15 December 2007

Being Poor

A certain Rabbit Gone Wrong has inspired this post, or rather her reporting of comments by her soon-to-be ex-husband. I have met people similar to this man, at least with the personality aspect she has described today, where they are poor simply because they do not have the latest sports car, a couple of extra mansions, private jets, stocks and shares meaning they never have to work again and so on. People using this as a definition of poverty is one of the things that irritates me. Now I know that I have not experienced the type of poverty that strikes in less priviliged countries than my own, but even I have more idea about what being poor really means than this guy.

I only have somewhere to live and eat now through the grace and generosity of my parents. I work part time, because I lack the qualifications to get a better job full time and have too much experience to get a worse job full time. The only way I got this job was by calling in some very old favours, and while I used to have a lot of those owed to me I am rapidly running out. This is not what I would consider poverty by any stretch, I am earning money, in a pinch I could afford to rent a room in a boarding house and eat one meal of rice a day, possibly with a little meat once and twice a week. I would manage to survive.

I only suffered what I would consider true poverty for two weeks. I had lost my house, this was back when I had one, and I had lost my job. What I had left was a car, which I had no petrol for and which got impounded due to my inability to pay for insurance, tax, petrol or parking permit. Other than that I had a good quality coat, seventy-two pence, and a set of good sturdy clothes. That seventy-two pence and a lot of fast-talking purchased me a couple of McDonald's burgers on the first day I was homeless, and then I had nothing.

For two weeks, because I was too proud to call some friends and admit I had failed miserably to support myself as I was meant to, I practically starved. I would beg and grovel for people to give me some money so that I could get food, dying of shame the whole time. I discovered after the first week why it seems that so many homeless people drink. It just gives you the ability to debase yourself to such a level that you can bring yourself to beg, at least that was how I found it. Most of my money from then went on drink, cheap supermarket brandy was a favourite since it was cheap, and warming. Never let anyone tell you sleeping on a bench is comfortable. It is not.

And then at the end of those two weeks I was rescued. One of those friends I had refused to call found me, talked me into going back with them, got me cleaned up, a change of clothes, and forced upon me enough money to get my car back and on the road, and enough petrol to get home. He also forced me to call my parents and explain what had happened, which was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

So, next time you hear a couple of people in designer clothes, or driving a car, or just walking through town shopping complaining that they are poor just laugh at them. They honestly have no idea.

14 December 2007

Scents and Tastes

I think I have finally discovered what it is about certain people that pushes my buttons, while others just do not do anything. It is nothing to do with looks, although anyone with my interest has to be healthy and not unnattractive. It even has very little to do with personality. Some of it may be to do with voices, but that is open to debate. I do appreciate good looks, by my own variable standards, but more in the same way that I enjoy a nice view or in some cases a good, dramatic storm.

Nope, the secret way to turn me into a stuttering, drooling mass seems to be scent. I am not talking about perfume, though I do enjoy that, its the genuine scent of a person that hits me. That soft, sweet scent that some people have sitting under their perfume. Some people smell good, some people do not, it is as simple as that. Some scents just jump straight from my nose to my brain and switch off all of the higher reasoning abilities.

That might be an exaggeration, a better way to describe it might be to say that someone with the right scent switches my priorities around from being my usual rather heartless self to being quite solidly in lust. Not love, love is a very different concept for me and requires very different triggers but lust can definitely be triggered with relative ease.

Some perfume can fake it, but usually I actually need the genuine scent of a person. The only exception I have found to this so far is Ghost, and every now and then I treat myself to some of the male version. I will not wear it often, but if I am going out to relax and enjoy myself in the evening then I will, more for me than for anyone else who might enjoy it.

I am going to try and spend a lot more time paying attention to, and indulging my senses over the Christmas holidays and next year. I feel that I have been neglecting some of them.


Now this is a strange little novelty. I do believe that I am being actively pursued by someone attempting to draw me in to a classic dating pattern. Of course I could be mistaken, and their various invites out may in fact be simple, friendly overtures, which does not explain why they are always arranged to be just the two of us and seem to involve a lot of attempted tickling. Normally by now I would have someone nicely categorized either as a potential conquest, or just a friend, but here I am not quite sure.

