Sunday, October 24, 2004
It's like going to China and checking out how much it's changed in the last 6 months, as well as in the last 25 years. For example, there are now 300 million cellphones there, which work in elevators, underground garages and in the wilds of Tibet, and all on a cheap Pay as you Go system. And country dwellers aren't allowed to move to the cities, so to get work, they have to do so illegally, whereby they are exploited as cheap labour by bosses who don't pay them for months and then don't pay them at all!
Only the blindest idiot would not have noticed that the buying power of their salaries has grown because the goods they buy are manufactured ever more cheaply with Chinese Sweat.
In Britain, you hardly get journalism like this. There isn't much focus on the Far East unless you catch a short feature on BBC2's Newsnight or watch an Open University documentary in the wee hours of the morning. Everything is about the West Indies, Africa, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pakistan countries. In other words, ex-colonies. Consider that even the Eighties Lefties on the Little Island that Was are perhaps in self-indulgence, only capable of perversely mourning the long-lost Empire? And that is scarcely a balanced Global View, is it?
Well, it's not a balanced view in Canada either. People from the Far East (China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines), now are the dominantly visible immigrant groups in Canada. Indeed, most of the other Canadians, those here for several generations and those more recently from other countries in the world, are actually openly expressing their concern about being swamped. Vancouver, in particular, is supposed to be a suburb of Hong Kong. In Toronto, "whites" (I hate that word because it is so crudely racist, and forgive me for using it for anything other than to make this statistical point) are supposedly now under 50% of the city's population. And they tend to be the ageing, childless type of people.
But other countries still like to think that Canada is full of Mounties and Lumberjacks. (and especially gay men who live in their Clouds of Sexual Fantasy as they continue to seek out the international circuit designed to keep them subsisting in their day-dreams.)
Saturday, October 23, 2004
It's a pity that they don't actually take further the discussion without getting bogged down into self-congratulation at discerning between rebelling against the Masses or Consumerism. Toronto is a fascinating study in consumerism, for those who know it. Canada was one of the first countries in the world to achieve a high, wealthy standard of living, and consumerism here has long been at a level of umbilical cord dependence. There is endless retail space here, yet none of it is exciting. All of it is bland, most of it is chain stores and franchises, and the same globally marketed merchandise that can be found anywhere in the world can be found here in neutrally-decorated surroundings.
Strangely, the appearance of Torontonians has never been more conformist and bland. They don't even seem to be interested in shopping for things that set themselves apart from "the Masses". This is consistent with the trend in London, but probably more apparent yet.
This either means that Torontonians are ahead of the World in terms of being truly Anti-Consumerist, in the sense that they resist the temptation to rebel against the Masses and begin another cycle of Consumer Fashion. Or it means that the Author's theory is wrong, and that people do in fact consume in order to Conform to the Masses, and those who seek social distinction have become socially extinct.
I'm not sure I'm any the wiser because of this article, but I do feel that there is something here that I need to think about..
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Oh life has to be lived. Sod the misery, I need a man. With all these sisters I've had around here, I can't even believe I had a heterosexual inclination just two months ago.
A female friend of mine who was blessed with being sexy cute and spunky just makes me envious of her husband. He's a builder. Not a very big one, but a very nice one. And since they got together almost 15 years ago, she's been doing quite well from it, although she would never admit it, OF COURSE! They even built their holiday cottage up in the vast lakelands of wild Ontario. The real Canada, not the boring city stuff, with the drab city people.
Two weeks in Toronto, and I'm eager to go home to London, with all its problems and sociocultural chaos. But if I had a boyfriend like hers, someone to share the Great Canadian Wilderness with, and one who's a builder!...... Then I could be here, nearer to Mom, which would make her quite happy, though she would never say it.
What the hell, I'll dream... It's got to be better than surfing the Internet and being a city-slicking turniphead. And it's way better than getting depressed at the insoluble problem of the Atlantic Ocean.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Seen this yet? This feature is better than a Michael Moore sentimental money maker. Notice the Cable spools outside the bomb site. They suggest that part of the building was already being reconstructed, and therefore available for the whole theatre show..
