0:00 - Reflections on Identity
1:08 - Early Childhood Memories
2:28 - Lessons in Responsibility
5:08 - Lessons from Childhood Toys
8:22 - Impact of Small Acts
12:31 - The Trauma of the Second World War
17:41 - Acts of Protection
20:04 - Learning to Protect Children
21:48 - Challenging Categorizations
24:09 - Yvonne, the Babysitter
30:19 - Streakers and Social Norms
39:10 - The Garter Incident
44:50 - Adult Fears and Authority

Long Summary

Join me in this introspective podcast episode where I delve into pivotal moments that have shaped my life as I approach the age of 55. From childhood memories of learning honesty at boarding school to experiences of responsibility and trust, each recollection unveils nuances of personal growth and understanding.

Recounting incidents that highlighted the fragility of possessions and the impact of support during times of vulnerability, I reflect on a spill of silver paint that evoked deep-seated fears and the compassionate response of my step-grandmother. Her act of concealment symbolizes the value of empathy and resourcefulness in navigating challenges.

A poignant tale emerges of a German woman, akin to a grandmother, who safeguarded me from harm and violence in my youth, demonstrating the concept of plausible deniability to shield me from dire consequences. Such acts of protection underscore the profound influence of small gestures in a child's well-being, challenging traditional perceptions of authority figures.

In another memory, the complexities of societal norms come to light through encounters with an attractive babysitter facing external validation and societal expectations. These childhood experiences shape my understanding of authority, motherhood, and societal dynamics, prompting reflections on the intricate web of human relationships.

Further reflections on societal rules and moral standards are sparked by incidents at a pub and boarding school, where confidence and fluidity in rule adherence are explored. Observations of adult vulnerability and authority figures' reactions to external influences prompt a deeper dive into the interplay of fear and authority in shaping individual actions and perceptions.

Through these personal anecdotes and reflections, I invite listeners to contemplate the complexity of human behavior, societal norms, and power dynamics. These tales from the past offer insights into the subtle yet profound ways individuals influence understanding of the world. Thank you for joining me on this journey of introspection and exploration.


[0:00] Reflections on Identity

[0:00] You ever wonder, okay, like, how the hell did you become who you are? I mean, I guess it's like I'm going to be 55 next month, right? So I'm in a wee smidge of a retrospective mood, because that's a fairly big milestone, I suppose, right?

[0:16] And I guess I've been sort of trying to figure out, how on earth did I become who I am? I think this is an important exercise to go through because we often think that it's these big, giant truth bombs or amazing speeches or arguments that have us become who we are. But I'm not sure that's really true. It's certainly not true for me. Like I started looking back and saying, okay, why was I primed so much for philosophy in my mid-teens? Like what happened before? I can't really say, ah, well, you see, but I was raised by an anti-rational person, blah, blah, blah. blah, that's not enough. I mean, that's not enough. I have family members in similar situations, if not the same situation, who turned out completely the opposite, like completely diametrically the opposite. So what's the story, Moring Glory?

[1:08] Early Childhood Memories

[1:08] So a couple of early things. So I remember when I was in boarding school at six, a pen had been, I'd lost a pen, a nice pen, and a pen had also been lost. And I went to see if it was my pen, and it was a nice golden colored pen. And as it turned out, it was not my pen, and I said it was not my pen, but thank you. And I remember the guy saying, the headmaster saying, oh, that's very honest of you, right? Yeah, I suppose so. But that wasn't my pen. And the reason for that, and I also remember, oh, even earlier than that, I got a Winnie the Pooh book, which was my first, and I was probably about four years old. And it was my first piece of property, the first thing that was mine.

[1:55] Everything else I had to share, everything else was like collective ownership. But this was a book he'd given to me, I think by one of my aunts.

[2:02] I could put my name in it, and it was mine. And I remember thinking or feeling a very sort of deep and pleasant connection with that book. Like, this is an extension of my personality.

[2:11] This is me in the world. This is mine. I have exclusive control. I can lend it. I can, if I wanted, mark it up, and I didn't, and so on, right? And I remember just feeling a very positive sense of well-being around having my first piece of private property.

[2:28] Lessons in Responsibility

[2:29] Now, I don't know if that property right was respected. probably not but i do remember feeling very positive at about the age of four almost thrilled to have something that was mine because you know when you're a little kid you don't really have property right i mean it's all just collectively siblingy come and go tide comes in tide goes out kind of stuff but that was my first piece where it's like that was mine given just to me not uh oh here's here's something for the kids and it's just for me i remember that now what caused that to occur i don't know i don't know i think i mean i remember having playmates that we would all bring toys out to play and the rule was that you you put back the toys that you bring out right like if you bring out a toy you have to put it back in the house or whatever in the apartment and i I remember my playmate on a number of occasions just going, just leaving. And I'd say, hey, you took this out. I don't want to put it away for you. You took it out. You put it away.

[3:35] And my playmate, I was probably about five at this point, my playmate just kind of shrugging and walking off. And I looked at the toys and how much I enjoyed them. And I remember thinking, ooh, I know what he's doing. I know what he's doing. doing, he knows that I won't leave the toys out because they'll get stepped on, they'll get stolen, they'll get wrecked in the rain, whatever it is, right? And I really realized he was relying on my responsibility.

