Monday, 31 October 2011

The Drinks Are On Me. Apparently.

Or so it seems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m my father’s son, and always happy to get them in. What I object to is when people filch money from my pocket and assume I’m going to pay. Let me explain; this is about scroungers. I loathe them. They rile me to the very depths of my being because they represent something I just cannot comprehend. I don’t get why some people think they can live at my expense?
There's an element within society that appears to be doing just that. A day’s work just isn’t for them, and they concoct all manner of reasons to avoid doing what the rest of us have to do. As with all deceit it often begins with a kernel of truth. Perhaps a medical condition, a genuine malady that has caused problems. Some manage to get registered disabled, yet miraculously remain downright athletic in their capacity to get to the pub, or to the party, or anything that constitutes leisure. I’m sorry, but given this miraculous healing I find it hard to believe that you can’t earn a living? Are you really unable to do any work? Or have you realised you’re onto a good thing and allowed yourself to become an institutionalised layabout? I fear that in many cases the latter is true, and people develop a mindset that cripples them more than any medical condition.
Please note that for genuine claimants I have your back. I begrudge you nothing and do not seek to tar you. It’s just that there are those fleecing the system and using the common man as their meal ticket, and this is what I deplore. I’ve said this before but it’s bares repeating; if you’re well enough to booze, you're well enough to work. End of. And one other thing; if you must be an idle, work shy arse I’d appreciate it if you didn’t plaster your exploits all over Facebook, because that's rubbing it in. Millions of hard working people have their noses to the grindstone, and not getting much in return. To those that seek to duck out of this I have nothing but contempt. You deserve neither respect nor tolerance, and if I could force you to work then I would. I’m funding your lifestyle, I'm buying those drinks. I cannot tell you how much I resent that. If you had an ounce of self respect, any sense of decency at all you’d quit asking what you can get and instead ask what you can give. Nobody’s demanding you do a 60 hour week, but some kind of contribution would be nice. Do you really want to live on the toil of others like some flea on the back of a dog? Is that what you aspire to? Are those your limitations? If yes then shame on you. You don’t deserve an ounce of respect.

Sympathy Bypass

I’m not a political animal, but one thing I agree with was re-enforced by Prime Minister David Cameron recently. His government is considering penalising criminals by deducting up to £25 from their benefits per week in order to pay fines they have accrued. This is an increase on the £5 they presently have deducted. In predictable fashion, many have thrown up their arms and claim this is unfair and will render many of them unable to live, and thus propel them into further crime.
I don’t care. I really and genuinely don’t. They are not victims. They are convicted criminals, and we shouldn’t shed a single tear. If you’ve any emotion I’d suggest you direct it towards those on the rough end of these peoples’ antics. I have a big heart for them because I deal with them professionally day in, day out.
They tell me how their lives have been eroded, their self confidence undermined, their fear heightened. If it’s all the same to you I’d prefer to stand beside the real victims rather than the phoney’s who bleat about poverty because of their own life choices.
Here’s an idea. It’s 100% assured to reduce the crime figures. It’s called not committing crime. How about we give that one a shot? If we can do that then nobody has to suffer, which frankly appeals to me a lot. We must understand that there’s a greater good that needs to be served here, and it’s the creation of a society in which nobody has to be fearful of or intimidated by anybody else. It’s a society where doors can be left open, trust extended, and honesty aspired to.  That’s of course a multi faceted project which begins in the home and not in the courts, yet we do need to ensure that punishment acts as a sufficient deterrent, which right now it fails to do. Low level crime carries little or no risk, and the penalties are minor. Offenders have very little reason to transition from their lifestyles, and so the cycle continues.
I’m not claiming society can be fixed overnight. What I do say is that we need to draw clear lines between who are the victims and who are the guilty. We’ve allowed ourselves to muddy the water, and that serves nobody.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Gotta' Love The 80s

I am a child of the 80s. What a whacked out decade that was. For two thirds of it I was at school. This in no way implies that I was either given or actively seeking an education, but that's for another blog. My memories of this decade are a bit shallow, mostly movies and music, and vague notions of the fashion of the time.
Leggings. I mean WTF? Who's idea was that? And Flashdance wasn't even that good even if the song was catchy. Talking of movies, what about The Empire Strikes Back, ET, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Terminator, Back To Future? Not to forget the thousands of low budget flicks that came out of LA. Special mention must also go to Don Johnson for giving the world the fashion of white canvas shoes with no socks, surely the most nonce worthy idea since they reduced the size of Wagon Wheels. And then there's the music, which to this day makes me laugh. Remember the rock groups? Whitesnake, Bon Jovi. Not entirely sure how you claim to be a tough guy when you have hair that would put Tina Turner to shame? And those trousers, the spray on leathers. I'd be surprised if any of those dudes fathered children having crushed their testicles quite so spectacularly. At least it would explain how they hit the high notes.
I left school in 1987, going to work with my Dad as a painter and decorator. We had the radio on most days, with Gary Davies, Simon Bates, and Steve Wright reigning supreme. Radio One was number one rather than just one of the pack, and the airwaves were filled with Soul To Soul, The Communards, Erasure, and The Pet Shop Boys. Mobile phones were just entering our consciousness, brick sized monsters with aerials like the antenna on Dodgem cars. Thatcher was creating an "Can Do" mentality, and Tory Ministers were having sex scandals as only they know how. I seem to recall spending most Friday and Saturday nights sloshed, and I often ended up in very obscure locations. Once I happened across a Scottish Kayleigh in the middle of the Buckinghamshire countryside, whilst I also snuck into a hippie commune on another occasion. And I wouldn't recommend climbing a 70ft floodlight during the early hours; probably one of my more stupid forays. I remember the girls I had crushes on; they were the same ones that didn't find me the least bit attractive, which was frankly a downer. I don't actually think I had a girlfriend I really fancied until the early 90s, but I do recall a few worthwhile snogs along the way.
I remember the George in Winslow, and Kebab shops in Aylesbury that never seemed to close. I recall a week at Butlins in Minehead with the lads, and being told that if you can't pull in a place like this you never will.
I never pulled. I did however manage to take a joy ride into a shallow lake inside a shopping trolley, for which I earned myself a few stitches and a scar on my hand.
Its all a bit of a blur. I expect I enjoyed it at the time. 


