All images are the property of Tim Phillips-White (2013)
We’re all alone in the end.
I’ve always blamed myself for what happened. Impossible I know, but I’ve always felt responsible. The nagging doubt has always been there, eating away at me inside, refusing to budge, refusing to let me go.
This has always been a huge invisible barrier in my life; even though it’s entirely one of my own making. It has held me back in my career, and it has acted like a white elephant to any meaningful relationship I may have been involved in. It might sound odd to say that I have never minded, or been afraid of being alone. Being an only child makes one used to your own company, even if at times it becomes rather tiresome. After all, we’re all alone in the end.
Has this left me incapable of feeling or showing love? No, I’ve been lucky. There are those who entered my life, those that stayed for a while, whom I have loved. On the other hand, there were those who were never mine to love in the first place; they may have been the deepest, most heartbreaking love of all. The love of your life.
Those moments when the guard comes down are rare these days. I began to fill the empty space by other means; be it drink, meaningless sex or other ill-conceived relationships. This may provide you with some sort of temporary respite, a brief diversion; however the reality is always there waiting for you. You become cold, hard, cynical, almost machine like. Showing emotion becomes a sign of weakness, letting people become too close to you something to be avoided at all costs. You isolate yourself, become oblivious to those around you who care about you, and in time, forget what real happiness feels like.
No man is an island; but you can build a tall, unbreakable wall around that island, constantly checking for possible gaps. Over the years this is bound to take its inevitable toll. You become tired; not only of the constant effort required, but of yourself, and your own stupidity. Surely only a complete idiot would set out to screw up their own life? Who would actively make their existence cold and empty?
It all comes back to guilt; a debt to be paid for that event where the responsibility still hangs like a millstone around your neck.
As I sit and think and write about this, I’m fully aware as to how stupid and self-pitying this must sound. I know that in reality I was not responsible for my Mothers death at such a young age. I know that it was just a complete fluke that on a cold November week in 1993, she caught the flu, possibly off me, that caused what in the end was a sudden, quick and fatal asthma attack. I also know that there was nothing that I could have possibly done to change events. Nothing could have prevented such a tragic, wasteful loss of such a young life.
Stars have their moment and then they die.
I don’t look for sympathy. I’ve never wanted it, or expected it. I’ve never wanted people to feel sorry for me. Despite the words that have gone before, I do not wallow in a pool of self-pity. I have always tried to get on with my life in the best way that I can, quiet and with as much dignity and self-respect as was possible. There are many periods of my life when I do feel happiness. There are those in my life who provide me with support, laughter and unconditional love.
Perhaps that’s enough? Perhaps at the end of the end that is all that really matters.
I’m often accused of being grumpy or miserable. To which I normally reply: ‘Good, now fuck off and let me go about my day’. You see, being grumpy is not the same as being ‘unhappy’, or ‘depressed’. It really isn’t….
Yet all to often this is a concept that far too many people fail to grasp. Let’s make something clear; yes I get unhappy at times, just like all of us do. There are things in my life that make me sad; things that have made me deeply unhappy.
That is not the same as being grumpy. I often think that I’ve made a career out of being grumpy; so much so that it’s almost an art form; almost a performance. It might also be true that I use my grumpy outlook as a wall against the rest of the world, to prevent some people from getting too close to me.
It’s also true that I’m grumpy because I care. There are a lot of things in the world that piss me off, and I hate the fact that sometimes I can’t do anything, or very little, to change them.
I’m not an unhappy man. All things considered, I’ve led a normal, lucky life; and for that I’m very thankful. I’ve got a job, a roof over my head, great friends and for most of my life, until this year at least, good health. These things are important to me and make me happy, and hopeful for the future.
So, with that in mind, here are some examples of life’s little piss takes that really fuck me off:
1. Annoyingly happy people: Life is not THAT perfect! I do not want to listen to your inane drivel ALL day!
2. Loud school children on my train in the morning: Just because you go to a nice, private school doesn’t give you permission to act like a bunch of little fuck-wits.
3. David Cameron.
4. X-Factor: (see also Big Brother and any other pile of rancid shit on tv.)
5. Fools who insist on phoning me at two in the morning. You should know how much I love sleeping, or if you didn’t, you sure as hell do now.
