Sunday Waffle – 28/11/2021 – Catfishing and Letting Go

I used to do this with the video blogs (aka vlogs) last year. There was a series of them and I ended up referring to them as the “Sunday Waffle” for, as the name suggests, I’d post the vlogs on a Sunday. Of course I would post other vlogs on the days inbetween too! But the Sunday vlogs tended to be the most “waffling” – on any subject. Not just Simple Minds based. 

I do have a personal blog but I haven’t used it for a long time. I just keep invested in the domain names for it. But something I want to talk about today *IS* Simple Minds related, but I’ll talk more about that shortly. 

Firstly I want to talk about the “off topic” subject of catfishing. This word started to be used more liberally in the early 2000s, after the release of a documentary about a woman “catfishing” a guy she was interested in. The connotation of catfishing in this first instance was that you deceive people into thinking you are living a life that is false. That you’re successful, you have money, you have children, etc, etc. It’s a very toxic thing and in that context should be taken as an absolutely abhorrent, deceitful thing to do to people. I would never do that myself! And I am not condoning anybody else doing that. 

Conversely, I will say that it isn’t black and white and people who feel compelled to do these kind of things deserve some level of compassion and understanding. Unless armed with the full details of individual cases, it’s very easy to judge and make assumptions.

More and more at the moment I see the term “catfishing” being used to describe women who use makeup to alter their appearance. I think the term is being used erroneously in this respect. The original use of “catfishing” had a far more deceptive and toxic definition to it than merely making yourself appear different and “better” in an aesthetic sense. 

It’s a reflection of the world we currently live in, one in which women deemed “ugly” use makeup to make themselves appear as they are not (supposedly). But this isn’t in any way a new thing! And women have been using makeup in some form or other for HUNDREDS of years.

Here is a case of “catfishing” that happened centuries ago. A well known case, if you know your history, esp. your history of Tudor England. And it goes right to the top of the monarchy. I daresay that EVERY PERSON in Tudor times would be deemed to have “catfished” under its current broad definition. Portraits made of the monarchy were deceitful. Nobody was ever portrayed as they actually were back then. 

Ever heard of the term “warts and all”? It was attributed as being used by Oliver Cromwell when he was having his portrait done. He is reputed as saying to commissioned artist Sir Peter Lely, “Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”

Back to the Tudor case of the catfisher being catfished. 

Henry VIII took MUCH liberty in how he was portrayed. Painted most times to look taller, thinner, more athletic, healthier, and more attractive than he actually was. At the time I am about to refer to, he is 49 years old. That is quite an age in Tudor times! And he’s had some hard and fast living by now. He is not going to be looking ANYTHING like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who portrayed Henry in The Tudors television series made during the 2000s), okay?! (Meyers today is only 44 years old.)

Jane Seymour has passed away, and after a very, very, VERY brief time of grieving, Henry is on the lookout for wife number four. He is told of Anne of Cleves and is assured by his courtiers that they’re an exemplary match. Anne is a young maiden of 25 years of age. Henry’s already sensing doubt as to be 25 in Tudor times and unmarried – something has to be up with that, right? They show him a portrait of Anne. He is smitten! He cannot wait to meet her! He’s literally married himself off to her as soon as he sees her portrait. 

Come the day they meet face to face, Henry is outraged! As far as he is concerned, Anne is NOTHING LIKE the portrait he was shown and he makes it known quite emphatically what he thinks of Anne, referring to her as a “Flanders mare”. Nice one, Henry! Never mind what Anne must have thought seeing the sight of you for the first time, given the portraits she’d have seen of this unbelievably ageless, athletic, virile “studmuffin” when the reality was you’re a badly aging, gammied leg, portly hypocrite! And you probably haven’t had a bath in about 7 months on top of that!

Yes, it’s the monarchy and there was obviously more to it than that. The courtiers were making Anne look, particularly aesthetically (because they obviously knew that Henry likes a “hot chick”) attractive to Henry because they (and he)  wanted to secure a political and religious alliance between England and Protestant western Germany. 

In the monarchy then NOBODY married for love. Everybody was catfishing the heck out of everyone else. Powerplay. 

I despair that the word “catfishing” is being used to now make women feel and appear even MORE untrustworthy than they are currently being portrayed in the media. I have little sympathy for the men being “catfished”, if all their attraction to a woman is based entirely on her looks. Good! Get fucking catfished, you superficial asshat!

