A long time ago my brother said to me that if I hated someone it meant I was hating a part of myself or of my own life that they were portraying or making obvious.**
For years I've had "issues" with forgiveness or simply moving on and not dwelling on shit. For example....20 and a bit years ago a big fat pig of a woman I worked with AND co-habited with (as in flat mates, I wasn't screwing the ugly bitch) threw coffee in my face at work during an argument about me not doing the washing up that morning. I went to the doctor's to get burn advice and some cream. She tried to talk to me when I came back to work and was "very hurt and upset" when I told her to go away. Later she demanded to know if I was "ready to accept an apology" (after a bollocking off our boss that placed equal blame on both of us, when it was 100% her fault, even though the myopic twat hadn't seen the argument that led to the Actual Bodily Harm and criminal assault) and when I said not she informed me that she didn't want me to "move back in". A short time later she came up to my desk with an invoice for what I owed her and said with tears in her eyes and lower lip trembling that she "would like that settled as soon as possible, if not tonight then tomorrow at the latest."
I then reassured the pre-menstrual cow that I wasn't angry and we went into the corridor, had a chat and hugged. She then told me that while I was at the doctor's getting my face seen to, she went back to our house (with a bloke we worked with, as an impromptu bodyguard), broke into my bedroom and stole my passport. Reason? I might want revenge and part of that MIGHT be not paying her back £75 that I owed her before I left to go abroad in seven days time.
A week later before I left she took me out for dinner and even gave me a lift to the train station. I was so into 'not causing offence' I had even convinced myself that her previous actions no longer mattered and she was probably a lovely person really, who had just had an off day.
Now...all this happened over 20 years ago. However, even typing that story has made me angry again. Reason? Well you could argue that there was supreme injustice in that everyone was blaming both of us and saying I "must have done something" to make the horrid bint lose her temper. You might reason that it was her selfishness and self preservation in the wake of an incident that could have blinded me or left me scarred for life or both. You could even debate the issue of her actions being criminal and the fact she got off scot free.
I am to this day annoyed by what that despicable cunt did to me because I kept my mouth shut, pretended I wasn't angry and put her feelings and fear before my own desires. I didn't hit her, shout at her and my only gesture of retaliation was immediately after she attacked me, I stood up with my face burned and the right side of my body soaking in coffee to proclaim "Stupid immature little bitch!" to which she replied (from a distance of 10 metres away after having retreated well out of fist range) "Not as immature as you Lance, kicking my cupboards!"
To this day I hope she was beaten to death by a sumo wrestler with a rubber hosepipe, who was wearing a clown mask and singing 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah'.
I was raised in an environment where smiling was a habit you should form alongside saying "Pardon!" after burping. Self expression was what horrid punk rockers did and should be retained only for art class or possibly drama. Being angry was something I should NEVER do unless if was in solidarity with the unrighteousness of another person's trials and tribulations. Telling someone to go fuck themselves for queue jumping was utterly atrocious and should never be entertained. If someone shouted a rude name at me then I should "just ignore them" and pretend I hadn't heard it. Problem is that unless you play Poker, bullies can see they are getting to you just by your micro expressions, you don't actually have to cry for a reaction to be achieved.
Voicing disdain or disgust with how I was treated, or even how someone else was treated might lead to sanctions and misery. As I grew up my mother was a mixture of paranoia, arrogance and low self esteem. She worked as a hairdresser for many years (a job she hated and considered beneath her social status) and when she later went to Night School to study for O and A levels and later a degree in teaching she was TERRIFIED that "they" would take her job away. The worst case scenario in her mind was that she would have to go back to touching other people's hair. Constantly afraid of causing offence she professed no public opinions, acted like whoever was the current
government was fine by her and lived her life as greyly as possible. After all,
being noticed for the wrong reasons might result in "them" firing
Now this attitude would be partially or even wholly defensible if some perspective had been applied to it. 'Getting On' and 'Making A Good Impression' were foundations of being a success. However my old dear was so VERY frightened of losing what she'd worked for that she considered me and my brother (and to some extent my Dad) as mere extensions of her life. People who only existed in her world and therefore committed acts that effected upon it. So when I wrote a letter to the local newspaper at aged 16, criticising a local Conservative MP for his condescending reaction to a book containing nudity in the local library (he said it would "deprave and corrupt" the public) my mother rared up at the dinner table and asked if I'd thought "maybe mum's had a hard week at work and doesn't need the hassle right now" when I had written to the local rag. Attempts to rationally point out that I had done nothing more than exercise my right to free speech in a controlled and reasonable manner were either ignored or met with the same question about "hassle" but repeated louder each time. Succumbing to the inevitable I finally answered "no" and was screamed at that I was a "selfish little bastard."
Another time I was 21 and asked her if I could sleep with my 20 year old girlfriend in my parents' house. After agreeing that this was fine, that there was absolutely nothing wrong or immoral with it and that she had ABSOLUTELY no problem with it...she then told me I had to find out if my girlfriend's mother would mind. The conversation then went like this:
Me: "But it's none of her mother's business."
My Mother: "I quite agree, it's none of her business."
Me: "But it's NOTHING to with her!"
My Mother: "I quite agree Lance, it's nothing to do with her."
Me: "I'm 21, she's 20. We're adults who've left home, it's nothing to do with anyone except us."
