Tuesday 29 April 2008


We're pack animals.

When I was a teenager, there were several household rules I broke.
But there was one my mother knew I broke, but turned a blind eye to.

When everyone had gone to bed, the dogs would come up the stairs. They didn't like being downstairs on their own.

And I, alone of the household, would leave my door slightly ajar.

And just I was drifting off, I would feel first one thump at the bottom of the bed.
Then a couple of minutes later, another.
Which was why I had left the door open.

I didn't see why the little guys should have to sleep downstairs alone.

By the time I woke up, Leo would be next me on the pillow, Kip further down, in the arc my sleeping form created.
I got used to it.

I learned whilst young to hate sleeping alone.

I've been a bit of a slut in my time, I guess. Though not really the way people might assume. Looking back, it's a definite minority of the people I've had intercourse with, I've done it in a bed. Club toilets, pub toilets, shop doorways, carparks, fields, cars, etc.
I can count the women I've had intercourse with and also gone to sleep with, on my fingers.

But on the other hand, I've slept, in the purely sleeping sense, with a similar figure.
I've slept with a number of women, just for the sake of intimacy.

Because sometimes, that's what you want.

Sometimes, I've said 'I just want us to be close and cuddle. I don't want sex.'

Being single has it's pros and cons. On the whole, for me, it has more pros than cons.

On the one hand, you aren't guaranteed sex on a regular basis- certainly nowhere near what you'd want, and you have to put time and energy into going and getting it. But once you've got it, you have plenty of scope for variety.

Your time is your own, you have no one else's problems to worry about, and it's not as if you're lacking in company.

You don't have all the irritations and bother that a relationship provides. Your life truly is your own.

And it's a huge but.

There's the nights to get through.

And for me, that's the main negative point to being single. It really makes a difference. I stay up till almost one every night, basically to avoid going to bed. And when I do go, I find going to sleep hard. I often get up after an hour, make a drink and go for a fag, simply because I can't sleep. I think I probably average four and a half hours a night, during the week.

Yet if there's someone else in the bed, I'd be asleep in minutes. I always am.
I've still not quite got used to this sleeping alone business.
When D lived her, I used to sleep with my door open, just to know she was there. I still do, but now I know she isn't.

It's actually been about four months now since I last actually spent the night with a woman.
And whilst most of you would think it's the sex I miss, it isn't, really. In fact, I don't much think about it. I don't even bother watching porn these days, it just doesn't seem to interest me.

And yet as the spring has to started to warm up a huge desire for intimacy seems to have overtaken me. I found myself at work today standing behind Dizzy, with both hands on her shoulders, stroking the skin underneath her top. I even bent down and whispered something work related to her, but as I did so, our cheeks touched.

I pulled myself back, because I don't see Dizzy in a sexual way, not at all, in spite of our office banter. But somehow or other I seemed to have been overcome by a powerful urge just to embrace her and run my hands down her back.


I thought you might be interested to hear the little fantasy I've started to rely on as the only way I can get to sleep these days.

You'll be- shocked.
Though not in the way you think.

I have an image of her. HER. THE ONE.

I get into bed, and move over to what would be my side (the left hand side of the bed, with my back to the wall). I imagine her, lying on the opposite pillow, facing me. I whisper her name, as a child whispers it's mothers name. I reach out for her and pull her close. I can feel her skin against mine, it sticks slightly, so that if either of you pulled away suddenly, you'd feel a slight tug. I can feel her breath against my face, hair drapes into my eyes, but I don't care. I'd rather feel her hair in my eyes, than not feel her at all. Her breasts push against me, moving in and out as she breathes slowly. I run my fingers along her back and squeeze her round the waist.

I'm looking into her eyes. She loves me, I can see it. She KNOWS me. There are no barriers, there is complete trust. I am safe in her arms.

Tenderness. Closeness. Intimacy.

I pull her closer, and fall back, her splayed across me. Her head nestles between my neck and my shoulder.
As I doze off, I stroke her back and say her name.

I say it again and again as I drift off.

Never once does sex come into the vision. It's as if that would spoil this particular fantasy, cheapen it. I don't think it's clear in this fantasy, whether it's meant to be a post-coital situation or not. And perhaps I don't really like to think about it.

Am I Pygmalion perhaps?
Would I really want this to be true?
Could I pay the price now, in my current life?

God knows.
It helps me sleep anyway.

Monday 28 April 2008

When People Take Love Too Far

Fascinating post by the ever thoughtful Eve, which I recommend you all read.
Eve, I guess has more reason than most to think about these sorts of things.

But a whole wider series of issues ARE raised by the post.
People turning what is supposed to be a beautiful thing, ie romance, and turning it into something thoroughly unpleasant.

Because it truly can be.
And usually, it is because people attach too much significance to it.

What do I mean by that?
Well, quite simply it is supposed to be a beautiful thing, but people turn into a bargain, a contract, a chain.
There is a very nasty edge to it.

And I think Eve's post highlighted very well why sometimes, people's expectations themselves are the problem. This is one of my main gripes with the monogamy ideal. It's not so much the sexual possession (though I must admit I'm not entirely sold on that idea), it's bigger, it's the desire to possess another's person's life.

It's the desire to control who the other party has access to, the desire to monopolise their time, the desire to always be watching over them, the wish to ensure that they have no life that doesn't involve you, indeed, no PEOPLE that aren't yourself, no relationships that aren't somehow under your supervision.

Why should anyone have to live like that?

I think Eve raised some very good points about blogs and what people get up to blogging, and how many people 'cheat' online, and how we should regard it, but I think in many ways, the real questions come earlier.

Which is people's attitudes to the other people in their partner's lives.
To me, this really has to be crunch question.
To me, it doesn't matter how wonderful someone is, the real question is, how do they fit into your life?
Do they slot in nicely, or do they cause disruption?

Will they fit in perfectly with the arrangements you already have, or are they going to force you to rearrange the furniture?
Because in my view, if they REALLY are the one, then no furniture needs to be rearranged.

Just over a year ago I started seeing this girl who, for various reasons was a little clingy. She fell very quick, I suppose. And I suppose I fell for her neediness, in a sense. She'd had a hard life, some bad things had happened to her as a student and they had affected her views on men. To be fair, she hadn't had a lot of luck with men. She'd been 'wham, bam, thank you mam' ed a fair bit, I think, by various sub-human Neanderthals. She was lonely. Her closest friend, indeed her only real friend- as opposed to an acquaintance- was someone she had met at work in the previous twelve months.
Now if you're 29- as she was- and that is the best example of a friend you have, life hasn't been good to you. So I guess I pitied her. I wanted to give her a try and show her that not all men are bastards.

My mistake.

An issue from the start, was time. She had plenty. I had somewhat less. Quite a bit more than I do now, I had a less demanding job, and I didn't post everyday or visit many blogs. But I had things to do, people to see. Because she wasn't really a people person, she couldn't quite see why it was that I couldn't devote huge amounts of time to her.


One day, test time came.
Oestrebunny often reprimands me for my use of test procedures to judge people. My view is, I don't create the tests. Life does. You just observe how people behave when these situations arise. You let events run their course, you let people show their true colours, and on that basis, you judge them once you have all the information you need.

I had agreed that we would spend a whole evening in her flat, without going out, without me using the PC, without me phoning my mates, or taking phone calls.
We would just have a meal, have a herbal bath, she would give me a massage and we would go to bed.
Just as she was about to serve up, I received a text message.

