Friday 31 October 2008

What my Online Friends Mean to Me

I suppose this post is kind of going to be a bit of an odd revelation.

You see, there is a story out there that I have an online harem.

Fact is scarce stranger than fiction. What I do have is something very special indeed, something that for me, can only exist through blogging.

For me, it has only been possible, because of blogging.
And I'd like to tell you about it.

It's not something I really thought of when I started blogging. I guess we're all beginners at this. We're the first generation of bloggers.
And it has created something very special in my life, something truly amazing.

It is one of the reasons blogging is important to me.

I have asked permission from the two most important people concerned to run this post, though obviously they shan't be named. That's not fair on them.
In fact, I'm talking to both of them as I write this. I talk to both of them most nights.

They are part of something very special to me. Something I'm very protective about. Something that most of you who read this don't realise is a very important part of this blog.
In many ways, I don't see it as being JUST my blog, it's not. Many people are a part of it.

It is often said that the internet allows people to live lives they want to lead. Maybe. And many blogs out there may not be as sincere as they present them as. The middle aged bald guy posing as James Bond, the spotty shy girl posing a sex goddess. But maybe the people behind them are still real. Maybe they are more real because they are free to be the person inside, free from the judgement they might face on aesthetic grounds in real life.

Now in most respects, I'm pretty much as you would expect in Real Life. What do I mean by that?
Well, what I mean is that if you walked into a room where a load of bloggers who had just met were getting drunk and had to guess which one was me, you'd probably be right.
I generally behave in RL, much the same way I behave on this blog and in comments sections.

On the face of it, I'm a very open person, a person people tend to invite out and tend to invite to parties.

On Fridays my boss will often say 'The choice is yours, work till the end of the day or come and get drunk with me'.

All that aspect of life is pretty much covered for me. I never really need to worry about having a social life and having other males around to have a social life with.

I have quite a lot of male friends, so in some ways I guess you'd say I was a 'man's man'. As in hard drinking, gets wildly excited by football matches, into all the male bonding type stuff. Definitely a 'One of the lads' type. Usually hogging the limelight, if I'm honest. The 'Come ON, people! Let's get moving! Let's PARTYYYY!'.

That's me.

Indeed, I'm the sort of person likes to hold court at parties, likes to stand at the bar in my local and be the centre of attention. That's life how I like to lead it.

So in one sense, I'm very approachable.

But it really isn't that clear cut.

My general relations with the opposite sex are quite simple. For the most part, if you're female, I will flirt with you. Now last October I decided to go on a sexual abstinence bout. The reasons were actually quite simple. To work out what I really wanted from the opposite sex. Now, I do post some stuff here about communes and open relationships, etc, but please remember that these are actually untested speculations. This particular post is actually about reality. Day to day reality.

Now I broke my abstinence period a while back, but generally speaking I've still been laying off, though I have come to a decision that I'm actually going to return to the field on that one.
Because I've finally accepted that really, I do get it. I understand that things the way they are makes sense.
And what is the field?

My real life relationships with the opposite sex are simple. The vast majority of sex I have is with people I've just met and I've forgotten their names the following day. Occasionally I do the whole 'relationship' thing, but I get cold feet within three months at most. I just can't hack it. I am just constitutionally unsuited to the committed relationship. They make me miserable, no two ways about it. I actually cannot deal with them. I actually don't want to be in them, period.

And it isn't actually about the issue of sexual fidelity. That's not the problem.

The problem is, a person being in my life to that degree. A person being that close to me both emotionally and physically. I just can't handle it.

I think I've often said just how important a friend the Baker is. We really are a lot closer than most best friends, even. Even now he has a baby daughter, it's still true that I'm in his confidence to a degree D is not. I'm still the person he consults on his major life decisions and probably always will be. We've shared most things over the years, including sexual partners.

A few months back when we were discussing some of the crazy women in my past he came up with quite a profound point 'I think it's true to say that the relationship you and I have is kind of different to any of your other relationships with anyone though. One thing that's always been true of you is that you can never escape from worrying about who's in control. Basically all your friendships and all your relationships are based on that. It's your main consideration, you never really stop being conscious of it. You won't let people near you unless you're comfortable they don't pose a threat. I guess I can see it and understand it, because I guess I know why it's like that for you. And I think it's probably a good thing that you've at least got me in your life, where you don't think about that. I think I'm probably the only person in your life who you don't erect some kind of barrier to guard yourself against'.

And that of course, is the point. In real life I really do just guard myself against everybody. I just do it quite well. So well, that mostly no one notices. Except people who try to get close to me in the WRONG way.

The Chimney Sweep, I don't think he notices. Because I'm not having to guard myself against him. Over the years, he's subconsciously picked up what he can and can't do. It's instinctive to him. Neither of us ever notices there is a barrier there, because to all practical purposes there isn't. It's a barrier which is down. And which could not, in my opinion ever be raised. I don't think he ever notices that I have his complete confidence, that he asks me for advice on everything and anything, but that I often keep things from him. Haydee, for example. I only told him of her existence two weeks ago. The Baker knew from about March that she existed. The Chimney Sweep accepts that without question. Other things as well, in our dynamic. I adopt a protective role towards him in many respects, but also, occasionally if I'm honest, I can patronise him a little.

D, when she lived with me got used to the fact that much of my life was a total mystery to her. I knew who she slept with, because she'd ask my permission to bring them back, but I never told her where I was going or what I was doing. Merely 'I'm off out. Might be back tonight, don't know yet' or 'I'm going to be away this weekend. So I won't be here when you get back on Friday'. I never told her who I was sleeping with. Once, at her request I pointed a girl out in my local 'That's her, that barmaid. All right ain't she?' That was about it.

Yet by the same token, I had no real issue sitting on the sofa in just my boxer shorts channel surfing, or with her using the PC, even though it is in my bedroom whilst I had a Saturday morning lie in. I'm not private in that way at all.

And the deal I have with my family? Very simple. Don't call me, I call you. I visit you when I decide. You do not, under any circumstances, contact me.
In fact, I actually threatened to bar my grandmother's phone number if she called me again without prior consent and it wasn't an emergency. My exact words were 'You do NOT have my permission to ring up, at any time, just for a chat.'

And I've made it clear when I visit her in the home that there are a wealth of things we can discuss, but if she starts to ask me personal questions, I will just get up and walk out.

This is my closest relative.

She once said to me 'Don't you want me to care about you?'
I replied 'Not in the way you want to, no. I have people who look after me as much as I need looking after. You're not in a position to look after me. So there really isn't any point me telling you things you don't need to know. I'm alive, I'm here, I'm surviving. As long as you know that, you don't need to worry do you?'

Now I guess you're probably thinking by now what a cold bastard I am at heart. I'm not.

I remember at a party once a gay guy called Matteo saying 'It's such a shame Joe is so cynical about love and relationships because he's really a very loving person, when he lets himself be. Very tactile.' (I was lieing with my head on his shoulder at the time and he WAS playing with my hair).

And that is true. Around close friends where I don't feel threatened, I am. And dogs. I love dogs. I can't put them down.

And the way I get over babies is stereotypically female.

But I am quite a damaged person in many ways. I'm very protective of my personal space.
To a degree that is just way beyond most people's comprehension.

Basically, my life strategy is to have as many people in my life as I can, but never really let anyone get too close.

And that means, my life just isn't suited to actually being in any kind of loving committed relationship with anybody.

Thing is, I need female company. A lot, actually. Believe it or not, I prefer talking to women than men. And in my real life I have three female friends I can talk to without the 'complication' arising. The 'complication' is mixing the friendship with sex because I just can't help myself and then finding things are heading towards being a relationship.
And reality is, most of the times I bed random women it's mainly because I just want some female company. I want someone to lie next to and hold. I do flit from woman to woman a lot in real life, because I like women, I really do. I like being around them, I like being with them, I like being held by them.

But I hate the complications. I hate them coming into my life.

But there are needs I do have, emotional needs. The need for female company. When D lived here she provided that in an uncomplicated way. But I always had to keep a mental barrier there. It was hard sometimes to just look at her as a sister. I'm not quite as good at that as I'd like to be. There always was a little part of me which always fancied her. And it's something I think she, I and the Baker are all aware of.

