Weekend Woundup 8

I'm not actually here at the moment. I'm probably in a Finnish hotel room, it's probably too cold, and we're probably all squabbling over who gets to use the one mains socket converter we remembered to bring. Unless I'm asleep. In any case, here by the magic of prescheduling, is the week's sideblog thoughts, quotes, insights and moments of madness that presumably made sense at the time.

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers."
- James Thurber

"Stop organising your life around people who don't get the joke"."
- Laurence O'Donnell

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they never use."
- Soren Kierkegaard

"Freedom of Press is limited to those who own one."
- HL Menken

"Those who call for censorship in the name of the oppressed ought to recognize it is never the oppressed who determine the bounds of censorship."
- Aryeh Neier

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it"
- Mark Twain

"Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every man has a right to knock him down for it."
- Samuel Johnson

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers."
- Thomas Pychon

"Sanity is not statistical. Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad."
- George Orwell

"A goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid."
- James Watson

"Tradition, like numbers, never seem to work in a minority’s favor."
- Shawn Baker, Nightcharm

"Tradition is one part expectation, one part wish fulfillment, and one part convenient denial."
- Shawn Baker, Nightcharm

I never burned very brightly. That's why I'm not burned out.

Incompetence is a worse crime than malice because malice is personal and specific, while incompetence is impersonal general.

We are now at a stage in history where a war can be fought as a PR exercise.

There is no such thing as a slow news day. Though there are lazy journalists and controlled editors.

"Good novels are written by people who are not frightened."
- George Orwell

“We expect more from technology and less from each other.”
- Sherry Turkle

"A business opens because someone perceives demand for a product upon which a profit can be made. A business does NOT open because someone wants to make stuff. That's called a hobby."
- Artie Gold

"Without a negative reaction, it isn't considered deviant."
- Robert Merton

"Nothing to be surprised about here - facts are inconvenient to those that believe."

Stockholm syndrome has more than one side.

If you're forced to depend on someone and they're reliable, you come to love them.

If they constantly let you down, you develop a hatred.

If they vacillate between one and the other, you'll probably go insane.

For prisoners dependant on warders, children dependant on parents, for corporations dependant on customers.

Knowledge may be power but ignorance is strength.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
- Upton Sinclair

"The whole discipline of economics is based on private vice leading to public good."

"If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers."
- Charles Dickens

"The Ninth Rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical."
- Saul Alinsky

Those who moralise against violence by the public always endorse violence by the police - while also pretending it doesn't exist.

Those who moralise against adultery love to uncover it - but also demand that it be hidden for the sake of respectability.

Those who love the destruction of an enemy in war also want to censor its gruesome reality.

This kind of doublethink - praising or condemning something while denying its existence or demanding its concealment - is the basic hypocrisy of the social climber.

Anything can be eroticised - even sexlessness. Even powerlessness - provided it is powerlessness to which one has to power to withhold consent.

Rape is a common fantasy, but only as a pretence.

A scientist is someone whose desire to be right is separate from their desire to be in the right. It's someone who doesn't imbue facts with values, and doesn't try reconcile one by changing the other.

A scientist doesn't confuse an erroneous idea with an evil one. More to the point, a nonscientist does.

"Killing messengers has never really gone out of style. "

I must have a heart of stone. I read the death of Little Nell and didn't laugh once.


Right, I'm going to Finland.

Not this precise moment of writing, but in about fourteen hours. Eight of which will probably be spent dithering about what to take in the hand luggage.

Luggage so far:
* 1 change of clothes - 1 teeshirt, 1 polo neck shirt, 1 pair of jeans (the one with only one bleach stain), 1 pair of thermal socks (ladies, large size), 1 woolly hat (with flames motif)

* 1 mp3 player + bent paperclip to push the reset button, headphones and 300 hours of talking books.

* Some boiled sweets to eat on the plane.

* Twenty five euros pocket money.

* 1 phone (to be used as alarm clock)

* 1 camera (to take pictures of snow, if I ever work out how to use the damn thing)

Two of the dogs are with our gayest friend, the other three are with someone who already has a house full of dogs, and the parrots...someone's coming in to feed them and do a bit of house sitting.

