Never The End

It was a warm, wet, windy day in early May, and I was sitting in my car wondering if I should go and speak to my dead friend.

I was parked outside his old house, with the same garden he romped in as a child lying differently before the same empty windows and withdrawn brick walls. The slightest rain was dashing across the space between myself and the front door. I don’t know why I was there; something in my sleep had compelled me to come, though I don’t know what it was, and I felt like perhaps I would not find out.

Sam had died very suddenly six months ago, and the sorrows that a death can throw at a family were still clinging to the fabric of the household like a disease clings to the lungs of the breathless. I and most of our schoolmates attended the funeral with the utmost sense of the surreal clipping our heels, not being quite able to understand that a person so close to us could just disappear as he did. Seeing his family without him made them seem tremendously alone, even with all his siblings there with their parents, outnumbering the dead and yet still being weighed down by them. Growing up you simply never conceive of circumstances in which your friends could vanish into eternity, and what’s more is you never talk about it; so when it happens you feel as if the universe has deserted you. The first time you attend the funeral of someone you love is the first time you realise that the struggle is surreal. The childish belief that life makes sense is smacked out of your hands as if by a bully; and yet we keep on trying to make it make sense. The day of Sam’s funeral was one of the hardest of my life.

And now I was back at his house, wondering whether to go inside…

At length I finally decided that I ought to, and before I could think twice about it I was in the front hall, having found the front door unlocked and ready to swing open at my approach.

The corridor was the same as I remembered as a child, with the faded white skirting board running around bottle green wallpaper, the red tiled floor and the faint smell of barbour jackets emanating from the cupboard under the stairs. I glanced in the sitting room to the left and saw all the same furniture sitting unused, with the warm, wet early summer swinging about through the window outside. There was no sound anywhere. The next door to the left was a study, Sam’s father’s, which was also empty. For a moment I thought to cry ‘Hello?’ up the stairs, but decided against it – at which point I turned into the kitchen, where I found, sitting at the table with a cup of tea in his hand, my dead friend.

I sat down.

Sam looked at me calmly, meeting my presumably astonished features with a warm, quiet recognition of the strangeness of the situation. He stayed silent, letting his eyes drop to his half empty cup of tea. The wind hushed outside.

‘What are you doing here?’ I said.

‘I’m saying goodbye,’ he replied.

I was lost for words.

‘Did you have a choice?’ I stupidly asked.

‘Yes. Of course I did. We all do.’

‘So what –‘ I caught myself – ‘what… I…’

I met his eyes over the table, and was suddenly moved by the most intense desire to cry. I held it back, I think.

‘So what… I mean… Why?’

‘Why?’

‘Why did you do it?’

He looked down again, contemplating the mug. A spatter of rain dusted the window.

‘I don’t think you know what that question means,’ he said. ‘When you’re in the place I was in you don’t think ‘why’. You think ‘how’. Life doesn’t have a value. Your family and friends are nothing. It doesn’t make sense.’ Then, with a strange flicker of humour, he added, ‘But that’s just the thing. I’ve sort of realised that nothing makes sense.’ Now he beamed at me. ‘You know what I mean, don’t you?’

I was stunned like my soul had deserted my body, and too confused to smile back at him.

‘No?’

‘I mean that life doesn’t make sense, so stop trying to apply sense to it!’

I couldn’t think.

‘I just… I don’t get it. What’s happening, Sam? Why are you here? Why am I talking to you?’

‘It doesn’t make sense,’ he repeated. ‘So stop trying to make it.’

‘I don’t know whether I want to carry on.’

‘Why wouldn’t you?’

I stared at him, perhaps even glared at him, though I felt too removed to understand how I might have looked.

‘This conversation doesn’t need to happen,’ he said. ‘I could just go. You won’t need to be troubled by me again.’

‘I can’t stomach it, Sam,’ I heaved. ‘I miss you. Your friends miss you. Your family misses you. You know what happened to them, don’t you?’

‘Yes, I know. They don’t know that I’ve been watching them, but I have been. I know what they’ve been through.’

‘Did it not cross your mind that that would happen?’

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

‘Well, yes. I must have done. I don’t know. I didn’t think.’

