Friday, 9 January 2015

There is no "But"

I overheard a customer today say, "What happened in France is terrible, but..."  As soon as she said 'but' I knew whatever came out of her mouth was going to be ignorant.
"But, you should expect trouble if you mock someone's religion.  You should never take the Micky out of someone's religion."

My jaw physically dropped at this.  Her comment had no concept of proportion.  It seemed reasonable in her mind that if you write satire about Islam then you should expect a bullet in your brain.

Fucking ridiculous.  Her comment nearly made me want to go and tell her that her custom was no longer welcome here.

The victim is not to blame when atrocities happen.  Her view is unfortunately expressed too often in many arenas.  A satirist drawing controversial cartoons is not to blame for psychopaths shooting him to death.  A woman wearing a short skirt is not to blame for being brutally raped.  A black man being shot dead is not to blame because he looked like he was carrying a weapon.  The person being violently mugged is not to blame for wearing a nice watch.

It's a shitty world we live in when explain away a person's actions and then vilify the victims and, in turn, their grieving families.

Yes Charlie Hebdo writers and cartoonists did publish controversial pieces and yes some were pretty harsh, but that never justifies what happened.  It shouldn't even have crossed their minds that by doing their job they were at risk of two people storming their offices and shooting them.  Anyone who says, "Well they should have expected it," is basically a moron.

It's a terrible path to take when surviving victims are made to feel guilty for what happened to them. When we make a girl blame herself for being raped it makes me wonder what happened to the world.  Please, let's stop justifying evil acts with victim blaming.

Peace.  x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Je suis Charlie

“The world has become so serious that humour is a risky profession.”

'In ancient Greece the term parrhesia was used to describe a practice which stipulated that a citizen should not only exercise free speech but should also speak the truth even at personal risk... in the
manner, for example, of Socrates who famously paid with his life for being outspoken.'  The Development of Free Speech by John Roberts PHD

Free speech has been a hard won fight in many countries and it was introduced as a vehicle of truth. The satire regularly expressed in Charlie Hebdo bitingly illustrates this right and tragically also highlights the fear and hatred also associated with free speech.  The massacre of those 10 journalists and two police officers solidifies my belief that the human race is not as 'evolved' as we like to believe.  The primitive fear which breeds the need to control and silence is far too pervasive in most of society, no matter how 'civilised' we pretend to be.  When humour is seen as a threat to be snuffed out we truly are living in a world that is too broken and too scared of its own shadow.

It is so, so sad that people who were intellectually challenging the hypocrisies of governments, religions and royalties had to be targeted so brutally.

We must always cherish our right to free speech because we haven't actually had the right for very long, even though it is an ancient idea.  To cherish it though means we have to understand it and not abuse it.  Free speech was fought with blood to enable truth to be spoken; free speech empowered the vulnerable; free speech challenged the powerful and corrupt.  Free speech is not a vehicle of hate and ignorance but should be a carrier of thoughtful truths and ideas.

Let us not, in the smoke of sadness and disgust, believe free speech can now be a means to spout racist, xenophobic, ignorant and hateful vitriol.  Free speech is not a right to spit lies and disdain but rather a right to express enlightened concepts.  Saying or writing lies and ignorance because that's my right isn't what many people died for.

Let's honour those at Charlie Hebdo by condemning those foul 'humans' who murdered them because surely the gunman are actually the caricatures the journalists regularly drew in their cartoons.  It is utterly devastating the caricatures came to life.

Peace. x

Monday, 5 January 2015

No Regrets

"What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'?"
-Friedrich Nietzsche
If that quote is rather depressing to you then you probably know the answer to the question.  I wonder how many of us find regret as an uncomfortable weight on our shoulders?  

Regret can cause irrational decisions and unwise actions; regret ignites the cold, aching sense of fear in the pit of your stomach; regret whispers in your ear that there will be more regret.  I'm not sure it's possible not to have any regrets but I don't believe we need to live where we are controlled by even just one.  

