Friday, November 14, 2008

"Any means necessary for survival..."

Hey ppl,

This week's been a bit up and down. No, don't worry, not down in a scary way :-)

Life eh?

Two things upset me this week: firstly there was the news of Baby P being killed by his parents. Lightning strikes twice in the local Social Services who missed a similar case a year or so ago. It's easy to criticise when you're not 'in the system' though. It's not easy being a parent sometimes, but there's a massive difference between losing your rag and yelling at them against the systematic physical abuse that poor kid suffered.

I've mentioned anger in previous posts and this incident was no different. I could feel it building up in me, rising up with nowhere to go. Ah, the pointless insanity of it all eh? :-) Maybe it was the injustice of the episode; that someone could be repeatedly cruel to such a young child. I wanted to do something. To somehow make it right again, but you can't can you. You can't reach back in time and stop it. Still, it's Children in Need this evening, so while I won't be making a massive difference to that wee soul's life, I hope that what I give helps someone else.

(BTW, for those of you outside the UK, Children in Need is an annual charity event run by the BBC. All in a good cause. Oh, and it's surprising to see the number of *ahem* non-trannys dragged up in the name of a good cause. Non-trannys? Yeah, right. You're fooling no-one! :-D ).

The other thing was the report on Remembrance Day and the horrors of war. It seemed to merge with the above. On one hand, the horrible, senseless loss of life as we slugged it out across the trenches. On the other? What if we hadn't have gone to war? We could have sat back and let the enemy of the time expand as they wished. In my head - not the sanest of places - that seems to gel with Social Services. (Ed: what the f***?)

Let me explain: sometimes you can't help. All you can do is step in and destroy. I'm not saying that taking a child away from their parents is like the Somme, but that there's a cost to the action or inaction. Do it: save the victim but destroy the family. Don't do it: and risk victims. As with most things in life, it's never black and white is it.

Cheery thoughts eh? Okay, let's talk about trannying shall we? :-)

Chams

Thursday evening got off to a slow start. There was a long tailback due to roadworks and I arrived a little late at Chameleons. When I finally got in there was.... ummm... no-one there. One of the karate crew (who share the venue until 7.30) popped in to ask if we were still on and if not, could they lock up. Luckily I was still in Bob mode, so I didn't scare her :-) For a mo I wondered if I'd got the wrong night, but then Jane turned up and we were back on. Yay!

With Jane's help, the teas & coffees was set up but we had no milk. Ooops. Two new folk arrived, so I left them in the care of Jane and set off to get the milk. When I got back - luckily the traffic had died down a bit - the place was packed!

For a fleeting moment, I considered not getting changed, but nah, I guess I'm 'T' through and through, so off I went. Boots + skinny jeans and a slightly too-short black dress over the top. It didn't look too short in the shop, but once you sit down, it's more of a long top :-)

I had a good long chat with the new girls (ladies?) about why they decided to come along and how they were getting on. Y'know, life and sh** :-) One lady was out after telling the wife she'd be out with a mate (technically true) because her wife doesn't know (haven't we all been there?).

That brings me back to today's lyric and while I'm pretty sure it's not what Malcolm X really meant, but it rings true for some of us tranny folk. You do what you do to stay sane. Does that sound a bit over the top? Perhaps, but the urge to dress up, if only to spend an hour here to there, is very strong. To deny yourself - and I think a lot of us have been there - is generally 'bad news'. Moods, anger, depression etc. Must be like living with a bad teenager. :-)

So I find it better to indulge rather than to deny and I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't have to hide away so much and I've more tranny freedom than I ever thought I would. Sure, the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones has never seen me in 'Lynn mode' and to be honest with you, I'm happy with that. I think it would change things between us and I don't want that. Would I say no if she asked? Mmm, well there's a question!

Blimey, ending on a cheery note? There's a turn! Have a good weekend... unless you're working it, in which case I hope it goes quickly and your proper days off are kind to you. :-D

Take care
Lynn
x

[ Today's lyric: The Blade by Front Line Assembly ]

10 comments:

  1. Just a note -- I really liked your self-description. Very vivid.

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  2. Warning! Warning! Another looooong comment to follow (and one that will probably make me sound completely bonkers to boot). Sorry, I really can't help myself.

