Tuesday 30 September 2008

Psychenotity- The Most Perfect Human Experience

There are some who think the sexual revolution has gone too far.
That we have cheapened sex.

I don't agree. I don't think we have gone far enough.

I firmly believe that once we've finally kissed goodbye to monogamy and this lingering idea that sex and love are of necessity linked, then we can actually strive beyond these narrow concepts to truly transcendent human experiences.

In short, I don't believe any human being should feel that making a commitment to sexual chastity should be a necessary condition of proving one's love.

In a sense, I believe it actually denigrates the higher emotions by tieing them in this way to what is primarily a bodily function.

And I suppose this is what the enemies of the sexual revolution fear, that sex will be reduced merely to a clinical bodily function, having no real meaning, that it will no longer be special.

I'm not sure that's so. I actually think that in the days when sex and love were confined to a one and one woman mating in exclusivity for life scenario, there was little freedom to explore and find deeper meaning than a few minutes marital thrusting in a squeaky bed in a dark room between people who often felt little for eachother after teenage lust had subsided a few weeks after the honeymoon.

I can kind of envision, within a world where chastity has been consigned to wastebin of history along with female circumcision, a more inclusive attitude to sex, where sex itself is no longer the ultimate act, but more a generalised term for a number of acts, all of varying gradations of significance.

Let's conceptualise how sex might be seen in a free love world...

Sex itself would be a simple bodily function. No one would feel any qualms having it with anyone else. Gone are the days when it is frowned on for a woman to be sexually promiscuous. Sex itself really is just a bodily function, people do it because it feels good. And the term to describe it's ultimate satisfaction is that clinical term; orgasm.

Let it be an act that people do simply out of lust. No shame in it. And nor is anything seen as wrong with it. Whereas now, people may be with someone but occasionally wonder what it's like to have sex with someone else, in the free love world, they do. And no one castigates them for it.
After all, it's just sex. And not necessarily anything more.

Why NOT?

And there would be a number of different types of sex, most of them simply for the sake of it. And that would be considered perfectly normal, all those meaningless types of sex would be OK.

And precisely BECAUSE all those meaningless types were OK and everyone did have them with pretty much anyone they found reasonably attractive, we'd ACTUALLY have more respect for the higher versions...

You see, we'd recognise that only a tiny portion of sex came into the category of love making.
Sex where a key part of the pleasure was the person you were having it with. I guess we already aspire to this, this is how we see sex within relationships. It's not just the sex that is pleasurable, but the person you are having it with is someone you have strong connections to.

However, I would argue that we still go wrong here. Love making is obviously far more exclusive than just sex, but I don't think it's true that you can't love more than one person at some level, at the same time. Love making is an expression of love, but I do think we all have a lot more love to go round than we think we have.

And I would reserve a higher word than orgasm for the perfect conclusion of this act; Ecstasy. All ecstasies are orgasms, but not all orgasms are ecstasies. The definition of an ecstasy, in this conceptualisation, is orgasm with someone you love and connect to.

And I would argue this freeing of even love making from the concept of monogamy frees us to search for a higher concept still.
One which be the ultimate Holy Grail of Human life.

And one which, it must be admitted would be something many sought after, but few would ever enjoy.

Beyond simple love making.

THIS would be the one you could only EVER have with one person, and most people would never have it with any...

The mutual ecstasy of two people bonded intellectually and spiritually, people who do not just feel for eachother, but find themselves in eachother, people for whom this is not a physical act, but a merger of body, soul and mind. The physical act is merely the framework upon wish the transcendant sensation of two souls blending into eachother at the moment of mutual climax is built.

And for THAT, I reserve the term Rapture. All raptures are ecstasies, but only a tiny minority of ecstasies are rapture.

And I believe every human being has the right to search for that, the most perfect of human experiences conceivable.
To search, unbounded by the shackles of our past attitudes, to truly find that, to find that ultimate perfection.

Love making is sex with affection, tenderness and intimacy added.

This is beyond, this is love making with intellectual connection, sympathetic understanding and a feeling that your souls were separated by God in to different bodies added on to it, it is a wish, a yearning to merge your bodies, minds and souls into one being that can never be divided again.

It is so far beyond that so far humanity has experienced the concept so rarely, that it doesn't yet quite know that it is what we are all striving for, the most perfect feeling, the closest approach to Heaven a mortal can make; so far away from the norm of general experience that there is yet no word for this concept which is to love making, what love making is to sex.

So I'm going to give it one.

From the Greek for unity of souls I give you; Psychenotity.

The Ultimate Human Experience, Psychenotity.

Monday 29 September 2008

EUtopia- Orwellian Nightmare, or Just Logical Sense?

The abortion issue proved- divisive.

The result was a tie- Nine votes each. So in the circumstances, I'm going to award victory to the Pro-choice camp. Why?
Firstly, because I voted myself and therefore in the event of a tie should disqualify my own vote.
But secondly because it could conceivably be argued that the post that preceded it gave the 'yes' vote an unfair advantage.

So against my own feelings on the subject, I have to announce that the readers of this blog are Pro-choice.

Now to this week's topic.

Now Europe isn't an easy topic. I think it's fair to say that ardent Pro-Europeans are not exactly common in the UK. The general feeling amongst the public seems to be that it's 'better to be inside the train pissing out than outside the train pissing in'.

And I'll admit that at one time I was an ardent Anti- European myself. I will admit that when I was a student I was a member of Conservatives Against a Federal Europe.

And there's a huge range of solid arguments one can make against the European Union, and some powerful arguments one can make for saying the UK certainly, would be better off leaving totally.
Indeed myself, I often toyed in the past with the idea that one advantage with giving full independence to Scotland and Wales would be the possibility of ultimately forming a new Federal Union of the British Nations on more equal terms- including a united Ireland, a Union outside the EU

I'm not entirely sure this idea doesn't hold some water at some level, and indeed it is perhaps- as things stand certainly a realistic political solution to a lot of problems.

Probably one of the key reasons the EU is disliked in the UK, is gut feeling. Historically, our culture isn't European. It is widely divergent from that of our continental brethren. In many ways, the Atlantic ocean feels narrower than the English channel. America, Canada, Australia, they are far away, but not strange. Not really. I've caught Australian films whilst channel surfing and not immediately realised they were Australian, not British.

But on the other side of the channel, they eat garlic, urinate in the street, eat frogs and saurkraut, indulge in sado-masochistic sex acts, spend three hours drinking the same cup of coffee, pay high taxes, never do any real work, are either Nazis or Communists by definition, love bureaucracy and paperwork and drive on the wrong side of the road.

They all kind of understand eachother. After all, they've periodically invaded eachother. They share history. Charlemagne and Napoleon ruled most of them, Charles V ruled half them, they discovered that they could overthrow their Kings a long time after we did and their ideas of liberty and freedom are still new found ideals they're struggling to work out, rather than a development of angry barons cornering a weak King on an island in the Thames.

We look at Europe with apprehension, and its not just because we don't really trust the European politicians, we don't particularly trust their electorates. We're pretty sure Hitler could never have won an election in the UK.

We feel, in our hearts, that Britain is stuck next to Europe geographically, but it doesn't belong there, not really.
Because the history of most continental countries, takes place largely on the continent.
Ours is a global history. Yes, we have Wellington and Montgomery. But we have Wolfe, Warren Hastings and Cecil Rhodes too. European, we think. We're almost as much American. Or Asian. Britain doesn't really belong to a continent, it's kind of embedded itself in them all.

Yet stayed an island. There is a definite thing called continental culture, certain things that they do in pretty much all European countries- like sit in cafes watching the world go by- which we just don't do here.
We are the anglosphere.

Perhaps we look at the littler peoples next to us that we have turned into peripheries of Greater England and we fear the same.

