Springingtiger's Blog


What a Piece of Work is Rabbit

A sequel to yesterday’s post ‘What a Piece Of Work Is Man’

I like who I am, I really do, but it hasn’t always been that way. I think it was sometime in my fifties, back when my hair reached my waist and my beard, my chest that I looked in the mirror and actually saw me. Who else might I have seen? As funny as it may sound and it may cancel my vote, I always used to see a stranger, I rarely felt like I was the person in the mirror. One day I looked in the mirror and was comfortable with whom I saw, less than a year later, I completed my rituals and cut off my hair and trimmed my beard. These days when I look in the mirror I recognise who looks back as me. Okay, that doesn’t include those times when I disappear my head from my reflection…actually I suppose it does (I almost said ‘on reflection’).

When I was five I wanted to be a ballerina. I had a little china statue of a ballerina with a real fabric tutu and I loved her. All went well until I told my parents when it was made very clear to me that boys cannot be ballerinas. My mother was very kind and said I could become a ballet dancer like Rudolph Nureyev, but I didn’t want to be Rudolph Nureyev, I wanted to be Margot Fonteyn! After I first saw the film Calamity Jane on television I wanted to be Doris Day, I knew better than to tell anyone. There was a time I wanted to be Julie Newmar, but only as Catwoman. Don’t get me wrong, I am a chap and I know it, even if I may not have liked it I never, ever, thought I was female. There were particular women I wanted to be, but I didn’t want to be a woman. Even now it’s far too much work to be a woman and it was worse back then. I never suffered from gender dysphoria, it might be fair to say I suffered from occasional gender envy. I wanted to be Emma Peel, with my lack of gracefulness those heels would have killed me so it’s just as well I couldn’t.

Unfortunately there are those who really are born into the wrong body and know that somehow their plumbing is all wrong. They don’t suffer the occasional twinge of gender envy, for them their whole identity is under assault. Some cannot, despite the prejudices of society, do other than live as who they really are. Some like Lili Elbe even died to become truly themselves. There was a time when gender reassignment surgery was new, difficult and dangerous, I gather from my enquiries that it is still far from being an easy option. There are others who having become unquestionably the man or woman they know themselves to be feel no need to go under the knife, they recognise themselves and those who matter recognise them.

I have nothing but admiration for those men and women who refuse to be ruled by the genitals they were born with and instead choose to become themselves. Who survive the bullying, let’s be clear this is something they live with throughout their childhood even when they are too young to understand what gender is and a little boy or girl who insists on being the opposite, gets hurt. Gets hurt again and again. Some cannot live through growing up, but there are some who do and hold fast and they should be honoured, at the very least respected and their choices honoured. These men and women are heroes, real heroes who have faced hell and prevailed.

Today our world is a little more forgiving and tolerant than when I was young and young people with gender dysphoria can in some places receive the help and support they deserve, but even now it is not easy and role models still thin on the ground. I was delighted to come across the video blog of Isabella Bunny Bennett, better known as Rabbit from Steampowered Giraffe. In January she proudly announced that she had legally become Isabella Bunny Bennett. From mid July 2014 she has been posting a frank, no holds barred, frequently funny, often poignant Vlog of her transformation from a (rather dishy) man into an attractive young woman. It is a very courageous thing to do and makes the process and the emotions attached visible and accessible. Anyone who knows someone who is transgendered will find this series of films fascinating, I think anyone who is considering a gender change should watch it. In fact anyone interested in the phenomenon of ‘human being’ should find it interesting. It has been a journey, one easier to watch than make. Bunny’s generosity in sharing something so personal is deeply moving and were I younger she would enter my pantheon beside Margot Fonteyn and Doris Day…oh what the heck? Bunny’s in there too!



What A Piece Of Work Is Man…

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!” (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2)

Today I saw ‘X Men: Apocalypse’. It is one of many super hero films and television programs being released this year and as good a piece of entertainment as any. However I am aware that for many people I super heroes are not so much entertainment as an aspiration. There are actually people who want to be vampires, would you believe? Along the cosplayers whose pleasure is creativity there are those who really do want to be a Jedi or a super hero.

