Monday, 29 March 2010

Life Lessons from a Leper

Hi Guys, this follows on from my previous post "Insulting Camels with V.D. and why you don't do it"

Many years ago now I found myself wandering around the streets of Alexandria in Egypt. I had gone with a group of people from school and we had been told by our tour organiser to make sure that we didn't get seperated from the group, especially those of us with pale skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair (which I had back then). Apparently when it comes to sex slavery, those of us who had these particular attributes would command a higher price in Egypt where the girls are mostly dark haired and olive skinned, and so as far as the slavers were concerned we were not just fair game should they happen upon us, but we were actively sought out.  It was something of a concern then when I turned around from a stall I was looking at and found that the others had buggered off and left me! I still tell myself that it was an accident, but as I have said before on here I wasn't always the most popular person at school, so I suppose that is something that we will never be absolutely sure about, lol.  Still, I think that life is too short and too precious to hold a grudge for something that someone did as a teenager.

So there I was, quite alone, 14, and wandering around Alexandria desperately trying not to be noticed, which I failed at - miserably, lol. The thing is I couldn't let go of the fact of exactly where in the world I was. There I was, a kid from a not very well off family, and I was in Egypt of all places!  That was all I could think when we first stepped off our boat: "I'm in Egypt!", I couldn't quite believe I was there. Alexandria is totally poverty stricken, it is just a couple of shades above a shanty town in some areas, and there is raw sewage piled knee high in the streets.  In retrospect it therefore probably wasn't the best idea to wear white Levi's!  However, if you look closely, if you ignore the crippling poverty and the stench from the Mediterranean and the raw sewage combined, in its own ugly way it is quite quite beautiful.  It was in one of the sewage strewn streets that I saw the first Egyptian who was to have an unforgettable impact on my understanding of humanity.  She was just standing there watching us as we were talking animatedly, mostly about how best to avoid the shit. I glanced over at her and would have just walked on, but there was something about her that made me stop and pay more attention.  She was obviously horrendously poor, and I am not talking about "I wonder if I can afford to have a holiday this year" kind of poor, I am talking about "I wonder if I can feed my kids this week" kind of poor.  It was how she was dressed that grabbed my attention at first though; She had on a white blouse that had so many marks on it that I could only guess at it being actually white, a black cardigan that was so threadbare you could see through it to the blouse underneath, a ragged and patched black skirt, shoes that had the soles hanging off and the kind of tights where the holes were holding the nylon together.  But she wasn't dirty, ragged certainly, but not at all dirty. I wondered for a minute why exactly she had even bothered to put her tights on, as there were seriously more holes than tights themselves, but just as I wondered that I caught a glimpse of her face........I have never seen pride like it. She was so proud that she looked almost haughty. Then I realised - she had put those tights on because, holes or not, she still had a pair of tights to put on. Suddenly it occurred to me: That lady was wearing the rags she was standing there in, because they were her best clothes. I can still see her now as clearly as if it was only yesterday that I was on that street in Egypt, and if ever there is something I want but  for whatever reason can't have, I try to remember her standing there; dignified, and proud of the little she had.

Just as you come off the jetty from the boats you come across the Seedi Gaber Mosque, who's huge beautifully carved ornate arched doorway was quite unlike anything I had ever seen either before or since. Just around the corner from that there is the Hatem Mosque, who's architecture is very different, it has a more modern feel to it, but is equally as beautiful in its simplicity as its more ornate neighbour.  Almost just across the street from Hatem is the Ali Ibn Abi Taleb Mosque, which is offset at an odd angle from the rest of the street, no doubt making it the street's main focal point.  Just off the quayside is the Seedi Beshr Mosque, which looks surprisingly like an ordinary apartment block.  A little way and a couple of streets back from Seedi Beshr is the El Hedaya Mosque,  Next door to this is the Marmina Church, and a little way to the back of this church is the Ethad El Slam.  Faith means a great deal to Alexandrians, and judging by the poverty evident in the area, perhaps it should be no surprise. 

Interspersed between the many mosques and places of worship there was a rabbit warren of streets which held a lifetimes worth of surprises. Turn one corner and there was a little guy selling Egyptian handmade carpets, Kilims, (or Kelims), I wonder if this is where my love of antique ornate rugs originated? Turn another corner and suddenly there was a bustling market, full of life and the colours and smells of the mediterranean. Yet another corner turned presented a small street with nothing but a butchers shop in it.  Unfortunately this was the scene of my temporary undoing.  (You honestly didnt think that you were going to get all the way through a post of mine, without being told about a misdemeanour or two did you?) lol. 

The butchers shops in Egypt are a little different to the ones over here. For a start the "Shop" itself is used to store the as yet unwanted meat as inside the shop remains cool during the day, so the "display" meat is hung up under an "awning" outside the front of the shop, this then is where the business side of things is done.  So, there I was standing across the street from one such butchers shop, and trying to work out exactly what type of animal a particular carcass was. It was skinned, fairly long in the body, with fairly short but muscular legs and a long bushy black, white and tan coloured tail. I stood there for a good 15 - 20 minutes and I couldn't for the life of me work out what kind of animal it was. It definitely wasnt a cow - far too small, and it wasnt a sheep or an average sized pig as it was too big, so what the bloody hell was it?  I began to look at its individual characteristics, and that is when I noticed it properly for the first time: The bushy black, white and tan coloured tail.  I stood there for a couple of seconds and thought to myself "my mum's German Shepherd used to have a tail exactly like that".........then I stood there for another couple of seconds............then I threw up.

The trouble was, as I was throwing up I backed backwards at the same time and suddenly I became aware of something that was stuck to my shoe.  I finished vomiting and looked down to see what my unwelcome hitchhiker was. Now, I thought cats were supposed to be sacred in Egypt, so imagine my (simultaneous) surprise/alarm/shock/horror and downright disgust when I saw that I had got the heel of my shoe wedged in the rotting eye socket of a decomposing cat that had just been left in the street when it died.  I would love to be able to say that behaved in a very British way and that I kept my cool and removed the offending article in a calm and sedate manner.  But this was me, and I think you all know by now that "calm and sedate" just was never even going to be on the list to begin with.  Put it this way: Have you ever screamed full pelt and vomited at the same time?  Let me assure you that it's an interesting experience and no less so for the people foolish enough to be standing near to you.  It lends a whole new meaning to the phrase "projectile vomiting", and unfortunately that was not the only projectile that I launched at the egyptians that day.  In a moment of complete and utter terror, and with a kick that I have never been able to replicate since, I threw loose the rotting cat and watched in horror as it slow motioned its way towards the stalls of meat under the awning of the butchers shop, which was by now absolutely packed with people sheltering from the blistering midday heat.

I wasted absolutely no time at all.  Turning on my heel I legged it out of there in a grand style before the cat had even landed.  I knew when it had landed though - I could hear the screams and the unsheathing of knives as I turned right out of the alleyway and, deciding that discretion is indeed the better part of valour, promptly bolted straight down the street like a Gazelle on Speed.  I didn't know where the hell I was going, the sweat was literally pouring into my eyes and then baking in the Egyptian sun, and now I had even more people chasing me because I had knocked into them in my escape attempt, but, Hallelujiah! I thought I saw a part of the street that I recognised and I knew that if.....I.....could.....just......hop on my right foot..... and..... turn..... right, I would be in a........."SH*T!!" "FU%K!!" "B*LL*%KS!!".........Dead End Alley!  SO, ever such a slight miscalculation, and not infact the path back to the pier that I was expecting.  O.K, time for a (very) quick recce: Sheer walls and no steps, ladders or window ledges handy for scaling and escaping over the rooftops...."SH*T!" A totally unscaleable and extremely high "dead end" wall at the end of the alley......"FU%K!" And absolutely, positively no discernable routes out other than the one in........"B*LL*%KS!" RIGHT, there is only one thing for it:  Stand in the corner by the "dead end" wall....."check".  Turn and face the corner by the "dead end" wall......."check".  Pray......"Our Father, Who art in Heav............" As I was praying for the preservation of my bones, I gingerly and very slowly turned my head just in time to see a dozen or so stall holders and a couple of dozen assorted knives and cleavers race past the end of the alley, affording me the opportunity to momentarily sink to my knees and forcibly exhale.