But in a sense beyond the purely nostalgaic, there is a certain logic to some of it. Most European nations depend heavily on eachother for their economy generally. Even Germany does 80% of its trade with other EU members. The UK stands out. It only does 40% of its trade with other members of the EU. Germany may be the world's fourth largest economy and the UK the fifth, but it is still true that if you go outside the EU, the UK is at least the third most important trading partner in a majority of the countries of the globe.

The UK can rightly point out that it puts significantly more money into the EU than it gets out. It would be justified in saying it would be better off out.

And of course, going further, if the UK were to withdraw, ultimately, it would rather there was no EU at all. Because although the UK, unlike most other members probably actually doesn't need the EU, it would be outside the train pissing in.

And in the world of today, we can think of many good reasons to leave. Cut our taxes, control our borders, stop these Polish migrant workers coming in and taking our jobs.

It's a bureaucrats dream that doesn't take into account a thousand years of history.
So we feel.
Take a look at Brussels, we say. It's a cesspool and it is that, that cesspool that has polluted the honest, muddling along, common sense waters of British politics. Brussels did it. New Labour is a disease caught from the continent.

And perhaps that fact is truer than we realise.

As it stands, the institutions of Europe are far removed from the ordinary voter, incomprehensible and patrician. We are governed, we feel, by a secretive and unfathomable bureaucracy who now leash our elected governments further and further.


But I've realised than so often in the UK, our perspective is skewed by the fact that the UK is what I refer to as being a 'proper' state. As opposed to what I describe as a 'Mickey Mouse' state.
What do I mean by that? Well, OK, without being offensive and that really isn't my purpose, I'm not denigrating the people of the 150+ states that I would class as 'Mickey Mouse' states, but that's what they are.

If you're not a member of the G8 summit, or if you don't possess nuclear weapons, then let's face it, you're a country whose voice in World Affairs just isn't likely to be heard.
People in the UK have been told for so long that they're just an ordinary country that they don't look at the facts. No, we dropped. From No 1 slot, true. But we're still in the top ten. This is far from a typical country.

And the point is, look how hard we find it. The UK. To make ends meet. It's about economies of scale. We feel our taxes here are too high, but then we point to the fact that taxes are high too in other European countries. But think about it, you'd expect them to be.

Because it's far easier to find the money to pay for things in a tax system of 60 million than it is with nine million.

Take the North of Ireland. Do you know why, as things stand, there won't be a united Ireland? No government in the Republic would take on the financial cost.

Because if you took the cost of how much the Six Counties costs the mainland British taxpayer and transferred it to a Republic taxpayer, the cost becomes FIFTY TIMES PER HEAD what it cost the UK taxpayer.

In the modern world, countries like Holland, Denmark, Portugal, they've gradually been becoming interdependent for decades. They tacitly rely on other countries to defend them, and they've cemented into larger economic groupings. Total independence in all areas isn't something they could do, and still maintain their quality of life.

The continent of Europe probably contains the best internal infrastructure in terms of transport, communications, provision, etc of any part of the globe. But it's hard to administer that and co-ordinate it properly with a patchwork of nation states clinging on to a national/ethnic identity that is fast losing any meaning. London, Paris, Rotterdam, these are all multicultural cities.

A new Europe IS emerging, and it is emerging with a new culture, a culture created by a mixture of those whose ancestors fought over the continent, and those who were shown the European way as the way they should live and have now come to join their supposed superiors to find they are not welcome in the new Europe.

And that, that is something we have in common.

Because what are these nations any longer? Are they set in stone to the end of time? Who are the British? Who are the French?

Increasingly our way of life IS becoming similar. The Europe that is emerging is NOT the dream of the Federalists. But it is a culture. It is multicultural, urban, it has a sense of history, yet it has the potential to b a standard bearer of modernity at its best.

There IS a lot wrong with Europe, yes. A lot.

But I don't think those problems are best solved by erecting a frontier across the channel.
Instead of trying to escape the continent, why not work as hard as why can to put as much of those British values we know to be the best ones into a United Europe?

The liberty of Pitt versus the Liberty of Napoleon.

I think that vision can be sold, I think it's the Europe that could emerge, a Europe in which we don't feel outsiders, because we wholeheartedly threw the bits of England worth throwing into the mix, into the mix.

Because Europe is going to unite, with the UK, or without it.

And we might as well face the facts that in a couple of generations, across Europe, we'll find that many cities have coffee coloured majorities, that Polish, Italian, Swedish, French, Croatian, and English too, surnames that once were the exclusive feature of one nation, are now found and taken as normal just about everywhere.

And really, will that matter so much?

I think Europe really is one of those things where Britain might have to face the fact that it really isn't what Europe can do for Britain, but what Britain can do for Europe.

And perhaps consider that though the current reality is pretty dire, the long term idea of a multicultural European state might not be such a bad thing after all and be better for every single one of us, long term.

Because let's face it, our Britain is no longer this...

But this...

And I'm all for that.

Poll's in the sidebar. Have your say!

Sunday 28 September 2008

2nd Sunday Memusetica

It's that time of the week again. Yes, it's the Crushed Music slot, the second of our revamped, enhanced, semi-memetic, music slots- courtesy of the irrepressible Mr Judd Corizan, hereafter to be knows as The Sunday Memusetica.

I'm guessing not much here will be new to anyone- but if it is, now you know.

My favorite age: Early twenties. Old enough to know how to enjoy being young.

My best friend(s): The Baker, The Chimney Sweep, Haydee.

My celebrity crush: Rihanna. Or Keisha Buchanan. It depends on the day.

My defining characteristic: Absolutely no sense of shame. Whatsoever.

My most evil moment: My brother probably wondered for years why his punchball gave up the ghost and just deflated. Well bro, now you're going to find out. The rubber didn't perish. I stuck a pin in it. Why? Just because. And don't say you didn't do stuff just as bad- you did.

My favorite food: A good fry up; Sausages, eggs, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, hash browns, fried bread.

My grossest injury: I had a girlfriend once where we had an-erm- slight problem getting things to go in. So we had to use baby lotion. Only we ran out once and I tried using shampoo. Never try this at home. It's not good. It swelled up and had blisters on it.

My biggest hatred: Aston Villa Football Club.

My most illegal activity: You all know this. I have a conviction for Ecstasy.

My need for justice: Get rid of this awful system that's grinding us down and turning the world into a wasteland. Time for the people to stand up and take back the world that ALL our ancestors took part in the building of.

My most knowledgeable field: I'd say I know a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little. But history, political philosophy, etc are probably my stronger points.

My life’s goal: Help change the world. Be part of the revolution this world truly needs- or at least do what I can. That aside, be able to live comfortably and happily and die still being as close to those close to me as I am today.

My mother’s influence: None. Don't take that wrong, I don't resent my mother I get on with her great these days, but we're not close in a mother son way and never really were.

My nerdiest point: Middle Earth. I AM the Middle Earth encylopedia...

My oldest memory: Sitting in the pushchair wondering why I could see everyone else but not me.

My perfect date: To be a honest, go and see something interesting, like a historical building, or an art gallery, then have a pub meal somewhere is good enough for me.

My unanswered question: Greenland is the world's biggest island, but Australia is actually bigger. Since Australia isn't a continent in its own right, what the hell is it?

My random fact: The shortest reign in history was that of Louis XIX of France who technically reigned for less than an hour in 1830.

My stupidest decision: For reasons of diplomacy, I'm not going to go into that, but let's just say it is to prevent the like repeating itself that I have a blog policy...

My favorite television show: CSI. The original.

My style of underwear: Boxer shorts, usually with cartoon characters. Today I have Cartman.

My favorite vegetable: Do bean sprouts count? Don't see why not.

My weakest trait: I have a highly addictive personality.

My X-men power: I think I'd have to fake having one. This begs the question of why I'd want to, but I guess I might have been trying to impress Halle Berry whilst drunk.

