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The funny farm

July 19, 2017

It’s not pc, but I love this song by Napoleon XIV—quirky with a twist. I’ve listened to it a few times over the last couple of weeks, for different reasons. The first one is in relation to the commitment I made to myself at the start of this year—to live it as though it were my last. Only God knows if it actually is—but, as a jumping board, I have made a couple of decisions that I’m not sure I would have in that particular space and time in its absence.


We make decisions, every day, unconsciously—but the one’s I’m referring to are the ones that make you reflect on why you do things or why you did not. One of those decisions was the unplanned publication on Amazon.com of While You Were Watching The Waltons. Paul McVeigh, awarding winner author of The Good Son is generous in his Facebook postings on various submission calls and competitions for essays, short stories etc., and one of them was the Kindle Storytelling competition—with a £20,000 prize attached to it—and although it was ‘old news’, I only saw it ten days before the actual deadline. I hummed and hawed, my heart raced and I deliberated over it for two nights. With only eight days to the deadline, over a cup of tea I asked myself if  your life was deadlined, would you enter?—with that, I had a look through the various writing sub-folders on my laptop—and found there was stuff I would be okay about releasing—I spent eight days and nights reading, re-reading, tweaking, re-writing and putting together. Aside from the reminder of how damn good it felt to work to a deadline, the entire experience presented me with so many lessons and emotions, it took some time to process it all.


I write because something inside compels me to. I experiment, by writing around emotions —scenarios to see if I would feel the same in this or that situation and, I write my truth as though I am telling someone who is in the same situation, but thinks they are alone—because there is no public acknowledgement of it. I write stories that I would have liked to have read at different stages throughout my life. I write—and because I do it for myself without intention of outcome, only purpose, I was ready when the competition showed up. Once it was up for the world to see, I didn’t re-read it—but, whether it was a consequence or not, my writing output increased—becoming more creative and experimental, which in turn prompted me to make the decision to publish another collection, Dismembering Barbie (available 11th August 2017). Working on it with a different editor to the one I worked with on my memoir, the difference in my approach to this collection is acutely noticeable—to me. What has come to the fore is how increasingly protective and respectful I have become towards my writing—almost verging on the pernickety on occasion about it being the very best it can be—not just about how I am presenting a message. Is it because I overcame a fear? Is it because I have had the privilege of working with professionally generous editors? Or is it because I have finally come to feel these things about myself? Or, has one assisted the other?—there is an essay in there, but for now, it confirms that I should continue with my original commitment—live everyday as though it were my last.


The second reason for listening to the Funny Farm, is both personal and political—one highlighting the other. My memoir tells the details of the last couple of years of my life so I am not inclined to rehash—but it is relevant here, to articulate a few things—a few things I have learned—things that I have come to know with confidence; one, you can absolutely judge a person’s character by how they treat those who have hit rock bottom; two, no matter how many times you encounter it, you will be disappointed and shocked by the number of people who pontificate about others but feel no compunction about their lack of self-examination; three, be taken aback by the volume of persons who are driven to override someone else’s opinion or experience because it isn’t theirs. And, though it is not the weightiest lesson, it is important. Loyalty. Loyalty is a dangerous and powerful thing. I’m calling it a thing because I still haven’t determined whether it is constructed to guarantee complicities, a biologically embedded trait or an outward demonstration of belonging, or perhaps a mixture of all three ingredients. What I know for sure, now—its first application should be to the self—blind loyalty distorts, giving a power to those who have not earned it—allowing them to create an illusion, one that you can get lost in, either with anger that has no parking place or belief that what you are being told is a truth—and then, in the middle of my ponderings, along came Time magazine—the portrait of a young man as a leader—Leo Varadkar.


Leo Varadkar did not campaign for same-sex marriage, he publicly voted against gay parents having parental or adoption rights which would see them on a par with heteronormative couples. Leo saw an opportunity in the rising change of attitude in the Irish people and milked it for all it was worth. Now, his so called 'bravery' in outing himself over the public airways is archived for generations to come as being ‘key’ to Ireland achieving full rights for same-sex couples (oh history, oh history you reveal your true self)—that is not leadership, that is opportunism. Leo Varadkar can have a section of an interview with his parents completely eradicated because it doesn’t show him in a good public light, but screw anyone who doesn’t have access to that privilege —that is not leadership, its painting an illusion. Enda Kenny can have his derogatory remarks about people of colour deleted from record and be called a leader—but an MP in the UK could get fired for using the same term.


Leo Varadkar is not a leader—he has done nothing to warrant the lauding he is getting on the International scene. He has access to public relation gurus who are teaching him about getting the public to think a certain way—using specific rhetoric. The utilisation of words like thugs and extremists about protesters and social justice activists; or cheats referring to those in receipt of social welfare payments; or the use of words such as unbecoming, unrefined when pointing to anger that disrupts corruption and Machiavellian conduct within the halls of power. And his relegating women and children back under the umbrella of helpless when speaking about social media — stop the  lights, please — is this Leo putting himself forward as Saviour of Mna na hEireann?— does this actually mean he won't be presenting a watered down version of the Eight Amendment for the public to vote on?   does this mean that he will be re-shuffling his cabinet to ensure equal sex representation? does this mean that every woman currently living on the street will now be issued with a personal hygiene pack every month and  designated a dedicated space to take care of herself when she is bleeding out? Should Mna na hEireann be jumping for joy that Leo is going to apply the thumbscrews on the Advertising Authority forbidding businesses and corporations from using gender stereotyping to advertise their products? --because it offends and damages both socially and personally?


Be still my beating heart— be still.


No, Leo is not a leader, but for sure, he is a fast learner—taking what his predecessor did, one step further—emulating the American political system and behaviour, with absolutely no substance to back it up.


The current trend on the world stage is to govern countries as you would a business—because it is now businesses who are governing the government and dictating to the regulators. Feed information to the plebs on a need to know basis only, placate them when they complain and do nothing, then create an environment that makes them look like the crazies for objecting to bad behaviour, which in turn makes you wonder about your own sanity and start singing ‘they’re coming to take me away, ha-ha- ho-ho hee-hee to the funny farm….”


Bernie Madoff once said “In today’s regulatory environment, it is nearly impossible to break the rules”—an environment that allowed him to pull off the biggest financial fraud in history to the tune of eighteen billion dollars. And shit, no-one listened to the thugs and extremists who harangued the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission), the Federal Government and journalists about Madoff and other banking illegal behaviours for years—on that basis, there isn’t much space for philosophical ponderings as to why Leo the Leader and his buds won’t introduce an anti-corruption body with independent investigative powers for private enterprises and corporations.


Yes Leo, the global stage gave you and your buffed nails a lot—I can understand why you don't want to upset the apple cart.


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