6. Americanisms: You live in the UK for fucks sake!
7. Rude shop assistants: Look me in the eye when you’re serving me! I don’t want your ever lasting gratitude, just some basic good manners would be a start.
8. Cruelty to animals – including foxes.
9) Lazy people: Do something, ANYTHING with your lives!
10. Anyone who works in sales: I can spot these twunts from miles away. If I need something, I’ll come and buy it from you; until then, you’re nothing more than a ridiculous hair cut to me.
11. People who insist on talking about their children – constantly. I understand how much you love them, but I don’t need to know.
12. Office Christmas parties – why do I have to pretend that I’m having a good time with people I spend far too much time with in the first place?!
14. Arrogance (see salespeople)
15. Chain coffee shops: When I say large, I mean large, not some other stupid fucking word that you describe the word ‘large’ as!
16. The BNP: Along with any other buffoons out there with racist, fascist or disgusting views.
18. ‘Two Faced’ people: If you don’t like me, don’t pretend that you do; I really don’t care!
19. Religion: Feel free to believe in anything you want; just don’t EVER try to force your views upon me.
20. Dirty people: Have a wash for fucks sake! It’s not that hard!
This list could go on and on; believe me it really could. This is just an example though, and as such It’s served it’s purpose.
The point is this though, if you know me, do not mistake my grumpy facade as unhappiness – it’s not. I tend to keep those thoughts to myself, where they belong…….
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Earlier this week, I thought it might be a good idea to remind people about the disturbing Christian fundamentalist friends and organisations linked to Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP. I need not have worried- true to form, Ms Dorries has yet again provided us with another prime example as to why politics and religion do not, and should not ever mix.
In her latest blog post she manages to berate the Bishop of Liverpool for being ‘slightly too political’. Then in the same breath accuses him of not speaking up on Christian matters that also have an impact on the political world.
Of course, this all comes down to the abortion issue yet again. Ms Dorries is ‘amazed’ that Church of England Bishops do not speak our more with regards to the ‘big questions’. This is obviously in comparison with the more evangelical forms of Christianity that Ms Dorries prefers. For example, as I’ve mentioned previously we know that Ms Dorries has worked closely with groups such as Christian Concern for our Nation; and that through Ms Dorries these fundamentalist groups have received unprecedented access to Parliament – access that most other hard line religious groups could only dream of.
To clarify: I really don’t care about an individuals personal religious views – you should be free to worship or believe in anything you want. What I do find disturbing is when a publicly elected member of parliament allows her own religious views to colour her public duties. Worse still is the fact that Ms Dorries allows herself to be publicly associated with fundamentalist groups.
As Alastair Campbell once famously said – “We don’t do God”. Guess what? He was right as well – David Cameron would do well to remember that.
Another week goes by, and as sure as night follows day, Nadine Dorries continues to fail to engage brain before mouth. Last week, via her blog, (essential reading as always), and now on Twitter, she continued to maintain her unchallenged claim of being the Walter Mitty of politics.
We all watched last week as Nadine basically lied about the TUC’s call to ban high heels in the workplace.We all watched as she attempted to whip up a media storm for her own publicity seeking self.
All of which brings us to Nadine’s latest blog post regarding Iran, and Ahmadinejad’s holocaust denials. What starts out as a fairly balanced piece, calling for greater support of the opposition movement, ends with Nadine calling for pre-emptive strikes against key installations.
No one wants to see an ancient Persia with its people and history in danger. However, no sensible person wants to see the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty broken after 40 years, or a bomb in Ahmadinejad’s hands.
It may be that sanctions are necessary, it may also be that these will be coupled with air strikes of critical installations.
We are nearer and nearer to such a reality each day.
It is a terrifying unedifying thought and one that could be avoided if those within Iran who wish to topple the regime were given more support from outside.
So, more sound and fury signifying nothing? Or, should we once again look more closely at the people and organisations behind Nadine Dorries?
In May 2008, Dorries was featured in a Channel 4 edition of Dispatches. The episode, “In Gods Name”, investigated various aspects of the fundamentalist Christian movement in this country – much of which was centred around the group Christian Concern for our Nation. This group was effectively using Dorries as a mouthpiece in the build up to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. In a blog post at the time, I questioned the viability of an elected member of parliament allowing a fundamentalist group access to parliament. A group that not only opposes gay rights and homosexuality in general, but also declares Islam to be a ‘false religion’.
