Saturday, 22 December 2018

What is going on?

The news is becoming stranger and stranger.

Arguably, it isn't even news, it's what news hounds write when they are feeling slightly hysterical because nothing makes sense any more.

It's not fake news, it's too trivial for that, but it is some weird, esoteric bit of nonsense culled from a conversation in a bar, overheard on a train, or half-heard on headphones while semi-sleeping. There was one this week about a dog eating a kebab skewer. Another about cannibalism following a plane crash,  lip-reading in the Houses of Parliament.  And then there's Trump. Truculent toddler? Another one bites the dust? Heads of staff sent rolling down the bowling alley of Congress, never to return.

Now we have the Will we? Won't we? Do we? Don't we?  dance of No Deal Brexit.
Stockpile or chance it? 
Invest. Withdraw. Lie down. Die.

It's a mad world, my masters, populated by thieving  scumbags, knife-wielding hoodlums, men from the ministry. And us, of course.

On Winter Hill, in Lancashire, the coal under the ground has caught alight.
Remember summer? It was dry and hot; many places burned, but at Winter Hill the fires were not extinguished, they just went under the ground.

There's a metaphor there somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is. Only I know that real news will surface, like an underground fire, and the anger that is emerging in Europe will not die down or go out. In Catalonia, in Paris, people are tired of empty promises, of not being listened to, of being ripped off. Underground, the fires are still burning.

We have heard little from our M.E.P.s   regarding Brexit. What have they been doing all this time?  They must carry some of the blame for this, surely?  At least when they lose their jobs there are still places under cover where they can sleep and food banks they can draw from.  Or have I got that wrong?  That would be news.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Learned Helplessness


There's a theory about learned helplessness, put forward by Seligman, a researcher into human behaviour, which teaches that as long as minimum requirements are met, many (most?) people are willing to put up with conditions they feel they can't escape from.  Of course, sometimes they really can't escape. A hostage with a violent, volatile captor does their best to avoid being noticed. They may empathise with their captor, appease them in some way and hope to avoid more pain. Or they may bide their time and wait for a chance to escape. Seligman carried out his experiments with dogs, but in my story the dogs are in charge of the people and the Masters are in charge of the dogs.

In my book THE MARSH PEOPLE,  published by Victorina Press, Scummo, a young man whose family have been rounded up and killed, leaves the soulless city he has lived in for most of his adult life, taking with him a little girl, Kelpin. This child is an orphan who has appealed directly to him for help, and in doing so, reached for his hand.

There is something about skin to skin touching which bypasses other emotions.  Recently there have been some news items about newborn babies having immediate skin contact with their mothers and the fact that this contact aids lactation, bonding and emotional well-being, and I know from my own experience that many psychological and physical processes are begun by this simple act of touching, holding, in effect bonding, with a baby, even if it's not your own.

Scummo, in my story, has an instinctive need to care for this little girl, who represents something of his past - his own mother, perhaps. Something in him is awakened and responds to her need. Kelpin, who has no mother, clings to him and he responds to the challenge well. They learn from one another.
If it's a choice between sink or swim, the characters in THE MARSH PEOPLE know that their survival depends on them pitting their wits against the Masters and upholding their right to be free men, no matter what. And the women, with their protective, nurturing, natures are essential for the  survival of the tribe.

I had at the back of my mind while I was writing this book  thoughts about the plight of refugees forced to leave their homes and exist somewhere else, or be killed. A refugee camp or a dash for freedom on the back of a lorry, or in a sinking boat on a dangerous sea?  I'm glad I don't have to decide.