Xxxholic

"I think this is gonna be a problem..."

'Er... okay. How exactly?'

"Moving forward in our day to day lives."

Wot? Considering I'm not campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty and I'm not penpals with anyone — especially not an incarcerated mass-murderer, I'm not sure how it's relevant to our daily lives. I don't mention my views on the death penalty at all. The only person I have outright made my position clear to was you, and I only ever tiredly reiterate it after you repeatedly ask me to speak about it. 

I can see how, 'That will be $15 and 87cents for your groceries — have a nice day!" 'Oh thank you — I OPPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY! — oh, do keep the change...' would be an annoyance and an issue in daily life. But when it comes up on the news or you mention it in passing due to a related issue, I say sod all. I don't even roll my eyes or look scathing and morally vexed or whatever.

You've repeatedly asked me to justify my opinion. (I do in the same one or two sentences every time, and my opinion still hasn't changed.) 

I am opposed to the death penalty because even if murderers deserve to die, I believe that as a society it is our moral duty to show mercy even to the undeserving.

Humanity's idea of crime, punishment and justice has fluctuated wildly between times and places. Other than a basic universal understanding of those concepts, humanity has been pretty diverse in interpreting and reinterpreting them. 

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    there's a cat snoring on my lap
Corvidia

"Why don't you shut your fucking mouth?"

...Because this is a relationship and not a Reddit forum? Also when in the history of  any relationship has that phrase ever worked out well for anyone?

(But I do indeed shut my mouth in silence for the next five minutes whilst you huff and swear and go to bed.) Welp. That was constructive. Yey.

How many times have I told you to shut the fuck up? How many times did I call you a cunt, an idiot, a fucking stupid idiot, a fucking dumb cunt, or variations on that theme? When did I even shout them in your face and tell you to leave, get out, go, fuck off — and btw you're not allowed to take any possession (including basic clothes) that I ever bought for you? 

Oh yeah. Weirdly, strangely, never. 

No, I take that back. Once I asked you to get out of my room. You didn't so I left and slept elsewhere instead because I was so very tired of drama by that point I didn't want to add to it. 

Pretty sure 'shut up', 'oh go away!', 'idiot' and 'bastard' where the worst I have ever given across multiple arguments. Although to be fair there may have been a 'fuck off' thrown in there once or twice. 

When you're tipsy, you like to talk. 

In Covid times, there's not always a lot happening and not a lot to talk about.

(How was your day? Oh, I typed a bit on the computer, stayed inside and played idiot games on my phone. How about you? Yep, same really. Surprise. These are the times we live in.)

But tipsy and drunk are different. And your tipsy and drunk are different from mine.

Hell, even sober you bellowed at a cat and flung it off your lap right into a table. Flint is big enough to be okay, thank you Bast. But they knocked over my tea and some of my electronics are fucked now, but hey — you showed dominance, right? Master of the house. So that's okay?

Have you not noticed that my attracting their attention, or your squirting them with the water bottle gets them to stop a whole lot faster and with less problems? Suddenly bellowing 'OI!' in my ear startles me and gets them to look up in fear for three seconds and then they go back to being goblin chittens. In fact, when you flung Flint off of your lap and into the table? What did he do? Ran around the apartment away from you like a mad thing, and continued to be bitchy with Tiresias and was legitimately scared of you until you sat down and scritched him whilst he was being extra submissive. That sinario was not a win.

You can be wolflike with a dog — if you know about wolves. You can't be wolflike with a cat — especially ones who have had such a chequered upbringing as ours have.

Flint was both truly scared of you and hated you today. And he blamed Tiresias for what had happened. But at the same time, he wouldn't even sit on my lap. Because we are together. Because I didn't shield him from when you when you were too much. And that's on me.

Tiresias meeps — and I love her very much but I don't necessarily know what she's on about  — not as clearly as I do Flint. He's like Lil. Less vocal but just as direct.

Please don't ever yeet a chitten again. 

(Unless you sit on Flint by mistake and he mauls you and puts you in the hospital — that's legit I guess...)


Scar

Do you ever catch yourself in the mirror and stumble?

Because you didn't look how you expected?

I didn't like how I looked from 10 to 20years — I hated mirrors. 

