A (mis)adventure

Not that I want to turn my blog into a confessional, but I suppose that, just as I record my adventures on here, I have a duty to record some of my misadventures. Unfortunately, I think the events of today fall into the latter category. It started well enough, I suppose: I got a call from my friend chopper, saying he wanted o introduce me to one of his best friends over in Greenwich. So we wet off on the bus together, heading to weatherspoons in the historic town, where we met Chopper’s friend Wooster and a few other guys. So far, so good.

I was immediately taken to Wooster; he seemed to me a top bloke. Thus, when chopper began to talk about coming decided it was too early. I temporarily forgot that

I have a wonderful fiance back here, spending time with whom is better than any night out. Chopper and agreed that, while he would return to Charlton, I’d stay in Greenwich for one or two more beers.

Looking back, I should have come home, rather than go out on a pub crawl with a bunch of virtual strangers. They were trustworthy enough – chopper had vouched for them – but they didn’t know me. More specifically, they didn’t know the difference between me and me drunk. Thus,, once I had a beer or two in me, and the night was only just warming up, my new friends began to worry that I’d had enough. I told them I was fine, but it didn’t work, and, to my great embarrassment, Chopper was called to pick me up like a father collecting an overtired son. Okay, I’d began to request that the karaoke guy play some bond themes – he did a great rendition of Live and Let Die – but I could definitely have got myself home. As it was, I was driven home by our friend John, as if in shame.

I guess it shows that I have people around here who are looking out for me, which can only be a good thing. Yet I do feel embarrassed by it, and embarrassed for Lyn too. She puts up with so many of my antics. Chopper is a good friend, but if such things happen too often I fear he’ll soon tire of me. Oh well, I guess I’m still learning: I’m so grateful to Lyn for bringing me in to a world where such mad things can happen, into this maelstrom of a city where you never know what will happen, but I can be quite sure I’ll get home safe. And when I get there, the best part of the adventure is being able to recount it to the most wonderful woman in all the world.

they are spreading

I am still trying to work out how fate, providence or whatever you want to call it conspired to let this happen, but I am personally bloody amused by it. On Wednesday evening, chopper and I were in the pub, talking about this and that. We were talking about Halloween, and suddenly Chopper says that he and his sons were getting a type of suit which went over the whole body. My ears pricked up at this, and I decided to probe a bit more. It turns out they were buying morphsuits, also known as zentai suits – the very thing which I discovered on the internet about three or four years ago, had bough from sheer curiosity, and which had amused me just as greatly when Charlie asked to borrow it. Now, coincidence of coincidences, my mega-masculine friend and his sons are buying the kinkiest things in my wardrobe! How did that happen? Chopper has seen pictures of me in mine once or twice, but I didn’t talk about it to him much. I realise this is only something minor, but it amused me too much not to note.

They’re going up to London to get them this morning, and I will go with them. Well, I couldn’t let chopper and the guys get suits without getting a new one for myself, could I?

Frozen Planet

I cannot help but wonder whether David Attenborough will ever retire, or whether he will go on forever, like the Duracell Bunny of natural history TV. I had honestly thought he had retired, or at least cut back to just doing voice overs from the safety and warmth of a studio; but no! In last night’s Frozen Planet, we saw the great man talking to camera in the arctic, just as he always has done. He must be pushing 90: I’m just in awe of the man. And, as with every other programme he has presented in his sixty year career, it was fascinating. What impresses me most, other than the brilliance of the presenter, is the sheer goddamn beauty of the camerawork. Some of the shots they got took my breath away. I know that is largely down to the magnificence of the scenery – and, just as when I watch a Michael Palin programme, I feel my feet itch – but most of those shots were framed perfectly.

Such programmes almost single-handedly justify TV as a medium. Back at university, I remember ”Life in the undergrowth” airing on Wednesday nights. Rather than going to the weekly Brandies disco, while it was on I used to catch a lift round to Steve and Chris’ to watch it – Steve also being a fan of Attenborough. I loved those discos, but to me Attenborough took priority: such things were too good to be missed. You see, then, how much sway these programmes hold over me – they are television history, and I warren will become the stuff of legend. There are other presenters, but I can’t help thinking that, culturally, sir David Attenborough is something very special, for he has brought so much wonder and beauty to so many people for longer than most of us an remember.

