Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The 4th Floor

Of all the things that I thought would help me with coming to terms with my past I never once imagined it would be an episode of The Walking Dead but shit happens.

(Big, fat, smelly spoilers coming up).

In episode 5 of season 8, the Saviours (nasty bady guys) have had their asses kicked by the Alliance (morally dubious good guys). Their base is surrounded by flesh eating zombies and a crisis meeting is being held by the Saviour Lieutenants in a conference room, their leader Negan believed to have been killed during the ass kicking.

Various ideas are bandied about, one being to get 40 of “the workers” and use them to try and clear the zombies, meaning the people in the room can get clear. When it’s pointed out that this would mean the deaths of the workers chosen, the person who suggested the idea is like “so?”
They are then interrupted by all the workers “coming up the stairs” (an area they are expressly forbidden to enter) as they are frightened and currently without leadership. The lieutenants are more annoyed at this entirely justifiable interruption and regard it as an imposition, threatening people and yelling at them to go back downstairs where they belong.


For a lot of my life I’ve not understood why some people can treat other people so appallingly. I’m not talking about genocide or human rights abuses as that comes under an entirely different strain of human behaviour. I’m talking about those who preach kindness and expect to receive courtesy from others…but are shy at giving it out themselves.
In my life I’ve had bosses and line managers who gleefully mistreated their underlings in petty, vicious ways while HATING the same treatment. I regarded this as hypocrisy and it made me beyond furious.

There were bullies who happily kicked, spat at and punched others…yet regarded retaliation as a complete abomination, expecting to be allowed to mistreat to their hearts’ content. This is what probably got me into violent horror movies at about age 13.

There have been figures of authority, relatives, even strangers who think that for some reason the rules for their own world are utterly different to those the plebs have to obey.

Something clicked in place watching that episode of Walking Dead as it showed that the deputy leaders within the Saviours mainly considered the “normal” people as deserving of treatment way below what they would expect. Further, they got angry at these people wanting more as this was an intrusion into their own worlds and the rules they had made.

Another show I’m watching avidly is Narcos which has the (partly fictional) story of Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord from the 1990s. Despite being an utter cunt, the episode I watched last night has one of Escobar’s sicarios get snatched off the streets, meaning Pablo and his family will have to leave their home in case the cops or rival gangsters find them. However, Pablo’s wife has spent all day preparing and cooking a meal for the entire family. He tells his men to load the vehicles and I fully expected him to cancel the dinner but no. He apologises for joining the table late, and then sits down to eat, determined that the family will enjoy this delicious food that his wife spent so long (and so much love) preparing.

As I grew up I was told that I should do more. My mother wanted to see that I wasn’t just lazing around the house so by the time I was 16 I was cooking meals for the family at least once a week. All fine and dandy. However on numerous occasions she would behave rudely and in a hurtful manner, regarding my efforts as the absolute bare minimum I should be doing in light of the fact that she was generously allowing me to live in her nice house that she worked so very hard to pay for.

One time the meal (that I’d spent 2+ hours cooking) was ready 12 minutes after I’d said it would be (as I wanted to get the sauce just right). She refused to eat it, saying “I haven’t got all day to wait for you” and later blamed me for depriving her of the nice meal she’d been so looking forward to.

Another time she said flatly “Thought we were having chilli” when I asked her what she thought of the spaghetti bolognese I’d prepared for us all. When I shouted “I’ve just spent 2 hours cooking that for you” she glared at me and shouted back “YES BUT YOU SAID YOU WERE MAKING CHILLI!!!” then looked at my father and shook her head.

Yet another time I was stood at the oven preparing a shepherd’s pie and she walked in from work and went “Oh, I’ve been looking forward to a baked potato all the way home.”

She never said thank you or complimented me on the meals I made and one day when I asked why she simply sneered “Why should I say thank you to you Lance?!!”

The fucking list goes on.

To boil it down to its basic elements. Her son was making her dinner and she regarded it as a meal in a restaurant where she was not required to show the slightest bit of gratitude or politeness despite kicking off with major tantrums if we behaved the same way.

This behaviour wasn’t just from her. I’ve seen it from teachers, colleagues and you can see it at least once on any international flight you take as there is some prick who resents the chair in front being reclined fully, even though the seats are designed to do that and if you don’t like it FLY FUCKING BUSINESS CLASS.

Something finally came into focus the other night while watching my favourite zombie TV show. The standards that some people expect for themselves are not the ones they treat others with. It’s not because they’re stupid, it’s just because they genuinely believe that they are superior to mere mortals and therefore deserve better things at all times.

Most people grow out of this phase when they become adults. Some don’t. My mother was a spoiled little rich girl who went to private school and owned a pony or two. Having to do things she didn’t want to was totally against her fundamental belief in how the universe worked. Every time she did a favour for another person she kept a tally. However she genuinely thought that others should want to do favours for her, solely due to her utter awesomeness. If she was upset then the rest of us had to be as well. After all, if the 4th floor is upset, then what right do the rest of floors 1 to 3 have to enjoy themselves.

I’ve finally twigged that the abuse and hypocrisy that a lot of people inflict on others is not due to a sociopathic state but because, in their own minds they are the crisis room lieutenants, annoyed that the plebs have disturbed their meeting with such a trivial thing as wanting to stay alive.

Nuff said.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Tranquil Warriors

Today I was listening to a piece of what I would at one time have referred to as “hippy” music.

It was on YouTube and is called “Music to Cleanse of Negative Energy at Home Space.”

Despite the bad English the track is very soothing and managed to massage away a lot of my negative feeling towards my day, my life and unresolved thingies from my past.

The music reminded me of one or two movies where a team of warriors would be sitting round a camp fire or at wooden tables in some taverna. The would be weary from battle and they would be drunk. Relaxing for the first time in weeks they would start to laugh and joke and then someone would get out a harp, or a flute or maybe a wench or timid manservant with a beautiful voice would be asked to sing for them. After a few seconds of teasing the music would begin and, one by one, the warriors would melt, becoming melancholic and silent. Then someone would start to cry and once the music would finish there would be moments of silence followed rapturous applause and more crying.

The music I heard today on YouTube was soothing and while I didn’t start throwing metal tankards of ale around my bedroom, I did realise that my emotional state had shifted from its mainstay position of PissedOff-ness into a more equilibric state of feeling calm.

It then occurred to me that THIS is the normal state of being, it’s only because it feels so unusual that I believed it to be a respite from the “normal” state of feeling.

To elaborate…

From the film Spartacus to the TV show Sharpe, to Braveheart, to the 2004 version of King Arthur with Clive Owen, there have been scenes where badasses sat round fires and sang soothing songs. It always occurred to me that this represented a “breather”, a short time to recover from fatigue and aggression before getting back into the swing of things with some badassery and swordplay. Maybe shoot a few Frenchmen or lay an ambush on Roman troops leaving no survivors. Warriors in most representations of media come across as loving violence either for its own sake and/ or doing it to achieve a goal but having no reason to be other than to look awesome holding a double headed axe while screaming at advancing hordes.

Then it occurred to me that these campfire scenes were not meant the way I interpreted them. These sequences were instead to show that the men and women hated fighting. It was a means to an end and the peaceful state of hearing angelic music and being able to sleep without one eye open was what they wanted to achieve.

The 1961 version of Spartacus shows that the titular character has no love of violence for its own sake. Sharpe, the TV show with Sean Bean, makes it clear that most of the green jacketed riflemen only want to go home. Braveheart (despite being historically atrocious) hammers home the point that Wallace is only fighting because he was pushed too far. And the best example of this is King Arthur where the battle weary “knights” melt when a woman sings to them, their demeanours becoming soft.

I have always thought that being a “warrior”, be it of violence or simply showing enough tenacity to get a job done, was an end in and of itself. I never really thought beyond the point where the fighting could stop. 

I’ve been drifting for most of my life. Never had a relationship that lasted longer than 2 years, never had a job that lasted longer than 4. I’ve never had children or been married. My life has been a state of wandering around, fighting with my past and hoping that one day I’ll be able to fall in love with someone who isn’t already married and have children.

Music to Cleanse of Negative Energy at Home Space wasn’t meant to be an interlude, it’s part of a genre that embraces being calm.

Feeling anxious, pissed off and aggressive for 2/3 of my day is a state I found unable to shift out of because a part of me wanted it to stay, believing that I had to remain on warrior alert in case I had to fight again. 

While I fully intend to keep doing Krav Maga and keeping fit, checking my valuables and personal space on public transport, locking my bedroom door and hiding the key when I go out, double locking my bicycle whenever I leave it…these are means to an end, not a lifestyle choice.

Be ready to fight but hope I don’t have to. Not be ready to fight because there’s nothing else I think I can do.

Nuff said.