Not so much a diet blog this week (I’ve put on 2lbs which, after what I’ve stuffed down my face this week, is not bad), more a Christmas…What’s It All About? week.
So, Happy Christmas to everyone, or Happy Holidays, as some people say, and which seems more appropriate, because I’m not sure how many of you are practising Christians, genuinely looking forward to celebrating the birth of Christ, or just eager to start getting pissed so you can fight with your families later.
The Deane children were raised Catholic, up to our First Communions, at about 11 years old. We were then allowed to make a choice about whether to continue on with the whole organised, controlled religion thing….or choose something else, like freedom, for instance. I chose the latter, for quite a few reasons which, being only 11, were mainly things like “church is boring”, “church is cold”, “the priest is weird” and “I hate getting up early on Sundays”.
My rejection complete and unequivocal, it became very apparent to me as I got older, that Catholicism, like most organised religions, was a means of controlling people, and there were other things about religion I just couldn’t comprehend. Growing up, I’d never understood how those involved in “the Irish problem”, for instance, could use religion as a reason to kill each other, when they were supposed to worship the same God. The very concept of ‘God’, is something that makes no sense to me. I think the Bible is full of wonderful stories and parables that can teach us a lot about how to treat each other properly, but it is equally full of hateful propaganda against those who choose not to follow ‘the word of God’ to the very letter. God loves everyone, we are told, unless you’re black, gay, unmarried, or enjoy sex. The thing that really riles me about Christianity in general, is that it is an inherently racist institution, which depicts Christ as an almost-blond, blue eyed white guy when, if He did actually exist, then logic dictates Jesus would probably have been a dark haired, dark-eyed Arab. Hypocrisy doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The notion of a sentient being ‘up there’ looking over us, is nonsensical to me, but I do believe that Jesus existed. Rather than being the superhero the Bible depicts him as, though, I think he was simply a man way ahead of his time, with ideas that would have sounded fantastical to a world that just wasn’t ready for them. When the spreading of ‘knowledge’ in those days, consisted largely of Chinese whispered word-of-mouth gossip, it’s easy to see how the tales about this strange man quickly evolved into the stories that became the Bible. Because that’s all they are – stories.
2,012 years later, I find it just incredible that millions of people still believe, in literal detail, that an invisible person up in the sky, spoke to a virgin and her husband, had her divinely impregnated, to put another divine being on the earth, with a mission to save souls. It’s a beautiful fairy story, but nothing more. It isn’t a reason to go to war with people, if they don’t agree with you.
Yet, on Christmas Day, there will be busy churches full of people giving thanks for this event that simply never happened. How many churchgoers actually believe the story of the Nativity, and I mean really believe that all that stuff (and everything else – the miracles, the supernatural stuff) actually happened? I’m not knocking Christians, as I think it’s important that we all have something to believe in, whatever that ‘something’ is. And if organised religion helps some people to live calm, ordered lives, and do good in the world, then it would be churlish to criticise that. I’m just curious to know how many people are religious because it’s something they truly believe, or whether it’s something they’ve been brought up on, and have never actually examined or questioned it?
I think quite linearly about things. I like logic, I like science, I like puzzles and their ensuing explanations. It’s not that I dismiss anything that doesn’t have an answer – quite the opposite, actually, as I can be very introspective and self-questioning – it’s just that I see life as an evolutionary journey, physically and spiritually, yet the thinkings and ideologies of most organised religions, never, ever move on.
Christianity (and all its derivatives, especially Catholicism) remains a greedy, corrupt, male-controlled institution, which dictates to everybody else how they should live life, and is actively vocal in its prejudice in issues like homosexuality, unmarried mothers, abortion and even whether or not a woman should be able to offer Communion. How am I supposed to respect a religion that refuses to allow someone to officially spread the word of their beliefs, simply because of their gender? A religion that would rather let a pregnant woman bleed to death, than allow a life-saving termination? A religion that advocates the murder of homosexuals? A religion that pushes for simple, pious living among its followers, yet whose ruling elite live in magnificent houses and palaces, with all the trappings that go with it? A religion that relies on the deliberate subjugation of others, to itself flourish? It’s all breathtakingly archaic, yet this basic chauvinist premise remains prevalent in so many aspects of society, even today. The insecurity of men, through history, never ceases to amaze me.