I know when meeting someone for the first time face to face our first impression is the way a person looks. It is, by nature, our first marker. We SEE someone first before we speak to them or anything else. But that is why anyone with a modicum of self-respect and decency would not just think, “She’s fit. Shagging her later.” And if it is what you think and you get your stomach turned by what you wake up to next to you the following morning – I don’t pity you. You are far more abhorrent than you THINK the person next to you is. 

So can we stop using “catfishing” to describe women who want to make themselves look more attractive? I wish we didn’t live in a world where this kind of stuff has to go on! Where women could actually feel like they deserve love no matter how they look. That people could see beyond the superficial and the aesthetic! I’m not saying we’re not allowed to appreciate those things. I mean, geez, how hypocritical is my blog, with all these pictures of Jim all over it?

Today’s “view from the bridge”.

Anyway, let us move on.

This is going to be a more personal aspect of today’s waffle. And it is Simple Minds related because it’s about Jim, and my “letting go” of this desire for friendship that has been churning away within me these past two years especially. 

There were two distinct markers of when this became something that became incredibly “all-consuming” within me – Jim sharing his dad’s cancer diagnosis with us, and my mum passing away. 

I am still very disappointed with myself for allowing myself to get so…dependent and needy. For holding on SSOO tightly to all the early (early in my fandom) interactivity that I had with Jim. That I SSOOO misconstrued what it was and how long it has taken me to “let go” of it. 

I need to talk about the past few days. Enrolling (still not confirmed yet as I have to do some initial part of the application process first before I can actually enrol in the course I want to study) in the Open University and my readiness to “fail better”. 

Last night I suddenly remembered that Jim had quoted the Beckett words in a post he did some time back. So I used the search feature on Facebook to see where and when. And there was part of me convinced he must have interacted with me on that post because I had such a strong recollection of him using the Beckett quote. I would usually only remember something like that if it felt it impacted on me directly. 

I find it. Posted to the SM page on July 11th, 2019. It’s a post about … well … failing, funnily enough. But Jim’s first own personal example was when he first felt “failure” in a major way, playing football as a young boy. Playing for the local Cubs and losing HUGELY to a rival team of, quote “hairy-legged” older boys. He then lists other perceived “failures”. Leaving school with no formal qualifications, being divorced twice, investments in failed businesses. And then things that are now not even seen as failures, but initially were – Simple Minds’ early releases not being commercially successful. I’ll link to the post HERE so you can read it all for yourself.

Then he asks us about our “failures”. 

At this point, before reading the comments, I was convinced he must have responded to me. Possibly one of the last times he ever did respond to me. I read the comments. I try to find mine first. I had left two. One was me asking for clarity on what he meant by “no qualifications”. Was he implying he left school without a single O Level? And, you won’t be surprised to hear that I waffled. And even apologised for “waffling”. Lol. Then there was my actual reply to his question about our failures. Or more accurately, our perceived failures. My reply was basically – “How long have you got, Jim? How long is a piece of string?”

There were no responses from him as I had imagined. Nothing, on either comment. Not even a Facebook “like” on either of them. Sometimes a “like” I would deem an acknowledgement from him that he had at least read the comment. Nothing. For either comment. No like. And certainly no reply comment. And it was at a time when he was still around. Many other comments received “likes”. 

What I do see in one of my comments is a response from people who I now have no dealings with. One person I had already had that cutting off with, but the other person I didn’t realise had any involvement with what the crux of the matter is, so I had naively responded to them not knowing any better at the time. Perhaps Jim saw that interaction and thought it best to avoid my comment altogether? Or…he just wasn’t interested in responding to me. Which would happen sometimes. But I would usually get a “like”.

But there was nothing for either of my comments. 

This morning I was thinking about “Jalopy”. It was one of the last “interactions” I ever had with Jim on Facebook. The final one being one I had to try and backtrack to and find via looking back through my blog. 

It’s been over a year now. The very last token piece of interaction I had with Jim via the Simple Minds Facebook page was a post he did about the release of Heart Of The Crowd – the book. He said he felt “misty eyed” and I had replied saying was he sure his “misty eyes” were from the book being released rather than the Scottish football team having just secured their entry into the Euros? He replied with a “They’ll be coming!” and a link to YouTube of The Tartan Army singing “We’ll Be Coming Down The Road”.

I can’t tell you how happy that made me! Well, I probably could. But this post is getting VERY long and I must get on with my point. Whatever my point is.

