Tag Archives: moaning on and on and on

Fucks given? Zero. And a book review

Today at church we were celebrating a new C of E service theme, Racial Equality. The service was brilliant, mentions of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream which seems depressingly far from coming true.

It all sounds a bit bland. Some might say it’s a message we’ve all hoisted in and no longer need to hear, others might call it ‘snowflakey’. I, on the other hand, think one of the saddest things about modern life is how desperately the world still needs to hear this stuff.

Seriously though? What happened to the way Britain was in 2012 when we had the olympics and smugly showed people what fair play and openness and an inclusive society looked like. What made people turn from being friendly and open to being so bitter and petty.

Melanin? Skin colour? How is it that anyone still gives a fuck about this shite? What is wrong with us? It’s all such absolute cobblers.

Guess what colour my great to the times of lord knows how many grandfather was? Black. How do we know? Because the boys in my grandfather’s family all had a blood factor that only occurs in North African black people and it only goes from father to son.

Know what colour I am?

Yeh. White. Skin colour means absolutely fuck all. It does mean we have black people to thank for the Crystal Palace though, even if they were white by that time (look it up).

You really would have thought that ‘love thy neighbour’ would have sunk in after all this fucking time wouldn’t you? But no.

The fact is, dickheads come in all shapes, sizes, abilities, colours and backgrounds as do saints. Not all Christians can love their neighbours, some seem to think the point of their religion is to judge people, or change them. That’s not your job if you’re a Christian. It’s God’s. Jesus said so. ‘Judge not, lest you be judged,’ oh and all that bit about ‘when I was poor you clothed me, when I was in gaol you visited me,’ etc etc. Nothing in there about, ‘when I was poor you told me it was my fault and that I was a scrounger.’

We have to start giving zero fucks about all this stupid petty surface shit.

Seriously.

Stop looking at the fucking box. It’s what’s inside that matters. Is this person good? Yes or no? Don’t read the Daily Mail to find out for fuck’s sake! Just talk to them. Often.

Years ago my Mum went to Worthing to collect me from school. She turned up early so she could nip to the shops first. When she got back to her car she had a flat tyre. She got the jack out, positioned it in the right place, ready, and then started loosening the wheel nuts — obviously, you have to loosen the nuts (without taking them right off) before you get the car off the ground while the weight keeps the wheel still otherwise it just spins.

Mum knew what to do, but the wheel nuts had been done up with one of those compressed air nut gun things and she couldn’t get them undone. I needed picking up from school, too far away to walk there and back before the time on the parking meter ran out and she got a ticket. She couldn’t feed the meter because she was supposed to park for two hours or less and then not return for an hour. So, leave the car she’d get a ticket but at the same time, if she didn’t leave the car, she’d have to leave me.

This was before mobile phones. No ringing the school. She had fifteen minutes. All was not lost. She was standing on the wrench, probably swearing a bit, and jumping up and down, when a group of really scary hell’s angels came by on choppers. They were properly frightening; smelly weed on jeans, chapter back patch on the jackets, german helmets with horns on (this was the 1980s so they still could) tattoos (in the 1980s it was still quite rare for normal people to have tattoos) the works. As one, their heads snapped left and they all looked at her as they drove past.

‘Yikes!’ she thought.

A few yards up, where there was a double yellow and parking wasn’t allowed. They stopped. They all got off their bikes and walked back to her.

‘Double yikes!’ she thought. ‘Hello,’ she said.

‘Here Mum. You can’t do that,’ said one. ‘Stand aside, we’ll fix this in a jiffy.*’

*That’s probably not exactly what he said, but it’s what Mum said he said.

The hell’s angels, or possibly just, ‘angels’ in this case proceeded to remove the tyre in record time and popped the spare on. It took them about a minute and a half and they put the spare back in the boot and the jack back in the compartment under the boot floor.

Then, with a cheery, ‘There you go Mum!’ they waved away her effusive thanks and buggered off.

Mum thought it was hilarious, as well as rather lovely. She told me about it when she picked me up in a kind of, ‘you’ll never guess why I’m actually here on time’ kind of way. Neither of my parents would judge anyone on what they wore, but the fact is, twenty hells angels ambling along the road towards you is always going to be a little bit scary. Perhaps less so now that my son is a metal head.