I read with interest yesterday's BBC News article concerning the 999 Police operator who, for reasons best known to himself, felt it reasonable to ignore calls from vulnerable people, placing them at significant risk. Now I don't know what was going on inside that bewildered mind, although I cannot help suspect that there are mental health issues at play. That Officer does what I do; deals with the public, handling a wide range of emergency and general calls. It's high pressure stuff, with often hundreds of interactions on any given day. Whilst perfection is out of the question we do have a duty of care that this guy has singularly failed to carry out. Thankfully he has been removed from his post.
So the next question then; Who employed him? Who was monitoring? Didn't he have a team leader dip checking the quality of his work? And how the heck does that level of incompetence go under the radar?
The risk in these situations is to fail to look beyond the offence itself. I'd suggest a wider net needs to be cast. The processes need looking at, and  measures taken to ensure people who conduct themselves this way are never employed to carry out the kind of safety critical role emergency responders do.
One caveat, however. Well, actually it's a plea for understanding. On any given week I deal with hundreds of people. I do my best, as do my colleagues, but when the conveyor belt is so incessant it is near impossible to do everything with 100% perfection. Some times we might seem a bit stressed, a bit terse, a bit pre–occupied perhaps. Please don't be too harsh. We are having to provide a service with diminishing resources, which means we're stretched a bit further and a bit more often. I'm not griping about the pressure; If I can't hack it I shouldn't be there. All I'm hinting at is that the next time you speak to one of my colleagues, try to remember that prior to interacting with you they might have dealt with things that most people won't ever have to. Dark stuff, nasty stuff, cruel stuff. And over the course of a shift that may sometimes have an effect.
We're human. We're humans doing our best, often under testing circumstances. 
I'll give you everything I've got, and I genuinely want to help, but at the end of the day there's a person on both ends of the phone, and we're all equally deserving of respect.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Letter To My Father In Law

The following is a response I sent to my wonderful father-in-law further to recent attempts to encourage me to consider a return to Christianity.

"Hello again Peter. I think I need to apply a little good natured pressure here. You believe that the Bible is a divinely inspired work from the Creator of the universe. Ok then, let's run with this. As soon as you grant this possibility one is left with glaring evidence that God is a very shoddy communicator. His Bible claims the world is less then 10,000 years old, yet we have fourteen independent scientific dating systems that tell us it is circa 13.7 billion years. God tells us that the Earth is flat, when we know that we live on a sphere. He tells us that mankind is distinct from other forms of life, when mitochondrial DNA tells us that we are connected to every other living organism that has walked, crawled, slithered and swam. We even know when specific evolutionary lineages broke off from others, and concerning human ancestry alone we have massive fossil evidence tracing an ancient path back into the cradle of Africa. God is also an abject mathematician, managing to conclude that the value of Pi is three, rather than 3.14.
And let's consider the morality of this Old Testament God. He delights in dashing children's heads against rocks, allows Lot's daughters to be offered to a fevered mob, and specifically commands that entire tribes be brutally killed, and is utterly explicit that failure to comply means punishment for those with the common decency to abstain. Perhaps worst of all is the truly disgusting story of Abraham, whom was bewildered enough to even contemplate immolating a child for the glory of this Deity. And whilst God stayed his hand, it wasn't until a terrified boy was literally on the pyre with his father ready to ignite. You might call that mercy, but I prefer to refer to it by it's correct term, which is child abuse. You'd never offer your children up in this way, because you're a decent, kind, and loving man.
Peter, I cannot allow you an inch here. If the God of the Bible exists he is a brute, a thug, and a pitifully insecure creature. He supports slavery, murders children, and smite's people for crimes as benign as picking up sticks on the sabbath. I can only marvel at the mental gymnastics required to retain the view that Yahweh could ever be deemed as loving and good. It's astonishing, and I say without flinching that you are a million times better than the God you believe in. You, Peter, are a man that I admire for your honesty, your gentleness, and the incredible devotion you have shown to your family. You are the polar opposite of the monster you have grown up knowing about, and I'd suggest that God should spend more time watching how you live because it would make him a better specimen.
If, however, you insist that the God of the Old Testament is real you then have to accept that Jesus was fully complicit in each and every horror that book refers to. So Jesus ordered the murder of those children, along with all the ethnic cleansing and the genital mutilation and the sacrifice. He was present, and he was in for a penny and in for a pound, and to say otherwise is to reject the doctrine of the trinity. So the problems just continue to mount if you truly wish to defend the Old Testament as historically accurate.
I could go on and on and on, but I see no point. I close simply by saying that truth is so important to me I had to reject Christianity. If you wish I can talk at length about the New Testament, and especially the threadbare extra Biblical evidence for the life of Jesus. I can talk about the forgeries, the contradictions, the dreadful morality, and the failed prophecy. I've spent a long time seeking the truth, and when one genuinely does so it is often unsettling and different to what one hopes for. But we must understand that the truth stands apart from any feelings we have. It owes us no comfort or solace or false promise. It is what it is, which is why it's so utterly precious. And ultimately, my desire for truth forced me to consign Christianity to the mass graveyard more commonly referred to as mythology.
With love, respect, and admiration

Monday, 24 October 2011

An Equal Opportunity Flaw

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. That's reasonable, right?
Just takes a bit of honesty, a bit of genuineness. Why then, are we so bad at this?
I don't usually blow my own trumpet, but this is an area in which I fare ok. whilst I won't win any popularity contests nobody has to second guess me. People know where they stand, and if I do stray into bad mouthing I tend to feel quite bad about it. That's not to say I won't be genuine about my feelings, but I don't have a knife ready to plunge into your back.
Think for a moment. We all know people like that. It's ugly to behold, isn't it?
And this is an equal opportunity flaw, drawing no distinction between straight or gay, male or female. If required, within seconds I bet you could produce the name of at least one person that you don't trust? Something about them just doesn't sit right, and it's always a bit awkward around them?
I'm possibly over sensitive. I want to have genuine and meaningful transactions with people, but I tend to recoil when in the presence of certain people. I'd rather spend my time in the presence of those I feel comfortable with; people who shoot straight and speak honestly.
If you feel a slight discomfort reading this, and there's a slight unease stirring within I'd suggest this is no bad thing. I'm not suggesting you suddenly stop speaking your mind, but you might want to reflect on how you do it? There's a dark statistic which observes that established liars find it very hard to trust other people, which should come as no surprise. What a tragedy to live life that way? To go through it never being quite sure whether your dishonesty is going to find you out? If you are prone to falsehood you should probably know that other's are most likely aware of it. They'll have reached this position through observation, through simply being around you and observing your interaction with others. I suspect you've got some issues forming meaningful connections? That's not uncommon. If so I feel for you, and I'm sorry that your life is this way. Perhaps now is the time to try living differently? To reign in the back stabbing and the double talk? The saying one thing whilst thinking another?
I'm not judging you. I'm just watching from a distance. And for those who are serious about change, I wish you nothing but the best.

