Monthly Archives: February 2013

Unapologies: A minority of one

“The idea of ‘fitting in’ just repels me.”–Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) in the Star Trek: TNG episode “Hollow Pursuits”

Ever since my childhood I’ve been in the “out group”, and that’s just fine with me.  I am not and have never been into wearing fashionable clothes, joining a gang, swearing (though I do employ some choice Japanese terms now and then), getting tattoos or body piercings, or basically “fitting in” overall.  While there are some things I enjoy which happen to be popular (such as Doctor Who), I like them because of what they are, and not because I feel it’s somehow required of me.

baddiel_skinner

Baddiel & Skinner, the one good thing about English soccer (from the Telegraph website, but I’m sure they won’t mind me nicking it)

For example: I’ve never liked football (as in soccer, a.k.a. Association football) — while American men at least get three or four obligatory “manly” sports to choose from, like baseball, we Limeys are all expected to care whether eleven thick blokes are better at kicking a ball around than eleven other thick blokes, and to worship them to the point where they get paid more than doctors or firemen.  While I’ve lived in places I’ve liked and places I haven’t, I’ve never felt the need to support a local footie team (although with the number of expensive international player transfers these days, it’s not even about representing your local area any more anyway), and find it hard to understand why anyone would care enough to spend hundreds of pounds on season tickets, replica kits or whatever.  I like a casual kick-around in the park, and I enjoyed Fantasy Football League on TV (perhaps because it poked fun at footie’s foibles instead of treating it as sacred), but watching football on TV?  Ecch.  And that goes double for international competitions: I always hope England gets knocked out so that people stop droning on about it all the time, or putting those stupid flags on their cars!  I still have bad memories of the World Cup Final being shown simultaneously on BBC1 and ITV, back in the days when we only had four channels, but at least we have digital now…

Of course, I don’t begrudge other people supporting football teams if it makes them happy, it’s just that (a) I resent being told I’m not a “proper bloke” for not being into it (remind me again which of us watches twenty-two fit young blokes running around in shorts?!), and (b) I hate the drunken violence, racism, homophobia etc. that still pollutes the Beautiful Game, though I appreciate the efforts of those fighting to stop it.  I actually have no interest in any sport, with the possible exception of Formula 1 (cars, vrrm vrrm) and 1990s pre-name change WWF (which is really “ballet for men” with larger-than-life characters), or even boxing (though again, it’s more fun to “play” on the Wii than to watch).  However, even in these cases I don’t care who wins, it’s more about the experience than joining an “in group”.  The things that make me angry are real injustices in the world, or abuses of our freedoms by our supposed government, not some decision by a referee who needs to go to Specsavers…

As well as sport on TV, I also won’t watch reality TV, which seems to be all the ITV channels show any more since TV Burp ended — it’s only movies and the occasional Columbo that mean I keep them tuned in at all!  (Well, that and the bother of detuning them…)  I especially despise The Only Way is Essex: what a bunch of contemptible morons with no personality or intelligence, bumbling through their vacuous lives while being paid millions for being famous!  I won’t slag off the people who watch the show (my friend at work who lends me music is a fan), but I will say this: when people ask me if I like TOWIE, I confuse them by saying yes, I do like that particular South Park character, but I wish he’d get off his pot habit…

towelie

“Don’t forget to bring a towel!… You wanna get high?”

In addition, I’m the only person in Britain who hated, hated, that awful film Four Weddings and a Funeral.  No, Hugh Grant being hit in the face doesn’t help matters, because it’s just acting (or close approximation).  In fact, I find myself automatically loathing any film with the word “wedding” or “bride” in the title (the obvious exception being The Corpse Bride).  As for pop music, I consider modern music to be awful (with a few exceptions like Cee Lo Green), but it’s not due to my age: even when I was a child in the 1980s, I hated most of what was then called “modern music”, the exception back then was any novelty song that wasn’t a “love song” (this was obviously long before I discovered girls), such as “Loadsamoney!”, which will appear in a future “videos wot have cheered me up” post.  Of course, I now like a lot of music from my childhood, thanks to the age-related condition known as “nostalgia” (it’s partly Tony Blackburn’s fault).

