Thursday, March 12, 2009
Kenny Rogers May Not Be Entirely Right This Time
There's a lot of talk at the moment about this young woman, Jade Goody, who is terminally ill with cervical cancer and living out her last days very much in the public eye. Lots of yappy hacks have been all: "how vulgar, how like her to court attention and make money" about it and some other ones have snorted worthily about how great it is that she's raised the awareness for the new HPV vaccine and has encouraged lots of slags to go and get their smear tests done. I went and had a smear test - not because of Jade Goody - but because I got a letter telling me it was time I went. I don't mind smear tests at all. After an adolescence as a bit of a goer, and three vaginal births, I don't give a shit who puts what up my slot - I've had all manner of people stare at it over the years, a small poke with a glorified chopstick is low on the scale of fanny insults. But I get that a lot of women make a terrible fuss about showing their vag to a stranger and letting them put metal in it. The frigid dykes.
What interests me about Goody's death in the spotlight, is the squeamishness of the general public: "Enough is enough!" It's an English thing. English people are weird about death - they hide from it, put the lids down on their coffins, don't let children go to funerals, expect people to grieve quickly and quietly. Dying is usually done in hospital, people are discouraged from visiting and are shooed out quickly, after death. You never get a good look at actual dead people, or people dying on the telly either - for instance in Russia, I remember watching their version of crimewatch - on at teatime, complete with quite gruesome photographs of corpses that had not been identified. No one thought that was strange at all. English people don't like to look at real people's dead bodies - anybody working with the dead is viewed with great suspicion and fascination - hence all the pathology drama shows -experiencing closeness to death or dying is only acceptable when one stage removed by theatre.
One of the few truths accepted by every human belief system, is that our bodies go through a process of shutting down and finally shutting off. The question of how that process is handled, is what involves the complicated taboos in different societies
Years ago, giving birth was put in the same queasy category as dying - women were hidden away, before and after birth, and expected to get on with it and not to give too much away about the whole performance. It has only been in the last twenty years that people have started to take a more active role in planning their births - home or hospital, how much intervention, how much pain relief, who is present. Of course, the best made birth plans often give way to emergency caesarians and many wannabe hippies wind up growling for pethidine and hurling foul abuse, in a way they never could have planned. But what matters, is the labouring woman's sense of having some control, however little any foreward planning relates to the actual outcome. The fact that a patient's wishes have been acknowledged and accommodated to the best of the caregiver's abilities, is something that lowers anxiety and makes the birthing process less unpleasant.
In the same way, anxiety about death can be reduced by letting patients with terminal illness make choices about their palliative care, about where to die, whether to have an active death where they remain unsedated for as long as possible, or to slip away in a fug of morphine. But the squeamishness and unspoken expectation that the dying will just do it gracefully and quietly in a side room, with as little fuss as possible, is something that makes dying people feel a nuisance if they want to deviate from the norm (stay in hospital, it's nice and clean, people come and visit and say goodbye etc etc). I'm not saying that everyone wants a "natural" death, or that hospitals are wanton pits for following Hippocrates and shoving drips in the dying to keep them going for a few hours more. The problem is that dying people are weak and tired and find it hard to be forthright about their wishes when they are in extreme pain. They need support from their families and to know that their death choices will be honoured and communicated by their next of kin. Unfortunately a lot of non dying people don't want to think about death, and get upset when confronted by it, and end up making someone else's death all about them. This then makes the dying person feel mean for wanting particular things, and they feel an obligation to protect their families from the whole dying shebang. But that's wrong - at the end of your life you should be able to do whatever the fuck you want. That's your time, to be an utterly selfish cunt, and everyone around you should shut the fuck up and do what you say. You're the daddy. Of death.
I've heard people say they would find bringing a dying relative home "too upsetting". Not as fucking upsetting as stopping living though, is it? Grow some balls, people. Watch this woman die and learn from her - not just how to prolong your life by keeping an eye on your flange, but how to have the best death you possibly can. That is all
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Dancing At Lughnasa Is No Longer The Worst Film In The World
However, I recently watched "Nights in Rodanthe" which had Richard Gere and a famous woman in it. It looked like the usual old shit I am happy to watch - middle aged people, having another crack at romance, even if life has treated them a bit hard up until now. Well, it was just fucking appalling - really just the sort of thing women on HRT can tolerate but no one else. Here's a list of horrible things that happened in the film.