It's why he asked my permission to start seeing her in the first place.

But in real life I really do bottle up these emotional needs. I won't allow situations to develop where I become emotionally dependant on women.

But there are certain things only women can give you. And I don't mean sex. Not at all.

It's feeling a woman's touch in your life. Being able to have women you can trust, to make you feel cared for, to ask you how your day went, to give you advice, to be there for you. Women you can tell everything to and feel safe.

And I just CAN'T open myself up to that from a woman in real life, I can't. I'm way too damaged to be able to open up to a woman in that way.

The internet has given me that.

It took me a while to get the hang of it, and it caused some confusion to me as well when I started blogging when I realised that I felt comfortable emoting to women online, in a way I wouldn't in real life.
Because part of it, of course, is that it's safe. They're not in your real life.
Except they kind of are.

If you want to say I have an online harem, I kind of do. But not in the way you think. It consists of a small group of women, all of whom know the others exist and none of whom think they are romantically linked with me. But between them, they fulfill my emotional need for female companionship.

And they mean I have no need to seek emotional companionship in what for me, is the more problematic domain of the three dimensional world.

What do they give me? Well, it's rare I'm online and one or other isn't around. I don't think it's ever happened they've all been online, but often I'm talking to more than one at the same time, and I think they're aware of that. And what do we talk about?
Well, they seem to know when I'm down, if I am they'll ask me why, or if I want to talk about it, I'll tell them things I wouldn't tell anyone else, I'll get them to go through posts for me, I'll ask them what they think I should do about work problems, or money issues, etc, etc, etc.

Each one of them is an important feature of my life.

Two, especially. Because I talk to them daily. In fact, quite often they're 'with me' for much of the evening. One of them is 'present' now, in the yahoo messenger waiting for me to finish this post. As she is most nights, at some point. We just natter really. I'll tell them what I'm having for tea, I'll tell them if I'm popping to the pub and I always see if they're around when I get back.

And I always say goodnight to them.


I have people in my life I say goodnight to every night. Ok, it may only be on Yahoo Messenger, but I get to say goodnight to people who are a very important part of my life.

I suppose the best way to express how, is this.

One night I interrupted a conversation with one of them to say that I was just going to 'grab a quick pint'. Well, a quick pint got sidetracked, but when I got back I decided to check comments whilst the girl I'd brought back got undressed. At which point, I was IMed by the other of my closest online friends.

HER: Hi Joester!
ME: You know, I hate to say this, but I can't really talk right now because I'm about to have sex.
HER: Too much information!
ME: Sorry, I really am. I apologise. Catch you tomorrow?

And the girl waiting in my bed asked 'What you doing?'
I lied 'Work related stuff'.

The other e-mailed me the following day to ask if I'd got laid. I kind of prevaricated and asked her why she thought that.
She pointed out that I'd signed off Yahoo Messenger two hours after I'd left without seeing if she was around to say goodnight to, which kind of suggested I was up to something I didn't want to tell her about.

I admitted her theory was correct.

She knows me too well.

She should do.

She's Haydee.

Bet you weren't expecting that now, were you?

No, nor was I.

I have known her a year now. Through e-mails initially, though now we talk on Yahoo Messenger. I think I actually fell in love with her on Christmas Day, though I didn't admit that to myself till about March. I actually told her that I thought I was in love with her in June(?). Since which point, it's been quite bizarre really.

And it's weird. It actually goes completely against all logic. But it just goes to show how, if you really want to, you can really pick a person up from what they write. I felt like I knew her a very long time ago indeed.

I have actually met her, and no, it wasn't actually a sordid encounter- we went round an art gallery and had a meal. And she is everything I ever imagined her to be. And a truly beautiful woman.

The honest to God truth is, if I actually was capable of having such a thing as a committed relationship, I'd want it to be with her. But I'm not.

What I am capable of, is having what I do have with her, which is the most important friendship in my life, in many ways. She fulfills a huge part of my emotional needs.

Believe it or not, right now I'm discussing the hugely significant fact with her that I happen to have a craving for Brandy snaps at this minute in time.

You see, this is the point. No, she doesn't love me, not in that way, and it's probably a good thing she doesn't. But she provides me with a hell of a lot of female companionship.

Female companionship. In a way I'm capable of dealing with, without getting freaked out by it.
It's not actually an emotional closeness I think I'd ever be capable of with someone I was sleeping with in real life.

I'm just not emotionally close to people I sleep with. I can never let them in, not in the way I let her in.

And the other girl who I chat on IM most nights, again, a very close friend now. Of course she is. I talk to her more than I talk to most RL people. And I was saying to her recently that I didn't think she realised just what a valued role she plays in my life. Because she's always bubbly, always pleasant, full of beans, always brightens me up. There's no one can dispell the thunder clouds like she can.

She's a little bottle of sunbeams. And again, in so many ways I feel I can let her in. I can spend hours talking to her, and do. She's actually my main adviser on Haydee- although she hasn't a clue who Haydee is and until this post, wouldn't have been aware the realities about Haydee. She has an amazing integrity, again I have to put her up there as one of my closest friends, because I say goodnight to her most nights. It's a small category of people I can say that about, and two of them are online. In fact there IS only one other person I can say that about- The Baker. Because he rings me most nights, if he's not around.

Now these two, as I say, count as amongst the most important relationships in my life. But there are others too, and yes, as it happens, the most important online ones happen to be female, in the main. There are two others I speak to at least once a week, sometimes for a short period, sometimes for hours. So I spend as much time talking to them as I do people who in real life would count themselves good friends. One has an amazingly wicked naughty sense of humour, and is just a really good laugh. A woman with no airs and graces and a woman who knows how to have a good time. And a woman who can see right through people. An amazing judge of character, a lot LOT smarter I think, then many people would give her credit for. Street wise.

And then there's my enigmatic friend, a real woman of class. Again, a great find in the journey through life. She can ALWAYS pick up my mood. And she can really cut to the chase. Sometimes I need her just to say to me 'If you're going to carry on talking on this defeatist way, I'm going to go'.

And I'm actually quite comfortable with her probing of me in a way I wouldn't be in real life. She can usually tell when I don't want to talk about something because she'll say 'You obviously don't want to tell me about it, so we'll move on'.
Now, only one person in RL has grasped that. Grasped when I don't want to talk about something and grasped that using that exact line, is the exact way to get me to talk about it. That person of course, being the Baker.

She's actually become one of my chief life crisis advisers.

These are probably the most important of my online friendships, the ones I regard as actually being features of my life. Friends I treasure.

And friendships I probably couldn't have in RL, not the way I do.

For the simple reason that I'm only capable of getting emotionally close to women who exist in three dimensional form if they are totally ruled out as sexual partners. D was ruled out, because we shared a flat, so that in itself created a barrier to sex. Of the two other women I'm emotionally close to in RL, one is effectively married and the other is a Lesbian.

The closest I'd say I am emotionally to an available heterosexual woman in RL, is Jo the Redhead barmaid at the Star, and for various reasons, we won't go into that in this post. It's complicated. As you would expect, in my case.

The bottom line is, I seem to have ended up conditioned so that physical intimacy and emotional intimacy are mutually incompatible for me. I've just ended up too hardened in real life. In RL, really, all I'm capable of is loving and leaving. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. So what that actually means is that my online friendships are hugely important to me. They've come to fill a hole in my life that can't be filled any other way. They give me female COMPANIONSHIP. Totally platonic, with the exception of Haydee, where she also fills my need to actually love someone.

So all I will say is this. It's my female friends online that get the genuine me. It's my female friends online get me as I am. They get to hear about my day at work, they get to hear my stories about things I've found whilst tidying the flat, they get to see the art I like, to know what I actually think, they get to share aspects of my life.

They get a side of me no woman in RL can ever have, unless she's firmly ruled out as a sleeping partner.
And I don't rule out that high a proportion.

You see, at some point next week, I will probably bed a girl who drinks in the Star who I've had my eye on for a while and its being getting quite steamy. And it may be I bed her more than once. And she actually is a very nice girl.
But there is no chance I'll really let her in. And either it will stay a casual thing, it will fizzle out her end, or I'll end it if looks in any outside danger of getting serious.
That's what I mean by returning to the field.

That really is the only way I'm capable of physical relations with the opposite sex.

