Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Matthew's Walk

Matthew Lane died aged 11 months old whilst undergoing surgery for a heart condition. His name will be known only to a few, but his family have created for him a legacy that will keep him remembered for years to come. Between the English villages of North Marston, Oving, and Quainton has been created 6 mile circular walk which takes in the breathtaking beauty of the Buckinghamshire countryside. It rises and falls, passing through meadow and hilltop, sweeping down into low pastures as it forges a path through green farmland, home to cows and sheep and horses. I had the pleasure of walking this today, and as I did so I found myself touched on many levels. At certain points stiles enable passage between verdant hedgerows, and here trees have been planted around which flutter white ribbons in memory of this brave and beautiful boy. There are also plaques with his picture, along with a few paragraphs talking about his brief journey, a further poignant reminder that all life is fragile, especially that of a child.
I've known people who've suffered child bereavement; the cruelest and most unimagineable tragedy that can afflict a human being. It changes them. The world cannot be the same. Moving beyond the terrifying raw grief and abyssal loss surely requires more courage than many of us could ever claim to possess? I have only the deepest admiration for any parent or sibling that has endured this. When we lose the elderly there is a certain order to it. Sad yes, but we all have to make way. But children? What possible gain comes from this? Who would dare suggest that such a thing had to happen for a reason? Or that it had to be this way?
As I walked these pastures I also found myself thinking of my father, who died 4 years ago last Saturday. He grew up amidst this beauty; he was a country boy. I can imagine him, gangly and with scabby knees playing and exploring, getting up to all the mischief young boys should. This area is really very special to me; perhaps the closest thing I have to a spiritual home. I too played and grew up in the country, albeit a few miles further away. I've written before how I miss it, how I so want to return some day. These feelings grow more intense as I age. It's the itch that I cannot scratch.
In total we were out for about 4 hours before returning to my sisters house in North Marston for chicken pie and mashed potato's. Good times, good days. I'm reminded of what a wonderful family I have and how fortunate I have been. I mean, fortunate is the only word I can use, isn't it? I'm so aware that many are less lucky, born into homes with parents that are either unable to care or whom choose not to. You cannot do what I do for a living and retain the view that there is any justice in the world. The good suffer, the bad flourish. And if it seems unfair then perhaps its because it is, but then what do you expect? What is it you think that life owes you? Happiness? Comfort? An easy ride?
The sad truth is that every day there will be children like Matthew Lane. Infants that deserved better, longer, more. Every day parents will grieve,and many will be forever scarred by the sheer perceived injustice of it all. I can offer no real consolation. I can do no more than be a friend, be available, and offer to walk with you through the hard times. I wish I could do more. And if I could wave a magic wand then I would. Thing is, the only real magic is the beauty of the human heart as it reaches out to offer comfort, solace, and a quiet empathy. The dead cannot return, yet if we can in some small way comfort those left behind then perhaps the world will be a better place for it?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Hitler, Stalin, And That Nice Mr Mao

Spend long enough in the company of less educated believers, and should the subject turn to human morality, sooner or later you will be told that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were atheists whom were responsible for the deaths of over one hundred million people during the last century. Ergo, Atheism is route one for anybody partial to a little ethnic cleansing, genocide, or general disregard for human wellbeing. I'm going to spend a brief time putting each of these suggestions to bed; it won't take long because anybody who makes these claims just hasn't done the hard yards required to confirm the data.
Adolf Hitler was a grotesque creature whom rose to prominence on the wave of vast amounts of German anti semitism dating back to the late 19th century.  If you're looking for clues as to what might have prompted a mindset capable of the holocaust you'd do well to start with the ill feeling and general suspicion Germans had towards the Jews. As for Hitler himself, in his biography Mein Kampf he specifically ventured that Jesus cleansing of the temple was inspirational for him, and the driving out of the Jewish money lenders was pivotal in his understanding of how they should be dealt with. I could add that on the belt buckle of every Nazi soldier was the phrase "God With Us" and it becomes clear that Hitlers atheism was seriously over stated. He refers to Christianity over two hundred times in his writings, which should give you some indication as to his allegiance. However, in his later years he developed a mistrust and dislike of organized religion and as such I would not wish to describe him as a Christian in the conventional sense.
Stalin was, on the other hand most definitely an atheist, although he did train for the Russian seminary so he knew something of the clergy. Yet one has to understand something of the communist regime before one can label him so quickly. Communism was about collectivism, about the good of the group taking precedence over the rights of the individual. It was a totalitarian regime with allegiance demanded to an absolute ruler, and a failed human experiment. It had nothing specific to do with Atheism, and Stalin never committed his atrocities in the name of it. One might argue that the absence of belief frees a person to do as they want without fear of reprisal, but ask yourself, does that make the claim for God any stronger? It's not an either/or question; problems of morality and social justice are vastly complex and many bright people agonize over just how we can live a good life.
Finally Mao, and in truth he falls into the same category of Stalin; namely an individual who set himself up as an absolute ruler and demanded total allegiance. Again, I'm unaware of any published quotes from this evil man that expressly state he carried out his tyranny in the name of unbelief?
Now that was a very brief insight into three of the most profane human beings ever to walk the Earth. Thousands of words have been penned on every known and conjectured detail in their lives. What forged these monsters is probably going to be a variety of factors, but in every case we can be sure of the following; even if they did what they did because they had no fear of heavenly punishment this would in no way enhance the claims of religion. Every single atrocity carried out during the entire course of human history couldn't do that. Now granted, belief in an imaginary authority figure may in some cases improve behavior, but there's equal evidence that it can also turn it for the worse. How many slaves kept? How many witches burnt? How many crusades embarked upon? And how many have silently suffered under the yoke of false guilt and repression all because of belief in a phantom?
I'm 40 years old now, and have lived life as both a committed Christian and also as a staunch secularist. The latter has enabled me to live with much greater honesty, acknowledging how imperfect I am and how complicated the world can be. I know that for many issues there are no pat answers, no easy solutions to be secured. Should we expect it to be otherwise?