    The first thing you talked about - the murdered child and the positively Vesuvian fury that surged up inside of you in response to that - reminded me, strangely enough, of one of the very few times I've been seriously bothered by a death on Doctor Who. I've long been a fan of that show (especially the Classic version thereof, given it was the one I grew up watching), and from watching it so long, I've come to realize that rare indeed is the story in which there aren't at least a handful of deaths (for this reason, I'm astonished the programme got away with having a G-rating for so long in my own part of the world). Anyway, most of the time these deaths didn't worry me too much - desensitized as I've become to that kind of thing thanks to years of exposure to degenerate, violent trash - even when they happened to be those of innocent characters. Indeed, given I'm something of an evil bastard, the last kinds of deaths were often the ones I found the most entertaining. It did indeed make me laugh most infernally, for example, when the wimpy "nice guy" Arnold Keeler ended up being the Krynoid seed pods' second victim in The Seeds of Doom (rather than a more "deserving" candidate such as, say, Scorby or Harrison Chase), and I also derived a certain macabre amusement from the callous slaying of a poor, blind old Spanish widow by the Androgum Shockeye in The Two Doctors (I do believe that, in the second instance, I actually did pause to give thanks to Satan himself for giving me such a black heart :)). There was one time, however, when the death of an innocent really did trouble me: a death that occurred in a Tom Baker serial called Full Circle.

    The death in question befell a young alien known simply as the Marshchild (so-named because it was a juvenile member of some species of suitably scary swamp monster) that had foolishly followed the Doctor onto a spaceship where its kind were most certainly not welcome (for good reason, it would turn out), and had promptly found itself surrounded and threatened by some of the spaceship’s (apparently) human crewmembers. What followed were some remarkably powerful and moving scenes: scenes whose effectiveness was all the more impressive given that this was early ‘80s Doctor Who we’re talking about, a time when the show was still synonymous with hokey special effects and bad monster costumes. First you had the Marshchild’s panic as it tried to flee but found its escape blocked; then its piteous behaviour as it cowered and whimpered amidst its much larger, much more numerous, captors. The Doctor had turned up by then and attempted to diffuse the situation, only to have his (nearly successful) efforts sabotaged by some creep among the spaceship’s crew, who (for reasons that were never revealed) clubbed him in the back of the head and knocked him out. At this point, the Marshchild attempted to flee again, only to be restrained (none too gently either) and dragged down the corridor by the aforementioned creep and one of his companions, screeching in terror all the while. By this stage, I was feeling much as you said you did when reflecting on the suffering and death of “Baby P”. In my case, this meant wanting to jump into my television (believe me, this wasn’t the first time I’ve wished I could do this), and rescue the Marshchild myself, visiting extreme violence on whoever I had to in order to secure the creature’s release. Those feelings only intensified in the next scene, when the Doctor and Marshchild were taken to meet the rulers of the strange society that existed in the spaceship. While the Doctor was allowed to walk into their chamber under his own power, the Marshchild was hauled in trussed up in some horrible net, still screaming, its screams accompanied by frantic whimpers of fear (fear that would soon prove all too warranted). (One can only imagine the extent of its confusion and terror by then, and imagine a real-life child in a similar situation feeling much the same way.) The Doctor made another attempt to save it, shooing its captors away from it with commands of “Leave it alone!”; and tried to comfort it; when he did, it made more pathetic noises: this time, ones that sounded like a cross between a pig’s grunts and a baby’s sobs. (This, of course, only increased my desire to jump into the programme, hold the poor creature tight in my arms, and save it from all the big, nasty humans who were frightening it so.) Anyway, the Doctor’s attempts to save the creature himself ultimately proved futile – another creep on the spaceship’s crew tried to perform some hideous medical experiment on it (one that would not have been at all out of place in a Nazi death camp), only to have it turn on him and kill him (in short, become the monster its tormentors had wanted it to be all along), trash his lab, and then die trying to reach out to the Doctor, the only human-like creature that had actually shown it kindness. Upon its depressing demise, the Doctor expended about five seconds’ outrage over its fate, before moving onto some other order of business, and that was it – it was forgotten about for the rest of the story! I’m not ashamed to say I was pretty pissed off about that, and I still am; sure, bad things happen on Doctor Who, but come on, this was a kid we’re talking about (albeit an alien one); I expected better! And, yes, I know it was only a fictitious character - it wasn’t actually real - but who cares? The story, to its credit, sucked me in and made me believe, however briefly, that it was real, and its death broke my heart (and when you think about, is it really that much more irrational to be distressed over the suffering of a fictitious character than it is to be upset over the suffering of a stranger?). Even more crazily, I started experiencing the same sorts of powerful emotions people generally do when learning of the suffering of a real child. I was outraged at its elders for not looking out for it, for letting it wander about on its own and get into all manner of trouble (because they were far too busy trying to bash, beat, batter, and bludgeon every human they came across); and also saddened that its young life had been so cruelly cut short (and it was such a handsome young thing too – well, for a swamp monster at any rate). Anyway, where was I going with all this? I’ve quite forgotten… I think I was just trying to say (in an exceedingly circuitous fashion) that the suffering of a child can really cut you up even when it’s not real. Or something to that effect.