That said I knew that I didn't have much time before they gave up and came back, so I was just hanging onto the wall and rising to my feet to get out of the alley and run in the opposite direction, when I became aware of a presence standing behind me.  Back on the ship we had been warned by our resident Tour Guide and expert on all things Mediterranean, that there were a lot of Lepers in Alexandria and that they would be just walking about in the street.  There was a strict set of guidelines to follow should we accidentaly bump into any of them. No 1 was: "DON'T bump into them - "wet" Leprosy in particular is highly contagious." No 2 was "Be Gracious - Lepers have feelings too and if you scream and run away you will upset them" and frankly, given the situation I now found myself in, I couldn't remember the rest of the guidelines.  I was too preoccupied with what was happening at that precise moment, namely that I could smell this guy before I even turned around saw him. Let me tell you, even if you have never smelled rotting human flesh before, the second you do, you instinctively know what it is; it's unmistakeable.

I turned around not knowing exactly what I was going to see, but Dear God, nothing could have prepared me for what came next.  I started at his feet, which were swathed in material and underneath a Kaftan, so I couldn't actually see them, thank god.  Looking further upwards I noticed that he had only three fingers left on both of his hands, all of the others had just rotted and dropped off, then came his face.  When I think back to it now I feel nothing but sympathy for the poor man, but at the time I was petrified. He had no nose, just a hole where his nose used to be, he was completely blind in one eye and going blind in the other, and when he turned his head to the side and talked I could see his teeth and tongue moving......through a hole in the side of his cheek. I so badly wish that I could say I dealt with it well, but I am sorry to say that I didn't at all.   He stepped forward and said something that I later found out was Arabic for "this is yours", and I screamed my lungs out and flattened myself up against the wall.  He shrank back and and just looked at me, so I forced myself to look at him in the eyes.  What I saw there horrified me, but not for the reasons that you may think.  His eyes were so full of hurt, because I had screamed at him.  This man was leading a terrible life full of pain and sickness, and he most likely was going to die soon, looking at the condition of him, and I had just made the truly awful life he had much worse. Suddenly he held something out to me, and it took me a couple of seconds to look away from his eyes and look at what he was holding out:  It was my scarf. I had dropped it when I ran away from the butchers shop and this terribly ill and dieing man had followed me as fast as he could just to give it back to me.  He handed it to me, said "no money" looked at me with such hurt again and then turned around and slowly walked down the alley.  When he got to the end of the alley he turned and looked at me again, pointed to the left, said "boat" and then limped away. I couldn't beleive what I had done, and to this day I am more sorry for hurting him like that than I could ever tell.

I ran out of the alley, followed his directions and within about 10 minutes I was safe on board our boat again, but I couldn't stop thinking about that man. I remembered that we were due to disembark again that night so that we could visit the Souk that happened during the evenings on the Pier next to the boat. I also remembered that he had said "no money", but I had to do something to help him, and to apologise for what I had done. I had bought some trinkets when we had landed in Greece, they hadn't cost very much but they were gold and silver, just a couple of rings and a bangle, so that night I wrapped them up in a spare facecloth, and after walking down to the Souk with the rest I slipped away and went in search of him.  I reasoned that he was a local and it was Souk night for the tourists so I was hoping that he wouldn't be very far from the action so to speak, and actually I didn't have to look very long before I found him just on the other side of the road from the pier. He wasn't begging, he was just standing there watching the lights and smells of the Souk, but more than that he was watching the people having a good time and laughing.  He was lost in thought as I walked up to him and looked so sad. I imagined that he had been the life and soul before he got sick and was remembering a time when he too could laugh still and have a good time, without idiots like me screaming at the sight and smell of him. I imagined that maybe he had a family, maybe even children that he no longer saw.  I'll tell you now, whenever I feel lonely I just remember him and I am immediately thankful for the people I have in my life.  I hoped so much that I could make him feel even just a little bit better. I admit that when I first went in search of him it was as much to assuage my own guilt at what I had done, as it was to help him, but seeing him standing there like that I only wanted to make him feel better. Even if it was only for a couple of minutes.  He looked up from his thoughts to see me walking towards him, and his face just fell, I was the last person on earth that he wanted to see in that moment, and that just killed me. Although I have to say that it served me right.  The first thing I told him as I got closer was "I am so sorry", but he just continued to look at me so I told him again.  This time I think he knew I meant it as his expression softened and he tried to smile a little. I held out the facecloth to him and he motioned for me to put it on the little wall he was leaning against, so that he wouldn'd touch me. I watched him open the parcel and immediately he said "no money!" I tried to explain that I knew he was too proud to beg and that they were a gift, that I wanted him to have them so that he could sell them and not have to ask for money, at least not for a little while anyway. It was difficult as I don't speak any Arabic and he only spoke a few words of English, but eventually we understood each other, and thankfully he accepted my gift as well as a few more heartfelt apologies. 

I sometimes think of that man and I wonder what happened to him. I should think that he would have died fairly soon after, but I always hope that the end was not terrible for him, or that at least it was quick, and although I hadn't meant to be mean to him, it was literally a "knee jerk" reaction to what I saw, still since that day I have never done to anyone else what I did to him, and I never will.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Sunday, 21 March 2010

HIM Concert Bournemouth, 18/03/10.

Hey there everyone, I started to type this when I got back to the hotel after the events of concert night, but at that time in the morning I was shattered and actually fell asleep "mid-type" lol, so I am finishing this today: Also I took some photos on my phone which I dont think turned out brilliantly, but I will try to post those on here later once I have been able to take them off the phone.

Thursday 18th March 2010, O2 Academy, Bournemouth.

Dommin (Support Act):

Kristopher Dommin

Ok, let's start with Dommin who actually were a great support. I admit to knowing nothing about them, but as soon as I get home I am going to look them up on my "proper" computer (I am trying to type this on my mobile in the hotel bed at the minute.) I enjoyed their set so much and I loved their Goth\80's\punky vibe, I think they were an absolutely perfect choice to support HIM and a very clever decision was made in including them, in more ways than just that one, lol! What I mean is that their style and songs complemented both HIM and "Screamworks..", but whilst Dommin were very very good, they still couldnt overshadow HIM. I Absolutely loved their set, especially their version of "I just died in your arms tonight" by Cutting Crew. I loved that song in the 80's but I have to say that I think I prefered Dommin's version. It was good to see that they also seemed to be influenced by the 80's and especially with Kristofer Dommin the lead singer's hair looking remarkably like the hairstyles that were once found on "A Flock Of Seagulls"!

Dommin's rendition of "Just Died In Your Arm's Tonight" by Cutting Crew.

OK Guys, just about here is where I fell asleep back in the hotel room, so after this point it is me typing today;

After Dommin left the stage there was a 20-25 Minute "interval" when they were setting up the stage for HIM.

Setting out Ville's Mat.


Wow, I don't really know where to start. First of all I was so lucky in where I was seated. I was up in the Gallery, in a little area that had been sectioned off away from the main crowd on the right hand side of the stage, or the left if you were in the crowd looking at the stage. There was a little low wall where there were some stairs that led down to a walkway where the security guards were standing, and I was in the corner between that and the glass partition of the Gallery railing. So there I was literally about 15 feet away from HIM, just slightly up on their right, rocking away in my Trilby hat and purple top and with no-one standing in front of me. Lucky, lucky me. The Atmosphere in the O2 was electric, seriously the place just rocked and not a bad thing happened all night, on the whole the crowd were really pleasant and I was pleased to see several "older" people there, there was even a 60-70 year old grannie down in the main audience completely rocking out! If you discount the night that my son was born, I think I might well have had the best night of my life! Before I say anything else I would like to say that the staff at the O2 Bournemouth treated me really really well. From Ollie the Daytime Box Office Manager to Barny and the Security Guy who took me through the crowds to the sectioned off area. I am so grateful for everything you did, I was in a lot of pain on Thursday night and I wasn't even sure that I was going to make it to the concert in the first place. I know that you had to help me, but honestly if it hadnt been for your assistance I dont think I would have been able to stay past the first half an hour or so. I definitely wouldnt have got to see Ville and the Guys.