The Light That Shines The Way

I just tried a little experiment. I posted a link for an organisation that supports people wishing to leave a religion on a website promoting religious belief.
Very quickly, it was removed by moderators.
I was expecting this. It was predictable. It also illustrates that ignorance is the oxygen that sustains all belief. If people know too much, think too hard, question too robustly, it spells the death knell for the organisations built upon the faithful. It's fear really. Cold fear that the truth, when outed, will let the cat out of the bag once and for all. Only it's too late; the cats already out and it's having a high old time.  
I have a lot of friends with strong religious convictions. All moderates, it must be said, and secular in all but the most rudimentary terms. It's easy for me to be a rabble rouser, but if I were an American living in the wrong part of the States my life would be a whole lot more uncomfortable. That's not to say that the tide hasn't turned; America now has more people than ever enjoying the delights of freethinking, thanks in part to writers like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. Religious belief is gradually waning, and within a decade or so will probably mirror that of Northern Europe. Like all change there's friction, and my challenge is to recognise how far to poke and prod. You see, whilst I afford religion no respect I love deeply many of those who have such convictions. I don't want to belittle or humiliate anyone, but nor can I allow nonsense to propagate. Amongst my friends, few even raise the subject, which I take as a backhanded compliment. They recognise that I will become a Royal pain in the rear the moment they make a claim that I feel warrants a challenge. Let's be clear, this isn't going to change anytime soon. I'll listen patiently to all claims, but I won't indulge you. Those days are gone. They needed to go. Religion has lost its privileged position in society, and we need respect pastors and vicars no more than we respect anybody else.
It's not about winning a debate. It's about the value we ascribe to truth. And I value truth above all else because it's the light that helps us find the way. Religion cannot achieve this because it isn't trading in truth. It's wares are myth, fable, revisionist history. And if you want to persuade me otherwise you need to be able to demonstrate it, and do so in a way that can be weighed and measured.
Otherwise, you might wish to keep it yourself. Deal?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Event Horizon

I paused in front of a framed picture located beside our front door this morning. It was an image of my late father, his Daschund  Collie cross called Lucky, myself, and Holly aged 4. I remember the walk vividly although there was nothing particularly notable about it. The four of us wandered from the bungalow in Winslow down to the old disused railway platform, traversing the wildly over grown line.
Six years on, Dad is gone, as is Lucky. Only two people within the picture frame remain. Old pictures can be haunting, residual moments along a timeline that cannot, will not stop. All we can really do is ebb and flow with it, doing our best to cherish the good moments, hunker down through the bad, and peer over the parapet of our own self obsession to see who else needs help.
What a thing this life is? How precious and unique and all consuming. How it sweeps us from mountainous highs to abyssal lows, often with little or no warning. I'm not convinced there's any one recipe that guarantee's a good life; too many variables. For my part I just try to learn the lessons of my errors, build on the positives, and try to ensure each day contains something enjoyable.
Many people don't have the freedom to do that, or the wealth, or the food, or the habitat. For many life is simply a game of survival, lived out daily in conditions we wouldn't last five minutes in. All a bit unfair really? People like you, like me, having so much. Others with nothing.
Admit it, you wouldn't swap. You might as well look yourself square in the eye and admit that your compassion only stretches so far. We can give money and clothes, sponsor a child or protect a habitat. All noble things, but we both know that when it comes down to it we wouldn't swap our world for theirs.
Selfish? Too Honest? Probably. I'm not good with self deceit; it gets under my skin and makes me feel dirty. In a short while I'm off to work and will spend several hours trying to help people. For the most part I'll enjoy doing this, but you can be sure that many of those with whom I interact lead lives that I wouldn't wish to step into. What I'm trying to do here is acknowledge both my own selfishness and also the reality that there's no level playing field, no unseen jury balancing out the scales. It's just us, alone and unique, and we need to make the best of this.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

300,000 Newborns Stolen In The Name Of God

Has there ever been a more twisted institution? An organisation so mired in corruption, lies, perversion, and denial? I don't think so.
Please understand that I am fighting to control my words at the moment. I am angry. No, I am enraged. I am appalled beyond all belief at the latest breaking scandal within the Catholic church.
Between 1960 and 1989 it is estimated that 300,000 babies have been trafficked. Put simply, newborns were taken from mother's in Spanish hospitals further to be being told that the child was stillborn. When pressed, a deceased baby was produced and shown to a grieving mother. Only the child on display was already ice cold. But then it would be. It had just been removed from a freezer and was the same one paraded before many mother's subjected to this great deceit.
The reason for this evil? During the reign of General Franco some parents were deemed politically dangerous. Therefore some had children whom were declared stillborn, yet in reality purchased by devoutly religious families whom had been led to believe that the child they were adopting had been given up by the mother. Yet post General Franco's reign the trade continued, with newborns taken from parents deemed unsuitable and handed into the care of devout families who were likely to give the child a better life.
Consider the following; you have carried a child to full term. You give birth, and learn that the infant is a mere cadaver. Can you imagine the trauma? Perhaps some of you know someone whom has given birth to a stillborn? Who get's to decide whom is suitable for parental duty and who is not? The Catholic church, as things turn out.
Only now the scandal is breaking, and I very much hope that this will be the straw that break's the camels back. Don't forget that in order to succeed in such a deceit a network is required. Nurses, Nuns, Preachers, Doctors. What this amounts to is human trafficking on a vast scale, and I expect many of those involved thought they were doing the right thing. They probably even thought they were carrying out the will of God.
Let me be clear. Religion is the only force on Earth that can enthral a decent and kindly person to act like this. With heavenly remit all bets are off, and things previously profane become merely an extension of the Lords will.
Enough. No, really. Enough. At what point do we persist in enduring the out workings of this vast and vile organisation called the Catholic church? How much more are we going to allow them to get away with? We can now add child trafficking alongside the child sex abuse scandal and also the teachings of the church on condom use. These are policy's and practices that cost lives, erode lives, and reduce people to mere pawns amidst some unfolding celestial drama. 
The Catholic church is polluted. It is poisonous from the inside out, from diocese to the Vatican hierarchy. Do we not have a moral duty to speak out? To make a fuss? To say loudly that it's time for the whole edifice to be pulled down?
In Spain today, there are thousands of mothers that have been lied to, and thousands of children raised in homes that were not those of their biological parents. And all because the Catholic church decided that it had the moral authority to decide whom was suitable and whom was not.
Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Duchess's Legs