[4:04] He knew that I wouldn't leave the toys out. And I remember that very vividly staring down at this, you know, we had this blanket, this little blanket with elephants on it, looking at this fuzzy blanket with all the toys on it and thinking he can wander off because because he knows I'm going to put these toys back away. I remember that very clearly. Like, I'm good. Therefore, I'm screwed. I'm responsible. Therefore, I can be exploited. Now, of course, I wasn't thinking about it in those abstract terms at the age of five. But I do remember thinking like this frustration, frustration of like, ah, knowing that you're doomed. Like, sorry, that's a strong way to put it. But tongue in cheek. Knowing that someone else has correctly identified your level of responsibility and has removed their own responsibility in proportion. portion. Like, so if responsibility average is one, I have two, he can go to zero. He can go to zero. He doesn't have to worry about it. He doesn't have to do it. He doesn't have to concern himself with it. I remember that for sure.

[5:08] Lessons from Childhood Toys

[5:09] I remember my father's company would send us, boy, this is back in the days of predatory capitalism, eh? My father's company would send us a toy every year and you know some of the toys were okay but one of the toys was great i was out there playing with a playmate and it was a large glider and you had to sort of assemble it and you could throw this large glider and it would you know the idea was that it had these large uh wings that were wire on the outside my gosh i haven't thought of this in forever 50 years probably so there was this wire that went around the outside and then there was plastic webbing that i would provide the lift right and and it had a long plastic body and a plastic tail it was red and white and pretty big pretty big like it wasn't like a 72nd it was more like a 1 and 24th scale but it wasn't an actual plane it's just like a glider right like it wasn't a model of any kind of plane and i remember i threw it but i was very cautious because you know we We lived, there was a road, a very busy road that was in front of our apartment building.

[6:19] And I threw it very cautious, and then my playmate grabbed it and threw it with all of his might. It went right up, did a loop, landed on the road, and the front was driven over by a car. Now, that was very dangerous, right? Obviously, it's very bad for the car, and it could have swerved and all that. And I just remember feeling helpless and hopeless.

[6:42] Like Playmate just yeets it and smashes it right and you know this was like the greatest toy I'd ever had in my life, And it, you know, and, and then I remember thinking, I wish we never got the toy. Like, I wish we hadn't got the toy because I was so excited and so happy to unpack it, to put it together, to read. I didn't read the instruction manual. I think it was too little, but to have my, I think my mom read it to me and I was so excited. And then like, it was such a bitter crash.

[7:10] And it was one of these things where you, I've always sort of resisted this, where you define yourself by an accident, you know, like, oh, I'm so unlucky. I get this toy and then it just gets smashed and nothing works. My mom would always do that. Like she'd turn on a light, the light bulb would pop and go out and she'd get hysterical because nothing works in this life. You know, just exaggerating little stupid things that happen to existential statements about the nature of existence and life and tragedy and all that. And it was just kind of exhausting. Like that's a lot of, that's a lot of philosophy to, to put on a light bulb. It really is a lot of philosophy to do. And I remember just feeling like helpless and frustrated because I, you know, it wasn't, it wasn't like we could go and get another one. We didn't have any money. I wouldn't even know where to get it from.

[7:52] And it was like, if you have good things, if you have nice things, it's probably not, like it may not be worth it because this is my, you know, the thing I was most excited about and so on. And I think that that fear that other people are going to smash nice things, other people are going to rely on your level of responsibility so that they can be irresponsible. responsible. I think those were kind of, these are things that, like, you remember little bits here and there for very important reasons.

[8:22] Impact of Small Acts

[8:22] Like, there's a lesson in them. There's a reason why you remember them. I remember my step-grandmother came to visit, and she brought marzipan. Well, she bought German chocolates, of course, some of which were very good. I was a sugar hound, still am, but I resisted as much as I can. But she bought this, and the biggest chocolate she she bought was marzipan. And I remember keeping that marzipan for a while. And every now and then I would taste it thinking, hey, maybe I've...

[8:49] Maybe I've developed more of a taste for it. Like maybe I've, you know, adapted to it or something. And I would taste it. It's like, nope, still as horrible as ever. And it was very shiny because I'd licked off all the chocolate from the big blob of marzipan. But yeah, I couldn't get the marzipan thing. I just, I never could. But I had, so we had the Shag carpet in my living room.

[9:08] This is of a three-bedroom. Three-bedroom apartment is actually a pretty nice place that we had in England. Bit and what happened was i was painting a model airplane as we used to get these model airplanes from time to time and you know i mean we weren't starving you know we weren't jim carrey family homeless style or anything like that but so i but occasionally you know my mom would buy me or i can't maybe i'd get money from relatives or something and i would go out and buy a model airplane i liked the oh this is another thing too a friend of mine liked the spitfire airplane it's a world war ii spitfire airplane and which had a tighter turning radius and it was considered to be the hero of the battle of britain right the heroic fighter plane so he liked the spitfire i liked oh yes the hurricane so the hurricane i loved because it could take a lot of damage and still keep going.