Crushed: Hon, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to go out as soon as we've eaten. We're going to have to cancel that herbal bath. Maybe another night.

She: Why, where do you have to go?

Crushed: A friend needs to talk to me about something. It's quite important really. They need me right now.

She: Do you really have to? You said just this one night!

Crushed: I know, I know. But I can't help these things can I? I don't decide when people decide they're going to split up from their partner and move out. They may need some money by the looks of it. Or help. I can't let a friend down, not when they need me. I'm not like that.

She: So you going to theirs?

Crushed: God, no! Her boyfriend would think I was the reason they were splitting up. No, I'll meet her in the Hop Pole.

She: HER??? You're leaving me to go meet another woman?

Crushed: She's a friend. Her sex is immaterial. I stand by my friends.
Crushed: I would say come, but it would be a bit inappropriate.

She: All right then, I guess you have to go.

And I went. And me and D (Yes, it was D), got very drunk and I agreed to loan her money to help her get set up somewhere. Before going back.
But the lack of grace from my other friend (I won't say girlfriend, because in my book, she wasn't, I have criteria by which I acknowledge a relationship, and she hadn't yet met it, in fact, she was busily determining unbeknownst to herself that she'd NEVER meet it).
When I returned I got 'So how was that bitch then?'

Crushed: You what? You don't even know her! Don't speak about my friends like that, or you'll be the one walking!

She: Well, I hate her. I was supposed to have you tonight.

Yes, I guess it's endearing, in a sense. But it's also been noted by me as cause for concern. Unwillingness to get on with close female friends of mine. Inability to accept close platonic friendship between me and other women, potential threat to those friendships if the relationship got more serious.

One black mark.

And the next came a couple of weekends afterwards, when I went to stay with the Baker in Manchester.
As far as I am concerned, when a man says he is with friends and will be with them all weekend- he'll call before he returns- that means 'Don't call me.'

Once is pardonable, twice is obsessional. Three times and we're in bunnyboiler country.

Two black marks.

The third black mark came when she began texting me at work about something remarkably petty. I texted back telling her not to text me at work, whatever it was could wait, but I must have had a mysterious translate function I didn't know about which sent my texts in Japanese, because she carried on.

I called her that day at five o'clock to tell her never to contact me again.

Now all this may seem harsh. But it isn't really. I had had enough proof to be sure that she could not be trusted to observe boundaries. If she was trying to push boundaries at this stage, before there was even a relationship, what would she be like once she thought she had some kind of rights over me?

The bottom line is, during your working day, your mind should be free to focus on work. It's hard enough as it is to earn a crust and keep a roof over your head, without being stressed out by what is, by comparison, trivia.

People haven't a right to expect exclusive access to someone's time and energy, just because the relationship is a romantic one.

It's not harsh, because the right person would never find themselves in such a test situation.

And your personal friendships- every one of them- should be kept sacrosanct. If a prospective partner shows a desire to interfere in any of your other relationships with other people, male OR female, then they need to be removed from the prospective partner list.
Again, that might sound harsh. But the point is, if you let them get away with it once, it sets a precedent. You can't allow that. They are showing that ultimately their agenda is to reduce you to dependency on them, to make themselves your sole support, to remove all your other best friends and supplant them, to take the trust that you vest in your friends, and get you to transfer the whole lot to them.

If they can't accept that maybe they may be an important person in your life, but so are many other people, that every relationship you have has some value to you, then they aren't really a good dynamic in your life.

Because ultimately, however you slice it, they are still just one person, no matter how amazing they might be. And life is better the more people you have in it.

I think I have come to the conclusion, avoid women who don't have fairly active social lives of their own, with plenty of friends of both sexes. If they have close male friends, they probably won't bother too much about you having close female friends. If they go out a lot with their mates, they won't mind you going out with yours.
Because as long as they have as active and people filled a life as you do, there's no real danger of possessiveness creeping in, no desire to keep the other party under their supervision.

There's no more unpleasant feeling, than feeling you can never get away from a partner, that aside from work, they're always around, cramping you, stifling you, wanting to know everything, wanting a full view of your life.

We need space. We need areas of our lives that we keep separate. There will always be things between me and my mates, which will be ours alone, it is a circle of trust no one else can enter. It doesn't mean we don't trust other people in different ways, just that there are things which belong to us.
There will always be things I will talk to them about, but would never talk to a partner about. It wouldn't mean I didn't love her, just that was an area from which she would always be excluded. And that's normal.

After all, your close mates are lifelong friends. It's like the relationship between siblings.

And I think, as Eve intimates, when we come online, we DO enter a strange private world. It isn't private, because WE'RE all here, but it IS private, to RL people. We say things here, we wouldn't in RL. There is huge satisfaction in keeping our two lives separate. By definition, to allow a partner in, would destroy part of the magic.
You can know us in RL, you can know us in the blogosphere, but to allow someone access to both faces?
Do we really want to be that exposed?

And I suppose my answer to Eve's point is this. There are some people online, who will always be valuable to me. At least one, will I hope, be a lifelong friend. And yes, the question DOES arise, were I to find someone serious in RL, would I maintain contact with her the way I do?

Yes, is the honest answer. Nothing would change on that front. Would I tell my real life partner that I exchanged emails with her? No, I wouldn't. It would be none of her business. And you might find that appalling, because yes, I would almost certainly be telling her details about this hypothetical partner.
But part of the point is, I've discussed things with her that I never have, and never will, with a real life partner. Things I'd be very uncomfortable talking about in the flesh.

I think the deeper significance of Eve's post, is that relationships generally are often haunted by people's inability to realise that everyone has many more needs, in terms of personal satisfaction, than can ever be satisfied by one person and it is this overwhelming arrogance that is a vicious by product of our ideas of exclusivity that scuppers true love so often.

Because when you try to interfere in people's other connections, when you demand that your 'Love' takes precedence over all the other meaningful things in their life, you render your so-called love, valueless. Because it no longer has the long term happiness of the other as it's base, merely your obsession in making the relationship what YOU think it should be, as in, one where you are the sole focus of their existence.

And if that's your attitude, then it isn't your partner that's at fault for valuing every connection out there to be made, it's you for not taking full advantage of YOUR opportunity to do the same.

People should accept that everybody has needs that one person alone can never fulfill, that you can indeed have too much of one particular person, in fact, you can overdose on someone if they don't give you space and allow you freedom to share and emote with all the other wonderful people that are out there.

Ask yourself this; would you make the demands of your best friend, that you make of your loved one?
Because if the answer is no, you are demanding too much.

With Love, like a lot of things, very often Less is More.

Sunday 27 April 2008

So Long, Ravy Days, You Were Pure Heaven!

A religion? I guess it was. To me, it had almost religious significance.
Love? It was that too.

Total euphoria, total fulfillment. What can ever compare to dancing on a podium in full view of hundreds of people, feeling the vibe, feeling the love?

Yes, I'll miss it. Very much so, I'll miss it. They were the good times, the happy moments. They were the moments that made everything else worth living for. There was hope there. A world free of much of the nastiness of modern life. A world where total strangers can collide and find love in a few instants, to move on, not even knowing eachother's names.

A world where many friends were made and lost. A world of extremes, both of pleasure and of pain.

I guess you find other things in your life. You do move on, I think. I think I've finally exhausted the scene, or maybe it's just, it is no longer the scene it was to me at twenty. But I think the happiest memories of my life will always be associated with it.
When it was great, it was Heaven, and when it was bad, it wasn't so bad.