Monday, October 18, 2004
Toronto would seem a suburban desert except for the dissolute liberals still wandering about in the downtown ghettoes. Although they are dying out since they tend not to have children. The free weekly paper called NOW has for years been the only worthwhile voice of Alternative culture in Toronto.
In it I found this amusing story of love and sex, by one Sonya Cote, which I think Madame Tytania (see my blogroll) would approve of. Of course, such experiences are afforded only people who are fortunate to be born A-list sexy, beautiful, and gorgeous. And not everyone comes out unscathed from such dangerous and risky flings. But perhaps despite having more average looks, you may be able to sympathise with her conclusion: ''Once you've had someone read you like that and look at you that way while you're at your most vulnerable, you never recover. You're spoiled for life.''
Makes me wonder which is worse: to be unspoiled, or to be spoiled.
I headed down to Yonge & St.Clair and walked down the hill towards Rosedale to meet R and her sister. The weather at last is autumnally cool but overcast with showers, which is unusual.
At 10.30A.M on a Sunday morning, the Toronto subways and streets are devoid of people. At Yonge & Summerhill, the renovated railway station which is now an LCBO liquor outlet (in Ontario, alcoholic beverages are sold only through government owned LCBO outlets) stands very impressively with a fountain front court and a continental style Timothy's cafe. I think it is just about the most (or maybe even the only) architecturally attractive spot on the whole 15 mile length of Yonge Street. Further down the hill, on the left hand side, is an oasis of civilization: a delicatessen shop selling superb croissants, pastries and breads. I had an almond croissant, and complimented them profusely on their shop.
We met at Rosedale, near where the Marathon route crossed Yonge Street into Rosedale Valley road. We had a good time: it was cold, but R and her sis were having a riot cheering on the runners by their names, (which were emblazoned under their Numbers).
Afterward we repaired to a Starbucks at nearby Summerhill, and I overheard some dissipated sixty-something-year-old Canadian intellectuals lavishing praise on the Guardian Unlimited website, the quality of its journalism and all, and how it was preferable to buying real newspapers. Yet being far away from the country where the Guardian is spawned, do they have any understanding of how it is slanted?
Their attitude seemed consistent with an alarming ignorance and apathy that surrounds Canadian print journalism. Nobody here seems to ever challenge or demand much from their newspapers. There is the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. The Globe and Mail is national, and thin.
The Toronto Star is sentimentalist-liberal: it skews news towards the lowest common denominators of sentimentality. For example, on Friday they headlined their newspaper with yet another article on the submarine Chicoutimi. This time about how the sub was running with the hatches open. The press have relentlessly covered the tragic death of the submariner for weeks. By contrast, the Boeing jet crash at Halifax Airport the day before, which killed all seven crew, was quietly reported on an inside page. This was a commercial cargo flight for an airline registered in Ghana and operated from Sussex, England, carrying a load of seafood to Spain. Although seven people died in Canada because of a runway error at Halifax airport, they weren't Canadian. Presumably because they induce less sentimentality than the submariner on the Chicoutimi.
I can't even think when last I saw a newspaper article in Britain commemorating a British soldier who died in Iraq. (Editorial slant comes in many angles?)
The saintly glorification that the Guardian seems to earn internationally, just because it emanates from the home country of the English Language, is worthy of my suspicious concern. And so it should be, because it's vital to keep all journalists on their toes.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Well, 1 week in the hell that is North America and I'm just raring to get back to living. Hmmm... Even desperate for making some levity.....
So let's start with this one: It is after dark, after suppertime, on the evening of the funeral. Sister Number 2 is talking on the phone in the bedroom, telling someone about my Dad's passing. Suddenly she shouts for Sister Number 1, who goes upstairs. Then I hear Sis1 talking loudly, " Hi Pa, how nice of you to visit. Don't go away. (natter, natter, natter..)".