[10:10] That's what I loved about it. Now, of course, it turns out I've taken a lot of damage over the years and I still kept going. So this is how funny these early things are. I don't know if you have these sorts of things. Let me know, like right below, write me back, let me know what you think. But, and of course the hurricane came in later, like many years later when I wrote Almost, right? The hurricane became fairly important in the story. And this goes all the way back you know at that point it was 30 years after um i i loved the hurricanes or whatever so anyway so i bought a hurricane and i i think this was my very first most of them were one in 72nd.

[10:47] One inch of this model was 72 inches of the actual plane. But the one that was, I finally got, I got some money from someone. It was the one in 24th scale, right? It was much, much bigger. And I remember, I talked about some of this in Almost as well. I remember as a kid, I wanted to have, I didn't like the fact that there were no eyes in the pilot. So I would take a hot pin and go into the eye sockets of the little pilot model so that it would look like he had eyes. And then I could a drip paint in there. So, um, stabbing people to make them see my call in show, so to speak. Right. So we had this white shag carpet and I was painting. Uh, what was I painting? Silver? What was silver? Probably the undercarriage or something like that. Anyway, my mom was out. My stepmother, step grandmother was there and I knocked over the silver, the paint, the silver silverpaint. I knocked over the silverpaint.

[11:45] And I was terrified beyond words, because this is the kind of thing that my mom would like beat my head against the wall about. Like I was terrified. Like I had death panic at these kinds of things, right? Because when I had tried to run away at the age of three, like packed up a pillowcase with biscuits and, and tried to get out in the middle of the night, like that's when my mom sort of beat my head against the door. And I just had to go limp because I was obviously genuinely and not at a conscious level, but physically afraid of brain damage or death. And so my mom would like be incredibly violent when these kinds of things would happen.

[12:21] And like, you remember the story of like when I put a cup of water while playing with a friend, I put a cup of water on a dresser and it left one of these pale rings. My mom just beat the shit out of me for that. Right.

[12:31] The Trauma of the Second World War

[12:31] And so the fact that I had spilt silver paint on the carpet pit was completely terrifying to me and what's interesting it was also kind of scary to my stepmother step grandmother so sorry my step grandmother my step grandmother didn't speak much english at all we could barely communicate but she i could see how she kind of went pale looking at this because i guess she knew about my mom and i don't know how old my step grandmother was when she took over with regards to my mom i know that my mom's mother my grandmother birth grandmother died in Dresden in 1944 when my mother would have been seven or eight but I don't know when the remarriage I assume she was quite young and of course my step-grandmother would have taken over my mother after all of the legitimate and horrible trauma of the second world war and you know the fact that I think she was molested or raped by a communist soviet tank commander or like based on the stories that she told and so there's like a legitimate genuine, massive sympathy for her trauma of the second world war and death and murder and and all of that.

[13:42] My step-grandmother would have taken over my mother at some point and recognized her volatility, her aggression, her violence, and so on. And so my step-grandmother was scared. I could tell she was scared of the fact that I had spilt this silver paint. And she helped me. So we tried to wash it off, but it was, I think it was oil-based paint. It didn't really come off, right? Right. And we were concerned that if we put too much water, like the cheesy layered.

[14:08] Like straight sticks crossing each other in squares, hardwood of apartments is pretty terrible. And if you get water on it, it just pops up and it just gets all wrecked. Right. So we were concerned about that because then we couldn't hide that. So she was scrubbing at it for a while and I could see she was nervous about my mom coming home. Right. And she would check her watch from time to time and i was feeling just sick like i was like planning to get away like you you want to just like hide in the woods for two days until it's somewhat blown over right that sort of theory but then my step-grandmother after failing to keep it clean did two things that you know i hate to say like it sounds melodramatic but my mom was very violent i could have saved my life or at least my brain right doesn't take a lot of head beatings against a solid object for a child to get brain damage, like we're kind of eggshells, right? So my step-grandmother cut around where she couldn't clean. Now, unfortunately, it had spread a little bit from her cleaning effort, but she cut around the carpet. And then what she did was she moved a chair, like one of these big armchairs that was in the corner of the room, and she cut out a piece of carpet and then cut it to match the piece she'd taken it out and fitted it in, fitted it in almost perfectly, fitted it in, fitted it in almost perfectly. Now, of course, she couldn't stitch it, she couldn't write, but what she did was she then took the piece she had cut out with a little bit of stain on it and she put it under the chair.