Perhaps prescisely because they exploded in popularity, or perhaps just because they were so expensive in the 1990s, it took me a long time to get a mobile phone, although living in Worthing in my university interregnum meant I had few friends, and thus no-one to call while on the move.  While I grudgingly got one in 2004 when I’d come to London and needed to be contactable by my new friends (and employment agencies), I’ve always hated ringtones, especially when played continuously by smug gits in cafés for the amusement of their friends.  I certainly wouldn’t pay money for one… I won’t mention the whole “I’M ON THE TRAIN!” thing, because frankly everyone else is sick of that as well.

There’s also religion: I value my independence too much to become involved with any organised religion, and although I respect the “real” ones (i.e. not Scientology, which isn’t even a cult, it’s a scam… in my — ahem — personal opinion, of course), I don’t see anything in them that appeals to me enough to embrace them wholesale.  I have my own beliefs, based on what I’ve seen and what makes logical sense to me, and I’ll write another blog post about those some day, but suffice to say, they don’t fit in with “any of the above”.  Having said that, I’m also not an atheist — though I tend to believe in people (especially my family and friends) rather than any so-called “gods” — and I don’t want to see all religion banned, because I’m not a Daily Fail-reading “Ban this thing I personally don’t like!” kind of half-wit.

My “female best friend” is a non-denominational Christian, and tries to persuade me to join her faith; I’m happy she has something which inspires her and drives her to be a better person, but it has to be said, even if I were looking for a religion, Christianity just seems too obvious a choice, and too much like “fitting in”, in a (still predominantly) Christian country.  See, even if I were to embrace a religion, I’d want to be different!  How about Buddhism, which would help me conquer my anger?

simpsons_buddhism

“Who wears short shorts…?” “I wear short shorts…”
(from babysimpson.co.uk, again)

So what do I do instead of fitting in?  Well, I have some peculiar foibles of my own, which I’m sure no-one else on planet Earth suffers from:

  • If there’s a John Wayne film on TV, I have to respond to everything his character says with a bad impression: “The hell it is!”
  • Thanks to Baddiel & Skinner in the aforementioned Fantasy Football League, I have to respond to the front doorbell ringing with: “Who could that be?”
  • byesies

    “I mean… (manly voice) *byesies*!”

    After that American Dad! episode in which Stan Smith tried to embrace the gay lifestyle, I occasionally bid goodbye to my co-workers with this: “Byesies!”

  • Being a fan of Star Wars, like all right-thinking people, I occasionally impersonate C-3PO when my computer is taking a while to shut down: “Oh, switch off!”
  • My ringtone used to be a 24-style CTU phone noise when I had a primitive phone, but now I have a smartphone, it’s Peter Griffin singing (or chuckling) “Axel F”.  I still find other people’s ringtones annoying, and at work express the opinion thus: “No, that’s not annoying!”  (Since I like being able to pay my bills, I don’t say that whenever a certain woman starts talking loudly and cackling…)
  • One to which “female best friend” really takes exception: if someon asks me if they may ask a question, I respond that they just did, as though that’s the end of the matter.  Is that more or less annoying than me reacting to a pointed finger by pretending to bite said finger off?  Whaddaya mean, I should have grown out of that years ago?!

A final note, on the subject of booze (not “boo”s, which are what my comedy tends to get): while I’ve never wanted to get drunk, and truly hate my country’s drinking culture, I have been working to “get off the wagon” recently and stop being such a boring teetotaler.  I still don’t like the taste of beer (much like soccer, the “only one” you’re allowed to like in this country if you’re a “proper bloke”) and choose sweet ciders instead (what sport would that mean?  Rugby, cricket, showjumping?).  I never understood why anyone would deliberately make themself drunk, and whenever a TV show goes on about Britons boozing abroad I feel physically sick at the amount of alcohol they’re downing, but a little alcohol helps me relax, especially after climbing (hmm, I do seem to be mentioning that rather a lot, don’t I?).  I also tend to have a bottle when I’m home visiting my folks, but I don’t know what that says about me — hopefully that I feel safe enough to let my barriers down, and not that I’m trying to forget…!

Right, I wonder whether anything I’ve said tonight is actually all that unique, or whether I’m actually normal, which to me would be a fate worse than death!