Silence once more filled the space between us, a more complete silence. We regarded each other strangely.

‘I don’t know what to ask you,’ I finally said. ‘I suspect we don’t have long.’

Sam shook his head.

‘We don’t.’

‘Then what should I ask you?’

He shrugged with the slightest of smiles you could imagine – but he continued to smile at me, in a way that took me right back to the beginnings of our friendship. The tree branches of our youth shook overhead with the sound of the playground shrieking with joy all around us; Sam was seeing how far up the unclimbable tree he could climb while I and the rest of his friends watched, secretly hoping that, if he didn’t reach the top, then one of us might succeed where he had failed.

‘What was it like?’

Now sincerity returned to his face.

‘At first painful. Then strange. Then peaceful. It was like tripping-‘

I laughed.

‘Trust you to bring tripping into it.’

‘Well it was! It was just like coming up on some powerful psychedelic, like an overdose of LSD… And at first it was scary because I didn’t understand it. But that didn’t last long. In fact, almost immediately, I understood.’

‘Understood what?’

He shrugged.

‘Everything.’

‘You understood everything?’

‘And nothing.’

I laughed again.

‘What does that mean?’

‘You’ll see when it comes!’

‘And are you okay?’

‘Yes. Yes, I’m fine. I’m better now than I’ve ever been before.’

‘What’s it like over there?’

He smirked again.

‘I’m not over there… But it’s beautiful. It’s the most immense beauty you could ever imagine. In fact it’s beyond the imagination. It’s as if all the pretty onenesses of the universe have gathered round you and drawn you out of yourself and into something greater and better… It’s divine. It’s all I could ever have wished for.’

‘I see.’

And I felt like I did see. He was content.

‘I suppose that’s all I need to know then.’

Another pause occurred, in which we continued to observe each other across the kitchen table. Behind him was a chest of drawers, lined on top with photos of his family, and in the middle a photo of him aged eight, dressed in his school uniform, looking in awe into the lens of the camera as if he had never seen anything so gorgeously confusing before. I knew he was eight in that photo, because I was next in the queue to have mine taken.

‘John sends his love. So do Harriet and Miles. In fact so does everyone. I couldn’t think of a soul alive who doesn’t send you their love.’

He nodded and looked down once more.

‘And I send them mine. Forever.’

‘We miss you, Sam. Every day. Every time I wake up and every time I go to sleep, and in all the hours in between, I miss you. Everyone does.’

‘I know.’ A pause. ‘And I would say I miss you too, but the truth is I don’t. Not one bit. You know why that is, don’t you?’

My water-twisted eyes met his in a spate of confusion. I felt like I shook my head.

‘It’s because I never left. It’s because I’m right there with you. Everywhere, all the time. No matter where you go or what you do, no matter if you are thinking of me or not, or whether you hate me for leaving, or whether you’re glad I’m dead, or whether you feel as if the universe is the loneliest place to be – I’m with you. There is no such thing as being alone. I’ll always be there.’

Outside the wind brushed a gentle melody against the window pane, and a triangle of bullfinches whistled into the welcoming blue rain.

‘You have to go now,’ he said. ‘That’s how it works.’

We both paused for a moment as we took it in; then I put my hand on his, and held it there for a second. Then I stood up, and with one final blink in his eye, moved toward the door.

‘Bye, Sam,’ I said. ‘We’ll see each other soon. I’m sure of it.’

And not wanting to wait longer than I needed to, I left immediately. But as soon as I was in the corridor I heard him cry:

‘It’s never the end!’

With a shot of impulse in my chest I turned back, flaming to set my eyes upon him one more time, throwing myself through the kitchen door again to give him one last hug, one final word of connection – and I found him laughing the most beautiful, incredible laugh you could ever hear. It was a profundity beyond the profound… He was wearing exactly the same gorgeous, boyish smile he had all the way through his youth, and in his laugh was everything: there was an epic something added to it, a distinct flavour of everything all at once. He was sitting there laughing at me, laughing and laughing and laughing, and I saw it all of a sudden: because in his laugh was the sky and the ground, the sea and the mountains, the dogs and the lizards, the Mondays and Fridays, the exchange of money in a shop, the mundanity of a cotton skirt, the awe of a starry night, the boredom of a maths lesson, the endlessness of eternity; in his laugh I could hear the first word he ever spoke and the last breath I ever breathed; all and everything, throughout all time and space, from the birth of the stars to the stones beneath our feet; ultimate, wordless, indefinable; all here and now, summed up in the laughter of my friend.