When I'm A Grown Up

Do you ever stop yourself from time to time and say, "Hang on, I'm not grown up enough for this?"
I do. At odd moments I pause and reflect about where I am, what I'm doing, and how I came to be here.
I've got a wife! A mortgage! Kids! What? When? Just how?
You see, I've never felt like a grown up. I've always kind of bumbled through; no real master plan and no fixed point in the universe I'm heading towards. My life just kind of happens; long stretches of routine interspersed with episodes of maniacal spontaneity. It doesn't seem so long ago when I left school absent qualifications and heavy laden with a bad attitude. Only the other day I was bemoaning the fact that there was one girl I'd really have loved to have smooched with. No names will be mentioned to spare the blushes of this fortunate lady; trust me you've had a lucky escape. If memory serves years 17-20 were an odd mix of things. During the week I'd spend my evenings writing and creating these vast stories, whilst at the weekend you'd find me down the pub with mates consuming enough alcohol to top up the Grand Canyon. I calmed down from around 20, with my friends being cruelly snatched into long term relationships. I suddenly had nobody to play with, and this was the first time I'd felt loneliness, a feeling that surfaces even today despite my radically different circumstances. Freddy Mercury once said that you can be in a room full of people who adore you and still feel the loneliest person in the world. He's right. I know this feeling; it comes from not really fitting in. One begets the other. 
Still, times have changed. These days the lens through which I view the world is dramatically altered. As I write this I'm at the Play 360 children's centre in Milton Keynes; my girls are somewhere tearing the joint apart. I love seeing them just play, just losing themselves in the fun of life. We expect them to grow up so quickly, don't we? Whatever happened to childhood?
I've often been heard to say that being a Dad is inexplicably worthwhile, and by this I mean to say that despite the sacrifice of time and money and energy there really is no greater accomplishment than seeing little people grow into bigger people. I ache for those who desire this experience and yet are denied it, and rage at those who have it and then treat their kids like accessories. 
So I'm a father. And then I'm a husband. Whether I'm any good at the latter you'd need to ask Joy? I try to keep things simple; I try to ensure I'm enabling her to be the person she can be, building her up and sharing the responsibility. She's a gem and I know I'm lucky. Yet lucky sounds kind of cheap, doesn't it? Like it just kind of landed in my lap. There's a lot of women I'm glad I'm not married to so perhaps there's more to it than that? We just kind of want the best for each other. Does it need to be any more complicated?
I'm babbling again. That's the problem with these Ipads. Or perhaps just the problem with me?

Friday, 26 August 2011

You Take How Long To Get Ready!!

What do you think of when you reflect on traditional beauty? What's the first thing that comes into your head? For me, oddly, the word "boredom" leaps head and shoulders above every other description that might vie for attention. It's not that I have an issue with beautiful people. Or at least I'm not aware I do. What dulls my interest is the amount of effort actually required to keep up the facade. The grooming, the preening; I'm yawning even as I think about it. I dunno, perhaps I'm just a lazy Git. And let's face it I never was designed to grace the catwalk. I can just think of far more interesting things to do than stare into a mirror making sure every wrinkle is concealed and every rogue nasal hair stuffed back out of view. That's not to say that I don't take reasonable care of myself, but the key word here is reasonable. I'm clean, well presented, and never wear the same under crackers two days running. What more do you want?
I was watching a TV program the other day. Correction, I was staring blankly at a screen because I couldn't be bothered to do anything meaningful. There was this program about young women on holiday, and some were saying that it took two hours to get ready each morning. What! I mean, how? Just average that out over the course of a lifespan. How many hours spent just getting ready to face the world? No thank you mam. I may be a bit rough around the edges and I don't strategically arrange each and every pubic hair, but I'm good to go and my life's engaging.
You know what? I sometimes wonder whether there's something else going on beneath the surface of these types of folk? Is it that important you're perfect before the world thrusts it's judgmental gaze upon you? If yes, why? Who are you in debt to? What are you compensating for? Oh there he goes, psycho analyzing again. I have to be honest, and even though it might fly in the face of convention I'll go for personality and charisma every day of week over beauty. I'm drawn to people who are comfy in their own skin, who have a balanced self image and something interesting to say. I'm not drawn to self obsessed types; they can be insular and dry and uninspiring. If I'm spending time around someone I'd like to get a little something from the experience. I hate to say it, and I know people are going to get on their high horse when I do, but very few people make me think, or leave me feeling stirred and uplifted. I sometimes fear that we live in a world where it's more common to live our lives through others rather than trying to forge our own paths? Or perhaps I'm guilty of loading my own set of expectations on others? Trying to make them into something they are not?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Mr Pretentious

Nobody says something like that unless they've either thought it themselves, or heard it from somebody else. I'm certain that's how some people see me, and I'd like to thank them for their accurate and concise dissection of my entire personality. After all, they're with me 24/7 aren't they? Presumably their opinions are built upon spending time with me in all areas of my life? I'm not aware I'm being stalked, but then I'm not the worlds most self aware person. Tell you what, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure they're correct in everything they say; in fact I expect they are right about, well, practically everything. I mean, when you make those kind of judgements surely you'd need to be sure before you made them, wouldn't you? I mean, if you just kind of vomited it out that wouldn't exactly say too much about the kind of person you were? Well actually it might, but I'm not going to press on that nerve.
So anyway, here I am, Mr Pretentious, going about my business, trying to figure things out in my own clumsy and inappropriate way. Perhaps I should temper my behavior a bit? How about I use smaller words? Try a more grounded accent? Perhaps I could doff my cap whenever we pass just so you can be sure I know my place?
A word or two about myself. I was born in a working class family and to a father that worked bloody hard to give us a good lifestyle. What he lacked in social skills he more than made up for in sheer graft. And I've got a mum who's spent her life cleaning the houses of the better off, whilst managing to raise three kids and make sure we were all dressed and fed and got to school on time. As for me, Mr Pretentious, I wasn't really built for the education system. I've never learned well in a classroom which pretty much ensured failure when it came to exams. Unsurprisingly, I left school without any qualifications and went to work as a painter and decorator, and for seven years, my seven years in the wilderness, grafted and sweated and did a job I loathed. Is that pretentious enough for you?
Only, shame on me, I decided that I might be capable of just a little bit more. So I started to learn. No, correction, I started to listen, and in so doing began to learn, and year on year I got a little brighter, a little wiser, a little less credulous and naive. I'd got a better job, just in a warehouse to begin with, but was moved into an office environment in due course. Every career break I earned I've had to justify, and every upward step needed effort and conviction.
How am I doing in the pretension stakes? Am I there yet?
Actually I'll stop there. I've made my point. Be under no illusion that I'm very aware of my own faults. I live with them. They bug me. But here's the thing, whilst I don't mind being a labelled a tosser (the evidence is compelling) I'm really not convinced I deserve the term pretentious? I'm just a working class lad who had the audacity to want better for himself. I failed before I succeeded, and nothing has been handed to me on a plate. So I've a message to those that want to label me with clever terms such as pretentious. I'll use small words, and I'll be as working class as I can. My message is very simple, and really quite clear.
It's fuck you, and the horse you rode in on.

Is Lying Always Wrong?