My strongest yearning: I have bored you all posting incessantly about her so I won't mention her again...

My moment of Zen: Realising that in fact, Christ, Darwin, Marx and Nietzche really ARE totally compatible. Between them they show the way forward.

That's it for this week :)

New Blog Policy

I've put in a more in depth Blog Policy. It's linked in the sidebar.

As I've said before, I don't particularly like having to have one, but I learned the hard way. At least by having one, everyone knows where they stand.

If anyone is ever in any doubt as to what the policy of this blog is, it's in the sidebar.

As with my novel blog, I will always alert readers the instant I alter, amend or extend the policy, just so no one can ever say that they didn't know the policy.


Saturday 27 September 2008

Heroin Chick

When I was very much younger I had what might be described as an arrangement.

I was twenty one and starting out on working life.
She was considerably older.

And the deal was simple. She cleaned my flat, did my laundry, took me out and paid for my drinks.
And I- had sex with her every night.

That was the deal.

I used to think I was quite clear on the deal, but in retrospect, I probably gave mixed signals sometimes. I guess I did give her affectionate gestures, even public displays of affection when I wasn't actually on the pull, but as far as I saw it the situation was clear and I had clarified it on numerous occasions.

'We're not in a relationship. You are not my partner and I am not yours. We spend time in eachother's company and we sleep together. That's it. That's all it will ever be and it will last till events supersede it. If it ceases to be convenient.'

But she didn't always take that at face value. Every so often she'd say those three words. And I'd tell her not to. I'd get annoyed. I'd tell her I didn't want to hear.

So she'd wait till I was wasted, then tell me, hoping I wouldn't hear, or care, or remember in the morning.

She needed to say it.

And it puzzled me why, why she felt like that. When I obviously showed her no respect at all, really.

There was no way I could ever feel what she felt. It wasn't possible and never could be. I could have listed to her even at that tender age the reasons why, but that would have been hurtful and even at that tender age, I wasn't totally insensitive.

Telling someone why you love them is one thing, telling someone why you can't and never will, is another.

But it was convenient. Let's be honest, I had a housekeeper who got me free beer and all I had to do was have sex that I didn't much enjoy.

Perhaps this set a bad precedent in my life, because since then, I guess most of my relationships have been cleverly disguised versions of much the same situation. The clever disguise was me fooling myself it was something else. Because the people in question were people you kidded yourself you could grow to love.

But you never would.

You become better at selecting people who are more convenient, people who can fit in better, are better at giving you a good feeling, people who you can enjoy better conversation with, share things in common with, even perhaps form a bond of friendship with, but they're not REALLY what you're looking for.

They'll do. Until and unless something better comes along. Or until and unless all the points about them that you really do not want start to outweigh the points that make them suitable for the present.

I guess in most of my relationships, so called, I've kind of unconsciously adopted the position of an employer. Abide by my terms, or I'll employ someone else. My general response to arguments has been to reach for my coat with the clear implication that I'm off to the pub and that I won't be back until the issue has been dispensed with. By that, I mean on my terms. In other words, call me and tell me you give in, or I'll go to bed with someone else. I'm not fussed either way. If you don't want to accept my terms, end the relationship. I really don't care.

But the choice is yours. You can end the relationship any time you want. I won't stop you. It's up to you to make sure you keep offering the best deal, or I'll take my custom elsewhere.

Because really, it doesn't matter who you are. It's the deal you're offering me. And don't you ever forget that.

That's pretty much how I've always played it.
Because that's how it's always been.

I guess now I look back at some of these situations with a bit more sympathy. Though not totally.
Because I do understand that on numerous occasions in my life I have used the fact that someone was in love with me to my advantage to some degree. On other occasions I haven't. I had a male work colleague once who definitely had more than a little crush and I think I was actually quite ethical in how I handled it. But it's a dangerous situation for both parties. And both parties in such a situation can behave atrociously. It is true, I think, that thwarted love can often turn very nasty. People lash out at the one they love for not loving them back.

The strange thing is that now I do find myself in the reverse situation, I actually judge myself for my past actions with much less harshness, whilst at the same time understanding how much it really does hurt loving someone who just cannot love you back.

I judge less harshly for the simple reason that I realise that though I never offered a fair bargain, I did keep to my end of the bargain. I most certainly always did have the whip hand, but what I promised, I delivered.

The breaking of bargains, the truly hurtful and damaging behaviour, that always came from the other side.

And the problem I have now, as many of you know, is I've fallen in love with a friend. Probably now, my closest female friend.

And I'm not sure I really know who it is harder for, I don't.

She is ethical about it, very. She could exploit it, she doesn't.

It's a curious situation. We spend a lot of time together. She's the only person I can say that I say good night to every night. And I will always mail her at lunch from work. She pretty much always knows where I am and what I'm doing, something no other person alive can say.

And we chat about the sorts of things I like to talk about. We have similar interests. It's scary, but aside from dance music, generally we have the same tastes in most things.

But it does bother me, of course it does. It bothers me, because I wonder whether it isn't like a heroin addiction. I need to be periodically dosed with her company, with her calming words, with her dry observations, with that dispassionate, almost prim and proper detached quality she has which belies the strength of her desires.

I was thinking recently of the best way to describe that old saying 'When it happens to you, you'll know.'
Because it's true, you do. You realise that you never knew what you were looking for, till there they were.
It's a bit like if the invisible woman had sand strewn on them so they had a partial outline. And all your life you've had that outline, trying it on people, thinking 'It seems to fit, this might be the invisible woman.'

But no, you're forcing it. One day you find 'THAT's the invisible woman! I'd never have guessed. I really wouldn't have thought that's what they'd be like'.

And yet of course, you're instincts should have told you. Should have told you what the persona of the invisible woman should be.

And to me, it's like a vision of perfection. That high intelligence, that artistic streak, yet quite coldly calculating too. Detached to the point it can almost seem callous, but that in itself sends spasms of the most perfect pain imaginable through you. Her emotions are so understated you hang on to her every word for the clues. They are there and they burn deep, but it's for you to guess, not her to show.

It's that blend of poetic, artistic temperament, of a soft side which lets itself out only on occasions she deems it appropriate, of an icy coolness, a self-control.

And inside, that mysterious fire. That determined independence.

But yet vulnerable and fragile too.

And that clinical, detached, almost masochistic attitude to sex that I find horrifyingly fascinating.
It's odd, because my own feelings towards her aren't in fact sexual at all, really. Strange as it may sound, I imagine her every night lieing next to me on the pillow, but the idea of sex with her isn't overly important. As long as she was happy on that front, I'm not sure it would bother me overmuch how she achieved that as long as she went to sleep every night in my arms.

I do not know whether I want to kneel in front of her, worshipping her as a religious icon or put her safe in a box where the world can't hurt her.

The problem with all this, is this is how I feel. Whereas as to her, it's more of a platonic connection. It clearly has some value to her, but I haven't a clue what that is.
But does it matter?

The problem with things as they are, is that it isn't what I want. But it's all that's on offer.

Now I have talked about this with other people as far as I can. It's hard because I have to respect her confidence. So no one I've discussed these things with actually knows any more than you, the reader. There is no one in the world who could identify the person I am referring to by name, apart from her and myself. As it should be.

But several people have said that I'm 'letting her have her cake and eat it'. 'She's totally in control'.

And I get the point. Because ultimately, this is what she wants. And the argument they make is, that what I want not being on offer, I should walk away, because ultimately, it's me that will get hurt.
And I see the logic.

Because a true assessment of the situation is that she's like a daily dose of heroin. I'm addicted to just basking in her radiance, of feeling the presence of the beauty of her mind, of connecting to someone I feel I connect to in a way I've never felt before.
And that in itself, is something I feel I can't any longer do without.

And in myself it worries me that one day, when she gets bored, or actually does fall in love, well, then it's really going to cripple me.
And till then, I get more and more addicted by the day to her.