It must have been a quiet news day? During my nightshift I was browsing the Mail online website and the following article caught my eye; Kate and her flesh-toned stockings are the talk of the town - but can nude tights ever truly be chic?”
Now being very much a leg man, and tempted by an image or two of the lovely lady herself, I found myself entering unknown territory and reading a fashion article. A women’s fashion article. From start to finish.
Apparently nude hosiery is all the rage since the Royal Wedding, with these garments adding additional chic and refinement to the average leg.
Personally I’d go for opaques because I’m darned If I’m about to shave my legs for anyone, unless I’m planning to rob a bank, in which case a sheer look would prevent me running into a lamp post when making good my escape. But anyway, as a bonafide fashion expert with seconds of experience I reckon that bare legs have always struck me as a bit Essex. I’m a fan of the classic look and I find a nice pair of sheer legs much more appealing, and dare I say it, classy? I also like the feel too, and my hands tend to wander towards Joy’s legs whenever she’s wearing them, which hasn’t always gone down well at funerals or church services.
What do you mean I’m not taking this seriously? This is my first fashion article and It’s a steep learning curve ok?
Anyway, I’m a leg man. In fact I’m about as much of a leg man as it is possible to be. I notice the legs before I notice the breasts, unless the breasts are the size of a small African country because then you can’t fail to notice them, can you? Actually, the more I reflect the more I find myself thinking that women are just lovely in general. Good old Adam, I say, That was one seriously well used rib. I’ve probably said this before, but I can usually find something attractive in most females. Might be a smile, might be the voice, or perhaps the eyes, the wit, or an agile mind. The words of a former girlfriend often come to mind when I consider this aspect of my personality. She told me that I was a man who genuinely adores women. It was a compliment at the time and one that I'm happy to accept. And if you’re legs are classy, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

The Very Worst Book In The World?

I often find myself mulling why the Bible is such a poor guide to, well, just about everything? I mean, isn't this the published work of the Creator of the universe? Is it too much to ask that he produce a work devoid of ambiguity, contradiction, and error?
Down the years, doctrinal feuding and interpretation have bought us wonders such as the inquisition and Witch burning. It's also deluded a great many into accepting that the world is flat, the heavens above firm, and the age of the planet approx. 6000 years old. It tells us that it is an abomination for a man to love another man, or a woman another woman. It promotes slavery, endorses child sacrifice, and also provides a blood curdling "how to" guide when it comes to ethnic cleansing. The above are a few examples from thousands, and they serve as merely an appetiser to my main course, which is to wonder just how anybody could ever, and I mean ever, hold the view that it's words are divinely inspired?
Millions. Hundreds of millions believe just that, though. It's wonders are preached from the pulpit, on the mission fields, on through the pages of the numerous Christian books. As I type these words I feel a palpable befuddlement? Has the average believer stopped and asked themselves about its contents? More than that, is it too much to ask God to create a work absent the vast swathes of factual error we read inside?
The only time that any of this makes sense is when I step back, take a breath, and consider the following;
If, instead  of positing the Bible as the divinely inspired word of God I instead ascribe it's insights to the work of the common man, at once all confusion's swept away. It becomes clear that the Bible is full of error because we are full of error. The prophecies fail because we cannot see into the future, the biology fails because these men had insufficient tools to apprehend the natural world, and the cosmology fails because they could not see far enough or clear enough.
Remove God from the equation, and the Bible makes a lot more sense.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Me And My Girls

Yesterday was a real gem. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it. Usually after a 1st nightshift I can be quite flat and uninspired, only I'd failed to factor in the offspring  effect. 
Aged 6 and 10 respectively, they have always had the uncanny ability to bring a smile to my face, even when I never saw it coming. Whether its just the way they give me a hug, or the sound of one singing in the bathroom, it's impossible to keep a sour face for too long. This is one of the joys of being a Dad; I get to see childhood from another perspective, and some days it shaves years off me.
I went out on a cycle ride with Holly mid afternoon. Lovely sunshine, autumn trees, no rush. She's just endured the horrors of the 11+ exam and has worked so hard for so long. She really is a brilliant little girl, a total pocket dynamo and a real quality time person. We went searching for a park we'd driven past some days before, punctuating the journey with an ice cream stop. These are precious episodes, moments frozen in time. I hope that when she's grown up she'll remember when we did this stuff? And I hope also she'll look back on her childhood and know that she was loved and cherished and valued. We owe her nothing less. And goodness knows so many young people aren't afforded this respect. You wouldn't believe some of the things I hear at work. It seems that in some homes the kids are just an afterthought, a noisy byproduct further to a night on the booze and a lack family planning. The number of unloved kids troubles me, not least because they run the danger of growing into unloved adults. And so the cycle continues.
But I digress. Today I just want to wax lyrical about my two girls. Both vibrant personalities, both great fun to be around. Lowenna, our youngest has such a kind and considerate heart. She has a real tenderness, and a sensitivity to the moods of others. And Holly is a whirlwind, equally loving and kind hearted, albeit in a more understated way. Prior to becoming a father I was utterly indifferent to the idea, accepting its likelihood as a by product of wanting to spend my life with Joy. Boy how it changed me. And largely for the better, albeit not before shinning a light on just how selfish and self absorbed I had become. That's what children do. They are organisms designed to suck every last ounce of selfishness from you with a constant stream of demands and fresh challenges. I've often used the term "inexplicably worthwhile" when reflecting on parenthood. Free time may diminish, but the rewards are astounding. To see them grow, to see them learn and form ideas and perspectives, and watching as gifts emerge and skills surface. You probably won't understand unless you've been through it. 
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I love my girls. I love them hugely, impossibly, insanely. Or as I say to them sometimes, "I love you all the way to the moon and back, and all the way to the sun, and all the way to the furthest star and just the way you are"
My girls. My Inspiration. And my greatest achievement.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Prophets Of YouTube

YouTube is an eclectic place. It's also become something of a battleground between advocates of free speech and so called moderate Muslims. Only as it turns out they aren't so moderate.
Consider the following; a prominent YouTube freethinker known as Thunderfoot has posted numerous superb videos about the natural world, the cosmos, and why religion is bogus. He has a following in the millions, and his work has caused a great deal of agitation to those who don't take too kindly to being critiqued. During his time he has been required to liaise with the FBI further to death threats, whilst also being the target of one particular Muslim zealot whom felt it appropriate to publish Thunderfoot's personal details and possible location. The rationale for this was so that fellow Muslims could "Express their dissatisfaction".
In acting so recklessly , Thunderfoot has now become the potential target for Muslim sleeper cells and lone wolfs, against which it is near impossible to construct a defence.
I dislike the teachings of Islam for the same reason I dislike the teachings of all other faiths. They are equally untrue, equally absurd, and equally capable of making fine people do and say utterly asinine things. Yet with Islam there is an additional level of malevolence. It's not just that they aren't big on being criticised; it's that some actively support the use of violence in order to silence detractors.
Ask yourself, is this how a civilised society should operate? Living in fear of retribution for the simple act of refusing to consent to a set of wrong headed ideas? It seems to me that in order to protect free speech we all need to stand against those who are keen to erode it, and in so doing send a unified message that says simply no, we've fought long and hard for these rights and will not be relieved of them.
Islam is a failure on every level. It is an obstruction to progress and and a stumbling block to freedom and free enquiry. It reduces people to slaves, to a herd, subjecting them to the whims of an imaginary God. Worse, it is terrified of reformation, of honest enquiry, and for having its strongholds assaulted by the cold refreshing waters of reason.
For these indictments alone, we should consign it to an early grave.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Viagria, Nigerian Royalty, And A Spanish Fortune