Yet again, I fear that Dorries is actively pursuing an anti-Islamic agenda – pushed forward by not only CCFON, but also by their sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre . As before, the link is Andrea Minichiello Williams , a key advisor to Dorries, and a woman who quite openly describes herself as a fundamentalist.
Here they are together last year. This clip is so disturbing it’s almost laughable.
I could be clutching at straws here, after all, it is very easy to mock Dorries and her often ridiculous comments. However, it is important to consider what could happen should the Tories gain power next year – politicians such as Dorries will not be sidelined by Cameron, and as such we should be very, very fearful of a swing to the right by the Tories.
A move that could not only lead to greater religious and sexual intolerance, but could also put thousands of women at risk following a potential change in this countries abortion laws.
We must not let that happen.
I’m paying for it today; but I thought it would be a good idea to stay up late on a school night to watch Obama’s key healthcare speech last night. I’m glad I did; we all know what a truly inspiring and wonderful speaker he can be, and as normal, he didn’t disappoint.
Of course the hard work for Obama starts now. However, what really amazes me is how the Republicans – right wing, Christian, pro-life Republicans are quite prepared to let those most in need suffer, or even die, due to the lack of affordable healthcare, and the restrictive, profit driven insurance industry that controls US healthcare.
Here are some clips of last nights speech.
I have a confession to make – being a committed atheist makes this a hard thing to do; but a confession it is none the less.
Even here ensconced in Hay on Wye, attempting to appear far more intelligent than I could ever hope to be, I find I’ve become obsessed by the ever more crazy outpourings of Nadine Dorries.
Today’s news from Nadine really caught me by surprise. Apparently, she’s been in contact with various leaders from the Muslim world, who, like her were horrified by the abortion bill result this week.
Now, perhaps this is just a little bit too bloody obvious, but do you think that these Muslim leaders would be just as horrified if they knew who Nadine’s partners in crime were!?!? Now, I’m not sure, and this is only a slim chance; but do you think they’d have a problem supporting an MP who openly has the support of a group who describe Islam as a ‘false religion’…
Mmmmm, I wonder…..
Deluded is not the word…..
As MPs voted last night on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, it has been rather disturbing to watch as a ground swell of Christian Fundamentalists attempt to hijack the debate for their own means.
My worst fears were confirmed last night whilst watching an excellent episode of the programme Dispatches on Channel 4. In case you missed it, the episode – In Gods Name, was compelling viewing, and should hopefully serve as a warning to those who fail to see the dangerous and insidious nature of their various activities.
What really impressed me about the documentary was the way in which the programme makers simply allowed those being interviews to give their opinions, no matter how offensive, without resorting to sensationalist reporting.
As far as faith goes, I would consider myself to be a committed Atheist; however I choose not to condemn or ridicule those who do have a religious faith of any kind. It is an individuals right to practice their own religion and to worship as they see fit; however, this must go both ways.
The heavy handed tactics of those who see it as their place in life to force their Christian views upon those non evangelicals has always made me feel very uneasy.
For example, I feel we have to question why we have government regulated and approved, (independent), faith schools in this country, as featured in the programme. These children are being taught a hard line, almost fundamentalist version of Christianity. At one point, I was amazed to see a young girl sitting a science test, where one of the questions being asked was “In how many days did God create the Earth?” This is a science test we’re talking about here, not a religious education lesson.
Even more worryingly, this was followed by a fourteen year old girl at the school confirming that she thought that the Earth was somewhere between six and ten thousand years old!?! A quick look at her text book confirmed that this is the kind of information that these children are being taught to believe.
Is it me!?!? Perhaps I’m being too judgemental here? Surely it’s wrong for us to be allowing children to be taught this bunkum? Can it be right for children to be taught that the Bible should be taken quite literally as Gods word? The obvious and only answer to this must be a resounding NO…
It was fascinating to see the different lines of attack from within the fundamentalist community. Some prefer a more direct approach – openly spouting their vile anti-Islamic and homophobic views in public; for example at gay pride events, or on sites where proposed Mosques are due to be constructed. What is more worrying are the more professional and media savvy groups such as the Lawyers Christian Fellowship; represented during the programme by Andrea Minichiello Williams – their public policy director.
Now, Andrea is a self confessed fundamentalist; and as such it is disturbing that along with the LCF she has free access to lobby various members of the House of Lords and Parliament.