Warm and Snug

I wrote this, inspired by the joy of a good night…

Feeling nice and warm and snug

My arm around you in a hug

Our heads on one pillow, my nose in your sweet hair

I must be the luckiest man alive to be there;

With you, sleeping sweetly

Breathing slowly yet deeply

As tender as a child

Embracing you, so noble, brave yet mild.

And I thank my lucky stars I’m lying there, so warm and snug,

My arm around you, Lyn, in a hug.

letter to a friend

I typed out the following this morning, but decided to post it on here too in order to give you guys some insight into the attitudes I often encounter locally. I can’t just dismiss them, but think they need engaging with; this might sound patronising, but I think such attitudes show the socioeconomic conditions here too.

Dear chopper. Sorry dude, but I just could not let you get away with what saying last night, as it goes against everything I believe. I really like you, and of course our disagreement on such a trivial matter won’t effect our relationship, but I can’t let you get away with what you were saying abot Africans.

I understand you say you aren’t racist, and I don’t think you are. Racism implies that you adhere to the long-discredited notion that humanity is divided up into types or ‘races’ of people, along the lines of skin colour. I don’t think you believe this – you treat black people as you treat white people. Rather, you just claim to hate ‘Africans’ – people coming directly from Africa. I must admit this interests me, as it seems to throw up a lot of interesting questions and contradictions which one could write at length about, and which I must deal with here.

First off, how do you define an African without resorting to race? You can only do this on a cultural basis, by saying that African culture is different to European culture. This is the only way you could have such a divide: genetically and biologically, the two groups of people are identical. Study after study shows there is no significant difference in IQ, brain size or an other objective measure of intelligence. The only difference is cultural.

If, then, you hate African culture, what is it about African culture that you hate? Given that mankind evolved on the plains of Ethiopia, we cn all be said to be

African, and so human culture – bipedalism, tool use etc – is, in a way, African. More pertinently, though, African culture is a broad church, ranging from Frenchinfluenced North Africa, the ancient civilisations of Mali, ancient Egyptian civilisation, the pastoral communities of the Great Plains, down to modern, westernised South Africa. It is hugely diverse, and it has long fascinated me, to be honest.

The type of African culture you seem to object to is not a specific one, but, I think, a caricature African culture composed of many negative stereotypes. That is not to say people do not behave in the way you describe: I have encountered quite a few people locally, who probably do hail from central Africa, with some very negative attitudes towards me as a wheelchair-user, but this should be viewed on a personal rather than a cultural or ethnic level. There are two things I can say about this: firstly, I have also encountered similar attitudes from Europeans, and indeed brits. A few months ago, a woman called Claire Khaw phoned a chat show on radio 5 and told the country hat she thought severely disabled children should be killed. Khaw was, at one time, the London mayoral candidate for the bnp. Secondly, there are reasons why such attitudes arise in some cultures. Much of Africa is poor. It shouldn’t be, as there are vast swathes of land which, if cultivated, could make it rich. It’s poverty is a legacy of nineteenth century European colonialism; it’s people were repressed. As a result, people could not afford to have unproductive, disabled babies, which is why most were probably killed and why people like myself aren’t as well accepted in such cultures. Thus there are good, socioeconomic why we may encounter such attitudes in people from Africa, and possibly why they still have them. That is not to say I excuse it, but I can understand it more coming from a nonwesterner than I do coming from someone like Khaw.

What I’m trying to say is, there are reasons why people behave as they do, and indeed not everyone from the same geographical area behaves in the same way. On a cultural level, people may share certain attitudes and behaviors – I have even observed this locally, as the people of Charlton have their own specific behavioral patterns – but that is no reason to say they are all the same. It is certainly no reason to hate the people of an entire continent.