And it was so funny and so perfect that we laughed all the way through the night and into the morning – at which point I blinked, and he was gone.

Review of CellarDoor’s ‘Frankenstein’ @ Bristol Bierkeller

10/05/2017

One senses instinctively with a new theatre company like CellarDoor that the road ahead won’t so much rise to meet them as carry them right up into the heights of theatre making. With their production of Nick Dear’s ‘Frankenstein’ being only their second ever show – their first sparkling feature being ‘Corpse Bride’ back in January – they are very much taking the first steps of the journey, albeit not in the least bit tentatively. In fact they’re soaring into it with a confidence usually found only in experienced theatre makers, which, at the rate they are currently hurtling, they will soon be.

The latest in their series of Gothic thrillers is an unabashed success, the kind of show student theatre should always aim to be. Dark, lugubrious and electrifying, the audience at the ideally grim Bierkeller was treated to an evening of absorbing and highly intelligent theatre.

Unlike a lot of student theatre, which often dwells in its uncertainty and fails to push into higher gears, the grand intentions of the piece were both presented and met instantly with the opening sequence: Thomy Lawson as the freshly ‘born’ Monster, encountering sentience for the first time. That director Teja Boocock had confidence in her cast was beyond evident. The first five minutes of the play – crucial for seizing the audience’s attention – is spent entirely on the Monster learning how to move. From being splayed out on the floor, with suitable grunts and groans, Lawson slowly brings her Monster to life, sliding and falling about the stage until finally, after a considerable solo sequence, she is on her feet and staring into the face of a disbelieving Frankenstein (Niall Potter).

Boocock’s confidence paid off: the audience were entranced by Lawson’s dedication, and indeed as the play went on it was her development of the Monster, from grunting newborn to almost eloquent philosophiser, that was the centre of attention. There was never a moment in which she seemed to lose sight of the character’s development, and it felt like there was something new added in each scene: never too much and never too little.

And matching Lawson’s masterful performance was a cast as talented as Bristol could hope for. Peter Borsada, for instance, puts in a charming and delightful performance as Delacey, the blind man who unwittingly befriends the Monster. He delivers the ideal amount of kindness and trust to inspire poignancy in his character, providing the perfect crux for the audience’s understanding of the Monster to sprout from. And this chemistry is continued with Niall Potter’s Victor, a pugnacious, fiercely intelligent rendering of the classic victim of his own genius. He strides about the stage with intent and purpose, hitting the line between intellectual confidence and emotional disturbance with a studied ease, let loose on the stage by Boocock’s detailed and trusting direction. He is supplemented pointedly by the likes of Sophie Stemmons’s Elizabeth and Aaran Sinclair’s father Frankenstein, in an ensemble that feels constantly natural and organic.

And to further complement this is a beautiful aesthetic to underscore the story, with a violinist and flautist appearing at sporadic moments throughout to match the melancholic lighting and ambient sounds. Through this coming together of acting talent and aesthetic intelligence, the themes of the awareness of one’s own consciousness, the complications of creation and the search for connection are displayed perfectly, so much so that the play is ultimately perfectly depressing and simply scintillating.

Boocock and co. have certainly laid a statement of intent in the last five months since their debut show, and one wonders how long it will be before they produce something truly spectacular. Although, with that said, when it comes to giving this show a star rating it is hard to know what to mark it down for. If there were any failings they were not in the slightest bit obvious; and given the ‘student’ status of the show, this is all the more impressive.

With all things considered, it therefore makes sense to give this show five stars.

*****

‘Mack And Mabel’ Saturday Night Review

Dear Cast and Crew of Mack And Mabel,

Imagine this if you can: your friends have been planning an amazing dinner for some months. It’s going to be fish of some kind, maybe haddock or plaice, with some rumours saying it might even be something really glamorous like king salmon. Their descriptions of it are mouth-watering: you simply can’t wait to get down there and dig in, such is the excitement they’ve kicked up about it.

