The first in an occasional series of weekend posts. Like you don’t have enough to read already..
I can hardly let the weekend pass by without some mention of the momentous decision recently taken by roughly half of the population of my home country. No I don’t mean whether to have curry or pizza on Friday evening. I mean the surprise vote for the so-called Brexit – a farewell to the European Union.
It caught many of us by surprise, since although there has always been a strong anti-EU sentiment in the UK, few thought it would actually result in us getting ourselves unhitched. Sure we’d bitch and moan about it, but not actually file for divorce.
Most of us Brits had some reservations about certain aspects of the EU. There were few fans of the unwieldy bureaucracy of this lumbering machine. It certainly got no love from the right wing Press who waged a campaign of hate against it from the start.
‘There is only one race – the human race’
Genetically we are very similar – there is only a small variation among humans and the concept of different races is largely a social construct, not a biological one. We’re also not so different from our nearest relatives the apes – Chimpanzees share over 98% of our DNA.
We are related to all life on Earth in all its staggering diversity. Even bananas, which share 50-60% of our DNA, are distant relatives. I suspect this is why some people bruise more easily than others, and some quickly turn brown, or peel after sunbathing. They are a bit more bananas than the rest of us. (I’ve certainly encountered a few 100% bananas individuals online..)
One might think that the appreciation of all the wondrous diversity of life among our global kin would be hardwired. That Homo Sapiens would celebrate and embrace all the many forms life takes. Yet the history of our species is a bloody tale of intolerance, hatred and exploitation of our fellow man, and of the other species with which we share the planet.
It was almost a year to the day since Peter Pike – AKA Procrastination Man – had last donned his ill-fitting spandex outfit and battled the forces of evil. But Peter had not been idle, far from it. In that time he had thoroughly reorganised his cutlery drawer, joined a gym (although not actually visited it) and made detailed plans to re-decorate the lounge and repair the kitchen window. There had even been a few half-hearted attempts to start writing his autobiography.
He had also, much to his surprise, found a partner, Melanie Grant, with whom he had made some exciting and probably completely impractical plans. An attractive, if slightly geeky young science graduate, she had been inspired by the press coverage of his earlier adventures and had responded to his online quest for a partner:
WANTED: SMART, KICK-ARSE PARTNER FOR A UNIQUE CRIME-FIGHTING OPPORTUNITY! NO TIME-WASTERS PLEASE.
Their first meeting at The Black Crow pub hadn’t gone quite as well as they’d hoped. A nervous Peter had arrived late as usual, and then managed to spill his pint of beer all over their table. Melanie had ended up trapped in the women’s toilet cubicle, a faulty lock requiring intervention from the local fire brigade. But they had been able to laugh about it afterwards, and their disastrous evening had eventually ended on a unexpected high note.
As they had slowly gotten to know each other in the months that followed, the future suddenly seemed to be full of promise and adventure.
After a long planning phase, they were determined not to let any more grass grow under their feet. It was time for action, just as soon as they’d saved up enough cash to advertise their services in the papers, and whipped themselves into shape at the gym. And paid off the credit card bills. Yes, quite soon they would be ready to unleash the force of THE PROACTIVATORS upon an unsuspecting criminal world.
We instinctively recoil from people in authority who are publicly exposed as liars, feeling cheated and seeing them as tarnished individuals. Yet whether we like to admit it or not, we all have an intimate relationship with lies, fibs and tall tales.
According to a 2002 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once.
I personally never lie, as I was telling Bill Gates and his wife Melinda the other night at dinner, on George Clooney‘s new super-yacht.
There seem to be a fair few awards flying around of late and I have been nominated a few times myself. (The best of breed at Crufts dog show was certainly a surprise)
I always feel chuffed to get nominated, until I remember that some blogging awards require one to nominate up to fifteen other blogs, in the form of a sort of chain letter (or pyramid scheme?) deal. Of course unlike a pyramid scheme, nobody is scamming people to get rich and the intentions are honourable, as far as I know.
This leaves one torn between the nice ego boost of a nomination and the realisation one has to actually find that many other blogs to nominate and contact them all, as well as answering a series of searching personal questions (Favourite Italian biscuit? Most used Klingon curse word?)
Identity is a funny thing, something we often take for granted. How do you define the you that you see in the mirror? Who is that person looking back at you and is it the same person who was there yesterday? What do you mean you have no reflection? Do your friends know you’re a vampire?
When you think back you might realise just how much you’ve changed over the years, even if you’re still relatively young. The fact that you (hopefully) no longer howl when hungry, or throw a temper tantrum at the supermarket ‘cos they’ve sold the last of your favourite ice cream or potato chips shows that you are evolving. Of course not in a Darwinian sense: you are unlikely to develop gills just because you swim a lot, or wings because you are tired of taking the bus. It doesn’t quite work like that, unfortunately.