[15:35] That crazy old German chick saved my life, saved my life, potentially, or saved my brain or at least saved, you know, significant and dangerous violence, right? So she put the stained beat under the chair and she just, and I remember seeing her brush it out. Like it was one of those really thick rugs, like hair, like a, I don't know, like one of these sheepdogs. And I remember her just combing it and brushing it. And then she just gave me like the thumbs up. And I remember I walked over it a whole bunch of times back and forth. I tried scuffing it and, and see, but here's the thing, right? All you need is plausible deniability. At least that's That's what you feel you need is plausible deniability. So if my mom had ever somehow found this hole, which could be there in this apartment to this day for all I know, right? If she had found this sewn in hole, I would have been like, I don't know. I have no idea. Now, she would get angry, but not as angry as if I confessed. Like if you confess, you're doomed, right? You tell the truth, you're doomed. But I mean, so to me, that's an interesting story. I hope for you anyway. Anyway, but what to me is really interesting is that I just call her my grandmother. My grandmother was terrified of my mother. That was really interesting to me because that broke the older people are dangerous narrative, right? It totally broke that. Absolutely fascinating.

[17:01] My grandmother was terrified of my mother and worked to keep me safe. Now, she knew, and you know, obviously long dead by now, but she knew that my mother couldn't be reasoned with. She knew that my mother was violent. She knew that she couldn't protect me. She knew that she couldn't call the cops. She knew, like, there was no recourse to the violence that she not just feared, but knew would be the result of all of this, right? She knew that. So what she did was she saved me through small, creative, imaginative, private action.

[17:41] Acts of Protection

[17:41] And, of course, she didn't get angry at me herself. Now, of course, this woman had gone through the war and all of that. But, of course, she'd gone through the war as an adult rather than as a child, right? My family was hunted and, I mean, the whole Jewish thing, right? So, yeah, I had a step-grandmother who was Jewish. But my family were hunted by the Nazis because of the intellectualism, right? Because they were intellectuals, right? The Nazis just, I mean, like a lot of these populist revolts, they hate intellectuals, right? And you know this from my Polish documentary, how the Nazis killed the smartest people in Poland from top to bottom, right?

[18:23] So my step, I'm sorry, my grandmother was not angry at me. She worked hard to protect me through subterfuge. There was no reasoning with my mother. There was no protecting me from my mother, but we could cover it up. We could hide it. Well, she could, right? I wouldn't have done this, right? I wouldn't have thought of it, I don't think, at that age. So she taught me a lot, right? Like, not everyone in authority hates it when you spill something. Not everyone in authority is violent to children. Not everyone in authority is aggressive. Not everyone in authority is irrational. And some people work very hard to protect children.

[19:03] Now, again, this long-dead woman has no idea, probably. I mean, I'm sure she knew that I was grateful. Like, I didn't do anything cheesy. like give her a hug are you saved me i mean that's all that's just hollywood stuff too paralyzed with fear plus you know you have this nightmare that your mom is going to come in and scuff it up and then there's going to be this right but if enough time passes then it gets kind of vague like if enough time passes then it's like i don't know what happened to this it could have been any time right but if it happens that day you have this weird belief that your mom's going to see this outline circle in the carpet like something's different something's changed right and then and you're toast, right? So, you know, sort of skipping one generation to the step-grandmother, she worked to protect me. She worked to keep me safe, and she told me very clearly, implicitly, obviously, but she told me very clearly, you can't reason with crazy people. You can't reason with violent people. You can work to protect children without confronting evildoers directly, right? You can work to protect children without confronting evildoers directly, right?

[20:04] Learning to Protect Children

[20:04] And that was a big moment, man. That was a big moment in my life. It's a big moment in my life. It also taught me, of course, that even if you are, I don't know, whatever she was, 70 or maybe 80 years old, even if you're old, if there's a violent person in the vicinity, you have no authority. Like you can't save anyone. You can't protect anyone.

[20:29] Even if you're old, even if you're someone's mother, right? Right. And that what that did was it kind of popped my mother out of the mainstream in my mind, because, you know, your parents are not just your parents. Your parents are the world. They are males as a category, females as a category, authority as a category, parents as a category. But this my step grandmother, she broke the mold. Right. Because she was able to say to me, oh, I am a female. I am an authority figure. I am a mother. And I am going to work like hell to protect you, but I have no authority. Because if she had authority, she would have let my mom come home, she would have pointed this out, and she would have said, it was just an accident, don't you dare punish that boy. And my mother, of course, because all mothers are terrifying, my mother would have been like, okay, fine. But my step-grandmother was obviously saying, well, no, I've got to protect you from your mother, who is a sort of demonic force of nature that.

[21:26] I can't control or manage, even though I am a mother myself. So mothers can be kind. Mothers don't have any innate authority. And that popped my mother out of the category of female and mother and authority for me. Like just that one half hour when I was, I don't know, five or something like that, right? Where a woman, a mother, saved me from a woman who was a mother.

[21:48] Challenging Categorizations

[21:49] Like that really messes with your categorization, which is a good thing. It's a very good thing to mess with the categorization, right? When you're in that kind of relationship or that kind of abusive situation, you really need to have the categorization messed with because you don't want to make that the category called mother as females, authority figures, or whatever. So a mother saved me from a mother through subterfuge.