Right, now I have got that out of the way - on to the rest of it:  I am happy to report that HIM definitely don't look like trolls!  For those who have read this blog before you might well remember that I didn't even know what they looked like before the concert, so I was more than a little relieved when 5 regular, good looking guys walked on stage! It's so strange, I suppose you could say that they are not what would "normally" be considered as extremely handsome, but, I watched them all and every one of them has a difficult to categorise, attractive quality that would set them apart in a crowd. At least on the night Gas was open and exhuberant, in that moment he was just enjoying where he was, completely tub-thumping, although I think it would be unwise to dismiss him as being nothing more than that. I could see that Mige is the type of person who would have a wicked sense of humour, but as Phillip Seymour Hoffman once said, a jovial personality can often be used to hide a troubled heart or past, so perhaps there is something more to him than just his warm personality. Apparently according to those around me he had cut his hair and some prefered it long, but I have to say that although I usually prefer long hair on men I like it the length it is. Linde was quiet, but his heart and soul shone through his riffs. I was told that they also shine through alcohol, lol. Burton, I think may be the "dark horse"! My grandma played the piano, and I learned to play when I was very young although I don't think I could play a note now, but still I know that the heart of a pianist is a dark and strange place indeed, lol! On the "face" of things he barely smiled, and so when I then really watched his expressions the level of emotion, enjoyment and dedication was quite unexpected.  And Ville, well what can I say? I think this man is not quite all he seems, there is a depth and a steely strength that is easy to miss if you get caught up in the whole "Androgynous Fragility" thing. Someone at the concert told me that Ville used to wear lots of makeup and the whole "fragile" and "broken - hearted" image was actively promoted. After all most people who are involved with the "Goth" scene in some way will know that in this group of people at least, sex is not always what sells. What is guaranteed to sell is heartbreak. Yet this demeanour is not at all entirely calculated. Just listening to his songs, and watching him on stage, it seems that Ville is an unusual mix of someone who has that steely determination, and who knows the type of people that he his playing to exceptionally well, but also he seems to be someone who can at times be extremely fragile, who has undoubtedly felt that heartbreak many times over, and who has an extraordinary talent, unlike any other, for being able to express the complex emotions he feels, through beautiful lyrics which are ethereal and unashamedly poetic. I was also told that in interviews Ville is extremely open and honest, which is considered to be one of his most endearing qualities.  I have not read any interviews with him, but, I think I would have to disagree with this. If you read his lyrics, as well as listen to them it seems to me that this man may have to be a little more guarded than that.  Openly reading his lyrics and reading between the lines of them, and now watching him on stage especially in the "quiet" moments between songs, this seems to be a man who has been badly hurt in the past, not just by love, or also the lack of it, but also by different aspects of life and humanity in general. There is a vulnerability to him that seems to be at complete odds with the strength he has. It's so funny; my mother has always told me that I have the strength to do anything I want, but I have never had enough faith in myself to completely believe her, I wonder if it is the same for Ville?  He is also widely considered to be intelligent. Perhaps then, Ville has learned over the years how to manage errant journalists armed with invasive questions.  Maybe he tells them some small truthful things, thereby "drip feeding" interviewers and fans alike some correct information about himself, that really doesnt doesn't give away too much of a clue about how he really feels sometimes, but maybe he also includes some, how shall I say this - "misdirections", allowing the interviewer to go away happy, for the fans to think that they have learned something "personal" about their idol, and for Ville's personal life to stay just that - personal.  Judging by the screaming crowds on the night I cant say I blame him at all if this is what he does.

When Ville walked onto that stage he reminded me of a "Lord Byron" figure, which other fans told me has been widely noted in the past. A modern day plethora of  Byron, Shelley, Beaudelaire, Poe, all mixed with Bolan, Morrison, Hendrix, Cat Stevens, Iommi, Thunders, Elvis, Iggy, even a little Crosby and Young etc etc, and with more than a little nod towards Cash and Osbourne! This then seems to be a man who is more than complex in his apparent quest for simplicity, and one who is so determined to find an emotional and psychological understanding, that he dares to look for it in people and places where even angels wouldn't even dare to tread. And friends, that is not the mark of a weak man.

As for the group as a whole, it is apparent that they are friends first and foremost, but as it is with most things in life, there is more to this group than that. Just listening to the fans at the concert, it seemed that quite a few of them thought that Ville is the sum total of the group, that without him, 'HIM' would be nothing. Certainly I can see why he is the frontman, he has a focal quality that is hard not to see, and again he has that steely determination you need to drive a group of easy going people like this forward. But I think those fans really do need to tear their gaze away from Ville for a second and really look at the guys standing (or in Gas's case - sitting) around him, because in all of them are the various qualities that make 'HIM' work as a group. Gas is a very good drummer, and has the exhuberance and the apparent love of metal that a group like HIM needs, Mige is an incredible base player and has the hippy easy going element, Linde is one of the best and most unsung lead guitarists around today, and also seemingly has the "quiet but alcoholic" side covered lol,  Burton is an extraordinary pianist, just a phenomenal talent, and again it would seem that he quietly shares Villes dark heart in his own way, and Ville has all of the qualities that a "frontman" and lyricist needs and the determination and drive it takes to continually push HIM forward. Although Ville is the lyricist and writes all the songs, plus the original music, the muscial contribution of the other guys must always of course be factored into the equation and never, ever overlooked. Just listen to the difference between "Beaudelaire in Braille" and "Screamworks....".  "B.I.B" is Ville, through and through, but "Screamworks...." is HIM, and I think it was a very clever and good idea to include both C.D's in the one "Limited Edition" package, because for those who have heard both, now the muscial contribution of the band as a whole can surely never be discounted.

Secondly I loved the fact that the concert started with "Dressed in Black" by the Shangri-La's being played over the sound system, as I really like their songs and music. They were one of the first successful all - female groups at a time when it wasn't always possible for all-female anythings to be successful. Their lyrics were often very dark and perhaps a little ahead of their time, so I often think that maybe they were the first "Goth Girls"! I also feel that as their music has not only endured the test of time, but as it also influences people like Amy Winehouse and is now being played as an opener for a HIM concert, this is proof of how good they really were. Thank you for choosing the Shangri-La's guys, I really enjoyed them as an "opener" Here is the rest of HIM's set list for the evening:
Main Set List:
OPENER: Dressed in Black, by the Shangri-La's, then:
1). Like St. Valentine, 2). Right Here In My Arms, 3). Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly, 4). Heartkiller, 5). Join Me In Death, 6). The Kiss Of Dawn, 7). Katherine Wheel, 8). Poison Girl, 9). Buried Alive By Love, 10). Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness), 11). Your Sweet 666, 12). Wicked Game, 13). Scared To Death, 14). When Love And Death Embrace,
Then the Encore:
15). The Sacrament, 16). Love, The Hardest Way, 17). The Funeral Of Hearts.

Do you know what? They played 17 songs and the time flew by. I really could have sat there and listened to another 17 songs so happily, as it seemed like the concert felt too short, but with that amount of songs of course it wasn't, and it would have been selfish to ask for more. There were a couple of minor technical glitches with the sound at the very beginning of the concert, but after they were ironed out everything went smoothly. Ville joked around a fair bit and the lady sitting next to me (Hi Marianne, lol) told me that this is what they have always been like.  Not that you will ever read this Ville but I saw the motion you made to Gas with your hands, and I am glad that you liked my top, cheeky man lol!  There was a young girl in the front who made a comment to Ville about half way through, which I can only guess was about having sex with him. I couldn't properly make out what she said, as I had my earplugs in (tinnitus since I was 15), but it caused Ville to be very funny and reply telling her "let me see your I.D."  Again she said something that I couldn't make out over the screaming girlies, but again Ville replied saying "Yeah but up here on stage? What you are asking me to do is illegal!" lol, funny guy. It must be strange to him when a 16 year old girl is telling him that she wants to have sex with him, the man is in his 30's after all, and bless them but the younger girlies wont yet know enough of the world, or older men to be able to see that. All they know is that there are hormones raging unrestricted around their bodies and that there is a decent looking guy up there on stage who is famous. It was the strangest thing, actually and a perfect example of what I have just said: One young girlie threw a pink "My Little Pony" style stuffed toy unicorn on stage for Ville, but it was dressed in a bondage vampire outfit! Seriously, a "Gimp" Unicorn, and dont get me wrong, it totally appealed to my sense of humour, but it just felt a little bit sick and wrong that a young girl had not only thrown that, but had also thought to dress it up that way. On the other hand they still behaved like typical teenage girlies, all wanting a slice of what they think is a glamourous "celebrity" lifestyle. Bless their hearts but they probably still think that travelling in a tourbus with the lead singer of a band is an exciting and glamourous thing to do!