It’s this. I think I am FINALLY, slowly, coming to terms with not wanting to seek reaffirmation from Jim for every single damn half-decent thing I feel I do. There are actually not many things I feel I do well. Very few things at all! But I got ssoo caught up in wanting to impress him and wanting to keep this ever so deluded sense of a “bond”, of a “connection” – I lost myself. And I lost the ability to “let it go”.

I was also thinking about the story I shared about Rodney Johnston and the dog bite. Of my first “serious” relationship. Of my first and only “long-term” boyfriend. The memories of them are really, really strong. And although I am holding on to certain aspects of those relationships – I really did let them go quite successfully. 

I’ve never mentioned him by name before on here. I usually give him some coded name. But the guy I had my first “adult” relationship with was called Brendan McDonagh. It was a relationship I kept going in the hope it would turn into something else. For him all it ever was was sex. And sadly I was the instigator every single time. No self-worth, see? Convinced that if I kept sleeping with him he eventually would want to be with me. It wasn’t until I met my actual first and only “proper” boyfriend, Roger, did this very tenuous “relationship” with Brendan end. I didn’t miss him. I didn’t even think about him. I totally moved on. Roger became my focus. 

I don’t even know when I started thinking about Brendan again. Long after my breakup with Roger. It took me a long time to get over the breakup with Roger. But I was able to walk away in the end. I mean, there were complications. After a time, Roger and I were “seeing” each other again but it was short-lived. And I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail about that here. The point of it is – despite how it sounds typing this out – I could let them go. I could let these relationships go. 

I feel really disappointed in myself with just how much emphasis I have placed upon seeking all this reaffirmation from Jim. I feel sick from it. That I have felt so little of myself that I have spent the past two years just PRAYING for this man to like me, wanting him to interact with me, wanting him to make me feel like I was his friend, making me feel like I was “worthy”. I shouldn’t have to beg. And if I genuinely meant something to him…then I wouldn’t be needing to beg. 

It’s been the hardest these past two years. I think it’s because of mum passing away. I don’t think I knew what to do with my grief. And I think I didn’t feel like I needed to grieve? Like, I thought I was viewing her death rather pragmatically and came to terms with it very quickly. On the other hand there were things like Falling Leaves. Not remembering to tell my sister that mum wanted it played at her funeral, it slipping my mind and not remembering until the day after the funeral. 

I’m thinking about next year and my diploma and how much study it is going to take and how much focus I need. I need to start concentrating on me!

Next year is going to be a test. My course will start in February. Weeks later, I’ll be at a Simple Minds gig in Paris (all being well and good with international travel by then – I must admit, I have my reservations about getting to Paris even coming to fruition right now). And then a month after that, another bunch of Simple Minds gigs. Then another in June, and one final one in August. 

I admit to still grappling with the “he’s just a man” aspect of Jim. I really wish I could see him like that! But in some ways I think it is probably better that I don’t. That I see him as completely out of reach. Completely in another realm. 

It’s hard because…it’s those things – it’s the things that reveal that he is “just a man” that make me wish for the impossible. It’s the “ordinary” within the extraordinary. It’s him being just Jim. Just “the normal guy” that brings the yearning. 

But I shouldn’t need him to like me. And … he doesn’t have to like me. He doesn’t have to like me for my life to have meaning and importance. I know!!! That should be a REALLY EASY concept for me to master, right? But it hasn’t been. It really hasn’t been. And I am ssooo disappointed and perplexed with myself about that. Bordering on angry. But I have to be kind to myself! To heal. To overcome it. To conquer it. I need to be kind to me. To accept it. To say “Hey, it’s fine. You’ve been dealing with a lot of shit these past two years. And this man sparked up so much positivity in your life. It’s okay that you wished for an attachment that wasn’t there. That you desired a bond. We all hope to be liked. We’re social animals. Our ‘raison d’etre’ is to make bonds, friendships, and to love. And to want acceptance.”

I’m working on it. I’m working on not dwelling on it. I’m working on it not taking up so many hours of my day. And it’ll be hard because aspects of it keep me going. This is a case in point! Writing! The joy and catharsis I take in writing. And so much of it over the past five years has been either directly or indirectly involving Jim. He has sparked so much creativity in me! But that is what it is – a spark. And I need to be mindful to accept it as a spark. The catalyst. The spark- not the whole damn fire! Not the whole nuclear fusion! That the actual fire comes from within me! 

But, Jim. Thank you for the spark. 