The neighbours have duplicate keys - which is apparently in case the house burns down. I don't quite understand that part. One of the laptops is set to record a dozen hours of TV and all the radio shows which might possibly be interesting while we're away.

So I'm all ready for a weekend away, incorporating some sightseeing, quality time with the family (hah), reindeer based cuisine...oh and a wedding too.

I'll bring you back a slice of wedding cake.

Kafka Calling

My phone, pager, wristwatch, alarm clock, FM radio, mp3 player, stills-camera and video-camera are all the same device.

This is normal. It can also search google and facebook, play games and movies, and be a calendar and dictaphone. Apparently this is a bottom of the range model.

Three weeks ago it stopped working. Which has rather left me without a phone, pager etc.

The nice people at the phone shop said I could either send it away to be repaired, or take it to the big phone shop on the other side of town, where they'd fix it themselves. So I took it to the big shop...and they told me to come back the next day because their phone repair man had gone home.

So I went back the next day and tried again. And got asked to come back tomorrow because the repair man had gone home early.

So I went back the next day and gave them my phone. They said they'd send me an email when it was fixed. This didn't happen.

Fourteen days later I got a letter through the door saying it was fixed - with a software upgrade too! Testing it in the shop...it still didn't work. Oh, and they hadn't given it to their repair man at all, possibly on the grounds that he didn't really exist - they'd sent it a few dozen miles by post for someone to push a button marked "Factory Reset".

But obviously the fixers hadn't heard of testing to make sure their fixes had actually, you know, fixed anything. So now it's being posted back to them, with an ever so slightly sarcastic covering note, asking them to try again.

I've been using my crappy old phone in the meantime. It's nothing more than, well, a phone, with an FM radio - but it's got a much better keypad for txting...and it's never gone wrong. Go figure.

Now, this is the second time my 'advanced' phone has malfunctioned, so I thought I should probably get a backup phone for if/when it happens again. Like maybe from ebay? Or even the same phone shop?

If I get a new phone with a contract, I get the phone free and pay GBP8.68 per month plus whatever calls I make after the first 100 minutes, which I don't intend to. So that's about GBP200 over a two year contract. No.

Unless I buy the same phone without the simcard that I've no intention of ever using...in which case it costs 25% more and all up front. Plus an extortionate (but unspecified on the website) rate if I ever do make a call on it. Um...no.

On ebay I might get lucky and get one for GBP30. Or I could get an mp3 player with FM Radio and a frelling built-in video camera for GBP10 - and continue to use my old basic phone as the phone.

In fact I can get a basic mp3 player with eight gigabytes onboard memory for GBP4 - the cost of a triple shot of whiskey - including delivery. Unless I want one with a rechargeable battery, in which case it's ten times as much.

It's possible all this makes perfect sense and I'm the crazy one. If not, I may be soon.

Weekend Woundup 7

This week's quotes from my little sideblog.

"Everybody can write about everything and “freedom of science” consists precisely in people deliberately writing about things they have not studied...."
- Leon Troksky, On Dialectics, writing in 1878, long before blogs.

"Once again, everything you know is wrong. But you knew that."
- Greg Laden

"It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science."
- Charles Darwin

"That’s the problem with nature – it’s never natural enough."
- Mark Simpson

"Everybody wants you as a figurehead for their party"
- Brett Anderson

"The problem with straight men is they’re repressed. The problem with gay men is they’re not."
- Mark Simpson

"Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end to divine things."
— Hippocrates

"No democratic delusion is more fatuous than that which holds that all men are capable of reason, and hence susceptible to conversion by evidence."
- HL Mencken

"I consider the universe to be a clever fake."
- Philip K Dick

"Many of the best things in life are terrible."
- Neuroskeptic Blog

"To hold on to your seriousness is quite an achievement in an age of silliness such as ours"
- Mark Simpson

"A moralist is someone who lectures on the vices of which he has grown bored."
- Oscar Wilde

"There's always tomorrow for dreams to come true...unless you're a conservative, then all dreams will come true yesterday"
- Lance Mannion

"When a young man devolves into incomprehensibility and obvious mental imbalance right out in public for everyone to see, he is much more likely to find a community of people with similar beliefs who will encourage him rather than a shocked society that asks, 'Dude, what the hell are you talking about? You need help.'"
- Gin and Tacos Blog

"Good intentions and a spine is no guarantee against insanity."
- Encyclopedia of American Loons

Liberals look forward to a golden age than probably never will be. Conservatives look back to a golden age that never was.

