Consequences: Post XIII

(posted by Em²)

I mean – we’ve all got genitalia here, haven’t we?

When I started to write this, the last line of Post 12 read “I mean – we all genitalia, don’t we?”

It was like Have I Got News For You?‘s missing words round (featuring one or more headlines from this week’s guest publication: Punning Weekly) and I had a well-crafted flow of thought, working through the various options for missing words – “have”, “enjoy”, “get let down by”. Oh well, c’est la vie.

The content of my InBox would suggest while we undoubtebly do all have genitalia of some description, spammers are working on the assumption that few of us are overly happy with them. Taking this morning’s guff as an example:

What’s that? Why yes, there are times when I’ve trickled when I wish I’d blasted. All that effort and build-up for that? Such a let down for a girl. Delete.

And what’s this next one? It’s true – I suppose an extra few inches1 or so would be useful to block that irritating draught, to frighten my cat/neighbours or as an ice-breaker at parties.2. Delete.

I’m not so sure that remaining hard for hours is such a good thing though – maintaining decorum would be difficult, for example, in my occasional social interactions with Scantily Clad Girl on the station platform of a morning. Could be quite useful as a temporary coat hook, I suppose.

While there’s so much about the human body that is poorly designed3, male genitalia are a definite case in point.

Mine ruins the crisp lines of my smart designer-label suit (or would do, were I to own one4).

It gets roused by the slightest thing (and often I can’t even tell what’s woken it) or refuses to stir when its presence would be welcomed.

It pays no attention to feverish mental commands to go back to sleep (in fact, this tends to make it even more stubbornly attentive).

It even seems to be able to send words to my mouth bypassing my brain completely.

It’s no wonder that most men treat their tackle as if it’s a not-particularly-benign symbiote.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier all round if we could dispense with these fiddly bits and breeding was simply a case of filling in Form 37D(ii), ticking your preferences on Form 175-8 (revised 06/96) and then allowing up to 30 days for delivery? I’m sure we could come up with acceptable alternatives for genetalia’s recreational applications, couldn’t we? A nice mug of cocoa and a hob-nob, for example?

Oh bugger – I said “nob”.


1 Although I happened upon a TV programme last week in which an expert was explaining that all the pills and vaccua in the world can only ever alter – and then only slightly – the dimensions of the dormant member.
2 Not that I’m ever invited to that sort of party, more’s the pity.
3 Where’s the 360 degree field of vision or, at the very least, an owl-like flexibility to the neck? Where’s the charcoal-like gas filter for vegetarians? Why can’t body odour be more agreeable? Unerodable teeth? Wouldn’t an extra pair of hands make Ikea a far more viable source of furniture?
4 A smart suit that is.

Consequences: Posty 12

Posted by anna.

I’ll just say “sod it!” anyway.

No matter how hard I try. Because no matter how ladylike I try to be, no matter how much I bite the inside of my little lady cheeks and pinch the pink bits of my little lady-palm, at the end of the day, I might as well admit it, I’ll just say “sod it” anyway.

And you realise when I say “sod it”, I don’t actually mean Sod it, don’t you?

I do wish that I only ever said “Sod it” when I got annoyed. Sorry – is anyone offended by the term “Sod it”? Well, sod it if you are, it’s far too late for apologies. I’ll warn you if anything worse is coming up. If I only ever said “Sod it”, I’d count myself as moderate. But no. I wander through the bodily functions: “Oh piss/ oh peff/ oh semen”, the bodily accessories: “Oh tits/ oh dingle/ oh pap-wanking-schlong-wobble/ oh bumhole/ oh my chins”, via the semi-quasi-religious damniologies: “Oh heck/ Oh hell/ Oh Christ-in-a-strap-on”, and headfirst into the jumbling jiggyfied genitalia section (words for sex – we’ll not go into those, obviously. I mean, I’m not here to offend).

Time was – and there are few delicate ways around saying this – when I used to work in a Christian Community. Granted, it was a liberal type of place, and it was widely accepted that I was *kind of* a ginormous Humanist/Agnostic, but they kept me there all the same, because I was good with kids, and made good candles.

Well, I say good with kids. I was good with kids as long as no one was watching.

