SWEET SOUL BROTHER

Over the last couple of days I have found that my heart has been aching. It’s as if I were grieving. And the truth is I have been, and today I have been particularly miserable. There is no mystery to the source of my pain however. Six years ago to the day, on the prophesized day of the Mayan apocalypse (the so-called end of the world) my best friend passed on. So although the world did not actually end on 12/12/2012, for me it was particularly catastrophic. The fact is, 2012 was a horror show for me, and losing my beloved friend felt like a painful emotional climax to my torturous life at that time. I’m not going to go into the events culminating in the death again, but if you’re interested go back through my posts of 2012 which deal with my nightmarish relationship with an American woman and that hellish year.

This is about my beloved friend, Champers. I have to tell you that I continue to miss him terribly. I hope to be reunited with him one day when it is my turn to say adios to this earthly plane and I move on to wherever we go to. You see, I don’t need some church/mosque/temple religious leader to tell me whether animals have souls or not. Yes, Champers was an animal, my furry buddy; a beautiful champagne-coloured Persian. To most people he was insignificant but to me he was not only my best friend, he was family. He made my world a better place for being in it, and as I said, even 6 years on I miss him.

Now as deep as my feelings are for him I believe so were his for me, and like animals do, he loved unconditionally and asked for very little in return, only my company. Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) concluded: that the variations between humans and other species in their capacity to feel and express emotion are almost non-existent. It varies between individual creatures much like it varies between individual humans. Similarly animals have personalities, and they have lives. The sheer arrogance of humans to decide which should live and which should be slaughtered and served up as meals angers me beyond words. There is NO difference between eating a dog or cow…or another fellow human. The only difference between the animals you love and the animals you eat is your perception of them and your attitude towards them. To quote that most excellent band the Smiths: meat is murderMeat is all murder!

Getting all biblical on you, consider this, damned meat-eaters:

“For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath [spirit] of man ascends upward and the breath [spirit] of the beast descends downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:19-21.

So this post and my little rant are in memory of my beloved Champers. Rest in peace, buddy, you are remembered and loved. 12/12/2012.

The Meaty Subject Of Flesh

smiths_-_meat_is_murder1

Right, so I know have mentioned that I am a vegetarian and that I have been one for basically my entire adult life. I have to admit it was never a huge sacrifice for me. The truth is that I never was fond of meat. Even as a child I really felt ill at ease about eating it. The thought of animals being slaughtered for my meals weighed heavily on my conscience, and as someone once told me, I have a conscience the size of a planet.lisa-simpson-vegetarian

I remember the day I stopped eating flesh very clearly. I was a studying towards a teaching degree and was taking a South African history module as part of my BA requirement. The history department had organized a trip to King Shaka’s kraal. Shaka was a Zulu king and conqueror of southern Africa back in the 18th Century. While we were at his historical compound (kraal) the local people began slaughtering cattle for some upcoming feast being prepared for a visiting chief. The terror of the poor animals awaiting their death horrified me and that was the final push I needed. This decision of mine was sealed by how the song Meat is Murder by the Smiths made me feel.Morrissey_Meat_Is_Murder

Now let me tell you a little about the song:

Meat Is Murder was the second studio album by the English rock band, the Smiths. They along with the Cure, in my opinion, remain the undisputed originators and architects of what kids these days call emo. They wrote beautifully dark fairytales, storiesof ill-fated love and angst-ridden poems of the sheer enormity of being! Anyway, the album was released on 11 February 1985 by Rough Trade Records and became the band’s sole number one album in the UK charts during the band’s lifetime, staying on the chart for thirteen weeks. The album reached number 40 in Canada and number 110 in the US. In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 296 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. On the album is the best song ever written about animal rights.  Apparently even famous vegetarian Paul McCartney, who has never written a song about vegetarianism, greatly admires the Smiths’ effort. Meat Is Murder’s sinister opening, full of unsettling noises that conjure up an abattoir, moves into the terrible, beautiful lullabye-like melody that is so characteristic of their music:

“The carcass you carve with a smile, it is murder … And the turkey you festively slice, it is murder.”

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Look, animals are thinking, feeling beings, and we shouldn’t eat them. Anyone who thinks of themselves as an animal lover could and should not eat meat. Explaining it away or assuaging your conscience by saying that in the wild, animals kill other animals for food and It’s a part of nature is just nonsense! First of all, we are not in the wild, and secondly, we can easily live without eating meat.  The question of “if we weren’t supposed to eat meat than why do we?” is easily answered. It is because we are conditioned to eat meat by our society as well as the accompanying huge meat industry. It has f-all to do with health reasons and the most common excuse of all, “I can’t get my protein any other way”.

vegetarian

 

 

vegetarian1If nothing else think about this: meat putrefies within 4 hours after consumption and the remnants cling to the walls of the intestines for 14-21 days. The fact is, it has already started to decay when you eat it. Seen a nasty movie called Ravenous? It is about cannibalism. Enjoy your next steak!