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Exploring emotions: Fear

“I must not fear.  Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.”
–Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear”, Frank Herbert’s Dune series

Since I am still prey to negative emotions even today (for all my bravado over “turning a corner” and conquering depression), I thought it would be interesting to explore emotions in this blog, and consider what provokes them in me.  Fear seems as good a place to start as any, since it was fear that originally drove me into that depressive phase in late 2011 and early 2012, but (assuming this blog lasts long enough, and I remember to write in it) I’ll also be exploring anger, hate and sadness, before turning to the more positive emotions somewhere in the future (or, perhaps I’ll alternate, depending on how I… feel?).

Anyway, what about fear?  The sheer mortal terror that drives us on, or more precisely away.  What makes me scared?  Well, you already know of the darkness that clutched my heart back in January 2012, when I was truly afraid I’d left things too late and had no way out (even the prospect of moving back to Worthing with my mother didn’t make me feel any better), and made me so nauseous that I couldn’t even function, the result being that the result of my inability to find a new place to live was making it impossible for me to find a new place to live.  That was the feeling of helplessness, of failure, of not being able to face life any more, and it went on for a long time; it felt like I would never not be scared again, and I’m just glad I got through that horrendous time alive!

duncan_the_dragon

No, I really can’t think why I found this children’s TV character so terrifying…

There are other things that have made me afraid me during my life: as a child, I was terrified by various relatively innocuous children’s TV characters, particularly on a show called You & Me — not just a crow with a horrible raspy voice (which for some reason I thought was human-sized and coming to peck at me), but also Duncan the Dragon (right).  However, my worst fear was Mr. Noseybonk from Jigsaw (actually host and mime artist Adrian Hedley in a mask, on sped-up film inserts), and I know this for one simple reason: I forgot about him until 2003, when I happened to glance at a description of the show on a TV nostalgia site, and the mere sight of his name caused the memories to come flooding back… well, take a look at this character and judge for yourself just how ridiculous my fear is:

My teenage years saw relatively little fear (but a lot of sadness and loneliness, which I’ll touch upon in another post), except for that day in October 1992 that the BBC showed a fake documentary called Ghostwatch, which was highly controversial in its time (much like Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast in October 1938).  This was the show in which a celebrity would be “spending the night in a haunted house”, only for things to go horribly wrong as it turned out the ghost was real… well, take a look at the following video (actually two disparate clips in which the ghost is seen fleetingly), and you’ll understand why I was afraid to open my eyes at night, in case I saw someone in front of the curtains…

(As an aside, the curtains scene also caused “female best friend” to scream and leap out of her chair when she watched it with me in 2007!)

pinhead

“No tears, please — it’s a waste of good suffering!”

As my teenage years ended, I discovered something curious: I actually wanted to watch horror films, even though their mere descriptions had scared me when kids at school had raved about them.  I remember watching one of those interminable “top 100” shows about scary moments in TV and film, and when I saw the defibrillator scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing, I found myself thinking: I want to see that!  In my 20s I saw the Hellraiser films (left), and found them to be good, but not scary; sadly, it seems I haven’t been able to find a truly terrifying film — even the original Japanese version of Ring doesn’t scare me any more, and “gorn” such as the Saw films, while (ahem) enjoyable, don’t move me in that way.  Indeed, I’d already begun overcoming my fear of films (and of swearing!) by watching The Terminator, Aliens and other 18-rated (but probably edited) films on TV as a teenager.  It actually seems to be films like Deep Impact, with large populations in danger of annihilation, that scare me (I remember being horrified by Meteor when I was a nipper, especially the bit when Hong Kong gets flooded)…

In my adult years, the things that have scared me have been video games, like the aforementioned Amnesia: The Dark Descent, as well as Dead SpaceF.E.A.R. (appropriately enough), Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (especially since you have no weapons for the first part of the game) and the Thief games (yes, even the third one).  Indeed, it was the latter series which one day brought me to an epiphany about my own mortality: as I was walking home, it occurred to me that one day I wouldn’t be around to play Thief ever again, and that there would thus be a “last time” in my life that I ever play it.  This, more than anything else, made me realise that we have only a limited time in this world, and one day we go into the undiscovered country, which (if we’re lucky) might be the oblivion of non-existence, or perhaps eternal torment for the sin of not believing in the right gods.  But don’t worry, I bury such feelings these days and don’t let them worry me — if you’re too afraid to live, you’re already as good as dead!