And of course, the way I feel about her being what it is, I don't tend to bother with other women so much, or go looking for other women. Even if I did start seeing another woman, and even if I did manage sexual fidelity, I wouldn't be being emotionally faithful. And she wouldn't get precedence. Haydee would still get priority in terms of time. I'd put her above any hypothetical relationship I did have.

Anyway, on Friday, I kind of thought I'd better express to her how I saw the stuation. I started writing an e-mail which was kind of meant as a 'Maybe we have to stop this' e-mail. It didn't finish that way.
I'm not going to show you the full mail, I can't, it's personal and it was quite long, but I'll give you the start, the finish, and some bits in between.

'I don't really know quite what to say to you. But I guess I've kind of
avoided facing logical reality and the consequences thereof.

The reality is that there are certain irreconcilable facts regarding
how we see eachother which are impossible to alter; I will always feel
what I do for you, you will never feel the same. Neither of those
facts can either be changed or reconciled.'

'You have come to be the most important feature of my life, indeed I've
been positively skipping over the past few months.

And underlying all that, I guess, has been an element of deliberate
self deception.

I have literally lived in hope, basked in adoration of you.'

'I love you in a way you will probably never understand. I think it is
probably stronger than it hits most people. C'est la vie. At the end
of the day, it changes nothing and is no good to you. Perhaps not even
good FOR you.'

'But I love you so much it hurts, that's the problem.
It will always hurt. Every day, it will hurt.

I don't want to lose you from my life, I don't.

But in a sense, without that dream, it can only ever be torture.

Ironic, isn't it, that I have sustained myself- and our friendship on
the basis of a supreme act of doublethink. :)'

'The thing is, as I write this, I don't want to lose your friendship. I
spend most of my day longing to hear from you. I miss you like hell
when you're not around.
You are the human being I spend most of my waking thoughts thinking
of. Losing you from my life will feel like a bereavement.

When I started writing this mail I think I knew what I was trying to
say. Not sure I even know that at this point.'

'I can't do it. Can't say goodbye to you, I don't want to say goodbye
to you, I love you beyond conception, don't want to face a life in
which I don't even hear from you.

I suppose there are two things I can say to you; Sorry. And Thankyou.
Thankyou for everything you have done for me.

But Goodbye, I can't say it. Even though I know I should.'

I sent it and spent the rest of the afternoon wondering. I'd said how I felt, that I could see that maybe I should get out of this for my own good and long term sanity. But I'd left it up to her to decide if she thought that best. In other words, it was up to her once she recieved that mail to decide what the best course of action was.

And when she finshed work she contacted me to say she'd read the mail. And her first response, if I'm honest, was just further proof of why I love her. Only she would say as her first response 'You write beautifully when you put your mind to it'.

And I guess I offloaded my worries. And finally I asked her 'Do you want things to continue as they are?'
And that's what she wants.

Fair? Is it about fair?
Must things always be fair?

Because yes, it is a curious mix of pleasure and pain my end. A strange masochistical devotion, perhaps. But I do feel redeemed by it in many ways. And whilst I do realise that the longer it goes on, the more it will hurt when she tires of it, I will still treasure every moment I had with her. Life is finite. I have a finite amount of minutes. I might as well ensure that as high a proportion of them are spent basking in adoration of her, and as low a proportion not doing that, as I possibly can. Why cut off my nose to spite my face? Losing her from my life WILL happen one day, that's true. And the longer I leave it, if I give up the right to decide myself when that is, yes, it will hurt more, I know.

But I believe every extra minute I have with her makes it all worth it.

But there's also something deeper.

Ideally, what she'd want is for us to be friends with no complications. That really is what she wants. She can't give me what I want, but I can give her what she wants, to a degree.
And isn't that what loving someone is all about?

For me to walk away from her just because she won't requite my feelings isn't actually fair. It might be an easy answer, but it's not fair. It's forcing an unfair choice on her, because neither of the options are what she wants and why should she be punished when she has done nothing wrong?

Why should she lose me as a friend for something she has no control over? It wouldn't actually be fair of me to do that.
You don't punish someone you love arbitrarily and unfairly like that.

Loving someone isn't a bargain. It's not for me to say 'Love me back, or our friendship is over'.
What kind of friend does that?

I'm addicted to her, I can't let go of her, nor at heart do I want to. It is like heroin.

And I've realised now, I don't care. I don't care about the rights and wrongs of it, I don't care what tomorrow brings. As long as I can feel the beauty of her mind today and she's happy.

If I get smashed to pieces on these rocks, so be it...

Thursday 25 September 2008

The Carnivorous Primate- Monkeys Who Think Like Wolves

One of the most significant archaeological finds of man's prehistoric past was one which contained no human fossils at all.

It was found in Spain and dated to a period before Homo Sapiens, back in the shady days of Homo Erectus and Homo Ergaster.

It was half an elephant. Not a modern elephant, but one of the elephants extinct cousins, of a kind whose descendants later become those curious furry mammoths.

It's remains lay with countless other elephant bones in what had, hundreds of thousands of years ago, been a swamp.
But half elephants never roamed the plains of ancient Europe.

What was significant was that the scores along the bones could be seen, where the flesh had been carved away. There could be no doubt how this kill had been achieved.

The herd had been stampeded in to the swamp and it's flesh carved from it.
This, getting on for a million years ago.

We forget how long we have been predators. And at this point, we were just reaching out for the crown.
That was yet to come.

Our journey to become what we have, has been a curious one. The odds of it happening seem so strange. And yet, it is the strangeness of it makes us what we are.

Sixty five million years ago, the mammals inherited the earth. The demise of the reptiles left so many niches free. And the mammals bagged every single one.

But the dominant position, the lords of the earth, the pinnacle of the food chain, that was taken by the carnivores.

Highly evolved killing machines. Look at your dog. Sure, he looks sweet and he is sweet, we bred him that way. But there's a lot that's important about the dog. His ancestor's were wolves.

Wolves are armed by nature. Armed with sharp claws and shearing teeth, designed to pull flesh from its bones. They think spatially, they move with speed, they plan and tactically think.
And they have special instincts. They don't just need to eat, they actually need to make a kill. Kill first, eat second. Your dog CAN'T leave the birds alone. You may have fed it, it needs a kill. It will chew that squeaky toy till it stops squeaking.

It has evolved like that over tens of millions of years.

Not Primates. Primates live in trees and eat berries. They are curious, exploratory and highly emotional. They care for eachother and protect eachother in a way that is unique, even for mammals.

And between two and four million years ago, one group of apes adopted a lifestyle that you'd think was doomed to fail.
They took on the carnivore's niche.

You'd think this couldn't work. but it did. Because those inquisitive, thinking primate brains learned to think like the carnivores. They may have lacked teeth and claws, but they learned to make tools to do the job.

And in time, they outcarnivored the carnivore.

They learned to think like wolves. And this is what we don't quite realise. The most significant symbiotic relationship in evolutionary history is all about two species that had learned to think the same.

Why is it we love dogs so much, despite their lack of anthropomorphic similarities? Because we learned to think like wolves. We love them with the love of primates, but we empathise with them as wolves.

Because some experts think the reason why it was Homo Sapiens who carried the day and extincted Neanderthal man and all other human species was very simple. Homo Sapiens hunted with dogs. With Homo Sapiens, wolf had thought 'If you can't beat them, join them'.

Because Homo Sapiens was lethal. It is a feature of the arrival of Homo Sapiens in any land mass that within a thousand years, most large mammals are extinct. only in Africa has this general rule been broken. But between 30,000 BC and 10,000 BC Man extincted the Mammoth, the Mastadon, the Cave Bear, the Sabre Tooth Tiger, the Giant Kangaroo, the Short-faced Kangaroo, the Ground Sloth and the Glyptodon, to name but a few.