[22:11] Direct conflict, direct combat is not always the way to go. And that was really powerful. It's a really powerful thing for me. It did a lot to shake things up in my mind and to prevent me from as we do right you you you kind of protect your mother by saying all mothers right or you know she was under stress or whatever you try and protect your mother from this kind of stuff right uh you try and protect your mother from moral judgment by categorizing her in a more generic sense if that makes sense and i didn't i I mean, this blew that right out of the water that afternoon, just blew that right out of the water. Okay, here's a woman who is, here's a mother protecting me from my mother. Here's a mother very clearly and directly telling me that there's no possibility to reason with my mother and that you're going to have to hide out and find a way to evade that problem, that issue, right? You're going to have to find a way to evade that. And that's pretty wild. That was a pretty wild moment and very powerful for me. And again, what it does is it kind of reinforces to me that you do end up with, you know, tiny gestures can change a life.

[23:29] Because that's what I was sort of saying. We think that we're formed by these big, grand gestures or these big, grand things. Now, this was a little thing. I mean, obviously, it's a big thing. But it was a little moment where a mom worked to protect me from a mom. A mom who'd raised my mother couldn't control my mother. A woman who raised my mother had no influence. A woman who'd raised my mother was terrified of my mother. That's a pretty big thing, man, as far as breaking your categories goes. Us. It's pretty powerful. And again, I mean, I didn't get a chance to thank her. I didn't really, I was just so relieved, but no, if she's, if she's listening in the afterlife, thank you very much, granny.

[24:09] Yvonne, the Babysitter

[24:10] Now let's talk about Yvonne. So Yvonne was my babysitter or a babysitter that I had. I had a couple of babysitters. I remember one babysitter. I don't remember her name. Of course, I was very young, maybe four or so. And you know, my mom was still cast to go out trying to find And big guy, right? Trying to find some guy, Blanche DuBois style, take care of her, that kind of stuff, right? Now, so she would go on these dates and she dropped me off with these babysitters. And I remember one babysitter used to let me stay up. I remember it was the first time I stayed up to watch the news.

[24:42] And I remember how serious it all seemed and all the gray men in gray suits on a gray TV and all of that. But she didn't want me watching the news, but she didn't want me to.

[24:54] She didn't want to put me in another room, I don't know. I can't, yeah, it was a sleepover thing, so it was more than a date, because I remember falling asleep there, so I guess my mom was having her own sleepovers. I certainly didn't laugh, but so I remember this babysitter, not Yvonne, this other babysitter, she was a brunette, she used to give me a curly-whirly every time I came over, her, which I loved as a chocolate bar, like candy spiderweb chocolate bar. And she would prop up these two chairs facing each other, like these two armchairs. I would sleep there. And then she had, she would try to get me to not watch the news because she would put the back of the armchair between me and the TV anyway. So, and I remember one night I was supposed to go to this babysitter at the brunettes and it was canceled. I guess my mom's date backed out or whatever. And I sobbed like all night, just, just absolutely heartbroken because that was a place where I was treated well. Well, she played with me and she was kind. And again, you know, it's really sad, but also a little bit inspiring. Just how much an abused child can get out of a couple of kind interactions.

[25:55] You know, somebody, hey, here's a little candy. Hey, you can stay up late. Hey, let's play. You know, and I never had a mean babysitter that I can remember, which also is because I was a pretty nice kid. I was a pretty nice kid. it anyway so but Yvonne was a hot right now again I'm talking when I was like four or five years old so but I could tell that she was attractive because you know I mean you you wire to know what's pretty or whatever right I could tell she was attractive we're walking down the street.

[26:27] By an apartment building maybe about 30 feet from the road and she's got she's she's a good looking woman. She's young. She's got really tight pants on. She's got full hips. I don't remember if she was busty or not, but I can't remember if there was that kind of shade. But anyway, there was a.

[26:46] Car coming down the street and they looked at i guess there was full of guys right and they looked at yvonne and i remember they leaned out of the car and were whooping and thumping the roof at how, pretty or sexy or curvaceous or whatever it was she was right and i remember being a little startled understanding what the men we were doing obviously right that they found her attractive and you know they didn't stop the car or anything they were just basically hollering their appreciation of a fine female form and i remember yvonne looking down at me shaking her head with a sly smile and saying oh it's a wicked wicked world but she was smiling boy that's that's quite a complicated there's a lot to unpack in that for a four-year-old there's There's a lot to unpack in that, right? In that, oh, it's a wicked, wicked world. But she enjoyed the attention. I mean, she didn't dress like that because she didn't want attention. And so I just remember like thinking like that's quite complicated. You know, she's dressing like this to get this reaction. She says it's wicked and she smiles. Yes. And I was like, wow, that's quite a complicated relationship to being attractive.

[28:09] And also I was, I guess, because I could have been her. I don't remember, of course, how old she was. I mean, if she was 18 and I was four, I wouldn't have been really her kid, right? But they saw a woman. Now, maybe she was far enough away from the road. It's like the 30 or 40 feet or whatever. She was far enough away from the road that they probably couldn't tell exactly how old she was. I mean, you can't even if you're up close, but whatever, right? And she had makeup on and she had done her hair well. and she was, you know, stuffed into these tight clothes and all that. But I could have been her son, right? She was blonde, I was blonde, but I could have been her son.

