Greetings all you wonderful Lobsterites.
I’ve a lovely new blog over at http://fletchski.wordpress.com Why don’t you pop over and have a look at all the stuff I’ve been up to lately?
Greetings all you wonderful Lobsterites.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.
They say that everyone can remember where they were the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22nd 1963, exactly fifty years ago to the day as I write. I can’t. I wasn’t born until November 1967. I’ve come to question even that fact, following the amount of coverage that has been given to this historic event over the last few days. Perhaps I was there? I seem to know so much about it. Was I filming on a shaky colour home-movie camera? I’ve seen so much footage of the President’s head exploding, then imploding, pausing and then exploding again, forward and reverse in frame by bloody frame. I know the layout of Dealey Plaza, how long Oswald had been working at the Texas School Book Depository, the model of the rifle, the angle of the grassy knoll, the name of the club that Jack Ruby ran and I can almost taste the dirt as I hit the ground as the President’s cavalcade makes its pointless dash to Parklands Memorial Hospital. 50 years ago to the minute, as I write.
Of course I wasn’t there. I wasn’t anywhere in 1963. But here, now, today, I seem to be surrounded by conspiracy theorists that the internet has incubated and spawned, insulated from the infection of reasoning, evidence and truth. Bearded weirdies sitting in ill-lit bedsits, attempting to converse with reality by moulding their own. I generalise, of course, but how else could I use my joke that none of these hairy truth-tainters possess an Occam’s razor between them?!
It’s a natural human phenomenon to wonder what multiple machinations are behind the events that shape all of our lives. Princess Diana could not have been killed in something as stupid as a car crash by a drunken driver, could she? A few young fanatically-deluded and religiously-opposed men could surely not bring the West to a halt by flying airplanes into skyscrapers? But she was and they did.
We do not process mass bad news very well at all. We look for the most complex and involved theories to explain the most public of tragedies. Contrived dark forces somehow absolve society of any responsibility for any of these events. It wasn’t us that hounded Princess Di to death with our insatiable need for her picture, chased by the ‘paps’ and driven by a drunk. It was dotty old Prince Phillip and the secret service who ordered her death. Dark forces we know nothing about. So much more convenient. America wasn’t penetrated by seriously sick and deluded men intent on making their mark. It was all George Bush and Bin Laden’s families quest for oil. To imagine 17 men wreaking that much havoc on the strongest country in the world is just too scary for most. You get the idea.
It’s safe to say that there will be plenty more Kennedy programmes this weekend marking his passing. And so there should be. Please share a thought for Officer J.D.Tippitt. No matter what the conspiracy theorists argue about Oswald’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination, Tippitt was shot dead just minutes after Kennedy, by Oswald, as he fled the scene.
It seems that there is no conspiracy theory linking Officer Tippitt’s untimely death. It’s just a coincidence, I’m sure, that his death does not affect a nation nor a world.
Kidcobbler, Grassy Knoll, Dallas, Texas
All of the science fiction books I have ever read have taught me that we all have doppelgangers. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi books and maybe should read ones that don’t mention doppelgangers. However, the story of us all having a double that somehow lives a parallel life to ours is one that interests me. That, and time machines, but that’s for another blog. Maybe that person takes the risks in life that we are too afraid to make, maybe their grass is really greener and maybe their hair is not greying rapidly and their reading spectacles are not defunct after six months, not upgraded to the next strength as the written word seems to be moving farther away from their eyes. Maybe. Maybe not.
