Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Philophobe

Philophobia is a fear of intimacy. Specifically a fear of love. It means that you can't get close to other people. It is something I've had for most of my life and it sucks big time. I only realised quite recently just how bad I had this .

To begin at the beginning.

At a very young age I was disillusioned due to my "bestest fwiend in the whole wide world" (specifically my Play School pal Jason Miller) falsely accusing me of doing something to upset him. His mother then didn't let us play together any more and my own mother believed that I had done what I was being accused of. At the age of 4 this kind of non event can be as serious as a nuclear war.

As I got older that seed of mistrust in intimate encounters meant that I was cagey and sullen around other people and as I went into Primary school I was quite lonely. Never feeling able to trust anyone else after losing my 4 year old blood brother, I settled for shallow encounters and a game of marbles or tig. Birthday parties were, at best, populated by four or five "friends" (usually other kids in the neighbourhood whose mums were the kind of mums who'd lend my mum an umbrella or a cup of sugar).

At Secondary school it was worse as I had bullying on top as well (and was myself a bully to some extent) and became more and more isolated. With the advent of masturbation I became interested in girls and found the giggling, flat topped, New Romantics I went to school with to be tiresome and plain but thought I still had to try and date one of them in order to be "normal".

As time went on I didn't feel comfortable getting close to anyone. When I realised this I was about 18 and ready to head off to university. I had long since retreated into a world of movies, comics and fantasy novels, so I romanticised my isolation by comparing myself to film characters that reflected me to some extent. As I strode through the boring, rainy streets of my home town Kenilworth I'd imagine I was a road warrior of solitude or a dishonourably discharged Special Forces agent sent to rescue a famous politician. Human nature dictates that we will try to find positives in ANY negative situation. So being aloof, cold and somewhat stand offish (to put it politely) was reconditioned in my mind to be a burned out shell of a man who could bravely negotiate life in his own way, bored and lonely yet content.

That was basically a load of cobblers and even while I type this I realise just how fucking miserable I've been for decades.

Ponder this....

You grow up being told that every bad thing that happens to you is your fault somehow. You are held responsible for how others feel about you and also for how you feel about them. If you lose your temper you are wrong, if others lose their temper with you, it's your fault. The only role models you have for intimacy are a hen pecked father and a dominating, spiteful bully of a mother. You are told you should get on with your brother, yet your aunt and mother do nothing except argue and fight, punctuated with periods of months or years where they don't speak. When you point out the hypocrisy you are told "That's different!!!" You are bullied at school and told it's all your fault as in the 1980s it was always '6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other'. You watch your paternal grandmother who you love very much, wither away and become a husk of her former vibrant self. She is emotionally desolate as your mother wants nothing to do with her and treats her like shit on the rare occasions they are within the same four walls. You remember that your grandmother did a multitude of favours for your mother but when you point this out you are yelled at and made to feel guilty. You get unwrapped presents or no presents on birthday or Christmas and are told to be grateful. Conversely your mother cries for nine hours on Mothers' Day due to getting presents but not getting breakfast in bed (which she'd previously told you she didn't like). Your mother denies any accusations of wrongdoing and absolutely cannot take criticism of any form. When your paternal grandfather dies your mother verbalises on seven or eight separate occasions that she wishes "one of them" would die when she was at work so she could have a day off...and not when she's on holiday. Your father shows nothing except submissive support to your mother and always backs her up, no matter how bizarre or cruel her behaviour is. When she divorces him she blames him for the lack of affection or contact you and your brother now show her, saying that he "turned the boys against me" by being nice, supportive and tolerant. This was apparently a Long Game to get sympathy by playing the part of the downtrodden victim.


So being intimate has been a terrifying thing. By the time I left Uni at 22 I had a few friends but they had/ have the patience of saints and were people who genuinely cared about other people. I was about as obnoxious as it is possible to be without breaking the law when I was at university, just to keep people away from me. Those who still wanted to be friends after I'd got drunk, puked, farted and pissed my way through their evening...well, they were probably worth knowing.