I have to say that their idea of glamourous travelling and my idea of the same thing are probably a little bit different, but before anyone says anything - no it doesnt have anything to do with age, other than I have seen more of what life has to offer. When I think of glamourous travelling I think of The Orient Express, or even Concord when that was running, but life on a tourbus hasn't been an attractive idea for the last, ooh, say 20 years or so lol!  I mean, stop to consider the practicalities for a moment, such as the food being dire and the cause of the "all for one and one for all" theory when it comes to getting sick, or that you now can't use the bathroom on the tourbus *ahem* "properly", as now you have to pay some member of the entourage around £2000 to empty the chemical toilet each time, and that the sleeping arrangements on even the nicest tourbuses look as though they are a cross between a 12 year olds bunkbed and a mortuary drawer, and if you combine that with 5 or 6 other guys, all farting in the middle of the night right above your head and to your left and right, well, call me "picky" but that isnt necessarily how I would choose to sleep lol. Then there are the inevitable squabbles that will happen even between guys who normally get on with each other really well, and that you never get a moment to yourself, or rather if you do want a moment to yourself you have to retire to the previously mentioned "mortuary drawer/bunkbed" in order to do so, and finally that "backstage" is often not the air conditioned paragon of luxury that some think it might be, moreover it is really just a place to be concealed away from the masses. Even Aerosmith have had to change in a peeling corridor or two in their time. That said there are a lot of benefits to travelling like this too - namely the mobile bohemian lifestyle, and speaking as a person who has a mother with Romanian heritage, this lifestyle certainly appeals to me on a few levels. So bless them, and I really do mean this nicely and sincerely; perhaps we should let the girlies dream while they still can. Just hopefully not of Ville riding butt - naked and bareback on a "Gimpicorn", lol!

On the subject of fans talking to Ville whilst he was on stage, I have to say that I was tempted to do the same thing - seriously. I wanted to call down to him and ask him if his lyric "Page 43" in Shatter Me With Hope had anything to do with the song of the same name by David Crosby (please see previous post), but I chickened out at the last minute. I am kicking myself now of course, but you cant dwell on these things, maybe I will have another chance to ask him in the future?

I spent some time watching the crowd while I was there and was pleased to note that there was a fairly equal male/female ratio. Marianne told me that when she first saw HIM, it was mostly girls in the audience, infact she said that the poor boys who did go never made it into the first 3-5 rows infront of the stage, lol! But Thursday night was different and the vibe was just incredible. The Guys seemed to enjoy their time on stage as much as the audience enjoyed them being up there, which was a wonderful bonus, I am glad that they enjoyed it. I wondered if there were not more songs from the new album on the set list, because maybe the guys were worried that the new album was so different that the fans might not like it, and maybe that was the reason that some of the older songs were included. Songs that they knew people liked. I hope that this wasn't the case as I love this new album, and judging from what I heard everyone else saying on the night, "Screamworks...." has gone down really well with everyone else too. Personally I think it is the best album they have ever recorded, and I never thought I would say that, as I love all of their others so equally. Overall I think there was probably the right mix of old and new songs, judging by the crowds reaction to them all, but again personally I think I would have like to hear at least a couple more songs from the new album, particularly "In the arms of Rain", as this song reminds me of a post I wrote on here last year about my Dad. That is not to say that I didn't really enjoy myself, because for lots of reasons I had the best time, and not hearing more new songs didnt in any way spoil my enjoyment of the night. For reasons that are entirely personal, my favourite songs of the night were Poison Girl, Join Me In Death, Scared To Death, Katherine Wheel, and for a different reason The Funeral of Hearts ("Eeeviiiiiilll") Lol!!!

I enjoyed the night so much that I even went on over to YouTube and "favourited" some of the videos that have already been uploaded from the concert, (I cant beleive that they got them on there so quickly!). I even found a guy on there who was standing next to me and had a quick message back and forth with him, lol (Hi Ethan, hope you get the new camera soon). Now that Sarah is not around I can actually get on YouTube, I havent been able to get on it for so long that I forgot what my user name and password was!

For those who might be interested, as you will know from a couple of my previous posts on here, my biggest fear about going to the concert was whether or not HIM's songs were still going to help with my pain once I knew what the guys looked like. I know how my mind works and I knew that I would think about anything that I had learned about them, instead of just being able to concentrate on the music and lyrics, which are what had previously worked for me. Well,  I woke up in a lot of pain on Friday morning after the concert and that was the morning I was due to check out of my hotel, so in a panic I put on some HIM songs and desperately hoped that they would work. To my amazement and surprise they actually worked quicker than they would do normally, and yesterday was the same.

Well, I have to sign off now as I am going to try to get to Foyles in London by about 2.30- 3.30ish this afternoon, so I have just about enough time to say:

Thank You Guys - for everything xxx.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Him concert seating update

Right Guys, seating update, they have put me up in the balcony behind the glass partition immediately to the right of the stage, well the left if you are looking at the stage. marieanne and Elliot are up here with me, so if you see us give us a shout out! Have a great one Guys!I can't wait, this is the most incredible HIM album to date, I didn't think I would ever be able to say that I have a favourite HIM album as I love them all equally, but this one is in a class of its own. Screamworks literally rocks!!! I know that you will never ever read this ville, but if by some rare chance or mighty twist of fate you do find yourself here, Thank you for everything,for the sonic painkillers, for your beautiful poetry, and in the words of Abba; thank you for the music.

HIM concert tonight!!!

Right ive got about 20 mins before the cab gets here, so hang punctuation and spelling! For those of you who know me and will also be at the concert, I have decided to wear my purple medieval top, black skinny jeans studded leather cowboy boots and my black trilby hat with the 3 gold hearts on the front. God alone knows where I will be sitting as the O2 have now decided they don't know if they are going to put me in the gallery at the side of the stage, or underneath it a little way back. They have assured me a seat and a good view so I think I won't be that far back. I am in such bad pain tonight Guys so let's see if villes lyrics and HIM's music can work their magic tonight. Have a great concert Guys, see you there!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Prose: "For the future (Love?)"

I dream of being terrified,
Desperate, lost from myself,
Of being scared for our life.

I hunger for the bitterness of your lips,
And being driven to madness in joyous rapture.
I want to fly with broken wings
Too close to the sun
Around which I revolve.

I hope to protect your bleeding heart
Vulnerable and battered,
Then tear out mine,
And hand it to you unrestrained.

I want to be moulded to you
In the fire,
Fused and inseperable,
Then swim together in the cooling river
Of all life.

I dream of being nothing outside of you,
But everything within you.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Food For Thought.

OK Guys, this is quite lengthy and has certainly turned out to be a bit of a rant, but please settle in and read it if you have the time. It might sound like a bit of a "sob story" in the beginning, but I promise that is not what this is, and it is definitely not intended to be a dig at anyone in particular. My own experiences and observations on this subject are simply what have prompted me to write about it, and I truly believe that there are valid points in this for everyone to think about. I have concentrated here on the issue of being overweight, but I am very well aware that underweight people often face the same prejudices.

Last year I got very sick and lost a whole lot of weight, and because I am still not completely well I am continuing to lose it. I am still not what some people would nowadays consider to be a "normal" size (given that they consider size 0-8 to be normal), but I am healthier now and happy. Please read on.

After I broke my back 11 years ago I found it almost insurmountably hard to keep the weight off. It is pretty impossible to exercise when you have properly broken your back. Even if you are able to walk again, as I was, either the pain itself stops you dead in your tracks from participating in exercise, or the fear of pain does the same thing. For this reason, as well as other much more painful and personal reasons, the weight crept on until I didn't even recognise myself anymore. I felt so ugly and unloveable, a feeling which was only upheld by my ex husbands treatment of both myself and my son, and then when I finally left him by random people in the street. One guy even pulled over his car once to tell me "Why don't you just go and kill yourself? You are so fat and ugly that you don't deserve to live looking like that". I promise you, no kidding, a total stranger actually felt that he had the right to be judge and jury and abuse me like that. At the time I burst into tears and fled home as quickly as possible, nowadays he would be lucky to get out of his car with his life!