OH MY GOD, That sounds Awful!

What I mean is, kids love me. Kids loved me because I acted around them in a way that their parents would never act.

Oh dear god, you know, actually, you know, that sounds terrifying too. Hang on.

Sometimes – and this is great if you’re someone who gets to deal with kids but doesn’t actually have to take them home and live with them – kids like it if you swear. Only a little bit. And not out of hand, or violently, directed at someone – but if, when trying to deal with a twelve-year-old youth group who could only see an employee of a Christian Community Centre in front of them, sometimes, it would be difficult to get them under control. And then, perhaps, you would drop something. “Oh bollocks”, you would say. And suddenly – and I know this is cheating, and I’d never make it as a teacher – they’d love you.

I would never, ever swear, of course, in front of the little ones.

Well, I say never. I really would try. I don’t like swearing in front of small children. I don’t want to teach them words that they don’t already know – or at least words they couldn’t identify a picture of the meaning of if – god-forbid – someone gave them a book with those pictures in. No, I would try very very hard not to swear in from of innocents. And children.

But sometimes, that would make it so much worse. Because, you know, when you’re a swearer, your natural reaction to saying something wrong is to swear. However, when the thing that you’ve said wrong IS swearing, the whole thing can descend into a horrible, horrible spiral.

“Do, be careful not to spill this, because if you… Oh, shit! Oh, fuck, sorry, I said shit! Oh! I said it again! And then I said fuck! Shit, sorry, crap! Oh, bollocks, I… Jesus! Sorry, I… Oh hell, I said Jesus! Jesus, I said Hell! Oh, Shit, I…! Fuck!!!”

And after about five minutes, you may as well just settle into your career as a professional swearlady, as you just sit there, softly cursing and rocking, reacting to each ‘bad word’ with three more bad words in a row.

Ooopses. I forgot the warning there. Be warned. There are swearwords above.

But what is a swearword? It’s so hard to tell. To some people it’s only words describing an action, to others it’s only words describing a body part.

Actions, I can kind of see the violence in. I’ll argue vehemently with people using certain action words, but, for some reason, have very little argument with most ‘body part ‘ words. There are great exceptions to this rule, I admit, but, not being on my own site, I’ll refrain from conversation about axe-wounds or beef curtains. Oh bugger. Oh, shit, sorry, I didn’t mean to say bugger. Oh fuck. Argh! Shit! Sorry! Oh, tits, I said…

Seriously though. If you use genitalia as an exclamation, particularly if you use the genitalia of your own sex, how can anyone be offended? You are only calling on the things dearest and closest to you, damning it for not helping you in your time of need.

It’s a visceral, total, primal, human instinct – and the simplest expression of it ever, the closest to hand. I mean – we’ve all got genitalia here, haven’t we?

Consequences: Post 11

(posted by Vitriolica)

I dream of a life where I know what I’m doing.

That dream also includes a hillside self-build maniacally-eco-co-existent house, on the side of a beautiful valley in Portugal, no electricity or water bills… and there’s me… pottering around my little self sustaining estate (most likely in dungarees, but for the sake of the dream sequence argument, I’m wearing a floaty diaphanous-but-not-pornographic dress), it’s sunset, I have a gin and tonic in my hand and I knowing what I’m doing.

In the dream, I know what I’m doing for dinner, what I’m realistically going to accomplish in one day, what the children need from me, what my husband needs to hear to de-stress him, what I’m going to watch on the telly, which project I should stick with and which to jettison. I know my place in the scheme of things and I don’t feel guilty for being an artist. In short, I have grown up. In the dream.

I hit thirty five a couple of months ago and I was fully expecting to wake up the next morning with a head full of wisdom and finally feel like an adult. I had been expecting it at 30, at 25, at 21 and 16. But obviously, it was taking its time with me…. but, thirty five came and went and I am no more a grown up than I was when I was thirteen. Bugger.