Even in my own, chosen religion – football – not much has really changed in 130 years, when it comes to “wimmin going the match”. Liverpool is unique, though, in that women in this city have always gone the game, for generations. I’ve rarely encountered any direct prejudice, and when I have, it’s always been outside of Liverpool, usually in London, or abroad. Up here, though, it’s worrying me that I’ve noticed a new, younger breed of football fan – the Sky generation of lads mags, designer label addicts, who drink alcopops and wear earrings – who ‘support’ teams just because they win things, and have no real affiliation to the club they purport to follow. These young twentysomethings wouldn’t be seen dead with their ‘bird’ at the game, and think that any girl who does go the match, is either a lesbian (which makes no sense), or are just there to check out which players they might want to go wagging for.
Down the years, I’ve spoken to many fellas who think there is no place for me at Anfield, or anywhere else, simply because I don’t have a dick. The majority of these blokes, are overweight bellends who can’t even fit in a football shirt, never mind run around a pitch, and who reckon that, just because they have a penis, that it gives them some kind of innate entitlement to tickets and an opinion. If they see a woman at the game, they can get quite upset, because that ticket could have gone to some other fat, clueless penis-owner, who obviously has more right to be there. At the end of the day, it’s 22 fellas running around a piece of grass, trying to get a bit of plastic into the back of a net. I love it. But why do men feel such a territorial urge to “own” that?
Our family was/is football mad, like most in Liverpool and, despite a gene mutation a generation back, where some of Dad’s family ended up Blue, the vast majority were, thankfully, Red. When Dad got a job in the Midlands, we moved to Nottingham, where we was obviously the only Liverpool fans in the village, but that was never a problem. Forest, at the time, were a decent side, so there was plenty to talk about with the boys every Monday morning in the school playground, and me being a girl was never an issue, simply because 11-year olds are still too young to be corrupted by the gender conditioning bullshit that comes with growing up. To Cooper, Munksy, Mick, Wilky and Donny, I was just one of the gang, even if I was a girl. Worse, a Scouser.
I think it’s fair to say that, on the whole, I’ve always had more male friends, than female friends, and I mean no disrespect to the girlfriends I do have (most of which I see at the game, anyway). I think it’s because I was a tomboy who hated shopping and make-up, rarely wore skirts (still don’t), and would rather have been breaking legs with my jolly hockey stick (I was a fearsome centre-half), than gossiping about nail polish. And no, I’m not a lesbian. It was only when I went to Uni, then work, that I then encountered misogyny at the game, in various forms, which was a shock, because football, to me, is absolutely as natural a part of my life as it is to any fella, so it puzzles me as to why some men just can’t understand – or accept – the sight of a girl in a football stadium. It is a minority, though, and certainly not a slight on any of the wonderful blokes I’ve got to be bezzies with down the years. My ‘gang’.
I’ve written about football for years, too, whether in an official journalistic capacity, freelancing on features, sounding off on internet fora, or just emailing distant friends to dissect the weekend’s results. I even had my own column on LFC’s official website, when Houllier was at the helm, and he didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t have a c**ck.
Having said that, I’ve been on Euro away trips watching the hacks get pissed and boast to each other about all the player groupies they’ve screwed, which players are “good for a quote” (and which ones they’re just going to write lies about). I’ve been in press cons where most of the blokes think I’m someone’s PA, or just the token clueless female, sent there to satisfy some equal opportunities bollocks directive. In the past, I’ve often sensed that my ‘colleagues’ were very reluctant not just to speak to me, but to even acknowledge my existence in the room. It wasn’t chauvinism, or rudeness, it was sheer terror. They simply didn’t know what to smalltalk to me about, just because I’m a girl. Here’s an idea – football, maybe?