I was sitting in a library one day, flicking through books in the reference section. It was before the internet had taken over the world and I was doing some hard-copy study on a long-forgotten project but I was about to encounter my grandfather’s doppelganger. My pap, a quaint Northampton term for grandfather that, to my knowledge, has failed to root itself anywhere else in the world, was still alive but an old man. I was in the Northampton Central Library, a wonderful Victorian building that has nearly as much wood and marble as it has books, and it has a lot of books. I was stumped, or bored, probably both. I wandered through the hallowed aisles and found myself at the Sports Section. I was drawn to a history of Scottish Football. I am half-Scottish, love football and history and took the book to a reading desk. I flicked through the glossy pages and black and white pictures of long-dead Scotsmen, images of granite men with granite stares and thick slicked hair. Their doppelgangers would be the miners of the Lanarkshire coal fields or the Dockers hewn from the Cambuslang Clydeside steelworks. Looking imperiously from the past, they dared me to smell their strong liniment and hear their stronger accents. Lost in the past I was suddenly thrown back into the present. There, stuck in the pages of the book, was my Pap Kerr – looking a few years younger than he did at the time but unmistakably him. Confusion took over from shock. The old picture was from Glasgow Rangers 1929-30 all-conquering season. My Pap Kerr would’ve been nine in 1930, but here he was, a man of 35 maybe, staring at me, daring my brain to swivel around in my head. It obliged. It had barely stopped swivelling when I glanced at the team line-up and saw J.Kerr (Trainer) listed as the smart-dressed man in the top left of the picture. I think the modern day equivalent would be to text WTF? I mouthed the words of the acronym, anyway.
I returned to my pap’s bungalow with a photocopy of the picture. He would answer all my questions. He was my pap. This guy not only looked just like him, no, exactly like him, but he had our surname. Now I knew it wouldn’t be his father as Kerr was his mother’s maiden name, my pap being her illegitimate son, born in 1921 on her 21st birthday as if to rub salt into a societal wound. I didn’t and still don’t know the identity of my paternal great-grandfather. For a man who loves the reference section of libraries, who now spends hours on the internet entertaining himself with obscure facts, trivia and knowledge, this was anathema to me. I had to know who this man was.
“Well, bugger I,” was my pap’s only response.
Disappointing to say the least. I loved him too much to push him on what was a painful childhood that had spawned a rueful and reflective grandfather. I had a hundred questions I wanted to fire at him but kept my powder dry. Not the first illegitimate child ever to grace a family but this one was my pap. I kept my counsel and he sadly died a few years later.
With the advent of the internet this picture popped up on my screen many years later. The men in the line-up were now younger than me, including, J.Kerr (Trainer). Many hours of investigation into my family tree have so far been unable to pick this fruit. It hangs in front of me waiting to harvest. The same surname, the same geographical location, the exact features. I simply have nothing to link him to us.
Why should it matter? I suppose it doesn’t really. Pap Kerr and J.Kerr (Trainer) are both long gone and exist only in glossy picture histories, photo albums and family reminiscences. Whilst not strictly doppelgangers they do fulfil the criteria of exact doubles leading separate lives, though their timelines are slightly out of kilter. Maybe that time machine I mentioned for another blog would come in fairly handy right now!
My father was an excellent footballer who played semi-professionally, me a mere gifted amateur, my boys more X-Box than X-rated tackle. It seems that if we are related to the Rangers trainer in their all-conquering 1929-30 season then the family tree has been severely pruned.
One interesting fact did come up from my internet search. Patsy Gallacher, Irish and Glasgow Celtic footballing legend of the 1920’s (pap of Kevin Gallacher, ex-Blackburn Rovers, all you footy lovers) had some of his medals sold at auction about 10 years ago. One of them, a Scottish Cup Winners medal, won in 1923, was gifted to one J.Kerr (Trainer) for Gallacher’s appreciation in Kerr’s help in recovering from a severe leg injury. I like the fact that the fiercely Catholic and Protestant clubs were at least exchanging gifts and goodwill in a time that I have been brought up to believe consisted of nothing more than knife fights and bile. Of course I know only the story behind the medal, little else of J.Kerr (Trainer), save for a black and white photo which still makes me wonder and smile. I like the fact that he was a coach, still teaching after all these years.