Whilst disturbing, it was less of a surprise to find out how closely the LCF have been working with the one and only Nadine Dorries. In fact, it transpired that Andrea has been working as a key member of the Dorries abortion campaign to reduce the abortion limit to twenty weeks – although as any liberal thinking person knows, their key objective would be to make abortion illegal in this country. So, with that in mind, let’s just think about this for a moment; what we have is an elected Tory MP receiving help, advice and backing from a group whose policy director not only admits to being a Christian fundamentalist, but also claims that Islam is a false religion. We could also mention that she is a homophobe who when asked estimates that the Earth is probably about four thousand years old, and rejects scientific evidence with regards to carbon dating.
So, we have to ask ourselves, should an elected member of parliament be associating in a professional capacity with a group such as the LCF?
When confronted with Andrea’s particular brand of Christian beliefs. Nadine didn’t seem unduly concerned. Then again, I wasn’t particularly surprised by this – her main areas of support obviously come from various parts of the wider Christian community. This iuncludes another organisation involving Andrea – Christian Concern for our Nation – their website makes interesting reading…
I think that serious questions need to be asked with regards to the levels of influence that groups such as the LCF have with our elected officials. Hopefully, documentaries such as this will help to open the debate with regards to the growing influence of Christian fundamentalism in this country.
Let’s get one thing out of the way from the very start – I don’t care about what you personally believe in. I don’t care what religion you follow, or how strong your faith is.
To be honest, it doesn’t bother me if you were to worship a flying rhino, with eight pink legs that can speak French – although, actually, I might come along to see that.
What I do care about is the way that religion is taught to young people around the world and in the UK. Let’s go back in distant time to my childhood; I grew up in a fairly normal, working class family, where my Mother tried to raise me as a Christian. I was sent to the local Church of England school for the first seven years of education – a traditional religious upbringing where you don’t even question your faith or religion – you just accept it. Now, as I grew older, I did begin to question the facts about religion, and soon realised that it wasn’t for me at all – but at least I was left to make that choice of my own free will.
I strongly believe that it wrong for us to have state faith schools in this country – regardless of the religion involved… To my mind, any form of what I would class as religious indoctrination is wrong, and in some cases harmful. I think that it is perfectly possible to raise ones children in a responsible, kind and moral manner; without the need to force your religion upon them at an early age. Let them learn and then make their own minds up when the time is right for them.
I think we could have a more inclusive and fair society if we could manage to raise a generation of children not divided by religious dogma. I don’t think you can separate the rise of evangelical Christianity from the various other extreme forms of faith.
Last night Channel 4 aired a programme called Jesus Camp – it might have been a repeat as I seem to have missed it the first time around. Every so often, I’ll sit and watch something that will infuriate me so much that I’ll just unleash a stream of abuse at the television. My neighbours must, on occasion think that I’m out of my mind.
However, in this case I feel that my anger was justified! The programme featured the ‘Kids on Fire’ summer camp – where children, some as young as five or six, are preached to, taught to fear sin and how to serve the Lord. Now, far be it from me to comment on how other people raise their own children – but let’s be honest, anyone who puts their own children through an ordeal such as this isn’t fit to be a parent in the first place.
Jesus Camp left me dumbstruck. All of these children appear to come from loving families; however they all gave the impression of being brainwashed. I don’t know about you, but I find it slightly creepy to see a nine year old girl evangelising about God, and in the process sounding like a thirty year old. The methods used by the teachers at the camp were more then questionable – shouting at small children and telling the about the evils of sin is not the way to raise your kids.
It’s not right to tell children for example that homosexuality is evil and wrong, that they’ll go to hell unless they follow the word of the Bible to the letter, and most worryingly of all – that they should be prepared to lay down their lives for Jesus, should it be required.
I don’t think that politics and religion should ever mix in a modern society – the rules at Jesus Camp are different though. At one point a life size cut out of George Bush is placed in front of the children – they are then asked to pray for him and his government. Personally, I think they should be praying for the rest of us instead.
The good news is that the camp has now closed.
By all means teach children about religion in school; but teach about multiple faiths. Help them to understand the backgrounds of different faiths and cultures – in effect make it a part of school history lessons. Let them grow up happy without the burden of religion on their shoulders.