Life is change, but as long you have a wealth of good memories, the past is never wasted.

Saturday 26 April 2008

Towards a New Philosophy of Life. Part One- Understanding Humanity

Human philosophy is in a moment of crisis.
We know so much.
We know so much more about how we ended up here, the physical processes that dictate life, the biological processes which determine our actions, the ultimate purposes of these actions.
And we have no moral framework any longer within which to work.

We are in crisis. We are scared.
We are afraid of what we know.

God didn't create the world in seven days. There is no devil.
But we know that there is Good and Evil in spite of that.
How do we make sense of this? How do we determine what to do now that the powers we once ascribed to the almighty sit in the palms of our hands?

Because at present our attitude to knowledge is very negative. On the one hand, we see the rise of fundamentalism. Be they Creationist, Muslim fundamentalists, whoever, it is people wishing that the old beliefs were true, because they cannot face the power at our disposal. They wish to take that power away and return it to God.

On the other hand, we have the extremities of the green lobby. Now don't get me wrong, the green lobby are right in so many ways. They are wise to the dangers inherent in what we now know. But again, often their response is that of the Luddite. They want the knowledge to go away.

No one is facing up to the truth. And the truth is awesome. We need to reinvent morality. Not the old dead morality, relevant to a world where angels and devils battle for human souls, but a world in which we know what it is that we are, and we know what is Good and Evil, because we truly can work it out rationally.

It isn't about PLAYING God. This is the point. We aren't children any more. Playing is part of learning and development. We played, as we learned, as we discovered the laws of the universe, as human minds examined matter, examined forces.
The day we split the atom, the time for play had stopped. Yet we are still stuck in that mentality of the student, afraid to leave university and go to work.

It's not about playing God. It's about taking on his responsibilities. They're ours now.

I'd like to start by offering forward a view on what life is. At present our definition is still hazy. But there are several major theoretical questions I'd tentatively like to address here.
In all our studies of life, we only actually know of one Life process. The history of DNA. Our history. But also the history of all living things we can think of. Everything you eat is your cousin, if you go back far enough.
Did it happen elsewhere, is it happening now in the vast reaches of the universe?

Our attitude to this question, is actually quite significant. Potentially, it DOES affect how we see ourselves. The problem is, on this scale, we just don't have the data to make a valid assessment. But I do think we can make some logical inferences.

One of the problems with the process of evolution, is we are looking at it backwards. We see the results, but is only recently we have started to really understand which parts of the story hold most significance. And it's not the ones we first thought of. Sometimes, we haven't been able to see the wood for the trees.
In understanding phylogeny, we have slowly begun to grasp ourselves.

Let us first clarify some basic assumptions. Amongst all the things that have happened in the history of life, which ones could be classed as 'universal' and which as 'parochial'.
What do I mean by that?

OK. What I mean is this. If we take the existence of a Bilaterian for granted, somewhere in the Sombrero galaxy, what features can we be justified in assuming MUST be present somewhere in the diversity of life there, and which quite possibly do not exist there?

And in fact, the answer is not the one a Creationist would expect. A Creationist points to features such as eyes and wings as unlikely evolutionary events. In fact, the facts go against this. The history of Earth shows that if Bilaterians exist, eventually, so will eyes, so will wings. They are favoured developments.
The eye has evolved 41 separate times in Earth. But there are only nine ways it has evolved. Because it is laws of physics state what sort of eyes work, and which don't. So Bilaterians anywhere, would include eyed creatures amongst them. They would have two eyes, no more, no less, almost certainly matching one of the models so far seen on this planet.
Incidentally, it is believed that the most sophisticated eye ever, was that of the extinct Trilobites, an eye form similar to that of modern insects, but which evolved completely separately.

The same is true of flight. Wings may be amazing things, but life has a habit of overcoming the obstacles necessary towards their evolution. Insects have done it. Reptiles have done it twice (Pterosaurs, Birds), Mammals have done it (Bats).

Again, we point to events such as the extinction of the Dinosaurs as crucial events in Life's history. In fact, we can take these events as normal. Catastrophic astronomical events aren't unusual. Look at Halle-Bopp crashing into Jupiter. We simply happen to be lucky the physical layout of our solar system protects us. It seems likely, looking at history, that mass extinctions happen every 26 million years on Earth. One view- one I incline to- is that beyond the Oort cloud, orbiting the Sun at a distance of half a light year, is a Brown Dwarf called Nemesis, which shaves through the Oort cloud every 26 million years, sending comets off their orbital paths.

These events aren't unusual in the history of Earth. Nor will they be strange anywhere else.

There are three events which stand out as being unique in the history of life on Earth. We know that each of them only happened once. And once they did, Life on Earth changed forever. We cannot, at this point, say how likely these events were. Put another way, we know this haystack had a needle in it. Do any of the others, anywhere?

The first goes right to the essence of what life is. Here we are on the boundary of life, an uncomfortable zone where even scientists refuse to state the bald facts, frightened to strip away the last vestiges of mysticism regarding the life process. Because life is sacred. To finally categorise it in a table of chemical processes, is something we still baulk at.

Pasteur proved that spontaneous generation doesn't happen. All life, comes from other life. It can never just spring into existence. Or put another way, it's never been seen to happen, and no one can see how it would.
And yet of course, here we are.
Creationists derive some comfort from this thought.

But only because of the artificial barrier we maintain...

Because we don't categorise Viruses as life. They are PRE life.
What a convenient semantic!

Now viruses CAN just come from nowhere. They don't always need a parent. You CAN create a virus in a laboratory.

And DNA, if you look at it, is just another virus. Just another chemical reaction, capable of self replication.
Some time back, I proposed as a definition of life 'Any series of chemical reactions capable, merely by virtue of existing of initiating from scratch, an identical series of reactions, to the degree that over time, the total amount of matter being used in such reactions increases exponentially'.

This definition of course, includes viruses.

I suspect, chemistry being what it is, and chain reactions being a favoured form of reaction within the universe, that viruses exist wherever hydrocarbons can form in water to any degree of abundance.

It is whether viruses have ever appeared with the potential of that one special virus we know on Earth, the DNA virus.
Because everything we now classify as life, is merely a strain of that virus.

It is the amazing degree of potential for self replication inherent in that sequence. And the answer, lies in construction. It has developed a method of assembling it's molecules at an atomic level, that gives it unique capabilities in terms of processing and transmitting data. Which is of course, what viruses do. Basically, it's molecular achitecture.

And more significantly, it has potential for mutution. Evolving evolvability, if you like. Since no one ever sat down and designed these viruses, since the initial assemblage of all viruses, is, we must assume, random chemical events driven by thermodynamic effectiveness, we cannot theorise on how likely it is that such an extraordinary virus would emerge anywhere. If most viruses are constructions cobbled together by cowboy builders, DNA is the Sydney Opera House.

So Life as we know it. It boils down to mathematics. How often does the best possible construction of virus turn up? One capable of making itself visible from another planet?

And now on to the second great frontier. The second strange event in the history of life. Again, an event that makes perfect sense if we understand it. Like the emergence of life, scientists don't really like to talk about it. It is discussed, and the implications understood, but to say it TOO publicly, threatens a major part of human life. Because it concerns sex. Which really, underlies almost everything.

The second great event in the development of life was when Male and Female bonded. The great symbiosis of all time.
The emergence of Eukaryote life.
Possibly three billion years ago.