The problem is Russian seems to be just far, far too sweet to be my type, and especially to be interested in me. I have a great time whenever we meet up chatting and flirting but to be honest its not really any different from any friend I meet up with in private. Obviously this is apart from the fact that she does look very good in a figure-hugging backless shirt which it was far too cold to wear as sensible clothing. And I suppose it is also apart from the fact that she has soft, smooth, pale skin, long, flexible legs rising up to a perfect arse and narrow waist, with generous breasts for her size and little, pouty lips.

Okay, so given the opportunity the friends thing most likely would not work, but I have already explained about my situation and my various relationships. It seems to have made no difference. I suppose failing anything else I can ask her to start teaching me Russian. I suspect my repertoire of jokes about Communism and the Mafia will not be a good topic of discussion next time we meet though.

Interestingly she also seems to be completely non-existent on the internet. I cannot find a trace of her. I know, or suspect the reason for this, but it is rather strange all the same. Another thought has just struck me. Over time I have discovered that people of different races, and sometimes nationalities, have different tastes to them. In the spirit of scientific enquiry I believe I will have to find out what Russian tastes of.

I am also suffering jealousy over someone at the moment, rather a novel feeling. Mystery is seeing someone at the moment. Normally I have no trouble with someone in whom I have an interest spending time with someone else, but oddly enough this time it is upsetting me somewhat. I blame it on the bad weather at the moment.

13 December 2007

Letter to the Past

With the workload that my job has put upon me at the moment, as well as Christmas and family demands my letter-writing has been sadly neglected, so much of this weekend will hopefully be dedicated to rectifying this lapse in literary diligence. On a related topic, this meme which has been recently travelling around, appearing wherever I might see, of people writing a letter to their teenage selves has stimulated my interest until I have finally decided to submit and create my own contribution.

Dear Rabbit,

Hear me out, because I know that name will mean nothing to you at the moment. You will have no idea how you, or we, will acquire it or how much it will come to mean to you. You have no idea how cynically you will come to regard it, even as you treasure and prize it as the core of your still-developing identity. Enough about your little prized nickname however, that is something you will have to discover on your own. There are other things I do want to tell you though, even if it will mean you avoid them and never learn some of the things I have.

First of all those people at school, the ones you hate and despise, and are convinced will never amount to anything. The ones that you have never let a single tear fall for, and vowed that you never will? Well, you managed it. No crying. Apparently you are nearly physically incapable of it. You never let them see anything, and that is where you screwed up on this one. It becomes so ingrained into you to hide what you are feeling that you keep doing it. Lies, deception, masking, shielding, it all becomes part of your life.

In a couple of years you will fall in love for the first time, or something close to it, and then have your heart broken. You will tell no one of this, no one will have the slightest clue what has happened except for the friends who knew you both, and them you will simply avoid. It will also be your first encounter with death. Avoid all of this. Avoid the scars it will bring you, all of them, from a handful on your arms to a mark down the centre of your tongue which is with you years later. Avoid the lot. Do not, ever, talk to a dark-haired girl that you might meet on the train. Never. Just do not do it.

A year after that you will finally escape from the hell that school has gradually been becoming, and move on to college. A few weeks later you will leave your first college having been caught accidentally by a bullet, fortunately little more than a graze, and move to a new college a short time afterwards. Avoid that, being shot hurts. Do not go to a different college simply because people from your school are not going there, the people who tormented you at school will do so anyway until certain things change, and that comes in a few months. Just go to a college where you will not be shot, and may at least have a handful of people who will talk to you.

There is no need to go into what finally happens with your tormentors, though you do not need to be quite as harsh with the first one who comes after you. That was a close call with the police, and you were nearly jailed for excessive force. You do not want to be jailed, and having something like that on your record would mess up a lot of future plans. Be careful. Stop hitting when he is down. Leave it at that. It may save you some trouble with the others as well.

Fortunately after a few more encounters like that they will start to leave you alone, though admittedly you will have added a few more scars to your collection, and ruined a perfectly good coat into the bargain. You will also begin to find it harder to concentrate on your college work, and difficult to see a point in any of it. Stick with it, and actually go to classes. You will pass anyway, as you suspect, but not quite with the marks you were hoping for.