But then you turn up and, not only is the dinner not cooked, the fish is still in the goddamn sea.

That’s what seeing ‘Mack And Mabel’ was like on Wednesday night. It was not just undercooked, it was like watching the fishermen trying to find out where the fish was (the fish is a metaphor for the script – I might drop the analogy now). As such my review was average.

So it’s with genuine delight that I can say you really showed me what for on Saturday. I came back suspecting you might turn the ship around, and you more than did that. Where previously you were slow, half-hearted and uncertain, you were now exploding with energy, never leaving the audience a moment to collect its breath before shooting for the next line, scene or dance move. The funny moments were funnier, the sad moments were sadder, the dancing was slick and precise, the relationships were believable, the acting was unbelievable (as it were) and the show, overall, was outstanding.

I have never seen a show get so much better in such a short amount of time. In fact I find it hard to believe Wednesday was part of the same production.

I also find it hard to believe I was watching the same actor play Mack Sennett. James Stevens frankly put my words to shame; all of a sudden he was big, bold and confident, throwing the emotion he needed into every line and being more than the monomaniac Mack is supposed to be. I am not being disingenuous when I say I was astounded; and maybe a little bit red faced about the fact that at least some of it was one almighty middle finger to doubters like me. Again, I’ve never seen a performance turn around so hard and so fast.

The reason I’m compelled to write this, by the way, is not in the slightest bit to apologise. My first review was still positive – it was still three stars – but it suffered because you were clearly unready. I’m writing it because the way you turned it around was utterly remarkable. As your friend, as a critic, as a fellow musical lover and so on, I wanted you guys to knock my socks off the way I knew you could. And you did – and you obviously loved doing it!

Of course the flaws were still there, but they didn’t matter as much. They were all to do with the script rather than your performance.

So congratulations to all of you. You smashed it.

4 Stars.

Letter To An Ex Lover

Fiction

Dear M,

If one day I came back to my house and found a letter under my door from you, I would be extremely surprised. There are two reasons why: the first is because I don’t think you would remember who I am; and the second because I imagine that’s the kind of thing you would only do if you were in love with someone.

And I’m sure that these are the two things that surprise you about this letter. I’m probably no more than the latest memory to you by now, or like when you’re waiting for paint to dry in a new house and there’s still one spot that smells wet after all the rest is done. Sooner or later it will all have blended into one colour. But nonetheless, I wanted to write something to you anyway; or not necessarily to you, but about you. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, and if you do it might be a long time in the future – and if that happens, then I hope by then you are better than you are now, and able to understand why I might have written this.

It’s been a few months now since the last time we saw each other, and time has been moving strangely with every day that’s passed. Sometimes it’s fast and I don’t notice it because the vista of work, friends and distractions is as active as passion; sometimes, at my desk, at night and through the day, it passes slowly because it’s intertwined with thoughts of you. You slow time down. Despite my strength, I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. I don’t want to – I vigorously, virulently don’t want to – but control seems to have left me and I’m at the mercy of my thoughts.

I think you might not remember the night we met. I wondered who the hell you were. What I remember is there was a blank screen around me, and you came spinning out of it like a drunk whirlwind, and I found it incredibly funny; hence why we were laughing when we first kissed. I hadn’t the faintest idea who you were, and you certainly couldn’t have known who I was; there was the lost wave of a hand reaching out from the darkness, somewhere in between the flashing lights and sounds, and I came over to ask if I knew who you were. The rest is the sort of thing that ought to be thrown to the dustbin of history. But, still, it was very funny – although you and I could both have been anyone.

I have to confess that I didn’t know your name until the next morning, which is quite something given that we were lying awake in your bed from 7am til 1. It took until I met your housemates later to finally figure it out – I wasn’t exactly about to ask you what your name was after waking up with you. Our meeting was such a clash of drunken idiocy and hilarity that trivialities like names just didn’t need to matter. And, to be honest, I didn’t need to know who you were; I took a thrill out of watching this anonymous girl lie naked next to me and laugh at all the things I found funny, go wherever the conversation wanted to go, and tell me whatever she wanted without particularly seeming to care. Your name was just a useful prefix I could use to describe the phenomenon that was this girl – it was a symbol that was hilariously divorced from the reality. Meeting you felt a lot like I had just found a crystal in a great block of stone; a place where no crystal ought to have been found.

