Now that there is just a week to go until the election in America, the question I’m pondering today is, with Biden’s lead in the polls looking quite solid, can we start to hope that this time next week the nightmare will be over? Can we afford to start to breathe more easily, given that so many votes have been cast already by post and so will probably reflect opinion polls? Can we let ourselves imagine that the total embarrassment to human civilisation who Americans have called their president for the last four years might be on his way out of power? I really, really hope we can, yet if the last four years have taught us anything, it’s not to get our hopes up.
There was a worrying item on the BBC London lunchtime news about a huge rise in transphobic hate crime. Transgender people are being picked upon and discriminated against more and more, usually by people refusing to respect their preferred/chosen gender. It goes without saying that this appalls me: I saw it happen to Lyn once or twice. She took it in her stride, of course, but it made me exasperated to realise how closed minded and arrogant people could be.
Now, that being said, I want to add a small, potentially contentious caveat: when people are transgender, they are transgender. Something deep down inside of them, usually far beyond their consciousness, tells them that they were born into the wrong gender and would be more comfortable if they transitioned. Obviously in such cases nobody has any right to question their decisions, and doing so constitutes transphobia. These days, though, I get the feeling that a few people are declaring their selves trans for less innate reasons. They like the politics of it, and want a louder say in the alternative lifestyle discourse, so they emulate transgender people they know and declare theirselves trans while never having shown any sign of it in the past. It’s a type of what I call cultural intrusion, which I think is also happening in the disability community. Such self-styled ‘activists’ usurp the whole discourse and drown out those of us with genuine concerns, baselessly accusing others of transphobia when confronted.
I can’t be sure how widespread this phenomenon is, but I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered it (online) a couple of times. Such people seem to think they can speak on behalf of an entire community, taking it’s politics and language as their own, even though they might not really belong to it. To be honest I think such people should be confronted as their behaviour, in a way, mocks or devalues the turmoil genuine transpeople go through. Being trans has nothing to do with whatever ideas you may have about gender equality. The danger there is you end up sounding just as bigoted as those who misgender and bully people like Lyn.
Zark knows how it slipped my mind, but four days ago marked the end of my first year living on my own in Eltham; a year since I wrote this entry. To be honest it has been quite a traumatic year, as it has been for everyone. It barely seems two or three weeks since I was living in Charlton with Lyn, but now she’s gone and that old bungalow is empty. It really staggers me to think how quickly things changed: just a little over two years ago I was partner to the most incredible person I’ll ever meet, with visions of myself living there with her for many years to come. Now I’m a bachelor again, on my own more or less; we broke up, I got my own place and Lyn passed away. Everything has changed staggeringly, heartbreakingly quickly.
It has obviously been a rather gruelling year. Lyn’s death is the biggest blow by far. Even after I moved out I imagined I would be popping in on her for years to come. Yet all I can do now is look to the future in the hope of better times to come. If life with L taught me anything, it is that truly awesome things could be just around the corner – you just need to look out for them. So here I am, marking the end of a year I once couldn’t have imagined, sitting in my own place living a more or less independent life. Things may be difficult for everyone right now, but years like this make us realise just what we are capable of. Lyn not only showed me that I was capable of anything I wanted, but she always told me to look towards the future rather than at the past: the past, she said, has already gone, but it’s the future that you can make a difference to. I think that’s good advice for us all at the moment. I may now be mourning one of the greatest friends I’ll ever have in a year which has brought so much loss to so many, but that is no reason not to look forward to a better, brighter future.
I don’t want to say much about it as it’s perfectly articulate already, but I think anyone concerned about American politics should watch this Youtube video. In it, a US lawyer outlines precisely what his countrymen are voting for: Donald Trump is a criminal who has broken the law numerous times, both before and after becoming President. Outlined like this, it really is sickening how much Trump has already been allowed to get away with. I just hope enough of our American friends are listening to voices like this. After all, it isn’t just their future which hangs in the balance.
It may surprise you to read that I went to a house party with my old uni friend Charlie last night. Well, when I say ‘went’ I didn’t actually go anywhere, of course – old fashioned parties seem decidedly out of the question these days. Rather, everyone stayed in their respective homes and met eachother over Zoom, in an attempt to have fun and remain Covid secure at the same time.
