Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Wonky Aura

A good few years ago when I was on the dole, I went to the supermarket with two friends, a couple that I knew named Celia and Bob. While queuing at the till Celia saw that I had chosen a freshly baked wholemeal loaf as I needed some bread. We then had this rather bizarre conversation:

“You shouldn’t buy that bread!”
“Why on Earth not?”
“You’re on benefits. You should buy some value brand, sliced white.”
“Err…why for fuck’s sake?!!”
“You’ve not got any money, that’s expensive bread.”

Knowing where her mind was at, I then threw in every angle and argument that would cover whatever she might say next.

“I get my dole in 2 days. I don’t need to make any phone calls**. This is my last 56p in the world until I get my dole. The difference in price is 23p. That isn’t money that will make any difference to my life whatsoever, other than to prove to you and people like you, that I am P.O.O.R. There is no reason for me NOT to buy this bread. My life will not change in any way, shape or form if I buy value brand, mass produced crap!”

After a pause she activates the Reality Lock and says stubbornly, “You say you’re poor. You shouldn’t buy that bread!”

Her and cretins like her, assume that to be a certain way, you have to act a certain way.

Throughout life I have noticed that a lot of dense bastards and bitches try to beef up their situation by proving it. To be fair, a lot of the time it’s subconscious and most people don’t know they’re doing it (e.g. staying in bed when you’re ill…even if you don’t know if that will help). However a lot of the time it’s the reverse of the gold plated, diamond encrusted I-phone. People love you to know that they are poor/ sick/ in a job they hate, and expect everyone else to fall in line with badges of honour that set the tone.

My mother left a well-off family where money wasn’t an issue to marry a working class man (my father). From that point on she had a ridiculously exaggerated Poverty Aura that permeated every facet of her life. Even now, in her late 60s and on her second marriage, she still insists that we “didn’t have a lot of money back then” but refuses to specify how much we did or didn’t have. As her life of not having to worry about money ended in 1967 and restarted in 2007, she never unlocked herself from the mindset of “look at what I had to give up to raise a family.”

The choicest examples were when she bought me sandals for school when I was 12 and I’d just moved to a new school where the kids there had stopped wearing them when they were about 9. I wore them for one day and came home upset and angry as I’d had the piss taken out of me all day. My mother apologised, said if she’d known she would never have bought them and said how “horrible” the other children were. As she never normally apologised for anything, seemed genuinely moved by the situation and was showing regret, I seized my opportunity.

“So, can you buy me another pair then please?”

This got the following reaction (in front of my grandparents who were also there):

“HUH?!! Buy you a new pair?!! NO I CAN’T!!! You hear that Gran? Buy him a new pair he says? What…do you think we’re MADE of money. No I CAN’T. Wear them until the winter and I’ll buy you a new pair then.”

While genuinely sorry that I was being bullied, it meant less to her than the £10 it would have cost to buy me a new pair of Clark’s Commandos. As soon as money came into the equation, I had to put up with 6 more months of abuse before a new pair could be bought. We had enough money to do this. We were comfortably off, (but not rich) BUT she was flying the flag of the Poverty Aura by effectively saying to the universe:

“Look how poor I am. I have to let my son be bullied because I can’t afford to get him another pair of shoes.”

She’d never shaken off her mindset of “I am now officially not rich any more.”

Another time was a 10th birthday where she provided food and a cake and allowed a party….but hid the cola and lemonade under the stairs and said orange squash would be used instead. When challenged on this the reply was:

“We’ve paid for quite enough already. It won’t hurt to have orange squash. If I let everyone drink the lemonade and cola, then we won’t have any more till next week.”

Worth mentioning that this was ironically, 5 bottles of value brand stuff from Budgen’s at 10p a bottle. The 50p meant more than one of her children’s 10th birthday party.

To go down this road you’d think that we were on a knife edge of balancing money with outgoings. Truth was it was simply a way to say to the world:

“Look how poor I am. I have to let my son have orange squash instead of cola and lemonade on his birthday…I’m too poor to be able to by any more if his friends drink it all.”

But enough maternal moaning.

Back in the day, most people expected ALL gay men to be limp wrested mincers with voices like they’d just inhaled helium. Truth is that gay blokes vary in personality and demeanour and while you do get a few that fulfil that stereotype. It now throws people when they see a man they thought was straight and find out he gets the hots for German gladiator and 100% homosexual Agron out of the Spartacus TV show. People expected gay men to act a certain way, they don’t and never really did.