Consider the following; the body of a young British soldier washes up on the shores of mainland Europe. It is seized by the Nazi's, and on the corpse is found vital strategic information that can be used against the enemy. Only later does it emerge that the body was not in fact that of a soldier, but simply that of a person whom has died of natural causes and then used by British intelligence to spread disinformation in order to spread a strategic advantage. 
Scenario two; a desperate female, battered and bloodied awakens a sleeping couple and pleads for sanctuary, her abusive husband having deployed his full drunken rage upon her only minutes before. She is given safe haven, and shortly after the male presents at the door and, dripping with sweat and rage, demands to know whether the couple have seen a runaway girl? The couple stare blankly at him and deny any such sighting, at which point the male lumbers away into the night.
Two images, two snapshots. You've identified the theme already, haven't you? What I'm suggesting is that as much as we find it distasteful, there will be times when lying is absolutely the right thing to do. Perhaps you find this unsettling? If so you're in good company. I like to know who I'm dealing with, and trust is massively important to me, yet as I reflect on these examples and others I am forced to admit that there are times when brute honesty just isn't going to cut the mustard?
Why am I blogging on this? I've been in dialogue with an American evangelical, and they made a statement to the contrary. I couldn't help but seize upon this, as it once more serves to illustrate the naivety of some world views. Like it or not we live in a complicated world, an unsettling world, and in order to cope with this we've evolved codes of conduct and moral behavior that generally stand us in good stead. They help us in our interactions, and have enabled us to forge a society which whilst imperfect, is a considerable improvement over the world our ancestors inhabited. Yet there exists a subset of society, invariably believers, who insist that there exists an absolute morality that should somehow be considered the benchmark, the plumb line, the ground of all morality. They of course cite God as ideal for this role, and argue that without an external moral agent there is no means for us to know right from wrong, and that refusal to admit this is simply to say that we're just dancing to our DNA.
This to me has always seemed odd. Child like, even. These appear to be the musings of minds trapped inside the prison of religious certainty, subject as it is to the law of diminishing returns. When I consider moral issues it seems evident that shades of grey proliferate. For the most part, honesty and trustworthiness are admirable and appropriate modes of conduct which help society's to remain on an even keel, yet as we've seen we dare not be so credulous as to adopt a one size fits all approach. In doing this we make ourselves blind to the complexities of this life, and by being so fixed in our views we can expose others to great harm. Happily, most of us are free from the dogmatic enclave of religious delusion and are able to think freely. This to me is really important because the world is facing challenges now that are going to require every fibre of imagination and endeavor we can muster. So let's tackle these issues with emotional honesty, let's admit that the world sometimes throws up the odd anomaly or two, and let's see whether approaching complex issues with a supple mind get's us any further down the road.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A Vacation To Hell

Have you ever stopped to think about the idea of Hell? I'd be willing to bet, that at sometime or another you've asked yourself whether such a place could possibly exist? Now you'd be in good company, because Christianity and Islam make no bones about the fact that Hell is a real place and a destination that awaits you should you not comply with the requirements of their faith. But did you know that whether a reservation is made for you has nothing to do with the kind of person that you are, or the life you've lived , or the kindness you have shown to your fellow inhabitants of planet Earth?
In fact, and this will surprise a great many, what really matters is not the quality of your character, but whether or not you are able to believe in the respective teachings. Now this begs the obvious question, what kind of a God is so insecure, so pitifully self obsessed, that he requires us to believe in him above any other requirement? Is it me, or is he bit needy? I mean, we're talking about the creator of the universe here; is he really such a prima donna that he needs his minions to suck up to him like first year kids at a new school? Apparently yes, and if we can't consent to this then it's eternal flames and unending torture for you and I.
Do you know what I think? I think this whole game sounds suspiciously man made? I can imagine humans being this pathetic, but God?
So anyway, there's this place called Hell, and it's a place where we suffer endlessly and without any chance of a reprieve. Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like a reasonable and measured response to the simple crime of unbelief? According to Christians, it is possible to lead an exemplary life, full of kindness and self sacrifice and decency, and yet this means nothing to the Almighty. What he wants is the full brown tongue treatment; we need to massage his colossal ego and appease his vanity. Fact is, Adolf Hitler could do what he did all over again, and all he need do on his deathbed is repent and turn to Jesus and he get's eternal life. You, I, anybody could be awful people and so long as we capitulate and repent, we're ok to go and the pearly gates await. 
Now putting a sensible head on for a minute, you don't need me to tell you that the whole idea really is daft. Not just daft, insanely daft. Daft to the point of absurdity. So ask yourself, what kind of a person do you have to be to think that any of this makes sense? Well the fact is, most modern Christians have just done the cherry picking thing again. They've watered the idea of Hell down so it's not a place of torture, but just a place of separation. In short, they changed something they don't like, which is a staple of modern religious belief. Yet the Bible is resolute in it's teaching, and Jesus speaks of torment and gnashing of teeth. So those that say otherwise have sold out, changed the rules, and in so doing have tacitly accepted the fact that the book they live by is a bit rubbish.
Anyway, why am I blogging about this? Why am I bothered? Well I'd like to help anybody who remains unnerved or uneasy about this ancient and disturbing teaching. Like all religion, we just made it up. Silly men from a distant land in a distant time. The average modern child knows more about the nature of reality then any of these men could ever hope to, and it's high time we made this brute fact loud and clear. Tomorrow morning, a small percentage of the population will file into churches and be systematically lied to about the way the world is. They'll be spoon fed nonsense and they will lap it up, and then they will transmit these "truths" to their kids, infecting them with an unnecessary fear of a place where all the ungodly go. I'd like to stop kids falling victim to this; I'd like them to grow up without that baseless fear. In many ways this is why I blog about religion regularly; I think it needs to be challenged and exposed at every turn. As always, I've no ill feeling towards the many kind and decent souls who were born and raised in this faith, but I feel no obligation to indulge you, or to tone down my objection to some of the things you want to teach.