[28:44] And they hollered at her regardless, right? And I remember thinking like, well, if she was a mom, then she'd have, I still had this sort of template, you know, from I was reading, that was a little later that I was reading the Enid Blyton books, The Famous Five and Mallory Towers and so on, which I've read also with my daughter, which is great fun. But it was okay so they're hollering at this woman but i she could be my mom and they obviously don't really care and this that and the other right so i remember that moment of complexity and i was thinking like okay you wouldn't want to assume that women are not ambivalent about things right like they don't want the attention yet roll their eyes and shake oh it's a wicked wicked world you know that kind of stuff right like it's complicated women's relationship with being attractive is very complicated. And I remember thinking, okay, that's, that's, I got to bookmark this, right? That's, of course, you know, this is not stuff I'm thinking consciously at the age of four. I'm not trying to make myself ridiculously precocious or anything like that. But I just remember thinking about that, like, you know, when you're a kid, you want to boil things down, right? It's good or bad, good or bad, right? Hitting other kids, good or bad, bad. Okay, don't do it, right? Stealing other things, don't, bad, don't do it, right? And with this, it was like.

[29:56] Woman dressing to be attractive to men, men thumping on a car roof, exclaiming very loudly how pretty she is or curvaceous or sexy or whatever, right? She smiling, claiming it's wicked. Like that's, that's, that's a lot. I can't boil. I couldn't boil that down and stuff. I can't boil down. I just keep packing out. I just keep packing out. I just keep packing out.

[30:19] Streakers and Social Norms

[30:19] You know, like if you've, you got to untangle your Christmas tree lights, you just keep working at it till they're untangled right that's the same thing with me right if i can't boil something down i'll just keep packing at it i'll just keep pulling at it and so i remember that being one of the first things was like i mean like mother equals violence no because my mother's mother, saved me from my mother so no that's like it it shatters the universals and this was like okay does she want the guys to thump on her it kind of seems like she does anyway so another thing that happened which i think was formative for me was uh you guys are too too young for this probably but back in england back in the day back in the 70s there were um streakers streakers.

[31:06] And my mother and i used to go to a pub up the street and the pub had this really big garden, and you know when you're little i'm probably again i have to sort of say five because by six i was in boarding school. So this is all before that, right? Oh, so when I was five, it would have been 1971.

[31:27] Yeah, it could have been shortly before five or six, maybe shortly before boarding school. No, actually, is it? No, I turned six in boarding school. Anyway, so this pub, my mom would, I guess, meet a friend or two there, or maybe she had a date and she'd bring me and I would make friends with the other kids. And they had this wonderful garden with paths going through it. And the paths were fantastic because it was like when you're that you know like you're five and it's like late night tag is like ungodly fun like it's just it's the pinnacle it was like the some of the greatest nights of my childhood were there just having fun playing you would take the sometimes you would take the uh menus and you'd you'd uh make paper airplanes out of them and and have contests that way and just you know just making friends and and playing games and and my mom was of course never in any hurry to get home because she was she enjoyed you know very slim a very very very pretty if not downright beautiful and so she got a lot of male attention and so she was in no hurry to leave right and i was in no hurry to leave either because i could have stayed there all night i loved that late night play stuff anyway so i remember playing around.

[32:39] There was a the there was the bar then there was a patio with a bunch of tables and then there was a a big garden where the kids all play and i remember suddenly there was cheers and applause, And, of course, being a child, you're always curious what is it that makes things interesting or exciting for adults, right? Because that's going to be your future, right? So I ran up to the patio and I looked to the bar and a tall, slender, shaggy-haired, with a slight beard, man, maybe about 30, was walking past the bar totally naked. totally naked.

[33:23] And he, I think he bought a beer and I, you know, then the sort of a crowd closed around him, but everybody was like laughing and cheering and clapping and all that kind of stuff. Right. Now that blew my mind a little because I knew that nudity, I mean, you don't see nude people. Right. So I knew that nudity was frowned upon was, you know, probably illegal, right? Like, you know, you have this phase when you're a kid, you can run around naked and nobody cares. Stairs and then it's like you got to cover up right you got to cover up right and you know we've all been to those beaches where they have kids they were too old to be doing the naked thing but they're still doing the naked thing and it's like uh please don't that's not good so i i had gone past the i guess at five or maybe uh just before six or whatever i was past the run around naked phase right i mean that's like what does that max out at a year and a half or two maybe two and a half. So I had to have clothes on. You know, if I had walked into school with no clothes on, people would have been shocked and appalled. And, you know, the principal would have been called and I don't know, whatever, the police, who knows, right? But I very clearly remember, like, what's up with this? Like, it's bad to be naked in public.

[34:40] And here, everyone is cheering. Here, everyone is cheering. And I do remember thinking about that, like, so these rules, right? These rules. So it's illegal to be naked, but nobody reported this guy. The police never showed up, and everybody was cheering him and applauding.

[35:03] Maybe he'd lost a bet. Maybe he was just a streaker guy. Every now and then you'd see, you know, someone running on the football pitch very briefly, right? Who was naked. But they were tackled, they were arrested or whatever, right?