A woman, who is recently divorced, spends a precious child-free weekend running her friend's bed and breakfast place.
The bed and breakfast place is a large wooden house on stilts, on a beach, right next to the water in a tornado region.
It has terrible plumbing (Americans only like mixer taps, power showers and good water pressure) and she is v blase about it (Americans are never blase about problems - they at least pretend to give a shit if stuff doesn't work or they get sued)
A famous plastic surgeon (Richard Gere) is the only guest at the bed and breakfast on stilts
The woman gets really, really drunk on her second night in charge of the guest house, and throws tins of food at a dustbin, in front of the only guest, who thinks it is great (Americans take their service v seriously and would not like to have tins thrown around them by a drunk)
The plastic surgeon goes off to visit these two toothless hick people in a shack
The older Hick is angry with the plastic surgeon because the surgeon "killed his wife"
The Hick's wife had saved up all her money to have a sizeable, but benign facial cyst removed. We are shown, repeatedly, a picture of a simple looking woman that hick-man clutches and snivels over, but no evidence of a cyst. Photoshop? Do they have that in houses on stilts in fuck-knows-where? I don't fucking think so
The Hick man says "I never noticed the cyst on her face" Nor did we. (Sorry - I am getting obsessed by the facial cyst and it was only meant to be a small mention. Moving on...)
Despite never noticing his wife's cyst, and living in a shack, Hick man had still stumped up for his missus, to travel to an extremely posh hospital miles away, and have Richard Gere the surgeon remove her facial cyst. Thing is, she was allergic to anaesthetic and karked it on the operating table. Very unfortunate, but then, there is a small percentage of the population allergic to general anaesthetic. She shouldn't have been such a vain bitch.
Hick-husband is too thick to understand anaphylactic shock, so holds Richard Gere responsible. Unlike most Americans who have been bereaved by a medical procedure, he doesn't seem to want money, nor is he willing to listen to a simplified physiological explanation for his wife's demise. No. What he wants, is for Richard Gere to ask mindless questions about what colour his wife's eyes were, and to find out about her life and look like he gave a shit. Fucking dreadful. Gere returns to the guest house, bemused.
Gere, after getting a lecture on bereavement and grieving from his guest house landlady, eventually goes back to the shack and listens to a litany of dullness about cyst-face's boring crap life. He cries and says "thank you for letting me know her".
He returns to the house on stilts, and there is a terrible tornado, and everything breaks, and doors fly off and stuff. Gere then rides the guest house temporary landlady, and tells her about his estranged son, who, despite having completed 8 years of medical training, also "won't forgive him" for having the misfortune to operate on a woman who is allergic to general anaesthetic. The landlady, who has much younger children, then tells Gere how to parent a man in his late twenties.
Invigorated by his ride, Gere drives away in a posh car, full of promises. The landlady woman goes home, and her ex husband tries to get back with her. She still has a quim full of Gere's jizz, and doesn't feel like shagging her old man, so she says no.
Inexplicably, Gere suddenly moves to a mountain, somewhere Third Worldish, and starts helping his son (who is now speaking to him again) to immunise orphans. He writes long, worthy letters to the main woman, who cries and hugs the letters to her chest, all the while having a sub plot struggle, to relate to her goth teenage daughter.
A letter arrives announcing that Gere is "coming home", so she gets excited about her new life with him. She cooks a meal, tarts herself up and waits. He stands her up. The next morning Gere's son is on the doorstep, holding a cardboard box. He explains that his father has been killed in a freak landslide, whilst saving medical supplies for unimmunised orphans. She collapses in heaving sobs. There is a shitey old letter in the box from Gere as well. The son is considerably fitter than his father, but the woman doesn't ride him instead, unfortunately.
The bereaved woman takes to her bed and goes all weird, forcing her teenage daughter to be nice to her. Mother and daughter talk about love together, and it is just fucking vile, until the mother eventually gets her lazy arse up and out of bed, puts a bit of slap on, stops being so wet and treasures the memories of her dead love. She probably goes on to ride some other old man later, but without making such a terrible meal out of it.