Sex Toys, Bondage, And The Rules That We Invent

So who exactly is making the rules? Has someone been elected who has ultimate authority regarding what is kinky and what is normal? If yes then I'm not aware of them, which leads me to wonder just who or what is conspiring to keep questions of sex, role play, and sexuality as vaguely taboo topics?We more often than not make mention of these things as asides, perhaps a veiled Facebook comment, or a light hearted office joke. There's something that seems to inhibit us when it comes to talking about certain things aloud.
Well I'm bucking that trend today. If that changes how you perceive me then so be it. 
What's your problem with a couple, or an individual indulging in a bit of role play? So what if they like the idea of certain sex toys, or clothing, or practices? What harm is that doing to you or to society as a whole? And why does this make them less normal? Is there a rule book, some government published guidelines concerning the do's and don'ts of sex? Let's take a subject such as bondage, which is widely practiced and little spoken of in homes the length of the country. Does a couple that enjoys this pastime need to justify themselves? Have they broken a law? How about the man that likes to dress up? Or the women who just adores an hour alone with her dildo and her imagination? What laws have they broken? What lines have they crossed?
Here's my take. If I was single and I met somebody new, I would consider it a mischievous pleasure to learn as much as I could about their fantasies and desires. If I know what makes a person tick, and that person is brave enough to let me into their inmost desires you can be damn sure that I'm going to meet those needs. Of course, their are certain things which the law does forbid, and I of course accept those as vital. But that still leaves so many options. A rich love life can be a real source of strength within a relationship, and perhaps an outlet for those who are single. Can we please step back from labeling people as strange or different because they happen to like things that you might not find arousing? 
Now all this taken into consideration, there is one danger I can think of. Perhaps there's an imbalance in some relationships, and one party wants to explore further than another. This is a tough subject, and I guess communication and compromise is the key. Ultimately we need to ask how important sex is to the overall relationship, because in some cases it's just a fringe activity. So long as both parties are ok with this then that's fine, too. People are different and that's  absolutely great. The reason I'm on my high horse today is because I really do think that society puts unnecessary taboos in frankly the most ridiculous places. We are sexual, we have imaginations, and when we combine these two in the context of either a loving relationship or a solitary pastime, we can explore ourselves and others in ways that can really enrich.
You know what? Many years ago, I was with a girl and we both had the mindset that sex should, in some sense, be regarded as adults playing. I've never lost that, and it's grounded many of my perspectives on the matter. Sex is a pathway to intimacy, a road to fantasy, and often both combined. Don't let society tell you otherwise. And don't ever put those limits on yourself. And if this blog somehow makes me kinky, or a pervert, or degraded, then I'd suggest that this says more about you than it does about me.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Honesty & Grief

Many of us know what it means to grieve, to feel the shuddering sense of loss that comes when we lose someone we loved. It tears us open, rips away all pretense, showing us what fragile and temporal creatures we are.
We seek comfort in different places, and grieve in our own distinct ways. This is ok, this is natural, yet what about those of us who are without faith? What comfort can we reach out for? Where do we turn?
As more and more people leave religious belief behind this has become a pressing question. I can find no comfort in lies, and even if I craved an afterlife I know too much about the origins and history of religion to take it seriously. No, I must live with the knowledge, perhaps the burden of accepting that what we see is almost certainly all we get. Does that leave any room for hope? Are there comforts from which we can draw?
Absolutely yes. Passionately less. Emphatically yes. First, why does lying about the nature of reality make things easier? Who could gain anything but the most meager solace from the fairy tales of religion? No, when I grieve I want to do so honestly and genuinely. Those people are truly lost to me, forever gone, and imagining them somehow ensconced in some celestial theme park cheapens the precious memory's that remain.  My father is dead. He has ceased. I cannot change this, as much as I might ache to. I'd love to share a pint, to see him smile, to laugh at his daftness, yet that door has closed. One of the things that helped me, and helps me still is the awareness that something of him does indeed live on in me. His genetic code, his DNA, that incredible recipe that makes up all living things. Whilst his body has decayed, his atoms are free and now he is of a different substance. He was stardust to begin with, and now once again he is dispersed. Note, there is no appeal to the supernatural in any of what I say. 
The other comfort I take is from those around me. The people I love and trust can be a precious strength, and all they need to be is themselves. I don't want your prayers or to be told that the deceased is in a better place. I just want you to be you. Come as you are, no pretense. And beyond this, I'd do well to remind myself of just how lucky I am to be here at all? My existence is a stroke of phenomenal good fortune; I've won the lottery of life against astoundingly absurd odds. I am here. I am alive. What better way to pay tribute to those past than to live with double the passion, treble the intensity. Our world, our solar system, our Milky Way galaxy, our universe is the most incredible canvas. Immense, imposing, inexplicable. As we learn more and more our gratitude should increase. We should glow, we should be radiant, we should wring every last drop from our time under the sun.
I know what you're thinking. He's said all this before. Yes, perhaps, but it's a drum worth beating. We are authors of our own destiny, and we are the one's that can expand our own horizons. How many of you are in a rut at the moment? Or bored? Or lonely? I beg you to believe that your journey can get better. Know in your depths your true value, place a hand upon your chest and feel your heart beating and your chest rise and fall.
You're alive. This is real. And there's a whole world out there. Seize it, squeeze it, leave your indelible imprint upon it. And above all, treasure the privilege of being here at all.

Washers & Walkers

There are two types of people. Those who wash and those who walk. I should probably explain. Imagine yourself sat in a men’s toilet cubicle, which might be unpleasant if you’re female. Anyway, you are peacefully going about your business when you hear somebody enter and go either to the stand ups or to the traps.
They go about their business, selecting option one or two as required. And you then hear the toilet flush, and the door open. Convention dictates that the next port of call is the wash basin, and a rendezvous with some soap and a hot air dryer. Only no, because this particular person turns and exits, the main doors opened and closed behind them. Now its time for the forensics team to set off in pursuit, and you can be sure that a broad range of wonders will smear every surface our walker decides to caress. That means every door handle, every desk, every keyboard and mouse. Every contact leaves a trace, and he’s left a lovely track to follow. For heavens sake if he offers you his hand don’t take it. You might just as well shake him by the knob.
Come on mate, what are you thinking? Just how long does it take to wander over to a basin and clean up? What’s the deal with heading off, hands curdling with a combination of urine and possibly faecal matter? I don’t want to interact with your bodily contents if it’s all the same to you. I’d rather you just observed a bit of basic etiquette and had a little consideration for others. Now I’m aware that chimps are apt to fling poo at each other, and I know we’re only a chromosome or two distant from our cool primate cousins. All the same, there are certain modes of behaviour I don’t aspire to and I’d rather you didn’t either. In your own home, if you want to wipe for backside in Arab fashion then you crack on. Your house, your rules. But . . . or is that butt?? Do not spread your leftovers around for other cleaner folk to pick up. I don’t want your germs, your sperm, or the contents of your bowels. Wash up and wake up dude.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Goddidit - Your One Size Fits All Solution