I try to look at my life through the lens of hope and dreams rather than the murky window of 'what if?'  That question leads down a path to nowhere and, ironically, a mindset of caution rather than daring.  It's important to gaze upon the life you are living and breathe in all the little and big blessings.  As you do you suddenly begin to appreciate instead of moan.  As I write this I have a cat and a dog cuddled up next to me, fast asleep and cozy, a soothing folk album is playing in the background, a gently steaming mug of tea is by me, a new Stephen King novel is ready on my Kindle and I have a fiancĂ© soon to be on her way home from work.  A lovely combination.

I could focus on a list of things worrying me or issues that have made me mad recently but, if that Nietzsche demon were to visit me I would not want to re-live my life consumed by resentment and worry but rather optimism and love.  None of us have a perfect existence but, if you're reading this on a computer/phone in a warm building, then you have a pretty good foundation for a fairly decent existence and therefore a choice of hope over nihilism, love over hate, productiveness over procrastination and grace over selfishness.  

Peace.  x 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Are you okay?

"Go on Smithy! Fuck her brains out!"
Smithy grunted with a mixture of effort and pleasure.
"I bet you like that, don't you?" said Smithy, breathlessly.
He stopped for a second and turned the girl on to her front.  As he tried to adjust his position he lost balance and collapsed on the floor.
The room erupted in laughter and jeers.
"My turn!" shouted 'Tonny'.  "Smithy's too pissed to carry on.  She can have a real man inside her."  Tonny laughed at his own joke.
'Chaulky' and 'Knotty' looked on, egos inflated, loins inflamed, intoxicated whilst Tonny gave the girl a taste of a real man.

That's the thing, to be part of The Lads you needed a name that ended in a y.  Makes life much easier when shouting across a crowded pub.  "Oi! Smithy! Grab me another pint!"
So The Lads, with names ending in y, egged each other on as they took turns to fuck the slut who was absolutely gagging for it.


"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just not sure if I want to go tonight."
"It will be fine once you get there."
"I don't know anyone though and don't want to feel like a loner."
"I'll be there my love.  Trust me, you'll have a great time.  Top up?"
Seline necked the the dregs of her wine and offered the empty glass like Oliver Twist wanting more.  The gesture wasn't lost on Lucy and she laughed as she filled Seline's glass with more wine.


"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just feel a bit pissed. Have you seen Lucy?"
"She's outside with Knotty."
"Jake. We call him Knotty."
Smithy suddenly moved in for a kiss.  Seline pulled her head away.  "Not so fast.  I'm not that kind of girl."
"It's just a kiss."
"No, it's not 'just a kiss'," Seline punctuated the air.  "I'm not going to shag you; I barely know you."  Seline noticed her words came out a bit slurred.  She finished her wine anyway.  She needed to find Lucy, this guy wasn't as charming as he first appeared.
"I'm a nice guy, I swear."  Smithy mockingly crossed his heart. Seline rolled her eyes.  A flash of something went across Smithy's eyes but it was quickly concealed with a cheesy grin.  Whatever it was it made Seline feel uncomfortable.
"Would you be able to get me some more wine?"
"Sure. On one condition."
"What would that be?"
"You kiss me."
"Ask me after you've given me more wine," Seline said and forced a small smile.
Smithy quickly retreated into the kitchen and fetched more wine.


"Are you okay?"
"Where's Lucy?" mumbled Seline.
"Who?" asked Smithy.  Seline didn't answer. Her head flopped.
"She okay, Smithy?" asked Chaulky.  "Need a hand?"
"A hand..." Seline giggled, "Fuck me... I feel..."
"Hear that buddy, she wants us to fuck her," said Chaulky, grinning.
"I hear that mate." Smithy grinned too.