Hi All – my old friend asked a few of the gang to chip in on his commendable blog, and though we’re risking a tower of Babel with a lot of differing views a couple of us have taken it up. A little background – I’m a scientist from a large English market town, which is to say hell. I wasn’t always a scientist, and I no longer live in hell, though I’m assured by many in my adopted country that hell is to be my final port of call. I was asked to give some perspective on things that can only be seen in detail from far away. If your eyeball is touching the ceiling, you’re probably not going to enjoy the Sistine Chapel. Turns out that achieving sufficient separation to get the space station view is more difficult than I thought, with each and every experience different for given observers. So I thought I’d loosely define this observer then take you where he’s been without drawing any conclusions, we’re all capable of that or we wouldn’t be bothered reading anything other than tabloids. I’d like to do this in three short snapshots – The beginning, the middle, and how I think it might end. And here’s the beginning.
It was at Ben’s house that I first learned I was subhuman. I was maybe seven years old. Ben and I had been friends for maybe a seventh of our lives, My people were always awkward when other kids played at my house but I thought that was just a space invasion thing. Many old school working class people were not big on having “strangers” (i.e. non family) in the house. What other reason for the hostility could there be?
It was at my friend’s house that I first felt condescension, and it felt bad. I can’t quite define how, but I knew they were better than me. It knotted up my stomach. Not that such a puckered up, tight assed bunch such as that family could ever have taken me for a ride. I was too smart. They talked in ciphers they thought above me . I grinned, took the patronizing “It’s probably time you went home now, your parents will be worried” as if it were a caring phrase and not the dismissal I knew it to be. I imagined them disinfecting him after I left.
I understood from that single phrase that they felt their son should have better friends, that I was an unfortunate toward whom they’d probably have felt charitable had I not been within touching distance of their life. But I was, and long before there was an unfriend button they pushed it. My it stung, and I never forgot it. It became pretty clear that Ben was told to stay away from me, that I was bad news.
This is the English class system in full effect. This is an often misunderstood mechanism of castes. There are millions of ‘untouchable’ sink estate kids, mostly white but speaking in Jamaican patois even though they’ve never been south of Mansfield. That’s cool, they’ve been betrayed by their parents, are disenfranchised at the lack of opportunity offered to them and believe they have nothing to lose. And then there are hundreds of thousands of old Etonians. These, the children of massive privilege, don’t rankle me either. The ones I’ve met have been truly grateful at their luck and realize but for accidents of birth it could all be very different. It’s those millions in the middle who possess that meso lack of grace. In my experience it’s this huge class of also-rans who drop the hammer at any given opportunity. These are the people who want to live in Chipping Norton and discuss “motor-sport” With Jeremy Clarkson.
How beastly is the bourgeois indeed.
This isn’t some chip-on-shoulder politics of envy thing. I was raised with the idea that it’s OK to make money, and if you can, to give as little away as possible in the way of taxes and look after number one – a born O.G. Conservative if you like. Raised by my grandparents, I’ll never forget the old man telling me about being smuggled out of France seven weeks after Dunkirk and being sent to the East End docks to load munitions. The dockers were striking for danger money, which the boys with their entrails frothing pink in the surf wouldn’t be getting. The returning soldiers broke the strike and he never paid a union due again.
All this to say, I couldn’t be more English. The nuances which come as accessories to the nationality have to be learned, and learned fast if you’re going to do anything. My expectations were painter and decorator at best. The poverty of ambition had to be experienced to be believed. Most of my family were staunch, sincere socialists (which didn’t stop them stealing enough building materials to add new wings to their newly acquired ex council houses) and growing up I kept my opinions and increasing political disaffection and apparent apathy to myself. Brand articulated part of what I felt quite well when he eviscerated the idiot Paxman a while ago.
A wonderful primary school teacher named Mr. Brooks at Gladstone lower school saw something in me that no one else did. I think that’s a talent of itself. That man helped shape my life. He showed me that things were out there for those who wanted to do them, demonstrated to me that I was smart enough to do most of those things and best of all, took me out of class to let me play with batteries and circuit diagrams all day. My first day at middle school put me in the class of a wonderful young woman who’s name escapes me, and I should be ashamed at this. The beautiful educator brought me books from her home library and let me read them in lessons. These deviant curricula again taught me so much that I shouldn’t have known at that age. Between these two marvelous teachers I got to read Animal Farm and Of Mice and Men years before these works were supposed to be accessible. In fact, my entire education passed without reference to Orwell, Steinbeck, Camus or Peter Benchley after that.