I still want to go to bed when I damn well want, want to get up when I damn well want, I want to work all day on whatever I want and not have to stop to make the bloody dinner. I want to say “sod it!”, get in the car and sod off for a few days, take the kids with me, or leave them behind, they wouldn’t mind either way. I resent having to do anything like housework, laundry, cleaning… can’t see the point in most of it… it’s just going to get dirty again. I still want to eat ice cream three times a day for a week (the week after, I’d be just as happy eating cabbage the same way). I still want to leave my hair unbrushed then shave it all off on a whim. I still want to go shopping and spend way too much money.

So, I think I shall just give up waiting to grow up.

I’ll just say “sod it!” anyway.


Consequences: Post 10

(Posted by Hg.)

So I wait, and I wonder. Standard approach #1. Do nothing, let’s have a think about it. Like Hamlet declaring himself reborn as a man of deeds rather than words, then taking out his notebook. “When in doubt, do nowt,” goes the Yorkshire saying. But what if you’re always in doubt? What if nothing is ever certain? Is a life of deferral something to aspire to? I’m really not sure.

More and more, I find myself wondering. What’s it all about, is usually the recurring theme. The Big One, the six million dollar manifesto. Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. Both blessed and cursed with the ability to empathise with either side of a dichotomy, I’m a living synthesis of every possible tenable position. It’s tiring. I pray for certainty, but find myself doubting that anyone is listening.

This transparent theorisation is all smokescreen, of course. The simple fact is that I can’t make up my mind. Man of action, or life of leisure? Thrusting, power-hungry exec or gen-x (just) dropout rejecting The System? I’ve given up many things to get where I am now, a driven hamster on a slightly bigger wheel than the others. I enjoy the exercise and although I don’t seem to be going anywhere, the view is great. But with every passing month, the shirt and tie round my neck feels more like a noose.

Over in the corner I see the rats who’ve dropped out of the race and I envy them. I could do that, I think. This wheel’s over-rated. I’d much rather be getting ratted. Bollocks to the Protestant Work Ethic; my tastes are catholic enough, I could find meaning in a low-budget life. I could stack shelves in the morning and happily spend the afternoons and evenings reading, swimming, playing with the nieces and nephews.

Around this time, fear and uncertainty usually take their place in the chorus. Many people would envy a lifestyle like mine. I worked hard to get here, could I really give it all up on a whim? What if I got bored and found myself trapped? For all its shortcomings, boredom is definitely not a feature of my current existence. Frustration, yes. Disillusion and unfulfillment, yes. But boredom isn’t an option when you’re trying to live three lives at once.

When in doubt, do nowt: the procrastinator’s biggest justification. There’s no need to do it now, because I will definitely do it better if I just have a little longer, to think about it, to analyse, to plan. The planets are not quite aligned, the dice might not fall as expected. Another shake, another flick of the wrist… better luck next time. Things are always better if you leave them to mature. Let’s watch the pot while the paint dries.

So I wait, and I wonder, and I contemplate my next move. Locked in the prison of my thoughts, I hope for someone to bake me a cake with a life in it. Like a modern-day Hamlet, I reach for my BlackBerry. In its inane inbox, cryptic calendar, chaotic contacts and tepid tasks, maybe an answer must lie. Then I realise, all answers are lies. Nothing will ever be certain. I stare through the bars at the blue sky and my mind wanders to my recurring fantasy. I dream of a life where I know what I’m doing.

Consequences Post No 9

(Posted by Rob)

There I was, dangling from a cliff on a burning rope over a pit of tigers. I looked off to one side and there, growing from a crack in the rock, was a bramble bush. I reached out a hand (why worry about falling now?) and grabbed a berry, scratching my hand slightly on the prickles. How vivid the berry tasted. How much more alive I felt when this present moment was all I had, when the inevitability of death was not just a theoretical truth but RIGHT THERE.

That’s the way the Zen Buddhist parable has it, anyway. Of course, I’m not a proper Zen Buddhist. Not the bowl-of-rice-porridge-and-thirty-blows-from-the-roshi-with-a-stick-every-morning kind of Zen Buddhist. Not even a practising-sitting-meditation-thirty-minutes-a-day Zen Buddhist, though I did that for a bit and still meditate sporadically (these days usually walking meditation rather than sitting).