Back then and for many reasons I hid myself away from the whole world, literally everyone and everything in it. I avoided public places as much as possible, I either didn't go out, or if I did I only went out after dark. As well as my son having a sleep condition, it was also another reason for going to the supermarket in the early hours of the morning - less people to see me and for me to deal with. Even after my son and I ran away from my ex I still didn't integrate myself well, in my already fragile state I just couldn't handle the constant comments about my weight. Don't get me wrong - most of the last 6 years have been spent healing and making my son and I much stronger for the next stage in our lives, whatever that may bring, but there was also an element of hiding from the world because the world definitely found me intolerably ugly. Understand though - these are not the ramblings of a paranoid person, others really don't react well to overweight people. From my doctor who "encouraged" me to lose weight with snide remarks, to the kids in the schoolyard snickering and worse still, picking fights with my son, to the women at the supermarket checkout who would look me up and down, then look at the fruit and veg in my basket and smile to themselves, as if to say "who is she kidding", and the innumerable women in clothes stores who would nastily tell me that the store didn't stock anything in my size, even before I had asked. Some of them even felt they had the right to turn me away at the door like a leper, and I didn't have the strength to disagree. Then there were the shop assistants who never seemed to see me, letting people jump in front of me in the queue, despite the fact that I was the size of a bus back then, then there were the girlie's standing on the street corners, and the guys driving in their cars, who unfortunately did see me and would throw things out of the car windows at me. Usually it was food rubbish, except one time when a guy even threw the car's cigarette lighter at my arm - LIT! I guess he didn't smoke.

It never ceased to amaze me that these people genuinely thought they had the right to abuse me like that, when they didn't even know me and I had done absolutely nothing to them. One of my lowest points came when I was at my biggest. My friend and I were having a bit of a dance at a nightspot near to where she lives. I knew how ugly I was, but I was so fed up with being stuck in and avoiding people that I was just glad to get out for a laugh. I felt so badly self conscious that I would only dance on the edge of the dance floor at the back, where it was dark. Instead of just being able to enjoy myself, I could feel people looking at me move and judging me. I tried to convince myself that I was only being paranoid, but when I got up the courage to look, there they all were - all pointing and laughing so I rapidly sat down in the corner. It seemed to please them that I had removed my fat self from the dance floor and they turned to talk of other things. My friend I was with is an incredible dancer, who was always lovely and slim, and who quite rightly loved to show off her truly amazing dance skills. I love to watch her dance, its truly captivating sometimes and because she has been through so much in her life as well, I am so so pleased and proud of everything she has achieved. Someone asked me once if it bothered me that she was so slim, and the truth is that I have always just been grateful that she never had to put up with the abuse I got, on top of everything else she had to deal with, and she has never ever thrown my weight in my face. So she is a person that I have always loved to go places with, and is pretty much the only person that I would venture into a nightspot with. Hence the reason why we were there, and she was happy to stay on the dance floor why I tried my best to blend into the wallpaper lol.

After a while she came over and told me that she was heading to the loos and asked me if I wanted a drink from the bar on the way back. When she left a tall, good looking guy came over and started to talk to me. As I said, he was tall, slim with dark curly hair so just my type, although he had brown eyes - but nobody is perfect lol. He seemed nice, he was smiley and chatty, talking about his friends and his job. It felt good to be "chatted up" after so long. The point is I was flattered when I really should have been paying more attention. He got up and asked me if I wanted to dance. I noticed him glance over to the other side of the room, and when I followed his gaze I saw a bunch of guys standing there sniggering and smiling knowingly. Obviously I had attracted the attention of the"stud" of the group with whatever it was he had to prove. He only looked over there for a split second, but that was all it took for the penny to finally drop. I sat back down in my seat and couldn't do anything other than stare at my own lap in embarrassment. This had happened to me before and I really should have kept my guard up. He said to me "whats wrong sweetie?" I detected just the tiniest hint of sarcasm and amusement in his voice and I am afraid that I started to cry a little bit. How embarrassing was that? Well, for those of you who think that I couldn't have got any more embarrassing than that, let me assure you that you are quite wrong! People who have literally no self confidence left often feel like they have nothing to lose by being totally candid, and what I said to the guy next I wouldn't dream of even thinking now. I told him; "I know this game, its called 'Pull a Pig', and I know why you are playing it, but believe me I know how ugly I am so please just leave me alone, I haven't done anything to you or your friends." The next bit was the worst though, I went on to say to him; "You can go back to your friends and tell them whatever you like. Tell them I've given you my number, tell them we have arranged to meet in the alley at the back of the building. I wont say anything to them so you can tell them whatever you want, but please please just leave me alone." To his credit he apologised sincerely, telling me that he was very sorry and wouldn't be telling his friends anything. He thought it was a stupid, cruel game and he shouldn't have agreed to it. Then I watched him as he walked back to his friends but they were laughing at him, so he looked over in my direction, whispered something to them, and took their payments of money and beer. That is what my self respect and pride had been sold for - about 20 quid and a couple of pints of Heineken.

Needless to say, I didn't tell my friend what had happened when she came back, I was too ashamed. That guy was a spineless arsehole, who's self confidence was probably in worse shape than mine, but still I wished I was dead. I had gone out for a laugh and a bit of a dance with a friend, that was all. I didn't go out expecting to find a boyfriend or even just a date, because I already knew that nobody would find me in the least little bit attractive, and if they did they would be too scared of what their friends would say to do anything about it. So I had just gone out for a laugh, and now I wished that I was anywhere else than there.

You might wonder why I would allow myself to feel that way just because of one, stupid, immature guy? Well the thing is it wasn't just him. It was him, my ex, my doctor, the kids in the schoolyard, the women in the supermarket, the women in the clothes stores, the girlie's on the corner, the guys in their cars, even on occasion and purely out of worry my friends and family. You name them, everyone had an opinion and felt as though they were entitled to voice those opinions whenever, wherever and however they chose. It's hard not to be beaten down by that in the end. Next time you feel like making a comment about a persons weight, for whatever reason good or bad, or a comment about any other perceived physical fault, stop, and first think of the other 20 or so people who will have done the same thing that week. Remember that you will never ever be the only one - not by a long shot.

What is difficult sometimes to understand is exactly what it is that makes the majority of people think it is perfectly acceptable to be mean to someone who is overweight? Ask yourself this; are you the kind of person who would walk up to a black stranger in the street and tell them that they are ugly because they are black? Would you tell a burns victim to kill themselves because they look that way? Would you tell a person with a wasting disease that they look anorexic? Or would you even tell an anorexic stranger that they look anorexic? No? So what is it about a person being overweight that makes others behave like cruel, mindless twats? After giving this some degree of thought over the last. ooh, say, 10 years or so, I think it may indeed have something to do with the continuation of the species, just not in the way that most people would think. Indeed I think it has rather more to do with our own survival instincts, fear and consumer habits than our sexual urges or preferences. When we see a fat person, we are afraid that we could become like them. It is generally assumed that fat people lack self control and self respect. Sometimes that is true, but sometimes it is not. I would hardly say that my back injury was self inflicted, or due to a lack of self respect or control, but it was the main reason that I put on the majority of the weight. If a person lacks self respect I suppose it makes it easier for others to show them the same lack of respect, after all if a person doesn't think well of themselves then why should anyone else, right? WRONG! You never know what that strangers story is, or why they have got that way, so it is wrong to treat them badly because of an assumption you have made that could well be incorrect. I have told on here about my back injury, but that isn't the only reason I put on weight, and the other reasons are far too painful and personal to tell. What if the added nastiness from your comments makes an overweight person suicidal? Lots of people would no doubt say "that's not my problem, obviously there is something wrong with them", YES - PRECISELY, and you just made it much worse, to the point of that person actually wanting to take their own lives. Some would say "Good - the less fat people the better." Seriously? You really feel so bad about a complete stranger being overweight that you want them to die? If that is the case, and you are one of those people, then it seems to me that you are the one that needs help, not them. The real world is an ugly, ugly place and for a lot of people it is survival of the fittest, which is precisely why a lot of Neanderthals will immediately pounce on those considered to be weaker and as I have just said, fat = weak to a lot of people.

