At about this point every year or so, I often like to post a summary of everything that happened in a particular year, just to round it off. Years like 2012, 2014 and 2017 were particularly awesome and needed recapping. This year, though, I find myself struggling to find even one positive thing to say. It has been a downright miserable year for everyone, to be honest: I haven’t done anything or been anywhere nice; it was mostly spent either here at home, or trundling around South-East London. And as I’ve said before, Lyn’s death in April was a blow I doubt I’ll ever get over.
I suppose the only good thing about this otherwise wretched year was having Serkan around. When he moved in in February it was only supposed to be temporary, but as the year wore on and the pandemic grew worse, it made more and more covid sense for him to stay. I frankly don’t know what I would have done without his company or support: being here alone most of the time would have been unbearable. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
I think I need to thank my parents too. Of course I haven’t physically met mum and dad in months, but we now chat every morning over the web. They’re usually just brief, simple calls just to check up on each other – I think they just want to make sure I’m still alive and haven’t done anything too stupid – but it’s reassuring to know they’re looking out for me.
I suppose it just goes to show that, even in the bleakest of years, you can still find positive things to say. I’d like to end this entry on a high note, and assure everyone that 2021 will be much better than 2020. But I don’t think I can: it looks like the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, and Brexit is going to make things even harder and nastier. The truth is I don’t feel very optimistic at the moment. Then again, if life has taught me anything, it is never to rule anything out: something incredible could be just around the next corner.
As incandescently furious and exasperated as I am at what is happening politically today – and the Brexit battle isn’t over, not by a long shot – I think, just for perspective, I’ll just direct everyone here. Sometimes we just need to chill out a bit, and be reminded of our place in this amazing and expanding universe.
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs.Brown And things seem hard or tough And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft And you feel that you’ve had quite enough
Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned A sun that is the source of all our power.
I won’t go into much detail about it here, but I rolled home this lunchtime to discover that I have been blocked from posting anything on Facebook for three days. Basically I posted the meme I made yesterday onto an anti-Brexit Facebook group, and needless to say it caused quite a stir. Most of the responses were favourable it must be said, but a few people took offence. One particularly stupid blonde woman demanded the post be deleted, and when I defended myself things became increasingly shirty and she reported me. Needless to say I’m not happy, and have lodged an appeal with Facebook. That she had the gall to accuse me of bullying her when she was the one completely out of line only adds insult to injury.
I realise that the comparison I drew yesterday might not be to everyone’s taste, and for some it might go too far. Yet I think it’s time for the gloves to come off; we need to make people realise the potential consequences of what is now happening in the uk. All our rights now stand to be eroded. Yesterday I attempted to show people the potential destination of our country’s current course, albeit in a particularly emotive way, but it seems some people can’t accept that.
I put this together this afternoon. I know it may be a bit emotive and controversial, but to be honest I think that was the point. Of course I know nobody’s lives are under direct threat as a consequence of brexit, but the rights of people, especially people with disabilities, now stand to be eroded as British society becomes far more self-centred and neoliberal. I’m now genuinely concerned for my ability to, say, use public transport or even live independently. Sometimes you need to be provocative to make people think.
Maggie Simpson was a baby when I first watched the Simpsons in the mid nineties. I hadn’t watched an episode in years, until earlier today when I decided to try out the subscription to Disney plus Luke got me for Christmas (thanks bro!) by watching the first episode of the latest season. The program was as amusing as I remembered it being, packed with all the contemporary cultural references it has always had. Yet what struck me as strange was the fact that Maggie was still a baby, and none of the characters had aged at all from when I first encountered them, despite the program still feeling very contemporary. This is obviously only possible because program is a cartoon; the cast would have visibly aged had The Simpsons been live action. Yet it is odd to see characters we have known for about thirty years seemingly occupying the perpetual present. In the episode I watched earlier, for instance, there were references to YouTube, a website which didn’t exist when the show first aired; yet the characters speaking about it were the same age they were thirty years ago when they were referencing things like Bill Clinton being president. To put that another way, I find it strange to think that, were the Simpsons a real family, Maggie would have grown up, graduated from university and got her own family by now; yet she still sucks the same red dummy that she did when we first ‘met’ her. Only a program like The Simpsons can constantly comment on the contemporary world, using the same set of unageing characters.
My Christmas day was rather quiet yesterday. It was very different to any I have spent before. I’m glad Serkan was here, or it would have been very lonely indeed. We enjoyed each other’s company, and I think he liked the fluorescent cycle jacket I gave him. I took a roll over to Charlton in the afternoon, just to pay my respects to Lyn’s place. There’s currently no grave I can visit, so passing by the old bungalow every now and again seems a good way to keep my memories alive. The highlight of my day, though, were the group chats I had with my family and extended family over webcam: it was great to speak to everyone all over the world. As pleasant as that was, needless to say I’m already really looking forward to one of my mum’s Christmas dinners next year.
I have now decided upon my New Year’s resolution: learn how to clean my own glasses. For some reason, whenever I try to clean them, they always end up dirtier than when I started. The problem is, poor old Serkan seems to be getting fed up of me asking him to clean them several times a day, so there must be some way for me to clean them myself. After all, how hard can it be compared to, say, doing a Masters or living in one of the world’s greatest metropolises during a global pandemic?
It interests me to read today that the comedian Eddie Izzard has elected to use the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’ from now on. On the one hand, this is an incredibly bold move which is to be welcomed and celebrated. I have long thought that society should be more open to and welcoming of this form of gender diversity. Yet another, perhaps more cynical part of me, is just a tad concerned that this might just be another instance of the kind of cultural usurpation I sometimes write about on here. As I know from my former partner, being transgender is a serious psychological process; transpeople often go through severe trauma, including years of hormone replacement, to become who they always believed themselves to be. These days, though, the idea of transitioning between genders seems to be taken more and more flippantly, as if the idea of being trans is fashionable; or that gender is no more fundamental to a person’s identity than a game to be played by swapping pronouns. In the article, I note that there is no mention of Izzard starting to take hormones or having gender reassignment surgery; merely that she wants to use female pronouns from now on. I also note that she still seems happy to be known as Eddie. While that choice has to be respected, it feels to me a long way from the profound life changing decision of transitioning. To be honest there is a kind of flippancy to it, as if it was more motivated by politics than anything more innate. She says she has boy and girl ‘modes’ – well, don’t we all? As I wrote here, I sometimes dress up and have a fascination with womanhood, but I’m perfectly comfortable with my pronouns as they are. It seems to me that surely the politics of gender are too serious to be played around with, yet more and more people seem to be doing so.
On one level, of course, such a decision simply has to be accepted, before we all give ourselves permission to start judging everyone else. Yet on another level, this strikes me as one more example of a hitherto straight, white able bodied person feeling embarrassed of their relatively privileged cultural position and seeking entrance into a minority. That might be fine, but it just seems to me to steal something from those for whom being transgender is far more profound and painful.