A Little Bit More

A unicorn named Charles responded to my last post. My reply swelled into something post sized. Exactly the size of this post, in fact.

Asexuality, as used by humans, is defined by a lack of sexual attraction - not a lack of sex drive

It's an interesting distinction, which I admit hadn't occurred to me. You're saying that asexuality is a directionless sex drive.

But if that were true - if asexual people want sex but don't want sex with any type of other thing - then there would be three possible outcomes:

(1) Having no sex of any kind at all, leading to a great deal of frustration and transferal of sexual energy to other pursuits.
(2) Masturbation as the only sexual outlet, with or without inanimate 'toys', as sex that at least doesn't involve other people.
(3) Without any preference for one gender over another, or indeed any other preference, but with the continued presence of a sex drive...a kind of omnisexuality. Albeit one shaped and channeled by cultural norms, social milieu, and personal idiosyncrasy.

Self-described asexual people do have sex with other people and themselves as you write, however they may feel about it, so (1) and (2) are out. Which leaves only (3) - sexual drive that could in principle go anywhere.

Sex drive is the feeling or compulsion to engage one's genitalia in some kind of activity usually coded sexual, usually for the purpose of orgasm

That astonishingly pretentious way of writing is duly noted. Describing common ideas in uncommon language doesn't give you uncommon insight.

So asexuals who have a romantic orientation[...]

There are certainly plenty of men who love women but prefer to have sex with men, or love men but are attracted to a very few women, and any other permutation you care to think of.

As you say, some asexuals will love, and others won't. And those who do will find it changing over time, just as it does for the rest of us.

asexuality has nothing to do with gender identity, as you seem to think might be a possibility

What I suggested was that one man might be using the term 'asexual' in that way, not that is was common or correct.

Those who want to be/feel they should be "sexless" are generally called neutrois.

I'm sure there are many terms for the many permutations of gender identity, physical gender, sexual attraction, romantic attraction and personal preference. Neutrois is one I'd forgotten about, together with Pangendered, Othergendered, Nullgendered, and other terms which a quick google search provides.

I don't think multiplying the vocabulary and filling up every shade of each dimension on the chart with several contested synonyms is helpful.

Finally, overrigid notions of gender, sexuality, love etc. are obviously inaccurate and a source of suffering to those who try to live within them. But that's true whether there are two overrigid notions or a hundred.

Positing a hundred to escape the confines of two does not actually solve the problem. I'm not saying that you, Charles, are doing that, but it is always a danger.

But hey, what do I know? As far as I'm concerned I'm uncomplicatedly male, I like to suck cock and don't have the patience for a relationship.

A Bit of the Other

I got a message from a guy. Looking for no-strings-attached 'fun' from a likeminded, openminded man.

I sometimes get messages like it, and sometimes I follow up on them, and sometimes we meet for sex. It might be blow-and-go. It might be tea and, erm, crumpet. Occasionally it's a long chat followed by a lot of cuddling in a nice warm bed.

But this message had something slightly different about it. He's in his forties, a little overweight, versatile, considers himself gay...and asexual.

An asexual man would like to have sex with me. Which means either I've missed something important about asexuality...or he has.

The notion of asexuality makes sense to me. If Donald Rumsfeld says there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknows, then it seems reasonable to ask if there are unknown knowns - things we know but don't know that we know. And in several senses the answer is yes.

Likewise if there are people who like men but not women, women but not men, or men and women, then the forth side of the square would be people who just aren't into sex - with anyone.