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Anyway, so going back to the Smiths and reasons why you should listen to them. Morrisey’s words and Johnny Marr’s music interlace perfectly, like chocolate and red wine. Dark and melancholy, the lyrics are delivered by Morrisey himself. Like some vintage lounge singer he croons about murderous desires and doomed love while Marr’s “drugged-up country boy” guitar envelops him. In the 80s when the band was at the height of its popularity, there were rumours of Morrisey and Marr being involved in a sexual relationship. If this was true it was never confirmed by either the openly gay Morrisey or the reticent Marr. What is far more interesting to acknowledge is how Morrisey’s lyrics broke the stereotypes of the time. There is nothing effeminate or limp-wristed about them, in fact, they are extremely masculine.  They were not gay, they were not hetro, they were just the Smiths. The band is no longer, unfortunately, “the seething rot that had shot the Smiths down remained undisclosed by Johnny,” Morrisey wrote. Marr, feeling stifled, left in 1987 to play with the Talking heads, and that was that. Sad. Even if you are not a fan you will still probably know the song “How Soon Is Now?” from the TV series Charmed and the movie, The Craft, both about witches funnily enough. One of my favourites however, is Big Mouth Strikes Again. Read the lyrics and then take a listen to the actual song. The murderous muscularity of the love song juxtaposed with Morrisey’s crooning, lullabye vocals and Marr’s guitar rifts is something quite extraordinary. Needless to say it makes Swany’s List of Awesomeness.

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Bigmouth Strikes Again

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said I’d like to

Smash every tooth in your head

 

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said by rights you should be

Bludgeoned in your bed

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her Walkman started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know of Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her hearing aid started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race.

Champers

Man, will I ever be done crying this year?  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: vile, vile, vile fucking year! 12/12/2012, this auspicious day, brought with it its own special little gift of misery, to add to the abundance of pain, disappointment and just sheer unpleasantness this year, twenty-twelve, has heaped upon me. Yes, I know: boohoo! But seriously!

This is the text message I received yesterday:

 

Heidi – Sorry to not phone you, but I feel too heartbroken!! I had to have Champers put to sleep this am. He never ate much yesterday and last night he couldn’t jump on my bed so took him to the vet this am and he has Leukeamia! The vet said animals go through awful suffering and there is no help… So had to make a call…feel so heartbroken but couldn’t bear to let him suffer!! I held him in my arms while they gave him the injection and told him how much we all loved him! Sorry he was with us for such a short time and thank you for allowing us to love him too!!!xxx Sorry but couldn’t bear to talk to you… I would just sob!! Big hugs Andy x

Me – O no, and he has so been on my mind lately. I am so sad but at least he had you with him, and thank you all for loving him so. O my poor boy, I will miss him so badly!

 

My dear, dear fluffy buddy, Champers, is gone. I am not ashamed to say that he was my best friend, but I am ashamed, however, to admit that I chose LA Woman over him! I said goodbye to Champers and left him here in South Africa to go and be with her. What a shameful thing to do to someone that loved me so unconditionally. I guess I deserved what I got over in the United States for doing that. In my defence though, I did find him a loving adoptive family; Heidi, a talented artist and a wonderful,  caring soul. Heidi, her husband and her two young children welcomed him into their home, and I left knowing Champers was safe, cared for and loved. My traitorous heart was somewhat assuaged, but I missed him terribly and felt so disgusted with myself. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But know facing the realization of the passing of this gentle, pure little soul, I am wracked with guilt and anger, at myself and at LA Woman! I did not get to spend my time with him and his last months here because of what she wrought in my life and because of my selfishness! I am disgusted with myself! Yes, I did return to South Africa, and yes, Heidi did offer to return Champers to me (she is an amazingly generous, kindhearted person) but how could I do that? It would have just been too cruel to her kids and family, they had also fallen in love with him, so I left him there. But I missed him and he was often on my mind. I resolved to go see him during my Christmas vacation, as much as they would allow me…but he has gone now. So never got to say hello again…and goodbye.

On facebook:

Status:  Rest in peace my little buddy Hope to see you again when its my turn. I love and will miss you terribly.

