Archive for February, 2006

Lying to children – a short treatise

Wjy do people bother? I honestly don’t understand why anyone lies to a kid. All this bullshit about childhood magic being shattered by growing up is only relevent if you’ve told the kid a bunch of crap in the first place. If you’ve never been lied to as a kid then there is no shocking truth that disappoints you. No illusions to be shattered. And it isn’t traumatic if you never believed in Santa Claus, I know someone who never got the lie, and never thought they had missed out. How can you miss an illusion you never had?

My parents have told me 3 lies in my life. They are Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and “You can have a puppy”.

When I was a very young kid, my parents told me there was a Santa Claus. Naturally, I believed them. Years later when I went to primary school, this was contradicted by my peers, so I went back to my parents for confirmation, and again they told me that this person did in fact exist. I will concede that I had younger brothers and sisters for whom the fantasy was still very much alive, and to some extent, this makes their unwillingness to admit the truth understandable. But I wasn’t an irresponsible child, they could have taken me aside and explained.

As far as I was concerned, in my whole life, my parents had at this point never lied to me. I had accepted their word as fact, and every question I asked straight out I generally received an answer to. During my reasonably early childhood I once asked my mother to explain sex to me, and she did. Of course, I didn’t understand it very well, and left the conversation with the vague impression that it involved urine. Nonetheless, she answered. So the idea that they would bullshit me about something so unimportant seemed ridiculous. At the same time it didn’t seem as ridiculous as a man in a red suit climbing down several billion chimneys simultaneously.

The issue went unresolved in my mind for years, I couldn’t fathom why my mother wouldn’t tell me the truth. I knew that she was lying, and she knew that I knew. But she just got annoyed whenever I brought it up. Eventually she said something along the lines of “of course not”. So I asked why on earth she hadn’t just told me that long ago. To which she replied that I wasn’t old enough. Now, I may not have been a normal kid, I sure as hell hope I’m not a normal adult. But the first thing I thought was “What age do I have to be before they tell me God doesn’t exist either?”

After that, my parents were no longer entirely trustworthy. The tooth fairy façade I tested myself, by just not telling them once when I lost a tooth. The puppy thing was a platitude so that we would move to limerick when I was 11 without going crazy over how horrible it would be to leave our friends, and was soon discovered to be an empty promise. In total, I suppose 3 lies is a pretty low score for the average childhood. 3 that I recall, anyway. Perhaps there were more. And they did have a positive effect in a way. Not because they made my childhood special, but because they made me realise my parents were not infallible.

I understand the argument that children should have a magical fantasy world with a santa claus and fairies and all that rot. I understand why parents attempt to heighten the experience of Christmas with the addition of the supernatural. But I wouldn’t choose to do it. And I would have preferred to have known the truth from the beginning. Ignorance is bliss, and it’s still not worth it. Which boils down to my essential point:

I would rather be right than happy. At least I know I am capable of being right.

“When you dream of flying, you’re really dreaming about having sex” “So what does it mean when you dream about having sex?”

“It has always been the remit of children and halfwits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the halfwit remains a halfwit, and the emperor remains an emperor”

Sandman – Neil Gaimen

Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight? Well, everybody who isn’t shallow as a puddle really. Sometimes Shakespeare is just as stupid as everyone else.

Disclaimer: The above title is nothing to do with the remainder of the post, and was put there for reasons including “I felt like it”, and “it’s my fucking blog”.

Interesting facts:

Vodafone are a shower of arseholes.

Bill phones are approximately a quarter the price of pay as you go, yet I could not afford one before.

I can now own things which I cannot carry.

Midnight is a stupid time for the tube to stop running.

London busses are filled with thieves, dickheads, and crazy people

I have started to like other people a lot more frequently.

Boring stuff:

I have been losing a little weight since I arrived. Just to supply some background, my weight has widely varied since adolescence. At 14 I was a tubby little lump of sarcasm, At 17 I was skinny enough to have visible ribs, a perfect stomach, and was totally obsessed with my weight. By the time I left college I was getting a bit chubby, and over the following year I got to somewhat overweight. The difference being that I couldn’t care less, and just couldn’t really motivate myself to do much about it. I’m not sure whether I have been gradually losing a little at a time over the past 6 months, or whether I have just been getting used to my appearance, but I think I look a bit better now.