Biologists often don't like saying this too publicly. It is implied of course, and they allow us to join the dots (Dawkins does this very well), but to categorically state that all Eukaryote life is based on the symbiotic relationship between X and Y, is stark. Because what it really means, is that Male and Female are two mutually co-operating identities that cannot exist without eachother, that it is, in fact, the biggest division in the world of multi-cellular life, that before the emergence of Eukaryote life, men and women descended from different strains of bacteria.

But it's true.

Life is currently divided into three domains- Bacteria, Archaea (a bit like Bacteria, but not) and Eukarya. Eukarya, which includes everything you can see, is different to all other bacteria, because it's cells have a nucleus.

What happened was, between two and three billion years ago a large bacterium was swimming around, when a smaller bacterium of a different strain invaded it and started living inside it. The two started having a symbiotic relationship. The one took over the replicating function of the other. The one ended up being perpetually reproduced INSIDE the other. It became the nucleus. The two between them, became the ancestor of ALL multicellular life.
They invented sex, basically.

And still today, multicellular life replicates that. The little invader, is my ancestor. The reluctant host, is ancestor to all you ladies out there. Well, actually that's not true. Both are ancestors to both of us. We are all made up of bodies that are essentially composed of female cells with male nuclei. But we start the whole process afresh when we repeat the circumstances of the initial invasion, when the little descendants of the invading bacterium swim up the vagina to impregnate the reluctant host once more.

All multicellular life has male and female. Even if the reproductive process SEEMS asexual, it still replicates using those principles. Fertilisation happens somehow, even if it is self-fertilisation. But the logic of the situation dictates that there is greater possibility for diversity, greater possibility for variety- and therefore the emergence of more successful strains- by repeating the original dynamic over and over again.
Sex is the second great invention of Life.
And it may be unique. Symbiotic relationships between bacteria (where bacteria appear, and as we established, that may be rare) could be universal, but self-replicating symbiotic relationships, if you think about it, the chances seem bizarrely unlikely. It's only happened once here.

It seems so simple we overlook it. And yet, in a very real sense the anatomy of a male monkey and a male human, is more similar are to eachother, than the female versions of their own species, and the same is true with a female monkey and a female human.

And now on to the last of the three possibly unique developments of organic reactions.

And just as the second took place billions of years after the first, we need to go forward billions of years again.
I'm going to overlook the emergence of predators, which most biologists agree was a major development in creating the diversity of life, which probably initiated the Cambrian explosion by bringing the Red Queen hypothesis into operation (bluntly stated predators have to keep getting better to catch the prey which keeps getting better at not getting caught, creating an evolutionary arms race).

I overlook it, because whilst it is everything it is said to be as a development, I see it as being inevitable. Like the eye, it is driven by simple laws of nature. It is a logical consequence of multicellular existence. If multicellular life exists anywhere, the Red Queen would have appeared at some point, and as soon as it does, eyes, wings, legs, they all start popping up with a frequency determined simply by time and probability.

No. The last of the three key events is in the process of happening. A new dynamic, improbable in its occurrence, that changes the life process forever.

We take it for granted. We think of it, as inevitable. If there is life, there must be intelligent life.
Look how long life has gone on. And it has been driven hard by the Red Queen. Predators have had to be the best to survive. But none of them needed to grasp trigonometry to do so. Reptiles ruled the Earth for millions of years without it.
This is the point. As with the invention of sex, the chances of intelligence emerging are slim. It doesn't fit in particularly with the general scheme of things. A certain brute cunning in deceiving your prey, or your rivals, yes. Even a certain collective thinking, insects prove that. But that strange combination of collective thinking with the needs of a primate fruit eater that turned predator and in a short of time, though lacking speed, claws, or shearing teeth, replaced the carnivorous beasts as the pinnacle of the food chain, the Lords of the Earth, this was something new.

And this is where neither philosophy works. The fundamentalists refuse to accept man as an animal. The green lobby see us as just that.
The truth is, we are a unique animal. Our existence changes nature. Just as the emergence of sex and the Eukaryote relegated all other life (poor outmoded bacteria), to live in its guts, just so the existence of man, relegates all other life to a lower level. Because we know how it works. We can control the processes. The universe has finally created something CAPABLE of playing God. That changes everything.

The world we live in, is a world of man. We have ACTUALLY CHANGED the planet. We have carried out, in the space of a few hundred years changes to it's face beyond the workings of glaciation and continental drift. We change even the composition of it's atmosphere.

We are starting something new. And it began in earnest in documented times. Some geologists- and I concur- end the Holocene period in 1800 and start the new era- the Anthropocene, the age of a man-controlled world- at this point. I think they are right. Man the truly rational being, man the master of nature itself, emerges at this point.
It is a new dynamic in life. A creature capable of organising itself, and it's environment to do what nature could not- feed six billion people on this rock.

And this how we need to see it. Because our morality shouldn't be about what God might have said to a mythical first couple in a mythical garden. But nor should it be driven by expecting human existence to be constrained by the parameters of life as it existed before we did. That's gone. The world has changed. All those other eras of geological time, all the time that existed before human hives emerged, agglomerations of glass, concrete and steel stretching for miles, all the eras before the sky was dominated by vast steel craft, that carried life faster and further than all the life that evolved body parts to do it.

Human Morality in the Anthropocene must be governed by the following considerations.

Strength is in numbers. The more of us live, the more potential we have. In a human population of two hundred the chances of any one of them being an Einstein, is slim. But more people, means more intelligence. It is no coincidence that human knowledge has accelerated faster, the more of us have been born.

The future of man will always be dependant on an ever expanding human population. This will always be a law of life.
So the species MUST seize what resources are open to it. We MUST find ways to feed and provide for more of us, to keep advancing further. In doing so, we fuel our own progress.

Human Morality must be geared to increasing our numbers, our habitats, our knowledge, our comfort, our happiness.

The future we aspire to must be that of a species aspiring to ever greater, who continually wins each life struggle, just to take on another.

Our take on the Universe?

There's probably nobody out there- but there will be.
We're coming.

And the moral decisions we face here, will come in another post.

Thursday 24 April 2008

The Crushed Top 10 Women of All Time

10. Shirley Manson

An acquired taste maybe. Not quite everybody's cup of tea, but I think she's stunningly cute. At once sexual, but also innocent. The fallen angel, perhaps. I like her voice as well, to be fair. And when she sings 'I'm waiting, I'm waiting for you', yes, yes, I wish she was waiting for me...

9. Gillian Anderson

At one time- well, ten or twelve years ago, Gillian would have occupied my number one slot. Yes, I was a die-hard X-files fan, up until the third series when I kind of got bored of it. She is often described as the thinking man's crumpet. I agree. I think, I'm a man, and she's always seemed extra tasty to me. I must admit to always having been turned on by the prim and proper character of Dana Scully. But she looked hot only last year in 'The Last King of Scotland'

8. Liz Hurley

Come on! In that Versace dress? That dress, five foot by three feet in image hung on my bedroom wall throughout my formative years. They say she can't act, but I'll watch any film with Liz Hurley in. THAT VOICE! The woman is treacle...
I'll even watch that awful aeroplane film with Wesley Snipes (hate) and Stephen Seagal (HATE! HATE! HATE!), just because Liz is in it.

7. Parminder Nagra

She's come a long way since 'Bend it like Beckham'. Wow. What more can be said? Pretty. She just looks cute. You just want to smother her in kisses. Worth sitting through ER for. Although Alex Kingston was quite easy on the eye as well.