I have moved through life keeping everyone at arm's length and not being able to interact on a fundamental level with anyone. Superficially I do fine but when it comes to anything more serious than a drinking partner or a fuck buddy, I tend to come unstuck. Ironically, through being inept at intimacy I also get it disastrously wrong when I think I've fallen for someone.

A friend of mine once said "Lance, you fall in love with any woman who gives you the time of day!" I disagreed at the time but can now see what she meant. Feeling lonely and on my own but convinced on all but the deepest of subconscious levels that I was happy with that, I would trip over my feet the first time a genuinely lovely and good looking woman wanted to fuck me. When you are rationing yourself with biscuits and water, getting a four course meal can be a mind, libido and spirit melter. Looking back on the times I fell in "love" it wasn't always really love. What I felt was a desire to have someone to be intimate with and I was so desperate to be involved that I glossed over all the stuff that would have got in the way (e.g. a Mexican woman with an imaginary friend who thought I was being unreasonable for not relaxing and enjoying life in her home city...which was controlled by feuding drug cartels. Or a 16 year old I'd dated for a month whose step father was the same age as me and who went home for Xmas and never came back due to her parents splitting up and her visa being voided...but I STILL held out hope we could make it work). 

Ten or eleven years ago in London I became drinking buddies with an Irish guy named Jeff. He had a bit of a temper but seemed a likeable sort. Three months into our 'friendship' he drugged my beer and stole my wallet. Unfortunately for him he was a lousy pickpocket and unable to successfully rob someone who was drunk, drugged and trusted him. He got arrested later that night and I never spoke to him again. That was the kind of friend I attracted.

It always seemed easier to just stay on the edges. However when I was interacting with people and wanted to see more of them I would wonder why they didn't seem that interested. The signals I was sending out were not those of someone who wanted friends but someone who wanted a good time. Seven years ago while living in Rome I pulled a gorgeous, curvy Italian woman Eleonora. I'd only met her that day and after a long spell of making out on the grass at the St Giovanni May 1st free concert, she walked four miles home with me at 1am, just to have sex with me. I'd promised that as soon as we got home I was going to push her against the wall and "lick your pussy until you least twice" and that's exactly what I did. Next morning after further fucking and breakfast I walked her to the train station and I never saw her again (although we did stay in touch on Facebook for a while). I wondered how she could have such awesome sex, after walking miles to get it and then NOT want to see the tattooed love messiah who'd made her pussy wet sooo many times. Simple answer that I see now is this: I was great for a one night stand and a good fuck, but she never even considered I'd be bothered not seeing her again as I was sending out "good time with no strings" signals and not those of someone who wanted a friend.

Anyone whose regularly reads this blog will know my ongoing saga of the Red Jumper girl. This lady is from Eastern Europe, lives in Asia and is now married with two children. I STILL have feelings for her that I can't (and don't want to) shake off and a female pal of mine said that this is because it is nurturing for my soul and my abilities as a writer to be in love like this. She asked rhetorically how boring would it be for an author to have an actual, real girlfriend?

In my life I've done some interesting things and I've always explored the ideas of courage. From the imposed subservience and timidity of my younger years to what is romantically called an "Angry Young Man" to a middle aged cynic, the one area of bravery I've always shied away from is actually getting close to anyone else to feel anything for them in case they hurt me. The last time I did that was with the Mexican woman who had the imaginary friend. The love maybe wasn't real but the pain I felt when she dumped me was so bad that it's taken me three and a half years to recover from that. So unused to true human contact, I got burned to the soul just for opening up even slightly to the wrong person.

I have a part time job working with children and I really love it. Little kids are to me, amazing creatures. Full of wonder and joy, and laughs that can cure a hangover. I would really like to do this full time. A lady friend of mine said recently "You come across as someone who doesn't give a shit but you quite blatantly do really."

The write Charles Bukowski once said that "Being alone never felt right. sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right."

I don't want to curl up in bed any more with only my fantasies and my photographic memory of my favourite porn scenes for company. I don't want to just have my cat sat next to me as I watch yet another episode of Breaking Bad. And I certainly don't want to be going to the cinema on my own to see movies I've waited months for.

