The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

Put it in the basket, I’ll read it in a bit
I don’t really do confessional blogging. Partly, this is out of a minor fear that anyone who doesn’t get my particular style of humour might think I belong in a special hospital. The internet has its quota of bat-shit-crazy topped up quite enough, without me adding to it. I also believe certain kinds of inner dialogue are better off kept private. Over a beer, one-on-one, face-to-face, I’ll tell you if I wear ladies underwear and like to be called Patsy of a weekend. But on-line I’m just that bloke off of that podcast, who’s had it up to here (points to the top of a tall thing) with religious morons and Coldplay fans. Nothing else to see, really, so why tell everyone about it?

This blog entry, however, is an exception to that self-imposed rule.

So I’m laid in bed, listening to one of my super-nerd podcasts. I like to drift off to sleep with some kind of radio / audiobook playing. I’ve been like that since I was a teenager, when the only thing that could block out the imaginary guitar solos, was Allan Robson’s Night Owls, on Radio Tees — a phone in show for first time callers and long time listeners with a penchant for The Eagles and complaining about the local council.

Tonight, it was the turn of Leo Laporte’s Mac Break Weekly, the podcast about Apple Mac and iOS. Form an orderly queue ladies, this tiger’s a doozy. Yeah, keep your nerd jokes to yourself, Captain Funbags. Anyway, I’m drifting off into that half awake, half asleep thing, when out of the bastard blue yonder, a guillotine appears and severs my head from my shoulders. SLAM! The darkness of death. Then, “FUCKING HELL SHIT!!” as I sped across the other side of the bed, very awake now thanks very munch.

When my heart rate returned from utter panic, having shot up from “Ahh, sleepy time” to “I AM DEAD NOW” in less than a microsecond, I couldn’t help from being massively cheered up and almost euphoric. In that nanosecond of blackness, after me noggin’ was detached from the rest of the torso (sorry to be graphic, but this really did happen) all I felt was nothing. Zero. Gone. Exactly as it was before I existed. “Well, bugger me!”, I did exclaim. “That doesn’t happen every day.”

So then the mind starts whirring over and over. Thinking about the explanation for these types of experiences, and how they reside in our evolutionary past. When our direct ancestors slept in trees for a few million years, old habits die hard. Something probably fell over on the kitchen drainer, causing a metallic slamming sound, which triggered my “WAKE UP NOW, THERE’S A WAR ON!” automatic, fight or flight instinct. This also explains falling dreams, when you’re on a bus or laying next to someone who tosses and turns.

All of this is all churning over in my thankfully still connected head, when I realise how freaked out I’d be if I was a superstitious type. Just imagine. I’d probably be still on the phone to my faith healer / crystal dangler, right now. “Death came for me!”, I would say. “Pray for me, Graham”, I would openly weep to my prayer chain counsellor, as I contemplated the “significance” of this unsettling experience. Or maybe I’d have my cosmic guru take me back through some sort of regression therapy, to a past life where I was beheaded for being an insurrectionist in revolutionary France? Oh, the dots I would join and patterns I would seek out, in this otherwise entirely normal, entirely natural (if a little scary) phenomena.

The Bells
Unable to put these thoughts to the back of my mind, I resigned myself to another sleepless night and flipped on the iPhone, to watch some catch-up TV. I’d heard about this new series on Channel 4 called The Undateables, about people with physical and mental disabilities looking for love with specialist dating agencies. A hoot a minute, no doubt.

I normally avoid this type of formulaic TV show. I actively hate “let’s all point and laugh at people who aren’t perfect like us” genre television. There’s only so much of it you can take, before you start fantasising about pushing Simon Cowell into a blender — and that’s not good. The poor guy can’t help being good at something I happen to not like. So I avoid lowest common denominator media in general, as much as possible, so as to avoid reminding myself of the sheer numbers of pleb-faced clodpate, who set Sky+ to religiously watch Turd TV everyday.

But, in this case, I’d heard this particular show was different; sensitive to the issues and not judgemental. So, I gave it a go.

Now, I have a bit of a confession to make, which in the light of what proceeded to unfold on the said Undateables programme, might seem a tad petty, but here goes. When I was in my early 20’s, I got into the obligatory nightclub fight with another amateur drinker, and got my eye socket smashed. Ever since then, I’ve had a slightly uneven, asymmetrical face.

I don’t swing around the belfries of Notre Dame, shouting for Esmeralda, but it’s just one of those things about my personal appearance which I can be occasionally self conscious about. I sometimes tend to overly worry about it when it comes to talking to women and generally “getting out there”. I’m good at masking, and make up for it with my devastating charm and massive chopper.

Now, ordinarily, this particular kind of superficial minor facial thingy, probably wouldn’t make anyone else self-conscious in the slightest. But since leaving school the majority of the full time jobs I’ve had, have involved standing up on a stage with a guitar around my neck, to be gawped at by rooms full of people. Female people. Drunk female people. With boobs and everything. So you do tend to feel a little judged on physical appearances in that kind of world.