I of course did all those idiotic things that men do: I asked myself all the selfish questions about what you might mean to me, whether we might end in a relationship, whether you would meet my parents, fall in love, and whether this sudden, erratic image of us sitting under a torn canvas dusk sky would ever come true. My mind asked the question about whether you would make me better than I am by loving me, and I was happy to let it ask that question because it was fun. Aged twenty-two, lying in the bed of a beautiful girl I had just met, there was no reason why I should have stopped myself. That at least is what most people would tell themselves, and as I keep realising, I was happy to be most people because the narrative is so tempting.

It was all such a spin of reality that I took it entirely in my stride when you told me you had once tried to kill yourself. You must have looked for a way to mention it, and you found it. The truth is I was so overcome by my own masculinity that this sort of thing seemed to weave itself into the story as ‘the complication’, another root in the founding of this fantastic new thing. You flicked it into the conversation like drips of water, and I treated it just as trivially. ‘I get it,’ I thought, ‘she has depression.’ And then, inevitably: ‘Don’t get involved.’

I want to stop writing now – but I won’t. All I’m thinking about is your hand fitted like a charm on my neck, which is where you put it after I turned away to try and fall asleep again, and failed.

Your housemate in the kitchen gave me a ‘good morning’ I gave back to her, before she dropped her phone on the floor. When she looked up again she threw a sniggerish look at you, but you’d already turned away. You didn’t connect; and that for me is what it was about you.

You know I realised precisely what you were very, very quickly. I could sum it up in a handful of words. You are one of those unfortunate people who was born, started growing up, and didn’t know what to do about it. You’re an abstract noun, a walking overdose, a single deceit of indecent fantasies; you are one of life’s sufferers, who clings desperately to everything they possibly can and receives less and less of the world’s charms with every thing that slips out of their grasp; you’re a dying beauty, but one who only cares about the dying, and forgets about the beauty.

When we were lying in bed I was thinking whatever the hell a twenty-two year old man is supposed to think. You, however, were staring as if your youth was drifting up through the ceiling, and out of reach.

The next three weeks were an ungodly hurricane that visit me like a sudden hammer at all times of day and night. The intensity and vivacity of it were outright terrifying, but it was like a drug that scares you on the way to a high; and if I wanted to top myself, I knew exactly where to find you.

I’ve managed to stop reconstructing the order of events and the way in which they happened now, I’m glad to say. But not for a minute does that mean they are gone from my memory. I remember in painful, outstanding detail things like what you were wearing outside that pub, the kick of your mind darting about in the kitchen, the precise way you looked at me when you invited me through your door, and all the normal sort of things that haunt a mind that’s been detached from its obsession. It’s all big and it’s all small, but, Goddamn it, M, it’s all you!

The walking back to yours in the early hours, my reading you a story in my room, the story we made up about the man in Brazil, the delight of a blue winter sky, your putting your hand on mine when I didn’t expect it, and the glances I had to make when I caught your face from a distance and was alarmed at how stunning it looked. All these are the normal things I try to keep out until the energy runs out and all I can do is indulge completely in their poison.

And then there was the meeting your parents, with whom I fell instantly in love, and the books we haphazardly exchanged, and the fact I was in your family home and peering like a stranger into the world that you really inhabit, and into which I do not fit. That visit was a dip in the abstract. I realised then I was somewhere beyond the rabbit hole.

At some God-forbidden railway station the day before New Year’s Eve, I called one of my loveliest friends and told them I was worried I was about to fall in love with something very, very bad. I’d realised it by then; all the necessary signs had been seen and the panic had risen adequately enough. It was one of those moments where the creeping feeling had ceased to creep and had instead grasped your heart, and you’d just realised the blood had stopped circulating.