I am not going to condemn anyone who is not happy with who they are, I spent many, many years thinking I was on the wrong planet and very uncomfortable around humans. I do think it a little sad when people are unhappy with their humanity. I can appreciate the anguish of those who know they were born in the wrong body, but while they may need to change their gender they still want to be human. What I find sad is that people don’t relish being human and celebrate it. Sad that people reject the value of their own lives because of some distorted value placed upon celebrity, political power or wealth.

I suppose there is much that is done by some humans that sparks, rightly, horror and rejection in anyone with an ounce of compassion or sensitivity. However there is so much in humanity to be celebrated. Look at our arts and architecture, our literature, our music. For every serial killer, suicide bomber or Tory politician, there is someone risking their lives to save others, there is someone working to cure disease, to end poverty, end injustice. Yes there are evil and selfish people in the world. I believe it is because they are an aberration they impinge so much on our awareness. The majority of humans live our lives of quiet heroism carrying for their families, friends, and communities. And there are many who stand out as real heroes, men and women of courage who risk ridicule, rejection, even death to make the world a better place. People prepared to ask questions and challenge established ideas. People prepared to give of themselves, whatever the personal cost, for the good of us all.

You don’t need superpowers, fame or money to be a hero just the will to be the best you you can be. You don’t need political position or wealth to change the world, you don’t even need a God, you just need people, people who care about others.



The Victims of Historical Child Abuse

Even now with all the furore around historic child abuse and celebrity abusers most of the victims of Historical Child Abuse remain unknown and that is as it should be, bad enough what they’ve been through without reliving it in the glare of media scrutiny and prurient public curiosity. It may well be true that some victims have fared better than others and gone on to lead happy and successful lives, but others haven’t and regardless of outcome no child should ever be abused or exploited by any adult.

The less obvious victims of historic child abuse by celebrities were not on the receiving end of the actual abuse. Millions of people have had the foundations of their childhood illusions swept away by the revelations that the childhood heroes who defined their world were horribly flawed. I haven’t met anyone who was entirely surprised by Stewart Hall, but some were savagely upset by Gary Glitter. For me the most savage blow was Rolf Harris’s conviction, even now I find it hard to come to terms with. We’re he not such a lovely, considerate man and such a prodigious talent it might have been easier, but he had been a positive part of all our lives for as long as some of us could remember. There is not excuse for child abuse and it is no mitigation of the crimes of Rolf and others to point out that they were not as bad as Jimmy Saville which brings me on the the third group of unrecognised victims of historic child abuse.

We all suffer. When Saville was exposed we came to see that British society was itself corrupted and his exposure exposed the ‘establishment’ for the manipulative and exploitative entity it is.

The Saville case showed how willing the BBC and the Conservatives were to actively cover up the crimes of child abusers within their ranks. But it was not only the Tories, Cyril Smith and Greville Janner demonstrated that the perversion crossed party lines and polluted the whole Westminster establishment. A massive cover up and destruction of evidence coupled with virulent attacks by the right wing press against anyone who had the temerity to investigate the ‘great and the good’ seem to have ensured that the complicity of politicians, police and press in the abuse of vulnerable children will escape further exposure.

What the whole historic abuse stooshie has made clear is that the ordinary British people cannot trust the institutions whose role it is to shore up British society. In recent months we have finally been allowed to see the same mechanisms at play in the cover up of the police role in the Hillsborough disaster.

The disgusting behaviour of police and security service undercover agents has been exposed with no show of remorse by those services or the politicians who run them.

On top of allegations about the rigging of the postal vote by the Better Together campaign we have further evidence of the dishonesty of the electoral system with Channel Four’s exposure of deliberate electoral fraud by the Conservative Party. Sadly while the Labour party should be able to capitalise on this, a large section of the parliamentary party has been exposed as determined to ignore their own party’s democratic decisions and instead undermine their leader. So virulently opposed to democracy are they that John Mann set out to sabotage Labour’s electoral campaign this spring and he caused very real damage.

Of course the dishonesty of the Westminster establishment comes as no surprise here in Scotland where we have come to expect duplicity and broken vows from the English parliament. Now we wait for an investigation of police and political actions during the Miner’s Strike…historical political abuse like the refusal to act on the Blacklists. As for the long awaited  Chilcot Enquiry report, no one up here anticipates it will be anything but another whitewash. If the peoples of these Isles had sense they’d not be paying for the restoration of the Houses of Parliament, they’d be tearing them down around the ears of the politicians still inside.