But the trouble is, there's a lot of people out there who wish they were asexual, and convince themselves they are - compare with lipstick lesbians and straight pretend bisexuals. Think Brett Anderson in the 90s, David Bowie in the 70s, or any of the student types now who adamantly refuse to define their sexuality - while having a steady girlfriend and never trying a homosexual experience.

There's no shortage of blogs written by mainly young people who've been seriously put off sex - by abuse, religious indoctrination, or just a really bad relationship - who want sex...but don't want to want it.

My emailer though presumably isn't like that - unless his notion of sex is of a billclintonian, asymmetrical kind, where someone can have sex with him without him having sex with them.

Again, it's not without precedent - or president. The notion of the gay top is both recent and western - if you travel back fifty years or east three thousand miles, you'll be in a place where gay men are thought of as the ones and receive, and straight men as the ones who give, usually to women but sometimes to men. Role is more important than gender.

But I don't think my emailer is like that - he's 'versatile', so at least likes the idea of not being the receptacle of another man's, um, attention.

Maybe he thinks of himself as biologically male, sexually homo, but mentally neither male nor female. If there are men trapped in women's bodies and vice versa - and I know there are because the closest I've come to sex with a women is almostgoing home with a M2F post-op transsexual - then perhaps there are neithers trapped in an either's body.

I'm tempted to respond just so I can ask him. But maybe that's not the right reason to have sex with someone.

Old and New

I'm now 39.

Or to put it another way, "Oh my shitting christ I'm nearly 40 and that's like totally middle aged which is the same as old really and I don't want to be a tedious old fart because there's still lots of stuff I want to do and anyway how the hell did I get that age anyway 'cos it's like yesterday I was 20 and apart from creakinger joints I still feel that age on the inside you know?"

So yes, it's my birthday, and yes, there is cake. Or rather there was cake and soon there will be more cake. Moar Caek.

After which, there will be no cake again for a very long time, nor chocolate or ice cream. But there will be cardiovascular exercise and hopefully an air of unbearable smugness as I approach my fortieth aniversary steadily getting thinner. And less out of breath when I climb the stairs.

There's other things to do too, but a lot of them kind of depend on that.

Goodbye Fool World

I've been thinking about suicide. Not doing it, just the strange attitudes people have to it.

Recently my local newspaper led with the story of a sixteen year old boy who'd killed himself - and tributes from friend and family. Except at no point did the multipage article admit that the instigator of his death was himself - instead, it was repeated several times that he'd been "found hanged".

When people (especially celebrities) are "found dead" or similar, it's a newspaper euphemism for suicide. Marilyn Monroe was "found dead", but Elvis Presley wasn't - even though in literal terms he was. Even Harold Shipman was "found hanged in his cell".

With this boy, one of two things happened when the family found him. Either it was as reported and they found him strangled by a noose - possibly with a suicide note though the newspaper didn't mention one. Or they found the aftermath of an asphyxiation-enhanced masturbation session gone wrong - and cleaned up the scene before calling the police to make it look like suicide.

The latter is hardly unusual, though I'm not claiming any special knowledge of what happened in this case. It just shows how an apparent suicide in the family is more "respectable" than a kinky wank, and how cold families can be in preserving that "respectability".

Suicidal impulses are universal. They occur - and usually pass without incident - in all ages, classes, and cultures. Nonagenarians kill themselves, and so do children. But for no very good reason, the latter fact is hidden and felt to be shocking.

Young children do kill themselves - they have the presence of mind to plan it, the strength of will to go through with it, and the depth of emotion for events make them want to do it - but it's very rarely acknowledged. Somehow it's viewed as even more shocking than when they kill other people.

And when it is, it's treated, implicitly or explicitly, as an issue of mental illness. As though the suffering and thoughts of pre-teens were incomparably different from those of the adults they would become, and the only possible reason for a child to want their life to end is...well, not being in their right mind.

"He did it because he was bonkers" has to be the great non-explanation - after "God did it" of course.