Some time ago there was a pissed up, shirtless Chav rampaging around town starting fights with random strangers. He saw two guys dressed up as women and threw a punch at one of them, expecting it to be a pushover as they were clearly a couple of fairies who wouldn’t pose a challenge. They were actually two experienced cage fighters on a night out who proceeded to knock him and his mate down and kick fuck out of them (in high heels no less). This was caught on CCTV and the humiliation this wretch suffered was used as mitigation by his solicitor when he went to court.

Since I’ve started doing Krav Maga I’ve taken a grading. I am immensely proud to have passed it BUT I never wear the patch I was awarded for my grade (Practioner 1). This is mainly due to not trying to present an aura of “hey, I’ve finally learned to fight. Look at my badge.” I don’t think for a second that other people do this, and I don’t judge people who proudly wear their patches BUT it’s my own way of dealing with the Wonky Aura.

People on benefits are judged harshly. Unless they are living on baked beans on toast and job hunting from 9am to 5pm people assume automatically that they are wasters and lazy fuckers.  For someone to be in receipt of money you haven’t earned, makes some miserable cunts fly off the handle. I’ve been unemployed several times in my life and it sucks. Only once was it completely by choice, but the experience in the job market after leaving university (in two jobs where I NEVER took a day sick or arrived late and adhered to all that shite about “earning your keep”) had kicked my belief system in the bollocks really hard.

I once worked as a temp for a particularly wretched, lonely and miserable cow named Barbara Bellis. A supervisor at North West Cable Communications, she was universally disliked and regarded as spiteful, childish and petty by her colleagues. One of her favourite tricks was to keep people who had come to see her waiting for ages before she sent me to get them. She wasn't busy. She was usually staring out the window or on the phone to her boyfriend. BUT she believed that managers were always busy and had to show that by keeping people waiting. She was determined to project this aura, even if it had no need to exist.***

Sometimes people try to force the issue of their situation by getting others to twist and turn into what they feel are adequate representations of how they perceive life to be. In a recent episode of the Walking Dead, Merle Dixon was able to quote from the bible and said he missed the library at Woodbury. Merle is a violent, ruthless, vindictive, racist thug. I applaud the writers for adding that touch, as it throws our perception of him. Selfish murderers who loot cars containing a baby and its screaming mother are not supposed to be literate.

Recently I had an argument with a guy I met in the course of my job. He said with a straight face “I’m not surprised you’ve only got this job if you’ve got THAT attitude!”

His perception of my current job was that it is only done by people who can’t go to bigger and better things and a lippy attitude was proof of that. My reply of “fuck off you cunt!” and later “I’m NOT worried you’ll hit me, just fucking try it!” was met with confusion and a sour face. The Below Stairs type was quarrelling. Surely I should be timid, quiet and above all not able to answer back.

The Wonky Aura affects lots of people. Once I was with a French friend, aged 18, who thought he was a bit of a ladies’ man (and to be fair, actually was). We were in a club and a good looking girl was dancing alone. My friend was genuinely confused that I didn’t want to walk over and spark up a conversation with this girl. He asked me if I was gay, if I was feeling ok and if I was gay again. He then hatched a plot of him asking her to dance then five minutes later me cutting in. Result= abject embarrassment for me, although his actions were done as a friend and without malice and the girl was perfectly friendly and chatted to both of us (but sussed immediately what was going on). As a non-gay 18 year old friend, my pal couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as keen as him to get in this girl’s pussy. He would have wanted to. So he expected everyone else to wear the same badge.

When your aura’s wonky it confuses a lot of people. They don’t know how to react. The best scene in Braveheart isn’t any of the battle scenes or “FREEEDDOOOMM!!!” It’s when Wallace is speaking to the Princess of Wales under a flag of truce. Her advisor says in Latin (thinking Wallace, the kilted thug, can’t understand) “he’s a savage and he’s lying.”

Wallace replies in Latin "I never lie. But I am a savage!" He then switches to French and says “ou en français si vous préférez.”

**  Back then, mobile phones were only used by business men. We went to phone boxes and had "Incoming Calls Only" home phones.

*** Unless it was a salesman called Stuart from a company named TCL. He was a bit of a dish. She practically wet her knickers when he showed up and couldn't get out to reception fast enough to dribble all over him. Horrible woman.

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