Do not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, go with your supposed friend to meet another friend of his from the airport. She is nothing but trouble. Do not meet her. Do not speak with her. Do not date her. Do not marry her. Leave her be. You want nothing to do with her at all. The only good thing that comes out of ever having met her is your wedding ring, and she steals that when you throw her out. Just buy yourself a red gold ring instead. Marriage is not a good idea.

Once you have struggled through college you will find yourself, suprisingly, accepted into university. This is where everything pays off, all that karma owed to you comes back two-fold, maybe more. Within the first two weeks you will have discovered that relationships do not need to be painful, or even particularly romantic. There are some very friendly girls who you will be living with, and so long as you keep up your end of the bargain that is proposed at the beginning of the year, so will they. Just do not try and have sex with the blonde one, she is very dedicated to her boyfriend, no matter how affectionate and flirty she may be. The two shorter ones are fair game and will be joining you in bed shortly anyway, and there will be plenty of general physical comfort and affection in the house.

At some point in this year someone will introduce you to a hobby called live-action roleplaying. When you go to your first event do not drink that nice guy's bottle of creme de menthe. If you do you will struggle for a long time to suppress a phobia of being touched by anyone male, and for good reason. If you do, then the morning afterwards you will have to go to hospital. The hospital will tell you you have been drugged. You will keep the whole thing quiet for years, too frightened and ashamed to tell anyone and feeling sick any time anyone male so much as shakes your hand.

Oh, a year and nine months later you will discover that you have been part of what could be a bad sitcom plot. Those two, you know the ones, are actually switching around on you. You will discover this when you encounter them both at once. Enjoy it, it will only last a few months but you can get free drinks with those stories for years. Learn to co-ordinate yourself carefully though, otherwise you will just get confused.

I would love to recommend that you do not leave university the first time, and maybe if you have not married then you will not have to, but it may also be that university is not for you. Look into psychology and save yourself a few years of desperately trying to find yourself, meaningless or meaningful relationships, struggling to make ends meet, always falling slightly below expectations and constantly feeling yourself as a dissappointment. Computing is definitely not your field, as you have always suspected, but without a degree you are most likely to end up stuck in it anyway.

Save money, enjoy life, avoid the biggest mistakes I have warned you about if you can but throw yourself into the little ones. You will come to realise that little screw-ups are almost as enjoyable as getting things right. Try not to let your school years destroy all of your confidence, it will save you time in building it up again later, something I have still not managed, your veneer of arrogance will come in useful though so practice that. Do not start smoking, and when driving stay well away from anyone in a business suit and a BMW.

Have fun,
Mr R Rabbit

So there you go. Interesting exercise. I am not quite sure whether I feel better, worse, no different or anything else. It is done now though.

Decoder Ring Theatre

I adore pulp fiction. Not the film, though that is good as well, but old classical adventure, hard-boiled adventurers and tough Canadian superheroes, and some time ago I discovered it free on the internet. This is a plug, though it is one which I am choosing to do rather than having been asked or paid for it. I just want to thank the people who make these podcast plays for the sanity breaks and such they have given me at work, or while on long drives.

So here is to the people at Decoder Ring Theatre and congratulations to them all. Because of them I get to escape off into hard-boiled detective stories and fantastical superhero tales during my breaks at work.

Drifting off-topic slightly, though maybe not so much given the powers of the Red Panda, my quest to learn hypnotism and all of the other little tricks of the human mind has been renewed once again. I watched Derren Brown's "The Heist" tonight, finishing only a short while ago, and with my psychological studies resuming once again next year, including hopefully a specialist course in grief counselling, and another in hypnotherapy, I hope soon to be able to do more than simply understand how what he is doing works.

12 December 2007

Winter's Tale

It is now definitely winter, this fact can no longer be denied or delayed. Winter has struck, with all the sudden impact that choice of phrasing implies. A few days ago mornings were still bright and crisp, but the grass was green and water flowed freely. Now everything has turned white with frost, including cars and large sections of the smaller roads near me, and water has solidified. The grass crackles as you place weight upon it, and up until midday you can bend down and snap a blade of grass rather than simply plucking it from the ground.