I've read that Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world, possibly linked to their culture of fear and shame at failure - even the prospect of failure. But I've also read that Hungary has the highest rate, allegedly from a kind of national dysthymia linked to a long history of poverty and incompetent government. And I've read that the record holder is Finland, because of...actually because of no easily oversimplifiable reason. Maybe the weather.

Everyone's got the right to off themselves. I regard it as a basic human right to chose death if that's what you want. But the reasons people do it...very often don't make a lot of sense.

David Rappaport shot himself because he felt he'd never be a serious actor - though personally I think he already was. Kurt Cobain thought he was losing his creativity. Justin Fashanu hanged himself after a seventeen year old boy had an attack of guilt after consensual sex, claiming it had been assault - even though the case had already been dropped.

Spalding Grey planned his years in advance - and talked publically about it. Socrates didn't kill himself - but the state demanded that he pretend.

The laws about sex and tax may be hopelessly confused, but just how fuckheaded must lawmakers be if they make it illegal to kill yourself? In Singapore they'll jail you for trying, and in Ireland...I bet you can't guess what the penalty used to be there. Yes, that's right.

Right now, ordinary people are killing themselves because they'd rather die than live with with a debt they can't pay off. And others one step above them on the social ladder are calling them "cowards" for doing so.

I managed two preposterously botched attempts in my twenties because...actually I can't quite remember why. And if you think that's bad, I know someone who managed to screw it up four times, all because he couldn't get a girlfriend.

Then there's suicide as a pose. I've hung around with enough emos and goths to know the tropes - and how "cry for attention", "cry for the world", and "cry for help" blur into each other. Before that it was Morrissy fans, and the Romantic poets of two hundred years ago weren't that different. They were treated with derision too.

Perhaps the boy in the newspaper was just trying to say "You'll be sorry when I'm gone", or else he really was just bored with life, or there was abuse involved, or the emotional abuse of loneliness. Maybe he couldn't have explained it clearly himself.

Either way...why is it in a newspaper at all? What kind of people pay to read about the uneventful death of a stranger? Exactly what kind of "public good" is served by reporting on the grief of different strangers?

Suicide is a subject you can't pretend doesn't exist. But that doesn't mean you have to be intelligent about it.

Self Self Self

Bloggers are supposed to be self obsessed, aren't they?

You've heard of people searching for their own identity. Well today I found it. I realised exactly who I am.

There's an old song from the musical My Fair Lady, which runs:

Wiv a little bit of luck,
Someone else'll do tha
Bloomin' work.

You've heard people telling stories which begin something like, "There was me, and John, and Mike, and Dave and...someone else - don't remember who. Doesn't matter. Anyway..."

And you've heard parents tell their children, "Oh of course it's not your fault. It's never your fault. It's always someone else to blame...."

That's me. I'm someone else. I'm the one who does the job because no one else will, the absent one who gets blamed...and the one who was also there who no one quite remembers.

The film Unbreakable hinges on the second lead, played by Samuel L Jackson, discovering who he is - he's the evil criminal mastermind.

The Vorlons in Babylon 5 are obsessed with the question "Who are you?" - though they've forgotten their own answer. In Farscape, Scorpius finds the remains of his parents because he hopes they'll tell him "Who I should be". The song which most sums up Rocky Horror probably isn't "Time Warp" but "Don't Dream It, Be It".

Notions of "The Real You" permeate psychology, and much of psychoanalysis is concerned with "stripping away layers to find the true self". In Heidegger and Sartre, the notion of Authenticity is crucial. The antagonist of Shakespeare's "Much Ado about Nothing" justifies his malice by saying, in effect, "I must be true to who I really am".

I of course don't believe in an unchangable, essential self. But if I had to define the person I tend towards being, it's...someone else. The one who'll do tha bloomin' work.

What about you?

Rememeber Me?

I've been quiet. What have I been doing all week? Well....

Twenty years ago I learned how to memorise the sequence of a deck of cards.

Most likely you also know the method, and most likely you also can't actually do it - we just know how. But just in case you don't, well....

There's basically two tricks for memorising things - strategically timetabled revision, and mnemonics.