But by the time I was 20 there were a lot of fun hair dyes — there were even contact lenses. And corsets. And a lot of clothes I was suddenly allowed to wear and no one was allowed to scorn me for it.

The trouble is, I still fall out of sync with myself. My hair, clothes or face are just wrong sometimes. (Looking older probably doesn't help, although there's little to be done about that.) The colour of ones skin, hair, teeth and eyes all change with age. Fashions change and you may find your favourite outfit is suddenly drastically out of date.

Blue-black hair dye, false dreads, and a black pvc catsuit (or 22inch corset, stockings and knickers adorned with a silver star) were a thing to wear when I was 28.

But now I'm on an island far far away. And it's warm. And I'd likely look bad in pvc.

For a long while at the Oast it was all linen and wool and leather like a viking maid. Or occasionally 18th century skirts, shifts and corsets. 

Now I wear what I can only call 'holiday clothes'. Endless T-shirts and shapeless trousers. Ill-fitting tops and shorts. Clothes I don't love and don't care about. They fit the environment but they don't fit me. (I recognise this is something I either need to fix or shut the fuck up about.)

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Xxxholic

"These are arguably the two best bands in history..."

Ooookay. 

But are they though? Really? Bit unlikely. (I mean, come on, in all of human history, these two grunge metal bands from the late 90s / early 00s — their songs are the best ever?) Ehhhhhh no. The very fact that I'm indifferent to them does suggest you might be overstating your case somewhat... 

You think they're the best? Good for you — they do have strong compositions, decent lyrics, and evocative themes. But I don't have to think they're the best. And the fact that you — wholly un-ironically — tried to convince me they were the best thing in all of Human Musical History To Ever Exist isn't something I can take seriously.

You are welcome to love any band you love — just as I am. But please don't try to lecture me on why a band you like is the best in all of humanity's rather long and varied history of musical expression. (Come on — arrogant much?) I will get snarky, or laugh, or be rude, or all three. If our positions were reversed I would expect no less from you. You wouldn't agree with me if I said two artists were the best ever in their field from the entirety of history — especially if those artists were very similar thematically and had come to light in the same decade of the same century. At that point it smacks not of artistic perfection but of personal preference. Which is fine. But I am not obliged to buy into your preference.

And you will leave in a snit, slamming every door you can find, and I will shrug and curl up with the chittens. Because who needs that sort of drama over a difference of opinion about a song or a band? Not me. And I don't understand why you're so keen to be invested in it. Does my apparent lack of detailed Scene Music Appreciation offend you? 

Music isn't a thing you get to be right about. It's an art form and mode of expression to appreciate on an individual level. I don't police your music — don't lecture me on mine. 

I went to Uni and there I've had plenty of boys boor the hell out of me, banging on about how they have a grander appreciation of music than I do. (That was a fuck ton of lectures I never asked for but put up with because I didn't know any better.) Thing is, I'm not 19 any more. I don't need to listen to a lecture disguised as a chat-up line. I don't need to even listen to any opinion on something so diverse and culturally and historically fluctuating as music, let alone agree someone's right. Want to know why? Because there is no universal law of music that says your opinion is correct — any more than mine is in disagreeing.

Yes, there are scientific and mathematical elements to music, but it's an art. The most perfect piece within its genre will be appreciated by some and not by others. People are allowed to appreciate the music they appreciate. It's not objective. There is not a Enshrined Statute of Musical Taste. 

Oh no! I like Stabbing Westward as apposed to Tool (when they both sound very similar). Foolish me! Stabbing Westward was but a poor Grunge/NIN/Tool knockoff who were late to the party...

.... And? So what?

I don't care who Stabbing Westward vibed from or ripped off. Don't care who came before or after them — why do I need to? I like their music; why does it have to be more complicated than that?

I understand you're passionate about music and that's commendable. But is storming away and telling me to fuck off the most grown up reaction to not convincing me of your apparently ironclad argument?

I've told you that I don't care about music in the same way you do. I don't care if one band was legit or came first or was better. I care what I like listening to. I don't care about genre or definition of style or who did what when. I care about what I want on my playlist. I can't be arsed to be schooled by a music snob about why one band I haven't heard is so much better than one I already like. You're not going to argue me out of my musical preferences unless pressing play drop-kicks a kitten.