Interesting that I should close this with the talk of a “spark” because when I was initially looking into study for next year, I was looking at doing a Creative Writing course at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Strathclyde. It was broken down into modules that were titled “Kindling”, “Ablaze” and “Inferno”. Jim has been an inferno for too long. Kindling. Back to kindling. The spark. 

A spark is enough. 

Lastly – this has been the earworm for the past few days, particularly as I awake in the morning. Make of it what you will…

Better Write? (Off Topic Yet Somehow Relevant)

When does a hobby become a career? 

Today I have been looking at the University of Strathclyde site, looking at courses – and all of it, every single bit of it feels so out of reach!

I looked at undergrad courses. Pipe dreams! I looked at the Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. I looked at what was required for entry (yikes!), fees, etc. That one really is shooting for the moon!

The next one I looked at is English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. That needed quite a level of education as well. But could I achieve the “baby steps” it would take to get there? 

Yesterday I was at the site looking at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. There are online courses in Creative Writing. Starting at the beginner “Kindling” stage, progressing to the “Feeding the Flame” stage, then on to “Ablaze”, then finally “Inferno”. Each course is online and lasts 10 weeks. But the progressive classes don’t seem to follow on in stages through the year, so this would be year by year. It’s a drawn out process. If I was to enrol in the “Kindling” course and really enjoyed it and gained something from it, I know I’d just want to move on and on. Not wait until the next year, then the next year and the next.

Adult learning terrifies me now. It’s been a long time since I stepped into anything like this. Especially in a way like this, that requires study – with your brain engaged! The last adult education course I did was a photography course and that was over 15 years ago now.

I cried this morning looking at the course. Wanting to take the plunge but feeling no confidence in my ability to do it well at all. The whole social side of it terrifies the life out of me! Even in an online way. Talking with other students via Zoom style meetings. I’ve tried distance learning in the past (pre-Internet) and I didn’t do very well at it. 

The tears were because…it just feels so massive already! It should be an exciting prospect and fun! But to me it feels like this is my last chance to try and DO SOMETHING – and if I fail? I feel defeated before I have even begun!

There’s a testimony of the course from a lady named Mary Elizabeth Wylie. She’s 88 years old and has just published her first book. She started the Creative Writing course at 75. Seventy-Five! I should feel inspired by her story, but it still just sounds like a glorified hobby.

It just feels like folly. Another one of my dreams that’ll go nowhere. How do I justify spending out “hunners” of pounds for each of these short courses? For it then to be 2025 and I am enrolled in a full-on university degree in English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. And then that is “hunners” times ten!

To feel able to string some words together on paper is a vastly different thing to where all this could go. And it is PETRIFYING! I feel almost physically sick at the prospect of it. Study. Focus. Deadlines. Submitting work to be scrutinised and graded. 

Currently I am a happy but disillusioned amatuer. Do I want to be a professional? Perhaps turned careerist? 

Aspects of the course that I hope I’d gain from it are appealing. To feel much more competent AND confident in my writing would be fabulous. To potentially feel more adept at working to a deadline and handling the pressure that brings. 

I am in “serious pondering” mode. I am considering it. And I wish the idea of the leap didn’t make me feel so sick to my stomach. I should be filled with enthusiasm! But, perhaps it is as David Bowie suggested?

Write Something!

Almost every day I feel the need to write. But I need to have a purpose. A reason. An objective. I’ve never been good with a blank page. Sitting at a piece of blank paper, pen in hand. Or sitting at a computer with a blank word processing page staring back at me.

It’s taken a long time for this writing seed to germinate within me. I was so very bad at writing stories at school. When we were asked to write stories at school – I hated it. Sitting in a classroom, waiting for inspiration to come. For, although we might have been allowed to write an essay or piece of fiction at home, we were usually asked to start it in class. And that was usually in primary school, where you had the same teacher all of the day. So, there could be an hour we were given to start writing. Well, I usually sat at a blank page for almost half that time, guaranteed. Then I would eventually come up with a rather bland and matter-of-fact account of something. My memories of school are all but non-existent. That “trauma” thing of wiping out all the bad from your mind. It means I tend not to have the clearest memory of school days. Just vague snapshots of things. So, perhaps we were given a particular subject, say “taking a bus trip”, or “visiting the zoo” – some kind of topic to write about but for it to be broad enough to allow for the kids with the best imaginations to concoct magnificent stories.

I was NOT one of them.