It seems to me that if there's an unsolved mystery, or a little bit of the universe which we don't understand, or unresolved questions about origins or morality or any number of other things, if you're of a religious disposition you need only insert the term Goddidit. It really is the perfect answer to any unsolved dilemma, and it means you don't have to think as hard as you'd otherwise be required to. Let's give it a try and see if it works.
1. We don't know how the universe formed.?Answer; Goddidit.
2. We don't know how the first self replicating molecules came into existence? Answer; Goddidit.
3. We haven't answered every question about the mind and consciousness? Answer; Goddidit.
Well bugger me with a badger from Boston, this works! All these deep questions, all the complexity and nuance; all swept aside by simply positing a divine answer. I wonder if it works on the more mundane stuff? Does all purpose Goddidit work on persistent staines or neutralize nasty odors? Does it work in the real world? On the ground, so to speak?
Ok, I admit it. Goddidit is a poor answer. It's about as poor as an answer can get, to be honest. And why? Because it explains precisely nothing. Why then, do I hear it deployed with such tedious regularity? Well it means we don't have to think about the really tough stuff. We just put it all down to the great divine mystery, the sacred unknown that somehow binds us all together.
Now whilst I'm unashamedly teasing my religious friends at this point, there is a serious point to be made. I think you've sold out. I think you've given up just when things are getting interesting. I wonder what would have happened if the Wright brothers had decided that Goddidit explained flight? Or Darwin gave up and conceded that Goddidit explained the diversity within the natural world? Worse, what if science had decided that Goddidit explained disease and that solutions such as drugs and transplants weren't worth pursuing?
I could name a thousand, ten thousand other examples, but frankly if I haven't made my point by now I never will. Let me make this crushingly, creakingly clear; Goddidit is not an answer. It's an excuse to be lazy. You've bought into the greatest scam on Earth if you choose to listen to any of the answers religion tries to pedal. I happen to think you're smarter, wiser, and more noble than that. You create software, teach kids, counsel the needy. You are brilliant, engaging people. And yet when it comes to the biggest questions you settle for an answer that could never be an answer at all. Goddidit never answered a single question, and in fact multiplies the scale of any problem you're trying to resolve. So throw away that old comfort blanket, take a deep breath and try looking at the world as it truly is.
Incredible, isn't? Beautiful, bizarre, unique. This is your planet, and this is your time. Here, today, now.

Rough Justice?

I love the severity of the sentences being dished out to rioters and those who protect them. I really am. I’m as happy as a right wing pig in poo, which is odd because I’m not right wing. There’s some deliciously swift and severe justice being served up here, and I can only applaud my colleagues within the police and the judicial system for being so robust in responding to this vile social disorder. Whilst some bemoan that sentencing in some cases is too severe, I’m inclined to think that those found guilty made choices and must now face consequences. The nation and the courts are sending an explicit message; you will not be tolerated and your actions dealt with.
Now I recognise that beyond these custodial sentences huge social problems remain unaddressed, and I have some time for those who say we are not attacking the root problem. I agree that more needs to be done, but let’s be sure that we set out our stall to begin with. Punish the guilty and those that conceal them, send the loudest possible message that the rules of the game have changed. I was also encouraged to hear that Police may be given some more robust powers when dealing with disorder of this kind. I don’t have the slightest concern in meeting the mob with the end of a baton or whatever other form of control is required. It’s really very simple; if you do not wish to be subject to Police enforcement, don’t place yourself in a position where you expose yourself to it. For too long we’ve neutered our brave and hard working officers, placing them between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they use force they are brutes, and if they do nothing they are soft. What do you want? You cannot have it both ways. Police are there to ensure law and order is maintained, and whilst any that stray into unnecessary violence must be bought to task they must be afforded the freedom to dish out a little bit of the rough stuff if needed. I don’t know about you, but I want a society in which I feel safe and able to go out any time of the day or night and not be concerned about the mob. For too long we’ve allowed the rise of an under culture that has no fear of crime and punishment, and this needs to change. This is why I feel that the message being sent out this week, whilst severe in and of itself, is the correct one. We cannot give an inch to those who wish to undermine society and adversely negate our freedoms. I’m passionate about individual freedom, but equally clear that with rights come responsibility. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had the clearest possible wake up call, and our response will do much to define our society for possibly years to come. We surely need to address poverty and broken homes and absent fathers, all of which contribute towards these explosions of unlawfulness. But first let’s ensure that there is no doubt in the minds of the horde that if you want to upset the apple cart you can expect a few of those apples to come crashing down around you.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Into The Dark

I'm restless. I'm not sure why? It's one of those weird times when nothing disastrous has happened, yet something feels not quite right. I'm a few days shy of a long break, and I've never felt less enthusiastic about having time off. I know, that's nonsensical. No work, free time, chance to catch up with family. I'm not entirely sure what's going on inside my head? Actually, I never really am. If I could illustrate it in image form I'd ask you to picture the Tasmanian Devil from the cartoons, this crazy dervish spinning and snarling, never settled, never still. I sometimes wish I knew how to switch off? I look at others and they seem able to do it? Me, my brain fires from one thing to another, a bit like a pinball battered around a table. How's it even possible to stop? To do nothing? To have a quieter mind? 
A confession. Or rather, an insight. One or two members on my Dad's side of the family went tits up in the mental health stakes. I can think of at least one distant aunt and perhaps a cousin that gave social services something to do during the course of their lives, and in a dark corner of my mind I've wondered whether these things are genetic in nature or just caused by the fact that they had rough lives? That's my way of saying that madness is something I fear, only then I put it in perspective. These things usually need a catalyst, and there isn't one in my life. More than that I appear to be able to absorb a lot of stress before the cracks show. 
It's interesting to reflect on the things that unsettle us, but I think that dwelling too long is unhelpful. Aside from losing my marbles, I fear the onset on debilitating degenerative illness, of being robbed of freedoms I take for granted. I'd have to work hard to get my head around that. And of course, I fear harm or illness befalling the kids, which is probably the most normal and common fear a person can have. Now I think of it I expect I'm not so different from everybody else? You've got your anxiety's haven't you? The dark places where the scary stuff curdles away? Funny how we spend much of our lives keeping a lid on it? Some places aren't easy to view, are they? And from my years studying counseling and working for the Samaritans I kind of decided that it's possible to open too many boxes in our heads. Maybe we keep certain things out of the way for good reason? 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Just Another Day At The Farm

My professional life consists of pockets of information. They come my way, I do something with them, and then either pass them on or resolve them. In that sense my working day isn't so different from anybody's else. The distinction comes from the nature of the information, and the importance, and the consequences. For example, consider a genuine emergency. From the moment I engage with a person on the end of the line I've two minutes to get the bare bones over to others who can get police on the way. Two minutes is actually a long time. A lot can happen, and a lot often does.  As I reflect I actually think most people could do what I do. All it really takes is a cool head and an ability to disseminate the important from the inane. Like the rest of my colleagues we're a link in a chain, gatekeepers if you like. If you can stay level and oriented when under pressure you can do my job. It doesn't take a vast amount of brain power, although it helps if you can think on your feet. 
There's a risk that is ever present, however, and it's subject to the law of averages. Try as I might, it just isn't possible to get things totally right all of the time. I just can't, and I don't suppose you can either? You see, there's a demon on my shoulder that most of the time doesn't do a whole lot. In fact, it does precisely nothing, and just kind of hangs around waiting for a moment of opportunity. It goes by the name of complacency and its the potential downfall of every emergency responder. I've been doing what I do for near enough four years now, and if there's one thing I know it's that I can't ever really let my guard down. My colleagues would say the same, I expect. Every contact has to be given the same levels of attention, which really is just the hardest thing. I'm only human, and keeping complacency at arms length is always front and centre. Thing is, little snippets of information can sometimes make all the difference in my world. Fact is, they can be the difference. And sometimes it might be something innocuous or seemingly irrelevant, and yet it has the power to yield something that can have a real impact on somebody's life. I don't dwell too much on that if I can help it, but it's there. If I miss something, or don't  identify risk correctly I have the power to really make somebody's bad day worse. People don't call me to say hello; they do so because they have a quandary, a question, or an urgent need. And in these pockets I'm entrusted with helping people, or at least paving the way for others to help them. Nobody wants to speak to somebody like me, so the best I can do is try and make that contact as painless as possible. 
There's no real focal point to this blog. I'm just mulling over the nature of the beast. I don't expect to please everybody and I recognize that often even my best won't be good enough. I'll say this, though; when I do move on I'd like to think that on average I played a small part in making people's bad days better. 
I suppose others will be the judge of that.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Essential Wear For The Skeptic