[35:16] So all of these people who would not allow a five-year-old boy to wander around naked are cheering a 30-year-old guy with his dick hanging out. And I remember thinking, okay, so it's his moral thing, right? It's a moral thing. It's not like you're wearing different colored socks, right? That's an aesthetic thing. There's a moral thing, like it's wrong. Cover up, you know, it's wrong. Don't go around. You can't be naked, right? So I remember thinking, okay, so it's wrong and bad to be naked. I was pretty sure it was illegal to be naked, because otherwise more people would have been doing it in the same way that you can find people with different colored socks from time to time, right? Or people who wear black socks with sandals or things that that are considered gauche or whatever, right? So I knew that it wasn't just aesthetics. I was pretty sure it was illegal. And here people were cheering the illegality. And I couldn't, and then I realized, oh, I know why. I know why. Because he's walking in, he's holding the beer, he's got a big cheese-eating smile on his face. He has no problem with what they're doing, with what he's doing. Therefore they don't. Like if you can imagine like some crazy scenario where some woman had been you know pushed out.

[36:33] Into the crowd with no clothes on, what, she would be covering her butt, she'd be covering her boobs, she'd be ashamed, she'd be blushing, she'd be, you know, cover me up. Somebody would hand her a, like rip off a tablecloth and hand her a tablecloth like it would be a terrible, shameful thing that needed to be covered up and solved and fixed immediately because, right? And I remember thinking, oh, so if he doesn't have a problem with what he's doing, if he's in a weird way, and I did consider it weird, of course, but if in a weird way, he's proud of what he's doing, then not only does he get away with it, But he's cheered. And then I thought, okay, so the rules aren't the rules if they're not the rules for you.

[37:13] Again, I'm not trying to over-precocious myself up. I'm not saying I diagrammed this out like some half-decade Venn diagram fantasy. I just remember thinking, if you're confident enough, you can make your own rule. So the woman who'd have been ashamed, that would have been bad. But the man who strode in confident, now he's probably on drugs or whatever, but the man who strode in totally confident, people just cheered him. They didn't, and the rules aren't the rules. The rules are your attitude towards the rules, if that makes any sense, if that makes any sense. And that struck me as both very dangerous and very exciting, right? Like, you know, these kinds of things. That struck me as very dangerous and very exciting. because if the rules aren't the rules but the only rule in a sense is your attitude towards the rules, then i mean i know this is like sub-nichi 101 right so i get all of that right but i remember thinking that you can do something illegal but if you do it with panache right if you do it with enough elan or confidence then people will cheer and that means that the people don't care about the rules they only care whether you care about the rules.

[38:25] Because if he had come in really embarrassed and shy or whatever, then they would have turned on him, right? But because he strode in like, here I am, then everybody was cheering and applauding him. Huh. Isn't that interesting? What are the rules? They're not objective. They're not objective.

[38:43] And I understand it's not all the rules. I mean, if he'd strangled a waitress to death in front of everyone, they wouldn't have been cheering and clapping. At least I know it was the 70s, but I bloody well hope not. So I get it's something like nudity or whatever. But people are so thirsty for seeing somebody who is free of social disapproval that they will cheer somebody walking butt naked into a crowd, not just of adults, but of children. Right. Because, as I said, I was playing there with a bunch of other kids.

[39:10] The Garter Incident

[39:11] So again very vivid very complex memory when i was a kid that when people see someone who, shrugs off social norms with great gusto and confidence they may condemn they may but they're also secretly rooting for that person and sometimes in this case of course it was openly rooting for that person i guess last thing i mentioned with sort of complicated relationship with rules was when i was in boarding school i climbed over a fence to get a ball and i got caned for this right and then i always had trouble hanging on to my garters garters are the little elastics to keep your socks up and it was important you couldn't go to church or whatever with your socks hanging down so there's an old phrase in england uh if you displease uh if child displeases is you all have your guts for garters, right? Pull out your ligaments and make garters. I'll have your guts for garters. I remember that when I was a kid.

[40:10] And I had lost one of my garters, which is a continual problem. I had lost one of my garters, and the assistant headmaster saw me with my sock hanging down, and he said, you know, adjust your, fix your socks. Now I didn't have my garter with me. And I couldn't say I didn't have my garter. I couldn't find my garter because then I would have been in trouble. I could have been caned again for not taking care of my property, blah, blah, blah, right?

[40:39] And although I never viewed everything that I was, I never viewed anything I was ordered to wear as my property. Like I was in school uniforms. I never thought of them as my property. Why? Because you're ordered to wear them and therefore you don't, they're not yours. You're ordered to do. It's like saying you are choosing to pay your taxes. No, you're ordered to, right? right so i didn't know what to do again i was six and so i strode between two beds and pretended to adjust my gutters right and then you what you do is you walk like a little bit of a limp so that because it's the shock of your foot landing that pulls your goddess or draws them down a little bit through momentum and so i adjusted my gutter pretend gutter and then walks with a little bit bit of a limp so that my sock wouldn't sort of sag down. Went through the day and then that night my sock was down again. The assistant headmaster was in the dorm room again and he demanded to know what had happened to my garter. Did you have it this morning? Yes. What happened to it? Oh I sorry sir I lost it in gym class. Long pause.

