Monday 6 November 2023
Lately, I’ve found myself wondering, what if. . . .What if, archaeologists one day discover the remains of a fourth Wiseman who didn’t quite make it to Bethlehem? What if, perhaps having consumed too much wine and then having found himself separated from the other three (who went on to become famous), he followed the wrong star east and the donkey on which he was riding, stumbled over a cliff?
Or what if, global recession forces Santa to close his factories at the north pole and shift production to China adding thousands of unemployed Elf migrants to our already over-stretched social housing lists and having to claim benefits. Mr Rumplestiltskin, with his ability to weave straw into gold would no doubt be inundated with job offers in today’s economic climate, but who would employ an Elf that can only build toys?
Unsure whether I can enjoy Christmas anymore, these are the genre of ‘…and finally…’ news reports I would rather listen to, than the more familiar ‘how many more shopping days left’ news reports we will soon start hearing on our radios and televisions.
Because, as usual, even before I've even consumed a mince pie or strung a silver bauble from my tree, the January sales will have already started with TV commercials seducing the masses into parting from their cash faster than a pick-pocket extracts cash from a victim in London’s Oxford Street.
During the next few weeks we will give liberty to consumption and greed as consumerism reaches new levels of depravity and children write ‘must have’ wish lists totalling more than I paid for my first car, despatching them no doubt by email or text message.
Is it any wonder then, that our inordinate appetite to satiate Christmas expectations leave so many of us in debt and utterly miserable. Children, become slaves to trepidation at the thought of saving enough pocket money in order to buy pleasing gifts while grown-ups implement creative accounting strategies to stockpile enough food and beer to sustain an average family for six months in a nuclear bunker.
What if then, if we could teach ourselves and our children to understand a little more about some of the traditions surrounding this midwinter festival, and less about consumerism, we may all then learn to be content in the absence of procurement and be thankful for what we already have.
The magic of Christmas that I grew up with has long since past. The traditional twelve days of Christmas, in better days - a duration of modest celebration, has been replaced by a chip and pin extravaganza while seasons greetings are now delivered to me by text message leaving my mantelpiece bare. (Note: If you can’t be bothered or just don’t like buying cards, then try picking up the phone and speaking)
We may well muse that when Pope Julius Ist declared in the fourth century that Christ's official birthday would be held on the 25th of December, he didn't envisaged the festivities being whitewashed by commerce with such wrath, sixteen hundred years later.
I remember my joy as a child one Christmas morning unwrapping a magic set, a Slinky and a chocolate selection box. Nowadays, failed lazy broods stomp their feet and demand overpriced brain deprivation technology of any nature, just so long as it plugs into the back of a television set.
Never shall I spawn a child so repellent, preferring to tutor healthy activities far removed from the mire of a plasma screen.
I admire other world cultures and their ability to embrace contentment through modest expectation, unlike this wretched country where people are judged according to what gadgetry they possess and where contentment is a commodity to be purchased.
What if then, Santa, whose iconic image is more prevailing than Che Guevara’s and symbolic of modern consumerism and greed, is killed off in an arranged freak accident? Christmas could then be re-invented in a traditional vein with children in their formative years including my own, being raised on minimum expectations and with the ability to be content in the absence of overpriced, brain dumbing and pointless consumer goods . . . have a good Christmas!
Tuesday 23 February 2021
Tuesday 13 August 2019
Quite some time ago I was seen being interviewed on Sky News because I’d just made a bet with high street bookmaker William Hill claiming that I would be struck by lightning before I ever won the lottery. They accepted my bet and if this ever happens and I survive, I’ll collect ten grand.
Yet despite recent heavy thunder storms I never even came close. However, I recon if I was to come back in my next life as a cow, it would be a completely different ball game. I'll wager that if you select any cow at random from any field then the odds are it could tell you a story, or knew a cow that could, about a cow friend or a relative from a different herd, that was killed by lightning.