I love winter. The crisp air in the mornings which lasts until last thing at night, biting through any layers you wear to taunt your skin, making your body ache with cold no matter what precautions you take. The ice that snaps and creaks underfoot as you walk, touching everything with a thin layer of white even without snow falling. The slick pathways, smoothed out and with any grip removed by sheets of frozen water so that you can choose whether to try and struggle down them on foot, your legs flying in all directions, or simply take a run-up and slide, hoping for the best and trying to keep your balance as you glide along.

It is easy to understand why people use to personalize Winter, giving it human traits. It feels like Winter is out to get each of us, personally. No one else is being chilled quite as much as we are, no one else has to spend quite as long uncovering their car from frost, that patch of ice was placed specifically for us. All of it just tells us how much Winter enjoys playing with us. Never make the mistake of assuming Winter is evil or cruel, it is simply playful, and has no idea how much damage it can do. We do best when we are being pressured, pushed and tested, and Winter certainly tests us, no matter how safe we may really be.

11 December 2007

My iTunes

Recently I unearthed my iPod, hiding under a stack of books in my study. I say my iPod but it was actually a second-hand gift from a friend when they upgraded to one of those new video iPod things, and given its age and the general reliability of Apple products it is a miracle it is still working with no battery replacement needed. I also discovered that much of the music I originally placed upon it, is still there. In a handful of cases this could be considered embarassing, in others simply funny.

My taste in music has changed little over the last few years, it is still as eclectic as ever, the only types of music I find it hard to listen to as a general genre rather than as specific songs are heavy classical opera, though I adore instrumental classical, and hip-hop or rap type music, with a few exceptions. I do not know what it is about opera, but there is something about the voices of opera singers that sends a shiver down my spine, and not in a good way. Light opera such as Gilbert and Sullivan is a different matter, and I enjoy such music greatly, but serious, heavy, wobbly-voiced opera just repels me completely.

In fact I am not a huge fan of singing in general, while I do enjoy songs I would usually much prefer to listen to a complex melody produced by instruments working in harmony or disharmony. Whether it is produced by an orchestra or a single person and a synthesizer is unimportant, it is the complexity that intrigues me.

10 December 2007


I feel that I may be getting old, particularly in the matter of alcohol consumption. It seems that I am unable, as I gather years, to consume alcohol in the same way in which I used to. Indeed, it has become apparent that with any drinks outside of a certain range, I find it difficult to stomach the consumption of more than two glasses. Maybe stomach is the wrong turn of phrase to use, as queasiness is rarely one of my symptoms, much more common is dizziness, slowing down and uncertainty.

Due to this I will now be sticking quite firmly to those alcoholic drinks derived from fruit or honey, as they seem to have much less of an effect upon me than any fermented or distilled from hops or barley. While I do enjoy the sensation of being 'tipsy', and having that faint tingle across my skin, I must either stick with these drinks or force myself to imbibe drinks only slowly and over a longer period of time in order to avoid moving from the pleasantly tipsy, buzzing state into loud and drunk.

There was a time when I could drink non-stop, without suffering the next morning or at the time. That seems to have fled. I suppose it will save me money at least as I will no longer need to buy as many drinks.

Having said that, I may allow myself a quick glass of brandy in the hopes of warming my icy form from the weather outside.

09 December 2007


Writing the post yesterday about the various members of the cast got me thinking. People often comment that someone is, or is not, their type, so I decided to try and work out mine. Then I hit a slight problem. The only common trait I can think of is that the majority of the cast are smaller than me, height-wise at least. But I have dated or been with plenty of people who were taller than me. I then decided to go with something more general, and decided that all of the cast are female, but events in my past have demonstrated that my inclinations are, or at least used to be somewhat more flexible than that.

There are very definite reasons they are no longer that flexible, but that is a story for another time and a much more morbid and depressing post.

So maybe hair colour or length? Nope, the cast range from long blonde hair to short dark hair, as have my past relationships. No real tendency to either, though longer hair is more common in my past history I suspect that is because longer hair is simply more commong than shorter. As for colour, again anything could apply. Having spent several weeks with one girl who had rainbow hair, produced by the application of dye, and also time spent with someone who had simple, plain, naturally coloured hair I think I can rule out hair colour.