climbingToday, even though I keep doing it, climbing (no, I won’t stop going on about it) scares the hell out of me — but I must face my anxiety in order to conquer it.  It has to be said, I’m afraid of heights when I’m in a precarious place, no matter how well I know intellectually that I’m safely tied in and won’t fall more than a couple of feet, but one day I shall overcome it to the point where I no longer need to stretch my arm up to grab a handhold, any handhold, just to feel safe.  Besides, being afraid of falling in a climbing centre is much better than my irrational fear of open skies, which seems to go back to a childhood nightmare about “falling off the world” — this makes it a little difficult to go stargazing, and indeed I’m a bit worried about how I’ll feel camping in the great outdoors in May, so I’d better work on overcoming my phobia…

No, I won’t be getting therapy regarding my fear of spiders, because that’s entirely rational and normal.  Not being afraid of spiders is a sign of social deviancy, which means you’re a terrorist!

Finally, there are two occasions I’ve felt in genuine mortal terror for my life, but fortunately I wasn’t in any actual danger on either occasion (or at least I hope not).  The first was on holiday in Turkey with my friends: during a boat tour around the bay at Marmaris, they cajoled me into jumping off the side, but when I did so, at the last moment I slipped and so fell rather than jumped, slowly turning in midair.  As everyone watching groaned in dismay, I felt a certain perverse satisfaction: it’d just serve you right if I died, after you nagged me to jump!  I survived, naturally, but when I clambered back aboard the boat, the adrenaline rush meant my legs didn’t work for some time…

The second case of mortal terror was during my four-week training course at The Castle climbing centre.  We had the “chance” to do a free abseil down the tower — hanging free inside, not rappelling down a wall and going “hut-hut-hut!” — and, perhaps out of fear of being the only one not to do it (and thus letting down our very nice instructor, who had never had someone back out before), I went through with it.  However, we’d been warned not to get our hands caught in the rope bracket, because the instructor would have to tie us off and spend ages getting us free… but I couldn’t seem to get the belaying right, and so I was faced with a choice: hold onto the rope tightly to stop myself going down, or let the rope go through my hands and give me friction burn!  Once again the adrenaline filled my veins (my right foot kept quivering, I recall), but I made it down, even though once again my legs were useless!

So there we are: the things that have scared me during my life.  Talking about these things puts them in perspective; I hope someone out there is reading this and finding it useful (for something other than building a case to have me committed), because the worst thing, the most terrifying of all, is to feel that you’re alone.

Cool things: Amnesia

Grrraaaahhhh...

Grrroowwwwrrrr…

Back in 2010, around the time of my 33rd birthday (the last time I had fun on my birthday, indeed), I got hold of a game that I’m sure “female best friend” is glad she didn’t stick around to watch me play (since she even finds Ghostbusters scary).  It’s a game made by a small group of Swedes that somehow manages to be the single most terrifying experience in vidya game history.  A game that could even scare me, a veteran of “survival horror” games such as Dead Space and Call of Cthulhu, as well as horror movies from Hellraiser to Ring.

Yes, it’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the game in which you have no weapons, no fighting skills, no defence against the monsters other than to run and hide.  The plot is thus: you are a 19th-century English gentleman and you wake up in a creepy Prussian castle, with no memory of how you got there, only to find a note from yourself urging you to gain entry to the castle’s inner sanctum and kill an evil man before it’s too late — because something is following you…

No, it’s not the Gatherers, the evil man’s barely-human minions which occasionally appear (especially when you least expect it), though they’ll certainly hunt you down if you’re foolish enough to announce your presence.  Nor is it the invisible thing in the flooded basement, which you can only detect by the splashes it makes in the water.  No, something elemental is closing in on you, and you know it’s getting close when a cosmic scream echoes across a seemingly-impossible distance, and flesh begins appearing on the walls…