If I purchased Viagra every time I received an e-mail offering me some I would be walking around with a permanent erection. Now whilst I'm as fond of a good erection as the next guy I'm not convinced such a state of affairs would enhance my day to day functioning. Serious consideration would have to go into my choice of clothing, and visits to the swimming pool would be a total no no. I'm not convinced other patrons would take kindly to me emerging from the waters with my shorts betraying my mood. Worse, however would I concentrate on the day to day things? The mundane stuff that just needs to be done whilst sporting such a feisty beast?
If its all the same to you, and as much as I appreciate the constant special offers that stream into my inbox, I fear that for my greater wellbeing and to avoid outraging public decency I shall have to refrain. And as I've previously mentioned, involuntary erections are bad enough, let alone those of the perpetual variety.
I do miss the contact from Nigerian Princes, however. I've received many a moving letter telling me how they were exiled to Moscow, leaving an unspent fortune in a bank account they cannot access. And apparently only I can save the day, and all I need do is provide my bank details so the money can be transferred, for which I'll receive a six figure sum for helping this poor beleaguered royal back on his feet.
And then there's the Spanish lottery. The term lottery implies that it's a, err lottery. Remarkable then that I've won it so many times. All the more so given that I've never played it.
So then, I can't handle the Viagra, the Nigerian Royal family don't need me, and I'm yet to get my hands on all that Spanish loot.
Oh well, it's Friday and the kids are home. Pizza later then perhaps some tv. Despite my lack of riches, and equipped with merely a conventional male libido, life really isn't so bad.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Very Strange Defence

I'm involved in a very strange discussion with a believer right now. We're discussing Christianity as myth, and one of his retorts is that I cannot support my own worldview. He is referring to my atheism.
It's a strange line of apologetics. Always was. What he appears to suggest is that because I cannot categorically disprove the existence of his Deity, he can continue to stand squarely behind his own beliefs.
But can he? Let's consider the following. All religions make specific claims about how the world is. Sometimes these claims are vague, sometimes specific. Either way they can be subject to a degree of examination, and tentative conclusions about the likelihood that they are true. I'm unclear how I have to prove my position before rejecting his?
A word about atheism. It isn't a belief, nor a religion, any more than baldness is a hair colour. As Sam Harris remarks, it is no more than the noises people make in the face of bad claims. And be under no illusion, the claims of Christianity are bad claims. The Bible, it's primary source is brimming with forgeries, contradictions, and data that science has deemed inaccurate. It has proven itself untrustworthy, errant, and a poor guide to morality. It's core claims about Jesus are unsupported by any non biblical writings, and in many cases we see parallels with other faith systems. In short, one can reasonably conclude that the Bible alone provides ample reason to reject the Christian God. Yet I am still required to prove atheism? I don't think so, fella. To be sure, somewhere out there in the vastness of the cosmos may lurk beings of incredible power, but to the best of my knowledge we are not in contact with them. As such, I take the view that the claims of the religious remain unfounded, and I am perfectly entitled to reject them.

Now That Was One Real Ugly Bitch

I overheard a conversation today. The time and the place aren't important, but the interaction was really something. A man walks past the desk of a female work colleague and they strike up an amicable conversation. For all the world they appeared to be friends, laughing and joking and being generally cordial.
The man leaves the room, and within seconds the female is being incredibly unkind and demeaning about him to her colleague. The transition was shocking and quite unexpected, and I was repulsed by this girls behaviour. I didn't think to do so at the time, but on reflection I should have gone over and asked her whether all her colleagues could expect the same treatment when not in her presence? Now from an aesthetic viewpoint this girl was attractive. Slim and petite and really quite beautiful. Yet in all honesty in those few moments she couldn't have been uglier. Given a choice I'd frankly have preferred to French kiss the Queen mother, because this is the kind of vileness that makes me want to wretch. I just don't get how a person can be that chameleon, so two faced and completely lacking in genuineness? You know something, if that's the price of beauty then the cost is too high. I'd go for plain and genuine every day of the week over such an unpleasant creature.
Because make no mistake, ladies and gentleman. That was one seriously ugly bitch.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