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of clueless females in football, but they’re usually tottering up the stairs of the Main Stand in their 6-inch leopard skin Louboutins, hoping Steven Gerrard’s going to look their way (and yes, I do like tripping them up…), or they’re in front of the camera on Sky Sports, in low cut boob tubes and caked in make-up, because you have to have bimbos on Sky Sports, it’s the law. No such rule for the fellas, though, unfortunately, who can be as ugly and ignorant as they like, as long as they’re ‘blokey’ enough to satisfy their target audience of wankers. Actually, don’t start me off on Sky Sports, we’ll be here all night…
So, with Christmas nearly here, ’tis the season to stop and think. We are all guilty of pre-judging people and situations, but we’re not always right. If you’re going to church tomorrow, have a good think about exactly why you’re going. And if you’re at the match this week, try and notice just how many ‘birds’ have paid their ticket money, too, and perhaps accept that most, if not all, of them, probably know more about the beautiful game, than you do. For everyone else, enjoy being with your family and friends, say thank you for your presents, do NOT spend all day online bargain hunting, and make sure the bathroom is sufficiently stocked with Nurofen.
Things I’ve Learned This Week
1. Christmas shopping online, rocks
As I’ve mentioned, I detest shopping, even at the best of times. Basically, I’m allergic to it. When I am forced to go purchasing, I usually have a list not just of items, but a route all worked out that means I don’t spend a moment in town longer than I have to. This year, the only ‘window’ I had to do anything, was Friday afternoon, but then Sir Brendan Rodgers called us into Melwood and that was that. Not to worry, because that’s what the internet is for. I’m skint, as per, but it was still easier to click the mouse a few times, rather than start my serial killing career a decade early, mixing with the crowds.
2. The visiting ‘rellies’ are bad for one’s health
My sister and brother-in-law arrived from Singapore last week. Then my brother and sister-in-law arrived, too. Since then, it’s been wall-to-wall eating and drinking. They have steel livers, and the stamina of ten elephants. I don’t. One session for me, and I was out for the count, and my calorie counting was into something with lots of zeroes on the end, before the weekend had even started. It’s not even Christmas yet. Mother Nature paying her monthly call was also a bit sly, as she came early, and with about as much Christmas cheer as a rabid reindeer. Saturday, I was so drugged up on various prescription pharmaceuticals, I couldn’t even eat the delicious roast mum had cooked up for all of us. Epic fail.
3. Christmas card guilt is just as potent as it always was
I haven’t sent out Christmas cards for quite a few years now. I can afford the cards, just not the stamps. Also, as alluded to above, I’ve always struggled to understand what ‘Christmas’ actually is and what it means. Having said that, it always makes me feel really nice and fuzzy when I receive a Christmas card from someone else, so at the end of the day, I’m just a hypocrite. I think next year, I’ll hunt out some alternative cards, or make my own, that say something like “Happy Frivolities!” or “Happy Week Off Work!”.
I know that when friends send cards to me (and a big thanks to you all), they’re not sending me a religious message, it’s simply to say “I’m thinking about you and I want you to have a good time”. I need to stop being such a semantically-obsessed old goat and start returning the same good vibes back into the ether, otherwise one of these days I’m going to find that people stop thinking about me, full stop. (I really, seriously, couldn’t afford the bloody stamps, though….honest.).
4. People are amazing
Getting the Hillsborough Justice Collective’s single to No.1 was an awesome feat, considering most of the music-buying public are obsessed with Unreality TV. Nice swan, everyone who bought it. People power is truly humbling.
