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.

Mom

Just recently one of my posts revolved around the Smith’s and their music, so it is sadly ironic that I find one of their songs stuck in my head, playing on an endless loop. It has been there since Monday (19th October) when I went to visit my mother in icu. It won’t surprise you then to hear that she is in a coma hence that song lodging itself in my traumatized psyche.

“I know – it’s really serious,” the song goes. “There were times when I could have ‘murdered’ her but, you know, I would hate anything to happen to her. NO, I DON’T WANT TO SEE HER. Do you really think she’ll pull through? … WOULD YOU PLEASE LET ME SEE HER! Do you really think she’ll pull through? Let me whisper my last goodbyes. I know – IT’S SERIOUS”.

It is a terrible thing to see her connected to all these machines and containers, all driving her frail little body. I dont quite know what to do. It is hard to imagine my life without her in it because she has been the one constant in it. As a child I shared an incredibly close bond with her, this as a result of my father dying when I was 5 or 6. Told by the adults that I was the “man of the house” now, I took on that role of looking after my mother and providing her companionship as best I could. We had our problems when I completed my military service and the damage that returned with me. There were also issues with the two men she married late in life of whom I disapproved but I always prayed for her happiness and always, always loved her…love her. My mother had a tough life and way more than her fair share of bad things happened to her: being dumped in a children’s home by her mother, having the love of her life die at a young age leaving her alone with 2 small children, a further 2 bad marriages and then the kicker, contracting a chronic illness, emphysema. My heart breaks when I think about it because she deserved better. She truly is one of the most amazing, caring, loving people you could wish to meet.

She rarely stepped foot in a church as an adult but was an extremely spiritual person. She taught me that you do not have to have a building to worship and pray, and you do not need a person to be your intermediary with your Creator. She had a very personal relationship with God and when she leaves this world I can just imagine her giving Him/Her a real earful. He/She will have a lot of explaining to do to my mother about how He/She could let such terrible things happen to her. My mom is a perfect example of bad things happening to good people. Why does that happen when there are so many people who really, really deserve the worst?

I love you, Mom. Please don’t leave us just yet. Come back. I know it is selfish and you are tired and deserve some rest but I need you. Even if it is just for a little while longer.

Below: My mother is on the left with the glasses seated next her brother, Frank, and his wife, Thelma.

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The Meaty Subject Of Flesh

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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”.

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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.