What I have with my online female friends is so much more important.

And Haydee just said (from the Yahoo Messenger where she's getting bored) 'Are you writing War and Peace?'

So I guess I better wind it up now :)

Thursday 30 October 2008

Owning Up To A Mistake- An Apology To The Blogosphere

This blogger is going to put his hand up to a huge mistake.

Once upon a time this blogger was stupid enough to make a phone call to another blogger at the request of that blogger.

They ended up talking. They agreed they'd meet one day. The whispered sweet nothings to eachother.
It was all total fantasy.

This blogger stupidly told the other blogger about his past.

As time progressed, he discovered she had a nasty side. She'd fall out with other bloggers and expect him to take her side. She'd e-mail all his commenters and say she was 'in a relationship with him'.

She ruined blogging for him.

As time progressed, he was in a cleft stick. Because he'd already seen she had no respects for secrets told her. He'd seen that when she fell out with an online friend she'd had for eight years.

So he had to tell her everything she wanted to hear.

Because he knew that if he blew her off, she'd publish his past online.

He didn't take it too seriously. He figured it would fizzle out.

But in the meantime, he had to keep her sweet.

And most of the time, to begin with, it seemed OK. He kept an open mind about her. But in time, she became a burden to his life. She just could not refrain from publicising her connection to him.
Till one day, she started e-mailing one of his female friends and the two women got into a row.
And then she went too far. She published a post naming him as her man and telling the other girl to back off.
So he disavowed her.

At which point, things spiralled out of control. She could not see that he did not want her, because she couldn't keep her mouth shut, that the reason he wanted her out of his life, was the fact he couldn't trust her.

She couldn't see that every time she told someone they were 'in a relationship', he felt degraded and humiliated in front of that person.

He tried ways to convince her they should completely end contact. She wouldn't listen. She kept alleging which led on when all that had actually happened was that he found her too much to handle.

He was damned either way. Whatever he did, he would be humiliated by her. She would either tell other bloggers she was 'in a relationship with him', or tell other bloggers he'd been in gaol. And he wasn't sure which humiliated him most.

Eventually, at the request of his flatmate and his best friend, after she had rung and harassed his flatmate, he barred him from calling him and barred her on IM.

But he couldn't stop the mails.

If he didn't stop reply to the mails, she'd try to comment on his blog. Or comment on blogs he visited, telling the owner of the blog he'd been in prison.

This went on for months. There wasn't a night he didn't get mail from her and he had to respond out of fear. Fear of what she might publish. And he had no one to turn to. Some nights he actually broke down and cried.

Because she just didn't get it. She'd tried to create rifts between him and other online friends. She'd refused to keep the contact between themselves a total secret. He didn't want her, because she was too strident, too self centred and had no regard for his wishes.

She couldn't keep her obsession with this 'relationship' away from blogging. She couldn't help herself but go round trying to make everyone aware that he was 'her' guy. And that made him ashamed, thoroughly ashamed. Because he had no wish to be publicly associated with someone who behaved like that. And that, in itself, was why he wanted never to hear from her again.

Nothing he told her was good enough.

He just wanted her to go away and leave him alone. He wanted it to be as if they had never spoke.
But he was frightened to go to the police. To him, the police aren't friendly upholders of law. He doesn't want police anywhere near him either. His encounters with the police have not filled him with confidence in them.

And ultimately his biggest fear is 'Would my blog be what it is, if people knew my past?'

She held that over him, as she tormented him with e-mails, night after night after night.

In retrospect, I made a mistake.

I should never have humoured her.

The first time she contacted another blogger and said that we were 'in a relationship', I should have cut off all contact then and let her publish and be damned. Then so much horror would never have happened.

I put my hands up to that. I allowed myself to be ruled by fear. I allowed myself to be driven like a frightened rat into a maze I could not escape from.

In doing so, I only prolonged the agony.

I should have stood up like a man and just let her do her worst. Let her publish the fact I'd been in prison and whatever unpleasant slant she chose to put on it, rather than keeping responding to her, hoping to fend her for one more night, put off the doom well I worked out a way to get rid of her.

Because I didn't get rid of her.

And I let people down, I truly did. No more so than Phish, who I hope can find it in her heart to forgive me. But I let down others too.

And I let my readers down. Because I didn't give them the attention they deserved.

So much evil has entered the sphere as a result of this, and it could have been prevented, had I just stood up and let her do her worst long, long before I had to tell you all anyway.

I forgot to put the boiler on last night, which meant I woke up this morning to no hot water.
And I ran the shower, but I did not have time to wait for the hot water to come through. Eventually, I realised I was going to have to brace a freezing shower. In a freezing flat.
And it occurred to me, that that was pretty much what had occurred with this woman. I had not faced the cold shower of prison coming out, because I had kept hoping for the warm water of her just going away of her own accord.

I do not apologise for anything this woman thinks I did to her, I did nothing wrong there. She tortured me non stop, forcing me to try and work out on a daily basis what I had to say to her just try get a breathing space from her. If she had been a human being she would just have let contact stop and agreed to act as if we had never spoken.

But I do owe a lot of other people an apology for unwittingly dragging them into this. I owe an apology to my fellow BP members for having their time wasted with this petty feud, for allowing a blogwar to erupt in which they wanted no part. Nor did I, but it was a performance of Hamlet in which I ended up the Prince. Apologies too are deserved to all those poor readers of mine who had their blogs trolled by this woman. An apology is due especially to one of the very first bloggers I visited, for believing lies this woman told about her and treating her unfairly as a result.

Apologies are due to to my blog advisory team (they know who they are) for ignoring their requests to 'just ignore her'.

Apologies are due to members of my own family for bringing this woman to their homes, for putting them in a position where they had a strange woman bawling at them on the end of the telephone.

But most of all, I owe you an apology for lack of faith in you.
All of you.

Because it didn't matter, did it?

I served time for Ecstasy, so what?

I should have braved that cold shower a lot sooner.

I made huge mistakes in how I tackled this woman. Once I had decided I didn't want contact with her- which was actually months before I tried to put this into effect, I should have been decisive about it. She would have published for sure, published my past. And maybe it would have affected ratings a little for a month or two. But ultimately, it would have been a minor glitch.

You lot have proved that. Because you all stuck by my through the worst.

I really do love my readers. I don't want to get all Hallmark moment with you, but I'm amazed by the tolerance, understanding and compassion you have showed at times. How you've borne through it all, how you still come, how you don't judge me.

And I'd like to thank my fellow Blogpower members too, for the stirling support they have given me within the Blogpower Community.

I didn't have faith I'd get through it all. But I have.
And I owe that to so many of you. I do.

How can I NOT have faith in humanity, when it has been proved so conclusively to me that people are basically good. If they weren't, I wouldn't still be writing this post on a blog that registered the most hits it has ever registered this month.

At times I can be very volatile, I realise that. From supreme arrogance, to angst ridden lovesickness in the space of a couple of posts. But I am me, and it touches me so many of you can see through all the negatives that have been thrown in front of you, not to mention some of the slurs and who choose to stand by and support this blog in it's many different aims and objectives.

So yes, I concede a lot of heartache all round could have been solved if, back in early August 2007, I'd simply rung her up and said 'I don't want us to ever talk again. I don't want to discuss it with you, but it's mainly because you can't keep your big mouth shut', then hung up, changed the phone numbers, blocked the IMs, not answered her e-mails, put up comment moderation, and let her run a series of posts on how I'd been to gaol and just bided the storm.

And just totally not responded, except by running the series of posts I actually DID end up running about my time inside.

Still, no use crying over spilt milk.

For not following that course of action, I offer a full apology.
And for the effects not following that course of action has had on others who should never have been dragged into this.

I would like to thank so many of you for so much over the last year. Chances are, most of you reading this have a right to expect thanks of some kind.

Thanks for the comments. Seriously. Every single one.

And one last point.

There are two bloggers out there whose lives are seemingly driven by an inability to let this go. I understand that. I understand why as well.

I also understand neither of you ever will.

But I have a choice now, and I will take it.