I am wondering what's going on. On investigating, I find Sis1 is having a full conversation with the Bedroom ceiling lightbulb, which is dimly, spookily, glowing orange. (There is no dimmer switch). Apparently the lightbulb started flickering as though it was going to fail, and then settled into this dim and darkened state.
Almost as scary as the possibility of ghostly spirits, is the state of mind of sisters who start talking to lightbulbs. You HAVE got to laugh. Sis1 was insisting that we do not switch off the light.
Well, my job here is obviously to keep posthumous mourning within the bounds of earthly sensibility. Being an intelligent scientific kind of guy, I had to launch into an explanation of how, when a lightbulb filament fails, it could easily settle into a steady state where it has a high resistance constriction at the point where it starts to break. With this higher resistance it has a lower current, so the overheating effect that was causing the filament to fuse, subsides and the lightbulb will glow dimly and steadily. It is slightly unusual, but far from impossible.
And then I had to accompany this with a reminder that by all means keep faith with Catholicism if you must, but at least choose the good parts of the religion, while dispensing with the rubbish of miracles and apparitions.
On Wednesday to escape from this claustrophobic environment, I attacked Toronto. That is, I decided to buy a day pass and go wherever necessary to shop for a pair of trainers, and to try including shopping centres that were completely new to me.
Toronto is very boastful of its public transportation system, which in the Seventies, was still way ahead of many. The TTC, as it is known is still efficient, but nothing to talk about. An off-peak day pass costs C$7.75, which allows you to go anywhere by bus or subway train within Toronto.
So to cut a long story short, I went to Yonge & Sheppard, then I went to Yonge & Finch, then I went back to Yonge & Sheppard, then I went to Yonge & Eglinton, then I went to Yonge & Bloor. Finally I took the Spadina line up to the Yorkdale shopping centre, which I've never deigned to visit, and I finally found a pair of Reebok trainers at a clearance price at Sears.
Throughout this entire journey, I saw nothing worth looking at in Toronto. Nothing new or of note. Nothing that I would recommend to a tourist for sight-seeing. Very few interesting people. Nothing worth buying that is not sold in every city in the world by the International Corporation of Chain Stores.
Toronto has been a very uninspiring place for a lot of its history, but especially in the last decade and some years, it defies description. It is a good city for eating out in restaurants, and driving everywhere in straight lines.
The weather has been ridiculously warm. Fall/autumn is almost four weeks behind normal. Today is overcast but very mild. There have been warm sunny days during this week which were suitable for sunbathing topless.
Global warming? Oh for god sakes, yes. Climate change? Well, this is not the normal pattern of weather in Southern Ontario, so climate change, yes certainly. And while the daft intellectualizing pseudo-scientists are bent on assuaging their egos to console themselves against their failures, Humanity continues to fuck Mother Earth.
Oh never ever allow a funeral home in the North American style to be exported to your country, wherever you live. Six Feet Under was produced in a very timely fashion.
The architecturally bland Seventies style building in North Toronto was typical. Neither a home, nor a temple, nor a church. Just a place of business. Its "chapel" had a ceiling height reaching nearly 3 stories, but was such a plastic place: clean, neutral colours, finished everywhere with varnished oak trim. This is the North American aesthetic for "quality interior"? The music playing throught the speakers was a loop tape with only 3 poorly performed versions of "religious classics". Even Classic FM plays better versions of these works. The rendition of "Pachelbel's Canon" was disgraceful, as was the "Ave Maria".
A few "organ pipes" were mounted on the wall as a decoration! Six foot wide by 5 foot high, painted in silver or something, sitting above one of the wooden box speakers. Fake, fake, fake. This is North America. The Las Vegas effect, some would say.
The fabulous oak casket that my Dad lay in was quite impressive. Hard to believe that such a fine piece of cabinetry was going into the ground.
He was withered beyond belief. I had last seen him in July. Now he looked like he was mummified. Skin and bone only. Not because of anything the funeral home had done. This was how he was in his last week. People tell me this is normal for people who die of cancer. It was amazing that my other family having watched his decline, seemed unable to predict that he had little time left.