[41:47] You don't have gym class. You didn't have gym class today you're lying boy and then you think oh my god like it's one thing to lose your god or it's it's another thing directly to lie to the assistant headmaster and we had a really mean matron as well and so i remember thinking i'm doomed right violence will descend upon me and blah blah blah right anyway so he had a conversation with the matron and they were both looking at me and i was just standing there of course and you know my friend slowly backing away and all of of that, right? Because everyone's like, oof, I don't want to be another guy when the hammer comes down. And I remember the assistant headmaster and the mean matron talking to me, glancing at me, and they turned and went out, and we're all just standing there frozen because, you know, they're expecting to have them come back and drag me off to the whipping room by my ears or whatever, right? But no, they never came back. Nothing happened, never got caned, never got hit. And I remember thinking, okay, so what the hell? I lied. I mean, both implicitly by pretending to adjust God was I didn't have and then directly by saying I'd lost the managing class on a day when I didn't have gym class.

[43:01] So I remember thinking, okay, so what the hell? I was relieved. I wasn't angry, like, oh, my God, I can't believe they're not enforcing the rules by beating me. But I remember thinking, what the hell? I just lied to his face, and nothing happened. I never got any repercussions. I mean, it wasn't like they didn't go as far as to hand me an extra gutter. I have no memory of anything like that. But I do remember thinking, like, going to bed that night and like, what the hell is going on? What are the rules? Now, I understand, right? I think that they kind of got the sense that I was abused at home or maybe they'd met my mom and like, well, we don't need to add to this kid's troubles. But it was a stay of execution, so to speak, that I remember very vividly, very vividly. And that was really remarkable to me. Again, what are the rules? They're not the rules. The rules are not the rules. rules now i wasn't like insouciantly ah you can beat me if you want and there's no point right and i think they also got i remember this from the wire the tv show where some homeless guy, i don't know causes the death of someone else but he's so distraught and wrecked about that they don't even bother pressing charges and maybe i was just so scared they're like well it's no point they're hitting us for the defiant kids and i was you know i was scared and all of that so maybe they were like okay well it's you know there's no point right but i just remember thinking Okay, so, boy, you'd think that'd be about the worst thing you could do, but nothing. What are the rules?

[44:29] Well, I don't, of course, I mean, these people are probably long dead now, too, but I have no memory of why. And, of course, I never found out. I wasn't about to say, well, how come you didn't cane me or whatever? I have no memory of that. And the last thing I mentioned is that I never grew up with any televisions in boarding school, right? And I remember having to go to the nurse for something.

[44:50] Adult Fears and Authority

[44:51] Thing oh a guy lied about something else yeah there was a kid's making way too much noise in the next dorm i couldn't sleep so i pretended to have an earache from all the noise and then they put a couple of things in my ears for a pretty pretty sad way to be assertive but you know i was giving it my best shot anyway so i went to the nurse probably to get one of these ear drops i remember them very cold i remember get ear drops and i remember seeing tanks on her television set, right and i remember i knocked on the door i opened it and she kind of jumped up from her eyes glued to the television set where tanks were rolling through a city. And I remember thinking she's scared of the war or whatever it was. Right.

[45:30] And also like adults don't, Adults don't know what they're doing. Like adults don't know what they're doing. Because there's a war and she feels helpless. She's scared. She jumped up when I opened the door. I could tell she was nervous and scared of the war that she was, war footage she was watching. So, I mean, in that sense, I knew it wasn't a war movie. Again, I have no idea where the war was or what was happening. But I remember thinking, so she's scared. She's nervous.

[45:57] So there's a bigger authority than her. Because she was like the big authority for me, right? And she was really mean and cutting. and you know looking back of course she was a single woman in her 30s nurse ratchet style taking care of a bunch of kids who didn't like her and it's not not the best life in the world to put it mildly but she even looked a little bit like uh nurse ratchet but i remember she jumped up and i remember thinking oh man so they're scared too there's some bigger authority than this matron right there's some bigger authority that's got her scared what is that and it had something to do with war and that so i remember thinking okay well if she's scared and i'm scared we're both looking up at an authority that's more dangerous than we are or is dangerous to us right i was scared of her she was scared of the war and of course by that i sort of i understood that meant the government right so i remember thinking that this woman who was kind of a mean bully was herself scared, of the government and so i realized that her fear i mean again it's not all conscious stuff i don't And again, I want to pump myself up as some boy genius, but I do remember thinking, okay, if she's scared of something, then there's something bigger than all of us. And that probably had something to do with my skepticism around the state later on.

[47:09] Seeing somebody who bullies you jump up scared because of something the government's doing. Kind of instructive, very instructive, in fact. So anyway, I hope this is interesting to you. Let me know. I mean, I'm happy to pour more in. and to me it's always interesting to excavate these nuggets which if never excavated will die with me because all the people who saw them are dead so they will vanish completely from the world if I don't record them so let me know if you'd like to hear any more I'm happy to share and slash donate lots of love from up here take care bye.

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