So recently, someone explained a new concept, which honestly had not previously occurred to me. Which was: “Stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore”. I was floored by the sheer simplicity of this idea, and realised that this is my biggest problem. I have to finish food. If I have paid for a meal I am disgusted at the idea of not finishing it. Which is ridiculous, particularly when I don’t actually want it.

There is also the fact that I think I would make a good roman. Leaving aside being named after one of their goddesses, I have some tendencies in common with them. There was a nation who really focussed on physical pleasure. I can completely understand the motivation for the vomitarium, even if I would never actually indulge in the act of regurgitating my food to enable myself to eat more. I really enjoy food. So when I’m eating something I really like, I want to continue eating it despite having no actual need to do so. And of course, it has been ingrained in me since birth to finish my food.

So recently, I have starting implementing a policy of never eating anything unless I am hungry. It is fascinating how differently my diet turns out if I actually stick to this. So it’s a continuing experiment. I’m bored of writing this now

Why didn’t I post yesterday on the pointless nature of arbitrary idiotic holidays? Well, actually I forgot.

I’m a cynic. So it’s reasonably predictable that I think Valentine’s Day is a crock of shit. To anyone who enjoys it, fair enough, you go ahead, but I can’t, so the next person who tells me I need to relax and appreciate the day thats in it can just go have an anal bleaching, my treat. Relax with a stinging pink asshole, fuckheads.

Why do I feel that this holiday is bullshit? The obvious reply is the complete made-upness of the whole thing. It has no basis in anything but the retail industry. But the real problem isn’t that its arbitrary. Its that it is the most predictable, boring, entirely unromantic holiday known to man.

If someone spontaneously gave me a rose one day, I would be deeply impressed, and highly complimented, and would very much appreciate the gesture. But any gift given on Valentine’s day can never be a surprise, and can almost never be original. It’s all been done kids. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

I have had great Valentine’s day presents, I’m not bitter from a lifetime of secret unfulfilled desires for hearts and flowers on February 14th. The first couple of real boyfriends that I had during any Valentine’s Day performed admirably, I have to admit. But it irks me to realise that those gifts would have been better if they’d been given at any other time. Their thoughtfulness was partly wasted because of the banal nature of the day. Not to mention that attempting to go anywhere on said day is about as romantic as a supermarket queue. Except that it involves a lot more standing around and waiting, after which you finally get seated, order from a set menu, and receive slightly overcooked, not so great food, which you then pay a fortune for. Stunning.

In my last relationship we ignored it completely, which I found I was entirely happy with. Of course, this would have happened by default whether I had wanted to or not I think, because there is very little hope that he would have ever actually remembered that the 14th Feb had any cultural significance, and I realised yesterday that I find it quite difficult to recall myself. I find it a non-event, and I’m happy to do so. I spent yesterday evening sipping champagne in the Tate Modern, with two good friends, and having a wonderful time. Its probably the best 14th Feb I’ve ever actually had.

I think the point here is spontaneity. Or maybe just lack of obligation. If I think someone has given me a present because they have felt obliged to, I will be totally incapable of treating it as a romantic gesture. I’ll still appreciate the gift itself, but it will not mean the same as something given because they actually wanted to give it to me. It was pointed out to me recently that men do not give sudden surprise presents for no reason. However, that’s a load of horse-shit. The best presents I have ever gotten have been surprises, with no motive but wanting me to have them.

Maybe you can’t be a cynic and a romantic at the same time, I have been told I was both at various stages. I suppose if I were to choose a way to be treated I’d go for as a cynic every time. But somewhere I have some sort of romance in my soul, much to my chagrin. And that, not the cynic, is the part of me that fucking hates Valentine’s Day.

So my sister is buying a house. This would be less alarming were it actually illegal to paint a house bright pink

Yes, my little sister is saving up to buy a house. An actual house. This is a girl who makes buildings out of gingerbread, owns approximately 500 hundred assorted pink cushions, and by first year in college was still unaware that a return flight did not mean you had to get there yourself so that they could bring you back.