The former means you learn something, then remind yourself of it (say) five minutes later, then an hour after that, then the next day, the next week, next month, next six months and next year - or something similar. There's an entire study system based on identifying your personal 'best first interval' (usually about five minutes) and your personal 'interval multiplier' (usually about 1.7). It's good for learning stuff you don't have to recall in sequence.

For sequenced information - lists, presentations, tables etc. - there's mnemonics. Which is basically to have a list of things already rote-memorised, which you then link to things you want to remember. The links usually last about a day, unless you reinforce them with revision.

So lets say you got a list of ten 'pegs' or 'slots', which are colourful, memorable pictures of things which look a bit like the figures one to ten. Here's the one I use:

1 - A rocket in space
2 - A quacking duck
3 - Wobbling jellies
4 - A creaking swivel chair
5 - A bloodstained meathook
6 - A bomb with a lit fuse
7 - A cliff seen from a helicopter
8 - An hourglass with trickling sand
9 - A balloon on a stick
10 - Laurel and Hardy

And lets say our list of items to be linked to these are a shopping list - cheese, chocolate biscuits, a tin opener etc.

How can you connect a rocket with cheese? How about a space rocket crashing through an asteroid made of cheese, and getting stuck halfway through with a squelchy noise? The cheese is lurid yellow and full of holes, like in Tom & Jerry cartoons, and the rocket is a futuristic sleek white affair with red highlights. Colourful, noisy, comic, absurd - in other words, memorable.

For the biscuits...how about a duck finding a packet of biscuits and loudly crunching them up? Or a refined, aristocratic duck in a tuxedo using its beak to dunk a biscuit in a china cup of earl grey?

And the tin opener? How about a tin opener made of wobbling red jelly?

Now without looking, what were the three shopping items? Or rather what were the three 'triggers', 'pegs' or 'slots'? Rocket...cheese. Duck...chocolate biscuits. Jelly...tin opener. And you can do them in reverse order too.

Okay, it's a party trick - and one for extremely dull parties. You can apply a similar method to memorising the sequence of a deck of cards, but the world record for doing so is twenty two seconds, so you probably can't use it to break the bank at Monte Carlo. Some poker players do use it though, to remember what cards have been played and which ones might be in other player's hands.

One variation uses parts of your own body. Another involves taking an imaginary walk around a house you know well, using objects on tables and walls to link to. It's called the Loci method (Latin for 'place') and it's a visual variation - visual methods are faster to make and recall associations, but verbal methods are more reliable.

The most common of the 'advanced' verbal methods is called the Major system. It involves taking numbers starting at zero, and translating their numerals into consonant sounds (not letters), making a list of words which have those consonants, and using this list as your 'pegs'.

Here's the conversion system:

0 - S as in Set, Z in Zero
1 - T in Take, D in Dare, TH in Think, TH in This
2 - N in November
3 - M in Mine
4 - R in River
5 - L in Lettuce
6 - SH in Sham, S in Pleasure, CH in Church, J in Judge
7 - K in Kite, G in Go
8 - F in Flame, V in Vertigo
9 - P in Pump, B in Ball

So your first ten words might be:

0 - Sea
1 - Door
2 - Knee
3 - Mail
4 - Ray
5 - Lair
6 - Jar
7 - Key
8 - Fur
9 - Pear

W, Y and H sounds aren't used. You can extend the list by adding new numbers, and if you forget a word, you can always make a new one from the number which generates it.

The best 'memorable' words tend to be nouns - specifically concrete, familiar, countable nouns. So 'Daisy' for '10' is better than "Hertz" or "Odious" because it's more easily visualisable.

I once memorised a two hour lecture as forty five bullet points using this system - and afterwards read them back to a nice young man in an utterly failed attempt to chat him up. Perhaps if it hadn't been two hours on 'Why Pokemon is Propaganda for Satan' I'd have had better luck - or kept up practicing.

But sometimes it's difficult to find good words. If only there were a list of dictionary words arranged by their Major System codes, so you could easily find ones that works for you.

And that's what I've been doing all week. Making one. Here.