It didn't trouble me terribly, because I knew he was dead now. But some people need to see the body in the casket, so that they can be convinced that it's time to let go.
All the hoohah about "In five minutes, I will be closing the casket for the last time, so any of you who wish to pay your last respects should do so now..." This all orchestrated by the master of ceremonies, a spotty, spotty man barely out of adolescence, who somehow very successfully trod the tightrope between professionalism and funereal gravity.
The Catholic monseigneur giving the service must have been having a laugh. His sermon ended up being an anonymous dirge on amateur CELL BIOLOGY. "The uniformity of life, the mitochondrial soup, the DNA, the Golgi bodies, blah, blah, blah... Humans are like ants, they farm fungi and they raise aphids like livestock..."
I was astounded, and wanted desperately to burst out laughing. I looked around at my niece, who being in high school, is studying this stuff right now, and we just registered our incredulity.
So a Catholic priest has finally got around to reading what first appeared as Seventies Popular Science? It was certainly an effective distraction from grief, in any case.
Into the hearse it went, in the funeral procession to the cemetery. A very austere cemetery worthy of Puritanical churches. Into the vault, and then left to go into the ground by the cemetery workers. Again, for people who need to be convinced that the Death was final, and it's time to let go.
And now, I'm bored, and waiting to go back to England. I'm more worried about having a job, and living. And whether to fruitlessly chase my own dreams, or come back here and be of future help to my Mom. Life goes on until it goes off.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Saturday was one of relief. Clearing out the palliative-care-provided hospital-style bed that Dad was using since March. Shifting the proper beds back into place. Cleaning out. Everybody is relieved that all that pain of the dying is finished. There is still mourning going on, but it tends to be about forgetting the day-to-day routine of the past few months, and remembering the odd amusing moment.
It's overcast here in Toronto, and today is at last autumnally cool. There was an Indian summer over the weekend. There hasn't been much rain for ages, and not much leaf fall yet either.
We're waiting for the funeral tomorrow morning. In the meantime, there has been talk of spirits, and re-visitations by Dad. Such conclusions arising from the raw feelings of dread, which accompanied the trying months past, and are now working themselves out of the sub-conscious. They are a manifestation of the process of relief. Such is my task, to be here to moderate the "mourning", to be witness to their stories of my Dad's last weeks, and thus to alleviate their experiences. So even though I wasn't here for the ending, I'm still involved.
Three of my sisters are here and are driving me bananas with their childish quarrelling and squabbling and their tragically misguided emotions. At middle-age, you would think they would all have a little more intelligence and understanding about what is going on in each other's heads. But no, enormous rows have erupted over things such as "what shoes to wear to the funeral". Fights over superficial irrelevancies, that stubbornly conceal each their own insecurities and the jealously-guarded alternate coping mechanisms that their very different lifetimes have engraved in them.
And now with their father dead..., it's their strange way of coming to terms with the vacuum from having lost somebody to fall back on, or to rebel against. By gossipping and quarreling they attempt to find some community of strength and reserve. I'm not sure it's working, and to me it looks like it's creating more trouble, but then, I 'm only gay, and the older I get the less I seem to know.
Need some men around here, some solid, stolid emotionless men. Ones who drown themselves in drink, even... Ones who live only for football... Ones who could effortlessly ignore the antics of these women: none of the nonsense would even enter the periphery of their vision enough to be worthy of attention.
There may be no such men here, but I can still dream, so maybe I should have my jet-lag nap after all.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
3.15 pm ** I'm having a shower getting ready to go over to David's to look at his central heating problem.
Phone rings, and Big Sis intones: "Aunty says come over now, because Dad is shutting down.."