Being intimate has always terrified me. Now it's time to move past it.

И я имел в виду то, что я сказал. Я до сих пор люблю тебя, я, вероятно, так будет всегда. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Not Reading Books

Today I sat, or rather lay, on the sofa and actually read a book. Not only that but I also enjoyed reading it. I was there for well over an hour and the only thing that stopped me actually finishing said book was that my eyes started to lose focus and, like that tub of Ben & Jerry's that you feel you just HAVE to keep digging into long past the point where you are enjoying it.

This is hardly newsworthy and in fact looks a bit naff, even as I type it however after reading the superb "Wasting More Police Time: Further Adventures in La La Land" by PC David Copperfield (Monday Books) I had an enhanced perspective of the UK police.

Now me and the UK police are old enemies. I was a cop for just over 3 years and the experience was dire. However, reading the thoughts and reflections of other cops who are still serving (or were when the book came out) it means I now have knowledge to back up my opinions.

Then I got to thinking about how I don't really read a lot of books. I mean, there's books that have sat on my shelf unread for 6 years or more. Yesterday at Demoncon XI in Maidstone I was exhibiting again and I was sat next to an author named Miles Allen. I last saw Miles at Demoncon III in 2012 and sat next to him at that one too. We exchanged books at the end as a farewell gift and I got The Walkers of Legend in return for a copy of my police memoir Stab Proof Scarecrows. Found out about lunchtime yesterday that he hasn't read mine and I still haven't read his.

I have loads of books that I haven't finished or even started and I didn't know why but then I got thinking about other areas of my life and my habit of Not Reading Books took on a certain Other perspective.

I have issues, as any regular reader of this blog will know (or to be fair, anyone who's read more than four posts). I find writing purges those issues to a great extent and helps me calm and tame a lot of my demons as they writhe around in the sewers beneath the basement of my memory palace.

So I deal with then and drift along in life with my issues like a scab that I need to let heal but sometimes I just pick at.

But then the real reason behind Not Reading Books rose up. It explains why I will get up with the best intentions of writing a blog, continuing my 3rd kids book and maybe reading half a novel by George RR Martin or Bernard Cornwell. It makes it clear why I can spend hours wasting time on Facebook, punctuated by brief jaunts to YouTube. And it offers a succinct reason for why I can waste SOOO much time playing Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, and for a bit of variety...the Alphabetty Saga.

Someone said that the more you find out the less you know but to add to that I would have to say that the more I find out the less I wish I had.

A very long time ago I made a decision in my child mind that life was unfair and most people wouldn't be able to "get" what I said. Life was and is a big facade covering some very sinister and depressing realities. I never wanted to face that I would simply leave school, get a job, maybe get married and then one day keel over and die. I didn't want the reality of a 25 or 27 year mortgage and I certainly didn't want the reality of knowing just how badly politicians lie and cheat to hold power.

So...ignorance is bliss. By Not Reading Books, I was effectively shutting myself off from the harsh realities of life. I could remain ignorant and while I would be frustrated and lonely it meant my isolated world of self induced Not Knowing was bearable because I had created it.

Recently I've been looking at a lot of information about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There are a lot of daft conspiracy theories floating about but also a lot of obfuscation and deliberate misinformation. I've seen that there are 8 to 13 powerful families in the world who control all of the global economy. I've seen how companies created in America were selling oil and vehicles to both sides in World War II (this practice was happening as far back as the Napoleonic war). And this information both frightens and depresses me.

I have chosen to Not Read Books for a long time because the reality of what life is like under the surface is nothing like an advertiser would have you believe. I care very deeply about many things but it seems so much easier to play The Spin Doctors' song "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" on You Tube for the 10th time rather than the video called "The Banned George W Bush Interview".

Realising the US President is no more than a figurehead for far more powerful people is a sobering and unpleasant revelation. The fact that a cuntish mong like the second George Bush could ever even be a president shows just how much the true power is in the hands of unseen people (a plot facet that was even used for effect in the last James Bond movie for Chrissakes!)