Have you ever heard of the Armor Of Salvation? It consists of the following and is essential attire for the believer; 1. The Belt Of Truth, 2. The Breastplate Of Righteousness, 3. The Shield Of Faith, 4. The Helmet Of Salvation, 5. The Sword Of The Spirit, 6. The Gospel Of Peace.
Now this to me is pretty cool gear, but as an Atheist I'm not really suited for these clothes. However, I love role play and I don't really want to be left out so I've come up with a wardrobe for skeptics. Do let me know what you think.
1. The Pantyhose Of Patience. These should be worn whenever one has to listen to somebody spout nonsense for extended periods. Or if you're like me just because you like the feel of them.
2. The Girdle Of Godlessness. Required to ensure that one is fully protected against all efforts to indoctrinate with talk about invisible entities that aren't made of anything and that live outside time and space.
3. The Suspenders Of Sarcasm. A skeptic must always be able to respond with an appropriately mischievous one liner or tirade when the need presents.
4. The Pop Socks Of Perversion. We Godless sinners aren't bound by any religious dogma, and these garments should remind us always that if you're not doing something sexually inappropriate at least once a day you're neglecting your duties as a lover of sin and Satan.
5. The High Heels Of Honesty. These will raise our stature and remind us that honesty trumps delusion every day of the week. Careful when you're out walking though.
6. The Bra Of Benevolence. To be worn to remind us that we should act kindly for the sake of pure kindness alone, and not because we've been told by some Holy book or Pastor.
Ok, I know what you're thinking. I'm just using this as an excuse to dress up in girly under crackers again? Well perhaps, but if these garments serve to remind us that we have our own sets of principles then show me the changing room, honey. Besides, any garments will do. I'm sure you can muster up all manner of outfits as the mood takes.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots And The Small Penis Theory

Dear juvenile. I'm sorry that you have a small penis. It must be very frustrating to have a carry a magnifying glass wherever you go. It must also be terribly humiliating that girls burst into fits of giggles whenever you drop your trousers, and I agree they probably shouldn't have posted a mobile phone picture of your bits on the "It's Hardly Worth The Bother Website"
I can understand that it must be difficult having genitalia that would make a fruit fly blush, and that it's torrid having to continually buy extra small under pants. On a positive note, you're going to be spared the agony of being whacked in the groin by a football, but that's probably small consolation. Oh sorry, I'll try to limit my usage of the word small. I know it rankles. 
Point is, whilst I understand your anger at being dealt such a dud hand in the landing gear department, I'm not sure you are expressing your angst in a productive manner? The staff at JJB haven't done anything to harm you, have they? And that small business you've just torched took somebody years  of hard work to build up, and now you've ruined someone's dreams because you can't cope with your own shortcomings. Now I expect you do have it tough. Your parents might not be around, and you might live in a bad area, and perhaps people haven't always been kind to you. Still, does that justify the throwing of a single brick? Or the arson of a single car? Or the robbery of a single terrified citizen? Now here's a little something to burst your bubble of misconception; most people in this country have to work hard just to survive. They have kids to feed, homes to pay for, and none of these things land in their lap. You see, being a decent member of society means being a team player and getting down to some good old fashioned graft. We might not like what our politicians do and you've probably heard us grumble, but we don't set out on a mindless rampage just because we don't always get what we want.
We have a phrase for that; We call it "Throwing our toys out of the pram", which is something that children do. So let's be clear that whilst you might have one or two genuine grievances, the destruction of your neighborhood and the lives of others can never be a solution. It just can't. So when you get home this evening with your new trainers, or your Xbox game, or whatever it is you've cribbed from civilized society can I gently suggest that there are better ways to express yourself? Now you know I'm joking about the small penis bit, but you can hardly blame us for suspecting that you're not actually real men, can you? Real mean don't do what you've done; they apply themselves with decency and honesty and work towards being a part of the solution rather than just magnifying the problem.
I've just used the word "magnify" again, haven't I? That was probably a bit "short" sighted of me?

Jesus - Zombie King

Pastors are snake oil salesmen, pushing a product with no discernible properties and no measurable effect on the environment. Actually, I've overlooked the key benefit, which is of course the placebo effect.
Life can be scary, can't it? It's comforting to think that amidst all the uncertainty and grief there's somebody looking down on you that cares, that has a genuine interest, and even a specific plan for your life. And the real success of religion is to peddle this elixir of hope and do so in a way that is convincing and relevant for the modern age.
It's becoming a tougher sell, though, isn't it? Up until a few hundred years ago you literally had to believe. If you didn't, or if you failed to fake it then it was inquisition and death. And then came the 18th century and the enlightenment, along with the rapid advance of modern science. All the things we once ascribed to the Lord such as thunder and lightning and disasters we slowly realized we had natural answers for. Now of course religion fought many of these advances tooth and nail, but as Mark Twain deftly observed it eventually had to join the procession of knowledge, albeit at the back of the queue. As we move into the modern age it becomes increasingly evident that religion is running out of places to squirrel itself. We know how life evolves, and how life giving elements are forged within the interior or stars. And physicists are closing in on the first cause conundrum and helping us to understand how the universe came about. Combine this with only recently published data that adds plausibility to an eternal multiverse and we've pushed God back further still. First he was in the skies, and then somewhere out in the vastness of the cosmos. Then he was outside of time and space, and well now he's quite literally nowhere.
So where does this leave the average Pastor? Well they don't much concern themselves with any of the above; what they're about is Jesus, good old JC and the stuff he said in the Bible. At this point, there's not a great deal of point telling a believer that the Bible is in fact an infestation of revisionist history, plagiarism, contradiction, and just plain nonsense. Hard facts have no currency in the world of the average Christian, simply by virtue of the fact that they've bought into a feeling, an ethos, a lifestyle. We shouldn't be surprised that honest facts invariably hit a wall; the fact is that it was probably an emotional element that bought them to faith, and as such it would probably need to be an emotional catalyst to free them from it, too.
Let's be honest about one thing, however, and It was a shock to me to have to face up to this. The average Christian has absolutely no interest in truth. They are not truth seekers, unless you wish to rob the word truth of all meaningful value. So if you're a Pastor I'd suggest that you need to be punchy and emotive when delivering your Sunday epic. Keep it feelings heavy, bemoan the state of the world and extol the teachings of Jesus, and big up love and hope and mission. By the way, even if it were proven that Christ rose from the dead it still wouldn't mean that he was God. It would merely mean he was a zombie. Yes, that is what I just said. The person you worship as God would technically meet all the standard definitions of zombie-hood, and that makes you a Zombie worshipper.
I know, there are no such things as zombies, so at worst you can only accuse me of bad taste. As I've said before, I see real comedy potential in exposing religion. If people are offended by what they consider my bad arguments then all they need do is offer better one's. Post them in the comments if you wish. I've had my space here; feel free to have yours.