A while ago I was chatting to someone on facebook who had taken enormous umbrage with some blog post I’d done. I’m not sure how they found it, I think one of my more right wing friends had shared it—one who doesn’t self actualise by their political beliefs—and I guess it got seen by someone who did.

I think I’d said that there were some people whose political convictions were to the left of Attila the Hun who weren’t necessarily evil, or mentioned that some of my friends are Muslims or … I dunno … showed tolerance something. I’m not 100% certain but I think it was the Muslim thing that set them off. The basic gist was that this person had met a group of people from the middle east who were the absolute back end of awful and that, as these people were Muslim, it followed that all Muslims were awful. Other news and experiences of friends had bolstered this view.

As a woman, it’s difficult avoid taking a dim view of the way my fellow women are treated in some countries and this is where I have to fess up to the fact that I often do exactly the same thing. Yes, I subconsciously base my judgement of entire nations on their government or the idiots in the population who make world news. Other times, I’ll base my view on the few subjects I’ve personally bumped into. These things are so massive, you deal with them the only way you know how and often, that can only be on your own, inter-personal, small-scale level. Which is OK so long as you’re prepared to be surprised and … you know … wrong in your assumptions.

Because looking at my technique rationally, it’s like someone meeting me and assuming that everyone in Britain is a wishy-washy, liberal melt an Anglican/Episcopalian because I am. Or, it’s like someone thinking that, because I, the only Briton they’ve met, am a lady, there can be no men living in this country. Sounds ridiculous, right? But that’s the logic we are looking at here. The fact is any nation is only as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as the people who lead it. During the 2012 Olympics, people probably thought Britain was lovely. Now they probably think we’re a bunch of absolute knobs. The people living in any nation are going to be the same mixture of saints, sinners, idiots, wankers and non-wankers as we find everywhere else.

But you have to make judgements don’t you? No. I’m beginning to think not. Sure we all go in with preconceptions but the point, surely, is to realise that’s what they are. To be prepared to be surprised by … well … you know … benign Hell’s Angels.

Making a fair judgement about anyone can only be based on actually meeting them in person. It never ceases to amaze me how many seemingly kindly, benign people I know will casually state that the homeless are there through their own fault, that anyone on benefits is a scrounger and that asylum seekers or refugees are just here to take advantage of our welfare system.

OK, so I expect some of them are, because, as I may have mentioned, the law of averages states that there will be wankers among any group of humans. Some. That’s my point. I find it really hard to understand how someone can condemn a brown man who leaves the Congo and comes to Britain with his 14 year old son because he doesn’t want the lad to be conscripted while, at the same time, lauding someone from Belfast who emigrates to America because they want a better, non-sectarian life for their children. Both are doing exactly the same thing. Why is one brave and good and the other a scrounger? I dunno.

If the person from Belfast gets a job in the USA, they’re broadening their horizons and taking a brave step to better themselves. Why is it that the brown man who comes to Britain, works for less than minimum wage and lives in a caravan without electricity, because there wasn’t electricity or running water where he came from, is ‘taking jobs from British people’. How come it’s perfectly fine for the company he works for to pay him a pittance because they won’t pay the minimum wage but he’s wrong to take what, for him, may be the chance of a lifetime? Why is it that we are happy to earn less and less than pay what things actually cost to produce and less stuff?

How is it that some people can look at the Kindertransport and see it as an act of goodness but the very same people are unable to see a modern equivalent, like, say, people rescued from a similar regime in Afghanistan as human? Is it because the Afghans are brown? Are we really that shallow? It fascinates me. Well … yeh, you know it does, I’ve written a 500,000 sci-fi series about this exact anomaly. That only people are good or bad and nations are the sum of the decisions made by their leaders.

Perhaps it actually takes bravery to be a liberal melt. Thinking about it, being open, putting aside your preconceptions and trusting people takes courage. Being generous of spirit takes resolution and effort. You are exposing yourself to looking a right dick if you’re wrong and possibly even potential harm. Maybe that’s it; perhaps with COVID and the fact that the world economy is pretty much down the lav people have a too much to worry about to care about being decent. Or maybe, after all crap they’re dealing with, there isn’t any spare courage left to be open.

Perhaps the only universal rule is that that there will always be wankers … and to give zero fucks … in the right way.

Which brings me on to the book I’ve just read.

Subject 21 by A E Warren.

This book is about a girl called Elise, who, as the blurb states is a Sapiens, ‘a member of the lowest order of humans. Elise and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations.’

Every aspect of Elise’s life is controlled by the two groups of humans above her, even her name has to reflect her status and can only contain two syllables. The top tier of human, the Potiors, are busy recreating as many extinct species as possible using DNA harvested from fossils, etc. These are then exhibited in a Museum of Evolution.

Some of the exhibits are Neanderthals. Our heroine, Elise, gets a job as the companion of a Neanderthal, number 21, who calls himself Kit.

This book is all about the idea that not all the gits in the top two tiers are gits and not all the supposed gits in the bottom layer are, either. Indeed, this is one of the many areas in which the book excels. It’s also about the inability of some members in each group to see those in the others as human and, of course, the inability of some humans—regardless of the order in which they belong—not to be complete and utter wankers. It’s an absolutely brilliant concept and I loved the way it was so realistic at the same time. The way some of the museum staff have completely de-humanised Kit and his fellow Neanderthals, was also, sadly, extremely human.

Other highlights, the plot, the whole concept is really left field, I loved it as an idea. It was deftly executed and the characters well drawn. I was fully invested very quickly and had trouble putting it aside to do other things. Definitely gets five stars from me. Recommended.

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Castles in the Sky. Feet in the…

Well hello everyone. I have been working hard at my blog all week but scheduled stuff all primed and ready to go automatically. I realise I haven’t actually said anything to anyone for ages. So here’s the thing: Few Are Chosen is now Perma Free! Oh yes, and although I’ve done very little about it, a couple of sites seem to have picked it up. Some people have even read it, and bought the second book. Booyacka! Thank you my lovelies!

So that’s the good news. Let’s celebrate with a joke from McMini.

“Mummy, tell me a knock knock joke.”
“OK. Knock knock.”
“I’m not in.”

Which got a guffaw from his Dad… which is more than my jokes ever do.

So why the meh?

Well, I know I’ve been dangerously detached for a while – worry about my folks – but suppose it came to a head last night. I forgot to cook supper. No laughing at the back! Yes, I am that out of it, that disengaged with real life. Seriously, though, how the fuck does a 45 year old adult forget to cook sodding tea? I’m so disconnected from the world around me that I am, frankly, a little bit scared to drive a car. It’s as if time’s stretched out and slowed down. I pull off a roundabout, there’s nothing next to me but by the time I’ve indicated and started to pull into the inside lane there is. I take too long looking in one direction at a junction and when I look back the other I’m riding my bike into the path of an oncoming car, with my boy on the back. My thoughts move slowly, as if they’re struggling through cotton wool. That is… not normal.

Then there’s my writing. K’Barthan 3 and 4 came back from the editor the other day. Like the curate’s egg it was good in parts. He also drew my attention to how dark it was, seriously hideously dark, dystopian misery lit dark. And it occurred to me, as I read it back, that I am not very happy, and lack the stamina to be continually worried long term without… repercussions.This whole disengagement with life would bear that out, of course.

Looking at the text, I could easily spot the bits I wrote in the months after my Brother in Law’s death, or when my Dad was extra sick, even without knowing which ones they were, because those are the bits where my characters really suffer.

In life there is always ambient background worry. I imagine it as a glass – apparently this is the psychologist’s favourite metaphor, I didn’t know that but there we go. Perhaps they use it because it works for most people. So the amount of liquid shit in the glass determines how much extra liquid shit you can take. Unfortunately, with my Dad’s trip to hospital, the ambient worry situation seems to have intensified and the shit is spewing out of the glass and turning the area around it into something more like the Somerset levels… or Datchett.

And while my subconscious is busy going arooogah and calling an all stations alert to pump the brown stinky back into the glass it switches itself off. That’s useful for avoiding any more crappy negative bollocks from spewing into the brain but does effect some essential functions…. like, making supper, remembering to pick up McMini from school, or going to pick him up when someone else is. Yes, believe me, I have phone alerts for everything. They beep when I have to do stuff and when they beep, I do it, before I forget… which takes about 3 seconds.

So there it is. I’ve sort of worked out what’s going on.

I’m a bit down. And I want a holiday from myself.

You may well be wondering why. I have the most lovely McOther and McMini I could hope for, a lovely extended family, top mates… a lot to be happy about. And I do. Let me try and explain.

My Maternal Grandfather, knew exactly when he was going to die, to the point when he said a very final farewell to me on the last occasion we met. Nothing was really said. He took my hand in both of his, looked straight into my face and said, “goodbye darling.” I knew, at once, that he was trying to tell me that this was the last time we would meet. I also knew that he realised I’d understood. Indeed, I’d say it’s the only time in my entire life I’ve ever picked up something subtle like a message without words. He didn’t say goodbye to the others like that but then, he saw them again, which, presumably, is why he said such a final goodbye to me.

My Mum was 80 a few months ago. She told me, gently, that her father didn’t survive to see 81 and I had a horrible feeling that she was telling me she thinks she mightn’t be around for long. And I think this is the root of it all. That my parents are knocking on, and soon they won’t be here. And I want their last years to be happy, and for life to be kind to them, and while I think they are happy, I know they are struggling.

So I suppose I’m just scared. Scared that Mum has the same prescience as my Grandfather had, and missing her in some stupidly weird and bizarre way; mourning her while she’s still here. It’s probably quite common and it seems to be a perfectly logical coping mechanism, if a trifle inconvenient right now. Or maybe I’m just sad. Sad that a lot of the person I knew as my Dad has gone, sad at how hard that must be for Mum, sad that I can’t help.

I suppose Dad’s recent trip to hospital brought that into sharper focus. Along with the fact that I’m in my 40s and it seems that every time I catch up with someone I’ve not seen for a while, they tell me they have cancer. The Grim Reaper seems to be terribly busy in my life right now which gives everything, even the happy bits, a rather crepuscular tone. Not my cup of tea. I’m fed up with squinting through the murk.

In some ways it’s a good thing. It makes me constantly evaluate what I have and appreciate it. But it also makes me aware at how easily it could all go wrong. It’s a bit like standing at the entrance to a long dark tunnel and being too frightened to go in, even though you know you’ll come out the other side. Or maybe it’s like being in the middle of a field waiting for a thunderstorm in which I will run a high chance of being struck by lightening. I don’t want to live this bit. I want to fast forward to the other side when I’ve finished the books and whatever will be has… well… been. But that’s not an option on the path of life. I have always believed in living the moment, but I’m doing so with a ferocity that’s slightly worrying. And for the first time in some years, I don’t want to look forwards. I don’t want to see it. I just want to keep my head down, or occasionally glance sideways, and put one foot in front of an other, creep slowly onwards until it’s done.

Having always believed that, if you pay too much attention to the pebbles on the path of life you’ve only yourself to blame if you end up walking into a tree, I’m beginning to understand how people end up obsessed with the pebbles. Because sometimes, looking at the big stuff is a bit much. So they bite off little pebble sized chunks, and then when things calm down again, they are stuck in the habit.

And what does this have to do with writing? Well, nothing much really, other than that as somebody who has all this other stuff going on, I find I write at the speed glaciers move. And like life, when the future gets scary, I just plod on putting one word next to another, day after day, until it gets easier again.

There is something else I’ve discovered, too, about jokes. I don’t actually work the jokes in. My technique with comedy has always been to be myself and when people laugh, pretend it was deliberate. I’ve no idea what makes people laugh or not, just that they do. Except that now I seem to be exorcising the darkness in my writing, keeping the glass of shit half full and draining my crap flooded mind by spewing it onto the page. And it’s changed.

It’s not so hard to go back and lighten it, in fact, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s yet another delay, it would be very diverting entertainment. It’s interesting that suddenly, I need to, though. I hope this new Poe style me doesn’t last too long, but if it does, I have a project I can spew it into… I think… although I won’t be able to call it Space Dustmen.

So there we go. K’Barthan 3 and 4 will not be out in April the way I said, more like June or July… and if there’s any more grief it may be some years.

If you want to read something to cheer you up after that terrible bout of moaning, Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 1 is  a lot funnier than this post. AND it’s now absolutely free, everywhere. Here’s where you can go get it.

Where to Download the ebook of Few Are Chosen:

Apple UK:

Few Are Chosen - M T McGuire
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Few Are Chosen - M T McGuire
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