Some it ate, some were competition. Either way, it's a good job Man discovered agriculture and penning animals in, rather than just driving them off cliffs, because otherwise he'd have been so good, he'd have run out of food.

So let's be honest, if you want to talk about the instincts of the predator, well, it's us, surely?

Only it's not. Not entirely. And I think I've kind of realised why not. I kind of see what has happened.

What's happened really is that most people, if left to their own devices, remain primates, to a large degree. What has actually happened over the last few million years has been the development of a certain character type. Primates who think like wolves. And they remain a minority, still.

I remember seeing somewhere that even in a battle, eight of ten people without realising they do so, deliberately miss. They try to avoid killing unless they absolutely have to.
But two out of ten will always shoot to kill.

So it's a minority of human beings who are capable of being merciless killers. But of course, they were the ones who's ancestors led the hunt, their adrenalin pumping, planning where to drive the herd. The rest just made a lot of noise. The instincts of the species as a whole are those of Primates, but the leap forward has been made by those who passed on genes showing more and more carnivore characteristics.

This explains a lot. I have often felt that males who think the way I do, are a clear minority. My best friend is a similar type to me, and I realise I understand that type. I understand why.

All males are part wolf, part monkey. He, like me, is more wolf than monkey.

Ultimately, so much of how we see the world- and react to it- is conditioned by the fact that whilst most people instinctively think like primates, we belong to the minority who essentially think like carnivores.

A lot makes sense when you accept that. It's a hard point to get your head round, because of course, there is a minority of people of this personality type who really are a menace to society. I think it's true to say that by definition, all sociopaths and psychopaths MUST fall into this character type.
But the point is, they remain a minority, even of this character type. Do the maths. Nine out of ten 'wolf thinkers' are clearly NOT sociopaths or psychopaths.

What makes the difference?
Is your dog a psychopath?
No, your dog is a very loving, tactile animal. So is the wolf thinker.

The sociopath/psychopath is like the abused Rottweiler. That is what he is. He is the wolf thinker whose development has not happened properly and has not developed the capacity to emote, form bonds and develop a sense of environmental and social awareness that separates him from the other nine out of ten wolf thinkers.

Probably the fact the figure of maladjusted wolf thinkers is that high, is down to the fact that it is hard for us to develop normally in a society essentially set up to cater for the developmental needs of the majority primate thinkers.

And yet of course, most of us do, one way or another. I think we're often misunderstood, because we don't think the same. For example, at school we're often seen as lazy. Not trying. Clearly bright but just not making an effort. Disruptive.

I disagree. I know how I think, it's not quite the way academia expects. It only sees one type of intelligence. But wolves think differently to monkeys. Monkeys learn things in stages, wolves see the whole picture, then fill in the details.

But I do recognise a certain character type which is me, many people I know and understand and see are- my own. Pack animals, not tribe creatures.

Is it a coincidence we tend to all be intelligent, but more in a synaesthetic than academic way? Is it coincidence we are all highly addictive personalities? Of course not, we need the high, the thrill of the kill, the burst of adrenalin as spear slides into flesh. We miss it, we crave it.
I guess that's why we all work in sectors which replicate the dynamics of the savannah. Close a deal, make a kill, what's the difference?

I look at so many of the characteristics I have, my best friend has, and other people I know who fit the bill, and I realise that they are minority character traits, traits which fit carnivores, not primates.

And again, it goes back to dogs.

I realise, my approach to life is that of a dog. As is that of my best mate and those generally I relate to best. It's how a dog treats life. Reliance on body language and posturing. Use of eye contact and voice. Those really are the things I rely on life. I use them to a huge degree. I'm very big on using my eyes and my voice.

But it's beyond that. Dogs actually are more social animals than primates. And it's interesting that, like most dogs I can't deal with long periods of time outside human contact. After all, I can only cope with living on my own by keeping this blog and continually having music playing and Yahoo Messenger running as well. And it's still rare I can go an evening without heading off for a pint.

I think most wolf thinkers are dog lovers. I often think of dogs as kind of furry people and I've yet to meet one I haven't emoted with. If I come round your house and you have a dog, trust me, your dog will instinctively come and sit on my lap. All dogs do. Dogs can tell a dog person and I clearly give off a dog vibe.
Likewise, I rarely have problems with dogs showing aggression towards me.

And I really think that is, because I think more like a dog than most people do.

I think what kind of rammed all this finally home- if I didn't already know it deep down- was something that happened at work yesterday. I don't believe in mindless violence, I think that's clear. I don't get into fights, I've not been in one for years.
But I can be very confrontational and to be honest I do do a lot of 'facing people down'.

Bearing in mind I'm a 5ft7, 10 stone waif like figure you might wonder how I get away with it.
I guess because most people have good instincts. Most people recognise the character type even though they don't know it. They can figure it out.

Because it's that difference between monkey anger and carnivore anger. Most people get angry like monkeys do, its all bluster and noise making.
What they call red-faced anger.

Mine is white-faced. That's how a dog gets angry. Carnivore angry.

Because carnivores attack when the adrenalin is pumping.

If you push a dog too far, it will take your hand off.

What happened at work yesterday, was that it was a long day. And I'm trying with less success than I'd hope to quit smoking.
We have a new guy at work who has a slight attitude problem. In fact, the subject came up at the pub a week or so ago. It was mentioned in jest it would only be a matter of time before he got smacked by someone.

He picked the wrong day to make a jibe under his breath which I probably wasn't meant to hear but did. I could feel the eruption inside, but let it simmer. To the outside world, I probably still looked unreadable.

Anyway, half an hour later I was talking to Dizzy when I heard him say something again, more sarcy comments...

What happened next is interesting. Interesting, because I'm not a person who indulges in violence. Not a person who has developed a habit of using violence as a response. What happened was an instinctive primal response, and the fact that it WAS my response is quite sobering.
Because it was done totally without any thought entering the process. I didn't myself actually realise how I'd responded until my boss, who sympathised and admitted he'd been tempted to give him a good hiding himself, told me in the car park, where we went through it, exactly how dramatic the response had been.

I had marched over to his desk, clasped one hand around his face so that my thumb and index finger were squeezing his cheeks and physically lifted him out of his seat by his face and pinned him against the wall. I had then stared him in the eye and snarled 'One more piece of lip out of you and I'll fucking batter you. Are we clear?'

I hadn't shouted. I had said it in my normal tone. Just with an edge. Move an inch and I'll hit you.

This happened so fast, I didn't have time to think.
But that's how I react when people push me over the line.

The reaction of a wolf, not the reaction of a monkey.

Would I actually have hit him? No, I don't think so. Not in the circumstances.
I didn't need to. Judging by what my boss said, I had him pretty much immobilised. He couldn't have hit me. And he was making what a behaviour expert calls 'submission gestures'.

But had it been the wild? Had I not had a rational brain in my head conditioning me to understand the consequences of my actions, a rational brain that ultimately would know when this little display had achieved its purpose?
Or if he had attempted to lash back at me?

Being really brutal, physically speaking, though obviously not speaking about what I myself would ever do in reality, but physically speaking, I was in a position to actually kill him. Had he moved a limb, my other hand was pretty much free to puncture his throat.

That of course, is as far as it ever gets with me. But you do realise that though you're a long way from the psychopath, you're formed from the same type that he's formed from. You're both dogs. Just he's a mistreated Rottweiler and you're by and large a Beagle.

Unlike the Primate, when you bite, you bite to disable your opponent.

And it's instinctive. Because there I was, yesterday afternoon, a 5ft7, 10 stone waif.

Pinning another man against a wall by his face.

Without thinking about it. Those instincts were primal. It was a carnivore marking his territory, asserting his dominance.