Monday, 8 August 2011

London's Burning

So who's to blame? I mean, when things go wrong that's what we do, isn't it? Point the finger, abdicate responsibility, turn every stone except the one's we're underneath? As London quite literally goes to blazes the inquest has already begun. Is it a cry for justice? An outpouring of frustration? Something symptomatic of a deeper societal malaise?
Ok then, for the sake of indulgence let's run with that. I'm still unclear why this entitles a person to loot the nearest available JJB, or Comet, or Carphone Warehouse? Does this really come under the definition of a cry from the heart?
Of course not, and let's not allow ourselves to indulge such stupidity a moment longer. Now there's a saying that no society ever destroyed itself by being too reasonable, and with this in mind we can now look honestly at what we're actually seeing in London town. We can safely assume that the majority of the looters won't be troubling Mensa anytime soon, because people with a full quiver of cognitive arrows just don't do what these kids are doing. What we're seeing is low IQ behavior from mostly low IQ kids, and if by some chance there are a few bright sparks amidst the embers we can take it as read that they're not using their full horsepower. But what to do in the wake of these events? Well the Police can't achieve a great deal; and to be brutally frank a good percentage of these youths are simply going to get away with it anyway. Does that idea trouble you? Well if so tough. Reality doesn't care about mopping your brow. Bad people get away with doing bad things every day, and a lot of them will get away with it their whole lives. Besides, the fact is that Police intervention already means that we're closing the barn door after the horses are gone.
If you're serious about finding a solution to these kinds of antics you need to start the moment the Midwife cuts the umbilical cord. Come on, how clear do I have to make this? If we, as parents, commit to raising good kids society stands a better chance. If we, as parents commit to being real Mum's and Dad's rather than manufacturers of offspring then our youths will grow up knowing that we care for them and want to give of ourselves in order that they might thrive. I'm sorry to be blunt, but you cannot buy the love or the respect of a child via any material means. The quality of a teenagers mobile phone is no reflection of the quality of their relationship with  their parents. We are stewards; we don't own our kids but we do have a responsibility towards them. And that means engaging, interacting, investing our time into their lives so they grow up with a sense of self worth and security. How many young adults will barely speak to their parents tonight? How many will eat alone in their rooms? How many have sat across a table and just shared a hot chocolate and a chat? Relationships are forged, and it's the slings and arrows of life that give them value. I'm near certain that many of the youths trying to bring our capital to it's knees lack significant adult role models. You can be sure some come from broken homes, whilst others will have parents that have never done anything more than merely service their basic needs. 
Perhaps I'm on my soapbox? Perhaps I'm simplifying a problem that in truth is far more complex? I expect you're right, but don't tell me that a stable family unit and continual affirmation would have done these kids any harm. 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Virgins Of Salvation

I want to be emphatically clear about something. There will be nothing in this blog that aims to mock, ridicule, or belittle. I'm writing about a group of people that I have huge respect for, and for all I know people whom are living productive, rich, and complete lives. I'm writing about them as their circumstances have intrigued me for many years, and I want to think about them aloud. First, a I need you to be aware that amidst the Christian community there is a disproportionate ratio of females to males. I can only conjecture as to why this is so, but it's perhaps to do with the female propensity to seek out a father figure. For whatever the reason, if you are a Christian female and seeking romantic attachment the odds are against you from the get go. This isn't to say that there are not many fine masculine Christian men out there, but the ratio is marked and somewhat depressing. So with these facts uncontested, what we're left with is a largish number of females that, due to religious reasons, are not fortunate enough to find the love of their lives. Actually this is not an accurate statement; these women will oftentimes declare a love for God and for his Church and declare that this is their vocation and hearts desire. For some this may be so, but for many I'm not convinced. I can think , with little or no trouble, of several attractive and capable women whom are in their 40s, single, and virgins. How do you know they are virgins, you ask in unison? Simple, it is a requirement of the faith to refrain from sexual activity outside of marriage. In this context I use the term sexual activity to mean intercourse; I cannot know whether specific individuals consider non penetration to be an acceptable form of sexual
fulfillment within the remit of their specific belief system. That frankly is of no concern to me either way for my point does not rest on this.  My goal is to identify that there exists a very small sub section of society that, for specifically religious reasons, dramatically limit their range of possible experience. Now this is volitional; and none of my damn business; only I've met many of these beautiful women and have heard them speak of how difficult it is to get older and face the likelihood that they will never rear children, or be part of a positively reinforcing relationship with a male. Many of them throw themselves into careers, Church, voluntary work, living and breathing their deeply held faith. This is their choice, and many will tell you that if this is the Lords will then so be it. At this point I'm going to venture only the slightest criticism, and that is to suggest that they have limited their range of human experience for a phantom, for a placebo that lulls them into believing that the best is yet to come. They may be resigned to accepting this life as a veil of tears, and regard the world beyond as their true country. Who knows; they may be right. But I'll say this; I think in their honest moments, when the curtain of human fragility and human yearning parts, many will quietly weep at what their lives can never be. They will not give birth to new life, nor stand at an alter and say "I do." They will attend the marriages of friends, of kin, and hold nieces and nephews and have rich extended family lives, and for many this will be enough. Only amidst their number I know that many yearn, many weep, and many eventually become quietly embittered at what has been denied them. I should also add that this sentiment may extend to those who did successfully meet partners but left it too late to have children. I cannot stress enough that I do not assume this group are embittered; I do however sense a certain sadness, a great unfilled need, an ever present hole in their lives that no amount of religion will fill.
And here we reach the nub of of my blog. Once again we see the claims of religion wrecking the hopes and desires of people who one might think deserve better. You may have noticed, Christians are generally kind and wonderful people, and being the soppy old fool that I am I'd love each one to achieve happiness in the fullest human sense. Now it's entirely likely that this blog might earn me I private e-mail or two. This sometimes happens now, and I don't mind. If I'm fool enough to go global with my thoughts I cannot and do not expect an easy ride. As I close, I want any Christian female reading this to be clear that I am not being critical of you. You are lovely. I am critical of your religion, which promises so much yet sometimes takes so very much in return. I know, it's also given you deep friendship, real meaning, not to mention a rich vein of hope in your lives. I am happy for you. Yet I am sad, too. There's more for you in this world. And it's ok to want it. And your Bible is so very wrong about so very much.