Our sexual urges, desires, or what we find attractive for the majority of the population at least, depend rather more than we are prepared to admit on what we are TOLD is attractive. Yes, yes I know - we all like to think that we are so individual that we wouldn't possibly succumb to being "nudged" in any particular direction, that we "know our own minds." Unfortunately the truth is that the methods employed by the fashion houses, make up companies, magazines, music industry, even the people who make washing powder seem to be so Machiavellian, that most of us don't even realise all of the time that we are being subliminally "nudged". As for those who do realise what is going on and for whatever reason decide not to upset the "status quo" well, what kind of person are you if you are prepared to just sit there and let others dictate to you? It seems to me that all of the above industries combined, may well then be the biggest Dating Agency in the world.

It has been said that the fashion houses prefer women to be shaped like 12 year old boys, but if that is so, I doubt that it is because their clothes look better on women of that size, as they regularly tell us, after all these are top of the range designers so shouldn't they be able to make clothes that look good on women of all sizes?? No - the TRUTH is that samples for 12 year old boys are cheaper to make than samples for size 12-14 women. Also when it comes to clothes in stores, well they can charge the same amount for "12 year old boy" sizes as they do for women's size 12-14, meaning that their profit margins are higher each time the population gets skinnier. I don't know about anyone else, but when a fashion house can charge literally thousands of pounds for an average looking, ordinary day dress, personally I think that they are coining more than enough out of an already financially beleaguered population.

Most, if not all top designers will tell us that we are paying for the quality of their designer clothing, and maybe once upon a time (all good "fairy stories" start like that) that was true. The problem is that now surveys have proved that even the experts have a hard time telling the difference between a £6.00 pair of Primark jeans and a £200 designer pair. The designers use denim, so does the high street, and the designers use the same industrial sewing machines as the high street. So why do people still pay the extra £194 for what is essentially the same pair of jeans? It seems that the designers know that what people are really paying for is the time it took for them to scribble the design on a napkin while they were lunching at The Ivy, and the one inch square label in the back of the garment, not necessarily the material or stitching quality.

This is what could be one problem that the major fashion houses face: There are plenty of up and coming fashion designers out there with truly original designs, who also make these designs in "plus" sizes, and don't charge the earth for them. It may be possible to surmise in fact that there are enough of them to have the larger fashion houses running scared, especially in today's financial climate. Of course the fashion houses would laugh publicly at this idea, but perhaps behind the scenes they attempt to combat the problem by going to the men and women who "dress" the people constantly in the public eye - the celebrities, and maybe telling them that they will give their particular celebrity clothes/shoes/makeup/perfume/accessories all for free, but only providing that celebrity can fit into the sample sizes. "Celebrity" is all about Glamour, Fame, Acceptance and Money, so often the celebrities concerned are seen to be greedy and needy enough to fall for the ploy. "The ploy" being that the sample sizes cost less to produce, and whilst there will be some genuine friendships that eventually come out of these arrangements, maybe for the rest the fashion houses perhaps aren't really interested in the celebrity other than what that celebrity can give them:  Free advertising aimed at their real target consumer group, namely the London, Paris, Milan and New York socialites of the world. If it were me, and this is purely personal conjecture, I might be a little wary of any designer that sends rails and rails of outfits to my hotel suite around awards time, but wont normally have much to do with me otherwise.  If this is what happens to some of the celebs, it would seem then that some of them might merely be a means to an end, and that the "make believe" of the designers cosying up to them is nothing more than just that. Perhaps for some celebs, getting a designer to lend them clothes for an awards ceremony for instance, is a way of not being seen in the same outfit twice, and for others it is maybe just about acceptance, but the point is why do the majority of them have to be Size 0-8? Some may genuinely be more physically comfortable at that size, but given that countless doctors have stated time and again that it is not normally at all healthy or natural for a woman's body to be that small, how many of them are genuinely comfortable and how many have been told to be that way?

Then we have the magazines, not just the high class men's and women's fashion magazines, but also the weekly high street magazines, who's circulation depends on them regularly featuring those same celebrities, and who often use some of the same  sample size models for their fashion shoots as the "designer" mags. These high street magazines then promote the designer brands, as well as the high street stores, however these are high street stores who are using (perhaps you guessed it), some of the same models as the designers and magazines. Several famous "sample size" celebrity models are even designing for the high street stores now. Everywhere you look there the "Size 0 - 8" phenomenon is, from the high street bank advertising its current accounts, to the billboards in the street, to the aforementioned magazines, to the advertising campaigns in the stores, to the glamour calendars on our local mechanics wall, even our own homes; In the movies, documentaries, programmes and adverts on the T.V even down to the pictures on our household detergents. EVERYWHERE we look - there it is. Now tell me that we are not being told what or who to find attractive.  It would seem then that "Size 0-8" is paradoxically very BIG business, and it also seems that the only ones who are really benefiting to any great degree are the designers, advertising companies and assorted faceless "men in suits". Open virtually any magazine or newspaper and it would appear that every other week there is a negative story about a celebrity, who is yet again starving themselves, but that same magazine or paper will also usually be actively promoting under size 10 models in their advertising campaigns. There have been a quite a few models and celebs over the last few years who have been brave enough to speak out against the "Size 0-8" phenomenon. They have told of starving themselves to the point of being almost fatally ill and utterly miserable, of losing friends and loved ones to the effects of a starvation diet, and have advised anyone sensible enough to listen to not make the same mistakes. It would also appear then that some of the celebs are starving, barren and miserable, and some of the models are starving, drug addicted and dieing, "glamourous" huh, and for what or who exactly? There are plenty of people out there who are daft enough to fall for the spin used by PR companies to "gloss over" these details. Thank God then for the truly independent designers, celebrities and ordinary folk alike who still retain enough of the "punk ethic" not to fall for it.

Statistically most red blooded men don't even find size 0 - 8 at all attractive. Again, statistically what they mostly find attractive are women who are firm, in good shape and a healthy size 10-14 on average. Women with a shape, with curves. In other words, women who look like women, not women with the body of a 12 year old pre-pubescent boy who have had to pump themselves full of collagen and silicone just to look like a woman again. Whilst collagen and silicone procedures in themselves are not necessarily a bad idea when used to boost a persons confidence, still I think it IS a bad idea to ignore the potentially horrendous health implications. How many teenage girlie's would still think that size 0-8 is an ideal size, if all the people responsible for this phenomenon suddenly developed a back bone and seriously warned the girlie's of ALL the likely health risks associated with this size range?

Lets start with something simple; Starvation: It seems to have escaped most every one's attention that thousands of people die of this everyday. I cant help but wonder how a third world mother, who has lost her child to starvation, feels when she sees what western women are doing to themselves and indirectly THEIR children, all in the name of vanity?  In this day and age there are a lot of people out there who wont care about what that third world mother thinks or feels, as it doesn't affect them directly, so what about Heart disease and Heart Attacks leading to DEATH?  Models, celebrities and singers alike have all been dieing for decades from heart disease brought on by the effects of being so severely underweight, Osteoporosis - the thinning and weakening of the bones causing extreme, debilitating and crippling pain, and eventually leading to being permanently confined to a wheelchair. I've been confined to a wheelchair in the past and let me promise you that it is not fun. Infertility, and in many cases severe enough for even IVF to not be an option. Q:Why do you think it is that ordinarily fertile, but now extremely skinny celebrities have to put on weight before they can become pregnant? A: Because their periods stop when they are underweight, I dont care who you are - that is NOT normal or natural. What about Severe Malnutrition and Vitamin Deficiency and all of the potentially horrendous health risks that accompany them, again one of which is Heart Disease.

Now Cosmetic Issues that can and do result from regular starvation diets: Rotting Teeth, eventually leading to false teeth well before middle age; Perhaps then it is no wonder that a lot of the celebrities have to get their teeth capped, which is both extremely expensive and painful. Sagging, Peeling and Flaking Skin, Severe and Irreversible Facial Lines, again well before middle age, Severe Hair Loss, often leading to almost (if not) complete baldness and the necessity to wear itchy, uncomfortable, inconvenient wigs just to go to the corner shop, although some of the celebrities seem to be able to get away with very expensive hair extensions,  which if worn long term can also result in baldness, Extreme Bad Breath, Cellulite, oh and my personal favourite - good old Anal Leakage, how attractive,......the list is endless. Still maybe there are some people out there who don't mind being a bald, toothless, sagging, peeling, tram-lined, and embarrasingly stained and smelly shambles, just so long as they can fit into their designer, "12 year old boy" sized jeans?  For the record, I never ever intend to be one of them.  Ladies (and men), think about this seriously for a moment: What kind of man would ever even consider for a second asking his girlfriend to go through any of these things, even if his Best Friend's, Cousins, Aunt's, Sister's Stepbrother once went on a date with a page 3 model from Essex?  Are you the kind of woman who is stupid enough to date a man like that? Are you that kind of man? Perhaps, whether you are a woman or a man, when you are in the pub with your mates, you maybe feel obliged to say that none of this counts as long as you end up with a "looker", but what about when you are at home on your own, in private? What kind of person are you then?