About 6 years ago I found out that a woman who worked at another branch of the same language school that I worked in, had phoned my boss and said unpleasant things about me. I told my boss that I wanted to know EVERYTHING "that fucking fat bitch" had said but once I got home I calmed down, phoned my boss and said that I had changed my mind. I added that if she told me what "the fat cunt" had said then I would feel obliged to act upon it. By not knowing I wouldn't need to.

This was a sensible and possibly even vaguely noble decision but conversely I made a similar decision with regard to cutting off contact with a woman I was in love with. I thought I had upset her and I stopped talking to her because it was (at the time) infinitely preferable to live and never know how she felt about me...than to get back in touch and find out that she hated me or worse, had forgotten me. When I finally grew a pair and got back in touch (9 years later) it turned out that she wasn't angry and was in fact pleased to hear from me.

Ignorance can be bliss...but it can also be unbearably saddening if you know that on the other side of that ignorance is knowledge and maybe even enlightenment. Cowardice in the face of information means never having to find out things you don't want to face.

So...I have moved through my life Not Reading Books for this reason. I am afraid of finding out that life really is incomprehensible, scary and weird.

Recently I stopped finding porn entertaining. By that I mean the bog standard crap that is available on sites like YouPorn or XXX Videos. A niche market called "Female Friendly Porn" I can handle as there is some semblance of acting ability, tenderness and even a lot of kissing however stuff I got off on for the last 30+ years no longer gives me an erection like it used to. I also no longer get so aroused by stories (the one I read in Penthouse letters back in about 1988 of two women daring a third to "rub up" a guy on a bus...that has seen me through some dark nights, I can remember it word for word even now) and my attitude isn't the adolescent fuck fest it was up until about summer of last year. I initially put this down to male menopause but have come to the conclusion that it's simply a realignment of priorities. I still like sex but lost the juvenile mindset once I accepted the act for what it is and not what I was told it was by porn producers and wank mag editors.

Knowledge can be frightening. People will 90% of the time try to fob you off and lie about reality. How many times has someone hurt you and then either blamed you for the fact they did it, blamed their "unhappiness" or tried to misrepresent the situation. A woman in a relationship with a violent boyfriend will be Not Reading Books on that subject, because she wants to believe that things are the way she wants to believe they are. A boy who is bullied by his peer group at school but continues to stay with them, will deny the reality of what's going on in order to hang out with the "cool kids".

Reality can be terrifying. Knowledge leads to understanding of reality. Sometimes it's better to just deny all of it.

For me it no longer is.

Nuff said.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Othering

I was at a seminar recently, listening to Mr Rory Miller and his musings on violence and confrontation. Something he touched upon in that talk was the concept of Othering.

This is a verb, not a collective noun and means when you make a person something "other" than a human being. This is done almost exclusively for negative reasons and allows you to excuse unpleasant, barbaric or criminal behaviour towards them, because you believe they are less than you are.

Kicking someone's teeth in just for the sake of it, along with four of your mates has always seemed to me to be a cowardly thing (which it is) and I couldn't see why anyone would get off on this idea. Ultimately it's because they are seeing the broken, twitching body beneath them as something other.

This explains a great deal of brutality in the world but it can be used to justify nearly all unpleasant human behaviour.

When I see people yelling at cashiers or customer service reps in shops I always thought they were just vicious bullies who enjoyed taking their moods out on people. They most certainly are that but I couldn't understand that divorcing of common empathy and basic good manners. Venting your spleen at strangers is a cuntish thing to do.

Similarly when I was at school you'd get bullies who took an immense amount of pleasure in hurting and/ or humiliating other kids. This wasn't just pupils either, some of the teachers did it too (Roger Jenkins, I'm thinking of you, you fat, ugly sack of embittered shit).

Move forward to a time when I worked and I've seen supervisors, managers or even Slightly Senior Nobodies make other people's lives difficult for the sake of malicious glee.