I tells ya people, not anymore. Never again. Not I. This guy on episode number two of The Undateables was born with a rare genetic disorder (one of the ones Yahweh designed at around 11:55pm on the sixth day, presumably) which causes warts and growths to emerge randomly all over his body. On the inside, he’s a middle-aged guy, with friends who like him, a job, a cat, and hopes for the future. On the outside, he had to have half of his face removed to stop his eyes from literally falling out. He can’t walk straight and he has a speech impediment, from his swollen bottom lip. But to hear him speak, about wanting to take someone special on long walks, and on camping trips, and to meet that certain someone to have happy Christmases with, anyone who would call him ugly is really only talking about themselves. He’s a genuine, normal geezer who just happens to live in world full of twats.

And then it hit me. Who, the very fuck, do I think I am, to moan about having one eye a few millimetres different to the other one? And which “beauty” magazine editor do I write to, to complain about the fact, that this utterly ridiculous idea probably planted its roots in my mind, in the copy of some nasty little advert for the particular brand of boxer shorts worn by David fucking Beckham?

Which talentless, pre-photoshopped pop-star sowed the seed, in my still attached brain, that the ear on the left side of my head, slightly sticking out further than the one on the right, somehow renders me incapable of sending that “Hey, it’s that guy you gave your number to” text message, to that random girl from down the pub? You remember her, don’t you my brain? The one with the tiny scar on her eyebrow, which she probably thinks makes her look like Freddy Krueger? Yeah? The pretty girl, who was told by Hello magazine last week, that dating anything less than Peter ‘the cunt’ Andre will make her friend’s think she’s lost her mind?

Here’s the thing. The chap with the physical deformities probably had to pluck up more courage just to go on television — let alone agree for them to send him on a date — than I will ever have to summon for anything, ever in my life. He is better than me. And you. He’s also dating a loverly woman from Durham, who couldn’t give a shit about what he looks like.

The moral of this tale, is never start blogging at 6:30am, when you can’t sleep because you had a nightmare that someone chopped your fucking head off. And, above all, shut your whining mouth and get out there. THAT’S AN ORDER PRIVATE PILE!!

7 comments on “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

  1. The demons are upon you. :7)

    A quick dream analysis reveals to dream that you are decapitated indicates that you are not thinking clearly and are refusing to see the truth. Or signifies poor judgment or a bad decision that you have made and regretted.

    As you’re an Atheist, I think that is quite telling and should not be “written off.” Face that conscience of yours. Again, I beg you to repent and turn from rejecting the God you know exists, and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ’s payment for your sins, so that you might be saved from Hell, spend an eternity with God, AND have a firm foundation for your reasoning NOW, so your conscience can have some relief from your denial. Sweet dreams.

  2. Glad to see we can always rely on you to make our point for us. Or did you just skip over the three paragraphs where I said how much more frightening it would be to think in terms of demons and dream meaning?

    Maybe that massive cushion of conformation bias you sleep on has stopped you from ever having bad dreams, but for my part I like a bit of cheese for supper, and there isn’t an ounce of fear theology in the world going to stop me from eating it.

  3. …also, how does making blind assertions and appeals to authority render atheism debunked? You can’t even demonstrate any objectively valid evidence for Yahweh’s basic existence.

  4. You brought this one onto yourself:

    >> You can’t even demonstrate any objectively valid evidence for Yahweh’s basic existence.

    Great, a knowledge claim. Are you absolutely certain I cannot? If so, how?

  5. I am absolutely certain you cannot provide objectively valid evidence of Yahweh’s basic existence, Dan, yes. Make sure you cut and paste that whole sentence, when you quote me on that.

    If you could do this, you would have done so by now and there would be no argument from me or anyone else about the existence of the particular deity from your particular religion. This wouldn’t disprove the existence of other deities, from other religions, in fact it would make them more likely. In other words, if you had ANY objectively valid evidence for Yahweh’s basic existence, this would be an entirely different conversation about an exteriorly different set of circumstances. But you don’t. I know for a fact that you don’t. Do you want me to underline that in bold font?

    You can make truth-claims from a faith based position until you’re blue in the face, so long as you’re honest about what you’re doing. In fact I would welcome your right to do exactly that, and defend you against anyone who says otherwise, and have far more respect for your position. Just don’t lie to yourself about it and expect other people to swallow it for the same reasons you do.

    Every time you do that, you make it easier and easier for us to bat away your other questions, which may well be interesting or informative on some other level. But we simply can’t get to this level of the conversation, for as long as you insist you have something you simultaneously refuse to present. All you’re doing is emphasising the problem at the heart of your own position, making it impossible to talk to you about the relative merits of your overall belief system.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with my worldview too. But I’m not the one claiming to know things which cannot be demonstrated. You are. Hence ‘burden of proof’. Is it sinking in yet?

  6. “In fact, that cannot be evidence for God if he is a naturalist, or an atheist. Because according to him its not possible to have evidence for God. If he is in fact an atheist in terms of his views on reality, then all of these things must be reinterpreted so they are regimented, or will conform to, will comport with that man’s naturalism, or atheism.” ~

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