6. Asia Argento

Asia is pretty sultry really. If you ever get a chance to see a film called B Monkey, do so, simply because she's in it. I'm not sure where she comes from, I've a feeling it's Argentina, and if it is, I'm tempted to say 'Hand of God, Falklands, it's all forgiven'. Apparently, from what I read, she's a very liberal girl as well...

5. Sarah-Michelle Gellar

The girl next door. Who is also a dab hand at killing vampires. On the one hand, she is everything that is wholesome. But did you ever see her in Cruel Intentions? WOW. Don't underestimate her. She can be your every desire, the virgin and the whore. And again, it's partly to do with her voice. A soft, sweet, voice, with that fragile edge. She certainly drives a stake through my heart sometimes...

4. Rihanna

Trinidad's finest product. Oozing female sexuality, sings the way a man wants to be sung to, moves her body in a way that makes you want to get down on your knees and worship. Just look at her! Hey, she doesn't need to tell you to shut up and drive. Why would you want to do anything else?

3. Anna Belknap

Some of you may be surprised at the bronze medalist here. She may be an unknown to many of you. I suspect, if you're not a CSI fan, she will be. She plays the lovely Linsay Monroe in CSI: New York. We're back to the sweet girl next door look, only she does it better than Sarah, I'm afraid. It's the sweetness factor. She's a lady. She is soft, she is sweet, she has that alluring hint of vulnerability. If you watch the show, you KNOW what Danny sees in his little Montana...

2. Keisha Buchanan

This image is sometimes the wallpaper on my PC. Not always. It does rotate. Stunning woman. It's hard to find a fault with this woman. Positively flawless, really. I'm not an especial fan of the Sugababes music, but I don't mind watching the videos, simply to see the lovely Ms Buchanan. Oh well. A man can dream.

1. Oestrebunny

And number one- the blogosphere's very own Oestrebunny. What brings her to number one? Well none of the others have blogs. And if they did, I bet they wouldn't be as good as Oestrebunny's.
She's our number one anyway, because she is a very special blogger indeed. Not only that, she is a very special person. And today, is a very special day.

Today is the day you should all be over there saying...


What you waiting for???

Wednesday 23 April 2008

What Does it Mean, This England?

Today, they say, is St George's day.

St George.
Slayer of Dragons.

St George.
Whoever he was.

But to many, he is the spirit of England, England, the brave little knight that stands up to Dragons, the Boudicca spirit, the Alfred the Great spirit, the Queen Elizabeth spirit, the Churchill spirit.
Be the dragons Napoleon, Hitler, or the EU.

A lot of English bloggers are 'flying the flag' today.
But whose flag is it?
What is English nationalism?
Who are the English?
What is nationalism?

It's not an easy question. England has a funny history. England was a born as a nation, long before any others, so we take it for granted. Other countries have evolved towards their nationhood. National identity, the way the English see it, has been more recent, an invention of the age of enlightenment, when people demanded that they, not kings, rule themselves. The feudal monarchies of the middle ages became the national monarchies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They in turn, become the monolingual democratic republics of modern Europe. The nation-state. A people united by common language, common history, common government. A social construct. The French had to cut the head off their king to discover that they, not he, was France. Up till then they had been Bretons, Normans, Poitevins, Provencals.

And the radical politicians of the nineteenth century created the model state to serve the dynamics of capitalism. It did not serve the brave new world of the railway age for so many small states to survive. So, the ultimate unit of government, should be the highest unit possible; people who understood eachother's language.

But where is the line crossed? Because nationalism had another side to it. And in it's early days, the boundaries were- as they still are- blurred.
One people. One race. One state.

This is our land, this is our people. We, the speakers of the native tongue are bonded to this soil till the end of time. You, the interloper, are not.
But it's not that easy, as European history showed. What of the isolated Saxon communities who had lived for ever in Rumania, or Russia? What of Sorbs and other Slavic peoples lingering on as isolated communities in parts of Germany? Where was their homeland? Were they to be ever foreigners in the land they had always lived in?

And what of the Ashkenazi Jews, a European people by any definition (they have lived in Europe longer than say, the Turks)? No land for them to call home.

The fact is, there isn't really any line. The logic of racism, ultimately, is the logic of nationalism. Racism, is nationalism put in simple terms, it is the gauntlet with the velvet glove removed.

The fact remains, nationalism cannot be anything other than an exclusive concept. It says 'This is MY country, you only live here by OUR sufferance. We judge you not on your contribution, but on your blood.'

And Englishness is exactly that. Because Englishness remains an ethnicity.

I'm British. Of course I am. I possess a British passport. But I can't claim to be English. I have English blood in me, but it is a tiny part of my make up. Go back a few generations, and a good number of European nations are laying claim to a piece of me. But I define my ethnicity as being Irish, because that's the community I identify with.
I can never be truly English. You can't be naturalised as an Englishman. You can be black British or Asian British, you can't be Black English, or Asian English.

Yes, I wear an England shirt to support the England team. It is the team that represents the land I happen to live in, but the team doesn't represent Englishness. It includes Black players, it represents a geographical region people happened to be born in, and that, yes, I can identify with that, I was born here too, I've always lived here. Who else would be my national team?

And yes, I'd never live anywhere else. But not because of any of the reasons championed by the Little Englanders. I love it for all the reasons they despise.
I love it, because in England, most of us have grown beyond caring what colour someone's skin is, or whether the dish we're eating was first invented on this island, or a far away subcontinent. If it's good, we embrace it, if it's bad, we don't.
Just take a look at France to see how NOT to do the whole different people living together thing.

I used to be quite Anti-Europe. In some ways, I still am, but my perspective has changed. Europe is bad for Britain, yes. But not because the idea is wrong, the idea is sound. In today's world, little insular nations just aren't viable. We DO need to co-operate, and in the present situation, a federal government for each geo-political unity makes sense. One for the Americas, one for sub-Saharan Africa, one for the Arab world, and yes, one for Europe.

What is wrong with the EU, is that it is dominated by Napoleonic ideas of government. It uses the government gives rights to the people model, not the people give rights to the government model, the best of all the concepts the English people gave to the world.

I daresay the West Saxons and The Mercians mourned the loss of their identity in the new Englishness that was formed in the resistance to the Danes.
But hey, we all understand eachothers languages now in this continent- or most of us speak English, anyway.

We build our houses the same, our roads the same, the differences are disappearing. How French are even the French any more?

England, like Wessex, like Tuscany, like Prussia, like Aquitaine, it's part of history. A historical state that evolved to become the British Empire, before changing the whole world. And now, it's gone. If we're honest. As has Germany, as has Sweden, really, it's the nation state that is now the artificial concept, a concept used to divide, a concept used to promote the rights of one lot of people over another. 'More of my dead ancestors lived here than yours'.

Nations, they were never real. They were groups of people speaking similar dialects owing obedience to a common ruler, the next stage up from a tribal system.

To be honest, I'd like flag waving become something we just do at sporting events. If nationalism can be reduced to simple team sentiment, all well and good.

But it's time we started having our primary loyalty being to the DNA that all our species hold in common, rather than some nineteenth century mumbo jumbo about a mystical bond between land and ethnicity.

This is the space age, not the steam age.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Today is an Awful Day

Nothing to say tonight.
Or at least nothing of any value.

Today is NOT a good day.

Today is just a little bit too real.

I seem to be in the last throes of escaping from my past and moving to a future, but the final collapse of the past, could well trap me within for it forever I fear.