So I got more from two years of education between ages 9-11 than I gained until I entered the tertiary system aged 26. This was about the time I began to feel deeply disenfranchised, and I put everything I had in the middle and gambled. Colleagues at work would ask me “why are you doing your A levels now?” – a question which would never be asked in my adopted country. The derision and tacit hopes for flat failure were plain to see. There was no encouragement from anyone, anywhere, barring my far off parents, who I’m sure failed to see how I was going to get a chemistry degree after failing every ‘O’ Level I’d taken. I’m sure my marks would have been better in high school had I not set fire to the papers, or written “I love you” in answer to each question, even the essays.
I got to the party too late for a “free at the point of use” education but i did the research, found that chemistry grads had the best opportunities, I got that A level after two years of slogging up and down to Booth Lane college rain or shine after work. I enrolled at a new university on a chemistry HND program. worked my arse off and transferred to the second year of the four year degree program. Still, on going home I heard the laughter behind me, loudest from my family who felt that painter and decorator should have been my mark all along.
Still the smirking continued as I cleaned toilets, washed up at hospitals, emptied dog shit bins in the city parks and a host of other nefarious jobs in order to pay the rent and avoid the worst excesses of debt. Nuclear physics 2.2 at 3pm, cleaning Leicester City Council offices at 5. But things were changing. Some of the people I was working beside had the same kind of drive. They wanted something better, for themselves, for their children.
And we worked.
The day the final results were posted ranks up with the best of my life. I’d expected to scrape something, and began making deals with a god I didn’t believe in on my way up the stairs in the Victorian building housing the science faculty. There are no atheists in fox holes or at final exam notice boards. Careful not to bump in to anyone with my landscape gardening clothes muddy and wet I negotiated the crowds of people, hustling around the notice board like sailors trying to get a drink on their first landfall in a year. Eyes all over, scanning for your name.
2:i, BSc (hons) Chemistry
I had bought my ticket. Now it was down to the lottery,
After a happy (though though less than financially rewarding) couple of years in my first real job I learned to allow my energy free reign while withholding many of the negatives which usually accompany that kind of scattershot vim. This was noted by people I didn’t know were noting things, and I managed to gain a reputation as a prolific, if easily distracted,, researcher.
My career progressed as a spectroscopist (my particular specialty in physical chemistry) and once a reputation begins to snowball it’s difficult to stop. So when I found myself homeless and unemployed due to a failed gamble on a job in Italy all the old fears returned. The voices.
You really thought this would work?
You’re trying to be something you’re not.
You’ve been sussed.
You’re just another punter
But that’s not the truth. The truth is that sometimes you really do have to stoop down and rebuild your life’s work with worn out tools. I lived on a friend’s sofa for 3 months, chasing down job after job after job, No dice. But despite the disadvantages inherent in my position I had an ace in the hole, and it was a big one.
There have noticed a few changes here but don’t worry everything is Hunky Dory…
Greetings Lobsterites, (if anyone has a better name for followers of this blog then please let me know,)
I thought I’d better get in touch with you all and let you know of some exciting changes here at Here Come The Lobsters.
You will hope fully have noticed that I’ve set up a new blog focused solely on my writing activities, (which you can find here.) This was due to the need to present myself more professionally as a writer and to not slide off at wonderful tangents, which left Here comes the lobsters in danger of becoming somewhat redundant.
I’ve enjoyed blogging on Lobsters over the years and would hate to see it slide into the great internet cache in the sky. So, I’m introducing two new bloggers, people that I know and trust, that can write with verve and passion about a wide range of subjects. From the UK we have The Anfieldcobbler and from the U.S. Of A. the highly qualified and mysterious Smear.
Both have written two posts for you. The Smear has started, what will be a three part article, on the viewing the UK through a globe trotting, expat’s eyes. Whilst Cobbler starts with something very close to his heart, football and family history. I hope you enjoy them.
Joel and me are both members of the Tindal Street Fiction Group. This is great news for Joel and for the group. Well done that man.