Friday 31st August

August 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

There is something I have experienced which I am here going to call “Reverse Perversion”. It is a state of mind that is mostly self-induced, but also, kind of, initiated by others. To explain it, I will use a recent example.

I was walking into town from home the other week, when I came to a shortcut alley which would shave 1 minute off my walk. It is a bit of a dodgy-looking alley, often with torn bags of festering trash, discarded broken toys, broken glass and the like. At night I avoid it, but in the day it is fine (it was day at the time of my walk). As I approached the alley, I saw two young kids were slowly making their way up said passage. The kids were probably nine and seven years old, a boy and a girl, slowly meandering to the other end, chatting. Then suddenly they stopped dead in their tracks and conversation, and turned towards me. Our eyes met, and they scanned my intentions. Their little faces were genuinely worried.

I turned from the alley, and took the longer route into town.

Perhaps my anxiety was unfounded. If I had continued up the alley,  I doubt they would have ran screaming. The ill feeling would have gone no further than that initial awkwardness. But it was something about their looks of fear that stopped me, and forced another minute on my walk.

The state of “Reverse Perversion” is perhaps a mostly male burden. We men are after all, ladies, life’s Intimidators, Muggers, Rapers. It is also almost certainly for men who engage in a lot of self-analysis. Too much, perhaps. Also, I think it’s because I have a beard: pretty much uniform for behind-the-bush perverts.

This kind of thing makes the possible victim (the children in this story) into the aggressor, but through displaying weakness. It is oddly empowering to at-risk groups, but perhaps not a good policy to adopt if you’re being mugged, or attacked by a pack of racoons. It is pre-emptive defence, against people who aren’t going to attack you. It is a stating of moral positions.

This social phenomenon is of course, one of the many complex negotiations we undertake in our modern lives, where awareness of danger is heightened, sensationalised, and with it, the potential risks of every situation. This anxiety can make you into a passive-aggressor (as was the case in the kids’ eyes), or a victim (poor me).

Reverse Perversion (I’ve dropped the inverted commas: it’s now official) is also behind the logic, I guess, of pensioners who aggressively exert their oldness as a get-out-of-jail-free card. When old ladies and gents force their way past you on the bus, or don’t thank you when you open doors for them: as if it is your obligation to be polite, just because their faces (and hidden flesh- gross) is a bit creasy. So what is actually a choice on a young person’s part, becomes a kind of enforced rule, which is not to be discussed.

I will keep opening doors and offering bus seats to the elderly, but if they don’t acknowledge it with a thank you, or even a cheeky nod-and-wink combo, then I will almost certainly quietly drop the C-word under my breath, for my own satisfaction.

But maybe, old people who act like this are just taking what’s owed to them. They themselves went through my position many years before, so perhaps this is recompense. Maybe I will do the same by the time I’m in my seventies. Act out on all my repressed anger against society by subtly undermining other people’s kindness. But who’s to say there will be buses and doors by the time I reach my golden years? If that’s the case, I will develop my own personal methods to be a nob.

I enjoyed watching the Olympics. The sport I liked the most was Rhythmic Gymnastics. It is such an elegant and skilful artform. I hate standard gymnastics, especially men’s. The routines are all about becoming like a machine: scoring the most difficult combinations as possible. There is no room for interpretation, artistry, humour. For me, the best sports are those that can combine skill with artistry and humour. That’s why I love and practice Capoeira. And that’s why I think Rhythmic Gymnastics is the most enjoyable Olympic sport to spectate.

The way they use their prop (a ball, hoop or ribbon) is quite mesmerising. The level of practice required to master their routines must be immense. The best performers always are able to balance technical difficulty with an artistic sensibility. And, well, dancing in a leotard whilst throwing a toy around can never be completely po-faced. Humour finds its place, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Team routines have the added campness of the synchronised smiling. When a team enters the performance floor, they all crack their most inane grins possible, at exactly the same time. It is quite terrifying. If MI6 are looking to hire some sexy assassins, like those seen in any number of Hollywood movies, I’d say these girls are well qualified.

Not long after the Olympics finished I read two articles in different newspapers which both asked whether Premiership football pick up the mantle of The Games, and live up to the good feeling, sportsmanship and positive energy the Olympics generated. Of course it bloody won’t. The journalists equated the surge in interest in sports such as swimming and cycling (as a spectator activity) as a sign that the British public had a hunger for different sports too, and that the good feeling around the stadiums amongst fans towards sports people of all nationalities (as opposed to the football fan’s approach of roundly booing the opposition) was something that could transfer to football’s terraces. No way, no how.

Firstly, going to the Olympics was a one-off event. A party. A day out. So spectators, having paid so much, travelled from all over, sometimes for only one event. Of course they’re going to act nicely; take it all in. Their emotions aren’t invested in the event because it is so remote to them. It’s like going to a movie. Also, there was probably a larger number of people coming from middle-class backgrounds making up the crowd, than at football. Now of course, that’s not to say football doesn’t have its fans from various walks of life, but the majority of fans who go to see their team play every week are still largely from working-class families. The history of football in this country is entwined with working-class culture, and a community’s football team would traditionally be made up of local guys, with their families and mates cheering them on. Football is professional now, but the tribalism of “protecting one’s family”, or “defending one’s area”, still exists in football, and always will. It is their local team still, even if most of their team are multi-millionaires bought from overseas. Most Olympic sports have only associations to private school education, because it is those schools that have the best facilities.

Anyone can enjoy any sport, but you’re never going to see widespread hooliganism in Equestrian crowds, realistically speaking. Are you? It’s not a matter of “class”, exactly, but more of the spectator’s connection to the sport. I don’t think it helps much that football is so sensationalised in the UK. That feeds the hysteria.  I genuinely hope that football can recede a little from public interest, and that the limelight can be shared with other sports, which sometimes are genuinely more fun to watch. I’d gladly watch rhythmic gymnastics every week, if it was on TV. But even if there was diving every week on TV, I doubt we’d ever hear this: “Eh, Bob, do you want come and watch the diving with me at the pub?”

Recently I saw a review of a film that said the movie was “so aware of its own stupidity that it is virtually beyond criticism”. What an amazing description. I’d like to have that said about me one day. In fact, it is top of the list for things to be carved into my gravestone.

Yesterday I saw a baby with drawn-on eyebrows. It made the baby look oddly grown up. But the mum missed a trick, I think.

Two eyebrows raised: permanently surprised baby
One eyebrow raised: coy baby
Two eyebrows down: evil baby

Some food for thought.


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