Darkness in this game drives you slowly insane — you start to hear your teeth grinding, and you begin hallucinating — so you have to light candles and lamps, and keep your lantern filled with oil.  But watch out, the shambling Gatherers can see you in the light, so hide in the shadows and hope they wander off before you lose your mind.  And don’t stare at the creatures, because the very sight of them also drives you mad!  But don’t get too eager to move on when they’ve gone, because what’s that sound

There are three particularly scary chases in this game where you daren’t look back — the first when you run from the invisible “water lurker”, slamming doors behind you only to hear it crashing through them (I needed a break after that), the second when you think you’ve distracted a “Brute” Gatherer by throwing a stone, only to hear it howling after you (it caught me in one playthrough and I screamed like a girl), and the third when the Shadow, the elemental force that needs to consume you in order to restore balance in the Universe, begins pursuing you through the halls

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I use some of the incidental music and sound effects from this game as alarm sounds on my smartphone, to wake me up in the morning with an adrenaline rush!

Here’s a compilation of various people’s YouTube videos, complete with them screaming in terror (warning: bad language and variable picture quality ahead!).  But the only way to really experience it is to play… in a dark room, with headphones on, when the house is empty… or is it?

A propos of nothing

Yes, it’s another generic “marking time” post, just to let my loyal readership know I’m still alive.  You’ll be pleased to know that I’m keeping fit, despite having pizza tonight (which was more repaying my housemate for helping me carry a 32″ TV set from the second-hand shop in the high street):during the week my BMI got as low as just under 25!  Yeah, I know it’s pretty much quackery, but it means I’m moving in the right direction.  My clothes often feel like they’re hanging off me, which means (a) I’m losing my love handles, and (b) I need a non-leather belt as a matter of urgency…

How have I achieved this deflation of my spare tyre?  Well, I’ve continued climbing (and mentioning it here rather more often than it perhaps warrants), I’ve exercised with Wii Fit Plus (I’m now onto the “advanced” versions of the kung-fu and rhythm boxing games), and I’ve just generally eaten a bit less.  This has meant that at times I’ve been ravenous (especially in the mornings at work) — hungry enough that I could eat a horse…

eat_a_horse

“Um… I misspoke.”

I did have another bout of tummy trouble in the week, which seems to have resulted from me eating too many Quorn burgers in a short space of time, but I won’t let the meat eaters criticise me for being a vegetarian, as (a) I’m still getting my protein (overdosing on it, indeed!), and (b) I’m not eating dodgy burgers containing, well, the aforementioned variety of animal flesh!  Perhaps Tesco, Findus etc. heard someone say “I could eat a horse” and replied “Your wish is our command”…?

Although I continue my lacksadaisical attitude regarding this blog, there’s still stuff I want to post about, such as my discovery of classical music, the “new sexism” (that might be next, actually, as my friend recently mentioned a gender-related non-chair-surrending incident on the Tube), and how awesome Doctor Who is.  However, tonight I guess I should reaffirm how glad I am to be alive today, in spite of the miserable weather — here’s what I did in 2012 that I otherwise couldn’t have done:

  • I’ve discovered loads of 1980s music courtesy of the nice guy who sits opposite me at work.  To think, he and I used to be antagonistic in 2010 — one of the few good things to happen in 2011 was that we became friends, and last year (and on into this year) he’s lent me albums and compilations for groups like The Smiths, Kraftwerk, Duran Duran, Human League, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and New Order.  Yes, I like music from the early 1980s, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
  • I’ve watched old TV series made by Kenny Everett and Lee & Herring all the way through, thus putting me back in touch with my formative years, and continued my mission to watch every Doctor Who story in order, which began in 2011 and is now nearing the end of Pertwee’s tenure!
  • I went to Paris in September 2012, and while it was a dismal day (how inconsiderate of the French not to arrange good weather!), it helped me develop some wanderlust, and gain confidence in travelling on my own.  Perhaps I’ll take my mother there another time (though she really wants me to accompany her to Japan, which is a rather more daunting journey than a short hop across the English Channel!).
  • While I know I play too many damn vidya gamez, 2012 saw me get hold of the Borderlands games, which are good, and also the remarkable world of Skyrim.  However, it was the wonderfully deep world of L.A. Noire that kept me going when I first moved into this house…
  • I finally got over my foolish “desperation” (if you could call it that, considering I never really lowered my standards or “settled”) to “get a girlfriend” — I need to sort my own life out before I can share it with someone, and as I’ve said previously, the “score of scoring” is irrelevant to me because I just want to find one special person.  Admittedly I’d be happy with a harem, but only so I could make more than one woman happy at a time, not because I want to treat women like interchangeable sex objects!
  • In relation to the above, I very nearly “met someone” in June, via a dating site: she seemed almost perfect for me, an attractive American vegan, and for a couple of weeks I did feel a certain agonising joy, perhaps for the first time in my life… but it didn’t work out, she didn’t feel I was a potential mate when she spoke to me on the phone, and in any case I was having my doubts as she’d flown off the handle about a minor comment (so we would probably have argued all the time).  Plus, she worked with babies and really liked them, whereas I’ve always found the little blighters nauseating (if she’d been a vet instead, I would have probably proposed!).  Still, this bout of unfulfilled love made me truly feel something other than darkness at last, and in any case it supported my theory (which I held long before I even met that girl in Michigan in 1998) that only American women are intelligent enough to give me a chance!
  • In 2012 I grew closer to my mother again, after years of half-joking that I visit my folks in Worthing “as seldom as I can” (though Worthing itself still sucks, of course).  We’ve both been through depression, and we’ve both turned our lives around by exercising and keeping fit, and gone from “waiting to die” to living.  I know Mumsy’s life still isn’t anywhere near perfect, but I’ve decided to go on living for her sake, and make her proud of me.
  • I joined the campaign against the incompetent and corrupt Barnet council, and thus feel useful!

Still, I’m glad 2012’s over with, and selling on the crummy little 19″ TV I bought when I first moved here has helped me move on a bit (though they were closed early when I went back to get my money — damn, I hope they’re not trying to rip me off!); I’m also hoping to move my room around and get rid of one of my bookcases.  Trouble is, where do I put my bed if I want to have enough room to use the Wii balance board?  Ugh, first world problems…

Unapologetic for being a vegetarian

I’m back, and I’ve got something new to soapbox about.  Now, there are a number of things I want to change about myself — my anxiety, my quickness to anger (especially where our flaky Virgin Media broadband connection is concerned), my inability to appreciate the fact that others don’t grasp things the way I do (as my poor mother knows after I got her to do some Wii Fit Plus exercises at the weekend) — but there are also some things about myself that I definitely don’t want to change.  Hence, the brand new post category of “unapologies”, which I’m inaugurisationating with tonight’s topic: my vegetarianism.

Image from babysimpson.co.uk (and originally Fox, or something)

Image from babysimpson.co.uk (and originally Fox, or something)

I decided in the mid-1990s, for reasons not entirely unconnected to the image on the left, that since there’s enough food available in our society, the only reason to eat meat (leaving aside getting marooned on a desert island etc.) would be for the taste, and furthermore that it wouldn’t be worth an animal dying just to give me a taste sensation that could be equalled or even surpassed by other means.  I made the switch at university, fair enough, but I’d already been thinking about it for a year or so (despite enjoying McDonald’s — ah, perhaps therein lies a clue?), and once made, it was an easy path to follow.  I had to do it in stages, though: for one thing, I didn’t manage to cut out gelatine-based foods (I really, really liked Wine Gums) for a long time, and Walkers cheese-and-onion crisps contained animal rennet until that glorious day in 2004…

Anyway, it’ll have been 16 years in April since the Geology field trip to Wales on which, due to it being self-catering, I decided to become a vegetarian (like the proverbial gay man bedding one last woman, I made myself a steak-and-kidney pie that day… hey, who is this gay man and why does he get more girly action than me?!).  Thanks to the availability of things like Quorn and Linda McCartney “fake meat” products, I haven’t been inclined to go back again, and the smell of frying bacon, ironically, also helped (though it should be noted it was bacon being fried by university students, so the word “carbonised” would be more appropriate).  Here in London, where I’ve lived since 2003, one of my female friends once showed me a nice little vegetarian fast food restaurant in Dean Street called RedVeg, now sadly long gone (thanks for ruining my life, Crossrail), at which I frequently had a very nice vegetarian burger (the one at Nando’s just doesn’t compete, and peri-peri be damned).