    Of course, a lot of this sort of thing is all too real, as I’ve been discovering of late with many of the books I’ve been reading. I’ve a somewhat macabre interest in organized crime, and have been reading a lot of stuff about it. One thing I’ve discovered from all of my reading is just how often children are the direct victims of organized crime. Examples are legion: child soldiers in the RUF, Lord’s Resistance Army and other quasi-terrorist groups in Africa; child slavery in places like Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Haiti (where a child can apparently be bought for as little as US$50), the UAE and India (where some families have been kept in bondage for generations); children being recruited by the Camorra (“Italy’s other Mafia”) to do their really dirty work (such as carrying out the most dangerous stages of illegal toxic waste disposal – something that generally results in the children in question dying of cancer by the time they’re in their twenties); and, the latest outrage, pregnant teenagers in Nigeria being held prisoner by local criminal gangs and forced to sell their babies for a pittance. What a world, eh? There’s probably nothing new about any of it either. After all, to use another disturbing, fictitious example of cruelty to children, there was that subplot in the movie Pinocchio about unruly boys being lured to Pleasure Island, turned into donkeys there, and then sold into slavery – obviously child bondage was not an alien concept to people when that movie was made, many decades ago now.

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  3. Bill : Thanks for your comment. Nice handle BTW!

    Zosimus: That was a long comment! :)

    Someone once said that lots of science fiction is all about the now rather than the future.

    The Marshchild incident could just have easily been a native child who strayed into the wrong place: an ocean ship of visiting adventurers, a military base, a bad part of town, etc.

    The point is, I think, that it [the Marshchild] is different to the people in power and in being so, that seems reason enough for the 'bad guys' to kick off. Humans eh? We're such b*stards :-\

    it wasn’t actually real - but who cares?

    True and apart from the biopics and reality shows the media turns out, isn't most of our literary and visual world fictional? There are various stories - soaps, dramas, films, etc - that will at some point hit home with you. Yes, some are contrived, awfully so in some cases (pulling at the heart strings and all that) but there are others that are beautifully told/acted. Given that much of the grief and death we see on TV is fictional, does it speak less of us if we admit we've never been moved by a performance?

    At the start of the DVD for Lord of War there's an advert in an obvious QVC / Home Shopping Network spoof where a young lad - 14 or so - is modelling an AK47. The two presenters coo and fuss over the weaponry as the young lads lets of a burst to destory a shop dummy. At that point the screen goes black - sadly missed off by the YouTube version - and the details about child soldiers is then displayed. Both clever and very disturbing.

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  4. The Marshchild incident could just have easily been a native child who strayed into the wrong place: an ocean ship of visiting adventurers, a military base, a bad part of town, etc.

    Actually, the scene in which it was cowering before the people it had suddenly found itself surrounded by did put me in mind of the last scenario you mentioned. I imagine its feelings would have been much like those of a careless tourist who’d inadvertently strayed into a dangerous part of an unfamiliar city, and suddenly found themselves surrounded by a gang of the local roughnecks. I can imagine that being a terrifying experience; your first thought would probably be something along the lines of, “Ah, guys, if you just let me go, I’ll get the hell out of here, and we can pretend we never saw each other.”