Here's an idea: instead of telling me off because my taste in music is apparently poor and derivative, why not say 'Oh — you like Z! Have you heard of X or Y? They were around a bit earlier but have a similar sound — I think you'd like them...'

Just a suggestion.

ST snarl

I think I've sold my soul to a sixteen year old...

She wanted to make an online zine. 

A B C — Anything But Covid. 

Hurrah! Brilliant — sign me up!

I submitted a handful of stories. It became clear from my submissions she would rather short, humorous tales, despite never having mentioned that in the brief nor the feedback. By trial and error and her ongoing complaint that no one could write and she had to submit her own stories, I figured the narratives had to be silly, funny, quirky and about half the maximum word length.

In what I can best describe as a surreal children's book, I referenced Yeats' Second Coming — which is not an obscure poem if you actually read poems in the English language. Also the words are so odd they don't occur anywhere else — a Google search will answer your WTF in under ten seconds with the first or second result. But no, she had no idea nor did she try to look it up. There were also a couple of English language grammatically correct 'quirks' she had never heard of and asked me to 'correct'.

She's probably not 16. She's probably 19 or 20. She's definitely American. And she's not as well read or educated in the English language as I am. And I'm dyslexic. Which is... distressing because she's my editor?

Yes, it's an editor's job to question my use of grammar. But I shouldn't have to school my editor on poetry. I will now have to clue her in to the literary hints I dropped from famous pieces and also tell her UK spelling is a real thing, and in short, it's not that I made a mistake, it's that she needs to get out more, listen to how different people speak, and read more books. Poems. Shakespeare. Stoppard. Something.

Also yes, in writing descriptive narrative I occasionally repeat myself or say things that are not necessarily needed. But if you remove them from the sentence, how does the sentence sound when you say it out loud? Unbalanced, and a bit shit, that's what. You think I don't know I put extra words in there? It's the rhythm of it. Read it aloud like you were doing the voices reading a bedtime story to a child. 

FFS. READ IT ALOUD. PROPERLY. Like an actor. Or a person with a sense of linguistic rhythm, if you can at least manage that...

I dunno, I'm annoyed. I've had years of battling dyslexia and of my father correcting my grammar like he's a Victorian school master, cane in hand. I don't like discovering that an editor's English literary and linguistic knowledge is not as good as mine. That's just depressing.

Scar

Icarus is flying too close to the sun...

I want to post the Good Omens Icarus Bastille vid. But it isn't working. And I'm too tired to care any more. It's here if you like - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymHv_TECanI

This has been quite an un-fun night.

Give me a fucking surgical needle. Or whatever, never mind. Not fussed. Probably an embroidery needle or something will do the job. No one gives a shit anyway and I'm too tired to care, so there we are.

I'm cold. Not that that's important - I cleaned up the bathroom so that's okay.
ST wtf lovett

Isolation...

So I'm on an island far away from 99.9% of anyone I've ever known in my life ever. Which was a choice I willingly made. But it's a choice that's felt a lot more complicated recently.

I don't have a job and I'm not very good at making friends.

Covid19 doesn't really make social interaction that easy these days either. Technically I have a few friends in London, one in Hungry, and one in Berlin and maybe one or two across the UK who might remember me if I'm really very lucky.

Even so, I have no one here. I suppose when there was a place to go back to in the UK it felt manageable. Now I just have a storage unit with a fee to pay. My life has been in sodding boxes for more than a decade and I don't even have any friends any more.

I don't have friends in this time zone or side of the planet or continent.

And my life is 95% in a storage crate on the other side of the world.

I obviously need to fix this but I'm really not sure how right now...

...Well fuck.
ST snarl

Classical Education.

Meaning: to be taught the Classics - Ancient Greek and Roman plays, Satires, poems, the languages, fashions, politics and history of that time.