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. The pub
BT Vision forgot to send the folks a shiny new black box for Christmas, which means the one they have is now kaput and we can’t get any catch-up telly, or football over the Chrimbo period. This means we’ll all have to go the pub to watch the Stoke game. I hate watching Stoke at the best of times – they think they’re playing rugby, not football – but to put money behind a bar just to watch Tony Pulis shouting at his team to sabotage our boys by any means possible, is going to hurt. Also, it means I’ll have to get drunk, which in turn means disappointing Diet Yoda. Again.
2. Boxing Day
Boxing Day means it isn’t Christmas Day anymore, which means it’s one day closer to reality, which means people will be soon be back at work and posting threatening letters to me every five seconds.
3. The Christmas Fridge
It’s packed. Jammed, actually. Multi-cheese items, cocktail sausages, butter, home-made meatballs, beer, beer, beer, pates, turkey, stuffing, ham, chicken, wine, wine, wine…
Outside the fridge, it’s wall-to-wall crusty bread, red wine, red wine, red wine, vodka, gin and Jacob’s crackers. Someone help me.
This Week I’ve Mostly Been Watching…
OK, so I watched the end last week, but now my friend Lou has had chance to UK-catch-up, we’ve been able to dissect it properly. Here are our important points of discussion.
a) Is Carrie the real terrorist? Her bi-polarism is the device whereby we see only her version of things. The reality is that she was turned years ago while in the Middle East, and has been colluding with Abu Nazir all along. It was her who signalled to Brody to leave the memorial service at Langley, after all. If Brody was still embedded with Al Qaeda, he’d have seen the suicide mission through and be dead himself.
b) Is Quinn a baddie or goodie? OK, so he didn’t kill Brody when he had the chance, and seemed to get an attack of conscience, not wanting Carrie to suffer more hurt. He also stood up to Estes, and told him that he would die, if ever Brody did. That said, Lou reckons that Quinn could be the mole all along, and that could be why he didn’t kill Brody (and also why he threatens Estes not to, either) – because Quinn knew Brody would be needed as the patsy for the bomb, and he had to be kept alive at least until the memorial service. Anyway, Quinn isn’t dead, which is the most important thing, not least because I really like looking at Quinn…
c) Saul is the terrorist – he was the only one (apart from Quinn) who wasn’t at Langley when the bomb went off. In fact, he deliberately made sure he wasn’t going to be there. I don’t speak Yiddish, so don’t know what he was chanting at the end, whether it was prayers for the dead, or something more sinister, but I’ve had doubts about Saul all along.
Of course, the writers/producers might not have any clue themselves about where Season 3 is headed. As is common with US drama (and famously true of shows like 24), later episodes in a series sometimes aren’t even written, until they’ve had viewer feedback from earlier ones. Just like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the 1980s, the plot could go anywhere, because they’re written ad hoc.
2. 1001 Things You Think You Should Know
This is a quiz show on Channel 4, hosted by Sandi Toksvig. It’s on in the daytime, and because TV bosses think that people at home during the day are either too thick or too lazy (or both) to have jobs, they make sure to make the questions really easy, and also to select contestants who really are quite dense. I’m already filling in the application to get on it, as you can win serious cash for being not very bright. They had a fella on the other day, who didn’t know that the ranch in Dallas was called “Southfork”. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to cross the road on their own. The show is also a gimmick to plug every single other Channel 4 programme out there, by using obscure presenters in video clips, who say “Hi, I’m a nomark celebrity from Channel 4’s rubbish programme about plastic surgery, and I think you should know…..”, followed by a dead easy question that the person asking it would definitely not know the answer to themselves. People are somehow winning serious cash on this, and if they do win the jackpot question, they get to come back and do it all again! I have to get on this show.
The Stats Bit:
Weeks 1-4: 8.75lbs
Weeks 5-8: 5.25lbs
Week 9-12: 1lb
Week 13: zero
Week 14: plus 4lbs
Week 15: 6.5lbs
Week 16: plus 2lbs – twas expected, but it’s not worrying me.
Total after 122 days: 15.5lbs