Any dairy farmer will tell you the same thing that it would not be considered strange or unusual in any way, if, following a heavy thunderstorm, a head-count revealed a cow deficit. With almost constant life-long exposure to the elements, overall body mass surface area and their not so clever concept of safety in numbers by everyone bunching together under the same tree, it only requires a single bolt of lightning to wipe out any number of cows in a single strike, leaving the farmer presumably to just write them off as spoiled goods like a shop-keeper might do if he came across a packet of broken biscuits during an audit.
No chance then of my bet being accepted had I been a cow and presumably I suppose I’d be wasting my time shopping around for a long term life cover plan with benefits. Because even if I did tick all the right boxes to most of the questions put to me by the insurance underwriter – when it got to the one where he said ‘when grazing, where would you usually go to seek refuge and shelter during an unexpected thunderstorm? If I replied ‘under a tree’, I think he’ll just make his excuses and leave.
Further questions would inevitably raise issues pertaining to the high methane content that cows are known to produce with implications directly related to an incident reported last year in the UK when a coach full of foreign tourists supposedly witnessed a cow suddenly burst into flames and explode.
I hope that any of you who read this, won't misinterpret my ramblings and presume that I have some kind of twisted issue with cows, because in actual fact I empathise and have a great fondness with cows believing them to be underrated and misunderstood.
I just can’t help it when every time the meteorological office issue a warning forecasting heavy rain and thunder, there's always a tiny-weeny bit of me that wishes I could become a cow just for a few hours, because I genuinely believe it would improve my chance of being struck with a bolt of lightning and winning the ten thousand pounds. The only bit that scares is not being able to change back into me again and remaining as a cow for the rest of my life.
Collecting my winnings and enjoying the money of course, is wholly dependent on whether or not I become one of the two thousand or so people who are killed globally by lightning each year. This necessitates my coming into contact with lightning for an astonishingly and inconceivable brief duration, just short enough for me to sustain no more than superficial burns with standard blistering and scattered areas of melted body hair - but not long enough that the soles on my shoes start smoking.
It’s estimated that the Earth’s surface is struck by lightning around 100 times a second or over 8 million times each day, so the actual real odds of anyone of us getting struck is around 1 in 600,000. Compare this to the absurd odds of winning the lottery jackpot at 1 in 14,000,000 and you can maybe understand my reasoning but also understand quite clearly why William Hill limited my bet to no more than £10 at 1000 to 1. It took William Hill a several days to consider the mathematical probabilities before getting back to me and accepting my proposal.
This subject does naturally pop up during conversation now and again creating some interest and the response is always usually the same starting with perhaps disbelief and then amusement, generally then followed by a few wise cracks or silly remarks with implications that I’m probably some kind of crank. But more commonly what people always end up asking is what made me bother to go ahead and proceed to actually make the bet when the general rule is that a daft idea is by its very nature destined to go no further.
I remember I got exactly the same reaction when I once painted the entire exterior of my house in tangerine orange colour paint and people called me barmy. Then again when a newspaper printed a letter I had wrote condemning the high expectations of today’s youth and suggesting that Santa Clause be killed off in a freak accident . . . I was labelled then by some readers as a complete crackpot and so you can imagine the response from my customers when I had a pub in London some years ago and I woke up one morning and discovered a crop circle shaven into the back of my head . . . so there’s no point wasting more time going into the specifics of every other time I’ve been labelled a fruit-cake and the reasons why, because it would just simply take me too long.
But I do wonder how it's possible that there can be so many people out there apparently devoid of any sense of fun whatsoever and are so quick to label others as complete idiots or completely off their rockers?
Are people for some unknown reason losing their primary sense of fun, imagination and recklessness that they surely must have had and used during their childhood, leaving their lives as bland and as colourless as the magnolia coloured paint throughout their homes?
I recall when you could look into the minds of others and see all the colours of an English summer garden but so very often today all you find is an empty backyard with perhaps if you’re very lucky, a hanging basket. Those memorable moments when just the exchange of a few simple words with a complete stranger during an unexpected fleeting encounter could leave you almost invigorated and in an odd sort of way feeling rather good about yourself, have become somewhat infrequent.