And I never associated good writing not being about story-telling or the fictitious. Either I had really shitty teachers or I just wasn’t at school enough, but I don’t ever remember a single teacher explaining to me that good writing didn’t have to be about “a story”. A piece of fiction. And because I wasn’t very good at creative writing, per se, I believed for such a long time that I wasn’t any good at writing. 

And that feeling – those things you believe about yourself when you’re young, at least for me anyway, have stayed locked in my mind. I feel…adequate with the written word. I feel I can express myself far better with the written form. I have felt that way for some time now. 

The thing that blows me away. The thing that has been a revelation to me is feedback from others about my writing. The genuine positive feedback and acknowledgement I receive from people reading posts on my blog. Or reading things I post on my Facebook feed. And they come from learned people. People who had much more schooling than I did. People with more education than I. Ones with university degrees. One person in particular with a degree in English literature for heaven’s sake! 

And that makes me want to believe I am actually GOOD at this writing malarky. 

I feel so…defeated. Beaten by everything. I sit here and think about my age. And I try to think of it objectively. “Fifty is the new forty”, and all that guff. That, in essence, I am potentially only half-way through life. Or even when I consider logically the age of the people I have known who have passed away in recent years, my mum, my parents-in-law – into their 80s – that I am two thirds of the way through my life. My mum was 81 when she passed away. If I live to a similar age, I have 30 years left to go in this thing called “life”. 

If I think about that expanse of time since 1991, that’s a lot of time. And a lot of time to go for someone to have “nothing in particular” going on in their life. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is how the past 30 years have been for me. Oh, I could make it sound a lot, sure enough. Getting married, moving to the other side of the world…nah, that’s basically it. Apart from the past five or so years, not a lot has gone on. Really not much at all. Do I want the next 30 to be like that? No. My life feels wasted. I feel ssoooo unworthy of every breath I draw. But I am scared of trying to give it significance. To try and find a purpose. WHAT’S MY PURPOSE?! To make people feel better about their own predicament? “At least I’m not Larelle. What a waste of space and oxygen she is, fuck me.” Yet, I know deep down the only person that actually feels that way about me is me. Except – I AM LARELLE! Lol. I am me! And I can’t escape myself. 

I talked to a friend about university. About what it was like for them and what happened and how they managed to study and find the focus, etc, etc. And they tell me it’s not too late and I am not too old and I could do university if I wanted to. That I could be good at learning and enjoy the experience. “You’d walk through it.” That I could take my time.That it doesn’t have to be a race. But…time is ticking! And I am already “old”. 

Twenty eight. That was my “golden age”. That’s the age at which I found that the core fundamental makeup of my psyche feels like it hasn’t altered. I still feel essentially the same way, I think, since that age. That’s my marker. 

Did I want to write at 28? I think I must have done. I had been working for a couple of years by then in the most stable job I had ever had in my life. It wasn’t a glamorous job. It was white-collar work, but low grade. I wanted to advance but the opportunity didn’t come my way and then I left the job. Before I left the job, I made a major financial purchase. I gave myself a choice of two options. It was either buy a car and get my driver’s licence, or it was buy a home computer. I thought about it rationally. Tried to categorise the pros and cons of both options. I decided on the PC because I felt it meant that the whole world was open to me. That I could travel the world with a PC, rather than be confined by the “from A to B” travel that a car would give me. That is how I perceived it anyway. 

And to some extent that is what happened as a result of that PC purchase. Had I not made that one financial investment, then I doubt I’d be sitting here where I am now, in a room in a house in north Glasgow, typing out this dialogue. 

I enjoy it. I love it. I love the feeling of catharsis it gives me. I feel purged every time I write. I feel like it helps make sense of MY world. My own inner thoughts. How I then make that…insightful, thought-provoking, entertaining for others? I don’t know. If I tried, if I was consciously trying to do that, then I’d fail. I wish I felt I had the tools to write better as a story-teller. I guess that’s what creative writing classes are for? Has every writer that has ever written a piece of fictional work gone to creative writing classes? Is that what is needed? 

I can’t judge my own writing objectively. I’d like to feel because it feels such an outlet for me, that it gives me that sense of the purged and the cathartic, that it will mean I am (at least) moderately “good” at it. That, because I enjoy it so much that the expression that comes from it is a tangible result that others feel. That my enjoyment in the expression comes across on the page. That is all I can ask for right now. 

And here we are. Some ninety minutes later from looking at the blank page on the PC screen and there are over 1300 words written. (The “word count” feature is my friend!)

I wrote something. And it feels good!

Thank you for taking the time to read it.