It frustrates me that, again and again, I find myself terrified of the person I might be falling in love with. I’m like a bowling pin that always falls down the same gutter, always attracting sirens like you: and it frustrates me that I realised it so early and yet still allowed it to happen. It was in the way you didn’t take a real interest in me, how you never asked what my family was like or endeavoured to meet my friends, never asked any of the searching questions I was so inclined to ask you. Of course you knew how to ask questions like what I want to do in the future, the sort that create a bridge beyond a superficial kind of understanding that you then failed to cross. It was in the way you’d fly to me from the other side of the street, your eyes intensely on fire and your whole body showering itself on my delight, all your attention thrown catastrophically at one thing, and then in the next moment thrown in entirely the other direction. That is why men become obsessed with you: because you concentrate on them as if they are the only thing in the world you could possibly ever want, then in a split second you’re gone, throwing your love at someone else. You incite jealousy and you know it.

‘Complicated’ is something you believe yourself to be rather than what you are. In reality you are devastatingly simple. You are a weather vane that is spinning so hard it will come off its hinges. I, however, am the weather vane that always points North, no matter which way the wind is blowing.

How misogynistic of me to detail the pains of your femininity this way. But I’m writing it out because my heart can’t keep beating at half power; and you of all people ought to know what it feels like to be half alive.

It’s all over now anyway. The silent might of time has seen to that. And as much as I might wish something different had happened, the universe has played us out, and we’re both in different places now.

And you start to know it’s over when suddenly there is only the empty street before you, full of people, but empty of the one person who matters. That’s what heartbreak feels like: like all the lovely things of the world have broken away from their rightful places and focussed themselves on one person. Even the most gorgeous friendship seems to ebb slowly next to the flood that you seemed to bring. The weeks after it ended were hell.

And what really bothered me was how you feared the future, your terror of getting old and dying. It’s a fear I share, you know, not that you ever heard me say it. The difference is that I know the way out.

I have this vision, sometimes, when I’m falling asleep: I can imagine your face, handsome and impassive, peering out of some future crowd and seeing me, and, just for a brief second, you think – ‘Did I make a mistake?’ Then the mind gives way and the all the memories of what we did cascade like a river through you, and in an instant you think: ‘No.’

And that’s as it is. I can imagine your future, and I want no part in it.

Go back to the city, find a boyfriend; throw yourself through all sorts of orgastic delights, every manner of sexual experience under the sun; make men and women seethe with passion for your sex; get a career, have children, resent the comfortable life you’ve given them; stare at the same moon every night and wonder if you ever saw it differently; go to the seaside and start to feel the cocoon suffocate. Because it will start to suffocate. You can already feel it, brushing on the outermost edges of your skin; you’ve already felt the panic, the depressive slam; you’ve already tried to kill yourself.

And the real tragedy here is that no one ever taught you, nor anyone else, how to love.

Real love is when you have love to give yourself. Once you have that – once you’ve silenced the little spot of panic – once the depressive slam has been cleaned from the heavy parts of your head – then you can become what you really are. Until that happens the cocoon you find yourself in will continue to strangle you, and you can’t rely on it to stop.

I’ve deleted all your texts because they keep asking me to remember. Your books are gone, and good riddance. The only thing left is to strip off the wallpaper of memory; I want nothing but an empty room there, at the end of one story and ready for the next to begin.

It might seem that experiences like you happen for a reason, but they don’t. It’s all in the gorgeous swirl, the beating and parting of past and future, swimming like danger all over the world; and no matter how much it seems to push forwards, it always comes back; all of it, always, forever, leading back to you.

I’m sorry I wrote this. I love you.

         X

Hugh Kip Nimbly Ducks Pub Scrap

Satirical column for ‘The Whip’, December 2016

Sometimes, my fellow patriots, a man’s undying love for his country gets in the way of the most quotidian of quotes. Just the other day I was fulfilling my quota of Friday night pints in my local watering hole (pub), when the barmaid came over to me and my fellow patriot Dennis De St-Denis (General Secretary of the UKIP Gentleman’s Parlour) and enquired as to whether we should enjoy another.

‘As long as it’s brewed in Blighty!’ piped Dennis, at which point we all laughed and the barmaid brought him another pint of Amstel.

I, on the other hand, was feeling utterly fatigued from a tough day of canvassing (though I’m glad to report that the UKIP canvas telling illegal migrants not to contribute to our economy is now up and flapping beside the North Circular). I had been on the soft alcohol all evening, and it was starting to play with my usually astute head. My dear patriots, it is with great shame that I admit that Hugh Kip, for the first time in his long beer career, let alcohol get the worst of him.

‘I’ll have a soft Brexit please,’ I said.

The watering hole (pub) fell silent. Everyone was staring at me. Even old Fred, famously shocked by nothing since the first boat of Jamaicans arrived in 1948, was open-mouthed like someone had just said ‘Diwali’. The silence was as eery as the Muslim ghettos in Birmingham reported by Fox News.

I suddenly realised the gaffe I’d just gaffed, and knew I’d have to face saving face.

‘Only joking!’ I cried. ‘I’ll have a pint of London Pride, and a full withdrawal from the EU Customs Union!’

The pub (watering hole) roared with approval.

‘Free Guinness for everyone!’ announced the barmaid in celebration, ‘While we can still get it over the border!’

I laughed and told her to get a longer skirt otherwise people will think she’s Romanian.

As you can see, my fellow patriots, it’s never a quiet day in the UKIP ranks. Nevertheless, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas, with lots of British-sourced Christmas pud and an extra serving of Christian backlash on top!

Hugh Kip

UKIP Media Attention Skyrockets

Satirical column for ‘The Whip’, November 2016

My fellow patriots, it’s finally happened! In a true turn up for the proverbial books, UKIP will have some rudimentary media coverage!

This is totally unprecedented. The liberal elite rulers of this now great nation have never given We The People (WTP) a voice, even though a recent survey found that a statistical group of actual people support UKIP. It is about time we stuck up for The Little Guy (TLG), because We Want Our Country Back (WWOCB)!

Now let’s be absolutely clear about this. UKIP has never been represented in the media because the metropolitan liberal educated cosmopolitan sneering elite Establishment Neapolitan avocado hug-a-Hungarian-and-a-frappucino types have never given us a voice. UKIP has never been properly represented in the media. Nigel Farage makes this point every week in his columns for the Express and the Independent, and the last 30 times he’s been on Question Time David Dimbleby has picked questions from people biased against UKIP. It’s classic BBC libtard prejudice. There’s even a report that they pack Question Time audiences full of lefties (I’ll link you it when it gets made).

It’s about time the metrolites heard the voice of TLG (The Little Guy). It’s about time that we had some Real Facts (RF) and Myth Busting (MB) in our national debate, rather than the sneering sneers of BBC sneerers who won’t even let UKIP supporters into Broadcasting House.

Just last week, for example, I was having a coffee in one of the Broadcasting House kitchens, when a well-known BBC journalist walked in. I immediately gave him some RF: I said a point he’d made on immigration last night was wrong, and informed him that immigrants actually drain our economy by claiming benefits rather than working. Just like all the cosmoliberals, this man was so prejudiced that he gave me a report saying immigrants make a net contribution to the economy – and he had the cheek to prove it with facts!

I mean, you can prove anything with facts, can’t you?

This is the problem, my dear UKIP-ites: for too long this country has been ruled by people with no grip of reality. They simply don’t understand the pressure immigrant families put on our pavements if they’re overweight – (which all of them are. It’s FAcT). They simply don’t understand that our primary schools are full of Eastern Europeans, that our stomachs are full of Polish mystery meat, and that the country is full of immigrants!

Is it a coincidence that ‘liberal’ almost rhymes with ‘evil’? I think not.

And just to be clear, I’m not a racist. As if. One of my best mates is a Pole. He cleans my house every Tuesday. I think his name is Frederic.

So here’s to us, my fellow patriots, as finally UKIP gets its chance to voice its opinions in the media! Check in every week for some RF and MB, because WWOCB 4 TLG!

Hugh Kip

 

 

Political Selfishness And Why We Should All Be Feminists

Calling yourself a feminist if you’re not a woman seems odd to some people. It can seem even more odd if you’re male, white, straight and middle class, the only members of society not to fit into an identity movement and therefore the ones least expected to support an identity movement. To the minds of some, calling yourself a feminist if you’re not a woman is a denial of truth, because to them ‘self’ (or ‘selfishness’) and ‘other’ are two entirely separate things that do not correlate. What other people do has nothing to do with you, and vice versa. Therefore to claim that you care for other people, such as through the lens of feminism, is a denial of your inherent selfishness, which neither cares for nor so much as coincides with others.