If True Love is unconditional, than so too is forgiveness. Christ might will say 'If you forgive only those who ask it, then where is the hardship in that?' Because I am only too aware that my forgiving the pair of you will change nothing your end. You will both continue, I know that. The forgiving is for me, the forgiving is about me seeing your posts in my reader and just ignoring them, about seeing your ISPs turning up multiple times on my sitemeter and ignoring it, about seeing your trolling comments on blogs I visit just to direct attention to posts you have written about me and just rise above it. It is about me refusing to give into sentiments of hate, refusing to allow this blog to be demeaned by such ignoble sentiments, it is about me saying 'This isn't the way I want people to behave towards eachother in the world I want this blog to promote'.

So you are forgiven. Not just for what you have done, but for what you will continue to do. Your existence will not be acknowledged by this blog. This blog wishes peace upon you, but how you find that peace is a mystery only you can solve.

Life is too short to waste on moments of venom, rage and anger.

It states on my user profile 'I love my friends and life's too short for enemies'. It was right when I wrote it back in January 2007, it remains right today.

To my friends and those who have stuck by me in a way that has been truly inspiring, I am amazed by you all, I truly am.

To those who do not choose to consider themselves as such, well.
I wish you peace all the same and pray to God you find it.

And you didn't any of you think I'd fail to find an appropriate Depeche Mode track now, did You? ;)

Love you all!

Joe (Crushed)


Me, You Lot and Free Love- where We All Stand

I think this really is a good time for a clarifying post.
This blog has had problems in the past which I'm determined it will NOT go though again.

First things first.

Yes, the ultimate aim of this blog is to promote a revolution.
Very definitely so.
I'm quite open about that. Did anyone NOT notice that a global revolution, in both political and cultural terms was the stated aim of this blog?

How it is to be attempted is here.
What I hope it will achieve is here.
The ideals behind it are here.

The blog is quite definitely written with the clear aim of selling you- and I'll use the word again- selling you my ideas. Too damn right it is. It's that important.
You wouldn't really expect me to hold back on selling my message as effectively as I can now, would you?

Ultimately, I hope all this will bear fruit and enough people will see the logic of what I'm saying for real political action to be possible.
Not violent action. I mean mass protests and mass civil disobedience.

I believe we CAN bring this system down by simply refusing to obey. And the prime objective of this blog is tell you why you should stop obeying and show them the same V sign that I do.

This is a bit more than a hobby to me. It's my raison d'etre.

Since I started this blog, I have never felt so sure of anything; that I have found my calling in life. Promoting this message, the message that ultimately this blog promotes, is what I want to do with my life. To the exclusion of anything else.

This blog holds the place to me that the Church holds to a priest, or a wife does to a husband.

This is my life cause, by this I will be judged.
And I have absolutely no intention of failing.

For sure. But nothing was ever achieved WITHOUT faith in the seemingly unachievable. But it does require total dedication.

Now I suppose it helps for me to be blunt about certain things. This blogging business is a vast use of time. However, it's a far wider reaching platform than me sounding off every night at The Star and Garter or the Westcroft. Hence, it's worth the dedication.
I clearly do not do this just for fun. The aim is to ram home messages to people. And I take great care in choosing my words, my images, the lot.

Yes I am deliberately and consciously SELLING you my ideas and my perspective on the world in the sincere hope some of you will buy it and come on board.

And I'm doing it openly.

This is no cult I propose, with myself as dark, Satanic master.

It's a popular movement dedicated to changing the world for the better. A movement open in its aims and open in how it goes about it.

As many of you will see, I visit a variety of blogs. Blogs of all shades of opinion, but blogs of ordinary people too. Because it is the people that this change must take place. when people stop leaving politics to the politicians and understand that POLITICS MEANS PEOPLE. That means, we all need to take responsibility. Time to break down these barriers.

I actually read all your posts. I comment on the ones where I have something to say.

Now I guess it's best I'm up front about my relations with all of you. There are some blogs I visit just because you're bloody nice people. Some I visit because they're well written and thoughtful. And some I visit just to see what the brainwashed dupes of the system are bleating today. To get an idea of exactly which totems need a good kicking in a post.

Several of you mail me regularly. I have many in IM too. Several of you I chat to almost every day.
And I think it's good we get certain things clear.

First, though I prefer being called Crushed online since that is my online identity, I'm not going to continue deleting comments where people accidental call me Joe. Indeed, if anyone noticed I let one stand where Crashie called me 'Oey', because that's what she calls me and I figured it didn't give the game way. Comments containing my full name will still be deleted obviously, but I don't think it's much of a secret now that my name happens to be Joe.

Now I don't think anyone is bothered by my relations with male readers, but some people really get their knickers in a twist over my relations with female readers.

Firstly, if people write about sex on their blogs, guess what, I'll write about sex in their comments sections. My guess is that when people write posts about sex, they expect comments to be about sex. Furthermore, I will visit blogs which write about sex, since I believe our attitudes to sex as a society is one area where a massive paradigm shift needs to occur. So I am really not apologising for the numerous count of sexually explicit comments I've written.

None of them were on the lines of the 55 year old who left a comment on the blog of a 23 year old girl to say 'If you want help getting pregnant, either I or Crushed can oblige'.

Now THAT, that is sleazy.

Now it isn't in fact sleazy for me to make the odd innuendo, where appropriate, firstly because of my age, thirty, secondly because I only offer innuendoes where it is clear the post is written in that vein, and thirdly because I make no secret of the fact I don't believe in sexual chastity or monogamy.

You will notice my Blog Policy has been updated to include the new policy on Free Love offers.

Basically, I've put that in to clarify matters. No, I don't blog to get laid. Because in terms of energy put in, it's really not a very effective way to get laid. I can just cross the road to the pub.

But, by the same token, I'm quite easy about these things. As I say, I don't believe in sexual chastity. I actually think monogamy is an unethical concept in many ways.

Now I think all women who ever chatted to me online (bar Ms Fruitloops) will confirm, sex rarely rears it's head in conversation. It just doesn't. It appears far more in my posts than in one on one discussions. If it does, it's by and large philosophical. However, I'm not going to deny that some of the IM conversations I've had can get a bit fruity. Never sordid though. It seems the women I IM are of the better sort. In fact, the majority I wouldn't dream of talking dirty with. But if people want to talk dirty, I'm happy too.

Basically, I take you all as you find me. And in that sense, it really is true, if you mailed me and said 'I'm in Birmingham this weekend. Fancy meeting up for sex', the chances are, I'd consider it. After all, I have no reason in principle not to.

It's certainly a good way of interacting and emoting with readers- so yes, I wouldn't reject the idea out of hand. For that reason alone, if nothing else.

Now the problem is always going to arise- as it did before- of readers who may want more.

How do I cover this honestly and fairly?

Many people out there want to settle down and find a life partner. I actually don't, particularly. As I've said before, in reality I've structured my life to make it one where I don't actually need one. That doesn't mean I wouldn't consider the idea, just that it really isn't my main priority. I'm not LOOKING for someone.

It's been observed by several bloggers that often blogging is a singles game. People often tail off if they find a partner. Well, you have to remember in my case, that ain't true. A life partner isn't in itself a selling point. I can do perfectly well without one. The fact remains, partner or not, I'm still going to post nightly, still going to visit the same amount of blogs, still going to interact with everyone else online as if said partner does not exist.
And I'm still going to have pretty much the same social life.

But it's more than that.

The last year has certainly taught me, you really have to put your money where your mouth is.

I believe the total opposite to what most people believe. To me, sexual chastity is a vice. And sexual promiscuity a virtue.

And I want to state that publicly.

This blogger is committed to fighting the whole hypocritical, dual standard, outmoded approach to human sexuality.

And I've realised, that when you're running a blog dedicated to fighting monogamy and sexual chastity (amongst other things), you really can't live a private life which actually consists of you practising what you publicly state to be a vice.

Because the fact remains, I'm urging you all to avoid sexual chastity.

One of the concepts I want to spread is a new wave of feminism where women REFUSE to be sexually chaste, where women turn round and say 'If you want me, accept my lovers too'. It's the best way, in my opinion, to break sexual chastity and the dual standard for good.

I will not put myself in a position where my dedication to overthrowing monogamy and sexual chastity can be questioned.

So the best way I can do this is by stating the following;

I will not accept from any woman any offer of sexual chastity. Furthermore, I will not accept any woman who does NOT have other lovers.
Regardless of any nagging sentiments of jealousy I may have, they can be overcome and I will do so because such sentiments are the result of social conditioning, and do not rest in the human heart.