In fact, most of the time I’m not any kind of Zen Buddhist, though the part of me that grew up on Kerouac and Ginsberg would love to be able to claim I was. But sometimes – just occasionally – “living in the heart of the moment” has been more than a line from an Al Stewart song, and “Be Here Now” more than a disappointing Oasis album. Just a few times I’ve had a glimpse of what life might be like if I simply got out of my own way. If I stopped thinking of myself as an individual, personal ego wrapped up in a bag of skin and bones, and managed to identify myself with the whole of reality. No me, no you. No “me” being born, no “me” to die. What it would be like if I let that greater reality (call it God if it makes you happy) – which manages to grow my hair and push shit through my bowels without any conscious intervention from little “me” – take over the rest of my life, and the illusion that is Rob Saunders just would just shut the fuck up.

How very mystical and airy-fairy that sounds, as though I sat there going “OMMMMMM” and fasting while pondering the secrets of the universe until I became a Perfect Master. And how far that is from the reality (heh – the reality of reality). As it happens, I can tell you what it was like. As in so many of my blog posts, dear reader, the answer lies in music.

Let me take you to a rehearsal hall in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Date: some time during 1999 or 2000. We are at a rehearsal of the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, and I am leading the second violins (the lovely Emma had yet to join us). We run through a piece (I forget what) with no unusual occurrence. Then we come to the main item in the programme, which is Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony. No need for me to describe it in any detail: it’s in two movements, technically quite challenging, and I’d played it once before some years earlier. The important thing isn’t anything to do with the sharps and flats, or the tricky counting. It’s that as we start playing the music, I begin to have the strangest feeling that I simply cannot play a wrong note. I can not go wrong. I certainly am not in fact playing any wrong notes: the music is coming out perfectly, the best I’ve ever played. And it isn’t “me” doing it. I am there, watching with fascination, but the music is…it seems a cliché, but let’s go for it: the music is playing itself. It lasts all the way through the first movement, and also the second. It lasts through all the stops, starts, and running over things that make up a rehearsal. And when we reach the end of the Sibelius and play something else? Back to “normal”. Back to “everyday reality”. I play OK, but it’s Rob the Bald Guy doing it, not The Force taking over.

And for all the other rehearsals of the Sibelius, and in the concert itself? Same story. Only for that one piece, but the instant we start playing, “I” vanish.

When I describe the feeling it sometimes feels pretentious to use Buddhist metaphors, as though I’m trying to give myself airs. So sometimes I say it’s like something out of “The Inner Game Of Music” (which it is). Or perhaps I use a jokey Star Wars analogy (as I did in the last paragraph). Or I describe it as like an out-of-body experience except that I hung around to watch. But that’s just window-dressing, to cover up the fact that if I’m honest I haven’t a clue what was going on. It felt as though some…..thing…. that knew much more about the music than I did had taken over for a while, as if on the dual controls in an aircraft. I was still completely aware of my surroundings, of the sensations of playing, of the sound; “I” just wasn’t interfering with them. The eminent Japanese Buddhist D T Suzuki described enlightenment as “exactly like normal life, but a few inches off the ground”, and that hits the mark. It felt: scary; exhilarating; wonderful. I wanted it to carry on, but it only happened for the one piece. Every time I played it, but only the one piece.

I often wonder what will happen if I come to play the Sibelius Fifth Symphony again. Some smart Buddhist (maybe Suzuki again) once said that much of mankind’s unhappiness comes from the doomed attempt to make reality repeatable. I know I shouldn’t expect a burst of cosmic consciousness the next time, but human nature being what it is, I suspect I will be disappointed if this time it’s just like playing any other piece. Like a child who hasn’t fathomed why last time he turned on the TV it was the Teletubbies, but this time it’s the news.

So I wait, and I wonder.

Consequences: Post the 8

(posted by Saltation)

I’d hate that.

Oh, I so would. In fact, never mind “would”, I hate that NOW. Right now. This bloody instant. Jeez I hate that. That is RIGHT out of order, that is. From here on in, that is not to be raised in public anywhere in my hearing.

OK, maybe if I’m not wearing my hearing you could sneak it out.
Not saying you should.
Not saying you couldn’t.
Not saying you not shouldn’t.
Just saying: if I am wot nearing my hearing, sorry: hot searing nigh earing, you might have more of an outside chance of not being not able successfully to utilise the absence of the missing double negative re that.