I don't know if a 'Classical Education' is all it's cracked up to be - I know it leaves out just as many (more) things as it leaves in. But if nothing else, what a classical education gave me was a full sense of art, life, and politics in Europe 1000-2000 years ago. And you know what? That's essential. Because it's just the bloody same as modern day.*

- Artists are dreamers who have to find patrons who want them to paint stuff they're not interested in and lie whilst they do it.
- Poor people are mocked by the rich and given empty promises by the politicos. Many have to appease a local power to get their weekly rations. All of them have a charioteer team or local gladiator they are fanatical about.
- Religion is viewed somewhere between a social background norm, an outmoded state convention and a joke you'd like to make but can't for fear of prosecution.
- The higher up the religious official - or any other official for that matter - the more likely he is to be corrupt. Good intentions rot just like any other fruit.
- Women are protected/free/educated/crazy/pure/sexy/frigid/girly/lovely/slutty/insane/sex-hags/innocent/darlings who may or may not be mental and may or may not be allowed to wear 'spartan' short skirts.
- War? Sucks. Read Aristophanes' 'Peace'. He disagreed with the bloodshed and complained bitterly that it was the civilians who had to pay the price when kings or statesmen couldn't settle their differences.

But really, everyone, just please, read the Oresteia by Aeschylus**. It's actually three plays: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, & The Eumenides. It starts as a revenge tragedy of the sort that Shakespeare, Marlowe or Webster would be proud of. But slowly through the trilogy we are asked to agree with each semi righteous yet problematic character's view as their reasons for their terrible actions are explained to us and made to sound sane. The Tragedian's way - the old God's way - was that blood must always have blood. But at the end, when bloody justice was about to met out on Orestes (who'd killed his mother... 'cos she'd killed her husband (O's dad)... 'cos (O's dad) had killed a daughter (O's sister, and by the by his other sister was pissed...)

In the way of plays, Orestes had it coming - but before the devil could take his soul (so to speak) Athene turned up and being the goddess she was bitch-slapped everyone into holding the first trial by jury to decide his guilt. The jury was split 50/50: so she put in the casting vote and told everyone they were forbidden from taking revenge. From now on things were going to be judicial and lawful - they were going to be civilized...

I know there will always be those who abuse the law, or those whom the law cannot stop in time. There will be bad laws too, laws that need to be changed.

But I believe in Athene***. The Furies will gnash their teeth and demand blood for blood, recompense with interest for every slight great or small whether committed yesterday or a thousand years back. Emotion demands we satisfy these hurts - you strike me so I strike you. But Athene is reason, not emotion, and reason sees that an eye for an eye and blood for blood leaves us all blind and wounded: the cycle of vengeance must be broken and justice put in its place.

Justice is imperfect, alas, even after all these years. But I still think despite its myriad flaws it is a better system than vengeance.

I've been told, since I believe in justice in this mode, that England should pay back damages not only to all its old Empire pieces (India, Africa, etc) but any other country it ever shat on in the past. (And the longer it shat on it the more it ought pay.)

Okay. I'm up for a Time-Lord Geneva-Convention. But how is this to work exactly - what are the rules - where's the start point? Because... I know Wessex owes Mercia and Cumbria for being a dick for a start, eventually England owes Scotland, Wales and Ireland for being a bastard (but apparently all the different clans in Scotland Ireland and Wales are cool to let bygones be bygones about THEIR inter-murder-history) then Britain or the UK (how united are we at this point in history?) owes Australia and America and anywhere else we colonized first time round... Then India and bits of Africa and the Caribbean and some other places...

If we're paying for land taken and people killed and revenue piked over time, honestly bits of England might be paying other bits of England the most - not to mention demanding dividends off of the Viking lot. And the Romans - do we demand Italy pay us back for the shit they started? And how are the Greeks to pay back all they took across the world? Or the Persians? Or the Mongols - surely we should all be demanding child benefit if nothing else from the Mongols - Genghis Khan sired half of bloody Europe!

...And America - how is it you think you're so clean of this awful historical murdering bastardry? Fucking hell - you can't pin all your sins on the Europeans - though you do try. You're independent my dears - have been since 1776 - that makes you your own country! Such a pity there were those pesky 'natives' you had to constantly 'deal' with - how tiresome! The ongoing genocide, marginalization and mistreatment of native clans - which you have yet to rectify in any meaningful way... Nope, you'd rather get hugely pissy about what the English did to your ancestors 400+ years ago than acknowledge the horror you committed to an indigenous people less than 200 years back...

Sod off. You pay back all that land and death and damages you did to the American Indian tribes and then I'll be happy to talk as an 'English' person repaying your Irish/Scot/Whatever ancestors for that blood debt.