Real Life crisis? Yes.

But more than that. I can see it there in front of me; the future, or put more accurately, the futures.
I can see the choices that are there.

I know the time to jump isn't next year, or next month, or next week. It's now.
Everything has to change, and it has to change now.

But I have absolutely no idea what it is am changing, and what it is I am changing to.
And I don't know if I can even attempt those changes, much as I want to.
Because I do want to.

I feel like I am facing my own private Armeggeddon, where the whole edifice I have built up over the years is collapsing at the foundations, that these are either the last days, or the first days.

Because in one sense, the thing in life I most feared HAS happened, And yet oddly, that doesn't seem to bother me, it seems to make everything easier.

But hey, I'll see you when I see you.

Go visit Dizzy instead. Help develop her city.

Monday 21 April 2008

Dizzy Bizzie Has a City

I think I may have mentioned Dizzy Bizzie before.
Dizzy is cool.
I love Dizzy.

Dizzy does something or other where I work. It's admin of some sort or other, but don't ask me to tell you exactly what, because I haven't a clue. She brightens up my day. She was away ski-ing a few weeks back, and I did really miss her.

She's kind of on my wavelength. The rest of the office thinks it is my life purpose to seduce her, but the reality is, she's a very good friend and it's really more of a private joke between us.

We have two very different modes of interaction. The work mode is based on the fact that when I am in the office, I can be pretty childish. The way me and Dizzy speak to eachother is not quite babytalk, but more in the vein of 'Dad! Are we nearly there yet?'
There's a huge side of me which feels comfortable behaving like that, co-incidentally, it's also something I've had with any woman who's been remotely close to me.

There are a number of little songs I sing to her (in full childish intonation), which make her blush and the rest of the office raise their eyebrows.

'Dizzy Bizzie, give me your answer do,
I'm quite dizzy all for the love of you,
It won't be a stylish love-in,
I can't afford the Travelodge,
But you'll look sweet,
between the sheets,
of a double bed made for two,

And of course, 'Don't you want me Dizzy?', my own reworking of the Human League track.

And my favourite;
'Dizzy I love you, Dizzy I do,
Dizzy I want to have lots of babies with you'

Now some of you may think there is a certain vulgar element to all this. But it's all quite innocent really, the woman lives with her partner of several years and the constant sex talk in baby language that is our daily routine, is more to pass the time and amuse the rest of the office than be anything particularly serious.

Out of work, down the pub, it disappears. We talk like adults, good friends with no more idea of getting steamy and naked, than do Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
In fact, we laugh at the fact that there are people at work who take it seriously. That being said, I do like her a lot, and she knows it. It's not in a romantic way, but I LIKE her more than I tend to like my romantic partners. This of course, is normal in my case. There seems to be a whole class of women- like Dizzy- who are way too good to be romantic partners, so I don't have them as such, I have them as good friends instead.

Dizzy is- dizzy. No two ways about it. The things she says amuse me. But often, they're spot on, in an offbeat way. She's way more on the ball than many apparently intelligent self-absorbed women who actually can't see beyond the end of their nose. She understands men, and most importantly, she understands me. She makes me drinks, she looks out for me. When I was ill before Christmas, I could hear genuine concern in her voice when I rang in. There was emotion there.

The scene.
Characters in office. DIZZY BUSY, ST SAM, BALD GECKO (my boss)
Enter CRUSHED through door with crash, semi-bouncing, semi-skipping, my usual entre.

CRUSHED: Dizzy, Dizzy, made a present for you, made a present for you!

DIZZY: What? What? What is it?

CRUSHED: Well. It's a city. Your own little city for Dizzy to live in. Kind of. I mean you can't really live there, because it's online...

BALD GECKO: Oh, Crushed, you haven't made her one of those myminicity things have you? It's for children, might have known you'd do that. When are you going to grow up? Mind you, it's right up Dizzy's street.'

DIZZY: Show me, show me.

CRUSHED: Here, I'll find it, give us your mouse...

ST SAM: And he says he's not in love with the woman, now he's making her online cities! You tell me he doesn't want have his wicked way with her!
(Crushed and Dizzy are mutually doing that thing where you silently mimic someone droning on)
DIZZY: (Whispered): I don't know what their problem is, it's only a bit of fun!

CRUSHED: They're just jealous. They haven't got their own city. Here... I had to call it DizzieBusy City, not DizzyBizzie City, because it weren't having none of the Dizzy Bizzie. See look, there's my house, and look, now YOU live her too!

DIZZY: Aaaah! Isn't that sweet. Now we live together!

CRUSHED: Ain't it great? Now we can have lots of little Dizzy Crushed babies and create a baby boom!

DIZZY (giggling): Stop it! How do I get more people?

CRUSHED: Ah, this is the problem. You have to get people to visit. Then they come and live there too. So tell all your friends.

DIZZY: I don't know that many people who have internet...

CRUSHED: Well, I'll log on here and go in. But spread the word. DizzyBusy City, is the place to live. Screw Milton Keynes, it's all about the DizzyBusy City.

So anyway.
I'd like to invite you all to come live in DizzyBusy City.
Please come visit my friend's little minicity and say Hi.
I'd like to see her face when she finds more people live there.

She's fallen in love with it already, I noticed she had it up on her screen during lunch.
I'd love to see her city grow, I think having it will add to her working day, give her something to look at in her free moments, like we have our blogs.
Maybe it might even get her into blogging!

Come say Hi to Dizzy and Me, we're all alone there right now!

We're living at DizzyBusy City

Sunday 20 April 2008

Prohibition, Censorships, Forbidden Knowledge

It doesn't work.
The United States proved that in the twenties with alcohol.
We are proving it now with every other newer addition to the category of substances which people seem to derive pleasure from.

If people enjoy it, ban it. The slightest proof that something has some negative side, leads to a wholesale ban, in defiance of reason, in defiance of allowing a balanced judgement to be made, a weighing up of the pros and the cons, an admission that on the whole, society seems to benefit, rather than suffer, from a particular artificial stimulant being on peoples freely chosen list of lifestyle choices.

Instead, what we have, is the law being brought into disrepute. Opinion on drug legalisation, is largely a matter of experience. And the more people experience, the more the law as a whole gets dragged down. Because there are so many other laws that SEEM sillier, but are in fact more important. Such as speeding laws. But having badly thought out laws on matters such as cannabis, encourages people to look at laws in terms of 'minor' or 'major'.

Prohibition needs a solid reason.
And this brings me to something in fact, more complicated.
What knowledge do we make freely available, and how do we regulate it?

Can we truly be democratic about censorship?

This is in fact, a difficult point, perhaps one of the more significant moral questions human culture faces. Where do you draw lines, and do you put the same line everywhere for everybody?

I'll admit, I really do not know the answers here, but I'd like to raise the questions.

I can remember when we did Brighton Rock at A-level, noticing the differences between two different editions of the text. One had been slightly edited, just ever so slightly. It was just one nuance that had been removed, by the publishers.

One three occasions in the book, references to nameless figures being Jewish is removed. The references are all three of them negative references, and I guess the publishers wanted to avoid the anti-semitic implications of those particular sections, but in doing so, they removed the actual artistic point, which of course, wasn't an anti-semitic point.

The novel is essentially about Damnation. The main character believes he is destined for Hell. He believes himself to be irredeemable. In a twisted, almost puritanical way, he embraces evil. He is a kind of proto-Damian, and religious references abound. In the three instances mentioned, the reader is deliberately reminded (in the original), of events from the New Testament. This is lost, by the replacement of 'Jewesses' by 'Bitches' and 'Jews', by 'Men'. The bowdlerised passages are devoid of significance as a result.