My horror at this turn of events is superseded only by my immense curiousity over how she will manage this. Currently she is in her third (or perhaps final?) year of college, in a course that is something to do with minding babies. Since it takes 4 years to learn, I can only assume that it contains more information than “do not drop baby on head”, and so I imagine she will soon have some sort of qualification and be able to charge a million euro a year for looking after kids. At least, she will if she has her own crèche. If she does not, she will be stuck working for someone, and have to earn a wage instead of producing money by transmuting the remains of dirty nappies and snotty tissues, which from what she has mentioned of profit margins, is what all the other crèche-owners must be doing.

So I can understand why she wants a house. Just not the feasibility of her actually obtaining one. For you see, my sister has many sterling qualities, examples of which include an incredible ability to co-ordinate clothes, a shameless demand for unwarranted and unearned gifts, and a charm and popularity which have stood to her for years. However, self-deprivation in order to achieve a goal is one that has consistently eluded her. On her own of course, this house-buying would simply not be an option. She works part-time, and owns a little girlie car, the purchase of which sent me into a very similar apoplexy last year. All of her funds go into keeping the car alive.

One might say that this belies my earlier assertion against her ability to sacrifice personal luxury. Alas, no, this is not the case. Because it simply meant that instead of her spending all her money on frivolous crap, she spent it on the car, and her boyfriend bought her the frivolous crap. Which brings me neatly to what enabled her to think about buying the house at all, the boyfriend. Now he has a decent income, and a fulltime job. But he cannot save for a house while buying her everything glittery she sees in a shop window. And she cannot save for anything at all while owning the car, that shiny blue drain on finances.

But the fact remains that they are saving for a house. So I suppose the real question isn’t whether my sister is capable of self-sacrifice. It’s more like “Which fetched more, his liver? Or a kidney?”.

Of course I’d go to a play if it were called “Springtime for Hitler”, wouldn’t anyone?

I suppose at this juncture giving a bit of an update without ranting would be a good thing from my mother’s point of view, so here goes.

  • The water in my apartment was fixed quite quickly
  • My laptop was fixed, but is now full of crap again, because the bulldog firewall is non-existent. But at least I know how to fix it.
  • I went to see the Producers, a thoroughly enjoyable and amusing show
  • The French lessons aren’t going too badly
  • The presentation for the course went fine, and the course was actually quite good
  • I love my job, no matter how much I complain about it

Yes, I do in fact really love my job. On the bad days it is stressful, difficult, and they expect too much from me. On the good days it is exciting, challenging, and they think I am capable of things. Of course the only thing that changes from one day to the next is me, and the bad days are currently fairly sparse. So I think its mostly me being tired, or grumpy. Not that this ever normally happens of course, my sweet disposition and natural cheerfulness are a wonderful blessing in that respect. And if you believe that, believe also that the gods will bless you with a happy life if you send me all of your money.

Occasionally, I wonder if I should miss Limerick. Then I remember that its a shithole I hated living in. My friends made it bearable, they made it fun, they made it an amazing experience that I will always remember with nostalgia and amusement. My family make it an anchor, a certainty in life when certainties are hard to come by. But I’m never coming home.

I realised today that London smells bad. All of it.

Yes, London is a bit stinky. I’m not certain how I failed to notice this before, perhaps I have had a cold since I arrived. In any case I noticed it today. I wonder if this is symbolic in some way.

My brain hurts. I spend this morning working flat out, because my boss wanted something done in “a couple of hours”. It took 3 and a half. I have not worked out yet whether she knows her original estimate was amusingly unrealistic, or whether she thinks I should have been much faster. Had I ever coded anything this way before I doubtless would have been much faster, as it is .NET is still a bit of an alien world, and our core software even more so.

I was told this afternoon that I am going on a course on presentation skills tomorrow, for which I have to have prepared a presentation. This starts at 9am tomorrow and I am more than busy all day today, so I am not certain from where they would like me to extract one, but its coming right out of my ass, and thats all there is to it.

Work is fucking difficult, its incredibly hectic and very challenging. I love this job, but I am wondering how well I can handle it for long periods of time. Though I have been told that my boss likes to throw people in the deep end to see what happens, so maybe this is part of a test. In a normal working day I concentrate for a far higher percentage of the time than I am used to, or think is normal.

One of my workmates just came over to ask what presentation I would do in the morning, so I said I was going to speak on my past life as a circus performer. He then went on to speak about his journey to literacy while he was in prison. I think I have found another crazy person.