Of course there are just as many, as fatal (and actually quite similar) health risks associated with being obese, but what I am talking about here is healthy, "normal", size 10-14 women, who, by the general population are now considered to be "fat", on the instructions of the "Size 0-8 Brigade".

For those out there who might think "but the celebs are a Size 0-8 and they don't look bad, so why cant I do that?" REALLY? Have you seen some of them before they have been "skimmed" by the make-up artist? Some of them require a complete re-plaster job. And exactly how many of us have regular, unrestricted access to personal trainers, personal chefs, cosmetologists, make up artists, hairdressers, plastic surgeons, dress designers and a whole team of "backup" such as personal assistants, cleaners, dog walkers, chauffers and nannies all with at least 10-20 years experience in their respective fields? Because that is what it REALLY takes to look like the celebs ladies. Not an hour in the gym twice a week during work lunchtimes (work permitting), a 6 weekly trim at the hairdressers in the high street, a slimming sandwich and a pair of "hold you in" knickers from Marks and Spencer, a £10 pot of "Face Gloop" from the chemist, a £20 facial done by a perma-tanned "Stacey" once a fortnight, IF we have the time and/or money, and maybe being able to bribe "Donna from Accounts" into taking some of our workload off us, with the promise of a vodka and orange at the "Plough and Duck"!
On the Size 0-8/mens preferences subject, there is another point, and although it may be a little controversial, I think it is still definitely worth mentioning: Personally, and also speaking as the mother of a teenage son, I think that it is at least worth considering very carefully the motives of any grown man, who genuinely finds the body of what is essentially a 12 year old boy with boobs and a "Nancy" to be sexually attractive. There, I've said it.

As for myself, and going back a bit to what I was saying in the beginning: Last year I was really quite unwell for a while. At first the Doctor thought I might have had Intestinal Cancer, which thank God turned out not to be the case in the end, although it was one of the reasons for starting this blog about my experiences. However, what I have got (and for reasons which are too lengthy to go into now), is a thickening of the walls of a section of my small intestine.  This means that I haven't been able to eat even a medium sized meal for well over a year now. All I am able to eat at any one time is the same sized meal that you would give to the average 5 year old.  I am supposed to eat at least two of those meals a day, and if possible also a very small snack every 2-4 hours. However what I can usually eat is one (5 year old's) meal a day and 1 snack of maybe a piece of fruit. As a consequence I have lost over 4 stone in just under 10 months.  On the one hand this is very good, on the other it means that I am currently doing a pretty good physical impression of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz ("I'm Melting, I'm Melting..."), so now the middle section of my body more closely resembles an old man's sagging testicle than anything with an actual waist!  Originally my hair was falling out in handfuls, my skin began to dry out and wrinkle and my teeth began to decay at the back, but my doctor put me on an extensive and complex range of vitamin and mineral supplements which has all but stopped those problems for the time being at least. Unfortunately it didn't stop them before I had to have my butt-length curly hair cut to shoulder length, but that was last summer and it has grown a lot again now and only falls out a little if I am stressed. I also need some back teeth replaced now, but that will be done eventually, see ladies - I actually have been talking somewhat from bitter experience.

Again unfortunately I have an allergy to General Anaesthetic, so although I need an operation to fix the problem with my intestine, I cant have it until the doctors say so. So in the meantime I just continue to drop weight, which obviously is not totally a bad thing, but still I find it strange that this is what people concentrate on. I have been really quite unwell, last year the Doctor thought I could have Cancer, I can only eat the same sized meal as the average 5 year old, my hair fell out, my skin wrinkled, my teeth decayed, I need an operation to fix the problem which I cant have for the foreseeable future, and nobody has any real idea of how I am going to stop losing the weight when it is time to, and yet all anyone ever comments on is the weight loss. Don't get me wrong, I am not ungrateful for this as it is nice to have the physical change in me acknowledged, I know very well that my weight caused a lot of worry to my friends and family, and I am relieved that it is finally disappearing, that the nasty comments have all but stopped, and that obviously this has all had a very positive effect on my back pain, but I still cant help but wonder sometimes where peoples priorities truly are?

I was thinking that maybe this is why I am brave enough to go and see HIM in concert now? Now I have something else that is gradually helping with my back pain as well as HIM s music and Ville's lyrics. That said, the pain has been pretty awful this last few days, so I have relied on my HIM songs really quite a lot. I am concerned that I will still be in a lot of pain when it is time for the concert next week, so thank God they have given me that chair at the front, lol. I don't care if I have to crawl into that concert on my hands and knees - I will make it there somehow, no matter what!

My response to my back pain is exactly the same as my response now to any person who would comment negatively on my weight: A swift "Two Fingered Salute" and the word "Arseholes"! I have got a lot stronger over the last few years than I was when that guy told me to go and kill myself, so to anyone who thinks that they can make bad comments on my weight I have this advice: Sort out your own problems before you even attempt to battle with any of mine, because trust me when I tell you that neither myself nor my challenges, are now anything you should take on without serious consideration first.

As a last little thought: It has occurred to me that there will be quite a few people out there who will think that I have written this because I am jealous, as I am not within the Size 0-8 bracket of the population.  "Jealous" is a remarkably easy word to use, isn't it? It doesn't require too much thought or imagination, or courage.  What I am is tired.  I am tired of being oppressed, because that is what the size 0-8 phenomenon really is, nothing more and nothing less than good, old fashioned oppression.  People in "power" telling the rest of us what to think and how to act, and punishing us with countless recriminations if we refuse.  Well I refuse.  I refuse to be placed any longer in the outside perimeters of humanity, because of a series of events that happened to me which were beyond my control.  If there is anyone out there who still thinks that this is "jealousy", then I will you tell you now that you are welcome to walk through the rest of your life with that thought.....just don't include me in the journey.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Screamworks - "Page 43": Possible Meaning?

I know that I haven't blogged about the new HIM album yet, but the thing is I dont really know how to put my feelings into words at the moment. It is the most extraordinary HIM album I have heard, and although I love every one of them, this one is on a completely different level. I think I have said on here before that for as long as I can remember I have been in love with music, and before I was introduced to HIM, I had never come across a group where I have loved not just every single album, but every single song on those albums, when you think about it that is just extraordinary, and as I said, this new album is certainly no exception.  In one of my previous blogs, I told that I was tempted to finally find out some information about HIM, well I am so very very glad that I didnt do it in the end, as I think that has enabled me to approach this album from a relatively clear perspective, (if you dont count listening to all the other HIM albums that is). I have decided to wait, and not even find out what they look like until I see them in a couple of weeks time. My god - it is only a couple of weeks!

I dont have the time tonight to write a complete blog on the whole album, I am tired and not feeling very well, but there is one thing that I would like to say, just in case Sarah is reading this wherever she is (please get in touch hun, I am worried now and this isnt like you.)  Before she went away, Sarah and I were talking about the album and we couldn't figure out what the lyric "Page 43" in the song "Shatter Me With Hope" meant. Well, Sarah - its a long shot, but I think I might have cracked it:

First I thought it could be a book, but pretty quickly I realised that it cant be, or at least I dont think it is. When you think of all the different editions of all the different books that have been printed the world over, all of them are pageinated differently.  So take "Sense and Sensibility" as an example; what is on page 43 of someone else's edition of that book may not necessarily be what is on page 43 of mine. If Ville was referring to a book he would have had to assume that not only have the majority of HIM fans read the same book, but that they also have the exact same edition as him. A few maybe - but thousands?  That is a very broad assumption to make and I think it extremely unlikely that he would have made it.  So, assuming that it is not a page in a book,  I began to think of what else "page 43" could be, and I couldn't shake the thought that I had come across the the term "page 43" before in a literary sense, but I couldn't place where it was I had heard it.  Then I began to think of what the album is about. I think the album is about diving back into love and life before it is all over, before you miss your chance, but that still didnt give me an answer. Then I began to think of all the biblical references in this album, which it seems to me are much more obvious with this album than with the others.  They are there in the other albums, such as Dark Light for instance, but it is almost like you have to root them out.  But then I thought "it cant be the bible as that is the most reprinted book in history, and besides to say "page 43", without Chapter and Verse, means absolutely nothing anyway.  Then I stopped.  There it was: I had "heard" the lyric page 43 before, the song "Shatter Me With Hope" (and the whole of "Screamworks") is about diving into life (and love) before it passes you by, the incorrect biblical assumption and the fact that page 43 (on it's own) means absolutely nothing.  That is when it hit me, and I could have kicked myself for not getting it before, or at least what I think it is.