It worked surprisingly well, and I think everyone had fun. There were four or five other groups in attendance, all in fancy dress. I wasn’t going to dress up at first, but C insisted, occasioning me to break out my pink tutu for the first time in a while. Unfortunately, most of the games C had organised involved drawing, meaning I could only watch, but nonetheless it was a lot of fun, popping back and forth between my computer desk and table for sips of beer. I think the best thing about it was the feeling of actually being involved in something, participating in a social event, for the first time in months; I think I had missed that. It felt good to see everyone together, chatting, laughing and having fun, even if it was just online. While there’s no denying that it made me slightly nostalgic for the type of real, physical house party I used to go to at university, I think this type of online get together will have to do these days. It looks like we’re all in for a pretty harsh winter, so I think we will all need things like this to keep our spirits up.
It feels like ages – literally years – since I saw my brother Mark, Kat and the kids, at least in person. I think the last time I saw them, they got me playing football! Today marks Kat’s birthday, and I really hope they’re having fun together. It has been a bit of a miserable year, so I also hope it won’t be too long until we see each other again, perhaps in the spring. Whatever they’re doing, let me just wish my sister-in-law a very happy birthday, and say that I hope Mark’s behaving himself for her!
I just came across this Stephen Colbert video which I think is worth flagging up. The election in America is just two weeks away, and, worryingly, the polls are apparently tightening. I may joke about Trump being a disgrace to humanity, but he really is: Colbert describes how his government has ordered the separation of immigrants’ children at the Mexico border, presumably to act as a deterrent. It has intentionally caused fear and misery for thousands. How can any government act so cruelly, just to stop people entering their country? More to the point, how can any country seriously be contemplating reelecting a monster like Trump?
After yesterday, I’m now fiddling around with the pages section of WordPress, and what do you know, there’s an archive option. You can now see all my blog entries since moving to my new site here. To be honest having to scroll through all my entries to get to the one I wanted to see was getting irritating, so this is a nice find.
Just to pick up on something I mentioned a couple of days ago, I just learned there is no way to upload my weblog archive. The problem is, there is no way of altering a date of a post, so if I tried to copy my old entries from 2003 to 2018 onto my new site, they’d just register as new entries like this one, and the whole thing would become a mess. I must admit I’m disappointed: I’ve kept my blog up for seventeen years, and for fifteen of those years (over three thousand entries from before I started using WordPress) to be suddenly wiped from the web is quite a bitter blow. I’m relieved I still have them in an offline, pdf version, because they represent quite a bit of work and quite a bit of history: not only did I record my life at university on my blog, but my decade with Lyn in London. To have written so regularly for so long must be quite an achievement. On the other hand, weblogs are, by their nature, current: the point of updating them daily is so people can read something new every day, even if it is an ill-informed cripple waxing lyrical about his weblog archive. What matters is that I keep my blog updated as I have done since 2003, and if anyone really wants to see my old entries, I can just email them the pdf.
While out on my daily stroll today I had a bit of an idea which I think I’ll note here. I was going around Avery Hill Park, where there’s a small, outlying campus of Greenwich University. It kind of reminded me of Alsager, which made me wonder whether they had a film or media faculty there. These days, living in Eltham with a university so close, could it be worth getting back into research?
For a moment I had visions of me reviving my undergrad days, but that would just be silly. It might be worth getting in touch with the Media Faculty at Greenwich, though, showing them my Master’s thesis, and asking what they think. I don’t necessarily mean doing a PhD – not yet anyway – but perhaps I could work with them, like I sometimes do at Charlton Park Academy. Perhaps I could do something creative or constructive with them. They may be able to use a disabled blogger, writer and filmmaker with a Masters in film studies.
I think it’s worth investigating anyway. Of course, these days I can’t see anything like that happening any time soon, but now I’m a bachelor living more or less on my own, the idea of getting back into film studies and academia in general kind of appeals. At least, it could give my life the bit of structure I currently find it lacks. I’m therefore now contemplating sending them a copy of my MA thesis with a covering letter and seeing what happens – you never know.