And The Winners Are Labour!

 

wpid-wp-1402763492776.jpegThis morning I hear commentators talking as if the SNP did not win the Scottish Parliamentary Elections merely because they did not win an overall majority. The system is designed to prevent any party winning an overall majority, that the SNP did so last time was an anomaly their constituency vote, by chance hit, a sweet spot that didn’t allow the list to prevent the majority. Ordinarily the more constituency seats a party gains the fewer list seats they get. The reason the SNP is not in a majority is because they did too well. Their share of the vote is up and they won more seats than ever on the constituency list. Personally, and I am an SNP member, I am quite pleased because it means the system is working as it was designed to, to ensure no party has an overall majority so that it can’t rail-road policies through Parliament, but must secure a degree of consensus. If you want to see how parties can abuse a majority you only have to look at the unfettered extremism of the Westminster Conservative government, in Scotland we won’t allow that. The result shows that the SNP is the most popular party in Scotland, more popular than ever, but also that the system is not broken. The 2011 result was an anomaly, unlikely to ever be repeated.

The Tories are crowing about their increased support in Scotland. However Ruth Davidson’s campaign was run largely on a single issue, opposing a second Independence Referendum. The figures suggest that the Tory increase in voter share came almost entirely from Labour and Liberal Democrat unionists opposing the SNP and the perceived threat of a second referendum, there is little to suggest any endorsement of Conservative policies. Only thirty one seats in Holyrood are held by the Conservatives which means that ninety eight are held by those opposed to Conservative policies. Sixty seats are held by parties who may be called unionist although Labour is not uniformly so, which means that the majority, sixty-nine are held by parties supporting independence. Add to this the increased electoral support for parties supporting independence and the fact that most of the increase in Conservative votes came from Labour and the LibDems it shows the trend is still towards more autonomy for Scotland, but perhaps not so much that a second referendum could succeed in delivering it just now. However the movement is still in that direction.

Interestingly down south the Tories are crowing because the government wasn’t badly damaged by the results and are pointing out that a sitting government could expect to poll badly in local elections. They fail to point out that while the position of the Tories in England is only down a little, after two full terms in office SNP support is continuing to grow. People are trying to paint this as a bad result for Jeremy Corbyn. He has been leader of the Labour party for only eight months, however over the last ten months or so there has been an unprecedented, negative hate campaign by the BBC and other mainstream media against him as well as a deliberate undermining by his own members. It is interesting to reflect that had John Mann behaved towards Tony Blair the way he does towards Corbyn he would have been expelled from the party. Corbyn has held firm and Labour’s share of the vote has increased slightly, not enough, but he has passed his first major test as leader and he can build up from here. It is true that the Conservatives did gain control of some councils, not as many as they lost, but councils like Peterborough were only won because of changes made to electoral boundaries under the Conservatives. Gerrymandering is a greater threat to Labour than support for Tory policies, particularly as it now appears that twenty-six Conservatives broke the law to win their seats. It is clear that democracy itself is under attack by the Conservative Party.

So why did I say Labour are the winners? Because they are in good position from which to rebuild, especially in Scotland, and the results provide a justification for completely new start in Scotland. It is obvious that no amount of tinkering can save Labour, however if they hold their nerve, or rather rediscover the courage of their founders, they could rebuild the party with a hope of real power in 2026. I think an autonomous Labour Party making its own decisions and determining its own policies in a fraternal relationship with its neighbouring Labour Parties might well appeal to voters who want greater autonomy for Scotland. It may be by 2026 that we will have an independent Scotland in which case it makes sense to have an autonomous Scottish Labour Party ready to seize the opportunities independence would present. The strength of the SNP and the rise of the Greens demonstrates that in Scotland socialism is not a dirty word and a Labour Party freed from the legacy of Blairism should be able to recapture some of the electorate lost to the left. I don’t think Labour can fall any further so any gain from here on in is a victory and an encouragement.