To Love And To Loathe

Now there's a black art if ever there was one. I'm not short of an opinion or two, and clumsy as I am I recognise that there's a fine line between causing offence and causing people to think in different ways. For what it's worth I aspire to option two but confess that I may have strayed into option one more than once. Take for instance my views towards all revealed religion; I take a no holds barred approach to the teachings and the doctrines.  I consider myself well equipped for this given my thirteen years as an evangelical, and when I speak into a situation it's never without having some knowledge of it. I use strong rhetoric, I use the term brain acid. Does this mean I disdain people of a religious persuasion?
No. Well mostly no.
Example; my gorgeous wife has strong religious convictions, as do some of my most cherished friends. I love Joy and I adore them, but that doesn't mean I can't go after the systems of belief themselves. Happily, everybody who knows me knows that I'm not in the habit of dishing personal abuse, yet they're aware that I won't hesitate to put the boot in when it comes to certain teachings. They know Creationism gets me frothing at the mouth, as does the teaching of the Catholic church on contraception. And if you get me started on the child abuse scandal be prepared for a very long night. None of these deserve any respect and I'll respond accordingly.
But what about when I am critical of the Bible, which to many is the most important book on the planet? Am I wrong to do this? Again I assert no, although I acknowledge that my views do cause some a degree of discomfort.
More than that, it's not a direct criticism of individuals, although it's clearly suggestive that I don't think much of their critical skills.
That's enough about religion. For now at least. What about when I wax lyrical against obesity, or excess alcohol? In these cases my critique is of the cultural variety, geared towards challenging common perspectives and shaking up a viewpoint or two. And sex, which I just love talking about, and our attitudes towards it I am sometimes dismissive of closed mindedness and lack of creative thinking.
There's a trend within my blogs. I hope you've noticed. I criticise ideas and ideology, culture and traditional assumptions. That's the name of my game.
It's never to abuse the individual. And if I've ever done so it was clumsy of me rather than overtly intended to belittle. You see, arguments aren't usually won at the time of the confrontation. Pride get's in the way, our defence mechanisms kick in. No, victory is won in the quiet moments, during our softer interludes when we have the time and the space and the poise to see beyond our own barriers. 
If, after having read this you still wish to regard me as overtly critical then there's nothing I can do to stop you. But I'd urge you all to see the difference between criticising the person and criticising their ideas. They are not the same thing, and the day we learn this we will, at a stroke, remove whole reams of political correctness from the landscape. And I'm sure as heck up for that.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Ever tempted to go completely off the rails? Perhaps you have? What's it like on that side of the tracks? I only ask because the option isn't really available to me. I've too much to lose. Actually, those around me have too much to lose.
It's not that I feel trapped. I love life and my circumstances. I've been lucky beyond belief. It must sound ungrateful to sometimes want to step outside the normal, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted. 
I can't be the only one? Tell me I'm not the only one? Whisper it in my ear next time you're passing. I'll understand. 
In so many ways I try to be Mr Normal. On most days I can pull it off, give or take the odd transgression. What about you, though? There's got to be something outrageous you'd like to do? Something crazy? Something that would change how people perceived you? Perhaps you've less to lose than I have? If so what is it that causes you to hesitate? What are you afraid of? Rejection? Ridicule? 
I suppose those aren't bad reasons. 
For what it's worth, I've absolutely no  idea why I'm writing this. No game plan. This is a kind of free roaming. Yet even now I can feel my inhibitions pressing in on me, subtle but persistent, a kind of straight jacket. This is probably just as well. Give a guy like me too much rope and I'd probably hang myself. I have a healthy distrust of my own impulses, which could lead me into all kinds  of mischief. I've had to give myself a good talking to on more than one occasion in the last year, and I've just about managed to keep a lid on the crazy. It's just that sometimes I don't want to. I like the crazy, I like the outlandish, and I recoil from the routine and the mundane. 
Yes, I know. Big kid. Should really grow up. Only I've no real idea what that means? What precisely is it that I'm meant to be conforming to?

Monday, 10 October 2011

When Brave Men Die

One of the people I admire most is dying of cancer. Over the last year his body has been assailed and torn asunder by a combination of chemotherapy and tumours.  To see this great man diminish should be a horror to behold, yet what has emerged instead is something more powerful, more resplendent and more precious. Many of you will not have heard of Christopher Hitchens, author and columnist and philosopher. Yet he has been at the forefront of a movement that has consigned religion to the realms of ridicule and fantasy, which after all is it's true spiritual home. Christopher was never one to suffer fools gladly, and should you disagree with him you'd best come equipped to withstand the intellectual firestorm that results. He scythes through religious apologists like a knife through butter, exposing at every turn the nonsense and the lies and the false consolation it brings.
And now he is dying. He is weary and gaunt and, in the words of a great poet, "Not as I was"
His demise looms over him, yet not once has he been tempted by the lies, or the cheap liquor sold as eternal salvation, that great fools promise that if he would just lower himself to believe the absurd an eternal salvation awaits.
He faces death as we all should. Staring it down, with honesty and acceptance and tenderness.
We cannot live for ever. It would be perfectly awful. As another departed great Steve Jobs once said, death is life's greatest invention. It freshens things up, keeps the wheels moving. Who but the most selfish, the most self consumed would want more? Irrespective of whether life deals you a fair hand or a foul one what every person who reads this has is a shot, their shot, their time in the sun. Some of this ride is in your power to shape, yet much will unfold against your will and often in the teeth of your deepest desires. Yet what would you prefer? Never to have been? Never to have opened your eyes and seen the sun or the stars of the great oceans or the sunset? I could never wish for such a thing, even in the darkest nights of my soul. I am forty now, and I hope for many more good years where I have some say in my own destiny. I don't assume this, and I accept that life doesn't owe me a thing. Yet I will live my time with gratitude and awe and a spirit of enquiry because I do not know when my eyes will close for good. I'm hungry to see, hear, discover, and also to love, embrace, encourage. I have dreams for myself and hopes for those I love, and none of these require me to swear allegiance to the stupefying inanity of any revealed religion. What a filthy idea, what a grotesque garb, how rancid and vile and festering? Religion is ugly, and it's ugly because it makes good people believe in really stupid things. Brain acid, retardation, accepting the absurd when reality is the most inspiring thing of all. 
You can keep your petty Gods and your disgusting books. You can keep your prayers and remain on your knees. You can bow the knee and demean yourself before a fiction, yet the one you rob most is yourself. Instead I choose to live strong, to live powerfully, with honesty and a keen eye and a sharp wit. It beats delusion any day of the week.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Credit Where It's Due

Why do we consider sportspersons as heroes? Or actors? Am I missing something?
It's just that I tend to see heroism in the small and the everyday. The father providing for a family, a mother struggling to raise children alone. I see it in hard working doctors, in brave police officers facing down a mob. I see it in people prepared to be honest and vulnerable and real about themselves.
I see in a the teacher who commits hours of his or her own time to give often ungrateful kids an education. I see it in the teenager who takes time to visit an elderly grandparent. I see it in the volunteer, or in the person who gives generously to charity or individuals without every saying a word about it.
These are people who make a real difference. These people are the heart and soul, the engine room of humanity. And interestingly, the one's who most deserve to be put on a pedestal are those most liable to shy away from it.
The reason for this blog? I'm tired of the celebrity culture, of the adulation we give to overpaid and over rated fools. What is it we idolise? What are we looking up to? Why?
Somewhere on your street, and even within your own four walls there are people doing amazing things, and doing things without the expectation or likelihood of credit. So let's take time to recognise them, and more importantly let's stop giving credit to those who deserve none at all.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Just Another Myth