We live in an age of selfish individualism, made to believe that ‘vice is a virtue’ and sheer egotism is the only ‘genuine’ way to live. It might therefore seem logical for the dominant male class to dislike feminism, because we’ve had it drilled into us that human beings want nothing but power for themselves. We have been told that helping others is not only wrong, but unnatural: hence the prevalence of Richard Dawkins’ ‘The Selfish Gene’ in modern political discourse.

So why should I, as a member of the straight, white, male middle classes, call myself a feminist? Is it because I’m an egotist wanting to pose as a social justice warrior? Or because I can’t see that all feminists are man-hating fanatics? Or is it because I am genuinely selfless?

The answer, funnily enough, is the precise opposite of all these things. I am a feminist because I am selfish.

What we do not acknowledge in political conversations about human nature is that there are two kinds of selfishness: selfish selfishness and selfless selfishness. The first kind tends to attract people who believe that human behaviour is determined mostly from birth – biological determinists, those who favour nature over nurture. It results naturally from believing that the environment we’re born into is largely irrelevant, because human nature is innate and our behaviour unchangeable. As such it makes sense to only be concerned with yourself because other people cannot be altered by what goes on around them. ‘Best just to leave them alone – trying to help will only weigh you down.’

Selfless selfishness, on the other hand, is the kind that understands that human relationships are inter-relational; that is to say that the way one person behaves to another will condition the way they behave back. If, for example, I am dismissive and condescending to you all the time, you will probably get angry at me and we will have a bad relationship. But if I am always considerate, making sure that you are as happy as you can be, chances are you will do the same back to me and we will both benefit from the relationship.

This is the basis for my being a feminist: that what I am involves what you are. If I look after you then you will look after me, because my happiness is your happiness.

It is plainly obvious that we live in a world in which women and minorities are second-class citizens while the white, male middle classes work a system that was designed for them. Most women experience some form of harassment on a weekly or often daily basis; they often find themselves being talked over, being paid less and, at the extreme end, being victim-blamed for crimes like rape. They face a media onslaught about how they ought to look, how they ought to behave and how they ought to treat men. Mentalhealth.org says women are more likely than men to have a mental health disorder, and twice as likely to suffer from anxiety.

And the thing is of course that men suffer from many of the same things. Body image issues, mental illness, sexual violence and the immense pressure to ‘man up’ and not address your emotions are all linked to how we see ourselves as men. And these gender problems are not separate. Masculinity and femininity are two halves of the same whole: if you want to change one then you have to change both.

So on the emotional level we can see that it makes sense for you to help out the other gender. But, vitally, it also makes sense on the economic and political level.

In a report entitled ‘Women, Work and the Economy’, the IMF pointed out that gender inequality in the workplace is losing countries money. It claims that closing gender gaps in the labour market would earn the USA an annual extra 5% in GDP, the UAE another 12%, and Egypt a whole 34%. Business In The Community reports that companies in all sectors with the most women on their boards significantly and consistently outperform those with fewer. Similarly, the International Finance Corporation found that better employment for women can contribute to increased productivity and profitability. From there, with more income and financial independence, women can also increase household spending.

And, on the political level, having more women in government will not only come closer to achieving actual representative democracy, but female politicians often prioritise issues that can be overlooked by their male counterparts, which in turn can lead to broader political debate.

The evidence that it is in all our interests to invest in women, the poor and ethnic, sexual and cultural minorities is extremely compelling. It is stone-cold logical for men to be invested in women’s issues because it will solve our problems as well, and exactly the same goes for class, sexuality, race and every other social category under the sun. They all carry their own problems and those problems affect all of us; therefore, if we want to solve our own problems, we must help others solve theirs.

If we want to live in a more efficient, productive and happy society, we need to invest both financially and emotionally in one another. We do not do that through inequality and self-interest; we do it through equality and giving to other people.

The principle is clear: the more you give away, the more you receive.