Saturday, 14 April 2012

Let them have their say

I’m still struggling to understand the culture of drinking. I shared a tube carriage with a group of lads this morning who were discussing what they were going to do in London during the day. Their plans were very simple; "we'll get to Oxford Circus, find a boozer, and let the fun begin..." How about getting to Oxford Circus and looking for a nice coffee house where they can have a lovely cup of tea to wake themselves up and a little slice of something extra? Why do people need to have alcohol surging through their veins simply to facilitate enjoyment?

Alcohol, in my view, is far more dangerous than most class A drugs and yet it seems to be so acceptable to want to get so blotto that it becomes impossible to function. Many many more people die as a result of drinking too much alcohol than they do from drugs, yet you'd be arrested if you sat on a tube heading towards central London, saying "right, we're gonna go to Oxford Circus, find a dealer and get off our tits on Charlie!"

I think we need to grow up a bit on the subject; either by making drugs legal and regulated, so the government can tax the hell out of them, or by acknowledging that alcohol and tobacco are just as dangerous and ban them too! I don't ask for much from the world, but I do appreciate a little bit of consistency.

On a vaguely related point, I learned yesterday that a set of Christian posters have been banned by TfL because they advertise people who can "cure" someone of being gay. I feel slightly uncomfortable that the posters have been banned, because I believe very much in freedom of speech. If Transport for London can display enlightened posters saying, "I'm gay, get over it", then we have to allow the unenlightened Christians to have their say...

What they offer is, of course, utterly hideous, laughable, and probably should be made illegal, but “curing” was a practice which has always been rather underground; the terrain of seedy, disreputable born again Christian establishments. If there's a public face all of a sudden, then the people who practice "curing" have to stand up to be counted and have their practices opened up to scrutiny. How do you cure someone of being gay? In truth, I suspect, by using the same warped techniques that someone who abuses a child might use to make his victim think they wanted it all along. You take someone who's confused or vulnerable, you tell them that you can help, that you're their friend, and then you get them to do something terrible by threatening them with hell. Bring these bastards out in the open and make them "cure" people on telly. It's only then we'll see just how twisted they are and allow them to stab themselves in their own backs. I think many people would be surprised to discover how prevalent this kind of nonsense is. Until then, however, they have the right to freedom of speech, because what they're doing is sadly still legal.

I went to the RAF museum in Colindale today with Raily, Ian, little Jeany and my godson, Wil. It’s a great little museum and I don’t really like aeroplanes. It’s obviously suffering from lack of funding. Many of the exhibits are broken and I suppose it feels just a little bit unloved. It’s in a very curious part of town as well. As I walked from the tube station, I was aware of very sad energy in the streets. I don’t know how else to put it, but it was like the houses I was walking through had been built on ground which shouldn’t have been touched by development.

The kids were on great form. I love spending time with them because they take nothing for granted. Everything is enjoyable for them. They’re enthusiastic and never moan or ask for something more than once. Wil walked away from the museum shop with nothing but a notepad and a pencil, but was thrilled to have it.

Monday 14th April, 1662, and Pepys had a very long lie-in. He chatted to his wife, who had been under the weather for some time, and encouraged her to go to the family home in Huntingdonshire the following week to take some country air to cure her “ague.” She didn’t seem too keen on the idea, and Pepys worried that she might think there was some agenda in his wanting her to go. There was. He wanted to go to Portsmouth to greet the new queen, but quite why he didn’t want his wife joining him, I’ve no idea!

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