One of my intellectual heroes, Richard Dawkins, has just released a new beautifully illustrated book.
In it he barely mentions religion, and quite rightly only refers to Christianity as just one myth amongst thousands. Naturally, this has the zealots frothing at their evangelical mouths, and bemoaning that their particular fiction is not given special privilege. My question for them is simply to ask what was it they expected? Why should we have any more respect for Christianity than for any other religion? Christianity is quite simply a death cult that gained traction, and even that took a long time. There's a classic belief amongst the faithful that after the crucifixion the faith spread like wildfire, yet history reveals that for over three hundred years it merely bumbled along with all the other cults and belief systems of the time. And had it not been for the influence of Lactantius upon the young Emperor Constantine it is unlikely that it would ever have taken off at all. It was Constantine who decreed Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire, and only after this time did it take flight. To say otherwise is to deny history, which is what you have  to do on a daily basis as a believer. Facts don't matter when faith comes to play, because faith is the perennial petulant school child, demanding that the game be played only according to its rules. And if, perish the thought, you deign to suggest that their rules have no historical, logical, or philosophical basis then just duck as those toys fly out the pram.
I'm not interested in attacking individual Christians, but when it comes to their ideas I'm all over them like a bad smell. Only the other day I was sat talking to a Christian friend at the swimming pool as our kids had a lesson. She reads this blog, and whilst complimentary she observed that sometimes I  spoil for a fight. Well if what is at stake is truth about the nature of reality then I suppose I am. My dear Christian friends, I say merely that you have truly abject reasons for believing as you do. History has failed you, whilst reason is not your friend. You may be wonderful people in a whole lot of ways, and your hearts are as big as a bus. But you've still got it all wrong, and in so doing you cheapen yourself and your place in this world. I say again, Christianity is simply a death cult that gained traction, so whilst I love you all to bits, I won't be indulging your beliefs. I respect you too much to do that.

People Don't Leave Good Relationships

People don't leave good relationships. And relationships crumble almost always due to communication related issues. Whether the issue is sex, money, emotional, or whatever, when people are open at least a relationship knows where it stands. That's a non controversial observation, right?
Another observation. Next time you're out with friends or colleagues, pay particular attention towards how they speak of their partners. If they are continually negative, derogatory, and unkind you can be reasonably sure that you don't want to be in a relationship with them. You'd be surprised how many do this, and I confess to a degree of bewilderment?
If you have an issue within a relationship, don't you have a certain obligation to address it? I mean, what's the point belly aching to others if you haven't at least made some effort to talk things through with your other half? And if you have done this, and that person isn't prepared to listen and engage with your concerns, that's surely a good indicator that you're in an unhealthy alliance. My point here is simple, and it's that relationships don't magically regenerate. Over the months and years baggage accumulates, and if it isn't dealt with it just breeds resentment, distrust, lack of respect. And by the way, if you are the type of person who bad mouths your partner what does that say about you? Well I'd suggest that at the very least you've got some maturity issues, which isn't exactly an ideal commodity is it?
Let's be real. Some relationships may not last. But a whole lot more could be a whole lot better if partners were prepared to engage with each other rather than regress into some childish siege mentality. I'm not saying for a second that anyone should stay within a violent or emotionally abusive situation, but that's not what I'm angling at today. It's those relationships that could be better, could be brilliant, could be fun and engaging and enriching. Life get's in the way of this goal, and children add another, albeit wonderful challenge to the mix. It just saddens me when I see couples that seem bored with each other, or passive aggressive, or outright hostile. Is that really how you want to spend your days?
If you get the chance, google a book called "The Five Love Languages". Both Joy and I read this many years ago and it was a real eye opener. We've learned how we tick, and we're still learning. And more than that, we're still investing time and effort into each other. As a man my focus can wander, and I've had periods when tempted to stray. That's just me being honest, but what prevented this was a deep knowledge that what I have is worth so much more than what I could find elsewhere. We've been building this thing for thirteen years, and the construction continues. It probably won't ever be finished, but it's lovely to live in.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Muppets Of Debt

Later today Prime Minister David Cameron will urge the people of Britain to pay off credit card and store card debt, and tell us that it's time to get our finances in order. What good advice, what simple and straightforward advice.
Britain, are you listening?
Time to look into the mirror, and then into your soul. What we need to see is a cultural sea change, a whole new attitude towards personal responsibility and our finances. As I said in a previous blog, we are also guilty of contributing to this crisis. Am I offending you? Making you irritable? Fantastic. That's my sole intent. And worse, now I'm going to boast that we don't own a credit card in our house, and remarkably nobody died as a result! And other than our mortgage we've no debt whatsoever. Everything in our house, and everything on the driveway is bought and paid for. I'm glad to say that this is one sin that I'm not guilty of. Believe me, there wasn't room for many more. Anyway, aside from my gloating and general desire to poke you all mischievously with a stick, I'm just wanting to stand on the roof tops and yell out something that should be creakingly, crushingly obvious to all of us.
If you can't afford it, don't buy it. And if you do bury yourself under a pile of debt then more fool you. I'm tired of treading around the sheer face of stupidity I see all around me. Take responsibility, and then take a deep breath.  And try being part of the solution rather than the cause of the problem.  And then I can get on with ranting incoherently about something else.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Wounding Words

A few months back I was contacted out of the blue by a girl I had gone to school with. Not so uncommon, you might think. Thing is, she had waited for 23 years to tell me how I had made her life a misery, how my sarcasm and barbed comments had caused her to self harm and contemplate suicide. She also told me that she had five children, and that at the first hint of bullying she would be up the school fighting their corner.
Needless to say I was horrified that my idiotic teenage conduct had caused another person, an innocent person, to feel such angst and trauma. Believe me, If I could go back in time and give teenage Rob a few words of wisdom I would. I take no pride in the boy that I was, and I applaud this girls bravery for  finding the courage to confront me. My reply to her acknowledged everything she said, and I confessed to every offence with which I was charged. I also thanked her for sharing such a painful emotional wound with me and made clear that she was not to blame or deserving of my verbal abuse.
Words can be lethal, can't they. They should really come with a health warning. I left school at 16 with no qualifications and an ego built on nothing, which was precisely what I deserved.  Whilst I was a capable communicator, I abused this horribly  during my school years. I could belittle and undermine, wound and abuse, all for the sake of cheap kicks. I expect there are others who hold equally negative views of that silly young man, and whenever I have encountered such a person I have felt it important to apologise. What else can I do? It's not as though I could ever justify my conduct.
A part of me wants to spend the next few paragraphs explaining how I matured, and how life taught me the value of kindness and decency and control, only that would be to cheapen the pain I have caused not only to that girl but to others. I used words as weapons, and they wounded terribly, and at no point did I question why I acted as I did. I was a fool. I was a weak minded fool. There's no other explanation for it.
To be sure, physical abuse is a terrible thing, but words can cause such terrible trauma, especially when we set out with the intent to cause harm. I bet every single person who reads this can remember an instance when somebody was critical of them. You're fat, you're ugly, your breath stinks, what is that you're wearing? There's a million and one ways to bring a person down, and it's a cheap shot under all circumstances. Better instead to climb the foothills of affirmation, and use words with wisdom and gentleness.
I continue to fail this test most days. I'm a clumsy oaf and I'm never far from the next gaff. The cruel streak may be gone but I can still be a menace, and the challenge for me is how to speak my mind in a way that at least conveys respect.

