grow into adults. All we are guaranteed is the moment in which we live and breathe and all we can do is hope that our investments (no matter what they be) pull through for us in the end.
Contrary to being daunting, the realisation that security is yet another mirage of society is v.comforting to me. At least this way, I can view other people’s situations in a new light when compared to my own. Others are no more secure than I am, they have just bought into the myth. All we can do is our best!
It’s a similar feeling to the realisation that after death comes nothing. Blessed, divine nothing. And once we are gone, none of this will matter a single jot. What a heavenly thought…
* Just my coccyx. It was a hilariously impressive feat performed after the consumption of copious amounts of mulled wine, whereby I hallucinated a chair and sat on it with all my might.
** If it hasn’t happened already
*** It is the fashion, I am well aware of this and each to their own
**** For many reasons that I won’t list right now
† Deep, delving, inappropriate, occasionally downright insubordinate questions.