5.00pm ** I am at Manor Park train station on my way to Heathrow Airport. In that time, I've found on Opodo the cheapest flight for only 250 pounds, on Air Canada, leaving at 9.00pm. I've packed what I need, including a funeral suit, and shut down the house. From the time of the phone call received in London, I will be at the house in Toronto in 13 hours. Rueing the irony of 21st century life: that I have spent 5 weeks jobhunting and yet have not secured one interview, let alone been economically productive. Yet for what is not much more than 1 week's wages, I can cross the atlantic door to door in half a day. Put it another way, it's so easy to add to global warming because oil prices are too, too, low, yet at the same time human energy is wasted
on slothful underoccupation.
My first journey at rush hour on the Underground for several years. By the time I reach Kings Cross, I am homicidal, and my shoulders and backpack are set in a rugby tackle posture. There are so many sleepwalking zombies in the trains, on the platforms, in the stations. Some are tourists, some are office robotpersons on their way home. I suddenly am reminded what a different London it is from being an unemployed person spending all day in a Zone 3 suburb. A London just as undesirable, but even more remote from any universal reality worthy of Man the Animal.
I have forgotten none of the battle strategy on London Transport. Get as far as you can on any train, so long as it is heading in the right direction and running well. So if one or the other Tube services up ahead is delayed, you can always exit for the street and catch a taxi the rest of the way. My cleverness has allowed me to avoid the Central Line blockage that had just started at Liverpool Street.
So now I jump on the first Piccadily Line service, though it's heading for Rayner's Lane, not Heathrow Airport, and hot with exasperation, I sulk on the trundling train.
6.20pm ** I reach Baron's Court, which being an open air station, is ideal for changing to a Heathrow train. My mobile phone beeps into range. I jump onto the following Heathrow train, and find out that sis in Europe wants to know what flight arrangements I have found. So I ring her back.
On the seat to my left is a classically attractive Irish girl with luscious dark borwn hair and clear complexion. She is nattering with girlish enthusiasm at all manner of silliness. The train car is full but there is plenty of standing room. With my mobile phone to my left ear, side by side with the Irish girl's..
Me: "Hi J.. It's me...I'm on my way to the airport"
J: "Oh! You got a flight already?! *breaking voice* Did you hear? Dad died ten minutes ago."
Me: *euphemistically* "Oh so he's gone is he? Already? Well it's too late to worry then.."
And the people around me are nattering, or cold, or sullen. They are Londoners. This is a Tube train. If you are tired of Life, it is because there is none on a Tube train.
I felt so cheated. I had decided I wanted to be there when he passed away. And now I was too late.
And no private space to shed my tears.
So my wishes earlier in the week for his speedy exit were heeded. He still took some food and water yesterday, but today he has died. Rotted away from prostate cancer, there was little of him left to die in any case.
Prostate cancer metastasizes into the bones, and when he was diagnosed three years ago, it had already done this to an advanced stage. Then it affects the bone marrow, so that there is little red blood cell production, which is why his haemoglobin levels were already critical in June (see archive). Starving of oxygen, and unable to take new blood transfusions, and regardless of the canned oxygen available, his death did not linger for weeks beyond the last intake of food, as it can do with some other cancers.
And so Dad you are gone
Where to, it matters not.
It is the end of an era
And the beginning of many more endings
Until at last I meet my own.
We reach Acton Town, and I suddenly spy Dom walking past the train. Eager to seize some contact, I shout, "DOM !!!". I don't care anymore what people think of me.
D (from the train door): Oh it's you! What are you doing over here?"
G (shouting): I'm on my way back to Toronto. MY DAD JUST DIED!"
And my fellow passengers just wavered a bit.... Especially the bubbly Irish Girl on my left..
9.08 pm ** Now I'm on the plane. It stinks of oil fumes. It is Air Canada. Air Canada stinks. (See March Archives). I could have flown in comfort on My Travel for 50 pounds less, but it was not leaving till tomorrow afternoon. How was I to know that Dad would be dead already?
There is no seat back TV. The uphostery is an indescribably drab grey. The leg room is minimal, and the seat width is just acceptable even to my slim butt. It's a Boeing, B767-300, and the whole interior is ugly. (MyTravel has lovely bright Airbus 330's.) I think I'll need to get drunk.