The Greatest Crime Of All?

It's getting harder to balance the books, isn't it? Harder to stay afloat, harder to save, harder to make contingency. At least, it is in my neck of the woods. I work in the public sector, so pay has been frozen, whilst all around other costs continue to rise like the flood waters of Katrina creeping into the back waters of New Orleans. Petrol, food, energy, all the basics continue to erode the bottom line. Even if you can budget and have some idea of monthly outgoings, there's always a hidden cost lurking out there during the course of the month.
Am I complaining? Actually, no. I'm just acknowledging what is, for many of us a very real fact about our lives right now. So whilst we struggle you'll be pleased to know that the bankers continue to make money hand over fist, whilst we continue to pay back what they gambled with for so long. If you're looking for a mental image to sum things up try out the following; picture a father going to his five year old daughter, whom receives 50pence pocket money a week, and asking for it back in order to pay off his own debts. Imaging taking that money out of a child's hand, smuggling it into your own pocket, turning and walking away. Is that really so different from what we're seeing in the wider world? We are repaying a massive debt, much of it accrued on the back of recklessness and folly. Now I'm not saying that we don't need to trim the state, which has become bloated and inefficient, yet it seems to me that we are being asked to carry an excessive burden.
By the way, I'm not just blaming the banks. I think our credit culture is equally culpable. The ease of borrowing and the lack of screening has surely also played a part, and as a culture we've played fast and loose with money we don't have for too long.
Anyway, back at ground level, every month seems to be getting just a bit trickier. The waters of expenditure keep rising, only the Dams of income aren't getting any higher. For many the waters have already spilled over, whilst for the rest of us we're busy hiring an army of Beavers to give us a helping hand. 
These are tough times. And it's not going to get better anytime soon. I wonder then, whether we need to remind ourselves to take additional pleasure in the simple things life gives us for free? The love of family and friends, the beauty of this remarkable world, and time spent reflecting on the fact that no matter our economic status, we're still outrageously lucky to be here at all?
I'm an odd mix when it comes to these things. I'm a geek and I love the gadgets and the toys, but I also love the simple things; a walk with my family, a good chat amongst valued friends. Money is a massive issue for all of us, and given the current climate it's never far from our minds. But let's not allow ourselves to be robbed of the simple pleasures that being alive can bring, because that would be the greatest crime of all.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Rapist In The Family?

For some reason I just watched the trailer for an upcoming horror movie called "The Human Centipede 2". I come away really perplexed at what the attraction is for these kinds of movies? Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I'm really unclear where the kicks are coming from? Do you really want to see people cut up, tortured, mutilated? Well ok, I suppose that's your prerogative, but I'm left feeling really uncomfortable about the whole idea. I just wonder why we crave watching others suffer? What primal instinct are we tapping into, and is it healthy to do so? Don't misunderstand me, I understand that certain drama's benefit from strong imagery, but what's with the whole slasher movie thing? It almost seems geared to inflame the more primitive parts of our brain, awakening the blood lust of our ancestors. Now I'm not ignorant that in every family tree there's probably a murderer or a rapist or a relative that lived like a parasite, and the ugly paradox is that we owe many of these brutes a kind of gratitude. After all, their violence and conniving may have put in motion the wheels that lead to you, to me? How's that for bizarre? In fact it's a near certainty that at some point along our family tree our females were raped and our men were killers and brutes. They were products of an utterly different world, the realm of pre-history, driven by primal urges to feed, to breed, to dominate. It's entirely likely that without their brutishness we may not have come into existence, so we might as well recognise that discomforting fact for what it is. Yet here we are now, tens of thousands of years on, with brains that can stare deep into the cosmos and understand the nature of reality, yet some of us prefer to watch teenagers get minced with varying degrees of sadism? Perhaps we still carry the hallmarks of our lowly ancestry after all?

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Erotic Power Of Words

How many of you have ever read any erotic fiction? How many of you have tried to write it, either for private or public consumption?
It's ok, I'm not asking for a show of hands. After all, I'm not here to embarrass you. I think there's a traditional assumption that females are more drawn to the subtlety of literature whereas us guys need big garish pictures of wenches in basques in order to get off. I happen to think this is a misapprehension. As someone who writes and as someone with a vivid imagination I've found it really useful to explore my ideas on sexuality in written form. It's something I've been experimenting with for several months and it's been interesting, and sometimes kind of sexy to get things down on virtual paper, so to speak. 
Now admit it, unless you're mired in repression, you have your own sexual fantasies. You've probably nurtured them and grown them over several years, collecting new elements and discarding others along the way. At least, I hope that's what you've been doing. If not I'm tempted to ask why? The really cool thing is that the sky is the limit when you sit down and start recording your thoughts and ideas on sex and fantasy. You can explore themes and construct scenarios, and do the wildest things. Nobody get's cheated on, and nobody exploited. It's just you and your mind, the ultimate playground and the place where all the best toys are just a thought away. I bet you've had the odd outrageous thought about a colleague, or a boss, or a person you sit opposite on the bus, haven't you? Now in reality you may have nothing sexually in common, but inside your imagination you share all the same kinks, and he or she is always ready to indulge you.
Oh hang on, I'm hearing an objection. Such an admission of, let alone exploration into these territories is a form of adultery, and cheapens those we find ourselves imagining? Whilst I can see how dwelling too long on another person might lead to obsession, or in the worse case the devaluing of a current partner, I'd suggest that the odd foray into fantasy is actually fairly harmless. Also, perhaps you and your partner already have a good level of physical intimacy, and you've both been honest enough about the things you do not wish to explore? This may lead to frustration for the deprived partner, and to get these thoughts and ideas down may prove something of a release valve. Now I want to be clear that I'm an advocate of strong, deep, and mutually enriching long term relationships, but I'm under no illusion that there are challenges to maintaining intimacy. Kids, work pressure, all manner of stresses can decouple a person from their own sexuality, and this is where we as caring partners come in. We need to cherish, to build up, to let our other half know they matter. I think If I've learned one very important thing as a man it's that the levels of connection between a couple have a direct bearing on the levels of intimacy. I don't know whether it's the same in same sex relationships, so I won't speculate. Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent and I want to get back on track. If you have a fantasy or a desire then to explore it in words can be enriching, illuminating, and just plain sexy. And perhaps your partner may be interested in reading those thoughts if you have the confidence to share them? All I'm saying is don't keep it all in, don't let it fester and build resentment and distance between you. For most couples there are differences in sexual preference; differences we need to be respectful of and sensitive to. But this doesn't mean you can't explore your own mind, your own kinks, your own outer limits. Surely that's more sensible than struggling with something that you don't need to struggle with?