I'm not proud of it. Some would say it's inexcusable behaviour. It's perhaps not socially acceptable. In my defence I'd like to point out, it's not a common occurrence. If it was, then I doubt people would tolerate it. The fact that it is so rare and only happens under extreme provocation does suggest that most people who witness these things tend to see it as if not acceptable, at least being understandable and forgivable, in the circumstances.

My boss, the famous Gecko, was sympathetic and made it clear I had his backing on the subject. He made he clear he didn't approve of the display, but also made clear that the the reaction was understandable. He knows me well enough to be able to put such displays in context and know that if I ever do react that way, there's a sound reason behind it.

Because he knows I'm not actually a psycho. Many has been the time when we've been out drinking I've had to calm him down and move him away from confrontation.

But as he says '------ger, you have to remember, I know I can have a bit of banter with you and I know the limits, because I know you. And you know what it's like here. Everyone pushes the limits in banter- and you're the same. I understand he's got a bit of an attitude and he pushes it. I almost banged him out the other morning. But we can't be doing it. Not in the office. Actually pinning him up against the wall was overstepping the mark. Let's just pretend it never happened. And apologise to him. Cover your back. If you've apologised, than you're covered and I'm covered.'

I guess I can see how early man faced the sabre tooth tiger and won. It really is in us.
And it has both negative and positive points.
And I guess I know that that side does lie within me. But I also know something else.

So much of what I am, so many of my positive characteristics, indeed every one I live by, every one that I take pride in, every single characteristic I have that people list as my good points, they come with that. Creative thinking, charisma, strong bonding, good communication, strong strategic thinking, a certain type of spatial intelligence and a strong eye for patterns, loyalty, all these, they are the virtues of the dog.

I'm a monkey who thinks like a wolf.
A monkey who emotes like a wolf.

I think the challenge mankind needs to come to terms with is how we all deal with that.

Because it really is an amazing blend that has changed the dynamics of life itself.

But the sort of thing I did in the office yesterday is the sort of thing that can lead to some pretty MAD things.


MAD, as in Mutually Assured Destruction.

So we got to figure this stuff out really.
And figure out a world in which we're all a lot nicer to eachother.

Before there's no one around to be nice to.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

The Significance of Hair

It is a fact that of all my deepest darkest fears, by far the greatest is one I have no power to prevent, should that dark day loom.

Myself and my best mate were discussing it in the pub recently. 'What would you do if it started?'

If you woke up one morning to find that you could feel your scalp...

That it was happening.
The curse of the male had come...

Because it's true. Most men fear it. And me being vain as hell, and very much in love with my curls, the idea that one day I might have to choose between looking like Montgomery Burns or going the whole hog and having a totally naked head, is not something I relish.

And yet many women say they find bald men attractive.

Doesn't actually seem to matter though. For some reason, that doesn't concern me. What concerns me, is the fact that I wouldn't have a beautiful head of hair. I'm proud of the head of hair IN ITSELF. It's part of the image I have of self. And that's important.

I suppose it was this train of thought got me thinking to attitudes to hair. What does it mean to us?

Well, first is the obvious observation, that women do not by and large tend to suffer baldness naturally. Cases such as Gail Porter stand out.

But interestingly, I find that apparently 'bald women' is a high hitter in the Google search engines. It seems that a lot of men out there find bald women attractive.

Odd, you might think.

Except of course, there IS a certain logic to it.

It's interesting that we tend to groom our body hair generally for simple reasons of hygiene. Although the beard comes and goes with fashion, generally even when it is semi-fashionable, it remains a minority possession. Generally, we seem to prefer clean shaven. Not only women, but most of us males seem to prefer how our face looks without facial hair.

In many ways, hair on the head IS slightly unhygienic, not to mention hazardous. In many ways, it would seem an oddity of human culture that in fact, we DO retain hair on the head at all- either sex.

And the answer would seem to lie in aesthetics. It's kind of like natural clothing.

And I suppose this explains our dual attitude to it. Hair on the head is, effectively, an item of clothing. That is psychologically how we see it, that is the function it fulfills. It fulfills no other function whatsoever, it is an adornment.

So baldness is a bit like nudity. If a man has an attractive face, baldness emphasises it. If he doesn't, baldness emphasises that too.

And I guess the covert interest that has been noted- that many men are interested in looking at attractive bald women is PRECISELY for that reason. It's not usual you get to see a woman THAT naked. And if she's beautiful her baldness emphasises it. If not, it emphasises the reverse. Being judged aesthetically without the adornment of hair is something many men have to deal with one day having to face. The idea of women facing that type of judgement is still, I guess, a novelty.

This would explain why it is the OPPOSITE sex who finds baldness attractive, but most men- and women- fear being bald themselves. Because in a deep rooted psychological way, it feels like nakedness.

Just as we wouldn't go out naked, we fear the fact of going out without our hair. We WANT that adornment. It's pride. And in terms of adornment, long flowing locks are beautiful, they give us dignity, status.

And this moves to the rather odd position of how we view hair as a adornment. Long hair is not quite as acceptable on a male than it is on a woman.
But I'll be honest, if I could have shoulder length curls, I would.

Because the point of hair as an adornment, as with clothing as an adornment, is precisely that.

I often think they had the best solution in the eighteenth century. Every male divested himself of his natural hair and got a long flowing wig. He had total freedom over what his hair should look like.

I'd love to have a set of long, flowing wigs reaching down past my shoulders, lustrous, flowing, tightly curled. I'd have one in black, one in brown, and one in a golden blonde.

I wonder if it will go in that direction. I wonder if one day the culture will change so that no one really has natural hair, which can get caught in things, is potentially unhygienic and over which the owner has little control.

If no one is seen publicly bald, but people wear their hair like they now wear shirts or dresses, an adornment over which the wearer has full choice, but to be seen out without hair really would be like being seen naked.

And if seeing your partner without their wig will be part of seeing them naked, without their wig you see their true beauty, or lack thereof.

I wonder if one day, it will be a part of normal human life- that magic moment when you see your partner for the first time without their hair.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Ann Potter and Langdon Towne- The Perfect Love Story.

I guess everything finds different things romantic and I guess that is partly conditioned by the kind of people they are and the kind of things they are looking for.

I have previously referred to a literary situation that I have always found deeply romantic, that being the relationship between the Count of Monte Christo and Haydee, who finally redeems him. And it's not just the concepts, it's the characters as portrayed. I found the love story romantic long before it ever developed any parallels for me in real life.

But at the back of my mind of late has been a sense of resonance, as if deeply ingrained in me is another parallel I can think of to my current situation, one which I could never quite bring out to work out which it was.

And today I remembered.
And I realised of course, it is an even better one, in some ways, than the Count of Monte Christo and Haydee.

I have only ever read 'The North West Passage' by Kenneth Roberts once. Well over ten years ago. But I have gone back to re-read certain passages since. And do you want to know why?

Because deep down, I AM a hopeless romantic in some ways. because deep down, I guess I saw something of Langdon Towne in myself, I guess there is something in the love of Ann Potter and Longdon Towne that shines out as MY archetype. And something about Ann Potter that is exactly the kind of woman I secretly search for.

Over the years I have picked up that book and turned to just two passages in particular, two passages that really have given me butterflies.

The book is set in the latter part of the eighteenth century, starting towards the end of the seven years war and ending uring the American revolution. The book is set around the larger than life historical character of Robert Rodgers, one of those men who have much imagination, charisma and ambition but end up being dragged down by the downside of those talents. They burn too bright too soon, perhaps. It is about Rodgers, but it isn't. It's about dreams and reality, the motors that drive us. Freedom, the need to impress others and the facades people live by. And much more.

The different routs we all pursue to find happiness perhaps.

Langdon is essentially an artist. He ends up joining the militia under Rodgers for reasons I can't quite remember, but gets sucked into Rodgers dreams of finding a North West passage for the simple reason he wants to go west to sketch the natives.