    The point is, I think, that it [the Marshchild] is different to the people in power and in being so, that seems reason enough for the 'bad guys' to kick off. Humans eh? We're such b*stards :-\

    Actually, this puts me in mind of something I saw about Russian neo-Nazis on a current affairs programme. To these charming individuals, all taboos against committing violence against children apparently go out the window when those children have skin that’s the “wrong” colour. One gang was supposed to have murdered a girl who was only about six, and whose only “crime” was, IIRC, to come from one of the former Soviet “Stans” (apparently a lot of Russians do not harbour warm feelings towards their "comrades" from the other former Soviet republics). No doubt they made sure they greatly outnumbered her first, though, just to ensure it was a “fair” fight.

    In the Doctor Who show in question, though, I think one of the main reasons the Marshchild was treated so callously was that the human denizens of the spaceship (which had actually been grounded on the marsh creatures’ planet for generations) had never actually seen its kind before. When the marsh creatures roamed freely on their world (something they only did during a time of perpetual fog known as Mistfall, which only occurred every few decades), the inhabitants of the spaceship holed themselves up in their craft, thereby ensuring they remained ignorant of exactly what it was that lurked in the mists outside. Indeed, when the Marshchild was dragged before the rulers of the community into whose midst it had so foolishly blundered, one of them said, “We’ve waited a long time to examine one of these! Take it to [the ship’s scientist].” I imagine the mentality operating there would have been much like that of a people whose country was at war. The marsh creatures outside would have been the hitherto unseen enemy, and the Marshchild’s capture would have been the equivalent of gaining some sorely-needed “enemy intelligence”. Cold logic indeed, but as you said about war in your original post, things are rarely black and white in times of conflict. It doesn’t make the suffering of the innocent during those times any easier to deal with, however.

    it wasn’t actually real - but who cares?

    True and apart from the biopics and reality shows the media turns out, isn't most of our literary and visual world fictional? There are various stories - soaps, dramas, films, etc - that will at some point hit home with you. Yes, some are contrived, awfully so in some cases (pulling at the heart strings and all that) but there are others that are beautifully told/acted. Given that much of the grief and death we see on TV is fictional, does it speak less of us if we admit we've never been moved by a performance?


    Sometimes I think most of my own life has been fictional. ;) For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a vivid imagination, and have preferred to spend much of my time living in my own little make-believe world. My most cherished memories of any particular period of my life have tended to be those of fantasies I’ve entertained during the period in question: fantasies that have been influenced by, among other things, books I’ve read, movies and TV shows I’ve watched, music I’ve listened to, and computer games I’ve played. In light of all this, it’s probably not surprising I’ve ended up deciding to try pursuing a career as a writer – I’m currently working on a novel that I hope to get finished soon (after having been toiling away on it for some eight years now – I just wish the words flowed as readily when I work on that as they do when I post comments on blogs), and have plans for many more (including some Doctor Who fanfic ones in which, among other things, I’ll redress the grievous injustice of the Marshchild’s death ;)). I’ll often get rather upset over the nasty things that I have happen to various of my characters (sometimes to the extent of actually crying over them), which I actually consider a good thing. As I’ve heard other writers say, if the sad parts of your story don’t move you to tears, how do you expect them to have that effect on your readers?

    At the start of the DVD for Lord of War there's an advert in an obvious QVC / Home Shopping Network spoof where a young lad - 14 or so - is modelling an AK47. The two presenters coo and fuss over the weaponry as the young lads lets of a burst to destory a shop dummy. At that point the screen goes black - sadly missed off by the YouTube version - and the details about child soldiers is then displayed. Both clever and very disturbing.

    Lord of War’s a good movie; I put it up there with films like Blood Diamond and Tears of the Sun in showing the horrors of African warfare in all their gory glory. (I particularly liked the Liberian dictator in it, with all his talk of “lords of war” and “baths of blood” (and his insistence on using those terms instead of the correct ones), as well as his psychotic son, who looked as if he could have stepped out of a gangsta rap music video.) On the subject of the AK47, I’ve heard it said that, due to its light weight and simple design, that rifle’s easy enough for a child to use. Unfortunately. The issue of child soldiers, though, is also one that’s not really black and white, as I’ve heard that a lot of children who fight in wars are actually eager to do so, at least initially. I remember hearing, for example, lots of stories about teenagers during the time of the First World War lying about their ages to army recruiting officers so they could get sent off to the front, and have some rollicking good adventures there (something I’m sure they regretted doing the instant they actually arrived there).