That same magical and colourful imagination that once accompanied me throughout my childhood remains pretty much in-tact and is used probably on a daily basis operating safety from inside a somewhere deep inside my head. It is probably my favourite place to go and spend time, a retreat, often serene and very unique with no boundaries and where nonsense is manufactured and foolish ideas are stored. A place where cows can relax and where colours never fade.
Saturday 27 April 2019
Alexandre Dumas 1803-1870
I was still reeling from the shock of seeing a bearded, middle aged man, wearing a T-shirt that read, 'I eat pussy like fat kids eat cake', when I was informed by a customer that odd noises could be heard coming from inside the ladies toilets.
A couple aged in their late 20's and in a state of undress, were having sex in one of the cubicles. So, after pressing my ear against the door for a short while, I waited until their rhythmic thrusting reached a crescendo then banged hard on the door telling them to stop what they were doing and kindly leave the premises.
Now normally, this kind of conduct isn't too uncommon in some of pubs, particularly at weekends, but what made this particular incident require more than the usual suspension of disbelief, was because while the man made a rather embarrassed and hasty exit from the pub, the woman walked brazenly back into the bar area and calmly sat down . . . next to her husband.
Now at the time, I felt sorry for him because he looked a decent sort of chap, and it occurred to me that the last thing he needed right now was to be humiliated in a pub full of drunken people, so on this occasion, I decided not to pursue the matter any further. However my conscience later nagged me for not telling him what his wife had been up to.
But let's be honest, it can only be a matter of time before her appetite for impromptu sex romps with strangers betrays her, if it hasn’t already, and when it does, I hope the poor bloke finds out discreetly as a result of his own subtle suspicions, rather than seeing dodgy photos of his wife on facebook or reading another man’s crude exposé along with his wife’s mobile number scrawled on the toilet wall at his place of work.
And so whether or not the husband found out exactly what happened that day, I'm afraid I cannot tell you because I don’t know and anyway, it makes no difference to the point I am trying to make, so let me cut straight to the chase.
The fact is, in these modern times, while love still embodies loyalty, commitment and red roses, Lust on the other hand is interested only in satisfying it’s own deviant urges and habitually achieves this rather skillfully by guile.
Infidelity has become the scourge of modern society driven by a tsunami of cultural change drowning us in the sexualization of young girls, inappropriate subliminal allusions and erotic imagery, all peddled so methodically by the mass media - specifically the medium of television, that now accounts for having the biggest influence on our lives in the entire western world, second only to religion.
In all my years working in the hospitality sector either as a pub landlord and more recently as a doorman, I have encountered extra marital sex on such an astonishing and unbelievable scale that I have sadly come to feel and with good reason too, that the probability of absolute true loyalty and dependability existing in any relationship, surely is about as likely as a giraffe balloon sculpture winning next years Turner Prize.
We’re told that the most common reasons for infidelity given by straying spouses are sexual frustration, curiosity, boredom and revenge, with the third person usually turning out to be either a friend, associate or somebody we know.
Personally, I suspect that for every one person careless enough to be caught cheating behind a partners back, there are probably another five or so interactions carrying on who's participants are simply far too cunning and devious ever to be found out.
Such is the power of lust that precedes an affair and the immeasurable devastation generated by exposure, the absolute genius and brilliance of subterfuge employed in the pursuit of deceiving a loved one, is unparalleled to that of a close up magician who with unfailing sangfroid can deal a royal flush from a shuffled deck of cards.
Our pair bonding ritual used to take place over a period of weeks or even months when genuine courtship was about respect, chivalry and doorstep kisses. But today, a man and a woman who have never before set eyes on each other can strike up a conversation during happy hour and by the time last orders have been called, their brief courtship has already been consummated over a stack of rattling beer crates in the back yard with a post-coital cigarette smoked together out on the front pavement. It gives a totally new meaning to the term speed dating. Personally I prefer to stick to conventions and pursue a brief courtship first.
Unfortunately however, it's human nature to want more than one sexual partner, especially after so many years of living together. It's a survival trait in all of us allowing us to replace either the hunter-gatherer or the child bearer, lost by a sudden death. It's this default genetic program that helps sustain the ongoing survival of our species.