And then some bland canned chill out music plays in the background with some vacuous coral reef film imagery sloshing around on Vaccuum-tubed Televisions. Air Canada is so shit.
An imperfect father. He was that. Yet the world seems a lonelier place now. The bubbles of mourning that have welled up throughout the year all came from this reservoir of loneliness. One less person who was part of my past. Gone forever, undeniably, and irreversibly. I wish I were not on this plane, amongst alien strangers. I should like to mourn now, free to sob and shudder and shed more tears.
At last, we are in the air, and dinner finally arrives. A lamb curry and a Bloody Caesar with clamato juice lifts my spirits. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkhaban starts to draw my attention.
Our attentions are incessantly torn by distracting entertainments from the deep dark wells in our souls. This is a characteristic foundation of modern, commercialised, Westernized cultures.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Here's a lovely example of a Job advertised on the UK Government's expensive yet crappy official website for jobs. I think it's a lovely indication to USA persons that London, England is not the land of Mary Poppins or Hugh Grant. (Ilford is in London, in Zone 4 of the six concentric zones that demarcate the Public Transport Fare system of London, but is officially still part of the county of Essex). There are rather a lot of people who are recently arrived native speakers of these languages.
Job Title TECHNICAL ASSISTANT-LINGUIST/PROGRAMMER QIB/17239
Location ILFORD, ESSEX
Hours 40 PER WEEK, DAYS AND HOURS TO BE AGREED
Wage £1,200-£1,550 PER MONTH
Must have 3 years or more experience in software development or educated to HND, or
equivalent, standard and two of the following languages:- Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian,
Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian
together with good English, together with MS Office skills for preparation
of test documentation. Your role will be developing stemming rules and noise
word lists for the languages of the countries that have recently joined the
EU, testing and develop existing products and research into other language
Thursday, October 07, 2004
I have always hated looking at my own C.V. How many times I have had to edit and rearrange it, throughout my life, and although it has gotten me jobs sometimes, it never ever got me the jobs that I really wanted.
And when I say hate, I mean I have often felt near mortal dread at the thought of even approaching the computer with the damning document.
No, not even when I have been sickly and ghastly have I ever dreaded looking at myself in the mirror, as much as I dread looking at my C.V.
One's desired self-image and one's actual image are two different things. I'm relatively comfortable with my physical image: I'd much rather be a chameleon or shape-changer so I could morph into anybody I wanted to be, but I know how to live with the body I've got. How other people see me, is more of a problem for me, but I think I'm used to that.
The CV is another story. My desired CV and my actual CV are like two different universes. I could more easily become a lying Member of Parliament than I could exaggerate my career history.
There's something about looking at my CV which makes me feel like a total utter failure. This was not the life I intended. This was not the future that I had expected as a boy. Catastrophic disappointments and disillusionments are amassed in a reservoir of self-dread condensed into two or three pages of A4 on Microsoft Word.
Quite apart from which, even if I had a CV that came close to what I had expected out of my life, I would hate with enormous passion being pigeonholed and trapped forever in its stream of history. The greatest liberty afforded to a man is the chance always of starting from a blank, clean slate, unfettered by his past. It's impossible to achieve this, of course, and it will never ever happen, but that is the ideal. And this ideal shrinks away into the distance ever more, as the technocivilization juggernaut bulldozes through our society.
So there, I've said it. And my God, this is what blogging is for. I hate C.V.'s and the entire system of selection for a job. I have no other system to suggest. I just hate them, because they have never ever gotten me what I wanted, but only occasionally got me barely what I needed. And I know it's not just the C.V. At the interview, it's me: my body, my voice, my looks, my values. And I'll never be able to change how people see them, or how some will like what they see, and some will not. Which is why all I can do is blog about it. But goddamnit, that's got to be better than letting it infect me with thoughts that "there's something wrong with me, and thus I shall hate myself for it".