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  5. Here among the ways that things are supported is the "United Way" campaign, where you can have a payroll deduction taken out that goes to support a pantheon of groups and causes; you can also direct your contribution to just one of those. A "Fair Share" is considered to be an hour's pay per month per year; I gave several times more than that, and besides supporting the normal causes, directed the rest to a local children's hospital.

    Many times as the fall campaign would start I would hear people complain about all these people wanting money; more than once it was their children or grandchildren that ended up at that hospital, either in the middle of the night or when we were laid off, etc..

    Thank you for remembering "Remembrance Day". As long as people do, and pass along the family stories then perhaps a generation will come along that figures out a better way, though it always seems there isn't!

    No one gets out of here alive, so staying as sane as we can while we're here is a good thing!

    alan

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  6. BTW, for those of you outside the UK, Children in Need is an annual charity event run by the BBC. All in a good cause. Oh, and it's surprising to see the number of *ahem* non-trannys dragged up in the name of a good cause. Non-trannys? Yeah, right. You're fooling no-one! :-D

    I've seen this sort of "phenomenon" too. Where I live (Adelaide, Australia), there's an annual car race called the Clipsal 500, and one year, one of the competitors in this donned a wedding gown "for charity". Of course, he couldn't have people thinking that a macho man such as himself actually liked wearing this kind of thing, so after explaining his reasons for doing so, he was like, "Now get it off me! GET IT OFF ME! ARGH!" Geez, what a wuss! You'd think he'd just been told the last person to have worn it had been some Ebola sufferer on their deathbed!

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  7. Alan: I think if you're on a good wage, then donating an hour's worth (or more) won't be missed... plus while it doesn't seem like much to us, it can and does make a lot of difference if we all do it.

    My gran's dad fought in the great war and many years ago, our family went to France so Gran could visit his grave. I remember the beautiful rolling wheatfields, the sunshine and the coldness of the wind. That and the row upon row of simple white crosses.

    Zosimus: LOL. Well, I could understand it if he'd had matching shoes and had to wear them all day :) Macho men, such softies sometimes :-D

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  8. Hi Lynn

    Excllent post. Not a happy read, but certainly thought-provoking, especially your comparison of baby P's death and child abuse to warfare. Very true... and very disturbing.

    Zosimus
    Wonderful replies. They didn't feel long at all, because they were so worth reading.

    I've become emotionally involved in a fictitious TV death myself once. I think the point is that although your mind knows it isn't real the humanity, or lack of, still counts as real. Which is also why I hate violent computer games and anything that helps to desensitize humanity. We need more people who feel deeply, not less.

    I was born in Zimbabwe. My parents moved to South Africa when the violence there got too scary only to live through more violence there. You do become desensitized, numbed. It's a human survival skill, but one of our less endearing ones. I've known far worse child abuse happen in Africa that didn't even make the newspapers and certainly would never have created the outrage Baby P's death has - simply because the people were too worn out to care deeply anymore.

    I remember talking to a policeman who had found a little girl. She'd been raped and killed and thrown away on a dump. He said when he first saw her, lying on the floor of an abandoned car, he'd thought she was a broken doll. He was still very young and clearly appalled at this discovery, but already he was starting to numb it out, because he couldn't cope without numbing it out.

    I've been living in the UK for six years now and can see the difference in myself. I feel more. Back home I'd reached a stage of blocking out a lot, because it can drive you crazy if you don't. That's what Africa needs way more than food aid or money - it needs to regain its ability to feel.

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  9. Michelle: Thanks for you kind words. Zimbabwe's not a good place to be right now is it? Seems the cycle begins once again. :-(

    As you say, it [disassociation] is a survival technique, but it's not something you want to maintain is it. Giving Africa the ability to 'feel' again is going to be tough.

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  10. Michelle, thank you also for your kind words, and for sharing your story.

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