Furthermore, I will not offer any promise of sexual chastity myself.

It is my intention that if I do settle down, it is with a woman- or women- who have other lovers and preferably give birth to a nice brood of coffee coloured children, all of differing parentage.

Because that is the world I want to see and am committed to.

So I'm openly stating now for the record.

One of the chief causes of this blog is to overthrow sexual chastity.

To create a world where nobody feels the need to pledge sexual fidelity to one person, where sex and love are separate, but where sex and love can be still be united, but still do not have to mean exclusivity, where men take pride in the number of lovers the woman they love has, rather than feel resentment.

So yes, one way I'm thinking of standing by my principles, I've already told you. I'm minded to set up a house where myself and three other guys- two of us white, two of us black, all live communally with four women, two white, two black, and all create one big mixed race communal family.

The other is to actually commit to and marry a highly promiscuous white girl who publicly sleeps with as many black guys as she possibly can , and trust me, I'd publicise it. I'd even set up a private blog where you could all watch it.

And I'd love to see the expressions on the faces of the doctor's and the midwives at the hospital when Child 1 pops out...

You see, none of this would shame me. You know why? Because it accords on so many levels with my principles. To me, it's a positive way of showing how much I despise the vestiges of women as property and black people as second class human beings that still pervade our society. So much so that I'd be proud to show how much I despised the traditional dignity most men treasure.

Whereas, I am thoroughly ashamed that ANYONE ever could have thought I would even pay lip service to the idea of a faithful sexual commitment to a woman who'd return it. And put the desires of one solitary woman above my principles.

And I am so glad I am free of such nasty concepts.

Love does not own.

Spread the Love.

Promiscuity is a Virtue.

Footnote: This time last year I had to deal with the shame of a woman running round the internet telling everyone we were an item. I have never felt so ashamed in my life. With this post, I feel I have regained my pride.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

God and Moral Relativism- Hope in Hell

I wonder why it never occurs to Christian fundamentalists- or indeed any fundamentalist just how flawed the logic of their position is.

Because flawed it is.

Any position which defines anything as absolute is liable to be flawed. The position that it is absolute poverty not relative poverty that matters, that favoured position of so many right wing bloggers. What none of these bloggers can say, is what exactly absolute poverty is. How do we define it?

Of course it is relative poverty that matters. Poverty IS relative, that is the whole point. Since poverty itself is a concept, it relates to something. It isn't an absolute. It relates to people's well being within an environment. Are we seriously suggesting that human capacity to deliver will increase perpetually with every technological advance, but the definition by which we judge quality of life remains just slightly better than life as a Chimpanzee?

Of course not. The universe only contains two absolutes; absolute zero and the speed of light in a vacuum.

Now I think that the argument that it is absolute poverty, not relative poverty that matters, is a damaging enough proposition. But I'm not going to argue that one in this post. That can wait.

What I am going to challenge is the idea that morality is an absolute, not a relative concept.
Because it has to be the most ridiculous proposition ever seriously maintained in a society which aspires to human dignity.

The idea that there can be a set of morals which hold as an absolute, that will aid social cohesion and improve quality of life in any given set of circumstances and will remain the best way to live in any era of technological development.

Now the point is a simple one. If you believe that morality is relative you believe- as I do- that morals are a code of living whereby we try find ways to reconcile our own selfish urges with finding ways to live together in ways that benefit us all. Morals are a system, a code. Transgressors are punished because they make society worse to live in.

If you believe morality is absolute, you believe that morality was invented by God to tell us how to live and transgressors are punished because they offend God.

That at the start of time, God wrote down a code of morals to last for all time.

Now I'd simply like to put to Christian fundamentalists and defenders of the idea of Absolute Morality what the consequences of their position means.

You are postulating a God, who invents Man and gives him Free Will. And a conscience. And a mind capable of reasoning. Ok, so far so good.
But in his early days, Man needs a code to live by.

These are hard times, living in the desert in a thousand BC. So let's make up some rules. The best way not to infect eachother with syphilis is to stick to one partner and not have sex which can't result in children. As in, no gay sex. And don't eat congealed blood, it's poisonous. Pork is a bit ropey too.
And a whole host of other rules.

Rules which kept society functioning well in those days. And people could see God rewarded them. Adopt God's rules, live better, live longer. It worked.

God was just. Can't really knock him then, I'll give the fundamentalists that.

But- why did he give us a rational brain then? And a conscience? And emotions?

Why did he create a man capable of making all these amazing discoveries about his universe.

Are we REALLY expected to accept a God who gives Man the capacity to mean that sex can be practised WITHOUT spreading syphilis and WITH people still knowing parentage, and yet forbids it still?

A God who now maintains such edicts, because they last for all time?
Why does the edict exist? Why IS it immoral?

The fundamentalists have only one answer. Because God says so.

In other words, certain things are immoral because they just are. Always have been and always will be.

Even though more misery is caused by enforcing these prohibitions than having the prohibition removed.

In other words, God will send you to Hell NOT because you increased human misery, but because you broke his rules.
Therefore God actually has rules for the sake of having them. God will actually enforce rules which no longer serve human happiness. God is quite happy for people to be born gay and they live in a world where humanity, using the brains God gave them have created a society where practising the inclinations God gave them can be totally harmless, but God will still send them to Hell. God will send you to Hell even if you hurt nobody.

Now, hasn't God been a bit cruel somewhere along the line here?

He's given humanity the brains to develop a world in which breaking the rules he originally set, causes no harm, in fact IMPROVES human happiness, yet he will punish humanity for those infractions.

It's a bit like when you were little you're parents saying 'Don't play with matches. Even when you're grown up enough to use them.'

God has given humanity a set of rules to live by which he expects humanity to obey EVEN WHEN THEY NO LONGER ACTUALLY ADD TO HUMAN HAPPINESS on pain of eternal damnation.

Is that not rather a cruel, arrogant and capricious deity?

And doesn't it rather make a lie of his protestations of love? That he will damn human beings, not because they break his commandments of love, but because they break commandments which the logic he gave them can't see the reason behind and conflicts with the desires he gave them?

If that really is true, then didn't our maker really just create beings to obey him? To live out a life test and see if they could obey him just for the sake of obeying him, when it didn't in fact serve their individual interests OR the combined interests of all his creations? Just his whim?

Do you really want to meet this guy when you die?

And what moral authority DOES he have to be obeyed?

None. If this vision is true, we HAVE to obey him, simply because he's omnipotent. Simply because we have no choice. Simply because if we don't, we spend eternity in Hell.

So is that it? The basis of morals? 'Abandon Hope all ye who here enter?'

If this version is true, we were created by a liar. A deity who gave us brains that collectively reason wrongly. That use the very working of the universe to improve our lot in ways which allows us to lead better lives if we change the laws he originally made to suit ourselves. We have a deity who deliberately set up a universe in which our striving for happiness would cause us to break more and more of his laws.

And we have a deity who tells us the prime motivation is love, and yet who devises arbitrary rules that don't actually aid a world in which more people live together feeling love for eachother.

Why should we trust such a God?

If this is the God that exists, than obedience is in fact, an act of slavery, he is a tyrant we obey only because there is no hope of overthrowing him.

Because this God doesn't want us to be the thinking, loving beings he claims he created us to be. Just blind devotees.

And if that is right, then what value has his promise of an afterlife?
Why should he be telling us true on that one?

And even if he is telling truth, is that the eternity you want? Sitting for ever in the presence of the omnipotent tyrant?

If that really is God, then we're better off saying 'Fuck you God, this is the way you made us, if you didn't want us to be happy, you shouldn't have made us. Go on, damn us.'

If God wants to damn us for using the brains he gave us to devise ways to live that make us all happier than we would be if we followed his rules, then that God deserves to sit in Heaven alone.

And we'll at least be able to spend time with the one guy who dared stand up to the capricious vanity of such a creator. Maybe he's the good guy after all- if the fundamentalist version really is so, he must be.

And in which case, Hell ain't so bad.

If you really believe this fundamentalist vision, then your only real hope is to hope that if this God suddenly realises everyone is against him, even he won't destroy his own universe out of spite.