People and countries are bastards and have been for all time, I suppose is my point. We all have laws to try to elevate us from us murderous horrible pasts - WHICH IS REALLY BLOODY IMPORTANT. Because that's what law is at its most basic point - it's an attempt to be right next time - to aid human society as a whole - even if we can't make right the past.

PS. Please do shut up about Cromwell being our fault. We didn't elect him, we lost a sodding war to him, and we hated him too - he was a cunt. We tried, we failed. Sorry.

PPS. Also yes by all means tell me how the IRA were fine - when you didn't even know there were different arms/splinter groups to the IRA in the first place or what they stood for. Or the fact that the bombed their own people a lot. Fekkers. I can cope with that - that's ignorance. Just don't bloody tell me that the bombing campaign during my childhood was some sort of magical fiction made up between the BBC, my brain and the adults I knew who all worked in different independent news/TV - cos that's just bloody rude.

===========================

*= I'm remembering mostly satires by Horice and Juvinal for the social stuff but also the religious chatter from some Comedies and a history of Rome and Senneca and some other peeps - I'd quote chapter and verse but all my books are stuck in boxes far away. Please comment with quotes that support (or not!) from those or similar sources.

**= I know there are lots of other texts ((oh gods please read Marcus Aurelius too)) and that's not counting all the OTHER AWESOME philosophical texts from AROUND the WORLD.

***= I'm not actually keen on Athene and her ilk they were all pretty bloody shit (and Zeus was a cock-monster) but in this case I mean Athene as her primary aspect: reason and wisdom.
Me - Emmy

Dear Sir/Madam/Guest,

Please don't argue and then dictate terms to me of 'never speaking on this again' in my own room or you can sod off and sleep in the bloody garden.

Alternatively, (according to rank/gender/frailty/weather/etc) I'll sleep in the bloody garden. (I don't really care much at this point, am just mostly sure I don't wish to inhabit the same domicile as you since I am as vastly grumpified by your opinions as you are by mine.)

Tired and vexed regards of the type that only fruitless argument can bring,
Whatever ffs,
Corvid.

Post Script: Apparently it wasn't terms to me, it was terms to them. ...Fair enough then.
Me - Emmy

Caitlin Moran's post about advice to her daughter.

My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to get out – I’ve thought about writing her one of those “Now I’m Dead, Here’s My Letter Of Advice For You To Consult As You Continue Your Now Motherless Life” letters. Here’s the first draft. Might tweak it a bit later. When I’ve had another fag.



“Dear Lizzie. Hello, it’s Mummy. I’m dead. Sorry about that. I hope the funeral was good – did Daddy play Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen when my coffin went into the cremator? I hope everyone sang along and did air guitar, as I stipulated. And wore the stick-on Freddie Mercury moustaches, as I ordered in the ‘My Funeral Plan’ document that’s been pinned on the fridge since 2008, when I had that extremely self-pitying cold.

“Look – here are a couple of things I’ve learnt on the way that you might find useful in the coming years. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. Also, I’ve left you loads of life-insurance money – so go hog wild on eBay on those second-hand vintage dresses you like. You have always looked beautiful in them. You have always looked beautiful.

“The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.

“Second, always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.

“Three – always pick up worms off the pavement and put them on the grass. They’re having a bad day, and they’re good for… the earth or something (ask Daddy more about this; am a bit sketchy).

“Four: choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.

“Stay at peace with your body. While it’s healthy, never think of it as a problem or a failure. Pat your legs occasionally and thank them for being able to run. Put your hands on your belly and enjoy how soft and warm you are – marvel over the world turning over within, the brilliant meat clockwork, as I did when you were inside me and I dreamt of you every night.

“Whenever you can’t think of something to say in a conversation, ask people questions instead. Even if you’re next to a man who collects pre-Seventies screws and bolts, you will probably never have another opportunity to find out so much about pre-Seventies screws and bolts, and you never know when it will be useful.

“This segues into the next tip: life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’ Even when Jesus was on the cross, I bet He was thinking, ‘When I rise in three days, the disciples aren’t going to believe this when I tell them about it.’

“Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it. Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes, talk to Daddy and Nancy about me every day and never, ever start smoking. It’s like buying a fun baby dragon that will grow and eventually burn down your f***ing house.

“Love, Mummy.”