Again, I understand the reason it has been done. But I do not agree that it was the right decision. In the same way, I did not agree with much of the criticism levelled at Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ. What happens next, censorship of the New Testament itself? The story there is what it is, historians may rightly suggest, that the story as told was biased and the basis for medieval anti-semitism. I agree. But the story is, what the story is, and in Brighton Rock, as in the Passion of Christ, we are preventing the artistic interpretation of religious themes, by censoring those interpretations.

I think this leads nicely into one the most damaging things censorship is doing today, and again, perhaps with the best will in the world.
The fact is, anti-semitism was a very nasty form of discrimination, and we have within living memory, seen it's worst manifestation.

But Holocaust Denial laws?

I'd like to hear the justification.

Because personally, my view is this. The truth is provable. Sensible people make sensible judgements. These Holocaust Deniers, if you read what they write, it all LOOKS very plausible. Some of it is well written. And what is our response?
It should be, to tear their research to shreds in the academic arena, not lock them up. All that leaves is a well written treatise, unanswered. The problem is, you and I are sensible enough to realise that the evidence shows that a lot more than 30,000 people died in the concentration camps. Personally, I don't think all 6 Million were done by the Nazis. I think it's a strange coincidence the death toll is so much higher where Russian troops arrived first, but certainly millions died and the gas ovens and Zyklon B were used on people.
But the law is to prevent more suggestible people being hoodwinked. In fact, it recruits them to the neo-nazis, because the neo-nazis say; they have no answer to us, they can only lock us up.

And in fact, a part of even ME thinks, we'll never really get to the truth about any of this, whilst we don't permit free speech and academic debate. There are areas of Second world War history, where I DO think, the atrocities weren't all where they are said to be.

And where do you draw the line? Is to be illegal to say black people weren't slaves? Or that Christians weren't fed to lions? Or that jihads and crusades never happened?

Are we to burn heretics like our ancestors did?

Sometimes, one can read something in literature, which can shock. I'll let you into a little secret; I'm a Conan the Barbarian fan. I like the Conan stories. The thing is- and sometimes it shows- the author was a white Texan living with his mother in the nineteen thirties. Consider the following paragraph;

'You said I was a barbarian,' he said harshly, 'and that is true, Crom be thanked. If you had men of the outlands guarding you instead of soft gutted civilised weaklings, you would not be the slave of a black pig tonight. I am Conan, a Cimmerian, and I live by the sword's edge. But I am not such a dog as to leave a white woman in the clutches of a black man; and though your kind call me a robber, I never forced a woman against her consent. Customs vary in various countries, but if a man is strong enough, he can enforce a few of his native customs anywhere. And no man ever called me a weakling!
'If you were old and ugly as the devil's pet vulture, I'd take you away from Bajujh, simply because of the colour of your hide. But you are young and beautiful, and I have looked at black sluts until I am sick at the guts. I'll play this game your way simply because some of your instincts correspond to some of mine.'

What nasty, sexist, racist, sentiments. When I first read that paragraph, I put the book down in disgust.
But in half an hour I picked it up again. Yes, they aren't nice sentiments. But I realised, I had to accept this in this sense, the story was partly a historical document. In much the same way, the mindless slaughter of the infidel in Chanson Roland, shouldn't be seen as justifying the mindless slaughter of Muslims today in Iraq. The author of Chanson Roland didn't know any better, and nor did Robert Howard. I can overlook such a nasty paragraph, indeed, I just don't read that story full stop, because as long as black people don't come into his stories, they're very good.

But it's a hard one. Because some morons would read that paragraph and LIKE Conan the Racist, Male Chauvinist pig.

And this brings me to the real border, as far as I am concerned.
Because there are books and films I have come across, where I am left pondering.
Yes, I think, it's good for these issues to be addressed.
But not by everybody.

Some knowledge, some thoughts, are too dangerous for everyone to handle.

I can think of two books, both of which I have read, and both of which have been made in to films. In both cases, the films caused outcry, but in neither case, do they really unnerve as the books do.

The books in question are Vladimir Nabakov's Lolita, and Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho.

Strange books. Unnerving books. DARK books.
They are books written in the first person, by characters that are, put bluntly, warped beyond redemption, that are, by any reasonable person's definition evil.

The problem with the books, is that they are written in first person, from the perspective of in the first case, a child molester, in the second, a serial killer.
And because they are written in the first person, the novel is written as they see it, from the point of view of EVIL PEOPLE WHO DO NOT QUITE SEE THAT WHAT THEY DO IS WRONG. Never, in either book is there an apology, an admission of evil. In the first case, the character keeps justifying himself and his fixations, the second is written in such a way as to trivialise the nature of what is done. It is 70 pages before he starts talking about slicing up people with chain saws. In fact, MOST of the novel deals with the false, soulless, amoral corporatism of his work on the stock exchange, the frantic social life, whole chapters on music albums, it is essentially a novel about how the mind of a psychopath thinks, but unnerving, because of it's grounding in a world so many of us move in.

Neither of them make pleasant reading. They do, however make riveting reading, though one does end up wondering about the authors. Do they write from experience, is this their way of releasing their own desires, in a non threatening way? Does it matter? Perhaps there is something brave about them, undertaking such a thought experiment and putting their names to it.

But still, at the end of it, I find myself thinking this.
Dangerous books.

Because whilst exploring these themes has a certain value in aiding our comprehension of evil, that comprehension is only a positive, if we have no tendencies towards that evil. In the wrong hands, such texts are dangerous. As a society we don't want potential child molesters and serial killers becoming encouraged to actualise their tendencies, by reading texts like this.

See what I mean about being on the line? I'd hesitate to ban works like these, because whilst I can't say I ENJOYED reading them, I DO feel, they added in a way to my understanding, they allowed me to pick up on certain things in how other people act. That of course, is one of the key virtues of art.
What I DO believe, is that perhaps access to some knowledge and concepts needs restricting.

And of course, it goes beyond that. Even Nietzche, I think, though I hold him to be one of the greatest of philosophers, should ONLY be read, if you actually have a mind capable of understanding his points, and more importantly ACTUALLY HAVE A FAIRLY RIGIDLY INGRAINED SYSTEM OF ETHICS ALREADY, so you can comprehend where it is, Nietzche asks you to move it to.

Maybe the problem has always been, it's the thought and the speech we've tried to stop.
Maybe really, what we need to control, is who hears it.
But how do you decide that?

I really don't know the answers to this one. I'd be interested to hear what people think.

Friday 18 April 2008

We'll Be There at the End of the Road

"As you go through life,
it’s a long long road,
There’ll be joys and sorrows too,
As we journey on,
we will sing this song,
For the boys in royal blue,
We’re often partizan, la, la, la,
We will journey on, la, la, la
Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Though the way be long,
Let your heart beat strong,
Keep right on to the end,
Though you’re tired and weary,
Still journey on, ’til you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love, you’ve been dreaming of will be there.
WHERE? At the end of the road, Birmingham! Birmingham! '"

This Sunday the team that carries the name of Britain's second city must venture into the ghetto to defend it's honour against the claret and blue wearing Orcs.

It is the true battle of the forces of light versus those of darkness.
It is the battle which will carry on, as long as the beautiful game continues.