After nearly two days of Zombified moroseness and maudlin eruptions of mourning, I napped yesterday afternoon, and awoke feeling normal again. Another mysterious phase of mourning vented, thank goodness. I may go to watch my Dad die, after all, instead of waiting until he's gone, and then going for the funeral. People die, and yes, his is the shitty, slow, painful, worst way to die. If I go, it will be because I might as well face it now. It won't lessen his pain. It won't make me a saint. It might not enlighten me any more than what I have so far reached. But I'm thinking about it.
Spoke to P in Dublin yesterday, and he was helpful as usual because his Dad died slowly of lung cancer only 2 years ago. Spoke to Sis in Europe and she is a little more confused about what to do. Bro will be starting his first ever job in over 10 years, and it will be at a call centre. Financial reality. This is indeed a time of family upheaval. The contortions of a middle aged family make an unanticipated landscape for me.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
The movie is very original visually. But there are two things wrong with it. It lacks humanity: computer-generated films like Shrek and Toy Story have more humanity than Sky Captain. The second thing wrong with it is that its visual density flashes by too quickly. Some of its beautiful, laboriously-constructed images barely have time to register on your retina, before they move or change. It seems such a waste, that an imaginative vista, which has so much potential for escapism, is allowed less time on a film than would be allowed on a music video. I did actually doze off for 5 minutes midway. Gwynneth Paltrow shows off her hair very nicely in the film, and Jude Law is starting to look like Niles Crane in Frasier.
Afterward we repaired over a footbridge over the dockwater to a pub called the Cat and the Canary. The views in the Canary Wharf Docks are beautifully lit at night. I was quite surprised, as I really like that sort of sparkly night time thing. As we sat at the tables outside having our pints, looming over us, across the water, was the slinky 20 storey tower with the Marriott Hotel in the bottom, and extravagantly expensive New York Style apartments above. Over half of the flats and hotel rooms are clearly empty, and you wonder how these economic realities never seem suggested by the Labour Government's statistics.
Tom is interesting enough and has handsome bone structure, though he has let himself become portly at his young age. We managed to chat for hours, as he is erudite and intelligent. But then, I suppose he is clearly of the chattering classes.
Today, I rotted. I even felt ill this morning, undoubtedly tipped over by depressed feelings of mourning. Channel 4 has excellent daytime programming these days, I was astonished! There was a superb documentary on the history of immigration in Britain, followed by another on the U-Boat's role in World War 1. Then Cheers and a double episode of Frasier. And surprisingly, all episodes that I had missed. One of them involved Frasier being publicly mistaken as being OUTed as Gay, and then being pursued as a trophy boyfriend by Patrick Stewart, of all people! Patrick Stewart does indeed have a glorious voice, as I've mentioned before, and doesn't he know how to use it.
Fortunately, the weather and I picked up in the afternoon. Chocolate for serotonin, the Internet for chat, but most of all a march into the wind. For once I ended up at the West End of the Wanstead Flats, and got to examine close up the new Jubilee Pond, constructed as a wildfowl replacement for its broken concrete predecessor (which according to the sign, was the Model Yachting Pond first opened over 90 years ago).
I was surprised to learn that the Wanstead Flats have in fact been treeless since the 12th century, and mostly used for sheep grazing. The soil is so poor, the growth is so slow, that I would have thought it were poorer grazing than the Yorkshire Moors.
But my dear Mother cheered me up immensely. She was feeling very chuffed and prepared because she has over the weekend picked out THE most expensive casket she could buy for my dad. It is ridiculous to me that money is wasted on death when it was conserved with such niggardly austerity during life. But then their values are so different from my generation's. And it made her very happy that she would be giving him a nice comfortable bed to lie in his grave. Why not cremation? He is that much afraid of fire? I defer to irrationality, when it obviously achieves consolation more successfully than my logic.
Dad was able to say a few words on the phone, but is losing coherence. It is even harder for me to know what to say, when he has reached the state where the meaning of words seems to conjure up little in his mind.