The fundamentalist God gives meaning to the words 'Hope in Hell'.

But if you really believe in a God of Love and a God of Reason, you believe that God had faith in his creation. You believe that God gave Mankind the gifts to one day be able to work out how to live without needing to go and look in writings dating back to the Iron age.

You believe that God actually wants a world where the total sum of human happiness is what it's all about, where God doesn't make rules for the sake of rules.
And a world where God can actually look down on his creation and say 'Ok, you're getting the hang of Love. I think you can figure out what rules to make for yourselves'.

If God wanted robots, and made people instead, then he's a cruel God indeed.

I suppose the last question I want to ask the fundies is this; Do you believe God loves you enough to allow you to use the gifts he gave you to try find a world in which we can be happier than we were when these rules were first made?

Do you believe in a God who wants to be obeyed, or a God who wants people to find the greatest happiness they can in their lives?

Absolute Morality indeed.

A creed appropriate for Absolute Monarchs.

If God wanted us to free ourselves from Kings, then morality is relative.

Absolute Morality is the creed of tyrants.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

King Arthur and The Mutability of The Past

Dedicated to Kate and Moggs

The past is a funny kingdom. People look at history as if it's an exact science. Of course, it isn't.
The past really is mutable, or has been up till now. Archaeology blends into history which blends into historical myth.

Even in the twentieth century, historical myths have been peddled. History has often been used to justify political concepts, indeed it is STILL used to justify political concepts. And it's not just in the case of Israel, which I think we've covered to death here, but even in concepts such as Welsh Nationalism. Political movements often use history to justify claims which are, in fact, fallacious.

A classic twentieth century case of historical myth concerns the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe in the country that now carries it's name. Under white rule, it was seriously maintained that the city actually was the Ophir of the bible, the legendary mines of King Solomon. It was taken as read that native Africans just couldn't have built it. And the white settlers used this concept to justify their claims that Rhodesia had belonged to a 'superior' people before the 'savages' had come in.

Historical myth as a political tool is as old as history itself. After all, the history of Herodotus starts with an allusion to the Trojan war as the first battle between Greece and Asia. We call Herodotus the father of History, but in truth, much of what he writes of events much over a century before his time, is wildly inaccurate, a mish mash of oral legends. His account of the Kings of Egypt, for example, has no real historical value whatsoever.

Gracchi has been much enamoured of Livy of late, possibly the most significant of the Roman historians. And of course, Livy is what many would describe as a model historian. Except the early part of history, dealing with the origins of Rome, belongs on the realms of classical legend. In fact, possibly the most significant of classical legends, from the point of view of this post.

The idea that the Romans came from Troy.

Anyone who knows the Aeneid will of course, be aware of this story, that Aeneas the Trojan prince fled Troy and established a city on the banks of the Tiber, Alba Longa, where a line of Kings reigned until Romulus became the first King of Rome in 751 BC, and then a further set of Kings ruled until the last King, Tarquinus Superbus was driven out in 510 BC and Rome became a Republic.

And of course, even Tarquinus Superbus may be a fiction. 510 BC is a long time before recorded history REALLY began in Italy.

Why the need of the myth? Well, Rome was young. As soon as it came into contact with the Greeks, it probably felt inadequate about its own lack of known history, compared to Greece and her ancient mythical heroes. So the Romans tacked themselves into this and made themselves the spiritual heirs of Troy.

Now you might think this legend is merely of academic interest. You'd be wrong. It is of supreme importance not just in understanding Rome, but in understanding medieval England. How so, you ask?

Because there is a twist.

During the early part of what we now call the Middle Ages, it occurred to the peoples of Northern Europe that they seemed distinctly short of history. The Bible described what the Jews were doing between the flood and Christ, the history of Greece and Italy was known (even though much of that counts as myth to us), but what was happening in Northern Europe?
Facts were slim. And of course, they lacked archaeology. Since they believed that Man was pretty much created as he was, even the idea that there was ever a Stone Age would have been unthinkable, it followed that the Britain the Romans conquered, was a Britain just like the one they lived in.

In other words, all that needed to be discovered was the History of that Britain before the Romans came. And of course, the Britain between the Romans leaving and the Saxons coming.

Enter Geoffrey of Monmouth. He found the solution. He just gathered as much oral tradition as he could (chiefly old legends of celtic Gods, folk tales, etc) and came up with a 'history' of the Kings of Britain up until the Saxon conquest.

And the basic version was accepted pretty much unthinkingly as being the ACTUAL history of Britain up until the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century. In essence, it was people's belief in THIS history, that shaped the consciousness that was to become the British Empire.

And it went back to Aeneas. The British (or those in Wales and Cornwall, the ones displaced by the Saxons) were Trojans.

The story was that a grandson of Aeneas had been exiled from Italy after accidently killing his father. This Brutus, as he was called, journeyed with his followers till they came upon an island at the edge of the world populated by giants. Ok, I can see what you're thinking, this story is sounding implausible already. But don't forget it wasn't until the eighteenth century that people realised that all these 'giant' bones might in fact be the bones of prehistoric creatures. Giants existed in far off times, people were sure of that. In dark places, they still did.

Anyway, Brutus cleared the island of Giants and settled down to rule the island he called by his own name 'Brutannia' later corrupted to Britain. And he built a capital city on the Thames, Troy Novant, the New Troy.

Well, it won't surprise you much to learn that not much that follows actually happened, but the point is, people thought it did.

A thousand years of Kings sit between Brutus and the coming of the Romans. And they include some quite important events, in terms of the cultural psyche of the later (real) inhabitants of the island. Most of the early Kings founded cities, indeed most of them seem to have been given names accordingly. At various points the Kingdom gets split, but scant regard is paid to the peripheral realms, it is the line of Kings who reign in Troy Novant the History follows. We find the Scots splitting off under their own King and then a page or so later that separate line has seemingly died out, because the Kingdom is being split again.

King Leir is the first one who has gained common currency, reigning about eight hundred years before Christ. Geoffrey tells us he founded Leicester and reigned about sixty years. His story is pretty much as Shakespeare tells it, though Shakespeare's ending is condensed- in the original Leir is restored and Cordelia reigns alone after his death until being slain by the sons of Goneril and Regan. Indeed, Shakespeare would probably have treated it as a history play.

Most of these earlier Kings are of academic interest only. It is later, where Geoffrey starts to bring his history into REAL history.

It is a historical fact that Rome was sacked in 390 BC by a Gallic leader called Brennus. But Geoffrey tells us more about him than Livy does. In Geoffrey we discover that Belinus (founder of Billingsgate, incidentally) and Brennus were two brothers who inherited the realm of Britain between them, but fell out. In time they sorted out their differences by Belinus keeping Britain and Brennus going on a conquering spree. Geoffrey's message? Rome may have conquered Britain, but Britain conquered Rome first.

The Kings after Belinus and Brennus are less interesting, apart from the fact of their kind donation of the empty Ireland nextdoor to a group of roaming vagabonds. (Geoffrey's message; The Scots and Irish only have their countries because the British kindly gave them to them) and their conquering of Denmark and other places (Geoffrey's message; the Vikings may have conquered much of Britain, but the British conquered them first).

When the Romans come, the Kings they face are historical. Of course, in reality these Kings were Kings of one tribe only, they were one of many, but in Geoffrey Cassivellaunus (whose father King Lud not only built Ludgate, but renamed Troy Novant after himself, Caer Lud, later corrupted to London) and Cymbeline are Kings of the whole island. And in Geoffrey, the Kings never depart. Geoffrey's Britain is never a full Roman province, it is more a vassal state, a concept more familiar to the medieval mind.
Interestingly, Geoffrey knows nothing of Boudicca. That was one story he didn't know. One wonders how he might have told it.

If you're wondering who the first Christian King in Europe was, Geoffrey has the answer. But we can't blame him for this legend, in fact it appears in Bede first of all and arises from a confusion with the city of Britium in what's now Jordan who's King Abgar Lucius converted to Christianity in 156 AD.

So Geoffrey can't be held solely responsible for the idea he was King of Britain. But he is responsible for the idea of the three Archbishops of this old, Christian Britain. The idea that Britain was the real founder of European Christianity, that Europe ultimately had Britain to thank for its conversion.

Of the Kings who follow Lucius, many are real. Or are confusions of historical figures. Misreading a line in Bede, where it refers to the son of the Emperor Severus, following after him on the throne, he doesn't realise Bede means the Roman throne, because he hasn't realised that Severus wasn't just an invading General; he was actually the Emperor. So Geoffrey has them reign as Kings. Other Kings of this period are often Roman rebels or Governors misinterpreted as Kings.

Now one fact which got nicely fitted in here was that Constantine, the first of the Christian Emperors, was proclaimed Emperor in York. It is historical fact that his father was called Constantius and that his mother Helen, was a native Briton.

Now Geoffrey's story used brief and confused understanding of these facts. In Geoffrey's version, King Coel (Yes, old King Cole, that's right), marries his daughter to the Roman commander Constantius, who thus becomes King on his death. Constantius converts to Christianity, as it is the religion of the country he is now King of. His son Constantine is thus King of Britain. It is King of Britain he is proclaimed in York, and his conquest of Rome is the SECOND conquest of Rome by the British. Who of course, give the empire Christianity through their King. Geofrey's message; The church might be based in Rome, but the true freedom of the Popes, was won through the fact that the British church created a Christian kingdom to provide that.

The importance of this historical myth cannot be ignored.

And not long after, we have a THIRD conquest of Rome by a British King. Again, it is fact that a Roman General called Maximus rebelled against Rome and declared himself Emperor. Geoffrey of course, adds him to his list of British Kings, as Maximianus.

And after this Geoffrey continues to blend his sources. Vortigern, the King of Britain who calls in the Saxons to fend of the Picts and ends up finding he has opened the gates to hordes of duplicitous Saxon invaders is described by many writers long before Geoffrey and may not be historical, but was certainly believed to be by writers from before Bede's time.

And here, towards the end of history we have the final Indian Summer of Geoffrey's mythic Britain. The greatest of them all.

The King who drove back the Saxons and expelled them. The King who subjugated the Scots and made himself a true High King. The King who conquered Ireland, Denmark, Gothland, Finland, Iceland, before taking all Gaul from the Roman Empire. And the King who went to war to finally destroy the Western Roman Empire- and won. (The actual destroyer of the Western Empire was a chieftain named Odoacer, so history got blurred again). But, at his greatest heights, he was brought down by his nephew Mordred seizing the throne and inviting the Saxons back.

King Arthur.

This is the Arthur that 'history' knew. The conqueror. The greatest and most powerful British King. Geoffrey's message; Britain conquered Rome as much as Rome conquered Britain. Britain had a conqueror at least as impressive as Alexander the Great. One of the greatest conquerors who ever lived, was an indisputable Brit.

After Arthur, it kind of goes down hill. Because of course, we're into known history, the history of the Saxon conquests. The British are pushed back in Wales and Cornwall and their history forgotten until the Saxons themselves are put under Norman yoke and the Normans start to ask what the Saxons never cared about- Who are these British? And Geoffrey told them.

How significant was this myth?


The Plantagenet Kings reigned under the belief that the Kings who ruled in London had had a historical claim to at least be considered High Kings of the whole island. They believed the Irish to be their natural and lawful vassals. They believed that the ancient Kings of Britain had been masters of the high seas, the usual victors of struggles with the Norsemen.

And they believed that the history of Europe showed one thing; there were two cultures descended from Troy, each with equal claims to Imperium.

The continent may well be the Roman Imperium, Britain was separate. And of the respective conquests of each by the other, the first had been British, and the last had been British.
The Pope may have been spiritual head of the church from earliest times, but it was in Britain first of all, that the Christian church took root as the religion of the land. Britain claimed primacy as a Christian nation.

Plantagenet monarchs saw invading the Scots, the Irish and the French as invading land which had historically been their vassals.

How important was this to perhaps the most significant event of all in English history? It's complete break with continental culture, to become the pariah state at the edge of the world, with its heretic Queen and it's pirate navy?
The state that looked across all oceans and no longer the channel?


It was on the basis of the claims made in this totally fallacious history that Henry VIII lawyer's argued that the Roman Church only had primacy in lands that could be said to be Roman lands- and that due to the equal lineage of the British descent from Troy, and due to the many British conquests of Rome, it was clear that the claims of any Roman institution to claim authority over a British King were false. Furthermore, Henry was an actual descendant of the ancient Kings of Britain. Furthermore, it was King Arthur who put paid to the Roman Empire in secular terms. Why now should the British accept the claims of the Church of that Empire?

Henry believed that before the English had brought the authority of the Roman Church with them, the British had enjoyed the freedom of their own church, just as Catholic, but ruled by it's King. Kings who sometimes had paid tribute to Rome, but sometimes had conquered Rome too. And he was the heir of those Kings. An heir, come into his own.

And Elizabeth, she was the crowning glory of this story. The Queen who took this vision of Albion restored and sought to make her again the master of the seas, just as she once had been.
And James I, the great unifier, the King to finally unite the whole island of Britain under one sovereign master.

It never happened. But the people who believed it did made history. It didn't matter that it never happened, history would not if been the same if no one had ever believed it did. It drove the British to believe that being an Imperial people was their destiny.

In the Middle Ages many works of art depict the nine greatest men who ever lived. The great conquerors of time.

Three were Jews; Joshua, King Solomon, Judas Maccabeus.
Three were pagan men; Hector of Troy, Alexander the Great and Julius Casar.

And three were Christians. King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon, the leader of the first crusade.

This history was more important in real terms to the Britain of history, than the realities of the Iron Age. This fake history made real history.

It created a past, a past that determined the thoughts of the present, and those thoughts of the present changed the future, a future that might never have become our past if Geoffrey of Monmouth had not proved the mutability of the past.

Sunday 26 October 2008

The Problem And The Conclusions

OK, gateway gone through.
Kind of.
Its gone through, yes, but at this point I'm none the wiser.

So. I thought I'd tackle the problem objectively with some form of empirical reasoning.

The first question then; Are you actually in love with her?

Now that's a valid question. Valid because I have a long list of short term infatuations behind me which have never lasted very long. Between one and three months, usually. Sometimes they have been mutual infatuations of the kind that some people refer to as relationships. But let's be honest, I've only ever been in love once before, though I have told myself (and them, usually right at the moment of mutual physical connection, and usually it's been this rash lack of control has led to problems). Because these infatuations don't last long. The novelty wears off. The fact is, there are about two billion adult females in the world so it's quite hard to retain my attention for long. I really seem to have some little voice in my brain says, ok, that's another one done, one billion nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and whatever figure it is, still to go.

So I have often pondered if there is some kind of empirical way I would know if I was in love. Because pretty much most women are CAPABLE of making me feel strong feelings of some kind. I'm like that. I go through life thinking 'This could be the one' and its usually the latest one. And there have been times when I've juggled more than one woman at a time and over the course of the same day, my mind has hopped between each of them thinking 'It IS her'. Yes, I suppose it was cheating, but the reality is I felt at the time that I was in love, but couldn't make my mind up who that was with.

Now the fact is these rather vapid and transient sentiments largely dependant on who happened to be playing with my hair at the time, in no sense compare to what I feel now. They just don't. This is different, because I've felt this way a long time. Well over three months. And it hasn't been because she's been playing with my hair. There are tonnes of women out there for the taking and none of them are capable of stopping me thinking of her and there is nothing they could do would make me think 'Maybe it's her'. That's the difference. Whether or not she wants my attention, she has it and doesn't lose it. That's the difference. Its real because I'm powerless to divert it elsewhere, real because it isn't conditional on her continually petting me, agreeing with me, pandering to my every whim. Its real because I love the person she is and not the fact she happens to be making me feel good at that particular minute time.

Because that's all I've ever loved before, really. 'I love you' has meant 'I like feeling the way you're making me feel right now. While you carry on making me feel like this, you're the most important thing in my world. Though in fifteen minutes, the most important thing will probably be the football'.

But she takes precedence over everything. And I think the real giveaway is my total willingness to just consider what she wants. I think I do put her happiness above my own. I think it can only REALLY be love if you love them, regardless of whether or not you yourself can ever be their route to happiness.

Next Question. And one I've really been trying to objectively quantify. Why? Why do I love her?

Now this is a puzzling one. In one sense, it's bloody easy. No one makes me feel like she does. No one ever could. I genuinely feel that although we seem so very different, were not. Two jigsaw puzzle pieces LOOK different, but they're still meant to be fitted together. That's how she makes me feel.

But I have tried to analyse this. Of course I have. You must have realised by now, I analyse everything I do. I have definitely tried to work out WHY she seems to fit. Why do I waste my time on this, you ask?
Well, because I could be objectively wrong. I am not going to trust in an emotional feeling if there is no logic to back it up. I dont believe that just because someone falls in love with someone it's always a good thing. You CAN love someone and be wrong in doing so, I believe that.

I suppose the reason why this question matters is that on the face of it, it might seem illogical.
When I was about twenty two-ish, I had a complicated scoring system for women. Most blokes adopt a score out of ten system for assessing women. Mine was out of twenty and it wasn't one based on guesstimates either. Specific points were allocated for specific qualities. The qualities I THOUGHT I was looking for. And yes, points were alocated on the basis of things such as ethnicity (darker girls scored higher), figure, etc. Two of the points were allocated on the basis of temperament, I remember that much, with shy girls getting the full two and pushy mouthy types getting none.

I can't remember how the system worked, but I do know I had it and I do know that though the system got forgotten about, basically the things in it I was looking for didn't.

In essence, I guess it was a trophy collectors approach. If it had meant anything, I wouldn't have fallen in love with her. Not one of those things I allocated points for matter. I don't know what score she would have got under that system. Nor does it matter. It would have been a middle ranking score.
And yet she's beautiful. She really is. I can't take my eyes off her.

So my scoring system was- wrong. It didn't even tell ME what I was looking for. Or maybe it did. Just what I was looking for wasn't actually what I SHOULD have been looking for.

I think the truth is, I'm realising something about aesthetic beauty. I've noticed that you can think someone to be reasonably attractive to begin with, but as you get to know them, you start to notice how UGLY they are. Having an ugly personality means that people start to notice the bits of your features which physically show that. And eventually, if someone is ugly inside and that is how you see them, they seem physically repulsive to you on the outside too.

Her inner beauty shines through. How could I not look at her and find her the most beautiful woman alive? She is.

Beautiful because she's real. Beautiful because she ISN'T that vision I used to concoct in my head of the perfect woman. Beautiful because she's what the woman I actually love actually looks like.

And how can I not look at every other woman in the world and think 'Yes, you might think you look good, but you don't. To really look good, you have to be her. And only she can do that'.

I don't know why I love her, I don't. I was trying to figure this out today, as it happens. Because I sure as hell do love her. I was trying to put my finger on that particular quality. And than I kind of realised, it's not a specific quality, it's the lot. The quality is being her. It's kind of unique, therefore only she has it.

It is as simple as that.

And so. The third and most important question. What to do about it?

Now this still isn't an easy one. I've written volumes on this already. And it must be clear that my opinion on this oscillates like wild fire. As you might expect. Because let's be honest, it still isn't something I can get my head round. Believe it or not, I'm scared shitless and feel like a teenager again. And yet in other ways I feel safe. Calm. Like it's all going to be Ok. And I oscillate between those two positions.

I'm sure I must confuse the poor girl something rotten. Because some days I believe that it's a good thing she doesn't love me, that it serves a higher purpose in providing me with a source for inspiration, that she is part muse, part religious icon, kind of like Dante's Beatrice was to him. Other days I want so badly to be with her, I'd move her in like a shot. Some days I go to the pub and find myself thinking 'Maybe you should just bed someone else', other days I think 'I don't want to bed anyone else, it feels wrong'. Some days I want her to find happiness with other men, other days I find myself fighting hard to suppress a huge jealousy at the concept. Some days the feelings I have about her are such that the idea of sleeping with her seems blasphemous. Some days- like now- I really hate the fact I'm about to get into a bed that she isn't in.

And every so often I find myself tapping my fingers on the desk thinking 'Should you just cut all ties and remove her from your life, for your own sanity? Because it's not going to get any better. You perpetually think you can't love her any more than you do, and next week somehow you do.'

And let's just be honest, all the crap I talk about all the things standing in the way at my end, they're just reasons I've invented, really. They're real, but only because I structure things that way. I've designed a relationship proof life, one where I am protected against relationships. One where I have my best mates running round organising my life for me, even to the degree they open my mail for me, because I've been superstitious about opening mail for years. Yes, my own mail is something I delegate to others.

The truth is, the whole concept scares me. What most people dream of, is the scariest concept I can imagine, if I'm honest. It scares me that there could be someone who has that amount of access to you, that lives in your home, shares your bed, always knows where you are, knows whats in your bank account, knows all your opinions, knows when you're happy, knows when you're sad, knows you inside out. Someone as close to you as your best mates, closer in fact and a lover as well. Oh, I've told myself forever that's what I've wanted, but since I cleverly structured my life to avoid it actually happening, I could live that fantasy. Reality is, as people have often said to me 'If it ever came along, you'd run. Run like the wind'.

I've never really confronted this fear. Because I've never wanted to. And I've lashed out at people in the past if they've tried to cross my boundaries. I guess it's hard for people to see them. I probably come across as quite boundary free. But of course, you'd be wrong. Little things, like my flat. Two of my mates have keys and can come in when they want, whether I'm there or not. If you're anyone else, I may invite you back, if I'm in the mood, or you may come round by prior appointment, but I never EVER answer the doorbell. Not unless I'm expecting it to ring and not unless it rings at the EXACT TIME I'm expecting it to ring.

And although I've lived here eighteen months now, I've never invited a family member round. I've admitted a family member twice, my mate admitted one once when I was absent, and I've conversed with family members on the doorstep, but by and large I won't meet with family members in my own personal space.

And yet at the same time, I never shut my bedroom door. Ever. Never did when D lived here, never do when mates stay over. I'm not private in that way.

I have a life set up, with people acting as minders, social secretaries and personal assistants in so many ways. And I'm frightened to move away from that. Frightened to move away from a lifestyle where I hold the keys to everything, but I'm surrounded by people who basically guard my life for me.

I've never really wanted anything else.

It scares me that I want her this much. It scares me that I really want to overthrow this entire system and bring her into my life to a degree that the existing set up doesn't allow for. The existing set up is arranged to ONLY really allow for short term flings that don't in any way affect the bigger picture. And a huge part of me thinks this instinct I have now is like touching the iron to see if your finger gets burnt.

Because it isn't that I'm tired of being alone, I'm never alone not really. It's just I always miss her. I want her to be around as much as she can be. I want to do the things that other people do, the stuff I used to HATE doing with partners, I want to do all that stuff with her. The normal stuff.

I want to go out to work and earn money for OUR future, not just my beer fund.

And this is it, this is the stuff that's really scaring me. That I feel like this. That I want this so badly, that I just want to be able to wake up every morning and look into her eyes and see that soft smile.

I've smoked half my life- literally- thirty a day. And I've never wanted to give up. Every tax increase has only made me think 'To quit now means you invested thousands of pounds in something you quit'. The 'Smoking kills' messages have always had the reverse effect on me. Made it seem something worth doing. Only those who fear dieing don't smoke. I've never wanted to be old. But now I want to quit smoking. Because she doesn't smoke and I want to grow old with her without her having to live in a home where tobacco is always in the air.

And I'm really scared by all this.

Really scared that there actually does exist a person I never want to contemplate being without. That there exists someone who I couldn't not let in all the way. For me to say I could is just not true. I couldn't. I'd fight it, I'd panic, it wouldn't be easy for me to deal with it, it isn't easy now, but it's still true I want to spend my life with her. Even though my head tells me I shouldn't want to want that. But my heart wants to want that.

I want her to make the choice that's going to be hardest for me to deal with. My heart actually wants what I know would be a total shock to the system, a total life change, something that will at times leave me feeling lost, scared, vulnerable and afraid.

And the crazy thing is, I'm so scared by all this I just want someone to hold me and caress me and tell me it will all be ok. And who is it I instinctively think of holding me? Her.

Someone needs to invent a cure for stuff like this.

I'm going to bed now, without her. Though I'm not. There are four pillows in the bed, and I pretend one of them is her.

I don't have any answers. I don't. What will be, will be.