Friday, 5 August 2011

A Message From Bombay

"Ello, Iz zat mister Baranez?"
Click. I've already disconnected. In the few milliseconds in which I entertained that marvelous 3rd world voice I've managed to silently curse him, his dead grandparents, and the goat from where he got his mornings milk. 
I was on the bog! I was doing my daily business! And I've had to wind things up quickly and unconvincingly in order to take call from a "Morris" or a "Jeremy" or any other English pseudonym he pulled out of the office basket before his shift started. These are the joy's of sub continent cold calling, this bewildering phenomena that has, over the past several days, come into stark relief for me. I've been at home with a throat infection, and as such have run the gauntlet of these people. Admitted, I hang up the moment I hear the familiar background hubbub, but by then I've been pulled away from whatever it was I was doing beforehand. It's really annoying, but then I have to reflect for a moment and regale myself of several pertinent facts. The majority of the cold callers are most likely highly educated students just out to make a buck, all woefully over qualified to do such repetitive, menial work. I daresay they don't like calling grumpy old buzzards like me anymore than I want to hear their inevitably scripted flailing's to sell me double glazing, or Windows software updates, or whatever else it is their peddling. Confession; I've painful experience of cold calling from a previous job. It is soul destroying, depressing, mundane beyond all decent contemplation. I had a former boss whom was convinced that it was route one to increasing sales and she had me doing this three days a week for what seemed a lifetime. The statistical return is 0.2% success rate tops, and this depends on how you define success. Upshot was that I ended up with work related stress and all kinds of additional stress related symptoms, all of which I've written on before.
The point is, when I fume at these boys and girls I'm not being entirely fair. They need to make a buck. They're almost certainly working beneath themselves. They probably hate what they do. So forget about my sarcastic opening remarks and cut these guys a break, OK? Or at least, don't subject them to unnecessary abuse. Unless you hadn't noticed there's a real chance we're about to lurch into a further financial crisis, and that means you and I potentially doing jobs we otherwise wouldn't have dreamed of.
I'd say "But for the grace of God go I", but I'm not that way inclined. Suffice to say it could be you, could be me. We'd do well to bare that in mind.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Smother Me With Chocolate And Throw Me To The Lesbians

Whilst walking in town the other day I saw a teenager wearing a sweatshirt which bore the plea, "Smother me with chocolate and throw me to the lesbians"
One wonders what said teenager was hoping to get from that particular deal? Presumably, post chocolate one wonders what purpose he would serve and I'd expect his lesbian captors would have little or no use for him? Of course, sexual fantasy was never meant to bow the knee to practical consideration, was it? If our teen desires such an episode well crack on matey. If he looks hard enough I'm sure he'll encounter person/persons prepared to rise to the task. We're in the Internet age now, and the race is on to see who's the most whacked out, deranged, loony tunes human being on the face of the Earth. It's really changed how we interact; giving us access to information once way beyond our reach. On the subject of porn and the joy's of google search most cravings can be sated within a few short clicks. Whether it's a Dominatrix you're seeking or a larger lady with boobies the size of Nebraska, our just a nice site from which to buy bondage gear or other erotica,  sooner or later you'll find what you came looking for. It raises interesting questions as to how this is liable to change our expectations sexually? On the positive side I can see how joint exploration could give a new lease of life for a flagging relationship. Conversely, what if a partner wants to bring elements into a union that the other person just isn't comfortable with? Or worse, begins to pull away and become an Internet sex addict, causing a relationship to fail due to unrealistic expectations? These are questions for the here and now. For you, for me. What are we to do?
Easy answer. Boringly predictable. Talk about it. It never ceases to amaze me just how many relationships falter due to lack of communication, and I confess I'm bewildered by this? And here's a stark fact; people rarely leave good relationships, just like they don't sell good cars or leave cherished homes. There's something so tediously obvious about all this. For some couples sex isn't going to be a priority, whilst for others it's paramount. Within every relationship it needs to find it's place, and that may change over time. I blog about sex and sexuality because I'm fascinated by it, and I want others to loosen up and perhaps think about how they express this wonderful part of who we are. It isn't dirty and it isn't lurid. There's nothing to be ashamed of and you're not a freak. Just be honest with yourself; you're sexual and creative, and when those two are combined I genuinely think that the skies the limit. Apologies to the ladies reading if this comes across as male centric; that's certainly not my intent. I think there's something for everybody here, and perhaps even a call to arms. Now if you'll excuse me I have some Internet shopping to do . . . .

Monday, 1 August 2011

Here, Today, I Am

I'm increasingly resigned to accepting that the more I look at reality the weirder it gets. With this comes the unsettling realization that I'm a jumped up know nothing who has little or no understanding of how things really are. Well I say unsettling, but actually it's more motivational. There's so much cool stuff out there that I'd like to get my head around, and not enough time to do any of it justice. Example; I now know that something can quite literally come from nothing. Well, I mean almost nothing. Virtual particles at the quantum level pop into and out of existence in ways that I just cannot fathom. And also I've learned that "nothing" is less stable than "something", as bizarre as that may sound.
I've lost you already, haven't I? Ok, back to Earth. I want to know more about the way the world is? About why we're the way we are? I want to know how things got started? And how they've changed? And how we came to be so very strange? And I want to know more about the world around me today; more about the people and the technology and the places? I really am hungry to the point of ravenous to experience the full measure of what it means to be alive.
I know I want too much. I don't have realistic aspirations. I'm trying to pour too much into too small a glass. Can you blame me? I mean just look at the world, it's incredible, so diverse, so much darkness and light. I want to see, touch, hear and swim in the waters of being. I want to pop the champagne cork and let all the passions and the intensity flood out. I want to break the rules, make the rules, bend the rules. I want to love in every possible way yet have the courage to challenge what I deem foolish or wrong.
One thing I do know is that my views will change with the passing of the years, just as life will change me. People will be born and people will die, and tragically not always in the right order. I'll burn with passion, ache with grief, stand in awe and rage with fury. I will stumble and I'll fail, I'll rise and conquer, I'll have to let go of things I cherish and engage with things that I may loath. There's life everywhere I look, coming at me from all directions and never ceasing for a moment. And it will continue long after I'm gone, and one day I'll  be just a photo on somebody's mantlepiece, or a static image on a website, or a name within an archived blog. I will cease. This will end. And as I contemplate this I feel a fear in my stomach. I love being alive so much. I want to cherish every waking minute and be ever thankful. I want to hug my daughters and kiss my wife, laugh with my friends and engage with my foes.
I want it all. I'm unreasonable. Here, today, I am.