Monday, January 23, 2006

Responsible and Responsibility

“These things do happen and do you stop these things from happening?...NO”. Opera diva La Carlotta in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Last week I was walking home from a night out when I saw a group of young men following two young women. They were shouting things, many of a sexual nature. The women walked behind some buildings. Their pace increased. Their body language altered, fear replacing fun. It was dark. The men followed, still shouting.

What was I to do? The young women had made a rather daft decision by choosing to walk away from the public highway and in to a hidden self designed path.

I felt helpless for a few seconds. When I had walked my drinking partner back to their car (two minutes away) I hastily moved back to my last sight of the two small groups. I was going to use my bicycle to venture around to the void behind the large ‘hanger-style’ buildings. What would I do when I got there? What would I see? Was I over-reacting? Being stupid?

Upon entering the road where I would make my diversion I saw the young men again. There were still 6 of them. They had discovered that the flat
‘Cement bag’ trolley is a great laugh when mounted by a couple of your mates. Up and then down again across the grass mounds at the roadside. Taking an occasional dip on to the busy road, spinning close to oncoming traffic, the group seemed less threatening. I felt relief and headed home.

When I was a much younger person I had a group of friends who were fairly irresponsible. One of their activities was to throw pieces of tree in front of vehicles on a 30 mile an hour stretch of road. I don’t like saying it (but acknowledging mistakes should teach us) but under pressure from my friends, I also had a go or two.

It’s odd that I was able to control my consumption of alcohol to a safe level when with them. I never took drugs or even smoked with them. I never worshipped the ‘God’ of our group despite valuing his friendship more than anyone else’s (one of my other friends would give this kid milk and a carrot when we went to his house and give the rest of us nothing– yes that’s funny in hindsight). I never ‘snogged’ the girl who was ‘available’ or apparently ‘up for anything’ because my mate said I should do. I always followed my own mind and my own heart. I NEVER did anything because of so-called peer pressure and never did anything in a futile attempt to fit in.

How dare I suddenly use this ridiculous excuse then for a really irresponsible thing that I did. To hurt someone knowingly takes a certain sort of person that I am certainly not. To act irresponsibly? How do you judge that? What I did was potentially far more serious than hitting someone in the face (even with a crunched up fist). How many people could my one, maybe two ‘logs’ have killed?

How many people could the 20, 30 maybe, logs that others threw while I watched have killed?

It is odd then that even knowing how wrong this type of irresponsible behaviour is, that I still fail to link it to its worst full potential.

Yet any hint of an attack with intent sends me in to some bizarre ‘Clark Kent as Superman’ moment. Why is fear, anyone’s fear, so unnerving? Terrifying? Upsetting?

The unknown is the thrill of life. But forcing the unknown on to anyone with or without pre-meditated consideration is wrong.

In the future I, for one, will really try to view aggressive or threatening behaviour and reckless disrespect for others with the same eyes, the eyes given to me by those ‘things’ that I love…

Friday, January 20, 2006

Living for the day...

“My life got cold, it happened many years ago”. Popular music group Girls Allowed sang (but did not write that). Every Winter we turn on the heaters; dust the bicycle lights; wonder how we will fit all of our fruit and vegetable portions in when we have no desire for cold salads and our healthy lunchtime sandwiches have been replaced by a piping hot greasy cheese pasty. Somehow I imagine though that the song probably has nothing to do with the cold of the winter season. Life got cold because of its contents. What life offered got cold.

A friend of mine had an on-off relationship with a boy loser for more than a year. He was unpredictable; dangerous; unreliable; untrustworthy; a cheat; a coward.

Most significantly, though, he was a victim. I’m not excusing him. Rather I’m saying that our past shapes our future and our present. He was a victim of bullying; of vicious mind-games played on him by a group of his peers each with their own mental weaknesses. The path was long and winding.

“My life got cold, it happened many years ago”. I was bullied for many years myself. If I’m honest the depth of mental torture I suffered every day does not get much deeper. But I’m still here, alive, in one perfectly functioning piece. I‘m blooming lucky. I’ve undeniably been shaped by my past. I take seeing others in suffering as a personal tragedy. If someone seems distressed or worried I automatically enter some strange gear of honest ‘self help’ textbook guru. The honesty is a problem. When someone said to me “You just don’t like me” the other week I said nothing. I do not like them. If I like you I’ll bore you to death with my over poetic verse regarding your most appealing traits (though only when I feel that something unfair has been said or done). My friend with the ex-loser boyfriend thinks of him every day. She misses the physical stuff mostly. She also thinks of him because she’s not convinced that he won’t come back. It makes her angry that he probably never thinks of her. It is self-inflicted mind games. I suggested that she meet with him on neutral ground just to ‘catch up’ over coffee (to show that the spark was never there in this new honest light). She can’t do that because she is repulsed by him. I felt stupid warning her but I said “you need to move on and reach that point where he is fully gone”; “Otherwise before you know what has happened your life will seem pointless, you can’t shake that feeling, that emotion easily”. “Everything that you do, or even achieve will be a bitter reminder of what he did to you”.

I know the importance of letting things go. Sometimes dealing with them, closing them off can be very difficult but doing something new because of something old can be devastating. The past can shape the future and the present but in doing that you should remain at the controlling helm.

My life got cold…Yes it did but it happened many years ago.

January is Year

January is never ending huh?! It’s an odd time of year actually. What with Xmas, all the Xpectation and pressure of getting everything ready; the presents; food; drink; family. Then you realise that you have no wrapping paper; that the sticky tape is yellowed or the Turkey didn’t want to be eaten and has eloped with the Mince pies (yes all of them) and gone on it’s honeymoon to Lapland (where Santa is actually waiting with a pickaxe and pre-heated oven). Poor Turkey. The mince pies are okay. Apparently Santa gave those to his reindeer. The reindeer heard that working season was upon them so they dug a tunnel under the ice and died whilst trying to reach some sunny paradise that is undiscovered by human life-forms and by the pro-life/anti vivisection posses. Poor things. The kids stockings are empty and the man that you thought loved you and his/your offspring (so would happily play Santa Claus in real Santa’s absence) is actually playing with department store Santa Claus’s second cousin, twice removed, in the attic, not yours, his.

So Xmas was a flop but no worries because though we spend 9 months and a bit getting ready for it we can’t wait for it to be over because then we have the New Year. That’s the main event. No baby in a manger. No three kings. No wise men (because they are all brain dead by 10am New Year’s Eve). But hang on… a problem. If the New Year is the main event…then why did I lose my husband; my turkey and my favourite apron - (I wrapped it up and gave it to granny, she wouldn’t know it was second hand, I simply told her that the gravy stains were evidence of the hard work that had gone in to making it…making it dirty that is, but she will never know) - before it?

Actually my Xmas was alright. The tree stayed up. The lights worked when they were meant to and all the fights and stuff? Well, nobody got killed (though before he ran away my Turkey lost one of his tail feathers). Oh and I got the present I’ve always felt I should have received by now. What you ask? Socks. 3 pairs of them. Thank you Sock Fairy.

New Year was a riot. Literally. I went round my town chewing on a large piece of decaying grass and kicking people’s walls whilst singing “feed the birds, tuppence a bag”. Somebody offered me a bag of birds for 1 pence but think they kinda missed the point somewhat. By the end of the night I had some bloody toes and a sore tongue but calmed my nerves by feeding all of the birds myself. It was a New Year that I shall never forget and though it was a little strange…Yes, it is also completely made up. Think I have that illness where I habitually lie a lot…I’m kidding.