But don’t rely on that.

Just stop that.

That is bad.

Not this, of course. This is lovely. There should more of this. And also of it. Just ask any old lady.

We stopped this nice old lady in the street and asked her opinion, and she replied firmly in her reedy old voice: “I think there should MORE OF IT!”
So there you go and here we are and is that the time? I’m late.

So so what, I hear you cry, in your far-off-but-oddly-close internet perspectivy kind of way. Not via the comments box, obviously. ‘Cos I’m still writing. Just by sheer dint of will and personality. And good on you. Good on you! All that (sorry) criticism you took as a child, about watching too much TV and having too many gadgets and getting to way too high a high-score above your dad on Playstation… well! Who’s laughing now, eh?! Eh?! Not them, oh no! It’s YOU! You with your powerful electronically-enabled mind, powerfully reaching out through the modern electronic cloud we swim through today, to communicate with people around the globe without the need to even TOUCH that (sorry) laughably old-fashioned “keyboard”. Ha! In fact you can reach right out and CONTROL people who

my name is gerald and i am 15 years old oh god no not old enough no pimples jeez. i am 21 no 22 years old and tall and i am looking for a girl. friend.
i have lots of interests and senses of humours and a powerful dynamic charging career and six feet and you can email me on for a good time and possible long term relationship

are just… hello? Hello-oooo? are you WITH me? God, aren’t girls scatty? They’ve all just rushed off.

Kinda interrupted that lovely maniacal cackling you were working up to too.
That is SUCH a shame.
You, no really you do, you do the BEST maniacal cackling of anyone I know.
Almost megamaniacal.
I’m not just saying that!
I swear to god.
You could SO do any melodrama. ANY!
No, really. If there was ANYONE who could take over from, oh I dunno, say Charles Dicken (there used to be two of him), he used to be the world’s best periodic-short-dramatic-fiction-person person, it’d be you. No! You! I mean it. Really!
I mean, you know Dickens, right? Right? Famous now for knocking out a few books about boys going up totally non-freudian chimneys and then becoming vastly rich and inheriting and all SORTS of stuff that’d have him pilloried on suspicion now, right? But did you know he actually made most of his bread and butter while he was alive (not sure what he’s eating now) from publishing his stuff every month in periodicals? I mean, he never really published a whole novel as a whole novel the whole time he was alive. Just lots and lots of magazine instalments. So each week, to maintain reader interest for his next instalment, he’d end up with his hero in the middle of some dramatic cliff-hanger. Like. Uh.

“There I was, dangling from a cliff on a burning rope over a pit of tigers.”

Consequences: Post 7

(posted by Stuart Ian Burns)

There’s no motivation as strong as love. When I was fifteen I used to leave the house at the same time every morning to make sure that I was on the same bus to school so that I could see a girl I was in love with. I would only every see her for about ten minutes, and she had no idea (unless she noticed me trying not look to look like I was looking at her). I ended up speaking to her twice and I knew it wasn’t to be – her ambition was to be a solicitor, mine was to even get into a university. Those measures of success were being drilled into me, and seemed to matter, at least at that age.

I suppose you’re expecting me to say that her ambition inspired my own and that motivated me to better things. Disappointingly it didn’t. Even now, I don’t measure my own success or lack of against anyone else. I have ambitions and dreams, a career I’m working towards but it’s on my own terms its not because of a road map drawn up by anyone else or because I see someone else’s life and want to emulate them. It’s too easy in this life to have a role model to aspire to be then to fail, wasting a life and potential you might have in other areas.

That said, I’m thirty now and I still don’t have a clear direction. I’m still waiting, what plan I do have in flux because of my own little long game. I’m not quite were I expected to be now, perhaps a touch behind, but no one gets perfection, there’s always a niggle. Is my niggle that I’m not in love at the moment? I used to get it all the time, the stomach cramps, the inability to form actual words when someone is around, the not knowing were to put my hands. Perhaps I grew tired of it not going anywhere; I hope my subconscious hasn’t decided that it’s had enough with all that and in the words of the song I’ll never fall in love again. I’d hate that.