Death is a funny old business, which is no wonder that Six Feet Under was conceived to become such a hit. And I misuse the word funny very deliberately.
My poor Dad. I wish you a speedy exit, while you can still hold a sensible memory before you close your eyes for the last time. I wish you could be me, so that you could just lie in the forest out in the cold and be gone by the morning. It's the very least dignity that any animal gets, and the very least that any man should be entitled to.
Monday, October 04, 2004
Con = With
Have faith/trust in yourself. That's what self-confidence actually means.
So why don't people just say self-trust or self-faith? The word self-confidence is one of those in the English language that is bandied about so loosely, that its meaning has become bastardized to near uselessness. Most people are taught it in the context of a celebrity or a cocky schoolmate. For example, a child might hear Wayne Rooney described as self-confident. So a child thinks that when they need to be self-confident, they need to be like Wayne Rooney. They emulate him in a superficial manner, and think that emulation gives them self-confidence.
And what happens when the Upper Year school drug dealer is the model of Self-Confidence?
Without the teachings from a Church or a surrounding strong social community, how will anybody learn the right kind of Self-Trust? Through trial and error? Through the luck of being born with all the right things ( money, good family, superlative genes, good looks, healthy, fit athletic body, intelligence)? How can an asthmatic, for example, be expected to teach themselves self-confidence, when they know that every so often their body fails them perilously?
Self-faith in the face of challenge and self-encouragement when faced by failure are fundamental essentials to survival. Those who cannot foster it in others, must be shamming their own self-confidence.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
This after a mini-workout where the body just seemed to sing without effort, which is not to be taken for granted in middle-age!
I blame having gone out to the Barcode basement for a boogie last night. It wasn't the sexiest crowd there last night, but it was good enough. The music wasn't the most electric there either, but it did almost become challenging in a few places. I was in enough mood to thrash a few guitars, if I had been so lucky to have a job as rock star. And if the music were hot enough.
But my body loves the dance. It always tells me so. And for the first time in my life I realised that I am so fed up with tall guys. I don't mean the monsters who are over 6' 2" who are so tall that they have developed embarrassment at their own height. I mean your average 6-foot-tall-full-of-himself-good-looking-and-had-it-all-easy faggot who gets onto the dancefloor and then by their body language, clearly doesn't have the class to give elbow space to shorter neighbours. No wonder some straight men can't stand gays. When gay men are like that, you really can't wait for them to finally have to face a little challenge in their life. Thank goodness they'll get old and lose their looks, and by then no fluffy little twink will be stupid enough to ever imagine that an elder gay man is like a "Daddy".
Well, I was almost ready to start a brawl, but damn it, this stupid town is so suffocatingly "civilized" these days. "Son you don't have to fight to be a man. Walk away from trouble if you can....". Yeah, Tony Blair, so true to your heart, isn't it? Can't even have a fight in a bar here now. No, we have to join the army and go to Iraq if we really want to have a fight. Whoopee! It seems to suit the fatly-pensioned peasants of the Legal/Judiciary classes.
No, I went there just for a dance, and thank goodness. Not looking for Love, and not looking for Sex. They seem both like such a waste of time! In fact, lately I've been thinking of renaming this blog to Life and the City, because frankly, Love is just not on the menu. Not for starters, main course or dessert. It gives you indigestion, whichever way you eat it. As for sex, well.....unless you're a prostitute, after a day, you never have anything to show for sex except an unhappy discovery.
Magic FM is playing on the radio. What a pleasant change of Feel-Good-Factory. The other day I was listening to one of the little children that play at being DJs on XFM. This one is male with a thick accent. He was being a snob and making jokes about Magic FM. Silly kids. Playing the game of "I'm so cool because I DJ with the hottest newest hippest kind of music". It makes you want to slap nincompoops like John Peel and Jo Whalley, or better yet, make them do REAL jobs, like stacking supermarket shelves. Where are good old Communist Party re-education methods, just when you need them?
But yes, dancing makes my body sing. Well, might as well sing before I get old and die. Could do worse, couldn't I?