Nothing like biting your friends heads off and pissing them off.
Does everyone denigrate the place they live in? My hometown is on the greyer edge I suppose. To small to be urban, too large to be rural, a financially depressed demographic , no university, no large employers and a failing industrial tradition. Our spa failed next to Cheltenham’s, our docks failed against Bristol’s shipbuilding, our canals are stilted and the cattle market closed. Stroud’s sheep sold better and now they excel in the hippy arts.
Essentially though it is the same as any other place. Full of people. I take myself to the places I go. It seems I am inescapable and I presume the same goes for the rest of you.
You hear a lot about how people don’t smile in England. Especially in London, Grimsby, Swindon…Gloucester. In cosy rural idylls and primitive fishing, coffee growing communities smiles are ten a penny. Or goats head – or LET’s or whatever passes for bartering tools there.
I do not find this is this case. Let me assure you cynical lip lifters – I’m no Pollyanna – I’m sure many could spring to my defense here especially N and L who are bearing my current miserable brunt. I’m sure a lot of this is statistical – If you only try out the smiling a couple of times you are almost certainly going to receive and remember confusion or rebuttal. Which leads you to say that people do not smile in Gloucester. If you maintain the habit of smiling and saying hello to people as though they are good friends you’ll inevitably get a higher success rate. Obviously you ‘ll also get people asking if they know you and a full range of nutters, aggression, incomprehension and irritation but they’ll be easier to forget when you have a few beams back in return. People you see everyday on the way to school, at the bus stop, outside the shop will become part of a regular network , seem familiar and your grey streets will seem kinder.
I think my key word here is seem. Because it’s all about the seeming. Personally and privately in my heart I am convinced the world is seventies concrete smeared in the algae of cruelty and coldness. In the icy vault of my inner being which is forever misshapen and flawed I think the people roaming around on their hind legs disguised under cloth costumes are the kind of metaphorical wolves who abuse and torture for amusement and to pass the time. Every man I see could take my children and break them. With broken bottles,fists and flaying pornographic gaze and open up a void in them to match my own and every woman could turn their head or provide an appreciative audience whilst braying their approval.
Or they could be the kind of person who’ll smile back and return to their day of doing the best they can, failing sometimes chock full as they are of their own past and good intentions.
Which world do I prefer for Zeph and Ida? (I’m kind of hoping this question can stand as rhetorical) So I stamp down what I’ve decided to label my madness and presume the outside world and the people in it, even in this corner are inherently beautiful and to show the kids by my example that this is so. In the early hours I will worry that this is wrong. That I should be warning them of and preparing them for all the wolves under the sheep’s clothing. Or at the very least I should reveal to them that it’s all just veils of seeming.
This way lies madness and also a truth along the lines of just as colour is formed in our own heads by the angles of light hitting our retinas our perception of this world is formed in how our heart accepts it.
Is this liberating or another millstone? Every survivor will recognise the therapist talk which at first run-by strikes you as trite. That you have choices about your legacy. That you can choose to move forward. That this makes you the string puller and not just a puppet. Also means that this wallowing around, substance dependency, inability to function is something you’re choosing. You can F right off was my first response. Not my continuing one as my present life testifies.
What does all this ranting waffle mean? Ummm… that seeing the BT’s is a muscle you have to flex. That Z’s book day costume of a wolf has crept into my subconscious. That I’m a right mardy self righteous cow. That I am authentically myself wherever I’m sitting, be it the British museum or Haven. That softplay places are filled with children who are all savages despite their class. That I’m going to keep smiling and serenely assuring myself that most people smile back.
Must get on with that wallpaper.