I guess the temperament of Langdon is one I could relate to back then and still can now. He ends up leading an eventful life and seeing a lot of things, but he never becomes a brutal thug. At heart he remains a sensitive observer of life. He prefers to carry sketch books to guns, given the choice. But he knows how to handle himself with guns if needed.

It is during the London section of the novel that he finds Ann Potter. Potter the father is Rodgers secretary and there's not much good to be said for him. He asks Langdon to go find the daughter he left with 'a good family in the East end'. She is, he thinks, about fourteen.

It turns out, of course, that the 'good family' are nothing of the sort.

Ann is forced by day to pretend to be crippled so she can carry out various begging scams. And of course, the novel is written in the thirties so certain things are unsaid. But the family in question live above a brothel and since they demand money from Langdon to part with Ann, the reader can probably draw their own conclusions. And I think we are meant to draw that conclusion. We are meant to understand that Ann has been hugely damaged and scarred.

Potter doesn't take much notice of his daughter, indeed no one much does. She is handed over to be cared for by Elizabeth. A side point of the novel is that Elizabeth was once Langdon's love, but she deserted him for the more impressive prospect of Robert Rodgers and as the book progresses we realise that this was a lucky escape for Langdon. Because increasingly we see that it is Elizabeth who wears the trousers. a kind of eighteenth century Cherie Blair. Her character becomes markedly less sweet throughout the book till by the end we can see she bears a prominent part in ruining Rodgers by her possessive domineering.

Only Langdon genuinely has any feeling for her, a genuinely brotherly care.

Ann has huge barriers. She finds it impossible to emote. She rarely speaks, she is almost like a wooden doll. It is almost impossible for anyone to get through to her.

But Langdon does as much as anyone does. He gets warm eyes from her. And we understand that means something to him. We as readers notice what he doesn't. That their relationship changes. She grows to trust him in a way she trust no one else and he sees her in a way he sees no one else. He sees her as a a sister. What he doesn't notice is that she is becoming a woman. And we don't really. It doesn't hit us- quite- until it hits him.

Ann does have a way she expresses herself and one only Langdon can appreciate. She learns to mimic. She can act.
She will watch and observe those she sees and then act them out, be they Elizabeth, drunken whore of the east end or Indian squaw. Here she comes to life, by taking on other persona, she finds a medium by which she can express herself.

And Langdon can relate to that, as an artist. We can see how their minds meet before he starts to see her as more than a sister. We can see that though he doesn't see it, he has passed beyond that barrier of ice and connected to the person inside in the deepest platonic way possible.

And then we have what I think is the first of the these two beautiful scenes, the two of them illustrative of what I believe to be one of the most beautiful love stories ever printed.

Rodgers has got his dream. He is governor of Fort Michilimackiniac and is sending forth an expedition to find the North West Passage. And Langdon is going on it.

The farewell party is in full throw. And Langdon goes up the stairs for some reason to find Ann standing at the top of the stairs all forlorn. She is perhaps eighteen by now, he perhaps in his late twenties. Why is she standing there?

He tells her she could to bed. He still sees himself here as the older brother. She does not move, just stares with fixed expression. He moves closer to her and whispers to her to go, before Elizabeth finds her and berates her. And then he kisses her on the lips. She freezes, she does not respond. And she continues to stare in silence.

He tells her to go.

The scene is important. Important because it emphasises how impossible Ann finds it to emote, yet more important in it's longer term significance. Because, as we later discover, it DIDN'T mean nothing to her. Not at all.

Whilst Langdon is on the journey, he writes letters to Ann. At first he sees them as just letters to a sister. But over time, he starts to realise things. He gets a letter from her which reads 'Major Rodgers is very kind, but sometimes I wish he wouldn't be so kind'.

And Langdon starts to realise he doesn't see her as a girl. Nor as a a sister. The transition had happened without him being aware of it. She is everything he thinks about.
And we can tell he is partly relieved when the expedition fails and he has to return home. He wants his Ann.

He returns to Michilimackinac to find Rodgers has had to return to London in disgrace (I think. He's not there anyway). And Ann is gone. Gone home to England. And Elizabeth tells him a tale. Tells him that she would catch Rodgers and Ann together, that Langdon never saw it, but she played all the men.

And Langdon passes no comment. Is it because he disbelieves it?
No. No, I think the point is deeper than that. I think we are to understand that though Ann cannot emote and though she may not have cared for the advances of men, she had grown up in a dark world where she had learned how to use them. Never does Langdon ever after ask her for her version. he loves her too much to need to know perhaps. He understands. Understands how Ann would revert to old survival tactics to survive in a world where the only man she trusted was gone.

I don't think we're meant to see Ann as being virtuous in that regard. I think it is quite implicit that her defence against being used by men is to use them back. But cold as ice and as hard as wood she remains to all but Langdon.

Langdon departs back to London to find her, driven by that last image he has in his mind of her standing alone at the top of the stairs.
When he finds her, she has blossomed. He hears she works at a theatre- he does not realise it is her show.

For Ann now supports herself by having learned to express herself at last. Hundreds flock every night to see Ann act out scenes from the Americas. She is frontier soldier, she is squaw, she is the left behind lover. Everything she has seen, she brings to the stage.

And it is in the reunion scene, when she sees he has come for her. For the first time she finally lets her emotion go. She has been pining for him as much as he did for her. We can literally feel her letting it all out. It's not just that she has missed him, but she has finally herself come to terms with the fact she has emotions and that a world could conceivably exist where he no longer has to bottle them up. And the instant he returns, that possible world becomes the real world.

That kiss at the top of the stairs that she could not at the time respond to, told her inside she was alive and since then, she has finally learned to feel.

Do they have a romantic wedding?
No, they are married that night in the Fleet prison, illegally, by a debtor priest who needs the money.

Is this the most romantic love story I can think of in literature?

Yes, yes it is.

And is Ann Potter the woman most worthy of a man's love that literature has ever produced?
I think so.

Because I think I've found my own Ann Potter.

And I guess that's why it feels so perfect.

I think I'm still standing at the top of the stairs kissing her icy lips and her freezing unable to deal with it.

But he never gave up on her. In the end he crossed half the globe to find her again.

And I know I'd do the same.

I know how he felt about Ann Potter. I understand exactly how the character felt about her, because it's exactly how I feel.

And I think that it is exactly how it should be.

Monday 22 September 2008

When Mothers Slay Their Young

Last week's poll was clear cut.

7 of you think we don't come down hard enough on rapists.
2 disagree.

Hmmm. I'm actually surprised we got no votes, but still. I expected a low turnout, but I didn't expect no votes. Still.

Usually these poll topics are presented in the form of I put an issue up and I tell you my point of view. This week will be a little different.

Some of you will be aware I have a strong opinion on this subject and will also be aware that is in part due to personal reasons. I have never told the story in full, because it is, for the most part, something that lingers on in my mind as one of those things I never quite forget and which totally changed my perspective on everything.

So this week, I'm actually just going to tell you my own experience of this topic and how it affected me.

I'm only going to say one thing. The argument that a foetus isn't life because it can't survive on it's own doesn't hold water. Show me a two month old baby who can.

Claire and I were not perhaps, the most ideally suited couple in the world. But we drifted along.
I was 23, she was 24. We were engaged. We lived together. I sold phone systems, she was a college lecturer.
We had little in common, but we muddled along. If anyone cares for more detail, it's here.

Had no spanners ever appeared in the works we'd have ended up walking up that aisle in September of 2002. That's the date she had planned. We'd have ended drifting up to that date and beyond into marital hell.

For her, because it was her dream. The whole package. The career, the house, the wallpaper, the fitted kitchens, the three piece suite that matches the carpets, the loving huband and the ring on the finger.

For me, strange as it may sound, I thought it was better to settle with what life threw your way than carry on waiting forever. It sounds strange looking back that I was worried about being 'left on the shelf' at that age, but I was.