Oh for the days when Villa keepers were our allies, as also seemingly, was their chairman.

Come on, McLeish!
We don't ask much of you. Just let us beat The Scum, and keep us up in the Premiere League.
So we can do them over twice next season.

That's all we really care about.
Birmingham City belongs to the team named after it.

And just to prove that...

Come on, Blues. Do SOMETHING right this season!

I leave you with two Birmingham City devotional songs, which I freely admit to owning on CD and playing at full volume on Derby Day. Was quite impressed to find them on YouTube actually!

UPDATE: The Orcs won. On Epic scale. Not a lot more to say really.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Life in Synopsis

Prince Charles marries Di. The cat. Toy cars. Granny's house, the old house where the blocks of flats now stand. Grandad at the table, piles of accounts books and a chess problem. Mum, looking a teenage girl. Mum, pregnant. Will he have a real face or a plastic face? Twycross zoo. The chimp's tea party. The train at the fairground. Playschool. Pouring sand down another child's jumper. The daily intonation, Mon-day-the-seventh-of-april-nine-teen-eighty-two. The co-op. The dentist with the big wicker chair.

Class one. The Lord's prayer. Rolling down the bank and getting covered in mud. First kiss. Canon O'Connor presiding over Mass. Can't we take him back to the hospital? I don't want the baby any more.

Removal vans, moving. Miner's strike. Kiss chase, Transformers, Marbles. Standing on a chair through your breaktime with your hands on your head. Lego. Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan. The new Safeways where the car park used to be. Tintin, Asterix, the Romans. World War Two. When I grow up, I'm going to design the planes that will win World War Three. I'm going to be James Bond.

London. The Natural History Museum. Madam Tussauds. And the Queen lives in that building there.
Cornwall. Crackington Haven beach, Polzeth, Bude. The little railway at Launceston. Getting shouted at by the driver. Getting six of the best with the slipper later on.

Being in school plays. Boy scouts, scout camps, cider, Escort. Grandad dies, six months after they stitched him back together and told him he'd die anyway, but they'd given him a little plastic bag on the side of him to deny him a dignified death. Deciding school sucks. First shave.
Enter John Major.

High school. Unrequited love, Computer games, smoking behind the sports block, skiving, being tied to the fence by your tie, throwing your sports kit in the canal to avoid playing Rugby. Paper fights, punch ups, being on report.
Hating your parents. Feeling well and truly alone. The dogs are the only people in the house ever glad to see you, the only ones who care.

Being a prefect. Noticing that everyone else claims to be having sex and you clearly aren't.

GCSEs. First time in the pub. First time throwing up.

Sixth form. Parties. Working as a waiter. Bright lights, good tips. Losing your virginity to a Polish barmaid in the laundry room. Feeling a man. Moving between parents and grandmother. Joining the Tory party.

Freedom. Aber. Aber. Forever a part of your heart belongs to Aber. Living in halls. Meeting those who will become your family forever. Drunkeness, pot smoking, casual sex, lectures, less so.
Student politics, the election defeat.

Adam pissing in the corridor thinking he was in the toilet. Kate and Ellis shagging nextdoor. Going for walks up Constitution Hill in the middle of the night with the lads, armed with cider and cannabis. Raves at the football club. The Monopoly machine at Flannery's. Pool.

Lying with Joanna, giggling. Thinking that Machynllyth really is a funny name for a place. Squalid bedrooms, clothes all over the floor lining the empty takeaway boxes. But still places of happiness.
Losing Joanna. Heartbreak. Pain. Falling apart. Crying like a baby. Alcohol binge, sleeping with married locals, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Amsterdam, the Red light district, Bournemouth, Sheffield, Manchester, clubs, clubs, clubs.

Sarah. Willow.
The house on the seafront. Good times, good memories. Feeling close to people. Loved.
Sitting on the beach watching the girls. Backgammon, Playstation, the Video club.

The Pier Hotel. Siobhain.

Leaving. Crying. Knowing that life will never quite be the same. Time to be a man and do eight hour days.

Spraying picture frames by night. Good people, salt of the earth. Partying a lot with the Baker. Getting ripped off in Sheffield. Chatting to the Baker's Mum on a Sunday afternoon. Why do I have to go work at an office job?
Damn. I seem to be a trainee tax consultant.

It sucks. Let's try something else.
Marie. Hmmm. Best forgotten.
Falling down the stairs when drunk and breaking nose. Fear when the hospital said you might have punctured an eyeball, judging by the bleeding.
Relief that they were wrong.

Marketing. Business Development. Wild summer of pills and parties. Meeting Claire. Claire telling you she loved you. Feeling happy that someone was that smitten by you.

Flirting with Megan. Weighing up Megan and Claire. Letting them sort it out between them.
Rachel's long red hair.

Targets, haircut, time for the goatee to go. Promotion.
Own extension, big desk.

Headhunted by a recruiting agency. Not taking it, because Claire thought you'd never get time together.

Being told had Chlamydia. Finding out they had got it wrong.

Claire and the Baker falling out. Being a bad mate as a result. Never forgiven yourself for that.

Moving in together. Fighting, arguing, jealousy, screaming, making up, shopping, going round National Trust properties, going for picnics and making love in the fields, oblivious to the embarrassed passers by. Depeche Mode at the NEC.

Claire publicly accusing Erica of trying to pinch her man and pouring a pint over her.
Getting engaged.
Being serially unfaithful.

Telecoms. Boomtime. Relative prosperity. Directors paying for lap dancing clubs.

Holiday in Devon. Nut crumble. Redneck pubs. Frantic non stop sex. Maybe at last this relationship is working.

Abortion, recrimination, moving out, drug binge, threesomes, wondering round the city centre at six AM with a bottle of water in one hand and a soaked jacket in the other looking for taxis.

Going on holiday with the Chimney Sweep.

World cup, England-Brazil, Birmingham City promoted, Worldcom scandal. Closure of Birmingham Office. Big redundancy payout, blown, working in Finance. Non stop partying, casual sex, Rosa, Lakvinder, living on Chicken Tikka kebabs, seedy gangster infested pubs, clubbing, excess, debt.

Wrong solutions adopted to problems.
Hear that crack? That was your life collapsing around you.

A period of reflection.
Not of my own choosing.

Freedom again. A new world. Just need to find a way to make it taste again.
Friends around you. Feeling loved, looked after, cared for in a way that matters. Realising that whatever else you'd cocked up, you'd done something right.

Sometimes I feel like an old man.
Sometimes like a lost child, helpless and incapable.

I'm neither.
And somehow, I survived it all.

Some things will never go. Some clouds will never lift, I guess. Sometimes I lie there at night, in my boxer shorts and my England T-shirt, a tiny boy in a huge bed and feel cold. And afraid. And I can't sleep. I miss D. I hate being alone in the flat.
I switch the PC back on, go make a cup of tea and sit on the step smoking a cigarette.
Then I go back in and sit in the living room. And I stroke the sofa. MY sofa. MY living room. It's mine. I'm safe.
Then I go read the e-mails that have come in since I first tried to sleep. And I smile. And I go to sleep thinking 'It's all good really. And at the weekend, you're going to a party. And the week after, it's your footie watching weekend with the Chimney Sweep.'
It's all OK. Your life is as good as it's ever been. In fact, this IS the best it's ever been.
You have people that love you and will make sure nothing happens to you.

I have no real regrets, I don't think.

On the whole, I wouldn't want to have been anyone else.
I've been lucky.

It's been...interesting.