"Are you okay?"
"They raped me, Lucy.  Of course I'm not okay."
"But you don't remember. They - "
"They took turns whilst I was unconscious! I bled! I'm still bleeding!"
"I know, I didn't mean -"
"The police said they couldn't do anything.  The police said it was my word against four.  They said I begged them to fuck me..." Seline broke off and started to cry.
Lucy sat in silence, too awkward to speak.
Seline stifled her tears and said, "I don't even remember, Luce. One minute I was talking in the hallway, the next minute I woke up with my stomach and, you know, in agony.  I feel sick. I feel like a slag and I didn't do anything wrong. Fuck!"
"Knotty said you apparently wanted them to have sex with you."
Seline walked out, feeling sick and dirty.


"Is she okay?"
"She'll be fine," grinned Smithy.  "Gave her a little pill."

Monday, 15 December 2014

What Dreams May Come

I wish Ben, the winner of this year's X-Factor, all the best.  I'm sure he's not ignorant to the many shattered dreams of other 'winners' scattered before him as he walks the perilous path set out before him by mogul Simon Cowell.  For all the pomp and pumped fists I don't envy the next 12 months of his life which could either see some of his dreams of being a musician come true or all his nightmares of being another puppet, with his strings cut, horribly take centre stage.

That's the thing about having dreams, you have to handle them with care.  I don't believe big dreamers are vulnerable, vague people; to dream big takes courage.  The dreams they cradle though, they are vulnerable and can evaporate like the images in your mind as you wake.  Just as the images that seemed so real and solid as we slept become frustrating to remember when we wake, so the ambitions and desires we have for our lives can be hard to hold on to and bravery to keep pushing for them, working for them and crying for them must remain.

I dream of being a professional writer.  I dream of being an author of published novels.  I dream that what I write will be appreciated by as many people as possible.  Such dreams take patience though.  I guess the X-Factor saddens me because it upholds the illusion of instant everything.  In a matter of weeks you can go from zero to hero.  Easy.  Sign up and be the star in 2015.  Fame and fortune just around the corner.  Any creative soul with integrity knows that the love you have for music, writing and art usually comes at a price and is far from instant.  I have enough rejection letters to know what it means to be patient.

It's getting a balance with your dreams.  It's daring to dream like a child where anything is possible but having the pragmatism to work your fucking arse off to get there.  I have written a novel whilst working full-time as a restaurant manager.  That's not easy.  It's even harder when you're doing it without any idea as to whether it will even be published.  I did it because I love to write and I love to pour my dreams on to paper.

If you're dreaming of something, keep going.  Do it with integrity though because stepping over others potentially destroys yours and their dreams in the process.

Peace.   x

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Terror, Torture & Time

When a person self harms it is a physical act of destruction on his body which represents the mental destruction happening and the cry for the anguish to stop.  The pain is sometimes welcomed; the pain sometimes awakens him from a numbness and vacancy.  It is destructive.  It is riddled with guilt.  It is horrible.

When a person from the CIA tortures another human being it is a physical act of destruction which represents the moral implosion of society.  The pain is welcomed by the pain-giver; the torturer is awakened to his own sadistic capabilities.  The torturer steps across a line he can never return from. It is a dark place.

Unfortunately we, the human race, have always done disgusting things to each other and we will most likely carry on doing barbaric acts.  It's right to denounce and it's right to beg for such things to stop.  We're destructive enough.  What I found disturbing though, and wondered how far we have truly evolved, was watching the interview with the former Director of the CIA.  He was a callous son-of-a-bitch.  He could spout all the propaganda he wanted about torture being an effective interrogation tool.  He could argue torture saved thousands of lives.  He could argue the benefits of rectal feeding all night but he was disturbing because he spoke with such aloof arrogance it was almost as if he was inconvenienced for having to answer questions at all.

Whatever the arguments for and against torture may be there are men and women scattered around the world who have been mentally and physically abused, degraded and scarred.  They have been subjected to horror regardless of their 'guilt' or 'innocence.' There are also men and women scattered round the world who committed these acts and may have entered a place of darkness where self-destruct is only a heartbeat away.

Time doesn't always heal.

Time sometimes magnifies pain.

Let's hope we can become a people who don't leave a mark of destruction on history but one of healing.

Peace.   x

Here's the interview: