Year: 1999

Blinkers

Section 28 of the Local Government Act of 1986.

2A-(1) A local authority shall not:
(a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.
(b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
2A-(2) Nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken to prohibit the doing of anything for the purpose of treating or preventing the spread of disease.

I thought I’d check my facts on this one, and I am disgusted at what I found. I’m not sure what scares me more, the fact that someone actually wrote this, and it got passed as law, or that there are still so many people willing to support it. But if they are narrow minded, they have every right to ensure their children are educated to the same degree.

I am lucky that my parents brought me up to be able to think for myself, even if that meant I developed views that they don’t agree with. I also realise that not everyone shares my views and beliefs, is that such a hard concept? Live and let live.

So let’s break it down (why does that sound like I’m trying to be ‘hip’?).

Part 1a. intentionally promoting homosexuality. Firstly, what happens if the local authority unintentionally promotes homosexuality?
Anyway, Presumably this statement was made to ensure there was no confusion over how homosexuality is viewed in society. After all it is an illness, a perversion and they should all be outcast…right?

Part 1b. homosexuality as a pretended family relationship. ???? I just don’t get this one. Is the government 100% happy with family life in Scotland? I would venture that a lot of homosexual couples would make much better parents than a large number of straight couples. Simply – each case should be looked at on it’s own merits. Some homosexual couples will not be suitable, in the same way that some heterosexual couples aren’t.

Part 2. spread of disease. This is insulting. Scientific evidence, and population surveys have shown that your sexuality doesn’t matter, you’re just as prone to disease if you are not careful.

The outrage, anger, and…and…well I’m not sure if I can put it into words. This issue has got me so wound up! It almost starts to cause despair – I thought the society we lived in was more advanced, but maybe that’s my fault, maybe I should open my eyes, I could say the same for others.

Upbeat

I enjoy working with computers. It may be sad, but it is true. I will quite happily sit for hours on end, tweaking a database design, updating a website, designing a skin etc etc. I don’t play games on it much. Recently though, it’s been taking over a bit. I’ve been spending more and more time on it, neglecting the important things.

At the moment I have this website, Instant Ideas (a resource for hospital radio in the UK), and the Hospital Radio Lennox website which needs drastically updated. We have a couple of databases for our CD’s and video’s and I’m planning one for MiniDisc as well. I am in the midst of creating skins for WinAmp and WindowBlinds to match the various default colour schemes that are supplied with geOShell (my latest find), and I am coordinating the documentation team for geOShell. This is just in my spare time…

Now, the database stuff isn’t a priority, neither are the skins, the website stuff needs doing once every week or so, and the documentation shouldn’t take too long. In theory. However I still sit, night after night, bashing away at the keyboard.

So far, I’ve managed to keep most of my promises – the exercise and weight thing fluctuates, so it’s time for another one. I need to be more upbeat. More lively. Do more!

The Ta’i Chi class will help, and we are going to start exploring the local pubs. We are both afraid of turning into an ‘old married couple’. Some aspects of that are nice, but it doesn’t sit well with us.

So from here on out, updates to this site will be fewer, and long term it may disappear altogether – I no longer feel the need to rant, rave, and generally bore you all with the workings of my mind, and I no longer think it benefits me. I’m not sure though, we’ll see.

Upbeat will be the way, the attitude and the manner. Fingers crossed.

China

The Chinese president is visiting the United Kingdom (well England anyway). The government is hailing it as an excellent opportunity to bolster trade links with China, and with figures of £2.2 billion being bandied about, it certainly seems to be important.

Money is the big issue. Hidden behind ‘trade links’, ‘increased profitability through working ventures’ and various other spin phrases, money is the driving force behind the wooing of Jiang Zemin. So far Tony Blair and his assortment of cronies have managed to appease the general public, and haven’t really screwed up too badly – until now.

I watched scenes on the television of policemen tearing down banners, physically restraining, and arresting those people who chose to demonstrate against Zemin’s oppressive regime. The official word from the government is that the police were under no special instructions.

Lies. I have never seen such scenes take place in the U.K., and it spanks of Zemin’s own regime. I saw no protestors try to harm the Chinese president, they were not hurling eggs, or threatening violence. So why tear down their banners? We have the right to voice our opinions, no matter who they are against.

The actions of the police were no doubt sending a message to Mr. Zemin, and that message was sent from the government. Were they trying to show the strength of this country? Trying to show that we too do not tolerate ‘radical elements’?

The censoring of the protestors showed the world one thing – that the U.K. will abandon any integrity it had, and side with Jiang Zemin.

The events in Tianamen Square, over 10 years ago, left a scarring impression on those who saw them. The Labour government has sided with that regime.

Myself

I write a lot about my feelings, my thoughts… but generally as they pertain to others, or how they react to certain situations. Add to that the fact that it is difficult to take a subjective view of one’s self, and, well, it’s no surprise I don’t focus on my internal emotions more.

So, without further ado, here is the canned analysis of me.

I tend to suffer a lot from envy, in almost every form. I see success and wealth (which I equate as one and the same) and wish it were me….is that envy? I am also far too materialistic. I have to have the latest gadgets, the newest technologies, the coolest accessories. Add to that the simple fact that I am inherently lazy, and you have a problem. I won’t work hard enough to get the success/wealth I envy, but constantly strive for it.

I do feel intimidated, although I’m not sure if that is the correct word, when in certain company, and I suppose I long for acceptance, or at least that feeling that I’m not being tolerated, that the laughing is not false, that they aren’t thinking ‘God, what a dickhead’. In saying that, it doesn’t bother me too much, it’s more of a dull ache, or that niggling thought you get when you know you have forgotten something.

As with everyone else, a lot of my current make-up stems from my childhood, my formative years. I remember my childhood in different parts, some good, some bad, but I relate more to the memories I wish to forget more than the good times. I wonder if sometimes I am trying to create a problem where there isn’t one, but why? To be the centre of attention? I don’t enjoy that sphere, well that’s not strictly true, I enjoy it when I can control it, manipulate it, but don’t thrust it upon me, you will get no thanks for that.

I was never really ‘one-of-the-gang’ at school, and desperately wanted to fit in, to be liked, to be popular. I realise now that that was never going happen, that I am different, that I don’t go with the crowd. In fact I can remember vividly the day I confronted those very thoughts.

These days I’m more focussed on myself and how I see me. I try not to think about the way others perceive me, and I no longer worry too much about cosmetic details (I do need to lose weight, but that’s a health thing…). I probably over analyse things, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…is it? Mind you, if I don’t do that, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?

Do I think too much? I don’t think so, but that’s mainly because I don’t really control what I think about, which is part of my downfall. I don’t control my mind, I let it wander, trampling all over various thoughts and issues in my head, finding unused paths, and broken street signs. If I had a clearer roadmap of what I was thinking I would get much further, at the moment I seem to be re-visiting a lot of districts and badly-lit alleyways.

So that’s me. No doubt I will read this at a later date and write some more, probably contradictory, stuff. What about you?

Education

Look around Britain at the moment, teenage mothers, childish television (I’m with Melvyn Bragg on that one), millions claiming all sorts of ludicrous benefits, and a distinct lack of education. As far as I can see, there are two sides to this problem.

Side 1 (Heads)
The government is proposing, once again, a new way to improve our education system. They have offices full of people, sitting behind their desks, drafting the latest scheme. The scheme will drastically improve the standards of our education system, and enable Britain to grow and proper, placing us back into the position we should occupy. “Now, we have consulted the experts, the staticians, and the spin doctors (after all this has to appeal to the voters), is there anyone else? Nope, don’t think so – let’s publish it!

Remember your favourite teacher at school, everyone does. Miss Scott (now Mrs. McClusky) was mine. I actually started enjoying English, the Merchant of Venice took on a whole new meaning, she opened my eyes to the prejudices of the world, and taught me how to handle them. Anyway, I digress.

Do you think the government has bothered asking Miss Scott about the latest ‘improvement’ scheme? Of course not. They are quite happy to instigate new schemes and policies without actually asking the people, who will be expected to carry them out, if they will actually work.

Teachers these days have goals, and schools are placed into league tables. I used to work on a profit related pay scheme, and if I made my goals I got a bonus. If teachers reach the goals set, they get….more goals!! If they don’t reach them, they get ‘re-trained’, so they can achieve them next time. The criteria set for the ‘league tables’ is ridiculous in the extreme. Each school must fit the criteria. Period. Surely, individual schools should be graded individually. How can you grade one school against another? If one year’s exam results are good – the students have done well, congratulations. If the following year’s results aren’t as good, then the teachers or the education system are to blame.

Side 2 (Tails)
Quite simply we are already into second and third generations of non-education. It is too late for many kids, as their own parents suffer from apathy.

Yes, it is a vicious circle and kids today, living in the welfare state, have an increasingly difficult time getting a good education. This is not helped by parent’s attitudes. Let me put a picture in your head – Two mothers standing outside a shop, drawing on cigarettes, gossiping. Their kids running riot. One mother glances over at them, and says “Hey, stop that..” and returns to her conversation. The kids pause, and then continue what they were doing.

Why do these people have kids? They are obviously not interested in them, as the slightest diversion is all it takes for the child to be ignored (if Corrie is on for example…). These children are crying out for the attention the parents don’t give.

The rest of this is still brewing in my head – I’ll pick it up later on.

Addendum: I should point out that both my parents are teachers, Mum is a primary school teacher (infants), Dad teaches secondary school (young adults?) and my sister has just started University with the aim of….becoming a teacher. My view in this matter is probably tainted by what they have to say, but I make no apologies. I say it as I see it.

Third

I’ve known Louise for over 10 years, and we’ve just celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. She is my friend, my lover, and my wife. She will be the mother of my children (soon darling…soon), and carer of numerous puppies/kittens and maybe even a parrot(?). We have been through a lot together, and survived it all. We now have a relationship that will support us.

We can be friends when we want, lovers when we desire, and if it wasn’t for that funny choking thing she does when she brushes her teeth in the morning, the relationship would be perfect (I don’t have any faults…)

To outsiders, we may not seem close. We are not a ‘coupley couple’, we don’t go in for large public displays of our love, and we both respect each others space and boundaries. Admittedly I’m not as demonstrative as I could be, but I’m a lot better than I was. We understand each other, almost to a psychic level – Keith can confirm two occasions – and are comfortable in each others silence.

Our long history helps us, experience and hindsight guides us, and neither of us can imagine not being with the other. I was once asked, how I knew I loved Louise. I struggled to put it into words, how do you qualify love? The best answer I could give was:
I can see us growing old together.

Doesn’t really capture the magic does it? But it is the stability, the reliability, of our relationship that we both thrive from. Day-to-day our love flows smoothly, always present, burbling in the background, every now and then swirling noisily, splashing, gurgling, but always flowing, carrying us onto our future.

Three years, so far so good (well for the most part), here’s to the next three, and the three after that…but let’s not plan ahead too much, who knows where our river will flow?

Depression

It feels odd to discuss it after almost a year. It was a strange period of my life.

My overall memory was of a feeling of numbness, that nothing was really happening, that I was stuck in a weird dream. I could hear myself talking, saying horrible, horrible things but it didn’t seem like me. I was detached to the point of self-delusion. It felt like there was a glass wall between me and the rest of the world.

Of course, from my point of view I was fine. Yes, I’d made a few major decisions, one which I will regret for the rest of my life, but Louise came back. Trouble was I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. I felt nothing, thought little (to begin with) and let my life unravel.

I do remember that my concentration was completely shot, my mind would veer off constantly, I couldn’t take any thought through to its conclusion, and whilst day-to-day activities weren’t a problem, as soon as I had any free time I would end up sitting, thinking about a million and one things, and not registering any of them. That was when I started writing. It was a way to capture my thoughts, to help me retain a sense of sanity. I would return to the writings, and start over, but each time it would descend to nothing more than a ramble. Slowly the ramble started making sense.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. I started worrying about my state of mind, and looking back I had started to come out of the numb state I was in. All of a sudden I realised I was alone and I wasn’t coping. So I decided to get some help, that buzz word of the late 90’s – counselling.

A few counselling sessions later – voilá – I was cured. No it wasn’t that easy, but I was helped by the fact that I could analyse my own thoughts, in the end all I was getting out of the sessions was agreement.

As is the same the world over I have several traits and personality quirks that I can trace back to my parents, and further back to theirs. My main problem was that I hadn’t ever realised who I was, I had the impression that I was living a life that was expected of me, and yet I was constantly telling myself (and others) that my parents brought me up to be free thinking, and let me build my life the way I wanted it. The path I took was to try and create the son I thought they wanted. Of course all they wanted was me, however I turned out. I came out of the counselling sessions searching for myself, and slowly I’m beginning to find the real me.

I was pessimistic, always looking for negatives, I have failed many times, and hurt many people, friends and family alike. Now I no longer dwell on matters I can’t control, and I’m constantly looking for positives, although I do still keep a wary eye on the negatives, it’s now a sideways glance every now and again.

The main positive: Louise and I are now stronger than we ever were, or ever thought we could be, and that is one of the oddest things – that so much good should come out of my depression. Add to that a much stronger relationship with my parents, and all in all the last year has been the best I can remember.

Plans

Planning for the future is an eternal habit, ‘I will lose weight’ ‘I will sort out our finances’ ‘I will exercise more’ ‘I will get myself better organised’.

Never works though, does it? I’ve had plenty of ‘fresh starts‘, ample opportunity to take control of my life properly, instead of ambling along with the same old (bad) habits. Never seems to work.

Well I’m about to make another fresh start and I’m determined that, this time, it will work. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m determined! No longer will I have to suck in my gut when walking on the beach, I won’t have to search the racks for the ‘next size’ trousers. I will start eating healthily, nurture my body and mind, and develop my integrity. We will go on holiday, start a family soon, and I will get a 1966 Mercedes SL convertible (white of course).

No seriously…I will (stop laughing at the back!)

Of course starting all of this is easy, keeping it going is the difficult bit.

Around 10 months ago I made several promises to myself and to Louise. I’ve not been to bad at keeping them (though I’ve had to be reminded of a few) and our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been. We talk when we have problems, laugh when we don’t and I buy her flowers every now and again for no reason at all. She is my confidante, my friend, my lover, and soul mate. Even if it did take me a while to realise it. Anyway, I digress…she always makes me do that.

Naturally, Louise and I have plans, and they are simple. Get a house, start a family, live happily ever after. That’s it. Yes, wonderful holidays, new cars are all hoped for, but they are not, and never will be, the main aim. We plan to be together.

And have a white 1966 Mercedes SL convertible…(but a ’84 would do!)

Detached

Sometimes at night the darkness and silence weighs on me.
Peace frightens me.
Perhaps I fear it most of all.
I feel it’s only a facade, hiding the face of hell.

I think of what’s in store for my children tomorrow;
“The world will be wonderful”, they say;
but from whose viewpoint?
We need to live in a state of suspended animation,
like a work of art;
in a state of enchantment…
detached.

Detached.

Neil Hannon – The Divine
Comedy

~

Connection is made, the words strike me. The search for utopian ideals, one that has eluded so many before me, continues. It remains constant, unreachable. A need to retreat, to hide.

“The hurt of lost,
the longing of one,
the distance from those,
the untouchable”

I wrote those four lines a long time ago, and have since found many different meanings for them.

It’s funny, I don’t consider myself a loner, I enjoy company too much for that, but sometimes I HAVE to be alone, whether its just a case of slipping off somewhere with a book, or throwing on the headphones, closing my eyes, and ending up somewhere different altogether. A past favourite was walking up into the hills behind where I used to live, getting off the path. No-one around, just the sound of the wind.

Contemplation, reflection, silence. Sometimes difficult to achieve, sometimes hard to resist, often too easy to get dragged into. Small pauses in daily life, thinking (dreaming?).

Detachment from life is easy, keeping yourself grounded is the challenge. Creating your own existence, your own sphere. Creating distance is no challenge. The distance can help, and hinder at the same time, but is always attainable. How it is used is the issue. The big picture is the aim. Looking down is to abuse the distance.

Lost direction a bit, paused again. What am I trying to say? Anything? Nothing? SomeTHiNG?

Ramble over.

Silence

“Hello, darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.”

20 July 1969 : Apollo 11 : Tranquility Base –
A small step for man…

A defining moment in many lives (not least messrs, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins), man had made it to the moon. Each astronaut on the mission new the risks, as did those of the backup crew (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Bill Anders – the former two to experience their own problems aboard Apollo 13).

There were of course contingency plans in place, all situations were covered, including the possibility of the leaving two men to die on the moon. In silence.

In a 30 year old document, it has been revealed that NASA planned to cut communication to the moon-bound astronauts should they not be able to leave the surface of the moon. A speech was ready for Nixon to announce their heroic death, a tragic loss in the battle for space. As soon as it was confirmed the astronauts would not be able to get back to the re-entry pod, they would be cut off. The astronauts were not informed. They would be left with nothing but silence. Silence, complete blackness and a view of home.