Anyway, I love you dude, but I needed to tell you my opinion.

Matt

final part of Fry’s Planet Word

I’m sorry, I know I mustn’t keep just directing you to television programes I’ve watched, but today I feel duty bound to direct you here. The final part of Fry’s Planet Word is a corker, in part because it has a segment about Tolkien including an interview with Peter Jackson, but mostly because it is a celebration of literature and story-telling. There is a pat of me that, like Fry, revels in language; While I must admit I have not sat down to read a book in ages – although I know I need to get back into the habit – writing has always been my first love (apart from the ever-patient and understanding miss Levett, who rather acerbically comments ”ooh, that will look good on the shelf” every time I bring another book home). Indeed, it is partly wh I keep writing blog entries, as writing s my main form of artistic expression. Anyway, I advise you to stop reading my inane wittering and go and watch a fascinating programme.

How did I miss this march?

I’m pretty pissed off that I missed this march. Apparently, thousands off disabled people today marched in protest against the cuts, but neither I nor Lyn knew anything about it. It’s a shame, because I think the time has come to forcefully demonstrate our objection to what the government is doing. Oh wel, unfortunately I think there will be many, many more such protests I can go to. I guess I’ll have to be more observant if I’m going to be the activist I want to be.

interesting but troubling questions

I was chatting to James over the possibly of an EU referendum yesterday. Before now, I had simply dismissed the prospect of one as merely pandering to xenophobes, and a large part of me still thinks that is what the desire for one is born of, but James made the very astute point that were we to have one, all the crackpots in UKIP and the BNP would be silenced thereafter. The worst that could happen is that the UK would have to renegotiate with Europe, which, given the existing treaty is about forty years old, might not be such a bad thing. I am, of course, pro-Europe; I see it as an example of humanity working together, breaking down arbitrary national barriers, which must happen if we are to survive as a species. Yet the question is, in the current climate, can we continue to support our European neighbours? Indeed, by the same token, can we afford not to? Isolating ourselves from the union might be counterproductive in the long term, even if it is a basket case right now. A large part of me agrees with James that putting it t the vote would get all such questions out in the open, and then out of the way; but then, perhaps a further question is can we afford such a distraction right now? And what if the short-sightedness of the xenophobes prevails, and we end up isolated? A no vote would make ukip irrelevant, but a yes vote would give goits like Nigel Farage more credibility than they ever deserved I find myself pondering such issues; like the killing of Gadaffi and the news from Dale Farm, I am troubled by affairs I don’t feel I have been told enough about. It seems to me that all three raise questions that I don’t know the answers to.

Holy flying circs

I don’t have time to review it as much as it deserves,, but I believe this to be one of the best films I’ve see in a long time. It’s a self-referential account of the controversy surrounding Life of Brian. While it is very funny, it should be read as a straight piece: yes, there are some anarchic, pythonesque bits, but it is cuttingly serious as well. It is also a beautifully tender portrait of Michael Palin and his relationship with is wife Helen (even though she is played by a guy). Anyway, I urge you to go watch this fine, fascinating film.

It’s gotta happen

I suppose I was in a bit of a bad mood not so long ago. I’m not sure why, but sometimes you just feel grumpy for a bit. School wanted me to go in to help them. They were having a day based around communication and the ways in which people communicate, so I was probably an obvious person to ask along. The thing is, they don’t actually ask me to do much, just be there and act as a role model, leaving my mind free to wonder and ruminate over my unfinished thesis. That always depresses me. I was in the school assembly, something which, back when I was a student at school, I tried to avoid. This one didn’t appear to be much different to those of my childhood, until the band started to play. Suddenly, my ears pricked up and my back straightened in my chair: put simply, those guys rled. They literally rocked! There was one lad with quite severe autism I’ll just call P – by the FSM, can he handle an electric guitar! I thought: ”we so have to teach these guys Hendrix or nirvana or something”. That thought, the thought of such an awesome juxtaposition, was enough to brighten my day, and all was cool again. Now to see that it comes to pass.