My Mother: "I quite agree Lance. BUT if her mother doesn't like it, it might make my job very awkward."
Had we known her mother would fly into a maternal rage over the thought of some guy sticking his dick in her sweet innocent daughter...then this reaction would be cowardly but at least understandable. However to make this decision IN CASE she didn't like it, not knowing how she felt...was beyond belief. The following day my old dear tried to talk to me about it, saying "leave it for a couple of weeks and see how we feel". I professed that I "didn't care" and refused to discuss it. Point was that I cared very, very much and was beyond angry but unable to express it, neutered against self expression that might cause controversy.
The kink in all of this was the fact that while I was unable to express my negative emotions in ANY way at all, other people were able to. Me, my father and my brother had to be permanently happy and pretend to be finding life just peachy at any given moment. 'Sulking' was beyond evil. However my mother and her friends were allowed to indulge in rages that would put Spoilt Bastard from Viz to shame. This licence also extended to people who my mother felt herself able to emphasise with. So when I came home and told a story about a teacher throwing a child into a wall for bumping into him in the corridor (accompanied by the words "DON'T YOU PUSH ME!!!") my mother sniffed and said icily "What's he supposed to do if that boy pushes him?"
So, a neutrality or better still a positivity in mindset and demeanour were a prerequisite of any little boy who wanted to 'get on' in life.
In the last few days I've realised just how badly this mindset has affected me in my adult life. In 1995 I worked for a school in
that had an offshoot fashion magazine called Yes Please!. I suggested to the
editor Trevor Panton (spoilt, 20-something fuckspanner son of the school owner)
that I could do an article on perfume and cologne. I received over 20 BIG bottles
of men's scents from various perfume houses. Trevor decided the scents all
belonged to him and when I handed them in after the article I requested to keep
only three. He let me have two. His reason given was that "I've had orders
coming in since you started. Two each, that's fair!" He said that his
brother Terence took precedence over me, even though without me the stuff would
NEVER even have been received. The rest the greedy little cunt kept for himself. Milan, Italy
Reason this bugs me? I never verbalised at the time or afterwards, just how annoyed and upset I was at his ingratitude and selfishness. The little turd probably never even registered that his actions were wrong...mainly because I never told him.
I hope he was drowned in a vat of Calvin Klein CK1 cologne, by a transvestite ballet dancer wearing only a tutu and a pig mask who kept repeating the phrase "HOW ABOUT A FRAME OF SHOVE PIGGY SHOVE?" while Trevor's feet drummed a tattoo on the floor in their death kicks.
As I drifted through life into my late twenties, thirties and now forties things got better but were still fairly restrained up until recently. It wasn't simply a matter of not getting what I wanted. I would also be afraid of expressing myself in case that pissed someone else off.
It took most of my courage to finally tell the RJ girl how I felt about her...but the relapse into my own fearful, cold world of lonely paranoia was vengeful. Later on, I thought I'd offended her so deleted any way of staying in touch. After all, when you are in love with someone, it's better to not know how they feel than to find out for certain that they hate you. Turned out that she didn't hate me and wasn't angry when....NEARLY NINE YEARS LATER...I finally found the courage to approach her again. The entire situation was ALL in my head.
I've not got jobs because of my timidity. I've not sparked up conversations with pretty women due to my volcanic explosion of fear that I will somehow cause offence. I've even missed out on pulling onto a roundabout for fear that the space I'm pulling into isn't quite big enough to not cause offence to whoever was already on the lane I wanted to move into.
When I was a police officer I was bullied by my sergeant. A nasty little bollocks of a 'man'. I never said anything controversial to him and the closest I came to it was the words "I'm not signing this. I'd like time to consult with the Federation". However, after I left the police I wrote and published a book called STAB PROOF SCARECROWS that told everyone what he'd done and how I felt about it. I don't feel quite so bitter about it all now as there's a permanent tome to tell people EXACTLY how I felt about the experience. Job done.
So, my brother's theory is, I believe, very true. I don't hate the memories of these incidents and hundreds of others because of what happened. After all, not getting aftershave is hardly the end of the world. Not being allowed to shag my girlfriend isn't something to be traumatised by. What I hate is that those people were never told by me or anyone else that what they were doing was wrong. I never said "GOD, YOU'RE A FUCKING WANKER!" as I was afraid that would piss them off or upset them or offend them. It might cost me my job or my health or deny my mother a promotion.
I have finally realised that the bad things that upset me have continued to do so because I never verbalised at the time how I felt to the people responsible. The injustice wasn't the action or inaction. It was my suppression chamber of unresolved and unexpressed rage.
The suppression chamber is made of a metal that is stronger than the force holding atomic nuclei together. It is full of the effluence, bile and sweat of my unresolved and unexpressed feelings. It is beyond full but no one dare spin the release dial on the main hatch as the explosion would destroy all around it. But if you keep things under enough pressure in a confined space for long enough, they become diamonds. I crushed the suppression chamber and every bit of bile and shit inside it.
Now, it's a beautiful diamond I wear around my neck. It reminds me that from every bad experience, there can not only be good ones but also understanding of how to avoid giving a fuck if they happen again.
**More recently my brother said that my book Two Princes should have been called Two Gaylords...but that's another story.