 

Andrew  Sad day. He passed away. He was my companion for many years and when I left for the US it was the hardest thing to do to leave. Fortunately Heidi, a wonderful friend and artist adopted him. What a terrible year this has been:(

 

Jacky  So sad for you. Fortunately, endings herald in beginnings and that is my wish for you(and a few more special people) – that your new beginnings are going to take your breath away and fill you with awe and deep contentment.

 

Patsy  So sorry Andy but remember because of u he had a good life. Now he will be your little Guarding Angel

 

Tracey-Jayne  Aw little Champers!!!!! Andy, he had the best friend in you, and Heidi!!!!

 

Andrew  What spirit he was!

 

Wendy  Thoughts are with you at this sad time. So sorry. This awful year is almost done and dusted thank goodness.

 

Andrew  I know! Vile vile vile year!

 

Wendy  Evil vile year: “Get thee hence to endless night”….to quote Chris de Burgh, Spanish Train.

 

Michael  Sorry to hear the news Andy.

 

Andrew  Ye sad day:( poor little dude

 

Monique Ann  Sorry Andy so sad, what happened to him?

 

Andrew  Leukaemia

 

Roz  Aah no, so sorry.. Always sad to lose a baby!

 

Heidi  I am so sorry Andy….my kids are devastated …. We will miss him so much but thank you for letting us share his love….if only for a little while! I could not let the little chap suffer…. So hope he has found a comfy place to cuddle up … at peace! He was snuggled up in my arms right up to the end….and he went knowing that he was loved! X

 

Andrew  And Heidi, knowing that is a great comfort, I promise! Thank you! I am just so sad and feel so bad that I left him now. But as you said, I know he knew he was loved. Thank you.

 

Jeannette  I’m so sorry Andy! U gave him such a good life after the terrible start he had. Your life will be forever blessed by the love u had. X x x

 

Andrew  Thank you, Jen. He was such a special soul

 

Nicola  Sorry to read your news… xx

 

Corrina  awww Ands I’m so sorry to hear your sad news xxx

 

Andrew  Yeah thanx heartbroken

 

 

We all should have the quiet dignity of Champers, his strength of character, and his unconditional love and loyalty. He was rescued from an abusive owner by Dr Taryn Turner and her organisation, Hillside Haven. Apparently Champers had been a gift from a girlfriend to her boyfriend, they split up and Champers suffered the consequences. The boyfriend kept him to spite her, but treated him cruelly, leaving him outdoors alone (Champers is a Persian and not an outdoor cat). Eventually the bastard broke the poor cat’s jaw with a broom which caused the neighbours to finally report his cruelty. That is how Champers ended up at Hillside Haven where he was adopted by some friends of mine who, although having all the best intentions in the world, did not quite take into account the reality of taking on such a responsibility. I had bonded with him and simply could not bear the thought of him being left alone and unloved again so I adopted him…and he me. Champers, a traumatized and sickly little spirit, and rake thin, my heart weeped for him. Despite all the trauma and hate in his life up until then all he wanted was to be loved, and I loved him.

 

I am proud to say that he grew with me and was, at the very least, content. He certainly was, as I said, loved by me. We were companions; flat-mates, playmates, soulmates and inseparable. I loved picking him up and cuddling him like a baby, squeezing him to my chest, and I am sure he did too. Although he would pretend to be exasperated by my undignified treatment of him, I would often catch him purring against my chest, his fluff soft against my chin and cheeks. Witnessing Champers’ recovery and subsequent growth of spirit, brought the realization of the very real power of love to me, and the role it plays in the lives of the abused and damaged. (This was something I had experienced with my involvement in an ex-girlfriend’s little girl’s life and was further highlighted by Champers). \

This was how I got involved with the organization, Hillside Haven. They care for abused and damaged animals, rehabilitate them and try to find homes for them. I volunteer there on Saturdays doing fundraising for them. I am here to tell you I get far more in return than I give! As I mentioned previously; we all should have the quiet dignity of these souls, their strength of character, and their unconditional love and loyalty.

So my best friend has passed over. I hope to see him again when it is my turn. I believe animals have souls which is one of the reasons I do not eat them. In my opinion there are very few humans that are worth a single animal’s life, and yet, look at how we treat them. What is wrong with us?

My heart aches for him! What I would give to just hold him one more time and to look into those huge, glowing amber eyes of his and tell him how much I love him. If there is anything good that can be taken away from this, and I hope you do too, dear reader, it is this: do not put off telling and showing a loved-one just how much you do love them. You may never get that chance again.

RIP Champers, my friend. I hope you knew how much I loved you, and still do.

 

Champers