Lionel, I am happy to report, has settled into his new life in this rural idyll. He has the run of the flat and indeed the ancient converted building in which all 4 flats are situated. Half the time I don’t even know where he is. Given that he’s imaginary this is not a problem. I think he feels a sense of contentment. It is entirely possible that I am enacting this vicariously through him. It is equally possible that my imaginary cat is simply content.
It is almost 12 months since we moved out here to this bucolic land of minimal mobile network coverage and no internet. I mean there is internet, but I decided to go without, I have also foregone furniture in a bid to simplify my existence. Simplify and hopefully generate enough positive karma to ease the last third of my life. It is the hope and faith in redemption that allows me to deal with the day to day hardships of my life. In the last couple of months I’ve offered useful (I think) assistance on a wide variety of problems for other people. This is what I do. Willingly. I have certain abilities which allow me to be able to ‘cut to the chase’ with officialdom or self important and officious chancers. But every so often, because I’m a weak and foolish human being, I wonder “What about me?”
Is my function to be the assistance that allows others to get through a temporary difficulty ? Maybe, and I am genuinely grateful to the universal order of things that I am able to help others get a little further towards their own contentment. Now if that sounds unusual to you, or even a little uncomfortable because it’s an expression of my mental and emotional vulnerability and I’ve written it down and published it and you;re reading it and feel personally invested (to varying degrees obviously) then I invite you to break out of the stereotype of binary oppositions that constitute human experience. Good/evil, right/wrong, help/hindrance. Wherever you are and whatever your life experience, human culture is uniform in the comfort it derives from binary opposition. So when you read this and engage with the personal nature then the range of responses is conditioned to providing a response. Either explain away what it is you’re reading, or generate a response that conforms to your experience. What it’s easy to overlook is that I wrote this to be read. All the factual elements are true but my choice of how to explain myself is no more or less a construction than a letter to an official. The difference is that in this piece I am not seeking anything. Let’s use an example;
For a variety of reasons I am running out of shoes and don’t currently have the means to get new ones. This is because I prioritize my expenditure on keeping a roof over my head, and then the roofs of others. I take the ascetic seriously. Now, you might be moved to rationalize this into being an unpleasant experience. And if so it then involves a flaw on my part of some kind. You may empathize, and think “if this was me what would I do?” but there is no need. I’m simply inviting you to reflect on the fact that I am in good mental health, I am an experienced and able writer who will politely decline any offer of shoe related help. In this blog piece I am saying out loud where I am at. Fix this moment in my life in the amber of some words and move on.
To where? That’s the obvious question. I still don’t know how to make myself subject to others to the best advantage of others. When the UK government first introduced charges for employment tribunals I wrote;
We shall sell to no man Justice or Right. (Magna Carta)
So how do the government justify charging for access to tribunals ? They don’t. We are governed by a baronial class, full of antediluvian prejudice and hereditary syphilis.
When the Judge delivered his verdict that such fees were unconstitutional and discriminatory in Unison v The Lord Chancellor, he said;
In English law, the right of access to the courts has long been recognised. The central idea is expressed in chapter 40 of the Magna Carta of 1215 (“Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus aut differemus rectum aut justiciam”), which remains on the statute book in the closing words of chapter 29 of the version issued by Edward I in 1297:
“We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”
I’m not saying I should be on the bench, but I ought to helping more people than I do. All throughout the raging storm on the rights of poor Charlie Gard it was notable that our piss poor media were unable to accurately report proceedings. Just for the record let me summarize facts from the judgements which I never saw or read reported.
For all but 2 months of his brief life, the child had been on a ventilator. The treatment which was proposed had never been used on anyone with his condition variant and not even tested on mice. It is true that the treatment has stimulated muscle growth in similar variant conditions, but that wasn’t poor Charlie’s problem. It was effective brain death. But on and on ‘they’ thundered, exploiting the parent’s all consuming grief. The rights of parents, the right to life and the distrust of the medical profession and judiciary. Ignorant, ill informed and missing the point. I’ve even read comments questioning the motivation of the parents. My heart goes out to them. Their desire to do something to change their reality and the reality for their little boy had overtaken their ability to make rational decisions. It is the binary nature of the human condition that allows people to think that something bad can be made good by action. Sometimes the only thing one can do is be in the now.
So I am in the now. Wondering what is going to happen next. But not for too long otherwise I will miss the chance to help someone who needs it whether they know it or not. And irrespective of whether there is something in it for me. I don’t measure my life by material gain (Fortunately) but whether I am of use. Not easy and not comfortable but I am happy. Not content. There is much still to do.
Anyway, I need to dash off back to my flat, to spend an evening with the radio and Lionel. Waiting for the universe to show me what I need to do next. The only thing I can be certain of, is that I will do the best I can to be the best I can.