In fact Stamford University did a study which showed physical chemistry has a shelf life today of just nineteen months showing that society forces 'happily ever after' on us when biologically we're programmed to cope with multiple partners. You can't fight nature.
And if you read Professor Jared Diamond's book, Why is Sex Fun? It explains the link between promiscuity, natural selection and concealed ovulation. He teaches us how evolutionary forces have shaped our sexuality and how concealed ovulation and sexual receptivity in women today, make possible our unique combination of marriage, co-parenting and adulterous temptation. Albeit, we are a long way from perfection but then isn’t that precisely what evolution is all about?
It has been said that the advance of civilization has not so much moulded modern sexual behaviour, as that modern sexual behaviour has moulded the shape of civilization.
Anthropologists suggest that recreational sex is supposed to be the glue that bonds a couple together while they cooperate in raising children, but as we all know even the strongest glue weakens under too much pressure.
When you consider that the 2010 mid year statistics for PaternityLab.co.uk revealed that 1 in 3 DNA tests carried out by them proved negative. In other words - 34.55% of men tested (those who had reason to) were found not to be the biological father. Perhaps then it's only logical that paternity home kits have finally become available to buy over the counter in Boots.
To put things into perspective then, let’s get one thing straight - we are not robots that can be controlled by encoded robotic programming. We are flesh, blood and bone human beings, created by a miracle of nature and graced with feelings and emotions that determine our very own unique and exclusive psyche, ultimately administered and maintained by the awesome power of our brains.
Inside each of our brains there are 100 billion neuron cells that are responsible for sending out signals and, each one of these 100 billion cells connect independently to another 25 thousand cells, constantly processing information in ever changing relationships. And with all these cells working together, our brains have so far evolved with the capability of making more connections than there are atoms in the entire universe.
Because of this, each and every one of us is unique among all the people who have ever lived on earth. In fact scientists propose that we each have a virtually limitless array of complex emotions that dictate what someone feels at any given time, depending on the thinking experience and memory of the individual. And for this reason alone, no two people can ever be ‘made for each other’ as we like to believe.
Our unique minds are so extraordinarily unpredictable, unexplored and mysteriously deep. To understand exactly how it functions and controls each and every thing we do, would be like claiming to comprehend and understand every single thing there is to know about our entire solar system.
I’m not saying that every person in a relationship has been cheated on. That would be a ridiculous statement to make! I’m merely saying that no matter how strong sexual relations are between a couple in a relationship, if other aspects of mutual interest and compatibility that binds two people together are put in jeopardy then on average, most relationships will not sustain much longer than about two years at the most without one or the other falling out of love through boredom, frustration, curiosity or revenge.
Even the mightiest monumental architectural structure can be bought down by subsidence that starts with a tiny crack.
When a link in the chain of love that joins two people together, becomes weakened by say, too much time apart, a failure in communication or maybe just another volatile domestic argument, then consider the following; when you take into consideration the complexities of the emotional switchboard inside our brain, that part of us that controls our fear, love, pain, hate, anger, elation, greed, envy, shame and lust, to name just a few, and then interact these emotions with other powerful forces such as anger, memory, temptation, curiosity, jealousy and motivation etc. All that’s needed then are some powerful external influences such as alcohol, drugs, companionship, pheromones and sexual imagery. Then just stand back and see what happens.
I reckon that even way back in the Jurassic period, cohabiting cave-couples got bored with each other and on occasions, played away from home. With no recreational activities to partake in other than drawing animal doodles on cave walls and with conversation limited to nothing but endless meaningless grunts, presumably then, sex was the only other way of passing time with your partner and understandably became rather dull and repetitive.
So please forgive me for being presumptuous, in my closing paragraph, but I can't help wondering how many hard working cave-men returned home from hunting unexpectedly early one day, due to say - an injury sustained after wrestling with a mammoth, only to walk in and find their women having sex with the good looking neanderthal who lives in the cave down the road?