Do you remember the album I said I wanted and you made fun of me for it? I'll give you a clue; David Crosby! Remember now? Well, "Page 43" was a song title on one of his earlier albums, and was originally on an album that he recorded with one of his musical "partners in crime" in 1972. I knew I recognised that lyric from somewhere! The song is all about diving back into the river of life, hot or cold before it passes you by, or taking a sip of the wine of life before it runs out, some of the same things that "Screamworks" is about.  I've been listening to "The David Crosby Box" today and I cant believe that I didnt get it before now - there you go, that is my mind for you, lol! I remember reading an interview with David some time ago now, which I have just re-checked and the interviewer asked him what the meaning of the song title was and why it was called "page 43" in the first place. He said that it didn't mean anything at all, and that he had deliberately chosen that title so that listeners could get something from that song no matter whatever situation they were facing in life, that if he had called it something specific, listeners would then concentrate on the song title and maybe then they not be able to get what they needed from it at all. He said that he was astounded by how many people were adamant that they "knew for sure" what the song title meant, that some of them claimed to have "read Page 43" (he went on to laugh and say that he didn't know what page 43 they were reading lol, ) and that some of them even thought that it was a reference to page 43 of the Bible, I think it was the New Testament he said. That was what I remembered. See - and you made fun of me for liking his music.

I think that in reference to "Screamworks", the lyric "Page 43" may have 2 or 3 different meanings, The first being the one that I have mentioned above - that it is about life (or in this case maybe love) passing you by if you dont dive in and grab it. The second being a reference to listeners being able to get out of a song exactly what they need from it, whether that is the original meaning of the song or not, and the third, well you would know more about the kind of sense of humour that the guys in HIM have got, but maybe they are having a good natured laugh at the people who claim to know everything about their music and what every single lyric means.  After all the guys in HIM are the only ones that can really know for sure what they all mean, the rest of us just have a lot of fun listening to the music time and again, and guessing!

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Missing Sarah.

Hi guys, sorry I havent posted for a while, I havent been too well and my friend Sarah has been going through an awful time for a couple of months and she was here for practically all of last week especially, so I just haven't had the chance to really even get on the computer any, bless her she was like a crack addict with my computer sometimes! I wont go into too many details about  the terrible thing that happened to her son, but it was about as bad as it can get for a mother, and the last couple of weeks saw the biggest change in her, which wasnt surprising considering what her son Michael did to himself, and Sarah in the end. Sarah has gone back "up North" now as that is where her son was eventually buried earlier last month, and although I saw her for the last time just this last Friday evening/Saturday morning, I am missing her so much already. She came round to use my internet (as usual, lol) and early Saturday afternoon she told me that she had taken her accounts etc off my computer as she was going back up north to live with her parents, as that is where Michael is buried.It was a bit of a shock as she hadn't mentioned leaving before, but Sarah has always been very "spur of the moment", so it wasn't surprising really. Like me she also had a really bad sleep pattern, so she would often just turn up late at night and not leave until the following day lol! That was ok though because as I have said before on here, I don't always sleep well anyway.

I have mentioned Sarah before on here - she is the "uber HIM fan" that occasionally would try to impart information about the group when I didnt want to know it, bless her.  She had just got away from her ex husband when I met her and was living in one room which didnt have an internet connection, so she would regularly come here and spend hours trawling the internet for all the info on HIM that she could find, as well as doing the same thing at her ex in - law's house, I'm not sure that I quite understand that level of obsession, but a lot of things had gone wrong in her life before I met her, and she had got involved in things that she was not so proud of, so I think maybe becoming obsessed with HIM was just her way of dealing with things. She was the one that originally gave me the copies of the first three HIM C'Ds I ever heard. For reasons that I have already detailed elsewhere on here I was so determined to know nothing about the group HIM that I would make her put the earphones on and turn the screen around when she was using my internet so that I couldnt see or hear anything! She got to know fairly quickly though and pretty soon would just do these things herself, so I would know what it was (or who) that she was searching the internet for, lol, although Sarah was how I found out about the concert this month, so I didnt mind her telling me that little bit of info lol. She completely understood why I dont want to know any "personal information" about HIM, or even what they look like, and bless her she upheld that right to the end. Although there were a couple of times when she accidentially tried to tell me something about them, but it was only because she got herself so excited, and I always managed to stop her just in time! She would be searching away at the computer and I would be sitting here reading or drawing or writing poetry.  It was nice just having someone else in the house while my son was staying with his father to be honest, and I miss her so much already.

Sarah and I were really quite similar as people, although we had a couple of major differences, but nothing that really got in the way of our friendship. We both liked to read the same type of books, watch similar movies, listen to similar music etc so we had a lot in common, but as similar as the similarities were, the differences were quite astounding also. Sarah had been a bit, well, what you might call "flighty" before I met her. She said herself that unlike my ex, her ex husband was not necessarily a "bad man", but whenever her husband would say something that she just didnt agree with she would simply "take off" for a month or so, and often leaving her son behind, this I think was the main reason why her son was in a residential special needs school in the north somewhere, which was also a way in which we differed. My son Stevie was educated at home by me for two years as I couldnt find a suitable school that could offer him the support he needed. But everyone is different, and we all deal with situations in very different ways, not "better" or "worse" - just different. Sarahs son Michael had Aspergers the same as my son Stevie has, but Michael was much much worse than Stevie. Actually that was how Sarah and I were first introduced to each other.  We were in the coffee shop and Stevie didnt want to sit behind Sarah, so fearing that Sarah might be offended (because Aspergers isnt at all obvious, often people think that sufferers are just being rude), I introduced myself and Stevie and explained to her about Stevie having Aspergers Syndrome. At that point a big grin spread across her face, which I almost took the wrong way to be honest, and she said "my son too!" Voila - a friendship was born! I dont know what it is like in the rest of the world, but in England at least when your child is diagnosed with Aspergers, the only help you get is being given the number for the National Autistic Society, so when you meet someone else who is in a similar situation to yourself, in many respects they can almost be like a gift from God. Sarah's son Michael was a couple of years older than my Stevie and as I said was much worse, particularly on the suicidal front, but our experiences with our children were still remarkably similar.

What Michael did to himself in the new year, was the worst thing that any mother could ever be put through, and Sarah understandably changed after that. I think she blamed herself for not being able to protect him from those who might have harmed him, although she had gone to his school last year in an effort to talk to the other students and sort the rumours out. She said it looked as though everything would be alright now, especially Michael, but sadly that turned out to not be the case at all. Although she almost completely clammed up and said very little on the whole subject, I believe she was also feeling guilty about not having him at home with her, but the thing is she was living in one room and Michael was an older teenager, so as awful as it sounds where he was was probably the best place for him, but she never really saw it that way and I dont think that she ever will now. I never did find out where in the north her parents lived, as there had been some sort of family rift involving her brother and her parents apparently had taken sides, so she never spoke about them much and I didnt feel like I had the right to push her on the subject, but I wish I had now. The rift between Sarah and her family healed after Michael died so she was able to go back finally, maybe that is the one good thing to come out of all of this? I dont know, I'm just trying to make sense of it all myself at the moment, I just cant bring myself to believe that a young man has died for nothing more than wicked rumours. I havent heard from her since she left, and she isnt answering her mobile, so I wish I had pushed her a bit further now, I just would like to know that she is going to be ok.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved