Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Racial Abuse.

I've been racially abused four times.

First time was at school. When I was young, I had very dark skin and on moving to a new school, it was assumed that I was Indian. I was 'paki bashed' which actually says a lot about the ignorance of racism. Despite protestations, the 'accusations' continued and the final clincher came when I got a spot in the centre of my forehead over the weekend. On the monday morning, it was just an angry red spot. This, apparently was proof of my Asian heritage. Idiots.

The second time was in 1992 when I went to Wales. Being English in Wales was not a pleasant experience. We were insulted in Welsh ( i know this because the guy I was with spoke welsh) and threatened with violence (again in Welsh) and there was an attempt to bully us out of the pub simply because were were English. When my friend spoke back to them, they were horrified and couldn't comprehend that an Englishman would actually learn to speak Welsh. A couple of years later I had to go back and had the unpleasant experience of being the only Englishman n a roomful of welshmen. I got a lot of abuse about having to have the meeting in English because of me. I should point out that this was an Oxfam Management meeting.

Last night, I was prevented from going into a shop because I 'looked Polish'. I was prevented from going into a Sikh owned shop because I *looked* Polish. That is wrong on so many levels it makes my head spin.

I'm a one world kind of guy. Always have been. And last night's experience has really rattled me.

Despite my best efforts, racism is alive and well.

I think I'll sit in a corner and cry.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Funerals.


There's a debate on the BBC News, sparked by an argument on The Archers, strangely enough, about whether children should attend funerals and at what age is it appropriate to start attending them.

I don't know.

I have an odd view on funerals; you could get a bit Freudian with the following information and draw conclusions that may or may not have some basis in the depths of my psyche, but when it boils down to it, for me, funerals are pretty pointless.

I don't do funerals. I don't want to remember my friends by a group of people gathering round, moping and being grim. They give me know sense of 'closure; I'm not going to stop missing a person just because there has been a - usually inappropriate - ceremony. Funerals are for the living, not for the dead, and as I have increasing contempt for the living, I"d rather not share my grief with a bunch of people I probably don't like.

When I was six, my Granddad died and obviously I was very upset. The situation surrounding his funeral was bizarre as we didn't know his funeral was taking place. By 'we', I mean me and my cousins. We were all herded into my Aunt Lou's flat which was great fun; we played board games all day, had loads of jelly, generally misbehaved and had a great time. Two days afterwards, we were told that he'd been cremated. This devastated me as I was very close to our Granddad. I knew of funerals, but it never occurred to me or my cousins that this is what was really going on. My six year old brain went into a bit of a melt down as for most of the day we'd been playing a board game called 'Haunted House'; I associated my Granddads funeral with us playing a game about moving dead people around a board. It struck me as massively inappropriate -even then - that this is what we were doing while my Granddad was being cremated - particularly with the 'drop them down the chimney' option in the game. It would have been less emotionally damaging to attend the funeral than to have it dropped on me like that.

One of the few funerals I have been to was the funeral of my partner, Gray. Well, I say that I went to it, but his parents actually hired security to keep me out. I was valiumed out of my skull and there was a nasty scene, but his folks were monumentally Catholic and I simply didn't fit in... These days, I don't do funerals. They have no real purpose for me. I have been to funerals - one memorable one where a cross dressing friend was cremated to the strains of Madonnas 'Into The Groove' after which we all sang David Bowies 'Heroes'; and more conventional one where Pagan friends were buried in Christian ceremonies thanks to uncomprehending parents. Turning up doesn't feel like a mark of respect, more a mark of duty. I prefer to remember my friends in my head and heart and respect their memories in other ways.

Maybe I just don't like goodbyes and prefer to not see the finality of death; I still think about my departed friends, still miss them and sometimes still think "what would "X" friend do in this situation?", but I don't need a funeral to say goodbye.

I've strayed from the point a bit but I do believe that death is a part of life and fetishising it is as wrong as hiding it. Kids need to understand that life is not eternal. I don't have kids so I don't know how I'd handle it, but I'd sure as hell be more open about it than my folks were with me.

Me? When I die, just stick me in a hessian sack, chuck me in a hole and plant a tree on me...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Earworm #3


The Jeeves and Wooster Theme tune has been haunting me for the best part of a fortnight, now.

Words that don't exist

When I was little, I used a word that didn't exist much to the amusement of my Mum. I say amusement, but she cruelly mocked me for years about using it. When you are five, making such grammatical leaps, I would have thought, shows a lively and inventive brain.

Anyhoo. The word was 'terrid'. My reasoning was that from 'horror' you got 'horrid' and 'horrible', and from 'terror' you got 'terrible', so why not 'terrid'?

I still think it valid, although if I bothered to look I"m sure the etymology would prove me wrong...

And I still stick it into conversation now and again. Luckily, most people know I have a vocabulary that contains many arcane and obsolete words, so I tend to get away with it.....but I"d love to see it used more widely....

Dear god....


Jesus.

Now, if you've read any of this blog before, you'll know Im not vegetarian. I have many friends who are and at the risk of offending my good friend Phill, when I saw he 'liked' 'vegetarian' on facebook, I had a look at the page hoping to get some ideas for good food. What I saw first was this piece of ill informed hippy shit assaulted me:

"i don´t understand why are so many people cruel to animals. I personally admire animals, for they are perfect and so much purer than us. We have to protect them, as they give us unconditioned love and affection that we might never get from people."

Okay, I'm all for respecting animals, but 'purer'? 'We have to protect them'? 'they give us unconditional love and affection?'

Okay, missy, you seem to be living in fluffy bunny la-la-land as there are a million and four creatures that wouldn't think twice about using your internal organs as a hat. Or just killing you because it can and feels a bit threatened. Who needs protecting from these animals? You do.

But I don't think I"ll tell you that. If you live in such a deluded world, frankly I'd love to see how you handle, say a pride of fluffy lions, a box jellyfish, a cute little poison dart frog...

Animals do what they do; they are what they are. There's no question of purity. We are animals. Animals eat other animals. You can choose to eat them or not.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Stargazing Live

Well that was odd.
I was quite excited by the prospect of "Stargazing Live". I love looking at the night sky; it fills me with awe and wonder and all those other cliche words and with Dara O'Briain presenting with Brian Cox? Winning formula!

But hang on. Live Astronomy? What is the point, exactly? And how much of a misnomer was the title of that show?

There was little point in the show being live. 90% of it was filmed inserts and the only actual 'live' parts were the links and one section where O'Briain looked at Jupiter and then later some guy showed Jonathan Ross how to point a telescope at, again, Jupiter. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that Jupiter is a star. We got a live feed from somewhere in Hawaii from a large crater that illustrates a point about Vulcanism on one of Jupiter's moons. Again, not stars.

Admittedly we got some information on the sun and a bit of information about galaxies colliding but I don't think there was a single item on that show that warranted the words "stargazing" or "live" and unless there's something interesting going in the night sky at the time of transmission - there's a partial solar eclipse today, but the programme is on at the wrong time of day to cover it live - there's no reason for this programme to be live at all.

Now, bitching aside, I actually rather enjoyed the programme. The content was, perhaps, spread a little thin - I'm not sure why we had two separate people finding Jupiter in a telescope when once was more than enough - but when there was content, it was interesting.
We just didn't get to gaze live at any stars.

The problem, I think, is that at the level most people would 'stargaze', nothing really changes. Jupiter is Jupiter, Orion is Orion. They skirt across the sky, but nothing really changes. Does this warrant a live show when 'The Sky At Night' has been doing this sort of thing quite successfully for nigh on 50 years? Well, okay The Sky At Night *is* a bit fuddy-duddy; the subject does, perhaps, need a bit of jazzing up and the Cox/O'Briain presentation team is rather good and more than capable.

If the show was ongoing, pre-recorded, 30 minutes long and cut out the pointless celebrity stargazing sections, it would be one of those rare beasts, an entertaining and educational TV show. As it was, they were just a bit hamstrung by the baffling format.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Annoyance

Why does every person in the movie know kung fu or some other martial art? Even if they are pasty 97 pound weaklings, a bit of trouble and suddenly they are kung fu pros.

If you lived in Sunnydale and became a vampire, you woke up being an expert martial artist.

Why don't people just lamp each other in movies instead of making it so stupidly unreal?

And as a sub-genre of this annoyance, isn't it odd how more and more people have suddenly learned parkour?

The Sherlock Holmes movies was probably the only movie I've seen recently where fisticuffs and lamping took place....