I could never understand why people could be so utterly awful to each other. I kind of guessed that they regarded themselves as superior to their victims but always believed there had to be an override of basic human decency for this behaviour to rise up and display itself.

Listening to Rory Miller, an idea came to the forefront of my brain that had been rattling around in there for a while but listening to someone else raise the hypothesis meant that it got a lot more clarity. To hurt people or treat them differently they are not just other people but othered people.

The guy who cuts you up in traffic or steals "your" parking space at the supermarket. He's less than you because he doesn't respect basic road etiquette and it feels justified to think about doing horrible things to him. Maybe shout some abuse and make a masturbatory hand gesture out the window at him.

That woman who jumped the queue at the post office. How fucking rude was THAT? She was a fat lady too so no only does she lack basic line-forming manners BUT she's a salad dodger as well.

And that paedophile who The Sun ran a story about this morning. Just think of all the fun you could have with him if you had an hour, a bottle of sulphuric acid and a bunsen burner.

Othering is something that nearly all of us do. I had it in spades at school from my mother, my teachers and my peers. Thing is, I did it too. It was/ is an unofficially sanctioned way to let off steam and treat fellow human beings very badly. In 2000 one of the tattier red print newspapers ran a "name and shame" campaign against Britain's child molesters. This came in the wake of the sexual murder of a little girl who was found dead after being missing for a substantial amount of time. The editor of this rag printed photos of convicted paedos, nonces and kiddy diddlers and promised to continue doing this until every last monster had been featured. Problem was that the majority of people who read shitty papers like that one will believe things at face value. I remember noting at the time that the fallout would be innocent people getting hurt and true to form it happened. There was no subjectivity about whose photos they printed. A guy who had systematically molested dozens of boy scouts over a period of at least 20 years had his photo next to a man who had had sex once with a 15 year old girl (remembering that the age of sexual consent in the UK is 16). Furthermore they printed grainy, crappy photos of several people and even misnamed others. The attitude of the cretins this was aimed at can be summed up with this little tale. A paediatrician returned home one night to find the word PEEDO scrawled in spray paint over her front door. Enquiries by the police around the local neighbourhood turned up the predictable news that some illiterate twonk had mistaken her profession for a predilection for touching the No No spots of underage kids.

The Othering in this example was on a huge scale. Paedos are scum and therefore can be treated as we see fit...some people said.

When Jamie Bulger was murdered in the early 1990s, people who wouldn't normally even smack their own children were loudly verbalising how much they would like to hurt the two killers of this innocent little toddler. I heard a father of four boys loudly state in the pub that he wanted a two hour amnesty where the murderers would be placed on the streets and anyone who did anything to them in that time would not face prosecution.

Thing that stuck in my throat was that the killers were themselves children. 11 year old Robert Thompson and John Venables.

Othering means a lack of guilt and a reduction in rationality. It means not having to feel that inconvenient stuff that we would feel if we didn't Other other people.

My mother had a speciality in this field. If she couldn't Other you for something you had done, then she'd find something else or exaggerate your actions and inactions. Those who upset her were beneath contempt and were Othered to oblivion and back.

Teachers at my secondary school were masters and misses of the Othering. They had an automatic Other going on with all pupils at some level. They were better than us and were therefore entitled to treat us as they saw fit. We were a sub class to them. We couldn't answer back, have a rational argument or talk to them as equals. To this day I would like to set a great deal of them on fire. My own Othering of those who Othered.

Othering extends to sex as well. We Other images we see and people in the street we pass. I have a penchant for nice asses but try not to get caught turning round every time a cute woman walks past me (it's winter now anyway so most asses are covered by long coats, life is cruel). My imagination is running riot but I don't know that woman. I just know the image I have of her as I've Othered her into my fantasies. This is neither right nor wrong. Imagination is God's way of putting a safety valve on our emotions.

Othering is hard to rise above. It's very difficult to see another person's perspective when we are in the heat of a foul temper. How many times have you heard people simply dismiss the actions of someone as for reasons of stupidity or malice? good coffee can unfortunately be very addictive.