Underlying it all, wasn't any great desire to tie the knot. I think I saw it as the price that had to be paid. I'm not sure I even saw it as a lifetime arrangement, even if it did end up at the altar.

I think I saw being present at my own wedding as kind of an unpleasant necessity I had to go through in order to be present at the christening of my own children.

A life chosen out of a catalogue, perhaps. But we were choosing from different catalogues.

I'm not sure either of us were really alive.

The problem arose in quite a common way. She was diabetic. They told her her new medication would likely counteract the pill and that she should consider the implant. The thing is, the implant can only go in at a certain time of a woman's cycle (I can't remember whether it's just before or just after her period), and in between her being told this and her next opportunity to have the implant, we went off on our summer holidays...

A week in a cottage in Devon...

I guess everybody remembers where they were when England redeemed itself for thirty years of always losing to Germany by beating Germany 5-1.
I certainly do.

Right from the start the day was- tense. And I didn't quite know why. She kept going on about the town carnival, being an ex carnival Queen herself and I had no interest whatsoever. I was more concerned with working out where I'd watch the game. And where the hell I'd put my England flag.

And we bickered at eachother most of the morning. She wanted me to come watch their floats with her and I wanted to find the flag. Turned out she DID know where it was all along.

Anyway, I agreed to go with her to the carnival and all seemed well, until we were walking down the street and almost got knocked over by a horde of kids armed with plastic guns and pirate hats.
'Bloody kids!' I said 'There should be a law keeping them off the pavements.'
'Well, you better get used to them, DADDY!'

I turned. 'WHAT?'
She growled 'You heard.'

I refused to believe it. She went into all the technicalities of when she thought she'd had her last period. I flatly refused to listen.
'You're not pregnant, Claire. A day or two late at most. Hence your mood.'

It was self deception, of course. I didn't really want to face the prospect. Mainly because I didn't want to be worrying about it when the football was on. So till then, it was better NOT to believe.

Anyway, I kidded myself I didn't believe and it was just another of her crazy short lived self deceptions and forgot about it for the ninety minutes it took England to redeem herself for thirty years of losing to Germany. And for the seven pints I consumed in the pub to celebrate.

By the time I got back to Claire, I think I kind of knew in my heart of hearts. I don't know why.

We found a chemist next day- a Sunday- on the way over to have Dinner with my parents.

We did the test in a cubicle in the Women's public toilets in the local shopping centre.
As I held the strip in the little cup of urine, I could see in my mind the second blue line before it happened. I KNEW. And so did she.

Dinner with my parents was awkward...

We stopped off in a pub in the way home and talked about it. 'I can't keep it.' she said. 'It's the wrong time in my career. And we're not married. In a few years, yes, but not now. We're too young. We can't afford it. I'm not ready for it, and nor are you.'
I just told her not to make rash decisions. I knew my opinion already. But I didn't think it was the right time. She was too shaken, I guess I thought I could work her round into keeping it. So I didn't say much yet, except to tell her not to rush into a decision.

The following day at work, I rolled back in after lunch slightly the worse for wear. I'd told my colleagues in the pub, and they'd agreed I should go home that afternoon and join Claire at the doctors.

So when I got back, I'd had a fair few Double Jamesons.

My boss wasn't impressed. We went for a private talk in the office.

'You're quite drunk.'
'Yes, I know. Thing is, Claire's up the duff and I should really go home. She needs me with her at the doctor's'
'You know, people get pregnant all the time. Welcome to the real world. I was pregnant at fifteen. I'm sure she can cope- it's not like you won't be back home soon.'

Half hour later she called me back in and said 'I've been thinking, I was a bit harsh there. I didn't think. You should go. Go home, if you want.'

But I was weak 'No, it's OK, you're right. I'm needed here. I'll stay.'
'You sure?'

I should have gone.
Because Claire had already started the wheels in motion.

That month was hell.

Because it kept coming up. I guess I really convinced myself I could talk her out of it.
And so much more came out too, underlying gripes that had festered so long, issues that really showed how little we had in common, how much, underneath it all, we resented eachother in some ways.

I cried several times.

At one time I said 'He's my SON, Claire. And yours too. MY SON. You are making me an accomplice to the murder of MY SON. LITTLE ---. He wants to come with me to watch Birmingham play, not end his life in a plastic bag before it even started.'
And she snarled back 'It's not a he, it's an it. A ball of cells. And it's going to be RIPPED OUT, that's right, ---, RIPPED OUT AND THROWN AWAY!'

And I stared in horror 'What kind of mother are you?'

And I'd say 'How can you think we could marry and have children in the future? What do we say? You had a brother but we killed him. How could we look any future children in the eye, knowing that we killed a child?'

Ans sometimes she really hit me where it hurt 'Typical of you isn't it? You can't even manage sex properly. Never gave me an orgasm, but you managed to get me pregnant. Managed that OK, didn't you? Managed to stick a kid inside me that's no doubt as useless as it's father at everything apart from being a wide boy.'

She wore me down. I did get covert legal advice and found, as most males do, there really is nothing you can do. You really do have absolutely no power at all, your opinion is irrelevant. No one cares. It's her body and it really doesn't matter that it's your son inside.

The day she had to go to the clinic I woke up with a throbbing pain in my shoulder. Burning, it was. All the way to the clinic, I kept massaging it. Eventually as I pushed and pulled the ball of the shoulder, I felt a tight click and a slight twinge. I realised I'd been sleeping so bad, I'd managed to dislocate it and that click was actually my arm slotting back into it's socket.

The Calthorpe Road clinic is a disturbing place. Looks like any other nice house on a nice street. Inside, it could be a Harley Street dentist. But it's not. It's a place where mother's go to divest themselves of their unwanted young.

Killing those two hours was hard. I couldn't focus on my book, so I went for a walk. I got some cigarettes and returned to the clinic. As I came back up the road there were a handful of demonstrators outside, with two security guards blocking the entrance.
As I walked past, one of them flashed a portrait at me. One that he couldn't know would hit me in a way the way it did. Because he couldn't know that I privately shared his position. Not his tactics, not his extremism. But his position. And the image he used was one which holds much power over me.
'Look on the face of the Mother of Christ!'

I returned to the waiting room wanting to run up and stop it. But I knew it was already too late.

They do the women in batches, so they all come back down together. As the first ones came down, one of them came up to me. She must have been told who to look for. 'She's coming, the gas affected her. But you were the first thing she asked for. She's worried about you.'
And I guess for an instant you think it's something you can both come back from. In time, it will heal.

It doesn't.

It never can. It's there. I would look at her and in my heart all I thought was 'Childkiller'.

We lasted a month after that.
And I've never seen her since.

And it changed me. It changed how I saw the society I lived in. Because I could never, ever again, have any respect for when people quoted the law. The law? The law tells me I can't stick Cocaine up my nose of my own free will? Would that be the same law that allows 100,000 unborn children to die every year in the UK alone? One of which was mine? That's how I felt about it.

It was all of it. The women sitting in there in the waiting room, treating it as not much more than a form of contraception. The smiling nurses, the doctors, no doubt justifying it to themselves, but no doubt so did Mengele.

And a society that thinks it's really OK, that it's a 'just a ball of cells'.

Well, that ball of cells carried my DNA. And I don't forget that. I'll never forget that.
To me, it's murder.

Up till then, I had cynically played lip service to the social values of the culture I lived in. Accepted the idea of playing the system, playing ball. This is when it changed for me. This is when it started to get personal.

I give money to two charities.

Dog's Trust.

I'm not going to present any of the arguments on either side. I don't really care about the issues the Pro-choice camp come up with. It's Murder. It is Murder.

And there is no justification in my view that you can come up with for it. At all.

And I feel that way, because I still grieve. Every time I even see a baby, a part of me remembers.
And always will.

Poll's in the sidebar.

You know the drill.