Eye colour? Definitely not. Type of looks? Cute, sexy, innocent, and many others have featured in my past. This was where I began to pick up a few hints as to what may be going on. While I found them all attractive, I found them attractive in different ways. Tomboyish looks tend to end up in somewhat rougher sex than delicate, feminine looks which draw almost a romantic mood from me. So now we have a hint. I began to think back again.

The only common factor that really could be discerned is that all of the girls in my past, and my present, are relatively healthy. This is not to say that they were all athletically slim, muscled girls, many were far from that, but none of them were at extremes. I have no stick-figures, or beach-balls in my dating history. Anyone I have dated is capable of getting around on their own feet quite happily, and none starve themselves. So, that was something.

I thought through it again. My entire dating history has varied, but in each case I have fitted myself to another person rather than shaping them to me. Sure I may be convincing, probably about a quarter of the first dates I have been on have ended up in sexual activity of some kind, and of those that did not the majority of second dates have, but each time it does not seem to be because I try to pressure the other person involved into sex, but because I try to come across as a person who is right for them.

So a little voyage of self-discovery is beginning, where I will be trying to find out what I actually want out of life, and who I actually am when I am not pretending to be anything for anyone.


I have tried to explain pantomimes to people who have not experienced them in the past, with limited success at best. How exactly do you explain a form of performance which usually involves cross-dressing, a romance between two women, a villain who is booed and derided by the audience every time they come onto stage, jokes which have not changed since the whole formula was invented, and heavy amounts of innuendo in a performance supposedly aimed at children while still keeping the idea in someone's head that this is all entertaining and in good fun, and really is suitable for the whole family? You can imagine why I have had such trouble, particularly in my occasional attempts to explain this to Americans.

So then, allow me to try and explain the formulaic elements common to most pantomimes before I tell you how my evening so far has gone. The hero of whatever story is being told, usually a fairy tale, is played by a woman who generally wears very short shorts, and tights. It is completely accepted that this is the hero, no matter how feminine she may actually be. No one questions the matter, or even thinks about it too much. The hero is simply played by a woman. That has always been the case in pantomime, and probably always will be. It gets interesting when you get to the hero's love interest, also played by a woman, but this time actually representing one. Before the perverts among you get your hopes up the most sexual thing you will see in your average pantomime might be a kiss on the cheek or a hug. These are shows for children, no matter what you may think.

Then you have the Buttons-type character. This is generally a companion or friend of the heroine's, if there is one, but may sometimes be instead linked to the villain. If a companion of the heroine's then Buttons will be secretly in love with her. He will confess this early on in the show to the audience, usually by asking them to look after a present of some kind which will be left at the edge of the stage. If any of the audience see someone trying to take this, they are to shout 'Buttons', or whatever name may be appropriate. Pantomime is big on audience participation. If a companion of the villain the Buttons-type character will usually be moderately incompetent, and act to temper the villain's evil.

The villains are truly evil, and revel in it, taunting and tormenting the audience to provoke choruses of boos and hisses. Sometimes they are redeemed at the end, other times they are simply killed. They are almost always the favourite character of a large portion of the audience, which drives them to even greater heights in trying to boo them off the stage.

Many pantomimes, though not all, will also have a character called a Dame. Some will have more than one. These are men dressed as women in outlandish outfits, which become gradually more and more ridiculous as each scene goes on. Either Buttons-type or the Dame or sometimes both will at some point generally do a scene where they encourage the audience to join in a song, invite children up on stage to join in, throw sweets to the audience, sing to scare away a ghost or gorilla or something similar, sometimes a mix of the above.

At some point the audience will usually be required to shout 'It's behind you' to alert the hero, or one of the good guys, to someone hiding, a nearby threat, something they are looking for or something else. They will also usually engage in a shouting match of 'oh no it isn't' or 'oh yes it is' with one of the characters, and this has become a common joke among most of England's population.

I hope I have now given you some idea of what a pantomime is, which is necessary to explain that this evening I have been to see the local pantomime with my family. The poster is above, and the person in the centre who looks like Captain Hook, and is Captain Hook, may be better known to some of you as a certain famous character from an old situational comedy, namely the Fonz.

Just thought I should share. He made an excellent Hook.