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…

Neon Lights – The Cover Of The Covers – Which Led Off The Beaten Track

I have over the past few days found myself super intrigued by the artwork of the Neon Lights album.

I suddenly started to wonder who designed it, and more importantly, who wrote out the tracklisting on the cassette cover. It didn’t seem like it was Jim’s writing but I couldn’t help but think how awesome that would have been had he written it out. It’s one of the things I love about the cover art of Life In A Day, that Jim has hand written the credit notes.

So that had me thinking about what a great choice for a cover design it (Neon Lights) was and who had been behind it.

I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to learn that, looking into it, it was a team of artists at a design and marketing firm in The Netherlands that came up with it.

As a consequence of trying to learn more about the cover art, it had me at the Dream Giver site (which turned into me being Alice spiralling down the rabbit hole!), reading an article – and interview with Jim – printed in The Scottish Sunday Times on September 23rd, 2001.

I started to read it. It was a very frank interview. My focus soon turned to something else (though still wanting to find out about the Neon Lights cover art).

I’ll link to the interview at the end of the post, but in it Jim talked about (among other things) his relationships with Chrissie and Patsy and he described them as “women of their time”.

Seems a bit of a pigeonhole to put them in…

Like, they were “flavour of the month”.

That can’t be though.

Then again, he goes on to say… (interview excerpt below)

If the arrangement sounds a bit too cosy, it is. “I might make it sound like there was logic to the break-up of my relationships, but there were periods of disillusionment, fears, chaos and sadness,” he says.

“I was never the one to give in. That’s part of the modern way. People give in, because they can.

“The magazines suggest if you’re not having ten orgasms a night or you’re not having eight holidays a year then you’re not having a great life. Expectations are very high. If it doesn’t happen, then they’re off. But the fallout when it goes wrong is awful. I just thought: ‘I could do without this for a while and it’s better not to get involved.’ I wouldn’t trade those moments or emotions for anything but I’d be wary of them should they crop up again.”

Have they? “No. Marriage is about ‘the one’ and I don’t believe in that any more. It’s great if it works out but it’s a tall order. Now I think if there is a right person, they’re right for you at that period in your life.”

“That period in your life”? Okay, I get the idea of considering things in a finite way. I mean our LIVES are finite and there’s an element of the realist “self-preservation” not to get yourself caught up with the fairies with a rose-tinted glasses view… but…

I don’t know. The article just had me thinking about things. It’s never a thing that I feel comfortable in talking about – even if he did seemingly discuss this in public in a newspaper.

But I admit I have wondered for a while now how you become someone who he holds dear. Really dear. Someone who he sticks by – because it seems quite a rare thing from the outside. Rarer than the veneer seems to give off.

Esp. in terms of the opposite sex. I mean, how many people GENUINELY stay good friends with exes? I know there are children involved – but beyond that, or in spite of that – not many are successful at it.

I mean, in my own very limited experience of ex-relationships…or just…RELATIONSHIPS, full stop… I’ve had one other previous relationship and one rather…intense friendship, I guess you’d say.

My only other lasting intimate relationship, was with a boyfriend I had for about 18 months. I had just turned 19 when we met. We broke up because (in retrospect rightly so) he had had enough of my constant jealousy.

I didn’t see him for a while after we broke up. But then he started to come round and visit me. It became “friends with benefits” even though I knew he was with someone else (the person he broke up with me to be with). And I almost did a very, VERY bad thing. Full, honest, disclosure here – for a brief amount of the “friends with benefits” time – I tried to fall pregnant. NOT to trap him! I had no plan to tell him I was even pregnant. I had no intention of ever telling him I was pregnant and that he was a father. I was at a point where I was so wanting to be loved that I thought having a child would be the way to get love.

I very quickly came to my senses. And luckily before I ever succeeded in getting pregnant! I mean, geez. I’d have loved the kid had it happened – but, other than this brief time – this crazy little window of a few months – I have not wanted to be a parent. I have constantly doubted my ability to be anything like a responsible person and certainly did not want to subject anybody to a world that I feel, for the most part, offers much more bad than good.

Have I ever had any friendships from past “relationships”? Lol. One steady boyfriend and a total of three sexual partners (the boyfriend being one of the three) – no! Not seen or heard of or from any of them for over 25 years.

My longest lasting friendship is with a guy. We met when I was still dating my boyfriend. We’ve been friends (with periods of no contact) for over 30 years. But, he was never an ex. But it is how the first period of no contact came about. He wanted more than friendship. I didn’t. The friendship strained. I loved him. Absolutely loved him. I still do. He was there for me at my mum’s funeral in 2019. He means the world to me! But I was never “in love” with him. I broke his heart. And he still loves me. He still tells me! And he is so strong and so amazing, and he has two beautiful daughters.

It feels very exposing to talk like this. But that is the extent of my “past relationships” experience. An ex-boyfriend and two ex…”lovers”, I guess you’d call them. I dunno. I was never into one night stands, so they were guys I knew, but we weren’t dating. It’s another lifetime ago anyway.

Back to Jim, and the pondering of relationships with exes. I am reminded of “the good ex” comment that a lady left a few years back on a post Jim put up on SM FB. I think it was when Chrissie’s memoir came out and he posted about it. The comment read “You’re a really, really good ex!” And Jim replied with, “True. I am the best ex on the planet…was always an ambition!” Lol.

I know it’s his silly, flippant sense of humour at play to a degree – but he DOES seem to have a point!

I have been pondering this for some time now…what makes a friendship with Jim Kerr endure? What’s the secret? What’s the special ingredient? It’s just a question that endlessly intrigues me that I have endlessly pondered for about…just a little under 5 years now.

From about the time he posted this…

It made a profound impact on me, this post, even back then. I found it very telling. Telling of what, exactly, I’m really sure. I don’t know. I seemed to read something into it at the time, and it has always stayed with me.

Anyway…this has been a very long-winded post that meandered so far away from its original purpose that…geez, I’m not even sure WHERE we ended up, but there you go! It’s Saturday night in mid January in Glasgow – during a lockdown in the midst of a pandemic – what else is there to do?

Anyone with any theories on how to be Jim’s friend for a REALLY long time? Then let me know…

Interview in the Scottish Sunday Times HERE