All is Quiet on New Year's Day

The annual New Year's Eve party. Some entirely subjective highlights:


Imagine being invited to a party with lots of people, only two of who admit to liking pickled onions. You've got nothing else in common, but everyone assumes you two will click immediately - probably finding a spare bedroom later to have sex in, which everyone can snicker about. So they try to matchmake you.

That's me and Craig. Metaphorically - I'm not that into pickled onions. I'm nearly thirty nine, overweight, socially awkward, straight acting and into deep questions. He's about nineteen, tall and thin, if anything overgregarious, into dancing...and camp as a row of tits.

So we got introduced - as "that guy's gay too!" - exchanged thumbs up signals, and went back to our previous conversations. So much for forced compatibility.

But an hour or two later, there he was, face down in a spreading pool of his own vomit, semiconcsious and very, very drunk. I rolled him over onto his side so he wouldn't do a Jimi Hendrix and choke on his sick, then sat down and propped him up, with head supported over a bucket which a girl helpfully found.

And so it was, that I did spend half an hour tenderly holding young Craig in a bedroom, as he slept. And there was indeed a bit of snickering about it.

Then we moved him into a corner, found a pillow and blanket, and let him sleep it off. He was cold and sweating but not shivering, so I checked his pulse - it was slow and weak but the breathing was strong.

Hours later he came back downstairs, ravenous for pizza.

The Gatecrashers

Round about midnight, half a dozen or so young men marched in through the front door. No one knew who they were, and after a few minutes, they got shepherded out.

Then a second group appeared outside, wanting to come in - I went to talk to them. There were four or five of them, the leaders being two women in little black dresses. One of them pulled up her dress and leered at me - her version of bribery.

I explained, "The party's over, there's no food left, there's no alcohol left, you weren't invited. Please leave now". They still wanted to come in - they were of course, rather drunk.

After I said it the third time, they tried to charge their way in, and I reached out to block their way. So the two girls started screaming and punching me - with only slightly more force than a strand of wet spaghetti.

Others got rid of the nuisances, who smashed a window and a nearby car's windscreen before stealing someone else's taxi ride. Eventually the police arrived and weren't interested.

The Debate

I've been a socialist for ten years, a member of a trotskyist group (the SWP). Paul's been a socialist for at least as long, a member of a different trotskyist group (Millitant).

So, as with Craig "the only (other) gay socialist in the village", we were introduced and a debate set up. Here's a transcript:

Paul: If you're a socialist you should always support the Labour party.
Kap: Why?
Paul: Labour is the traditional home of the working class.
Kap: Traditions change.
Paul: Wait! Stop right there! Not so fast! Woah! No! listen! No, listen to me! Woaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Kap: ....
Paul: Labour is the traditional home of the working class.
Kap: Maybe it was once, but since Blair it's been essentially a tory party.
Paul: You're being ultraleft! Typical SWP! You're a prick!
Kap: If you want to know whether the Labour party's progressive, you look at its current policies, not its old ones.
Paul: Eight million working class people voted Labour at the last election! And the SWP's only got two thousand members! You're an ultraleftist! Prick!
Kap: Probably about four thousand members, and the fact that people vote for a party doesn't mean it represents all the interests of their class.
Paul: You're being a total prick! You're a prick! Prick!
Kap: I'm asking you why Labour should have unconditional loyalty, no matter what it does.
Paul: I'm not going to talk to you any more! Prick!

Paul started chatting up some girls - who later described him as "that very weird man with the manicure". And I had a long and very interesting conversation with a highly intelligent young fellow about religion, ethics and philosophy. The political left in Britain may be a joke, but I think it's great that kids are getting lessons in ethical conundrums and deep questions at school now.

Hours later, Paul reappeared and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, saying "Good morning, darling". Adding "I'm the biggest faggot in the world. Have we got time for a blowjob?"

Perhaps fortunately, we didn't. But evidently someone had told him something that made him decide to like me.

And so, barring a long walk home and sleeping through most of New Year's Day, those are my final memories of 2010. This is one time I don't think it's a good idea to start as you mean to go on.

Here's to a better 2011.