However, society in general (and Gordon Ramsey in particular) seems to think I’m some kind of dangerous deviant because I choose not to eat meat.  Leaving aside the stupid loud-mouthed vegetarians who go around preaching at meat-eaters that they’re “cavemen” (I’ve never been like that and never will be), what’s the deal with criticising my eating habits?  It’s like the kind of homophobic bully who tells gay men they need to be “normal”, rather than just tolerating them and saying “hey, more chicks for me”; so similarly, why not say “hey, more steak for me”?  Are they really annoyed that I’m not competing with them for a finite resource?  (Not that I’m describing women as a “resource”, I should add, but there aren’t many single women left… oh, sorry, I digress!)

And then there’s the whole “herp derp, do you wear leather shoes?” (no, I go to annoying lengths not to, and shoe shop staff look at me like I’m crazy every damn time), or the “fact” that $DEITY put the animals on Earth for us to eat and thus made them out of meat (gee, never heard that one before), or “vegetables aren’t food, they’re what food eats” (ooh, careful with that joke, it’s an antique), or “don’t you ever hunger for a steak?” (yes, so I have a Quorn one — er, other fake meat product lines are available), and so on.  In fact, here’s a bingo chart about the subject:

If you're the person who made this, kudos.  And, could you make a slightly easier-to-read version, please?

If you’re the person who made this, kudos. And, could you make a slightly easier-to-read version, please?

I should add at this point that my former “good housemate” was like this a lot of the time, though he also concluded I was gay (sorry for bringing that topic up three times in this post — ooh, Matron!) because I hadn’t had “enough” women.  Basically he liked taunting me all the time, but he also supported me when I needed it, so I tolerated his humour (and he even made me some vegetarian chilli once).  What got to me, though, was our final “third housemate” who once told me, in all seriousness, that he wanted to “cure” me of my vegetarianism.  Yes, that’s the guy I grew to loathe before we moved out of Caledonian Road (should I conclude from his example that all meat eaters refuse to do their washing-up unless bullied into doing so, and make a lot of noise at night?).  One of my housemates here made a similar comment, but he at least was funny about it, and since he helped me out when I first moved in (especially with the heavy lifting), he’d earned the right.  My female best friends have both catered for me willingly and without grumbling (one of them has food intolerances and so knows all about cooking separate meals).

I guess I’m lucky to live in a country that actually caters for vegetarians (and, to a lesser extent, vegans).  There was actually a BBC News article about this topic recently, and I’m a bit worried about my holiday to the USA in May, but the company assures me I can buy my own vegetarian food and cook it over the campfire with no problem, rather than relying on American restaurants where they might think “vegetarian” just means “with vegetables on the side”.  At least I’m not going anywhere near South Dakota or Texas, and I know that the restaurant on the Eiffel Tower can provide vegetarian pasta if you specifically ask for it (and don’t call the waiter garçon, presumably).

I couldn’t become a vegan, though… I just like dairy too much!

Okay, so my eating habits aren’t perfect: I do need to eat more vegetables (though never broccoli — sorry, some lines just can’t be crossed), and I’m trying to have more stir fries and less pizzas / chocolate / caffeinated fizzy drinks.  But give me a break about meat, okay?  I won’t preach at you if you won’t sneer at me.  It’s like Paul McCartney sang: “Live and Let Live”.  Actually, it was “Live and Let Die”… well, whatever, it had a good rhythm!

(As a Godwin’s Law-based postscript, here’s the obligatory Hitler reference: not only was he not a strict vegetarian (he liked roast dove), but he also liked cakes, was heterosexual, breathed oxygen, occupied three-dimensional space and experienced time in a linear progression from cause to effect.  Are those things evil because Hitler did them?  Honestly, reductio ad Hitlerum is ridiculous — next you’ll be saying genocide is evil just because the Nazis did it!)

(Oh, and PPS: there’s a stupid IAMS advert on TV with cats “saying” that they’re carnivores and not vegetarians, as a way of advertising that the product has a greater percentage of animal protein in it than other brands of cat food.  So, er, why isn’t it 100% animal protein, P&G?  Is one of the richest companies in the world not only cheap but a bit hypocritical?)