The only way in which this film could have been acceptable, would have been if it had turned out that the plastic surgeon wasn't really dead after all, and that his son owed him a massive favour, so he had called his son over and explained: "Jesus, son - she's a nice enough woman, but she was a terrible ride. I tried to tell her I was moving to South America, but she kept on writing and going: "I love you" and talking about the shag we had, and she just didn't get the message, even with the orphans and "I'm so busy" and everything. So I've come up with a kind way to let her down gently, I have to do something now, I've this new woman who squirts and everything, so will you go on round there and just take a box of old tat, and tell her I'm dead, there's my boy?". Yes, I could have stomached the cyst, Richard Gere's 'O' Face, and all the other old shite as well, with that finale.
Now I've spoiled the whole plot for you, I'm guessing you won't feel the need to go and see "Nights in Rodanthe", but, just in case you are still dithering, please fucking don't. It really is the worst film in the world.
Monday, March 09, 2009
My Vagina Is Not A SatNav For Your Fucking Stuff
My father used to ask me constantly where things were, when I was a child. He had very poor sight, so I used to make some effort to help him look for stuff, putting his hopelessness down to his appalling myopia, and feeling bad if I didn't join in the hunt. I know now that this is bollocks - not his myopia, I mean he is as blind as a bat, that's for sure, but his inability to find things was purely down to the dismissive wave of his memory for "unimportant" stuff like remembering where he put his belongings, which remarkably became "extremely important" half an hour later when he needed them. He had a special way of searching - "man-looking" - walking in and out of rooms fast, head up, gaze forward, mouth chanting: "I'm sure it's in here, where is the fucking thing," never making eye contact with anything in the room at all, just picking up peculiar objects that bore no relation to the "lost" item, waving them around a bit and putting them down somewhere else, all the while loudly accusing the cleaner of stealing, until, eventually, someone else found whatever it was that he had lost.
A good many years later, living with three grown males (two are my children, I'm not that "modern") means that I am constantly being asked where socks and knickers and trousers are. They are always in the same three places, but it's like the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind round here, or it could be that the location of underwear just isn't information to be retained in the male brain - taking up space they could better use for thinking about when they are next going to eat, or what player their football team is going to buy. I really fucking do hate being asked where things are, because it's incredibly big of me to organise their knickers and socks and stuff at all, given that I don't particularly like living in an ordered environment, so having to go the extra mile and start talking about socks and knickers as well as fucking washing and sorting them just makes me tired and cross. But these are my children, so, like the excruciating innard-clawing pains of labour and the sick feeling when they are late home, as well as the constant fear of outliving them and spending the rest of my life drowning in grief, I get it - it's part of the deal of being a mother to boys - talking about fucking pants.
Anyway - I'm a woman, so my synapses get firing at the first sniff of being a martyr, even if the tedious methodical processes required to find things efficiently make me want to shit, so I guess I can't mind that much, otherwise I would just not fucking do it. What I really do mind though - and this is fucking appalling - is men, who have nothing at all to do with me, asking me where their stuff is. I was minding my own business in the swimming pool on Saturday when a man came over to where I was swimming and asked me whether I had seen his bottle of water. I hadn't, nor did I give the slightest shit that he had lost it. "Sorry" I said "I haven't seen a bottle of water. I hope you find it". A bit later, when I was in the sauna, a different man opened the door, leaned in and asked me if I had seen his towel. I hadn't, so I said: "No, I haven't seen your towel". Did he go away and look for it? Did he fuck. Two minutes later "Sorry, just checking - you haven't seen a towel lying around anywhere else, have you?". "No". I said "I'm sorry. I have not seen your towel. Maybe you left it in the changing rooms?". Barely a minute had passed before his dumb head was peering around the door of the sauna again "I can't find it" he said. I just couldn't fucking believe it. I didn't know him. I had never met his towel. I didn't care remotely about how he was going to dry himself, he was a grown man and there are starving people in India who have never, ever seen a towel, and they probably would stare open mouthed at you in the street if you asked them about towels and mutter "Towel. What is towel? Please, tell me. What is towel?" and then marvel at what a great luxury and non-essential item a towel actually is "What, a cloth, not to keep warm, just to rub on body and then put aside? This is a wonderful privilege, this towel". What a fucking nobber that man was. Yes, I have a vagina, no that doesn't mean I like finding things. Fuck off!
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]