Kezia Dugdale is inexperienced as a politician and as a party leader. If the Labour Party can stop treating its leaders like football managers and give Kezia time to rebuild labour she could do well. She has just come through as painful an experience as any leader will ever suffer, if she can carry on I think she will be strengthened by it. Even before the election she was showing signs of moving away from Scottish Labour’s knee-jerk opposition to anything the SNP does merely because it is the SNP doing it. Were the Labour Party to have a clear policy platform they could use it as a guide to their relationship with the SNP; supporting the SNP when they have points of agreement, opposing when they don’t and negotiating compromises when the opportunity to influence a parliamentary outcome arises. A Labour Party that also actively opposed the Tories might well win votes back particularly when it was apparent that they did so from a solid ethical base and not merely for electoral gain. No matter how roundly anyone hates Tony Blair, he knew how to perform for the cameras, Kezia needs coaching in her self presentation. She may be more intelligent, compassionate, and caring than I recognise, however every time she opens her mouth I want to shut it for her. I suspect a big part of her problem is inexperience, but also a lack of finesse. The SNP has been fortunate in having three successive leaders who can perform well in debate and in the media, the camera makes them look like leaders, Kezia has to learn how not to appear as a panicked little girl. There is nothing wrong with a politician learning how best to present themselves and represent their party, indeed it is irresponsible not to, a lesson Jeremy Corbyn might be advised to consider also. Obviously they should still be themselves and retain their integrity, it is the externals they need to work on. A backbencher can be a scatter gun like Dennis Skinner, a party leader needs to be more targeted and surgical.

Kezia and the Labour Party are so far behind the SNP that, barring disaster, the only way they can go is forward so much of the pressure is now off Kezia. A steady rebuilding of her party targeted at a good result in 2026 using the elections along the way as a guide to progress without being distracted by pundits and the media may pay dividends. If Labour can build enough momentum things may even happen sooner. Whatever happens if they do not learn from their mistakes the Labour Party will not survive and that would not be good for Scotland. We are enriched by the diversity of our politics.



City on The River

When I was young my politics was full of certainty, as I grow older I find certainties replaced by questions.

image

Land-damned the legless sailor sits
Watching set sail the sea bound ships
And the Cunarders on the slips
Swamp spectators up to their hips.
No one warned them of the great wave
That a slip launched ship always gave,
But no one could the shipyards save,
A decline severe became grave.
Grave-bound the legless sailor lies.
No more the Clydebuilt steamer plies
Its trade beneath the island skies.
From where to what will the Clyde rise?

Can we rise, a nation again,
Or must we a province remain?
Can the SNP break our chains
And wash from us the bitter stain
Of submitting to English might
When we should have stood up to fight?
May we not yet restore our right
So never more the worker sits
Because there’s neither steel nor ships?
Reopen the yards and the slips
Let’s build again our trains and ships.



NLP Conference 2016
April 17, 2016, 21:02
Filed under: disability, Health, NLP, Parenting, personal development, Poetry, Writing | Tags: ,

Now NLP Conference is ended,
But I hope that next year we will return.
Each year there are so many things to learn:
Insights and techniques to be appended
Or into existing knowledge blended.
Old, outmoded ideas to overturn,
Better methods and models to discern
In each seminar and talk attended.

A great range of subjects, but that’s not all;
There’s Shelle Rise Charvet and Michael Hall.
Melody Cheal, good. David Shephard, slick.
Art Giser as well as Frank Pucelik,
Jeremy Lazarus and many more…
So many, Conference does not bore.

Appendix:
Anglo-American’s reign had now ended
And their leadership must be commended.
To ANLP has now descended
The task of reaching new goals intended,
Beyond the heights already ascended.



When I Am Alone
April 13, 2016, 12:50
Filed under: autism, disability, food, Health, Parenting, personal development, Poetry, Writing | Tags: ,

image

Sometimes I want just to relax
To shout and swear and twitch and flap,
Eat sweeties and unhealthy snacks,
And not worry that I’m talking crap.

Nobody wants to see me stim
So when I’m out I hold it in,
But when I’m in I let it out.
When I’m alone I twitch and shout.

At home I’m allowed to say
Whatever comes into my head
That said outside, during the day,
Would have my colleagues cut me dead.

But in my house I have my chance
To be weird as I want and dance.
When I’m alone I can be free
And you can’t stop me being me.




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